|Integra DTR-6.4 Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Matthew Evert|
|Sunday, 01 February 2004|
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Music and Movies
Okay, let’s get to the test drive. I used a Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD player as my source for DVD movies, DVD-A’s, and CDs. My speakers were the Polk Audio LSi15s (mains), Polk Audio LSiC (Center), Polk Audio LSiFx (surrounds) and an ES10 (Subwoofer). To begin, I wanted to test out the 5.1 audio capabilities of the DTR-6.4. What better than an Alice In Chains Greatest Hits SACD (Columbia Records)? I wanted to hear the dueling acoustic and electric guitars of “I Stay Away” in surround. Impressive is the word. The DTR-6.4 gave the guitars impact and brought the subtle use of violins in the background to life. The violins were abundantly more evident, compared to a similar experience I have had with my older 16/44 CD release. Most importantly, this receiver managed to keep up with the broad vocal range of the late Layne Staley. Staley’s nasal whines were captured with great detail. “Would” was even more impressive by showcasing his vast octave range and his ability to hold seemingly endless long notes. The lower midrange performances of his singing ability (read: signature groans) were smooth and the presentation was slightly forward. Thanks to the DTR-6.4, I found myself immersed in the music and tried to belt out the demanding cries, just like Staley. Then I quickly ran out of breath and was reminded of the harsh reality that I can’t sing. Damn.
I delved into the wonderful crooning voice of David Patrone. The Uptown album (David Patrone Productions), sports the classic Sinatra-style vocals and big band sound with a slight Southern Californian spin to it. Heavy uses of trombones and trumpets in “Nearness of You” really tests the ability of this receiver to handle the mid to upper midrange of the audio spectrum. I found this to be sweet-sounding and pleasant to the ears. The toe-tapping tempo featured a jazzy bass line complete with the classic cymbal tap. The bass was smooth while the cymbals were a little bright, but overall, the experience was very good. The sound staging was very good and managed to excite me when the final cymbal crash moved nicely from the left side of the room to the right. “Tangerine” was a diversion from the rest the album and felt more like a samba than a Sinatra tune. David‘s voice is like a roller coaster of midrange going up and down with each verse. I think Ol’ Blue Eyes would have been proud. Let’s not forget the prominent sax and piano solos. They really pulled me into the music and reminded me that the DTR-6.4 is capable of handling the midrange of more than just David’s melodic chants. The rim shots of the snare drums were dynamic and true to the recording which, when reproduced to its highest accuracy, can sound slightly bright to my ears. The DTR-6.4 stepped out of the way and presented this recording in its most uncompromised form.
To evaluate the receiver’s cinematic abilities, I used “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (New Line Home Entertainment), “Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble – Live from Austin, Texas” (Epic Music Video) and “Aeon Flux” (Sony Music Entertainment). The Stevie Ray Vaughn video is one of my all-time favorites. Clearly one of the guitar greats of our time, Vaughn transcends the stereotypical rock/blues genre and was revered by those who do not even like blues. Like Jimi Hendrix before him, he commands a stage presence that was so intense and emotional that the viewer becomes mesmerized with interest. I have stayed up past my bedtime more than a few times to listen to the foot-stomping and finger-snapping tempo of “Pride and Joy.” The walking bass line of dum-dum-da-dah was catchy and drew everyone in the room to start humming along. The video was a little dated (circa 1987), so the colors of Vaughn’s blue kimono appeared to be a little blurry, but the music of this DVD allowed me to imagine the visual performance to be of much higher resolution. The smooth midrange of the DTR-6.4 really brings intensity to the fluid strumming of Vaughn’s Stratocaster and his almost seizure-like body movements. “Texas Flood” was a prodigal example of the gentle and soft riffs that Vaughn is also capable of. The song starts out with a solo progressing from a soft melody to a wailing high midrange performance and then back to the gentle picking of his strat. The DTR-6.4 was solid in handling such a daunting task that Vaughn’s music can frequently require. Throughout this performance, the DTR-6.4 never became congested or ran out of headroom even at the highest volumes. I must note that I have auditioned receivers in this price class that tend to sound good at lower volumes, but would tend to get compressed and brittle at higher volumes, yet the DTR-6.4 stood strong throughout the spectrum, no doubt due to its superb power supply technology.
“The Long Kiss Goodnight” was a little bit of a culture shock for me. How could the nice and homey “Beetlejuice” alum, Geena Davis, ever transform into the ruthless assassin in this movie? Then I remembered that she is tall, buff and can look a little scary with the platinum blonde ‘do. When she hit the deer in the beginning of the film and then dragged herself over to it, dripping blood from her own wounds, I thought she would try to help the still-moving animal, until I heard the Integra DTR-6.4 belt out a snapping noise that startled me as I sat in disbelief that sweet Geena had just snapped the neck of the poor critter. From that point on, I would definitely hand my lunch money over to her if she cornered me in a dark alley. There were lots more breakings of necks (the bad guys this time) and gunshots to be fired. The gunshots were especially realistic during the train station scene, where you could hear the splintering of the benches from automatic weapons. Showers of bullets filled the screen and the Integra’s surround sound reproduction made me want to duck for cover. The roaring of Niagara Falls, as the helicopter passed over it, had a smooth yet powerful and extended bass performance to add to the realism. If you like explosions and violence, this film is da bomb.
The last film was “Aeon Flux.” What can I say? Violence and cartoons are like chocolate and peanut butter to me - they belong together. Add a sexy and elusive female heroine (or villainess, if you prefer) and you have a winner. The opening scene of “Gravity” was simply awesome. The sloshing of the guy and Aeon’s tongues while they exchanged a secret message in their mouths was almost as gross as Aeon scratching the guy’s eyeball with her eyelash. Add freaky to that list of attributes I gave Aeon above. The DTR-6.4 brought details to life in the sounds of Aeon’s less than savory actions. I was impressed by the DTR-6.4’s overall transparency and ability to delineate the subtlest sound from the most broad and dynamic. This is not a simple task, but it is one that makes your experience extremely engaging. “Leisure” was equally disgusting, with a man slurping up the remains of an alien egg while hiding in Aeon’s cupboard. Nothing gets my goat more than somebody eating the last of my alien eggs. Rather than settle for Denny’s, Aeon ventures to the alien ship to get more eggs. Sneaking into the ship, she manages to score some more eggs and then have a little fun torturing one of the alien fetuses. The mechanical noises of the torture device and the squealing of the poor little alien as it succumbed to the device was simply chilling. Don’t worry, the daddy alien catches up to Aeon and breaks her neck as she tries to escape - CRACK! Overall, I was impressed with the DTR-6.4’s overall transparency and control for a product in this price range.