Review Types Archives: Audio Hardware

Audio Hardware Review

Denon AVR-X6300H Review

At RHT we hold Denon receivers in high regards. Across the line, we find Denon units to be consistent performers who effectively embrace leading edge features. Coupled with best-in-class setup assistant software, Denon units are easy to recommend. The AVR-X6300H is Denon’s newest high-end receiver offering. At $2200, it sits just below the flagship AVR-X7200W and as expected brings a wealth of features to the table, which this year includes direct integration of HEOS – Denon’s music streaming platform – and 11 amplified channels. The X6300H sounds terrific and if you are in need of 11 amplified channels or added power over the X4300H, it is easy to recommend. We like the direct integration of HEOS into the X6300H, which makes adding the music streaming platform easier than previous iterations. The HEOS system overall continues to show promise – though it is still a step or two behind competitors like Sonos with regards to ease of use and stability. (more…)

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KEF Reference Review

My fellow RHT writers have been quite jealous of me over the last few weeks. The reason is that I had the opportunity to review a set of speakers from the KEF Reference series: the Reference 1 bookshelves and Reference 2C center channel. Editor’s Note: Yes, I’m jealous. My system is currently boxed up to move.

Quite simply, the Reference 1’s and 2C are the best speakers I’ve had the pleasure of having in my home. And while, at nearly $15,000 for the set-up that I currently have, they are also the costliest, but offer noticeable improvements over speakers I’ve had experience with at lower price brackets. These are truly refined speakers from every way in which you can approach them – be it build quality, aesthetics or sound. If you are looking for a truly high-end bookshelf speaker then the KEF’s absolutely deserve a look. (more…)

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Raumfeld Wireless Speakers Review

Raumfeld is a recent entrant into the whole home audio arena. They’ve entered into it with a wide array of speakers, from the small models you’d expect on a countertop to a pair of floorstanders more common in a dedicated stereo system. With a nice finish and the best sound of any wireless speakers I’ve heard, Raumfeld impresses both the eyes and the ears. Some small drawbacks make them imperfect for everyone, but the dedicated music lover will come away impressed.

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ELAC B4 Speaker Review

When we looked at the ELAC B6, it offered better performance for its price than any other bookshelf speaker we had heard. They do well with all genres of music, from classic rock to alternative, classical to pop. The ELAC B4 is the newest member of the Debut line, only with a 4” woofer instead of the 6.5” woofer of the B6. Otherwise the speakers seem almost identical: same binding posts, same vinyl wrap, same grill only smaller. The B4 also performs very well, only it isn’t a speaker I’d likely recommend to most people except in specific cases. (more…)

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Marantz AV7702mkII Processor Review

It’s hard to find the point of diminishing returns correctly. If you aim for too low of a price point on a product, you might leave off a feature that is too important to be without. Of course if you can’t decide when to stop adding features, the price escalates out of control. Knowing what is essential and what to cut is how you wind up with a product that works great for most people. The Marantz AV7702mkII preamp manages to find that sweet spot. It has every feature most people will need, but sacrifices the ones you don’t want. (more…)

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Denon AVR-X2200W Review

Every well known receiver company has an offering around $800. I’ve always found this to be a sweet spot for a receiver–you gain a more refined piece than entry level, but at a point that doesn’t sting as much as flagship models. As we have written before, receivers in this range sound quite similar, so comparisons come down to features and usability. What sets the Denon AVR-X2200W apart and why do I now have one installed in our bedroom system? A robust platform, second to-none guided set-up and some key differentiating features make the AVR-X2200W an easy recommendation. (more…)

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JL Audio f112v2 Review

The JL Audio Fathom f112 has been highly praised in the audio community and the new version 2 arrives with some solid updates. Chief among them is the updated room calibration system. The Fathom subwoofers have a built-in system called D.A.R.O. or Digital Automatic Room Optimization. The previous models employed an analog system known as A.R.O. which is limited to a single frequency. Moving to the digital domain has allowed the JL Audio engineers the ability to equalize with 18 bands. The new version also employs an updated driver and better amp capable of more output with lower distortion.

These are some of the best subwoofers money can buy. They are compact, especially given the amount of bass they output, and beautifully constructed. Bass output is clean with tons of impact. The new D.A.R.O. is easy to run and does an excellent job at smoothing out bass response. If you are looking to build a reference quality home theater, a pair of JL Audio Fathom f112v2’s should be your foundation. (more…)

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Denon AVR-S710W Review

Trying to pick a future-proof receiver in 2014 was a challenge. You had to pick between full bandwidth HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 copy protection, and DTS:X didn’t even exist yet. No matter what option you picked, you knew that in the next year or two you might need to replace it if you got a new TV. By mid-2015 that had changed and it was not hard to find receivers with full HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 support for UltraHD along with DTS:X and Dolby Atmos support. One of the more affordable options with those features is the Denon AVR-S710W.

For $480 the Denon AVR-S710W has 6 HDMI inputs, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X with 7 channels, HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, Bluetooth, AirPlay, WiFi, Audyssey MultEQ, and the best setup routine of any receiver. Best of all, I can crank it to reference levels with my KEF Atmos system and it sounds wonderful. For most people, the Denon AVR-S710W offers everything you need in a receiver today and is ready for tomorrow as well. (more…)

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ELAC B6 Speaker Review

Andrew Jones is quite the name in speaker circles. Some know him from his work at TAD, producing some of the best speakers on the market regardless of price. Many more know him from his affordable line of speakers for Pioneer. I got to know him with his line of Dolby Atmos speakers for Pioneer that feature concentric drivers. Now, he is working with ELAC and has produced a brand new line of speakers for them.

The Debut line from ELAC is very affordable, and with the $280 a pair B6 bookshelf it does better than any speaker I’ve heard for the price. The exterior might be a bit plain, but the sound out-performs any bookshelf speaker I’ve heard from the $400 price range and below. Unless you’re willing to spend twice as much money per speaker, you aren’t going to do better than the ELAC B6 today. (more…)

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Yamaha CX-A5100 Processor Review

After a period of massive changes, it looks like things will slow down a bit on the AV receiver and preamp front. In the past two years we’ve seen Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, HDMI 2.0a with HDR and Wide Color Gamut become available. These new standards, along with a push to better implement wireless audio streaming, have caused many people to have outdated receivers and processors. Like myself, many of them have been waiting for these standards to be final before upgrading so as to not be left behind. The Yamaha CX-A5100 updates the CX-A5000 that I have previously reviewed and is set for 2015 and beyond.

Adding DTS:X support along with WiFi and HDMI 2.0a makes it as future-proof as almost any processor can be today. By using the ESS Sabre 9016 DAC, it offers better performance than competitors using less advanced DACs and room correction that sounds much improved over prior versions. The $2,500 preamp market is more competitive than ever before but the Yamaha CX-A5100 makes a solid claim for your dollars here. (more…)

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