Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Excellent sound reproduction, intuitive design, wide range of impressive effects, wide range of customisations
- Very expensive
If you have the cash and are looking for something to blow you through the back wall of your living room, this is definitely the receiver to get.
Price$ 13,995.00 (AUD)
Before the RV-8, American high-end audio manufacturer Lexicon hadn't done much in the way of home theatre receivers; in fact, it had done nothing at all. So the release of the RV-8 seven-channel receiver marks something of a milestone for the company as it ventures out of the civilised world of audio separates and into the lawless Wild West of all-in-one home theatre amplifiers/processors. However, if the multichannel market is the audio world's equivalent of the town of San Miguel, then Lexicon need hold no fear because the RV-8 is undoubtedly a gunman of considerable talent.
Putting silly Western analogies to one side for a moment, the RV-8 is a receiver of rare quality (and at almost $13,000, one of rare cost too) packed as it is with untold audio processing tricks and a back-breakingly impressive 30kg of top-quality components.
Lexicon rates the RV-8 at 140W x 7 with all channels driven. While we didn't measure these output claims, you really needn't do much more than turn it up to hear the power lurking beneath. Pop a bang-and-crash action film into the DVD player, sit back and relax as anywhere from two to eight channels of wonderfully reproduced audio remains coherent, enjoyable and, above all, mightily impressive, even when run continuously at a level likely to make passing dogs tremble.
While many AV receivers have the ability to impress, it's not until you've heard the RV-8 in action that you realise what you're missing. It's as plain as the difference between Griffins Gingernuts and those shonky imitations in the plain white wrappers: sure they taste good, but when you try to dunk them--forget about it. Likewise, try to extract some real impact from your Lord of the Rings DVDs and you'll suddenly find exactly where the limitations of your budget receiver lie. Sure, they can do the bassy bits and provide an illusion of power, but that's most likely to be a result of the powered subwoofer you have plugged into it--it's not actually the receiver's amplifier driving it. Important audio qualities such as detail, channel separation and mid-range punch require a powerful amp (and by powerful we don't just mean the amp with the highest marketing-department-supplied power specs)--an area in which the RV-8 is frighteningly well endowed.
Of course subtle effects like panning (sound moving from one speaker to the next) and plain old dialogue sequences are just as important as the ability to go loud and these are both handled effortlessly by the Lexicon.
The RV-8 is THX Ultra 2 certified; we ran it using the 80Hz THX crossover with our Audio Pro reference speaker system, but there's plenty of room for customisation. A variable crossover allows you to set a crossover for each channel from 30 to 120Hz in 10Hz increments.
Accessing and altering this--and the multitude of other settings incorporated in the RV-8--is a simple process, and even though onscreen display is available, you really don't need it, as the front panel readout is so wonderfully well thought-out. Don't mistake this for a lack of depth though; the manual dedicates 30 pages to describing the menu system alone.
Besides all the usual processing options (Dolby Pro Logic, DTS Neo:6 etc), Lexicon's proprietary Logic7 processing takes any stereo source and converts it to 7.1 with startling success. Even plain old NICAM stereo TV broadcasts come to life with Logic7 and it soon became my favourite mode for TV viewing.
We mentioned 30 pages dedicated to the remote alone in the manual--this is representative of the quality you can expect from this receiver. There is so much depth to this machine we could spend several pages examining the ultra-high-quality processing, huge power reserves and gorgeous good looks.
If you need a justification for spending a huge chunk of money on a home theatre receiver, this is it.
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