Best of Back to School Gear 2019 Page 2

Yamaha MusicCast BAR 400 Soundbar System: $500


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Ideal for small rooms — which is par for the course in college living — Yamaha’s ultra-sleek BAR 400 system will bring music and movie soundtracks to life without commandeering precious living space. Throw in a MusicCast 50 wireless speaker ($500) and you have what Leslie Shapiro calls a “stellar wireless 5.1 system that creates an immersive experience.” But the BAR 400 is much more than just a streamlined movie sound system: It can just as easily be pressed into action to deliver music across multiple room thanks to the inclusion of Yamaha’s app-based MusicCast platform.

AT A GLANCE
Plus
DTS Virtual:X simulated surround processing
Simple set up
Multiroom capability
Optional MusicCast 50 wireless speaker ($500) can be used to boost surround performance
Minus
Unnecessarily complicated user controls
No Chromecast built-in

Full Review Here


Onkyo TX-NR787 9.2-Channel Network AV Receiver: $449 (on Amazon; originally $699)


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
When some semblance of real home theater is the priority among grads and undergrads, Onkyo’s TX-NR787 is impossible to beat at its current Amazon price of $449. Sure, it’s a 2018 model but who cares? You’re getting a versatile nine-channel AVR that delivers an impressive blend of performance and features for $150 less than the price that led to it being a Sound & Vision Top Value Pick in the first place. With ample processing power to accommodate a DTS:X or Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 setup, the TX-NR787 is certified by THX to deliver rich, powerful sound in rooms as big as 2,000 square feet. Add to that a robust feature set, including a wealth of wireless streaming options and AccuEQ Advance room calibration, and you won’t be disappointed.

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful, full-bodied sound
5.1.4 and 7.1.2-channel surround options
AccuEQ Advance room calibration
Minus
No multichannel preamp outputs
Basic remote control

Full Review Here


Q Acoustics 3000i Series Speaker System: $1,499


3000i Series Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

3060S Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
For grads and undergrads who more than earned their keep over the summer, the 3000i “Cinema Pack” from Great Britain’s Q Acoustics is a 5.1 tower-based home theater system that easily earned our Top Value Pick designation. Its sounds as good as it looks, which is to say very good, indeed — so good, that it made our 2018 Top Value Picks of the Year list. Veteran reviewer Dan Kumin dubbed the system a unique value and praised it for delivering the goods with music and movies. As he put it, “I was rewarded with big, impactful sound (with or without the 3060S sub), a satisfyingly deep presentation, and unfailingly crisp and intelligible dialogue.”

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Rich, full-range sound
Fine imaging
Great-looking and nicely finished
Minus
Center-channel not a perfect timbral match with towers
Subwoofer output and extension does not fully complement towers

Full Review Here


Vizio PQ65-F1 LCD Ultra HDTV: $1,500 (originally $2,100)


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Admittedly a high ticket in the world of back-to-school planning, the PQ65 is quite the bargain at $1,500. Yes, it’s a 2018 model, but imagine the cachet that comes with having a 65-inch TV in a dorm, or more realistically, off-campus housing. P-Series Quantum TVs represent Vizio’s most advanced smart TV designs and, in this case, a TV with excellent high dynamic range (HDR) chops. As veteran TV reviewer Tom Norton put it, “Colors were rich and full-bodied, and detail left nothing to the imagination. Reference discs such as The Greatest Showman and Avengers: Infinity War kept me glued to my seat…The P-Series Quantum set is worth serious consideration, not only for its price but for its solid performance.”

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional value
Effective full array local dimming
Brilliant HDR

Minus
Limited off-center viewing angle

Full Review Here

To browse all Sound & Vision-recommended AV gear, broken out by category, visit our Top Picks page.

ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
JRT's picture

For a back to school themed article, I would suggest that instead of a 65 inch TV, a student might get better dual use out of a somewhat smaller 8k TV that will fit on a dorm room desktop and would also serve as a large computer monitor.

JRT's picture

Likewise, a good 2.1 loudspeaker setup might provide better service and better use of resources than a crapload of lower performing speakers poorly positioned around a dorm room.

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