Daniel Kumin

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 26, 2024  |  4 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Honest audiophile-grade sound
Free app delivers a good selection of streaming services
Proprietary two-channel room/speaker-correction EQ works well
Above average FM tuner included
Minus
Amplifier power may not be adequate for all speakers, larger rooms
No subwoofer output; no fixed-level line input for easy multi-channel integration; no 12V trigger
Lacks the touchscreen interface found on several competitors

THE VERDICT
An all-in-one streamer/amplifier that promises and delivers genuinely high-end sound, though with relatively modest amplifier power.

The twentieth century had its Roaring Twenties; welcome to the twenty-first’s Streaming Twenties.

Integrated amplifiers equipped with on-board streaming facilities and software, and the requisite digital-to-analog conversion hardware, have taken the place that the stereo receiver once held, back in the 1960’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s.

Daniel Kumin  |  May 08, 2024  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
15 x 150 watts of power
Audyssey and Dirac (extra-cost) room correction
Comprehensive surround and up-mixing abilities
Flexible amplifier, channel assignments
HEOS multiroom/streaming ecosystem
Minus
No system-wide user-presets
HEOS streaming omits some services

THE VERDICT
A flagship AV receiver fully worthy of the name.

Remember when cars ran on gasoline, cell phones flipped, and you needed a forklift to get a flagship-model AV receiver onto your equipment rack?

Denon does. Its new pennant-flying model, the AVR-A1H, clocks in at an impressive 71 pounds. And while I managed to hoist our sample onto my rack unaided—mostly because I was too abashed to ask for help—if I’d had a forklift I for damned sure would have used it.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 17, 2024  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4300 (UD-701N), $3800 (AP-701B)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Faultless sound quality
Superb headphone amp
Outstanding build, finish quality
Minus
Less-than elegant app, interface
Expensive

THE VERDICT
Jewel-like stereo separates deliver definitive stereo audio performance.

Daniel Kumin  |  Oct 12, 2023  |  14 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $7,000/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Reference-grade sound quality, dynamics
Virtually full-range extension
Simple-as-possible app for setup, control
Subwoofer output

Minus
No easy path to multichannel integration
No music-data or volume display
No phono input

THE VERDICT
The ultimate streaming standalone system.

KEF's LS60 is not just a speaker; it's an acoustic revolution packed into a sleek tower of sound. From its state-of-the-art technology to its jaw-dropping design, prepare to meet the future of high-end audio.

Daniel Kumin  |  Aug 23, 2023  |  7 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive amplifier power, dynamics, and quality
Simple, straightforward ergonomics
THX-Select certified
Full-bandwidth Dirac Live included
Minus
No global user-preset feature
Limited on-board streaming

THE VERDICT
A powerful, fine-performing 11-channel amplifier section anchors a flagship AVR that delivers the goods and is mostly free of excess baggage.

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a big Onkyo AV receiver under the operating lights. And the brand’s new flagship model, the TX-RZ70, certainly qualifies: nearly 8 inches tall and some 19 inches deep, and tipping the beam at almost 50 pounds, the TX-RZ70 is no lightweight. As a line-topping design it incorporates all the lead features you’d expect: 11 channels of on-board power, Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D object-oriented surround decoding, 8K HDMI 2.1 all around, and THX Reference certification, plus Dirac Live room-correction EQ with Dirac’s Bass Control.

Daniel Kumin  |  Jun 16, 2023  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,699

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audyssey XT32 room correction, with extra-cost Dirac Live option
9 powered channels enable a full Atmos/DTS:X layout
4 discrete subwoofer outputs to integrate and EQ multiple subs
Handy global-preset feature
Minus
HEOS app required for streaming music services
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
All the important features, enough channels for Atmos/X, and enough watts for a large majority of systems, all with top-shelf sonics, and all for a reasonable price.

For at least two decades now, designers have been managing to deliver more and more features, power, and audio/video finesse, for fewer and fewer dollars—or at least, no more—with every passing model year. Denon’s latest lineup ably illustrates the trend and the one in the spotlight here, the $1700 AVR-X3800H, is going to hit a lot of budget sweet-spots.

Daniel Kumin  |  May 03, 2023  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding sound quality, dynamic abilities
Deep bass extension
Subwoofer output
Minus
No music-data or volume display
On the large side for stand-mount use

THE VERDICT
Big, powerful, flexible, dynamic, and all-around-excellent streaming loudspeakers.

How do you know when an audio trend is more than just a bandwagon? When America’s oldest hi-fi brand climbs on board. (Yes, I know that JBL and Klipsch were both founded in 1946. But JBL’s earliest incarnation goes back to the 1930’s.)

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 15, 2023  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,972

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sonic quality, savory bass, audiophile-grade imaging
Dirac Live room correction
Streaming (and multiroom expandability)
NAD’s BluOS ecosystem and Bluesound iOS/Android apps
Front-panel meters are retro-licious
Minus
Full-bandwidth Dirac requires paid upgrade
Only one analog line input
No pass-thru for multichannel

THE VERDICT
A “simple” stereo integrated that commemorates NAD’s original designs but conceals considerable technological depths, including Dirac Live room correction, wired/wireless networking with app-directed streaming, and Class D power.

I love vintage. Of my four motorcycles, which included a beloved 1958 Triumph T20 Tiger Cub, the 1989 Honda NT650 is the newest. Of my dozen or so guitars, my 1964 Strat and 1966 D-18 are the undisputed stars, while a 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb guitar amp is the apple of my ear. I’ll never part with any of these; just pile them upon my bier when the time comes. But vintage hi-fi? Vintage hi-fi?

Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 17, 2023  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audyssey room correction (Dirac Live coming soon)
9 powered channels for full Atmos/DTS:X
Precisely integrate up to four subs via Audyssey
Full compatibility with Marantz/Denon’s HEOS
Two-way Bluetooth (for wireless headphones, speakers)
Minus
Native streaming mostly requires HEOS app
No affirmation of surround mode (Atmos) when streaming from TV

THE VERDICT
A refined AVR offering 9-channel power for a full Atmos or DTS:X setup. It has excellent room-correction capabilities with an innovative multiple-subwoofer option.

With the advent of features such as room correction, object-oriented surround, and networked/wireless streaming (to name but three), AV receivers have become more elaborate than ever. So much so that just to enumerate all the features and functions of the Cinema 50, the next-to-top model in Marantz's newest AVR lineup, would easily exceed the column inches allotted to this entire report; pity the poor AV reviewer! (I know you all do.)

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 02, 2022  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $900/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive low-end extension and dynamics
Good array of inputs including HDMI/eARC for TV sound
Subwoofer output lends expandability
Minus
The active speaker must be the right channel
Low-end balance may prove a bit strong for near-wall placement in some rooms
No systemic EQ
No file format data display

THE VERDICT
Outstanding sound quality in a compact, wireless-streaming speaker pair.

I haven't yet decided what to call the new genus of streaming-on-board powered stereo speakers. Streakers? Speamers? Whatever you call them, active DSP speakers, with amps, digital converters and crossovers, and of course, streaming capabilities built right in, are officially now a thing.

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