Archive for category AV Receivers
It remains to be seen whether IMAX Enhanced–one of the big differentiating features of this year’s Denon AVR-X Series offerings–will be one of those essential features or not. It’s just too new, and my experiences with it, while less-than-promising, aren’t conclusive. I guess what I’m saying is that IMAX Enhanced alone isn’t a good reason to upgrade to the AVR-X4500H if you’re already rocking something like last season’s AVR-X4400H.
But if you’re upgrading from something older, the inclusion of IMAX Enhanced–even if you hate the very idea of it–is certainly no reason to overlook this great AVR. It sits right in that enviable Goldilocks Zone of AVRs, striking the right balance between price, performance, and features for most people and most mid-sized rooms. It features plenty of HDMI ins, plenty enough speaker outputs for a full-fledged Atmos/DTS:X system without dipping into channel-overload territory, its HEOS multiroom and streaming audio platform is rock solid in my experience, and its support for advanced control systems is pretty freaking fantastic.”
I started out by streaming two-channel music using built-in apps and from my iPhone using both AirPlay and Chromecast through the Synchrony One towers with no subwoofer. The Onkyo was not happy when I attempted to stream high-res audio from Qobuz via Chromecast, stuttering and locking up at time. (I’ll put this down to the fact that the service hasn’t officially launched yet in North America, and I was using an overseas-based press preview account.) Other music streaming services worked fine via Chromecast. Listened to on Tidal, Joe Cocker’s superb cover of Bob Dylan’s “Seven Days” recorded with Sly and Robbie on drums and bass revealed a nicely fleshed out, punchy sound, with plenty of bottom-end kick. Any lingering concerns I had about the amp’s ability to drive the Synchrony towers were quickly put to bed, and I was able to crank the music up nice and loud without having the sound turn raw and thin.”
A foray into using a 5.1.4 speaker setup arguably suited the Marantz even better than 7.1.2. This array added more height detail and made the soundstage feel more expansive at lower volumes too. Dense scenes within the City of a Thousand Planets, from Valerian… (4K BD) are suitably warm and stifling. Each neighbourhood is filled with its own charm, the Marantz missing little in bringing both the earthy grime and vibrancy to the film’s soundscape.
In general, the SR7012 acquits itself as a solid and sophisticated performer, if not an all-action monster. My Fifth Element 4K UHD reference Atmos disc is perfectly accurate and enjoyable but, when the scenes hot up, this does lack that last degree of grunt compared to more potent (and more expensive) AVRs. It’s a better bet for smaller speaker packages and systems. Add to this the formidable feature set and stellar performance with stereo music, and it’s warmly recommended.”
The CX-A5200 is another great example of Yamaha’s multichannel expertise. The AI embellishment feels less like a gimmick and more of a genuine feature that can enhance your enjoyment of surround soundtracks. I’m not so enamoured of all the DSP settings, which do feel like a gimmick to me, but I know they have their fans.
If you already own the CX-A5100, Surround:AI might not be a compelling reason to upgrade; the predecessor is still a cracking processor. But if you’re thinking of going the separates route and building a multichannel system, the CX-A5200 is a serious contender. It looks great and sounds even better, has a host of features and the build quality of a Rolls Royce, and a price that is highly competitive. Best of all, it can make your surround sound smarter…