Integra DTR-10.5 Receiver 
Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers
Written by Bryan Dailey   
Friday, 01 July 2005

Introduction
I have always pushed my receivers and AV preamps to the limit in terms of inputs. Having almost every modern videogame system imaginable, an HD PVR, a DVD player, a few VCRs, an Onkyo Nettunes receiver, a DAT player, a High-8 video camera and a Sirius Satellite receiver, among others, as source components, I have yet to find a receiver or AV preamp that fully accepts every single input I throw at it without compromising somewhere. That is, until I discovered Integra’s top-of-the-line DTR-10.5 receiver which starts at $3,800. The connection possibilities are almost endless and the amount of sound formats and technologies on the DTR-10.5 are unbelievable. From the high-quality 192 kHz/24-bit DACs to almost every DTS and Dolby Digital format known to man and with Integra’s Nettunes Internet radio music server playback capabilities built in, I believe this 7.1-capable receiver with THX®Surround EX™ and THX®Certified Ultra2 can be the core of a $10,000 to $30,000 home theater system.

Integra has endeared itself to the ever-growing and very important custom installer market with their new “Build To Order” concept (anyone can try it out with no obligation). Much like a fast food restaurant that prides itself on not making your food until you place your order, Integra allows you to custom order your DTR-10.5 online, using a very slick interface. The back panel of a base model DTR-10.5 is listed on the screen and the user can add or remove cards from the back panel at the click of a button, much like customizing options on a computer at Apple.com or Dell.com. As the different cards are selected, the picture onscreen updates and you can see where the cards will be added. This proved to be very valuable to me even before my finished receiver arrived, as I was able to know in advance what my DTR-10.5 would look like. This allowed me to arrange my AV cabinet accordingly to have the cleanest cabling set-up possible when I added the DTR-10.5.

Unless you are absolutely certain what your home theater system is going to need as far as inputs and outputs are concerned, both Integra and I recommend that you allow your AV retailer to configure your DTR-10.5. You’d hate to miss something that you should have added or end up spending more money than you needed to, so it’s best to discuss your particular needs both immediate and long-term with your installer, then have them place the order. Of course, a receiver of this caliber contains an RS-232 control port as part of its standard makeup, as well as a 12-volt trigger, a built-in 120v AC outlet, a powerful AM/FM tuner and pre-outs for using an external amplifier.

The DTR-10.5 is a card-based receiver that allows for upgradeability, making it much more “future-proof” than most receivers today. The layout of the back reminded me specifically of some much more expensive pieces, like Meridian’s 800 and Mark Levinson’s No. 40 AV preamp. Everything is laid out logically and the gold connectors give the back of the DTR-10.5 an elegant look. The cards are secured in place by flush-mount hex screws and a supplied Allen wrench makes it very easy to add and remove cards. Flat black blank panels fill in any empty card slots to prevent dust and debris from entering the unit.

The chassis of the DTR-10.5 is fairly sizable at 17 and 1/8 inches wide, eight and 11/16 inches tall and 18 and 15/16 inches deep, weighing 70.8 pounds in its base configuration. The matte black finish and the quality build of the case give you a sense that this is a quality piece of AV gear, not a run-of-the-mill Japanese receiver. Loaded to the gills with all of the available card options, the receiver does not weigh much more than in its base configuration. I found that positioning it in the center of my equipment rack allowed me to route cables up, down and sideways for the cleanest install possible.

In its standard configuration, the DTR-10.5 comes with a digital audio module, an analog audio module, a video module and an AM/FM tuner module. This configuration provides six optical audio ins, two optical audio outs, three component video ins, one component video out, six S-Video ins and two S-Video outs. Two sets of speaker terminals for a primary zone and secondary zone run across the bottom of the back panel and pre-outs for a third zone are available as well. The flip-down panel in the front allows for headphones to be plugged in, as well as an extra video input for the easy addition of a non-permanent videogame system or video camera. The headphone input automatically cuts off the main speakers and features Dolby® Headphone technology that simulates surround sound on a stereo pair of headphones. I have found the headphones to be a great option while listening late at night. In my home, I often use headphones while riding an exercise bike. However, others in my household want to watch the same movie and listen through the speakers. At first I did not think I would be able to grant their requests, however by using the Zone 2 line output and an external headphone preamp, the DTR-10.5 is able to output sound through the main speakers via Zone 1 and the headphones via Zone 2.

Configuration and Set-up
Five blank panels are available on the back of the stock DTR-10.5. Since I have so many different sources, I loaded the DTR-10.5 up with the iLINK module, the Net-Tune Ethernet module, the RCA component module, the multi-channel and AES/EBU module and, most importantly, the HDMI module for two in/one out HDMI video switching. The only option that I did not choose was the BNC-type connector component video card. For users with a video projector that does not have a DVI or HDMI input, this would be the best-quality option. With all of these cards, it brought the retail price of the system tested here to $4,950.

The build quality of the rear panel is also topnotch and, other than the speaker terminal knobs that I felt were a bit small, I was very impressed with everything about the receiver cosmetically. I believe the reasons that the speaker wire terminals are not as robust as those of other receivers or amps I have used in the past is the fact that the engineers at Integra had to fit 28 of them on the back panel. With the smaller, thinner knobs, there is room for the other important components. I still had no problem connecting my beefy Ultralink speaker wire to the connectors, so I find this a very minor thing in an otherwise extremely elegant and well-crafted piece.

The onscreen menus for setting up the inputs, outputs and speaker levels and distances on the DTR-10.5 were amongst the most intuitive I have ever used. I recommend using your TV monitor at first, until you are familiar with the menu trees in this multi-level set-up. However, once I learned the logic of the set-up menus, I was able to use the smaller text display on the face of the receiver if I had to quickly adjust something and didn’t want to wait for my projection screen TV to fire up. The option of running a 7.1 speaker set-up is available on the DTR-10.5, as is the capability of running a total of three audio zones. My theater only has enough speakers for a 5.1 set-up, so I was not able to take advantage of all of the surround sound options. I set the DTR-10.5 up to automatically detect the sound format on the disc and use whatever it reads from the source. DTS discs automatically triggered the receiver to decode the DTS signal, as it does with Dolby Digital. If you have room in your system for the required amount of speakers, you will be able to enjoy the 6.1 with DTS ES 96/25 or 7.1 with Dolby Pro-Logic IIx.

To switch between all of the video game systems, VCRs and other video sources in my system via the HDMI card, the DTR-10.5 features a Si504 deinterlacing chip from Silicon Image. There are menu settings in the receiver that allow Composite, S-Video and 480i component video to be upconverted to 480p HDMI. If your video display is HDMI you'll want to use this function to streamline your video switching, allowing you to keep your display on the digital input at all times. Previous to this, I had to toggle between the HDMI input on my TV when watching DVDs and Satellite to the analog video inputs for my other non HDMI sources.

The impressive $2,500 DPS-10.5 universal player from Integra is a perfect match for the DTR-10.5, as they are able to connect via iLINK for fully digital playback of 5.1 surround sound music in DVD-Audio and SACD. The 5.1 analog outputs on the DVD player and the 5.1 analog input card on the receiver could be used as well, but I wanted to eliminate the digital to analog and analog to digital steps to keep the audio signal as pure as possible. With a direct digital connection for multi-channel audio and the direct digital HDMI video connection for the DVD player and HD Satellite receiver, you can truly step into the digital domain with the DTR-10.5 and DPS-10.5 combo.

The Movies
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.

The Music
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.

The Downside
For ultimate balls-to-the-wall home theater action, there are many who are still going to want to use a separate amplifier. I found the internal amps to be more than adequate for my smaller home theater, but I did lose some punch I had gotten from the Adcom and Anthem separate systems that I had installed before the Integra. Of course, you can use a separate amp, but a sizeable chunk of what you are paying for in the base model of the DTR-10.5 is for the internal amplification. Integra's ultra-high-end line Integra Research makes a separate system in their RDC-7.1 AV preamp with HDMI switching but it is in a higher price category and you'd want to to pair it with an amplifier like the RDA-7.1, also from Integra Research. You’ll just need to decide for yourself if the 150 Watts x seven channels (eight ohm, 20 Hz - 20 KHz) is enough for your speakers. It was for my system and the amount of features and inputs easily outweighed this small compromise in power.

Conclusion
I looked high and low to find faults with the DTR-10.5 and I’m coming up empty. This baby fit so nicely into my rack and was so easy to set up that I was up and running in literally 10 minutes. It has every single input I needed, with a bundle of video and audio connections to spare. When combined with the DPS-10.5 universal player, I have the best-looking DVD picture that has ever graced my TV screen.

Although it may be considered expensive by most Japanese consumer electronics standards, the ala carte nature of the DTR-10.5 actually makes this receiver a great value. You only pay for what you need and the fact that it’s expandable and upgradeable in the future ensures that you’ll be able to have the latest and greatest connection options, as well as the newest sound formats at your fingertips.

If your current receiver or AV preamp still has room to spare on the back and you don’t need HDMI switching, you probably won’t need to pop for a piece like the DTR-10.5. I had filled up my previous receivers and AV preamps, so the DTR-10.5 was the best addition to my theater since adding my big-screen HD-ILA TV. I can’t think of a better piece for my mid-level home theater system and, if you demand a lot from a receiver like I do, the DTR-10.5 could be just the piece you need. If you wanted to make a case that this was the best home theater receiver ever built, I wouldn’t give you much of an argument.

CARD MSRP DESCRIPTION
HDMI $300 (2) HDMI in, (1) out
iLINK $200 two (2) iLink inputs
Net-Tune $200 Net-Tune Ethernet in
Multichannel/AES input $150 (1) 7.1 multichannel in, (1) AES/EBU in
Dual 7.1 multichannel $200 (2) 7.1 analog multichannel inputs
RCA Component I/O $100 (1) additional RCA comp in and (1) out
BNC Component video $150 (1) BNC component in, and (1) out
Manufacturer Integra
Model DTR-10.5 Receiver
Reviewer Bryan Dailey





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