The Sony STR-DA550ES is a 7.1 channel home theatre receiver with Ethernet connectivity for Internet radio access and DLNA media streaming. It's got a plethora of video and audio inputs and plenty of audio oomph for connecting surround sound speakers.
The Pioneer VSX-LX52 is a high-end home theatre receiver with support for 7.1 discrete audio channels. Its total power output of 1050W RMS is split equally between the seven satellite audio channels, with the capability to minutely adjust almost every audio aspect of each speaker. More video and audio inputs than the average user is ever likely to need mean that whatever you throw at this receiver, it will handle it admirably.
Arcam’s Solo Mini music system follows the tide of other hi-fi companies entering the digital age by embracing USB and iPod connectivity. To the Solo Mini’s credit, these additions work well and do not detract from the high standard of CD and radio reproduction.
The Arcam Solo Movie 5.1 is a one-piece home cinema system aimed at serious audio/visual enthusiasts. It combines a universal disc player with a five-channel Class G amplifier and throws in an AM-FM radio to boot.
Sony’s line-up of A/V receivers has been bolstered by the STRDA2400ES, which offers 100 Watts of power through seven channels as well as a full range of video switching and up-scaling. It’ll do almost everything you could wish for, but might prove to be a difficult beast to set up if you have a lot of equipment.
Pioneer's VSX817S is an entry-level 7.1 channel A/V receiver that does a good job considering its low price-point. It doesn't support high-definition audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and doesn't have any HDMI capability. However, it has a plethora of other features that make it a solid option for anyone considering creating a home theatre.
The first home-theatre receiver to decode DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD from Blu-ray movies produces phenomenal sound.
Pioneer's VSX-LX60 is their new, high-end AV receiver, designed primarily to take advantage of the new age of high definition. Sporting HDMI 1.3, 1080p upscaling, and full support for the new high definition audio formats, the LX60 is supremely 'future-proof'. In addition to this, it also boasts excellent audio and video quality, and is Air Studios tuned and THX Select2 certified. It does come at a price, however, and like the rest of Pioneer's LX range, it's aimed specifically at high-end enthusiasts.
Harman Kardon's AVR 245 is one of their entry level amplifier/receivers. It's important to note, however, that for a brand like Harman Kardon, 'entry level' is still built to a very high standard. The amp is capable of 50W per channel at 8 ohms, driven through up to 8 channels. A huge range of connections spans the back panel, including HDMI, and of course the audio quality is excellent. The 245 boasts several highly useful features as well as plentiful customisation options.
The Pioneer A6 analogue audio amplifier is the little brother of the [[prodid:3560]]. Slightly smaller and lighter, and with less power output, the two amps are very similar to one another, the major difference being that the A6 doesn't provide a lot of support for lossy audio formats.
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GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
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