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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

image By this point most people associated with the consumer electronics industry is aware of the popularity of digitally based music solutions and the renewed interest in vinyl (LPs).

What isn't so obvious however, is the overall trend of two-channel audio once again becoming a primary source of consumer entertainment. Helping to drive this trend are products like the new C7R DAC Receiver from Bel Canto. This product incorporates everything a homeowner will need to take advantage of those audio trends that are happening in home audio.

The C7R incorporates an amplification section rated to deliver 60 watts into an 8-ohm load and 120 watts per channel into a 4-ohm load. In addition, the unit incorporates 24-bit/192kHz SPDIF inputs; two 24-bit/192kHz Toslink inputs, a single 24-bit/96kHz USB input, a moving magnet (MM) phono input and line-level RCA inputs. Other features built into the C7R include WBT Nextgen Speaker Connectors, RCA line out connections and a headphone output.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

image Usually when someone from the audio/video world talks about ergonomics and room friendliness the talk revolves around the topic of loudspeakers. The specialty A/V manufacturer Marantz takes that talk in a new direction with its Slimline series of A/V receivers that incorporate all of the latest industry technologies and chassis dimensions that make them home space friendly.

The introductory NR1403 Slimline A/V receiver is a 5.1 product that is rated to produce 50 watts per channel, and it incorporates a total of six HDMI inputs that includes a front panel input. In addition, the unit also offers the company's M-XPort technology that facilitates the use of streaming Bluetooth audio. The entry level receiver also includes ability to improve the receiver's sound through the choice of Audyssey MultEQ, Audyssey Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ.

Marantz's step-up Slimline A/V receiver is the NR1603 and this product is a 7.1 solution that's rated to produce 50 watts per channel. The NR1603's list of features includes Apple's AirPlay, Ethernet inputs, front panel USB and HDMI inputs, Audyssey MultEQ, Audyssey Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ sound processing and DLNA 1.5 compliance for networked audio.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

image From the consumer perspective one of the great things about being a home theater enthusiast is the rapid cycle of product and technology development. Besides the obvious improvements in quality and performance with these technology cycle changes, another benefit that consumers almost certainly enjoy is that prices typically fall with the introduction of each new product release.

Yamaha's latest product introductions are symbolic of the improvement in performance and quality, and the lowering of product costs. The company's two new receivers: The RX-V573 and RX-V473 provide budget minded home theater enthusiasts with a choice of full-featured products that combine the latest in network DLNA friendly technologies; state-of-the-art home theater surround sound processing and compatibility with Apple's popular array of iOS devices. The RX-V573 incorporates 7.1 channels of amplification, while the RX-V473 offers 5.1 channels of amplification, and both products employ Yamaha's proprietary YPAO system calibration options.

Both products also incorporate provisions to accept future technologies such as 4K video, as well as niche technologies such as 3D and Audio Return Channels (ARC). In addition, the receivers are engineered to be energy efficient through the inclusion of Yamaha's ECO Mode that can reduce the receivers' power consumption by as much as 20 percent.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

image Today's A/V receivers now, more than ever serve as the hub of a modern home entertainment system because of all the features they offer. The newly announced TX-NR717 and TX-NR818 A/V receivers from Onkyo incorporate the latest audio surround sound formats, as well as provisions for video processing, networked entertainment, Apple compatibility and whole-house A/V options.

The TX-NR818 incorporates features such as Audyssey's MultEQ XT32 audio calibration technologies, as well as Onkyo's Dual Core Video Engine that runs a combination of an HQV Vida 1900 video processor with Marvel's Qdeo processor to upscale low resolution content and HD content to higher quality levels. Both receivers are THX Select 2 certified and both incorporate Onkyo's WRAT amplification technologies that are designed to minimize distortion.

Onkyo adds that both setup through an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) that includes a quick setup menu that overlays the GUI, and with multiple HDMI inputs and networking provisions, homeowners can pull media from their home network or stream Internet radio stations such as Spotify and AUPEO.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

image For years the British audio/video company Cambridge Audio has been a popular choice for budget-minded A/V enthusiasts that wanted performance from their gear, but didn't have the means or desire to pay for luxury-priced equipment.

The company's upcoming Azur 551R A/V 7.1 receiver will be available shortly through its U.S. distributor Audio Plus Services and it provides custom installers with a compact, powerful and competitively priced product that's designed to please never-satisfied A/V enthusiast crowd.

Highlighting some of the technologies built into the Azur 551R are the inclusion of Cambridge's low-flux torodal transformer and X-Tract cooling system which help the receiver to produce 110 watts per channel when used for stereo applications and 60 watts per channel in 7.1 applications. The receiver also includes processing options for DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, and video processing options that includes 1080p upconversion technologies that are driven by Faroudja's FLI2310 chipset. Additionally, the receiver offers automatic room correction and setup provisions, and four HDMI 1.4 inputs that are compatible with 3D content.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

image For years the audiophile community has respected the audio components that NAD has produced.

With a line that ranges from two channel components like turntables and streaming media players, to Blu-ray disc players and multichannel amplifiers, NAD offers custom installers a choice of products to meet a variety of client needs. The company's new T 757 A/V receiver incorporates NAD's Modular Design Construction (MDC) concept, which provides an upgrade path for consumers without having to swap out receivers to allow them to keep up with the industry's latest technologies.

The 757 also incorporates a choice of surround sound processing options that includes Dolby TrueHD, DTS HD Master Audio and NAD's proprietary EARs processing mode that converts stereo content to full surround sound. On the video side of the unit's feature set the 757 offers compatibility with 1080p content and 3D video. In addition, NAD also builds in provisions for iPod compatibility and multi-zone configurations to enable installers to integrate multiple zones of entertainment.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

image Marantz holds a unique place in the world of home A/V in that its been able to maintain its legacy of providing affordable, high-performing products while keeping pace with the market's ever-changing technological landscape.

Recently the company announced two new A/V receivers: the SR5006 and SR6006. Focusing on the SR6006, the receiver offers plenty of power with a rating of 110 watts per channel, but just as important as the ability to drive a multichannel speaker system are the rest of the receiver's options. Highlighting some of the receiver's options are seven HDMI 1.4a inputs and two HDMI 1.4a outputs that allows installers to feed multiple displays with 3D content; DLNA v1.5 certification that enables the unit to pull content from a home network, and Apple AirPlay compatibility to allow users to stream iTunes music from their Macs and PCs.

The SR6006 also offers Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoding for lossless surround sound applications, Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster and Flickr streaming capabilities, Bluetooth connectivity, DC triggers and RS-232 control.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

image These days audio/video receivers are asked to a variety of things beyond just simply playing music. Onkyo's recently released TX-NR809 A/V receiver provides a good example of all the many functions a receiver is asked to do.

The TX-NR809 is a THX Select2 certified receiver that incorporates features such as Mavell Qdeo and IDT's HQV Vida video upscaling and processing chipsets; the Imaging Science Foundation's (ISF) video calibration menus, Audyssey's MultEQ XT room equalization technologies, Dolby Volume, front and rear USB inputs, and zone two and three capabilities.

Onkyo says the 7.2 channel receiver is rated to deliver 135 watts per channel from its low negative feedback Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT) design, and that its use of three Texas Instruments' Burr-Brown 192kHz/24-bit DACs per channel are designed to ensure that all digital signals are accurately converted to analog. In addition, the receiver includes one front and seven rear HDMI inputs, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio processing, multichannel pre-outs, network connectivity with Pandora, Slacker, Napster, satellite radio options, and its both Windows 7 and DLNA certified.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

image During the heyday of the economy a few years ago it seemed like big, feature-laden receivers were very much in style. Today value is the driving force behind the development of new products and through this trend manufacturers are engineering products that are reasonably priced, but still loaded with features.

A good example of this trend is the latest series of Yamaha A/V receivers. The company's four new receivers range in price from $250 to $600 and they incorporate features such as DLNA 1.5 and Windows 7 certification, Internet radio options such as Rhapsody, SiriusXM Radio, Pandora and Napster, and front panel-based USB iPhone/iPod connections.

The line includes the 7.1 RX-V671 and RX-V571 receivers and the 5.1 RX-V471 and RX-V371 products. Some of the standard home theater amenities featured in these receivers include 3D compatible HDMI inputs with Audio Return Channels (ARC), DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD decoding, Yamaha's Parametric Room Acoustics Optimizer (YPAO) equalization technologies and its proprietary DSP processing modes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

image As the home theater market continues to evolve to adopt new technologies, arguably no product bears a greater burden than A/V receivers.

Sony's 2011 new A/V receivers are an example of how the market is evolving to meet the growing consumption of digital media by consumers. The company's four new receivers range in price from about $230 to $500 and they include features such as DLNA certification, HDMI 3D pass-through and lossless surround sound Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio processing.

The flagship model is the STR-DN1020 and it incorporates Faroudja video processing, Sony's Digital Cinema Auto Calibration (DCAC) room calibration technologies, dual subwoofer pre-outs, iPhone/iPod Touch control apps and playback through the inclusion of a dock, and secondary audio/video zone capabilities.

Filling out the line are the STR-DH820, the STR-DH720 and the STR-DH520, which all include many of today's latest home theater technology options.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

image With prices that are wallet friendly and technologies that are cutting edge, Pioneer's new 2011 A/V receiver line-up should be attractive to anyone considering a receiver purchase.

The company's four new A/V receivers top price is $550 and all of the products incorporate features such as Apple's wireless audio streaming Air Play technology and Air Jam wireless Bluetooth connectivity technology, along with standard home theater functions like HDM1 1.4a inputs and outputs and full surround sound decoding.

Pioneer's new receivers are also Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod certified and feature other networked options such as DLNA 1.5 compatibility, Net Flix streaming entertainment.

Here's a rundown of four new receivers:
  • VSX-521: MSRP is $250
  • VSX-821: MSRP is $350
  • VSX-921: MSRP is $450
  • VSX-1021 MSRP is $550

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

image For several years custom installers have loyally supported the brand Anthem because of the company's dealer-friendly policies and for its products' collective high levels of performance.

Recently the company entered the home theater receiver category and now several of the receivers are shipping, including the MRX 300. The competitively priced MRX 300 offers dealers an all-in-one A/V component that incorporates 80-watt by seven channels of amplification, video switching and processing with functions that include upscaling to 1080p/60Hz and video component to HDMI transcoding.

Its audio processing functions include Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-ES and an all-channel stereo playback option. Anthem also incorporates its proprietary Anthem Room Correction (ARC) equalization technology, and a firmware upgrade option to support 3D video playback.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

image It seems that almost overnight the worlds of consumer A/V and networking merged to offer users streaming Web services and digital file compatibility, and now networking technologies are almost a standard amenity within traditional home theater products.

With the announcement of Onkyo's TX-NR509 and TX-NR609 A/V receivers, the company is addressing the networked home theater category with two home theater receivers that are affordably priced and fully featured. In addition, the company has also introduced its cost friendly TX-SR309 receiver to further support Onkyo's effort to cover everything from entry level to state-of-the-art components. The 509 and 609 and their network functionality are designated by their TX-NR labels, and the products are compatible with Microsoft's Windows 7 OS and the DNLA protocol.

The 509 and 609 also offer front-port USB inputs, a minimum of four HDMI inputs that support 3D video, surround sound processing options like Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio HD, PLL jitter reducing circuits and secondary zone capabilities. The 609's additional feature set includes THX Select2 Plus certification, 7.2 surround sound capabilities and Audyssey DSX room correction technologies.

Onkyo's $299 TX-SR309 is a basic A/V receiver that omits options such as secondary zones, room correction technologies and network compatibility.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

image A few weeks ago at the annual CEDIA trade show, the popular custom electronics equipment manufacturer SpeakerCraft surprised attendees when it announced its plans to take its product line to the masses.

During a press conference at the show SpeakerCraft President Jeremy Burkhardt getting specific about the company's future marketing and distribution plans introduced the new FloBox series of products, which will be available to CE Pros and larger retail establishments.

Designed to appeal to mass-market consumers and custom-installation clients, the FloBox series features the FloBox and FloBox Mini, and they both integrate iPod/iPad/iPhone docks, FM tuners and mini-USB inputs to facilitate computer-based connections with software like iTunes.

SpeakerCraft arms the FloBox with two 3.5-inch midrange drivers, two .75-inch dome tweeters and a single 5.125-inch woofer. The smaller FloBox Mini features a driver array of two 3-inch midrange drivers and two .75-inch tweeters.

The larger FloBox also adds a built-in CD player to provide added media playback options, and the Calif.-based company offers the products in a choice of black, white, silver, red or yellow gloss finishes to help the products blend into a variety of home environments.

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