|AudioControl Concert AVR-1 Home Theater AV Receiver Review|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Monday, 08 November 2010|
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I like movies but dislike the movie theater experience. I'll never understand the connection between attending the cinema and stuffing one's face with as much popcorn, candy and soda as possible in a 2-hour swipe. Inevitably, I'm surrounded by groups of folks more intent on demonstrating how loudly they can masticate than actually watching the film. Thus, I've acquired a reputation as something of a movie theater Scrooge and would rather do the whole movie thing at home. My critics counter, “But you can't get the same big-screen experience at home. And what about the special effects and the sound?” Granted, I can't drop a 30- or 40-foot screen into my living room without calling my insurance agent; however, you want movie theater special effects and sound? Really great sound? That's where AudioControl's Concert AVR-1 comes in to save the day. (At least mine.)
It can also process two-channel signals for multi-channel outputs via Dolby Pro Logic II, Pro Logic Iix and DTS Neo. Want to use the AVR-1 as a bridge across rooms? Zone 2 audio/video outputs make it easy to listen to and view a source independently of the main system. The receiver can also feed an additional amp through its Zone 3 audio outputs, providing independent volume control while maintaining the Zone 2 video source. The AVR-1 is radio ready: compatible with Sirius satellite radio, comprising an AM/FM receiver and can also be networked to play Internet radio and audio formats via Ethernet or a USB storage device including MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AAC, and Ogg Vorbis.
The AVR-1 is powered by a 120-watts per channel Class H amplifier. A Class H design makes it possible to build amps of higher power without needing to increase the chassis size or overall weight of the unit. The AVR-1 is still beastly, at 60 pounds, but its physical dimensions are no larger than other A/V receivers. Class H amps operate in a manner similar to Class G amplifiers. With Class G designs, the power supply voltage is boosted when higher output shifts are needed. Basically, the amp relies on two power supplies: one operates in lower output mode, accounting for the majority of sound signals; the higher supply kicks in when more power is needed to drive more demanding signals. Class H amps take the Class G design a step further by modulating the input signal in real time. The AVR-1 basically “responds” to the input signals as needed, generating only enough power as required. As a result, far less heat is generated as is the demand for power.
A sense of humor is a good thing to have when setting up a home theater system, and I like how AudioControl keeps things light with its AVR-1 manual. For example: On page 16, under the “Connection Tips” section, the final bullet point suggests, “Don't stand in a bucket of water when working with electricity.” And under the “Warranty” disclaimers, AudioControl describes unwarranted abuse as including “sadistic things. This is the best product we know how to build, but if you strap it to the front bumper of your Range Rover, something will break.” Few electronics instruction manuals are worth reading for their entertainment value, but this 70-page guide does have its share of zingers. Beyond the comedy bits, users will find detailed, but not overwhelming, information to personalize the AVR-1 to their liking. Considering the receiver's numerous input and output options, there's little left to chance or leave out of the system.
I really like the AVR-1's back panel layout. All the zones” and input/output types (digital, analog, multi-channel, etc.) are arranged in vertical columns that make connecting easy and intuitive. A row of six HDMI inputs/outputs populate the bottom of the panel. The 5-way speaker binding posts are segregated at the edge of the rear panel and arranged vertically, too. This is particularly handy if a wire accidentally comes loose or you just want to add another speaker, etc. Instead of having to pull the entire receiver out to access the back panel's center area – where many A/V receivers house speaker posts – you can simply slide one corner of the AVR-1 out at an angle and have complete access. It's a logical arrangement that I wish other manufacturers would employ.