|Integra DTR-10.5 Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Friday, 01 July 2005|
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For those of you who have not seen a DVD player with an internal video processor and an HDMI output that allows for a direct digital connection to a high-quality HDTV, get ready to be blown away. Video purists would probably skip the video switching stage in the DTR-10.5, but after running my HDMI signal straight from my satellite receiver to my TV for almost a half a year, I didn’t see any noticeable drop in picture quality with the DTR-10.5 in the loop and the convenience of being able to switch right through the receiver far outweighed any miniscule drop in picture quality that might result from this step. A video calibrator may be able to detect some kind of compression on the signal as it is switched through the DTR-10.5, but my eye was not able to detect any change in the image, even when literally A/B-ing the system while watching DVDs and HD programming from my Dish Network 921 HD PVR.
“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” (Universal Studios Home Video), starring Will Ferrell, is a comedic throwback set in 1970s San Diego and is filled with bright-colored, retro clothing as well as panoramic flybys of the city and a soulful soundtrack. As the news copter flies by in the opening scene, the golden hues of the setting sun reflecting off the buildings came to life. The marriage of the DPS-10.5 and the DTR-10.5 provided a picture that was smoother and more filmlike than the component output of the Adcom DVD player and AV Preamp combo that I had in my system before the Integra set-up. These comparably-priced systems are both excellent performers, but having the digital HDMI connection with the video up-conversion on the Integra set-up made for a spectacular filmlike image.
As the Hall and Oates classic “She’s Gone” plays while Ron Burgundy mourns the loss of his romantic interest Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), who has dumped him and become the new lead anchor on the local news, the power of the DTR-10.5’s 150 watts per channel amplifier came through loud, clear and detailed. Ferrell’s brilliantly over-the-top dialog with his cheesy ‘70s news anchorman voice was crystal clear and full-bodied. The Energy Connoisseur speaker system in my system didn’t seem to miss the extra power of the Anthem or Adcom amps that I was running in the system prior to auditioning the Integra DTR-10.5.
Without turning this into a DVD player review, I wanted to see how well the DVD up-conversion that reportedly makes a DVD look like HDTV would work. I took the most recent widescreen release of “Pulp Fiction” (Miramax Home Entertainment) and compared it to the HDTV version that was recorded in 720P from HBO-HD on my Dish Network HD PVR. There were small black bars on the top and bottom of the DVD version because of the theatrical aspect ratio of the DVD release. On the HD version, the picture filled my entire 16x9 aspect ratio screen. Movie purists would probably prefer the DVD version in order to preserve the original theatrical aspect ratio, but what I was really interested in seeing was whether the receiver and DVD player would work together to produce a picture that was competitive with the HD version. With the HDMI connection on the receiver being used in concert with the Integra DVD player, the picture was a touch darker and had higher contrast than the HD version, but the amount of detail, from the wet Jheri curls of Samuel L. Jackson’s character Jules, to the smoke from the end of Bruce Willis’ gun as he shoots John Travolta, fresh off the toilet, was so close to the HD version that I was amazed. I’m sure HD-DVD or Blu-ray will look better, but in the meantime, I now have a virtual wall full of HD-DVDs at my finger tips with the Integra system in my theater. This makes a very compelling argument to buy a matched Integra player and receiver.
With the Integra universal player in the loop, I was like a kid in a candy store standing in front of my music collection. I was going to get to hear the first purely digital 5.1 audio connection in my theater. Beginning with the Miles Davis Tribute SACD 4 Generations of Miles (Chesky Records), my room came alive with a new level of quality and crispness that I did not have when using the 5.1 analog connection on my Adcom set-up. On the track “There Is No Greater Love,” the saxophone, always a very complex-sounding instrument that can make or break a live jazz recording, had more depth and body than when it was routed through my system previously with the digital to analog and analog to digital conversion clouding things up.
Being a pure digital signal did not mean this surround sound mix lacked warmth. Every instrument, most notably the drums and sax, had more clarity in all frequencies and the bass had more body, making up for the slight drop in power when moving from a separate amp to the internal 150 watts per channel in the DTR-10.5.
DVD-Audio is still my favorite-sounding audio format and Queen’s “Dragon Attack” from the DTS DVD-Audio release of The Game (DTS Entertainment) always provides some kick-ass rock in surround to really give your speakers a workout. Like the Miles Davis track, I felt a sense of added detail and control in the music using the direct digital iLINK connection. The slight drop in body from using the less powerful amplifier in the Integra receiver was easily compensated for by upping the output of my Energy subwoofer and giving the midrange a slight boost in the easy to use menus of the DTR-10.5. Freddy Mercury’s signature vocals and Brian May’s unique guitar tone were enveloping me with much detail and smoothness. The only place I have heard this track sound better is in AVRev.com publisher Jerry Del Colliano’s reference theater and his system tops the $250,000 price point.
Internet Radio and Music Server
Having already auditioned and raved about Integra’s stand-alone Nettunes unit, I was pleasantly surprised that this was an option on the DTR-10.5. It was a no-brainer for me to add this card, which has an Ethernet connection for the back of the receiver, freeing up even more space in my equipment rack. A wireless option is not yet available, but I had the foresight to actually prewire two Cat 5 connections to my home theater area from the central router in the master bedroom closet of my home. Although I already had experience with the Nettunes software, it had been over a year since I had last set up this system from scratch and, as before, it was very simple to do with even a vestigial knowledge of computer networking. Once I had it up and running, I was able to access all of the tracks on my PC laptop computer, which is connected to my main 160-gig hard drive where I store most of the rips I’ve done of my personal CD collection. The files are played back in stereo, of course, as are the Internet radio stations. I found that I was able to select Internet radio stations by not only genre of music, but by country. Want some German oompah music or African tribal music? It’s at your fingertips with the DTR-10.5, as long as you have an active connection to the Internet. I did find the display on the face of the DTR-10.5 to be a little small and less detailed for operating the Nettunes, compared to the stand-alone Nettunes unit, but the onscreen display can be used if you want to turn your TV on.