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Recently Reviewed A/V Processors

Emotiva Audio XSP-1 Differential Reference Preamp Preview

Emotiva Audio XSP-1 Differential Reference Preamp Preview

Instead of bringing balance to the Force, Emotiva Audio has brought balance to a stereo preamp. With a two year development time, the XSP-1 has everything the discerning audiophile expects in a preamp except for the high pricetag. At under $900, the Emotiva XSP-1 is practically an impulse buy for the sort of buyer that would be interested in the signal purity the XSP-1 promises. If you're looking for a high end two-channel preamp with a full compliment of balanced inputs and outputs including a subwoofer channel with bass management, the XSP-1 is going to be tough to beat. Given it's feature compliment, integration of high quality headphone and phono sections, fully differential construction from input to output, the XSP-1 is a unique product in this market and a gem for any audiophile that wants great performance and versatility often lacking in most alternatives.

Instead of bringing balance to the Force, Emotiva has brought balance to a stereo preamp. With a two year development time, the XSP-1 has everything the discerning audiophile expects in a preamp.

— September 23, 2012 19:30 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

AudioEngine D1 24-bit DAC Review

AudioEngine D1 24-bit DAC Review

The AudioEngine D1 24-bit DAC let me realize how crappy the preamp was that I was using to feed my AudioEngine 5+ speakers. Now we reviewed those speakers earlier this year and for our listening tests I used various source components, including an iPhone, a Blu-ray player and the stereo outputs of an A/V receiver. But after the review we hooked the speakers back up to my laptop using an external hybrid microphone DAC. That was a mistake. I wondered why the clarity and top end of the A5+'s seemed a bit lacking all of a sudden, when I had previously found them to be pretty darn good. Then I connected this thing - the D1 DAC from AudioEngine.

I connected the D1 DAC from AudioEngine and no longer wondered why the clarity and top end of the A5+'s seemed a bit lacking, when I had previously found them to be pretty darn good.

— March 27, 2012 07:05 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Sherbourn PT-7030 7.1 Channel Preamp/Processor Preview

Sherbourn PT-7030 7.1 Channel Preamp/Processor Preview

We still have a lot of questions about the Sherbourn PT-7030 7.1 Channel Preamp/Processor. It is clearly not a finalized device (at least not finalized enough to reveal real pictures of the thing). But the skeleton of the new Pre/Pro from Sherbourn looks very promising. There is a real focus on audio and video quality which is something we like in a Pre/Pro. Upcoversion to HDMI plus the ability to output HDMI inputs over component video (with a GUI over both), means even the trickiest installs will be covered. While the $2500 price tag might be a bit daunting considering what that same money can buy from a bigger manufacturer, we're betting the Sherbourn will be a hit with custom installers - who are the target market for this product.

The new Sherbourn PT-7030 7.1 Channel Preamp/Processor targets custom installers with full control, upconversion to HDMI and downcoversion to component video plus a focus on audio and video quality.

— March 20, 2012 03:30 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Emotiva XMC-1 A/V Processor Preview

Emotiva XMC-1 A/V Processor Preview

The new Emotiva XMC-1 is, according to the company, the "first product in a new generation of high performance digital audio products". Emotiva has been promising a new processor for years, and this is their fulfillment of that promise. Frankly, with the level of technology we're seeing in the Emotiva XMC-1 Processor, we're surprised such a small company can put develop such a product. But such technology comes at a cost. The new XMC-1 doubles the price of the older, UMC-1 Processor (on sale for $500 from Emotiva). But to say the XMC-1 Processor is an "upgrade" from the UMC-1 is a huge understatement. With tons of improvements and a new Dirac room correction system, anyone looking for a processor should take a look at the new Emotiva XMC-1. Emotiva is offering a 40% discount for current UMC-1 owners wanting to upgrade to this new baby. If that provide enough incentive to upgrade your system, we don't know what will.

Preview: Emotiva XMC-1 AV Processor is state of the art with Ultra HD HDMI capability, Dirac room correction, Dolby TrueHD/DTS HD audio decoding, high end analog preamp and a future upgrade path.

— February 03, 2012 05:15 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Mark Levinson No. 52 Reference Dual-Monaural Preamplifier Preview

Mark Levinson No. 52 Reference Dual-Monaural Preamplifier Preview

The Mark Levinson No. 52 Reference Dual-Monaural Preamplifier has just about every available technology to ensure an uncorrupted sonic experience. This fully analogue preamp has separated the audio and control portions into two distinct chassis connected by two separate DC power cords and a dedicated control cable. While you won't find Internet streaming, iDevice support, or any feature released in the last five years, what you will find is a dedication to signal purity that boarders on the insane. The question is, are you willing to pay $25,000 for that level of insanity?

The Mark Levinson No. 52 Reference Dual-Monaural Preamplifier has just about every available technology to ensure an uncorrupted sonic experience.

— January 17, 2012 22:50 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Integra DHC-80.3 AV Preamp Controller Preview

Integra DHC-80.3 AV Preamp Controller Preview

The Integra DHC-80.3 has just about everything you might want in a processor - 9.2 channels, Audyssey MultEQ XT32, XLR outputs, ISFccc calibration options, DTS Neo:X processing, THX Ultra2+ certification, three zones with video out to zone 2, HDMI 1.4a with 3D, ARC, Standby Pass-thru...the list goes on. What is most impressive, however, is that they aren't charging you a premium for all these features in an ampless box. Instead, they are giving you $400 off the price of the receiver. While this won't buy you all the amps you'll need, it is better than what most of the rest of the manufactures.

The Integra DHC-80.3 has just about everything you might want in a processor - 9.2 channels, Audyssey MultEQ XT32, XLR outputs, ISFccc calibration options, DTS Neo:X processing...the list goes on.

— September 27, 2011 19:55 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Lexicon 12.4 Channel MP-20 "Media" Processor Preview

Lexicon 12.4 Channel MP-20 "Media" Processor Preview

Harman has decided to put out a new high-end pre/pro through their Lexicon brand dubbed the MP-20. The MP-20, Lexicon's first product labeled a "Media" Processor, is the follow-up to the MC-12 Cinema Processor. Sporting the Sigma Designs VXP GF9452 chipset for 1080p upscaling, the 12.4 channel MP-20 will have Lexicon's new QLS 3D processing which adds three height/width channels up front and two in the rear. Four independent subwoofer outputs and Zone 2 HDMI output with OSD rounds out this offering which promises to be the go-to solution for those with huge home theaters.

The Lexicon MP-20 sports the Sigma Designs VXP GF9452 chipset for 1080p upscaling and will have Lexicon's new QLS 3D processing which adds three height/width channels up front and two in the rear.

— August 23, 2011 04:35 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Emotiva UMC-1 Pre-Processor Review

Emotiva UMC-1 Pre-Processor Review

Can you get a $2000 processor for just $700? Emotiva is betting you can. The new Emotiva UMC-1 7.1 processor combines some of the more advanced A/V processing you'll find into a package that is hard to beat. Let's start with the hardware. The UMC-1 utilizes Emotiva's signature aluminum faceplate design and LED backlit controls that give it a warm, minimalistic look. They're going to audiophile appeal and I think they nailed it. The UMC-1 looks like the love child offspring of a McIntosh and Anthem processor. We're just saying... This is a very compelling buy from a company that has been producing value-priced products that consistently outperform their higher-priced counterparts. You owe it to yourself to at least check out the UMC-1, especially since they offer a 30-day money back guarantee. Pair the UMC-1 with one of Emotiva's hefty multi channel amps and you’ve got a separates solution with more power at your command than a flagship A/V receiver - and for much less…

Can you get a $2000 processor for just $700? Emotiva is betting you can. The new Emotiva UMC-1 7.1 processor combines some advanced A/V processing into a package that's hard to beat.

— May 08, 2011 15:30 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Crestron PSPHD "PROCISE" HD Surround Processor First Look

Crestron PSPHD "PROCISE" HD Surround Processor First Look

The Crestron PSPHD PROCISE Surround Processor is just what it says it is - a surround processor. It is really more about giving custom installers a very easy way to create a high end sound in a home theater with all the little things that discerning audiophiles want paired with features that will make installations easier. The price tag is definitely high but that is to be expected with this sort of product. We're sure that installers are drooling as they wait to get their hands on one. With a custom installer name like Crestron behind it, you can bet it is also not going to be cheap. You'd be right but we'll leave that to the end. Hopefully you didn't see it above and spoil the surprise. The last thing the Crestron PSPHD is not is 3D capable. What this means is that you'll have to find a way to get the 3D picture to your screen but not through the Crestron.

The Crestron PSPHD PROCISE Surround Processor is just what it says it is - a surround processor. The price tag is definitely high but that is to be expected with this sort of product.

— March 18, 2011 01:30 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Marantz AV7005 Networking A/V Processor Review

Marantz AV7005 Networking A/V Processor Review

Marantz has released a solid feature packed product with their new AV7005 Networking A/V Processor. It doesn’t quite go the extra mile in terms of features but its audio and video performance are top notch. The AV7005 really delivers; I just couldn’t fault its sonic performance. Channel separation abilities are much better from what I’ve heard with the Marantz SR6003 A/V receiver which was not quite in the same league. The Anchor Bay video-processing chip offers excellent upscaling performance, while High Definition performance is equally impressive. Marantz’s approach to hide the main display behind a front plate gives the unit a clean look. It can be matched with the new MM7055 or MM7025 multichannel amplifiers that also come with their new “port view” design. Highly recommended to the discriminating Audioholic wanting a high performance separates solution at a reasonable price.

Marantz has released a solid feature packed product with their new Networking AV7005 A/V Processor. It has top notch audio & video performance and is very reasonably priced.

Frans van Hofwegen — December 03, 2010 09:05 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Emotiva PMC-1 7.1 Media Processor-Controller First Look

Emotiva PMC-1 7.1 Media Processor-Controller First Look

What happens when the manufacturer of budget products decides to pull out all the stops? The Emotiva PMC-1 Media Processor/Controller has a lot of features that dealers and custom installers will find attractive. With seven HDMI 1.4 inputs (with Audio Return Channel) and two outputs, RCA and balanced outputs for 7.2 channels, 7.1 channel analogue inputs, and a host of installer-friendly features, the PMC-1 is sure to get a lot of attention. A lack of specifics about the feature set and a complete lack of analogue video inputs or outputs has us concerned. We'll keep you posted as more details are released.

The Emotiva PMC-1 Media Processor/Controller has seven HDMI 1.4 inputs (with Audio Return Channel) and two outputs, RCA and balanced outputs for 7.2 channels, 7.1 channel analogue inputs, and more.

— September 30, 2010 09:20 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Certified Processor First Look

Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Certified Processor First Look

As we'd expect from Onkyo, they've managed to shoehorn just about every feature on the market into this their new PR-SC5508 pre/pro. Onkyo's budget offerings have been impressing us lately with the number and quality of the features and the PR-SC5508 is no different. To start with, it has THX-Ultra 2 Plus certification, it is network-capable, and supports 9.2 channels of audio through either RCA or XLR outputs. The HDMI 1.4a inputs means you won't have to worry about 3D integration, the multiple zone support including video output for Zone 2 means the processor can grow with you, and the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction means you'll get the best sound you can from your speakers and room.

As we'd expect from Onkyo, they've managed to shoehorn just about everything into their new PR-SC5508 pre/pro. It has THX-Ultra 2 Plus certification, is network-capable, and supports 9.2 channels.

— September 01, 2010 05:00 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

AudioControl Maestro M3 Theater A/V Processor First Look

AudioControl Maestro M3 Theater A/V Processor First Look

The Maestro M3 is the latest and greatest that AudioControl has to offer. This "no-holds-barred" $5999 entry isn't just about connections and looks - it has some impressive technology to back it up. Top of the line 24 bit, 192kHz digital to analog converters plus Dolby Volume and a "broadcast quality" video scaler are onboard. The single thing that has most people talking about the Maestro M3 is AudioControl's integrated Active Balanced Circuitry. This allows you to send video signals over Cat5/6 up to 1000 feet for Composite or Component or 150 feet for HDMI (depending on the format). On looks alone the Maestro is turning heads. While we've often found that high end gear disappoints on closer inspection, the Maestro holds its own.

The Maestro M3 AV Processor is the latest offering from AudioControl. This "no-holds-barred" $5999 entry isn't just about connections and looks - it has some impressive technology to back it up.

— August 18, 2010 21:15 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews

Marantz AV7005 7.2 Channel Preamplifier First Look

Marantz AV7005 7.2 Channel Preamplifier First Look

If you were looking at the new Marantz SR7005 and thinking to yourself, "Boy, I might get that and add an amp later," you're in luck. The new AV7005 Preamplifier has all the same features as the SR7005 except without the amp section and with balanced outputs. The hardest part for interested consumers will be the wait. The Marantz AV7005 Pre/Pro won't be available until October. But at $1500 for a Pre/Pro with just about every feature on the planet and drop-dead styling to boot, it's a wait we're betting a lot of people will be willing to suffer through. All the latest decoding, top of the line processing and room correction, dual subwoofer outputs, GUI overlay, networking, streaming, HDMI to HDMI scaling... the list goes on.

The Marantz AV7005 Pre/Pro has all of the features and processing power of the SR7005 receiver (sans the amps) plus balanced outputs. At $1500 this appears to be the A/V pre/pro to beat.

— July 24, 2010 22:35 in AV Preamp and Processor Reviews