JVC RX-D702B Digital Surround Receiver Page 2

The Short Form
JVC.COM / 800-252-5722 / $800 / 17.25 x 3.625 x 14.625 IN / 15 LBS
•Wireless and wired USB inputs for music from a PC. •Diminutive chassis size and weight. •Stylish design. •Impressive power capability.
•Uninspired remote-control. •No multizone capability. •No bass management for DVD-A through HDMI input. 0511_jvc_movie
Key Features
•7.1-channel receiver with digital amplifier (150 W x 7 into 6 ohms) •Wireless and wired USB inputs for receiving music from a PC or Mac •Faroujda DCDi processing for analog video inputs •Smart Surround auto-setup •3D Headphone mode •2 HDMI inputs; upconverts all video signals for HDMI output •2 component-video inputs, 1 output; 4 composite/S-video inputs, 3 outputs •Coaxial and 3 optical digital audio inputs, optical output
Tech Bench
The power output of the JVC RX-D702B was impressive, with 104 watts into 8 ohms and 173 watts into 4 ohms, one channel driven. Power output for five channels driven was 73 watts into 8 ohms and 83 into 4 ohms, also very good performance. The measured A-weighted noise levels and excess-noise levels were relatively high, but there were no audible problems in normal listening. There is no bass management for the multichannel analog input or for DVD-Audio played via the HDMI digital input. Full lab results
MOVIE PERFORMANCE For my viewing pleasure, I checked out Cellular, a thriller ("If the signal dies, so does she"). If you've not seen it, let's just say it's okay for nights and weekends, but isn't worth peak minutes. Its Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, however, features a tense orchestral score that is quietly suspenseful. I took that opportunity to listen for any distortion or noise and happily didn't hear any. Occasionally, the score lit up my room with punchy dynamics, and the amplifiers proved equal to the task, delivering robust volume and power to spare. Using the film's alternate two-channel analog soundtrack let me toy with the Dolby Pro Logic IIx Movie mode. For lots of films, this sounds as good as full surround - a great option if you enjoy old movies.

On the video side, the receiver uses Faroudja's DCDi processing to tame the jagged edges that sometimes appear in video-based programs. I have appreciated the benefits of this chip in other components and was not disappointed here. Distinct edges were noticeably smooth on my big screen. On the downside, DCDi is only applied to analog video input signals - if you use an HDMI input, what comes in is what goes out.

EASE OF USEI'm a big fan of HDMI and the simplicity and fidelity it brings to interconnection. So I was pleased that the RX-702B can convert any lesser video signal for viewing via the HDMI monitor connection to my HDTV. But as with most HDMI-equipped receivers we've seen so far, onscreen menus can only be seen via the composite-, component-, or S-video outputs. So you're still stuck connecting a second video cable from the receiver to your display and have to switch your display to that input to use the menu system.

I'm also a big fan of USB. I've long had a wired analog audio connection between my desktop PC and receiver, but the JVC's wireless digital USB audio connection lets you conveniently send music from a laptop anywhere in the room. In some systems, going USB into the receiver (wired or wireless) can even improve fidelity if the digital-to-analog converter in the receiver is better than the one in your computer's soundcard. Generally, soundcard converters are marginal, so you may get some added sonic benefit here.

JVC says the wireless transmitter's range is 100 feet. That's optimistic, but I got reliable communication throughout my large listening room, and it also successfully conveyed a signal from an adjacent room, separated by a concrete wall, at a distance of over 35 feet. In either case, signal quality was good, and fidelity depended on the files' bit rate.

One small downside: the USB link is one-way from PC to receiver, so I couldn't use the receiver or its remote to control song playback (or anything else) on my PC. To change songs, for example, I had to go back to the computer and use my keyboard or mouse to directly control my player software. Also, when the transmitter is plugged in, it commandeered my PC's audio output - and continued to do so even if the receiver was turned off. To route the PC's audio back to its own speakers, I had to unplug the transmitter (then plug it back in and reestablish the link the next time I wanted to use it). I sure hope that future systems allow two-way communication to overcome this.

The remote's battleship-gray color and generic layout have no stylistic connection to the device it controls, but it was easy to use once I became acquainted with the placement of some of the lesser-used buttons tucked under a sliding plastic cover.

BOTTOM LINE You can buy an awful lot of receiver for $800 these days, and you'll find many worthy competitors to JVC's RX-D702B that offer great sound and connection flexibility without skimping on basics like A/B speaker switching, multizone capability, or a full-featured remote. On the other hand, the JVC has much to recommend it. The wireless (and wired) USB inputs make it a snap to access your computer-based music library and play it over your home theater system - turning your PC into a music server. The JVC's sleek design and cool-running digital circuitry are two other big pluses. And JVC has gone the route of simple elegance here, creating a receiver that's easy to hook up and operate.

If you don't care about ripped music files or high style, you'll find plenty of black boxes out there that may better suit your needs or deliver similar performance at a lower price. But if you've got a few thousand songs on your computer's hard-disk drive or a persnickety spouse watching every new component you drop in your living room, JVC's RX-D702B could be your ticket.