Pioneer's latest A/V receiver produced uniformly excellent bench results: linearity and S/N were close to perfect on both PCM and Dolby Digital signals, while distortion and frequency response were nearly as good (the latter, in particular, on 96/24 PCM).
The Sony STR-DA5200ES presented no surprises. Power was generous in all tests save all-channels-driven, where the receiver topped out at 66 watts all around; note that this is only 4 or 5 dB less than from the most powerful receivers we've tested on the demanding all-channels-driven test.
I encountered no glitches or surprises while testing the Sunfire Theater Grand Receiver 3. Power output was consistently among the highest I have measured from a multichannel receiver, and its 165 watts (22.2 dBW) per channel with 5 channels driven represents a clear benchmark for the category (3 to 4 dB greater than flagship receivers from many other manufacturers achieve).
Quick, name a Canadian A/V receiver maker! Yeah, I couldn’t either — until now. Anthem, the north-of-the-border firm best known for its “Statement” Series reference-grade A/V preamp (and power amps), has finally merged the two forms into a single new element: the MRX family of A/V receivers.
I’ve seen plenty of loudspeaker “breakthroughs” in my half-a-lifetime around the audio sideshow, including speakers shaped like ears, tubas, and croquet balls. And there have also been “revolutionary” new driver designs that resembled stars, chafing dishes, and origami.
It’s a fact of modern life. The higher you climb in the high end of anything, the less, at least in one sense, you will get. You will find, I believe, few gargoyles on buildings designed by I.M. Pei, and even fewer rear-seat DVD screens in Paganis.
Most A/V receivers with any pretensions toward high performance — and most audio and video products in general, for that matter — are designed and marketed for hardcore hobbyists, not average consumers. What’s the difference? The hobbyist revels in scores of setup options, dozens of surround modes, and fistfuls of video-processing choices.