Dennis Burger

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Dennis Burger Posted: Dec 03, 2013 0 comments

MASS 5.1 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
MASS W200 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unique design
Beautiful imaging
Surprising dynamic capability
Minus
Tight binding posts won’t accommodate some connectors
Horizontal Centre speaker best used upright

THE VERDICT
Big, bold, bombastic sound from a relatively small and quite affordable package

I love double irony, that wonderfully weird phenomenon whereby a seeming incongruity loops right back around and becomes all too apt. Take the guy who names his Chihuahua Killer, for example, which seems like fun and giggles at first glance, until the little bugger tries to eat the face right off of your skull for want of a Snausage. Take also Monitor Audio’s compact MASS (spelled just like that, in all capital letters), a 5.1-channel home theater speaker system that continues the company’s trend of delivering complete home theater speaker systems in increasingly small, though typically traditionally shaped, packages. (Search the monitoraudiousa.com domain for the word diminutive, and you’ll see what I mean.) At first glance, you can’t help but think that whoever decided to hang such a MASSive moniker on a delicately tapered, lantern-like satellite speaker this small certainly had some chutzpah. And lifting one of the dainty 3.64-pound satellites does nothing to abate that initial urge to chuckle, no matter how solidly built and sturdy it may be.

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Dennis Burger Posted: Jul 10, 2013 0 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $450 At A Glance: Great sound for the price • MHL-enabled HDMI • Tricky setup

In a world so mixed up, muddled up, and shook up that we can’t even depend on Superman to wear his red Underoos outside his pants like a proper superhero, it’s heartening to know that tax evasion and mortality aren’t the only certainties in life anymore. If anything, a new slate of A/V receivers from the big names in consumer electronics is even a surer certainty, with high-end features from last year’s offerings trickling down a model number or two and support for the latest connectivity features from the middle of the line on up.

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Dennis Burger Posted: Feb 08, 2013 4 comments

Yamaha RX-V473 A/V Receiver
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 

Yamaha RX-V573 A/V Receiver
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $450 (RX-V473); $550 (RX-V573) At A Glance (both models): Really fantastic sound quality for the price • Apple AirPlay, DLNA, Internet radio, and app control • Lean on streaming and other features

Conventional wisdom amongst us A/V geeks who put audio performance above all else is that there’s no such thing as a good $500 A/V receiver anymore. At least not from the big, well-known manufacturers whose wares you’d find at the typical electronics store. This mythical beast did exist before the dark days, before the Features Wars, but given that even a mid-priced offering these days is expected to sport all sorts of streaming audio and video goodies, something had to give. And sound quality has traditionally been that something.

So it’s something of a novelty for me to be sitting here with not one, but two good $500-ish receivers from Yamaha. The company’s RX-V473 and RX-V573 look identical from the front and both fall within $50 of that target price point—the former fifty bucks down, the latter fifty bucks up.

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Dennis Burger Posted: Nov 01, 2012 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $580 At A Glance: Incredibly intuitive Setup Assistant • Apple AirPlay • Assignable power amps • Network/Internet streaming

As much as the phrase “plug and play” has saturated the electronics world to the point of near-ubiquity, it’s not a label we’ve ever seen applied to the giant mess of inputs, outputs, and speaker connections that define the A/V receiver. That’s not to say that Denon is labeling the AVR-1913 as such, but you could make the case. Or, if not plug and play, perhaps plug and poke and plug and poke and plug and poke and play. (The comedic value would at least outweigh any drawbacks in marketability.)

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