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AV Preamps (48) Stereo Preamps (35)

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Friday, 01 August 2008 ,  Written by Ken Taraszka, MD
Benchmark DAC1 PRE D/A Converter - Preamplifier
Introduction While most AV enthusiasts at the very high end of the market strive to achieve the best audiophile grade surround sound system, many of us still hold to the merits of two-channel audio for its breadth of content, ease of install, overall simplicity and pure sound.  Personally, my sources have evolved from LPs to CDs to the now-defunct DVD-Audio and SACD discs to the current full-resolution, uncompressed AIFF files stored on an Apple Mac Pro’s internal terabyte hard drive.  Thanks to the commercial death of the higher-resolution audiophile formats, I find myself more and more drawn to files on my computer for my dedicated theater and my audiophile system, as well as for my network devices.  This said, I am still an audiophile and the urge to make these CD quality files sound better is in my blood.  Enter the ...
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 ,  Written by Ken Taraszka, MD
Denon AVP-A1HDCi AV Preamplifier
Introduction The AV world has undergone an unheard-of number of changes in the past few years and, while many companies have been slow to adapt, Denon just released an AV preamp more up-to-date and with more features than ever before imaginable. The new Denon AVP-A1HDCI is described as an “Ultra Reference 12-Channel A/V Home Theater/Multimedia Preamplifier with Network Streaming and Wi-Fi” and that just starts to define what this piece can do. The Denon AVP-A1HDCI is designed to be the hub of an advanced AV system and can easily control two independent home theaters or one with up to three accessory zones. This AV preamp offers any feature you could dream of and has more flexibility than a Cirque de Soleil contortionist. Retailing for an even $7,000, it aspires to be the last AV preamp you’ll ever buy. We started with composite ...
Sunday, 01 June 2008 ,  Written by Ken Taraszka, MD
Anthem Statement D2 w Room Correction
IntroductionThe most frequently overlooked aspect of a great-sounding audiophile or dedicated home theater system is the room itself. No matter how good your components are, you can’t beat the physics of a badly designed and/or optimized room without a little help. While there are many devices to control reflections such as diffusers and bass traps, in the real world, most of us have our systems installed in multi-use rooms of our homes, like the living room, that are subject to significant wife acceptance factor. We can’t treat all the corners with traps and pad the walls. In fact, our wives would think we needed to live in padded rooms just for making the suggestion. Even in multi-use rooms, getting professional acoustical advice is always the best bet, but the cost, aesthetics and effort often leaves us looking for other, more ...
Thursday, 01 May 2008 ,  Written by Andrew Robinson
Lexicon MC-12 HD Music and Cinema Processor
Introduction If you’ve contemplated building a home theater with the utmost performance in mind, you’ve no doubt considered the Harman International brand Lexicon. When it comes to outfitting true performance-based home theaters that rival some of the best movie houses in the business, Lexicon has to rest somewhere near the summit. No other brand, save maybe Genelec and JBL, has such a storied history in professional cinema and mastering applications as Lexicon. However, in recent years, rapid evolution surrounding video formats and connection options, mainly high-definition video and HDMI, have given companies like Lexicon a moment of pause. This has allowed large, mass-producing giants from Japan to muscle their way into the playing field and even briefly take it over. However, with the arrival of the Lexicon MC-12 HD processor, the once mighty king of home theater has returned and is ...
Thursday, 01 May 2008 ,  Written by Brian Kahn
McIntosh Laboratory MX-136 AV Preamplifier
Introduction McIntosh has been nothing short of an American institution in the world of high-end audio for over 50 years. While McIntosh is best known for their stereo gear from the tube era, they have kept their line current with modern components such as music servers and multi-zone audio-video preamps, or “controllers,” as McIntosh calls them. McIntosh’s newest such controller is their MX-136, which at $9,500 (as configured with TM-1 tuner) occupies the top position in the tier of McIntosh AV preamps. Opening the MX-136, I found that McIntosh eschewed trendiness in favor of tradition. While most of the new A/V preamps I have seen at recent trade shows are small to medium in size, with either TFT screens or multi–line LCD and rows of same-sized buttons. The MX-136 is a full-sized unit with a nine-inch-tall by 17-and-three-quarter-inch-wide faceplate on an 18-and-three-quarter-inch-deep ...
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