Robert Kozel

Marantz AV8802 11.2 Surround Sound Processor (SSP) Review

The Marantz AV8802 defines what it means to be a flagship A/V processor and preamp. Featuring support for up to 11.2 channels of immersive sound, the AV8802 includes Dolby Atmos, Dolby Surround, and the complete Audyssey Platinum suite. It can be optionally software upgraded to support Auro-3D and even the hardware can be updated to the latest HDMI 2.0a standard so the AV8802 is ready for the future of 4K and HDR video content.

Revel Performa3 Series 5.1 Speaker System Review

The Revel Performa3 Series speakers offer a terrific blend of performance, quality, and value. In this review, I used the Performa3 Series speakers in a 5.1 configuration. The review system was comprised of a pair of Performa3 F206 floorstanding speakers, a pair of Performa3 M105 bookshelf speakers, a Performa3 C205 center-channel speaker, and a Performa3 B110 subwoofer. The speakers themselves are absolutely gorgeous, with a beautiful lacquered finish, pleasing lines, and modest physical sizes that should fit into most listening rooms.

Bryston SP3 7.1 Surround Sound Processor Review

Bryston is a great example of a company that takes component choice and design to heart. The SP3 7.1 Surround Sound Processor (SSP) does not strive to keep up with every mass-market product feature. Instead, it delivers on a singular goal of delivering outstanding sound quality for both two-channel stereo and multi-channel music and movies alike.

Anthem MRX 710 7.1 A/V Receiver

Anthem's second-generation MRX receivers now offer more HDMI inputs, dual HDMI outputs, 4K upscaling and pass-through, faster HDMI switching and come in three models with the primary difference being the amount of amplification and number of channels. The entry level receiver is the MRX 310, which offers 80 watts per channel for 5.1 channels. The MRX 510 is the middle receiver in the MRX lineup and offers 100 watts per channel for 7.1 channels. The flagship model is the MRX 710, reviewed here, which offers 120 watts per channel for 7.1 channels. As for other differences between models, the MRX 710 and MRX 510 allow the front left and right speakers to be bi-amped. The MRX 710 and MRX 510 have seven rear and one front-panel HDMI input, while the MRX 310 has seven rear HDMI inputs. All three models support software updates via USB.

Marantz AV8801 11.2 Surround Sound Processor (SSP)

While Marantz was showing off their new AV7701 preamplifier at CEDIA 2012 last September, there were already quiet rumors at the show that something else was in the works. I remember being at the show wondering why Marantz wasn't showing any products with the latest Audyssey room correction while their partners over at Denon were offering new products with Audyssey MultEQ XT32 functionality. Just two months later, Marantz put the rumors to rest by officially announcing the AV8801 AV preamplifier/processor. The AV8801 features support for 11.2 channels and includes the latest Audyssey MultEQ XT32 processing. The AV8801 enters the market at a price point which is still well below the premium processors on the market while offering a wide array of functionality. Let's take a closer look at the features of the AV8801 and see how well Marantz's flagship processor performs.

Pioneer Elite N-50 Network Audio Player

Pioneer currently offers two network audio players in their Elite product line. Both models are best described as media streamers since they do not store music within the player's chassis but rather acquire music from external music servers or devices. The first model is the N-30, which offers the ability to stream high-resolution digital music via Apple's AirPlay or from DLNA-compatible servers. The second model and subject of this review is the N-50 that builds upon the functionality of the N-30 by adding an asynchronous USB DAC as well as optical and coaxial digital inputs so the N-50 can be used as an outboard D/A converter.

Paradigm SHIFT E3m In-Ear Headphones (Earbuds)

It was almost impossible to not notice the abundance of headphone products being shown at CES 2012 this past January. It seemed that everyone had a solution for enjoying personal audio devices from large, multi-colored over-the-ear and on-ear headphones to in-ear headphones and earbuds. Paradigm's contribution to this exploding market include the SHIFT E3m earbuds, reviewed here.

Integra DTR-80.3 9.2 A/V Receiver

The Integra name always makes my short list of leading companies in the receiver and processor market space. While Integra is a premium manufacturer of high-end A/V equipment catering to custom A/V installers, their products offer a great mix of leading-edge technology along with outstanding performance at an attainable price. At CEDIA 2011 this past September, Integra introduced their latest product updates, including the flagship DTR-80.3 receiver, which I cover in this review.