Face Off: Budget Receivers Sherwood RD-7106

Sherwood RD-7106

Going beyond the usual Dolby Digital, DTS, and Pro Logic, the Sherwood RD-7106 also provides Dolby Virtual and Circle Surround modes to suit every multichannel taste. Automatic format detection simplifies the process, as well. One hundred watts times 5 is plenty of power for the majority of home theaters and the most you can reasonably expect at this price point. Including the one on front, there are four sets of A/V inputs, all of which offer S-video, while twin video outs provide your choice of composite or S-video.

The RD-7106 has an S-video input on the front panel.

The two optical and two coaxial digital audio inputs are easily switchable via a front-panel button, and the RD-7106 packs a 5.1-channel direct input plus a 5.1-channel bass-management system, in addition to six preamp outputs. The speaker terminals accept either bare wire or banana plugs. In short, the front and back panels are an absolute dream, well-laid-out for easy management and offering ample hookups for your best gear. High-performance 24-bit/96-kilohertz analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters are onboard for all channels. Two levels of dynamic-range compression are also available to keep the extremes of movie soundtracks clearly audible even at low volume. The Sherwood lives in the biggest chassis of any we auditioned, and it is of extremely solid construction. The Digi-Link remote control system is also served by a pair of RCA connections, providing interoperability with Sherwood Digi-Link II- or III-compatible products (DVD, EQ, etc.). The unified remote is completely straightforward and mighty handy.

The back panel is a dream, with a 5.1-channel direct input and bass-management system.

Mike noticed a warmer, smoother, less-digital sound from the Sherwood, with tighter bass that was less thuddy but not as extended as the Yamaha's. There was better surround-channel envelopment and a smooth midrange, too. I felt that the high frequencies did not have the same pizzazz as I had heard before and that the bass, while respectable, did not rock the house. The front/back spread was generally good for a more-natural-sounding, more-involving, almost-organic presentation in which the speakers seemed to disappear. Adam pointed out that it handled the quiet better and that the sound was generally more pronounced and nuanced. He also thought it had better surround effects than the Yamaha, and he experienced a better feeling of motion. There was plenty of bass here, too, and it built up nicely. We still received a potent, powerful kick when Jodie Foster was ripped to a stop in the wormhole, but it felt more natural.

Musically, I felt that the two channels worked together more harmoniously. While I would not call the resulting sound musically pure, it was more natural overall, with neither distracting bass nor a murky high end. Mike enjoyed the more-natural attack from Richards' guitar and the more-articulate midrange, with a less-"shouty" sound and more swing than the Yamaha offered. The Sherwood sounded completely effortless to me in its reproduction of the Ghost's laid-back riffs, with more-realistic, albeit less-potent, bass. Unfortunately, the digital signal would unlock between tracks on the Doors CD, so we consistently missed the first note of the song!

• 100 watts into each of five channels: Wow!
• Uses Digi-Link remote control system
• Four sets of A/V inputs, all with S-video

HT Labs Measures: Sherwood RD-7106

This graph shows that the RD-7106's left channel, from CD input to speaker output with two channels driving 8-ohm loads, reaches 0.1% distortion at 109.2 watts and 1% distortion at 123.9 watts. Into 4 ohms, the amplifier reaches 0.1% distortion at 137.5 watts and 1% distortion at 167.1 watts. The analog frequency response was +/-0.59 decibels from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz. The response dropped to -2.02 dB at 10 Hz and -2.41 dB at 50 kHz. THD+N from the amplifier was less than 0.023% at 1 kHz when driving 2.83 volts into an 8-ohm load. Crosstalk at 1 kHz driving 2.83 volts into an 8-ohm load was -84.5 dB left to right and -88.1 dB right to left.

From the Dolby Digital input to the loudspeaker output, the left, center, and surround channels are all flat, +/-0.53 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. From the Dolby Digital input to the line-level output, the LFE channel is +0.88 dB at 20 Hz when referenced to the level at 40 Hz and reaches the upper 3-dB down point at 77 Hz and the upper 6-dB down point at 104 Hz.—AJ

RD-7106 $400
(800) 962-3203
Dealer Locator Code SHR