Your new A/V receiver's front panel seems friendly enough with its softly winking LEDs and ergonomic layout of buttons and knobs. But turn that sucker around, and you'll find a menacing thicket of jacks, terminals, and other connectors - some familiar, some not.
When shopping for amplifier power, most of us calculate, consciously or otherwise, watts-per-dollar. I’m here to suggest another metric: pounds-per-watt, (kilos, if you prefer), divided by dollars. Amplification by the pound.
AT A GLANCE Plus
Pristine audio plus 4K passthrough video
Clean, simple, eminently usable design
DTS Play-Fi streaming/multiroom wireless
Lacks Bluetooth, USB playback
No legacy video connections or scaling
The AVM 60 has everything you want in an A/V preamp/processor—and less. The stuff that Anthem has left off their more affordable pre/pro model contributes to simplicity and usability, and most buyers will end up thanking them in the long run.
For much of the home theater epoch, system builders who (for whatever reasons) have favored a separates-based system— built around an A/V preamplifier/processor and a suitable amplifier or amps—and have preferred such a system over the more usual A/V receiver approach have had, in essence, two choices. They could select one of a few very expensive, esoteric, high-end American or European designs, with the knowledge that they would probably lag a generation or two behind in HDMI version and latest-greatest surround and video processing. Or they could select a latest-model Japanese offering—recently, this has meant, effect-ively, Integra/Onkyo, Marantz, or Yamaha—and get more up-tothe-minute tech and more digestible pricing, at a certain cost in audiophile street-cred and (perhaps, depending on your belief system) sonic refinement.
Typical tower speakers arrive with so many wonderful opportunities for self-injury: When you take them off the truck and when you haul them into the listening room, for starters. And that’s not to mention when you unpack them and set them up and when you adjust placement (especially with carpet spikes). But Oregon’s Aperion Audio, God love ’em, has finally delivered a tower speaker that even the most physically challenged audiophile can love: the Verus Forte.
AT A GLANCE Plus
Outstanding seven-channel power from uncommon amp topology
Dirac Live auto setup and room correction
Winning remote handset
Reference-grade seven-channel power, an unusual (and unusually effective) auto-EQ system, and refreshing simplicity and straightforward ergonomics in a pricey, albeit very attractive and well-executed package.
Arcam’s new flagship A/V receiver, the AVR850, is about the most expensive receiver you can buy today: $6,000 here in the Land of the Free(-ish) (not counting a slightly more expensive, similarly spec’d model sourced by Arcam for AudioControl). That’s a lot of simoleons for a box that, on the surface anyway, doesn’t do quite as much stuff as the big-brand models, doesn’t have as much claimed-on-paper power or as many colored lights or flashing displays, and which exudes a substantially simpler design aesthetic. So what do you get for your extra couple of kilo-clams?
Artison is a new speaker company with more going for it than just a clever name. It also boasts an impeccable pedigree (creator Cary Christie was a founder of industry pillar Infinity), some classy, smart industrial design, and a well-considered answer to the puzzle of how to mate plasma TVs with serious home theater speakers.