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Rotel RAP-1580 Surround Amplified Processor Review
Mark Fleischmann | Oct 26, 2017
Audio Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $3,800 AT A GLANCE Plus Muscular Class A/B amp PC-USB and phono inputs Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 7.1.4 decoding Minus No auto setup Limited access to seven-channel amp for Atmos/DTS:X THE VERDICT Rotel returns to analog amplification for their latest top-of-the-line home theater machine—and the results are golden. Is the Rotel RAP-1580 the surround receiver that dares not speak its name? In keeping with the two-channel distinction between stereo receivers and integrated amplifiers, Rotel calls it a surround amplified processor because it doesn’t include an AM/FM tuner. But to my mind, the defining trait of a surround receiver is that it combines a surround preamp/processor and a multichannel amp in one box. So I prefer to call this an audiophile receiver. You say tomato... [Editor’s Note: I’d call it a surround amplifier, and I don’t think it’s the last of this type we’ll be seeing...but, whatever.—RS]
Pioneer VSX-832 A/V Receiver Review
Daniel Kumin | Oct 24, 2017
Audio Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE$479 AT A GLANCE Plus Satisfying power for both two-channel and multi-channel modes 3.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos/DTS:X setup option with phantom surrounds Surprisingly responsive home-network streaming Basic auto-setup/EQ on board Minus Five-channel power requires choice between height or rear channels No analog multiroom capability No audio outputs other than HDMI THE VERDICT Good five-channel power, 4K/HDR readiness, excellent streaming responsiveness, and phantom-rear-channel Atmos give this affordable AVR its distinct attractions. Everybody knows what to expect from a flagship or cruiser-class A/V receiver: top-bracket power of 120 watts per channel or more, with nine, 11, or even 13 channels ready for latest-generation surround technologies like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, as well as hightech auto-setup routines and DSP on board. And then there are the deluxe extras, such as extensive multiroom capabilities, 4K/HDR passthrough and 4K scaling, and plenty of internet- and computer-audio streaming options. But what can you expect from the other end of a brand’s AVR fleet? Not so much, right?
Revel Concerta2 M16 Speaker System Review
Mark Fleischmann | Oct 19, 2017
M16 Speaker System Performance Build Quality Value B10 Subwoofer Performance Features Build Quality Value PRICE $4,050 as reviewed AT A GLANCE Plus High transparency Equalized subwoofer Wall-hanging surrounds Minus Manual sub EQ requires expertise THE VERDICT Revel draws on Harman’s world-class engineering depth to produce immaculate high-end sound—this time, at an extremely reasonable price. Audiophiles (myself included) often point out that high-end audio is stigmatized compared with other product categories. High-end cars, high-end wine, high-end watches: All attract aficionados who don’t mind paying a stiff premium to get the best of the best. And if an average onlooker ventures an opinion at all, it’s “nice watch!” But when a bleeding-edge speaker or amp takes the stage, the applause of the cognoscenti mixes with heckling from the peanut gallery. High-end audio has long been subject to that extra measure of skepticism.
Samsung QN65Q9 LCD Ultra HDTV Review
Thomas J. Norton | Aug 24, 2017
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $6,000 AT A GLANCE Plus Bright and punchy HDR Excellent resolution Stunning color Minus No Dolby Vision Edge-lit instead of full-array backlight dimming THE VERDICT Samsung’s new top-of-the-line QLED flagship brings first-rate brightness, brilliant color, and crisp resolution to the Ultra HD party, but enthusiasts might notice its lack of a full-array, local dimming backlight. Now that we’re awash in high dynamic range (HDR) material on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Samsung is determined to make the most of it with two new TVs, the 65-inch QN65Q9 reviewed here and the 75-inch QN75Q9 for buyers who prefer a bigger (and, at $10,000, pricier) set. Each has a screen that’s flat, not curved.
Q Acoustics 3000 5.1 Speaker System Review
Mark Fleischmann | Aug 03, 2017
3000 5.1 Speaker System Performance Build Quality Value 3070 Subwoofer Performance Features Build Quality Value PRICE $900 AT A GLANCE Plus Sweet and smooth sats Dual 6.5-inch sub Minus Deep sub juts out from wall THE VERDICT A sweet-sounding system, with a sub worthy of the satellites, the Q Acoustics 3000 is one of the best under-$1,000 5.1-channel setups I’ve heard. Tube amps. Mono pressings. And now, 5.1? Has bedrock surround sound indeed joined the ranks of retro audio technologies? Surround receivers beyond the most entry level nearly always have more than five channels (though their uses vary), while Dolby Atmos and DTS:X have made seven (5.1.2) the new minimum system configuration. What happens when you go in the other direction? The flood of 5.1 speaker sets that I used to review in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has tapered to a trickle. I see fewer new ones at CES and CEDIA, and plain old stereo is dominant at the rest of the domestic and international audio shows. However, the British manufacturer Q Acoustics has been marketing 5.1-channel speaker sets since the company’s inception about a decade ago and continues to actively develop them. The brand’s latest entry is called the 3000 5.1 Home Theatre System.
Sony STR-DN1080 A/V Receiver Review
Daniel Kumin | Jul 20, 2017
Audio Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $600 AT A GLANCE Plus Fine amplifier sonics and power Excellent, quick-responding home-network streaming plays most formats, including HRA and DSD Speaker Relocation & Phantom Surround feature Minus Scales only 1080p/24 video to 4K THE VERDICT Excellent audio performance and a unique feature set counterbalance a somewhat quirky and (in a few cases) slow user interface. It’s been several years since I’ve had a Sony AV receiver in my rack, so when the STR-DN1080 arrived on my porch, I was eager to see what the foundational brand’s 7.1-channel Dolby Atmos/DTS:X model had to offer. Sony has been synonymous with consumer electronics for so long that today—in the more specialized corners of the field, such as home theater—it’s easy to overlook the company that was such an early player in the game. But Sony still has an enviable market position, as well as design and engineering firepower aplenty to compete in any sphere they choose.
JL Audio Fathom IWS-SYS-1 In-Wall Subwoofer System Review
Darryl Wilkinson | Jul 05, 2017
Performance Features Build Quality Value PRICE $4,500 (plus installation) AT A GLANCE Plus Enclosure designed for walls with standard 2 x 4 construction 13.5-inch low-profile driver 1,000-watt external amp with Automatic Room Optimization Minus Retrofit install can be difficult Expensive THE VERDICT This subwoofer system does the seemingly impossible in an impossibly seeming way by hiding an amazingly shallow, high-excursion 13.5-inch woofer, along with the 70-inch-tall cabinet it requires, inside a wall having standard 2 x 4 construction, with only a driver-hiding grille screen as evidence—and it does this surprising feat without causing excessive wall vibrations. Even better, it does all that while performing like a top-end in-room sub. If I needed additional proof of how much Rob Sabin, our esteemed editor-in-chief (and part-time male stripper for the visually impaired) dislikes me, this would be it. He asks me the other day if I’d want to review another JL Audio subwoofer, one similar to the company’s ginormous Fathom f212, which I reviewed in 2012. I have fond memories of, bruises from, and a partial hernia caused by that 220-pound behemoth.
LG OLED65E7P OLED Ultra HDTV Review
Thomas J. Norton | Jun 30, 2017
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $5,000 AT A GLANCE Plus It’s all about the black Wide viewing angle Supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision Minus Pricey THE VERDICT Last year’s OLED sets from LG were so impressive that, apart from their peak white capabilities (an ongoing shortcoming relative to LCD designs), it was hard to see a road ahead for improvements. But LG has found that road, and while the upgrades might prove subtle to most viewers, videophiles will welcome them. LG’s 2017 OLED offerings fall into five model groups, with the OLED65E7P positioned roughly in the middle. At $5,000, it’s hardly a Black Friday special, but it’s significantly cheaper than the near-paper-thin 65-inch flagship OLED65W7P (reviewed in our June issue), which commands $8,000.
Epson Home Cinema 3700 LCD Projector Review
Al Griffin | Jun 22, 2017
2D Performance 3D Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $1,500 AT A GLANCE Plus Very good picture quality for the price Flexible installation options Fully backlit remote Minus Inaccurate out-of-box color Some motor noise from Auto Iris High fan noise in certain picture modes THE VERDICT Epson’s mid-range projector delivers very bright images, but it also offers enough refinement to make it a worthy upgrade over cheaper budget-priced models. Let’s face facts: Budget home theater projectors can be a mixed bag. Last year, I tested a trio of such models from Optoma (December 2016 issue), InFocus (soundandvision.com), and ViewSonic (September 2016 issue). More recently, I checked out BenQ’s HT1070 (May), another projector that proved to be a high-value find. But while I liked the idea of getting a big, bright 1080p-resoluton picture for under $1,000, the less-than-impressive picture contrast and sparse installation features put a cap on my enthusiasm. When I look back at the bunch, it seems clear that “better” means “more expensive” when it comes to projectors.
Audioengine HD3 Loudspeaker Review
Mark Fleischmann | Jun 20, 2017
Performance Features Ergonomics Value PRICE $399 pr AT A GLANCE Plus For desktop or in-room listening PC-friendly USB and line inputs Class A/B analog amp Minus Limited (but adjustable) bass THE VERDICT Audioengine, always a champ in powered compact speakers, sweetens the deal on this one with a PC-friendly USB input and headphone jack. Twelve-year-old Audioengine is best known for active compact speakers, though the company also makes passive compact speakers, a subwoofer, a small amplifier, a USB stick DAC, and a couple of streaming DACs. The HD3 loudspeaker is more or less an amalgamation of most of those products, infusing a sweet little speaker with a Class A/B amp, DAC, Bluetooth streaming, and a couple of less common features that just might make it irresistible to those in the market for a pair of small wireless speakers.