AV Receiver Reviews

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Daniel Kumin  |  Jan 05, 2008  |  0 comments
Feature creatures, take note: If you like tweaking, selecting, optimizing, and customizing, read on. Personally, I'm usually not big on extras.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Dec 17, 2007  |  0 comments
What your money buys in budget, moderate, and high-end surround receivers.

At the heart of a typical home theater system is the surround receiver. True, the video display might be the emotional heart of your system—but only if you're willing to settle for tinny sound. You might also go bleeding-edge and ditch the surround receiver for high-end separates, namely a preamp/processor and multichannel amp. In that case, I salute you. But I aim today's homily at the average Joe or Jack or Jill who wants the best surround sound available from a one-box receiver.

Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 03, 2007  |  0 comments
What if you had all the money in the world but only room for one more item on your shelf? What if you cared deeply about DVDs and CDs but not a fig for DVD-Audio, SACD, Blu-ray Disc, or HD DVD?
Jerry Kindela  |  Nov 15, 2007  |  First Published: Oct 15, 2007  |  0 comments
Price-sensitive yet refined, sophisticated sound.

Paul Barton doesn't merely talk about Canada's National Research Council; he preaches about the facility, acting as the Billy Graham for Canadian scientific research. And well he should. The NRC was founded to provide scientific, practical, and developmental support to Canadian companies wishing to compete in a global economy. Barton began using the NRC's facilities and its scientific minds in 1974, just two short years after he launched a modest little speaker company called PSB. Within a year, PSB released the Avante, the first speaker the company designed with the NRC's help. Since then, Barton has continued to design well-received and well-reviewed speakers, each delivered with assistance from the NRC facilities.

David Vaughn  |  Nov 05, 2007  |  0 comments

Evolution is the continual process of change. For electronics manufacturers, evolution is often defined as updating equipment just enough from year to year to make consumers willing to upgrade to the latest and greatest. One could argue that until the advent of HDMI a couple years ago, the evolution of the AVR (Audio/Video Receiver) hadn't featured a compelling reason to upgrade in a while.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Oct 29, 2007  |  0 comments
Kickin' butt and takin' soundfield names

For as long as I can remember (although the time scale is questionable nowadays), Yamaha has been a strong player in the AV receiver game. While Yamaha is not really a "high-end" company mentioned in the same breath with the likes of, say, Krell, Classe, or Lexicon, it certainly pioneered the behemoth, all-in-one-piece- hernia-inducing monster AV receiver starting with the $4,499 RX-Z9 several years ago (Yamaha's latest, biggest, and baddest, the 11.2-channel RX-Z11, will appear in November for $5,499).

Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 22, 2007  |  0 comments
High-end audio goes green.

There is a link in the public mind between scale and quality, a notion that, if you want something better, you also want something bigger. After all, top-of-the-line surround receivers are expected to have more powerful amplifiers and more features. Bigger speakers come with a tacit implication of better bass response. And who doesn't dream of buying a bigger plasma or LCD?

Kim Wilson  |  Oct 15, 2007  |  0 comments
Even lower priced Pioneer Elite models appear rich and substantial. Pioneer's Elite models are to Pioneer as Lexus is to Toyota. According to Pioneer, the driving force behind Elite A/V receivers is uncompromising sound quality, impeccable design, and the most sophisticated digital processing.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Oct 08, 2007  |  First Published: Sep 08, 2007  |  0 comments
Getting Sirius—and XM.

Having hefted more than a few surround receivers into the spare berth on my equipment rack, I've earned the right to be blasé. This feeling usually turns to annoyance when I have to figure out which button on the remote control will get me into the setup menu. But all of these predictable emotions vanish when I hit my universal disc machine's play button and music starts coming out of five speakers (and a sub) in the Dolby Pro Logic II music mode. As someone who was weaned on stereo, surround still seems like something of a miracle. By the time I get around to playing a movie, I feel like a kid again.

Daniel Kumin  |  Oct 02, 2007  |  0 comments
New! Improved! Whiter whites! Brighter brights! We've heard it all before -- no fewer than 10,000 times.
Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 23, 2007  |  0 comments
Little big man.

Why do people who spend for- tunes on their cars look askance at high-end audio equipment? They wouldn't be seen dead backing a budget SUV out of their driveways. But, when they choose the gear that mediates their relationship with music and movies, they condemn themselves to poverty. Audio systems are shadows to them. They're all the same, so why pay more? These sad people drive their $70,000 cars to Circuit City and pay three figures for a mediocre HTIB. I once wrote about portable audio for an outdoorsy men's magazine. When I suggested that high-end headphones are as valid as high-end hiking gear, the editor gave me a perplexed and somewhat dirty look.

Darryl Wilkinson  |  Sep 13, 2007  |  0 comments
As far as I'm concerned, this is the standard that all other receiver makers should aspire to.

Sony recently announced a trio of new AV receivers in the ES line. The ES stands for "Elevated Standard", a designation that is supposed to indicate performance and features that are a cut above the standard Sony line. Although the marketing and the reality haven't always jibed, Sony appears to be giving renewed attention and vigor to the gear that wears the ES badge.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 03, 2007  |  First Published: Aug 03, 2007  |  0 comments
We could be heroes.

What would your life be like if you'd married the first person you ever dated? If you want a great home theater system, sometimes it pays to dig deeper. OK, American Acoustic Development (AAD) stands in the shadow of larger and more prestigious brands, so this may be the first time AAD's M Series speakers have come to your attention. And you're not likely to find the Rotel RSX-1057 receiver in the big chain stores that fill cavernous spaces with little worth hearing. But these two brands have more to offer than many of their market-leading, deep-pocketed rivals.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 02, 2007  |  0 comments

In many respects, AV receivers haven't changed much in recent years. There have been no major breakthroughs in amplifier design. 7.1-channels aren't that new. Multichannel analog inputs have been a fixture for some time. Dolby Digital and DTS have been with us since the Jurassic Age&mdash;or at least since <I>Jurassic Park</I>. And FM and AM sections are about as exciting as <I>Halloween 14</I>.

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