Surround Processor Reviews

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Chris Lewis  |  Nov 07, 2001  |  First Published: Nov 08, 2001  |  0 comments
Lexicon's long-awaited flagship pre/pro finally hits the shelves.

The rumors about Lexicon's new pre/pro have been swirling about for what seems like an eternity. It can do this. It will have that. It may pour you a straight bourbon if you set it up properly. So, it's with no small amount of anticipation that many await their first glimpse of this new megaprocessor, which has been touted (by the grapevine more than Lexicon) as having all of the performance of the highly respected MC-1 with a few more tricks up its sleeve. While the MC-12's goal is certainly to supplant the MC-1 at the top of the Lexicon line, it's undoubtedly aware of the debt of gratitude it owes its predecessor and ancestors like the DC-1, which laid the foundation for the respect and subsequent anticipation that this model enjoyed long before it ever hit the shelves.

Joel Brinkley  |  Dec 07, 2001  |  0 comments
For years now, Lexicon has been a darling of home-theater owners, particularly those who care most about their components' performance and least about cosmetics. The home-theater preamp-processors that Lexicon has made in the last five years—the DC-1, DC-2, and MC-1—have been among the best-performing products of their type. But their plain-Jane appearances do not make them stand out for comment when uninformed friends come over to have a look at your equipment.
Chris Lewis  |  Jul 14, 2003  |  First Published: Jul 15, 2003  |  0 comments
Lexicon's next generation arrives with a bang.

You can't please everybody, especially in the home theater world. Lexicon came close in 2000 with the release of the MC-12, an end-all pre/pro that carried on the company's tradition of performance but also addressed the few issues that people had with earlier Lexicon controllers like the MC-12's direct predecessor, the MC-1. Almost everyone, myself included, loved the MC-1's sound, tweakability, and just about everything else. As with any high-profile piece, though, people did raise questions about the MC-1—some legitimate, some not. The MC-12 directly addressed the important issues, like the lack of analog bypass and a six-channel input. (Remember that, when the MC-1 debuted, SACD and DVD-Audio were still just a twinkle in the audiophile's eye.) Even many of the peripheral issues, such as aesthetics, got some attention on the MC-12. The only remaining issue was price, as the MC-12 cost a few thousand dollars more than the MC-1. True, but Lexicon didn't replace the MC-1 with the MC-12; they simply provided the MC-12 as another option.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 04, 2011  |  10 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,700 At A Glance: Receiver priced, separates performance and power • Next-gen Internet connectivity and versatility • Sophisticated sonics, simplified setup

Everybody’s Been Burned

Are you weighed down by a boat anchor of an expensive, powerful, but obsolete A/V receiver that doesn’t have HDMI inputs or processing for the latest lossless audio formats? You’re not alone. Everybody’s been burned by fast-moving technological change. You could unload your boat anchor for a few hundred dollars on eBay or AudiogoN and start over. But should you? Consider that today’s cost-conscious race-to-the-bottom A/V receivers and even some separates seem to be getting cheaper but worse sounding, not better. But if Marantz’s AV7005 surround processor and MM7055 amplifier are as good as the hype suggests, this could be the way to go. And in case of future obsolescence, at least now you’re into separates, which makes upgrades a less pricey proposition.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 13, 2008  |  0 comments
An Antidote to the AVR

With flagship A/V receivers approaching apartment building size and black-hole heft, there’s a great deal to be said about separating the brains of the operation from the brawn. If you choose separates, it means you never have to borrow a construction crane to hoist a feature-laden, mega-watt seven- or eight-channel receiver onto a tall equipment rack.

David Vaughn  |  Feb 20, 2013  |  16 comments

AV8801 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
MM8077 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: AV8801, $3,599; MM8077, $2,399 At a Glance: Up to 11.2-channel playback with Audyssey DSX and DTS Neo:X Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and Sub EQ HT Apple AirPlay support

As A/V enthusiasts, we are constantly on the lookout for the best audio and video we can find, and when we reach that state of nirvana, we enjoy our equipment until the next CES or CEDIA when we then hear about something new and begin to worry that our system will soon be second best. Writing for Home Theater makes me an unwilling accomplice in this never-ending cycle of upgrade-itis, but truth be told, I’m just as affected by this as the rest of you. Thankfully, I’m able to get my fix by having lots of equipment moving through my rack, but every now and then, I fall in love with a piece and don’t want it to leave my possession.

David Vaughn  |  May 21, 2015  |  46 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
11.1 channels with Audyssey MultEQ XT processing
Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D, and DTS:X surround
Full 4K video processing upgradable to HDCP 2.2
Minus
Limited range for remote sensor

THE VERDICT
Noticeably improved sound quality over its predecessor plus Atmos, Auro-3D, and DTS:X surround processing make the Marantz AV8802 a top-notch upgrade.

It’s been a little more than two years since I reviewed the Marantz AV8801 surround processor, and I liked that model so much, it never left my system. At the time, I thought it was the best-sounding pre/pro I had ever owned, and I had no real desire to upgrade anytime soon. That all changed last fall when Dolby announced that Atmos for the home was on its way. I started thinking how I could finagle four extra speakers into my room—because for some reason, I have this overwhelming desire to stay on the cutting edge of home theater technology, regardless of the personal expense.

David Vaughn  |  Nov 07, 2018  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D formats
13 processing channels and 15 audio outputs
Clean, highly detailed sound
Minus
Very narrow remote sensor

THE VERDICT
Marantz’s new flagship surround processor makes the most of the Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D formats while providing a notable sound quality improvement over its predecessor.

I remember my first flagship A/V receiver like it was yesterday. It was the year 2000, and Onkyo’s TX-DS989, which sold for a cool $3,200 and featured seven channels of built-in amplification plus support for the latest, greatest THX Surround EX and DTS-ES codecs was every home theater enthusiast’s dream. With rear surround speakers now added to the mix, a home theater could actually match the arrays found in cinemas.

Chris Lewis  |  May 01, 2005  |  First Published: May 17, 2005  |  0 comments
Turn on, tune in, strap down. I was standing in an area of last year's Home Entertainment Show in New York that had no demonstration rooms anywhere nearby. It started with a boom and a rumble, like the gathering of a distant but powerful storm. It wasn't enough to shake me yet, but it was enough to grab my attention. Then came another boom, another rumble, and enough curiosity that I felt compelled to find a tactful way out of my conversation and make my way toward this growing intensity. Not only could I feel the floor moving under my feet as I got closer, but I even started to believe I was seeing Sheetrock flakes on the floor, steadily gathering into a distinct trail. Soon enough, the rattling of the walls, the low-frequency energy waves hammering my senses, and the shaken but excited looks of people coming the other way told me I had arrived. MiCon Audio, the door announced. Curious, I thought—or tried to think, before another sortie ripped out from inside—and a belief that the door might literally be blown off its hinges began to monopolize my thoughts. Finally, the door opened, and the answer to all of the riddles awaited me inside—but, for that, you'll have to read on.
Thomas J. Norton  |  May 15, 2019  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional flexibility
First-rate build quality
Superb sound
Minus
Complex ergonomics
Inadequate owner's manual

THE VERDICT
This NAD preamp-processor can accommodate nearly every system requirement and then some. While pricey, it's hard to imagine a better-sounding hub for your home theater.

NAD (New Acoustic Dimensions) gained considerable attention soon after its founding in 1972 by offering impressive sound quality at fair prices. Today, most of NAD's more affordable products still proudly bear the unique, workpants cosmetics of its early days. But that definitely doesn't apply to the upscale Masters series, which includes the M17 V2 surround preamp-processor. As with all current NAD products, the M17 V2 is manufactured in China but designed in Canada, where the company is headquartered.

Steve Guttenberg  |  Jan 26, 2007  |  0 comments
They want to take you higher.

The component that put NAD on the map in the mid 1970s—the 3020 integrated stereo amplifier—didn't look like a giant killer. Finished in an indeterminate shade of grayish-brown and devoid of gee-whiz features, the 3020 nevertheless became one of the best-selling audiophile amplifiers of all time—and not just because it sounded better than anything going for two or three times its humble MSRP. The 3020 had that special something that made it, well, lovable. Over the decades, the engineers squeezed a bit of the 3020's magic into every NAD product, but they've pulled out all the stops with the new Masters Series components. They had to, as the ultimate NADs are competing with the likes of Anthem, Arcam, B&K, and Rotel. They're playing with the big boys now.

Fred Manteghian  |  Feb 06, 2014  |  9 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,095

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fulfills your innermost audiophile aspirations
Simple operation
Excellent proprietary room EQ
Minus
Kiss your sweet analog sources goodbye
Feature-wise, it’s missing a lot more than the kitchen sink

THE VERDICT
You’ll easily get through your diet of high-def viewing and listening with this great-sounding surround processor that works without a hitch.

I couldn’t make the John Mayer concert in Hartford a few weeks ago, but I heard it was great. Best I can do is throw the Born and Raised CD into the tray and set the AVP-18 surround processor to one of the DSP modes that turns a studio album into a concert event in your living room. Let’s see, he was at the open-air under-cover Comcast theater which has really great sound from most seats, so nothing slap-echo-happy like the over-the-top Stadium or Theater modes. Ahh, Rock has just the right amount of reverb tail.

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 28, 2017  |  2 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,399

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unimpeachable audio and basic video quality
Generally good ergonomic design
Eminently useful pop-up Quick Menu
Minus
No aptX for Bluetooth
Local-streaming audio doesn’t display file type/sampling info
Fairly downscaled remote

THE VERDICT
Onkyo’s latest A/V preamp/processor adds the Dolby Atmos/DTS:X and 4K/HDR capabilities needed to bring the brand’s pre/pro current, while maintaining very solid value in the field.

The A/V preamp/processors from Onkyo (and sister brand Integra) have been through five or six generations over the years, and I think I’ve tested or at least used just about all of them. And for that decade-plus span, my overall reaction to them has remained pretty consistent: all the A/V-system quarterbacking any rational being needs at a fair price. Onkyo’s latest iteration, the PR-RZ5100 network A/V controller, seems unlikely to change that conclusion while updating the series to 11.2-channel, 4K/HDR status.

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 02, 2006  |  0 comments

Outlaw Audio helped pioneer the direct web-to-consumer channel for audio/video electronics and is among the most successful in that small but growing arena. Its latest introductions include an aggressively priced preamp/processor and compact 7-channel power amp that ask the question: Is an A/V receiver your only sensible choice with less than a couple grand in hand?

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