Tuesday we told you about a slew of new Onkyo receivers that will support 3D content. Thankfully, that upgrade has trickled down to the company's 2010 line of home-theater-in-a-box products. Both the HT-S3300 and HTS-5300--which are follow-ups to the HT-S3200 and HTS-5200--will fully support 3D video pass-through.
Sure, 3D support is a welcome addition; however, perhaps the most notable improvement to this year's models is the capability pass both video and audio via an HDMI cable. Until now, these Onkyo HTIBs required a separate audio connection, but now you can ditch the extra wires.
Finally, the company announced an unconventional 2.1 HTIB, the HTX-22HDX, that is designed to emulate surround sound with just two speakers.
Highlights of the three new models:… Read more
Add Onkyo to the list of AV manufacturers jumping on the 3D bandwagon. The company has unveiled a trio of new entry- and midlevel AV receivers for 2010, all of which boast HDMI 1.4 connections that are capable of passing the 3D signal from a Blu-ray player to a compatible TV. In addition to 3D compatibility, Onkyo is touting the receivers' support for audio return channel (if you want to, say, amplify the audio from a TV's built-in Netflix or Pandora stream) as well as HDMI passthrough (useful when you want to play a game on your PS3 using the TV speakers, while the receiver remains in standby mode). The $600 model even includes a VGA input for PCs--the first such feature we've seen on an AV receiver.
Highlights of the three new models follow:… Read more
Last year, Pioneer's VSX-1019AH-K was our top midrange AV receiver pick, offering more features for the same price as its competitors, and still serving up solid sound quality. Pioneer has announced its new 2010 lineup for AV receivers, and our first impression is that the company looks like it has a good shot at maintaining its edge in the "features war." Here's a quick rundown of the announced models.
Key features of the Pioneer VSX-520-K:5.1 AV receiver, 110 watts per channel 3 HDMI 1.4 inputs 3D-compatible (able to pass 3D HDMI signal from 3D Blu-ray player to 3D TV) Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, plus Dolby ProLogic IIz decoding Bluetooth-ready (can stream Bluetooth audio from compatible A2DP devices with $100 AS-BT100 adapter) Advanced Sound Retriever and Automatic Level Control processing $230 | Available in April
Key step-up features of the Pioneer VSX-820-K:4 HDMI 1.4 inputs… Read more
Maybe it's an American thing; we love big stuff. We equate size with quality, and think that exquisitely designed, silly, expensive products are always better than more affordable alternatives. Is the new iPod always better than last year's model? Then again, how do you define "better"?
A lot of audiophiles believe more watts, more power, higher digital sampling rates, higher resolution, heavier turntable platters, speakers with more drivers, bigger drivers, or more channels of sound will always produce better sound. It ain't necessarily so.
Don't get me wrong, I love high-end audio. But I … Read more
In our 3D TV FAQ, we mention that we expect new 3D-capable AV receivers to be released in 2010. Sony is the first manufacturer out of the gate, introducing new AV receivers, including the STR-DN1010 that is capable of passing 3D video signals. Their full spec sheets aren't available yet, but here's what we know so far:
Key features of the Sony STR-DH510:5.1 channel AV receiver, 100 watts per channel 3 HDMI inputs HDMI standby pass-through HDMI audio return channel capable 2 component video inputs $230 list price; available in March
Key step-up features of the Sony STR-DH710:7.1 channel AV receiver, 105 watts per channel… Read more
LAS VEGAS--Sony has announced a new flagship XAV-70BT in-dash AV receiver center. The unit is built around a 7-inch WVGA motorized panel display and Sony's new graphic user interface.
Behind the sexy touch screen is a reasonable amount of audio processing horsepower including Center Speaker Organizer (CSO), which aims to create virtual 5.1 channel surround from stereo sources; SensMe music software, which creates custom music playlists and channels based on the user's music library; and the Advanced Sound Engine (ASE) which is a collection of Sony's sound processing technologies. Users can connect their iPods, iPhones, and … Read more
Here are my picks for the best-sounding audio products of 2009, in no particular order.
Pioneer VSX-1019AH Receiver The VSX-1019AH has just about every gotta-have feature and its stellar performance makes it the go-to choice for sound-quality-conscious midprice receiver buyers.
Onkyo HT-RC180 ReceiverSure, the HT-RC180 goes for around double the Pioneer's price, but its power and dynamic slam put it over the top.
Onkyo HT-S9100THX Home Theater in a BoxThe HT-S9100THX is not only the best sounding HTIB on the planet, you can easily upgrade its performance by adding better speakers or subwoofer. Few HTIBs offer owners that capability.
Monster Turbine Pro (Gold) in-ear headphones I'm a big fan of the original and still-available Monster Turbine in-ear headphones, but now that I've gotten to spend time with the Pro I can tell you this: it's simply the best $300 in-ear I've heard.
Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference Strada Speaker The double-balled Reference Strada ($995 each) measures a lifestyle-friendly 6.5 inches tall by 12.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches long, but the compact speaker makes a huge, room-filling sound. The Strada is jam-packed with unique technology. … Read more
Apple's IR Remote may stop working for a number of reasons, either because the device itself is not functioning correctly or because the computer cannot pair with the device. There are several troubleshooting steps to take when testing the Apple remote, to isolate problems and hopefully get the remote up and running again.… Read more
The best of today's home theater in a box systems are excellent, but how do you find the one that's right for you?
First, read my CNET reviews; they're loaded with information about how easy the HTIB is to use and how well it performs. It may be a dubious honor, but I probably hold the record for testing more HTIBs for magazines and Web sites than any other reviewer.
Most HTIBs come with Blu-ray or DVD players, receivers, and five or more speakers and a subwoofer. Right, HTIBs also come with lots of wires and setup chores, so they're almost as complex to install as separate receiver, player, and speaker-based home theater systems.
If that's more than you bargained for, maybe you should be looking for something simpler: a single-speaker surround system? That would eliminate most of the wiring and setup hassles. Check my CNET reviews to see if one is right for you.
For small bedrooms or dorm rooms, a budget HTIB or single-speaker surround system may be ideal. Family-size home theaters may require larger systems with larger speakers and powered subwoofers.
Connectivity varies a lot in this category, so don't assume all HTIBs have what you need. If you don't want to switch inputs on your TV every time you select a different video source, say from a game system to a Blu-ray player, make sure the HTIB has enough HDMI and other video inputs. Some HTIBs don't switch video at all. Some have USB inputs and iPod-docking capabilities.
HTIBs tend to sound best with movies; music comes in a distant second place. I always refer to HTIBs' performance with movies and music, so if you plan on listening to a lot of music over your new system, definitely look for that in the reviews. Don't assume the sound will be equally good for music and movies; it rarely is. … Read more