Receiver and Processor Reviews
When it comes to room correction firmware in A/V procesors and receiver, Anthem Room Correction (ARC) stands above the rest. With more customization available to users, and better algorithms than competing products, it can help to improve your listening experience. Until recently, the only way to have ARC was with their expensive processors. Now, with the MRX 510 A/V receiver, you have full access to 7.1 channels of ARC in a $1,600 receiver.
This is an amazing receiver, offering a full slate of features equivalent to those offered by any of their competitors. The 4K pass-through puts the Yamaha ahead of many on the market. The sound is dynamic and the video performance is superb.
The Onkyo TX-NR535 5.2 A/V Receiver is part of Onkyo's new line of entry level receivers and features HDMI 2.0 to allow it to pass Ultra HD 4K/60 Hz video. It also features built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for easy streaming of music from your tablet, smartphone and NAS.
Putting together a new home theater setup? Looking to upgrade that old receiver you've had soldiering on valiantly in your a/v cabinet? Well, the home theater enthusiast should find themselves spoiled for choice these days. But I have quite a few reasons why you should check out the Anthem MRX 310 A/V Receiver with the Anthem Room Correction System.
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.
Receivers are hard to review. It's almost impossible to directly compare them to another model as there is so much wiring involved. Attempting to rely on memory has its own challenges, as it can be unreliable when it comes to audio. With all the difference sections of a receiver, from audio and video handling, to room correction and amplifiers, it is difficult to determine what is performing right and what is wrong. It was with great anticipation I delved into the new Arcam AVR750 receiver, the flagship model from the well-regarded UK company.
Suddenly the ESS SABRE DAC is showing up everywhere. At first it was only in high-end audio products like the Oppo BDP-95 and BDP-105 Blu-ray players. Now we have seen it in the Pioneer SC-79 receiver and in a pair of SSPs (Surround Sound Processors): The Krell Foundation and the Yamaha CX-A5000. From bench test numbers to listening tests, the SABRE offers up performance that is at the top of the DAC chain. Many of us just assumed we wouldn't see it in a processor or receiver due to the price. The Yamaha CX-A5000 11.1 SSP uses a pair of ESS SABRE 9016 DACs to support its 11 channels. A step down from the 9018, the SABRE should provide the Yamaha with superior jitter reduction, less tonal noise floor, and slightly greater dynamic range compared to the other DACs at its price. Is the rest of the CX-A5000 engineered around the SABRE up to the task?
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.
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.
The SC-79 marks the fourth revision of the Pioneer SC-line that I have reviewed. From the beginning I've been impressed with the amount of features they fit inside and the performance they offer. The SC-79 announcement is as excited for a new receiver as I have been. Far from a marginal upgrade, Pioneer went all-out and packed in new features galore. The biggest is a pair of ESS SABRE32 9016 DACs. A single-step below the 9018 used in top-flight two channel audio products, the 9016 is the highest end DAC in a receiver today.
While the TX-NR5010 remains the company's flagship model, the TX-NR929 is Onkyo's most fully-featured receiver released in 2013, carrying the THX Select2 Plus variety. Having both owned and reviewed Onkyo receivers, I was greatly looking forward to putting this model through the paces.
When I turn on the Sony STR-DN1040 and am greeted by a colorful, interactive full screen graphical interface, I am surprised. It is even in high definition! Someone has actually been listening to complaints from users and decided to do something about it. They are trying to make the home theater less complex than the PC of the 1980's. Is the Sony STR-DN1040 just a pretty face or does it have the brains and brawn to go along with its beauty?
Back in my college days, I had a roommate that had a nice stereo Pioneer receiver. It cost him a few hundred bucks. Since it was pre-digital, the inputs were pretty basic. Simply hook up to a cassette deck and turntable and we reveled in the audiophile sounds that its 30 watts/channel produced. Ah, the 70's were the "golden era" of audio. Point being, everybody has to start somewhere in their journey to musical nirvana. Fast forward to 2013 and now for around $500 you can get a 7.1 surround, network capable, DSP loaded, phone/Android integrated, Bluetooth, 80 watt/channel Elite receiver from Pioneer. True, the VSX-43 is their entry level Elite receiver, but it is packed with features that would have cost you a lot of money, even just a few years ago. But does the VSX-43 have what it takes to be the brain and brawn you are looking for in a modern home entertainment system?
Marantz came out with their AV7005 processor a few years ago, which contains almost all of the high-end processing and features that people wanted, but at a lower price-point than almost any processor out there. Now Marantz has some back with the AV7701, a replacement for the AV7005 that brings it up to date with the modern streaming functions of current receivers and processors, and adds a few nice other touches as well while keeping that aggressive price-point. Has this update let Marantz keep this little niche to themselves again? I swapped the AV7701 in for my AV7005 to see if I could tell a difference between the two.