CX-A5000 Surround Processor
PRICE CX-A5000, $3,000; MX-A5000, $3,000
AT A GLANCE
Audiophile pre/pro sound quality
Impeccable build quality
Apple AirPlay support
Amp performance merely competent
Limited network interface
Yamaha&rsquo;s new pre/pro is a surefire contender, though its matching 11-channel amplifier wasn&rsquo;t quite the same caliber.
If you&rsquo;re in the market for a new AVR, you can spend countless hours researching all of the various manufacturers&rsquo; Websites and, when all is said and done, still have 20 or more models to choose from that have all the bells and whistles you want. The same can&rsquo;t be said for the surround processor market, which is extremely limited by comparison.
Most companies offer only one model&mdash;if that&mdash;and it&rsquo;s generally a reconstruction of their flagship AVR minus the amp section. Don&rsquo;t expect a discounted price, though; with such a limited audience for pre/pros, you can expect to pay top dollar even when the amps are absent. That said, this isn&rsquo;t such a bad deal because you can then choose an amplifier that mates well with your particular speakers. Furthermore, by having the electronically noisy amps in a separate enclosure, energized by their own dedicated power supply, you can theoretically enjoy improved audio quality. Of course, you also get an increased footprint in your rack with additional black boxes. The quest for audio nirvana certainly isn&rsquo;t easy.