Sony STRDA 7100ES 7.1 Home Theater Receiver Review

Sony STRDA 7100es Receiver
Ecoustics ran this Sony 7100ES through its paces, and found it a bit lacking in the setup department, as well as being light on the audio side.

But still, it seems a decent entry in the sub 2 grand category.

“The Sony STRDA7100ES has, at its core, all the right moves: seven channels of raw power, all of the latest surround sound decoding options and HDMI capability wrapped in a shiny silver casing worthy of boutique style electronics. Add to that equation its sub-two-thousand-dollar price tag and you’ve got a receiver with a lot going for it. But in all the areas it succeeds, it falters where others have shone.

Its sound with both music and movies comes off a little lifeless and unsure of itself and its own up-conversion claims come with a barrage of fine print. Top it all off with a user interface that is anything but user-friendly and a remote that simply isn’t worth the plastic it’s made of and you’ve got a receiver that comes up short. I am confident that the architecture of this receiver is a solid foundation for success and would consider reviewing a future revision of this product as the art of digital amps gets more advanced and HDMI switching becomes more developed.”

Sony STRDA7100ES 7.1 Home Theater Receiver Review –

Yamaha YSP-800 Digital Sound Projector Review

yamaha ysp-800 review Here’s a quick and dirty look at Yamaha’s digital sound projection, in the new model YSP-800. This system uses one main speaker unit, which houses 21 microdrivers. The delays are timed on these drivers to trick your brain into hearing positional audio. Cool stuff.

A couple of problems exist with this model, but they aren’t necessarily deal-breakers.

1) You’ll need a subwoofer. But that’s ok, because with any decent sound system, you’re going to need a subwoofer. Just factor in the additional cost.

2) The room needs to be relatively symmetrical. This can be a problem, and could lead to sound quality tradeoff.

The good: Self-powered single-speaker virtual surround system; 2 4-inch woofers paired with 21 1.5-inch microdrivers; built-in Dolby/DTS surround processing and digital power amplifiers eliminate the need for an A/V receiver; autosetup capability.

The bad: Works best in barely furnished, symmetrically arranged rooms; needs to be paired with a subwoofer for optimal sound quality.

The bottom line: Yamaha’s second-generation single-speaker YSP-800 Digital Sound Projector is more affordable and easier to set up, and it sounds better than last year’s model.

If you don’t have a receiver, and have a symmetrical room, this could be a great choice for around 600-700 bucks.

Cnet Review

Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi THX Select2 AV Receiver Review

Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi ReceiverThis new receiver from Pioneer comes highly recommended from Ultimate AV mag, so take note.

A few notable features are dual HDMI inputs with switching, ipod connection/docking, built-in XM satellite radio tuner, and numerous THX functions.

Auto MCACC calibrates and equalizes the system with superb results
HDMI transcoding accommodates all component video signals, not just 480i
Bi-amp capable

Cluttered, unlighted remote

The Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi delivers seamless and powerful multichannel sound, accurate automatic setup/calibration, and connectivity options galore. It is also an excellent value at its $1500 list price. The closest competitor is the new Denon 4306, which lists for $500 more than the Pioneer.

This sleek and attractive component is a great choice for folks who insist on owning sophisticated, high-performance products, but who have no desire to deal with complex technology during day-to-day operation. At the same time, it has enough programmable parameters to please the tweakiest surround-sound geek. In a word, the Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi is a remarkable product, and I recommend it highly.

Ultimate AV: Pioneer Elite VSX-74TXVi THX Select2 AV Receiver

Polk Audio SurroundBar Review

Polk Audio Surround Bar
Here’s another great surround-sound solution for small rooms and wives who don’t like extra wires.

Similar to the Yamaha YSP-800, this is an all-in-one speaker unit that throws sound with delay timings that trick your ear into hearing surround sound from the sides and rear. Just like the Yamaha however, you’ll need to add a subwoofer to be bass-happy.

At 42″ wide, and offered in black or titanium (fancy name for silver, eh?) this piece is a great additon to flat panel HDTVs.

The Polk SurroundBar doesn’t bounce sound off walls like the Yamaha model, so it is great for odd-shaped rooms, or rooms with other acoustical problems.

The good: Sleek single-speaker surround system; five speakers in one; extruded-aluminum cabinet; flexible setup options; nonreflective virtual-surround effect works regardless of room design and layout; wall-mount bracket and table stand included.

The bad: Somewhat expensive; hardly an ideal choice for music lovers; you still need to invest in a subwoofer.

The bottom line: A single-speaker surround system, the Polk Audio SurroundBar works best as a home-theater solution for small rooms.

CNET Review

Denon’s new AVR-4306 A/V Receiver

denon avr-4306Denon pump some new tech into one of their latest receivers, the AVR-4306.

The best thing since power windows, this baby comes with Ethernet for streaming media from your PC, a USB port that allows “full control of your Rio and Creative MP3 players” with two, yep two, iPod connection ports.

And just so you’ll know, she is satellite radio ready – just add antenna.

On the video side, you get HDMI switching with 1080i upconversion.

Denon’s new AVR-4306 A/V Receiver – Via Engadget

Best A/V Receivers

The HTguys give us their picks for best A/V Receivers in four (USD) price ranges:

– less than $500
– from $500 to $1000
– from $1000 to $2000
– and greater than $2000

And we’re off…
Less than $500

Pioneer VSX-1015TX
7.1 Channel A/V Receiver with THX Select 2 Certification ($370 to $499)
7 channel x 120 watts
THX Select 2 Certified
DTS-ES Discrete, DTS 96/24, Dolby Digital EX, and Dolby Pro Logic II x

Video Conversion up-converts S-Video and composite video into component video
Good priced entry level unit. Has support for WMA9 audio decoding. No multi zone support. Decent set of features for the price.

Harman Kardon AVR-240
7.1 Channel A/V Receiver with Logic 7 Processing ($350 to $599)
7 channel x 50 watts (high-current amplification)
Logic 7 processing

192kHz/24-bit digital converters
EzSet+ to automatically set system speaker levels
Sleek styling
This is an entry model from a very high quality company. They measure 50 watts per channel with all channels driven at full power.

$500 to $1000
Read “Best A/V Receivers”

Yamaha YSP-800 – Gadget of the Week at

yamaha ysp-800The Yamaha YSP-800 Digital Sound Projector wins gadget of the week at

This compact surround sound system is all in one unit. It uses digital delay and electronic trickery to get your brain to think you’re hearing sound from all sides. And it works!

You’d definitely want to consider a separate sub, however.

This unit has simple connections, and is great for mounting directly under your display.

“I compared the YSP-800 to a mid-priced surround-sound setup with Acoustic Research speakers powered by Pioneer’s VSX-72TXV receiver (more on the Pioneer receiver in the coming weeks). I was impressed by how well the sound projector could replace the five speakers that are carefully positioned—ugly exposed wiring and all—around my TV room. The speakers give a little more midrange than the sound projector, but when it came to the tinkling of glass or rushing of wind in the surround channel, both rigs gave me a satisfying feeling of immersion.”

Yamaha YSP-800 Digital Sound Projector

Review :Yamaha YSP-1 Surround Sound in One Box

yamaha ysp-1 Yamaha has a great product for those of us who want surround sound without the pain and hassle of wiring and installing rear speakers.

This gem works by using 42 separate drivers and amplifiers with some super special digital processing. By sending the audio signal to the each of the (40) 1.6″ drivers with varying delays, our ears are tricked into hearing the sound from behind, beside, or in front of us. Pretty cool stuff…

The technique is remarkably effective-when you play the test noise used to adjust the YSP-1’s effect, it actually sounds as if you have left and right speakers positioned a few feet to either side of the unit. And what’s even more remarkable is that you would swear there are surround speakers on the sides of the room.

“I cannot believe how much the surround-sound effect resembles that of the Infinity TSS-4000 speaker system I reviewed for the July/August issue of Home Entertainment. Spaceships whiz past me, music from soundtracks envelops me, and I rarely get the impression that I’m hearing some sort of digital audio trickery instead of a full 5.1 system.”

This is a great companion to a plasma or projector screen, just mount it right up to the bottom of the screen. You’ll want to seriously consider a subwoofer, though. The (2) 4.3″ woofers just can’t handle solid bass.

Current Short Review
Thorough Review from AA

Canton AS 120 SC Subwoofer Review

canton as 120 This awesome 12″ powered sub gets run through its paces by the guys at HT mag.

Check out the results…
“Ratings: Canton AS 120 C Subwoofer

Build Quality: 93
• Extremely solid, dense construction
• Real wood veneer

: 90
• Room compensation is a plus
• High-quality finishes are usually more expensive

Features: 91
• Spikes and feet with silicon-absorbing pads are included
• Three-setting room compensation help tailor subs output
• Flat and filtered low-level outputs
• Four-language “Rosetta stone” instruction manual for polyglots

Performance: 90
• Easily holds its own with demanding material
• Not Earth-shattering but very musical

Ergonomics: 90
• More than 23 inches tall means there ain’t no hiding it
• Room compensation and power switches are easy to reach

Overall Rating: 91
For the music and movie lover with desire for performance that is higher than the average gear buyer’s, Canton’s AS 120 SC will bring classy looks and great bass that will elevate the entertainment from most step-up home theater systems. ”

Looks like a great choice for the midrange audiophile…

Canton AS 120 SC Subwoofer Full Review

Pioneer VSX-72TXV Receiver Review

pioneer VSX-72TXVHome theater mag takes a good look at this Pioneer A/V receiver.

Here are the findings:

Build Quality:
• Quality internals
• Solid build

Value: 94
• A lot of bang for the buck at this price
• Rare and valuable tricks you won’t find anywhere else

Features: 97
• All the standard bases covered, and much, much more
• Rare tricks like iPod and XM radio inputs and MCACC automatic calibration system

Performance: 93
• Warm, inviting sound
• More musical than most midpriced receivers

Ergonomics: 97
• MCACC does it all for you—and quite well
• No problem if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, thanks to a quality remote and graphic user interface

Overall Rating: 94
The VSX-72TXV does a whole lot, and it does so very well. It’s got the performance and tweakability to keep seasoned audio veterans happy and the approachability and user-friendliness to win over even the most technophobic. There’s hardly a stone left unturned.

This is a great unit, worthy of a solid home theater experience.

Full Review