Arcam Solo Movie 5.1 DVD Receiver Page 3

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A few big-audio blockbuster movie scenes quickly confirmed that, despite its modest size, the Solo Movie has enough power to deliver fully cinema-like home theater sound. I heard cleaner, more dynamic reproduction than I have from some "100 watts x 5" receivers. But the Arcam's motivating force, from a very compact and efficient Class G amplifier (with a voltage-switching power supply), is finite. When I set it up with no sub, running all five speakers full-range, I found that volume settings toward the top tenth of the range could sound slightly squished, and then audibly jumbled at the top three or four ticks. The volume control seems calculated to avoid overt clipping with typical loudspeakers. Mine are just a dB or two less sensitive than most. But even so, combining the Arcam with low-sensitivity speakers, large spaces, and high-volume tastes is probably best avoided.

External video sources appeared unchanged by a trip through the Solo Movie, and its own DVD video looked outstanding. I spent time comparing the Solo Movie's 480p on component video to its 720p and 1080i HDMI, via Rob Marshall's authenticity-challenged but visually stunning Memoirs of a Geisha. I was hard-pressed to see real distinctions but ultimately settled on 720p for my setup: It seemed to show film grain a bit more naturally and to transmit a richer, more finely graded color range. But these were tiny shades of difference in any event.

Arcam also offers the de rigueur optional iPod dock ($285), which I tried. With the dock enabled via the Solo Movie's menu system, it dutifully streamed audio from an iPod nano, displaying metadata on the Solo's front panel and responding to commands for music-selection and transport moves. Unfortunately, Arcam's "rDock" doesn't deliver metadata to the video screen, which would be a lot more legible from across the room than the Solo's front panel. But the dock's S-video and composite outputs do offer onscreen viewing of iPod photos or video. (Also available from Arcam is a somewhat cheaper rCable, which offers all the same functionality as the rDock.)