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AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 08, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,999 At A Glance: First Denon A/V receiver with nine channels of amplification • Networked audio features include Wi-Fi • Strong audio fundamentals

Need Supersizing?

Has the concept of supersizing peaked? The McMansion-driven housing boom is a bust. Some SUV owners are trading in their gas-guzzlers for more efficient hybrids of the same size, while others are opting for more efficient hybrid sedans. Fast food addicts are counting the calories in their Happy Meals.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 25, 2010 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Flagship of Sony’s standard receiver line • Strong aesthetics and user interface, well-designed remote • Compatible with Sony wireless speakers using optional card

Slick but Affordable

The process of getting music into, and out of, an A/V receiver is changing. An increasing number of receivers come with Ethernet jacks to pull music out of a network-connected PC. Against this background, Sony—thinking for itself, as always—has built a totally different form of networking into the STR-DN1000 A/V receiver.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 29, 2009 0 comments
Price: $1,000 At A Glance: Moderate power and up-front sound • New GUI, Bluetooth, USB input • Proprietary auto setup, room correction, height, low-volume modes

The Brand That Rolls Its Own

At first glance, the Yamaha RX-V1065 A/V receiver seems to be missing several of the latest and greatest features. By that I mean it doesn’t have the licensed goodies and their accompanying logos, the little things that manufacturers use to encourage the feeling that things are getting better all the time. However, when you look closer at the specs—or better yet, page through the manual—some of those features are in fact present, in Yamaha-approved form, under other names.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 02, 2009 0 comments
Price: $1,099 At A Glance: THX Select2, DPLIIz, full Audyssey suite • Home networking features • Activities Setup Menu organizes activities into macro commands of separates

Two Ways Up

This year my rent passed the $1,000 mark. There’s something about a four-figure number that intimidates people. My apartment doesn’t cost much more than it did before—my rent only increased by about 50 bucks. And by Manhattan standards, I’ve got a sweet deal. Yet, I’ve started looking at my bizarre L-shaped kitchen and closet-like bathroom with new eyes. Is this worth more than a thousand dollars a month?

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $5,500 At A Glance: Class H amplification delivers lots of peak power • Dolby Volume tames dynamic extremes • Offers the transparency and power of separates

Powerful But Clever

The AudioControl Concert AVR-1 embodies the paradox of high-end A/V receivers. Befitting an audiophile product, its Class H amplification can take an input signal and fill a room with commendable transparency and power. At the same time, it departs from strict fidelity to the input signal by offering pragmatic features like Dolby Volume and room correction. Let’s take a closer look at its dual nature.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 19, 2009 0 comments
Price: $800 At A Glance: Rethinks AVR operation for a more media-rich environment • Simplified interface compared to conventional receiver • Class D amplification

Not Just Another AVR

Is the conventional A/V receiver obsolete? The short answer is no. The long answer is the rest of this review.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 05, 2009 0 comments
Price: $1,999 At A Glance: First receiver with Audyssey DSX width and height channels • Anchor Bay video processing • Napster, Rhapsody, and numerous other streaming features

Should You Go Wide?

Surround sound is fully half of the home theater equation. Like any technology, it presents certain complexities, and mastering at least a few of them will reward the patient listener. However, surround almost makes a fetish of complexity. It turns a lot of people off, which inhibits its household penetration. It also puts a technology critic like me on the spot when I take keyboard in hand to tell you about the Denon AVR-4310CI A/V receiver, with Audyssey’s DSX, which introduces a new complexity: width channels.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 21, 2009 0 comments
Price: $500 At A Glance: Advanced feature set at budget price • Menu’s context-sensitive help offers timely advice • As listenable as budget receivers ever get

The Cure for Feature Envy

The Pioneer VSX-1019AH has an exceptionally rich feature set at an affordable price. Its spec sheet is an epic document. But the feature that may matter most to a newbie would be the one that explains all the other features. I can sum it up in three self-explanatory words: context-sensitive help.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 29, 2009 0 comments
Price: $440 At A Glance: Lossless surround at a new low price point • Optional accessories provide Bluetooth and iPod compatibility • Decent performance for the price

Low-Rent Audiophile Model

In A/V receivers, as in so many other things, new technologies start in mid- to high-priced models and work their way down. Once they have fully penetrated all or most of a manufacturer’s line, consumers who are on a budget have the same access to, say, lossless surround that more upscale buyers do. Then we at Home Theater uncork bottle after bottle of champagne in wild celebration, peel grapes for one another, run up and down the hallway, and don’t get much done for a few days.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 29, 2009 0 comments
Price: $599 At A Glance: First receiver with Dolby Pro Logic IIz height-enhanced surround • Faroudja DCDi video processing • Audyssey 2EQ auto setup and room EQ

We’re Gonna Get High

The Onkyo TX-SR607 is the first A/V receiver to feature Dolby Pro Logic IIz, which adds front height channels to the existing 5.1- and 7.1-channel configurations. Now gird yourself for deep background and fierce opinion mongering.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 22, 2009 1 comments
Price: $2,599 At A Glance: High-end implementation of Class D amplification • Among first Rotels with HDMI 1.3, lossless surround decoding • Faroudja video processing but no auto setup

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Energy will likely be the defining challenge of our lifetimes. We use a lot of it but need to use less, so the ways in which we use it must become more responsible, creative, and resourceful. Will home theater continue to add to the quality of life in an energy-scarce future by bringing us closer to music and movies? Or will we write it off as just another accessory of sprawl, soon to be ruthlessly un-supersized? Is it possible to enjoy big pictures that are accompanied by big sound, while using less energy? This is the stage onto which the Rotel RSX-1560 A/V receiver walks, before an audience that is holding its breath.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 15, 2009 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $4,995 At A Glance: Beefy Class G amps deliver gushes of warm, dynamic sound • Dolby Volume enhances quality of low-level movie listening • Utilitarian front panel and basic remote

From Our Audiophile Wing

When you hear the phrase high-end home theater, what’s the first thing you think of? If you’re into home design, your mind might summon up a lavishly appointed screening room with a curtained screen, seating, and a popcorn machine. For you, it’s the wine bottle that’s high end, not necessarily the wine.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 04, 2009 0 comments
Price: $1,999 At A Glance: Rotel enters the HDMI 1.3 age with two new receivers • Rated power at 75 watts times five • Snazzy aesthetics, minimalist user interface

Family Matters

Longtime readers will recognize the Rotel RSX-1065 as my reference A/V receiver. It’s been around so long that it’s no longer listed on Rotel’s Website. Mine has been in service since 2001, when I reviewed it, setting a record for longevity and giving every loudspeaker review I’ve written since then a firm foundation. When I tell speaker makers what I use for amplification, they breathe a sigh of relief and change the subject. Even the arrival of the seven-channel version, the RSX-1067, left me unfazed. The five-channel version has served me for nearly eight years.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 20, 2009 0 comments
Price: $1,900 At A Glance: Dizzying array of music networking features • Superb video processing from Anchor Bay • Eight-point auto setup and room EQ

Of Tea Leaves and Logos

An A/V receiver isn’t just a product. It’s a series of diplomatic handshakes. Sure, manufacturers develop some of the technologies that go into their products, but they also license a lot of the technologies from other outfits—which enhances their products with the fruits of many different R&D labs. The Yamaha RX-V3900 is a beefy powerhouse on paper, rated at 140 watts times seven, but if you check out Yamaha’s Website, you’ll more likely notice the sheer profusion of logos. I counted no fewer than 24 different ones. You can read them like tea leaves.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 13, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,200 At A Glance: Ultra-sophisticated setup and calibration system • Punchy-sounding ICEPower amplification • Versatile LAN-based Home Media Gallery with iPod connectivity

Too Much Functionality?

One step down from Pioneer’s flagship $7,000 SC-09TX A/V receiver, the SC-07 offers an equally dizzying feature set and plenty of ICEpower. It’s all packed into a far more compact, shelf-friendly package, and it sells at a steeply lower $2,200 price point. If you lusted after the SC-09TX (HT, November 2008) but were put off by the price, consider what the SC-07 offers for so much less.

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