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AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 01, 2003 0 comments
Denon punches their ticket to the universal dance.

When you boil it all down, you realize that most format wars are somewhat ridiculous. Sure, it's fun to get the blood up every few years, and those of us in the A/V press certainly appreciate the opportunity to ramble on about these conflicts' various aspects and ramifications. Format wars ultimately belong in the software section, though, where the most that a wrong decision will cost you is the $20 or $30 that you spent on a disc, tape, or whatever else. When it comes to hardware, format wars can cost people hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Ultimately, that's no good for either side, let alone the buying public as a whole. Thanks to universal disc players' rapid emergence, the previously contentious (and occasionally ugly) high-resolution-audio war is now software-based, as it should be. This doesn't mean that the DVD-Audio and SACD camps don't still take shots at one another. Now high-resolution-player buyers have the luxury of either ignoring the conflict altogether or simply enjoying it for what it always should've been, secure in the knowledge that big bucks are no longer on the line. With competition between the various and ever-growing assortment of universal-player makers, capitalism survives, but nobody gets burned. The result should be a boom in universal-player buying over the next couple of years.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 19, 2003 0 comments

I've always appreciated the quality of Yamaha receivers; in fact, my very first "serious" stereo receiver was a Yamaha. So it was with eager anticipation that I agreed to review the company's current flagship receiver, the Rx-Z1.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Feb 05, 2003 0 comments

"What's possibly left to add to an A/V receiver?" industry observers and reviewers ask at the end of each new product cycle. But always, by the time the replacement model has been introduced, manufacturers have found plenty to tack on. Only owners of last year's "state-of-the-art" A/V receivers can say how worthwhile are these additions, refinements, and upgrades.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jan 01, 2003 0 comments
The new flagship from the creators of the form.

Where's the first place you look when you saddle up to the bar at your favorite watering hole? Some may say the waitress station or the sorority party in the back room; but, when it's time for business, you look at the top shelf. For it's in that rarified air that you'll find the 30-year-old Springbank, the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, or the Old Rip Van Winkle. Then you scan the middle sections and find the 8-year-old Springbank, the Wild Turkey 101, or maybe some Crown Royal. Finally, it's down to the bottom shelf for the Banker's Club, the bottle that just says "whiskey," or my personal favorite: the jug with three Xs.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Sep 19, 2002 0 comments

What makes one of today's complex A/V receivers friendly, and another model with identical features off-putting? I didn't ask that question when I began setting up and using Pioneer's latest, the Elite VSX-49TX , but the answer appeared as I explored this superbly-thought-out receiver, and was confirmed when, returning after a week out of town, I was able to easily take advantage of its many functions without getting lost or even needing the instruction manual.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 17, 2002 0 comments

Kenwood's entry in the category of top-shelf A/V receivers is the Sovereign VR-5900—a curvaceous, feature-packed powerhouse combining a user-friendly operating system, THX Ultra certification with all attendant processing facilities, Dolby Digital EX, matrixed and discrete DTS ES, HDCD decoding, and enough digital and analog inputs and outputs (including 2-zone operation) to satisfy almost any videophile's needs. It even includes a moving-magnet phono stage (but laserdisc aficionados will have to add an outboard RF demodulator).

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Chris Lewis Posted: Apr 09, 2002 Published: Apr 10, 2002 0 comments
Another contender in the $1,000 range.

It can be a daunting task for some: dipping your toes into the deeper end of the home theater pool and crossing over the $1,000, advanced-swim rope. Sure, we all know that there are people in our little world who will spend thousands of dollars on cable alone. However, the simple reality is that, for those who are unwilling or unable to spend as much money on an audio/video system as they might on a car or a house, stacking up that first pile of 10 or more C-notes for a single system element isn't a decision made lightly. Luckily, options abound at this level, especially in the receiver market. I don't know of a company that makes receivers that doesn't have at least one around the $1,000 price point, beckoning the frugal to dive in. Once you've decided to take the plunge, the only hard part is figuring out which one is right for you.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jan 03, 2002 Published: Jan 04, 2002 0 comments
The receiver drum beats on.

In case you hadn't noticed, the receiver market is proceeding at a breakneck pace. It almost seems as though new models are hitting the store shelves every month. Hardly a year goes by in which each receiver manufacturer doesn't introduce new models, if not entirely new lines. Part of this phenomenon is based on the rapid expansion of processing options and other technologies, and part of it is simply business as usual in the receiver game. Receiver buyers, in general, have always seemed to focus on features, options, and having the latest technology at their fingertips—no matter what. As we know, receiver manufacturers are more than happy to oblige.

HT Staff Posted: Nov 07, 2001 Published: Nov 08, 2001 0 comments
Got money? HT editors tell you the best value for your $$$.

As editors of Home Theater, everyone asks us questions about the consumer electronics business. This is fine—it's our duty to help those who may not have the time to spend all day playing around with really cool gear. Some questions are easy, like "How do I hook this up?" or "What does anamorphic mean?" Unfortunately, the one question we get all the time is not as simple to answer: What gear should I buy?

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 28, 2001 Published: Jun 29, 2001 0 comments
Integra's DTR-9.1 A/V receiver has a sound battle plan, thanks to its potent mix of high-end tricks and approachability.

In case you hadn't noticed over the last year, the high-end-receiver war is on. With this donnybrook comes a blurring of the formerly distinct line between the bottom end of the separates market and the high end of the receiver market. It used to be simple: If you had X amount of money or less to spend, you bought a receiver; if you had more in your budget, you bought separates. Now, the competition for home theater dollars in the $2,500-to-$4,000 price range has become fierce, not only between receivers and separates but also amongst receivers themselves.

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Michael Trei Posted: Mar 31, 2001 Published: Apr 01, 2001 0 comments
The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming! Arcam's first A/V receiver takes music reproduction quite seriously.

After years of lagging behind the colonies, the British are finally taking home theater—er, home cinema—seriously, and British manufacturers have started to make impressive gear using their own characteristic design approach. For years, Arcam has been made up of a bunch of die-hard two-channel-stereo types, yet the company has always been a leader when it comes to new technologies like digital radio. Although they have manufactured surround equipment for a few years now, the AVR100 is their first A/V receiver.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 29, 2001 0 comments

"The world's most advanced Home Theater Receiver" is Denon's claim for the AVR-5800, and, now that I've spent a few months with it, they'll get no arguments from me. It's the world's first 7.1-channel receiver with DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, DTS-ES Matrix 6.1, DTS Neo:6, THX surround EX, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Pro Logic. It's like one of those new cruise ships that more closely resembles a floating city. What Denon has managed to pack into its large, sleek, heavy black hull (at 62 lbs, it's the most massive I've seen) is remarkable in terms of both versatility and performance. Denon's marketing manager, David Birch-Jones, proclaims the AVR-5800 to be "Without question the finest A/V receiver ever created." But are "most advanced" and "finest" necessarily the same thing? We'll have to dig deeper to find out.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 31, 2001 Published: Feb 01, 2001 0 comments
Budget receivers can make anyone a home theater meister.

I'm a simple man. As I travel this great land of ours, for both business and pleasure, most of my conversations with others sooner or later lead to two topics: movies and their inevitable offshoot, home theater. I rarely discuss the specifics of what I'm packing at Rancho Chiarella; rather, I listen to the wide-eyed yearnings of the hard-working Everyman who dreams of experiencing all that a respectable A/V system can deliver. For so many of the folks I've talked with, an affordable home theater receiver is the key to their wish fulfillment.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Oct 28, 2000 Published: Oct 29, 2000 0 comments
No matter which side of the receivers-versus-separates debate you find yourself on, it's simple to understand why A/V receivers have the broad appeal among home theater buyers that they do—they're easy, period. A well-executed receiver is easy to purchase, easy to set up, and easy to use. These are commodities that go a long way in any market today, regardless of bottom-line performance. And let's face it, the performance of receivers has improved considerably in recent years. You're still not going to see dedicated theaters or music rooms built around a receiver, but you won't get laughed out of the room anymore when you start comparing its performance to that of comparably priced separates. Context is key in the receiver game. What do you really need, where do you need it, and how much are you willing to pay for it?
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Bruce Fordyce Posted: Sep 03, 2000 Published: Sep 04, 2000 0 comments
Denon's AVR-4800 receiver is the one-box key to home theater nirvana. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in your living room, the consumer electronics industry has come up with yet another home theater surround scheme: THX Surround EX. If excess truly is the path to the palace of wisdom, then it will be home theater products, not those retro hippie Gingko brain supplements, that make us all smart really quick. Wisdom will, however, probably have to take a back seat to confusion before all is said and done. Nonetheless, THX Surround EX is here, although its entrance was not celebrated with the carnival-like fanfare that heralded the entrance of Dolby Digital and DTS.

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