(Originally written by lewkey/translated from Audiofanzine FR)
- How long have you been using it?
I've been using it since October 2008 (in a 2.0 setup).
- Which feature do you like the most / the least?
Lots of inputs/outputs, output power, high sound quality...
It has a very linear response: low-end and high-end are always well-balanced no matter what volume you set it to!!
Weight and price
- Did you try any other models before buying it?
For home cinema, I owned a Sony STR-DE598 but it sounded very bad compared to this one (no comparison possible).
- How would you rate its value for money?
Average but it's the price to pay if you want a very good system instead of a mediocre one!!
- Based on your experience, would you buy this product again?
Yes but one is enough for me.
In the beginning, I chose a Sony bundle (STR-DE598 amp plus 6 speakers) but I've always used it mostly in a 2.0 setup (I'm more of a hi-fi fan than a home cinema freak).
But this amp opened a totally new world for me: It's 5 times as expensive as the whole system I had before, but quality and performance are incomparable. I'm currently using it with the Sony speakers but I ordered a pair of Klipsch RF-7 which ought to arrive soon.
In comparison, the high-frequency response of the Sony amp is very sharp.
Video signals are upgraded pretty good to HDMI.
It can manage a second audio (line or powered signal) and video plus a third audio zone (line signal).
It can also handle bi-amping (not needed with Klipsch speakers because they have a very dynamic response) or bridge the amps for both main loudspeakers. /!\ : I don't recommend it: see note below : /!\
It's nearly impossible to use all functions (particularly all inputs/outputs and zones 2 and 3!) of this very comprehensive amp.
Also worth mentioning is the remote, which is quite big, it needs three AA batteries, has a backlight (activated with a knob on the right side) and you can manage a complete system with it. You can use it to manage the amp and all other devices. You can program it (a code list for most hi-fi and video manufacturers is provided) or program each knob with the original remote of the slave device.
EDIT: After 2 weeks of use, I tested the WEB radio function (and the quality is lousy!!) but since I have a hard disk full of PCM WAV files I tried out the front USB connector and played back audio files from a multimedia server (I have a Maxtor). In these playback modes you can't hear a track while you're searching for another file on the hard disk or the media server.
It seems you can't deliver video signals through both HDMI connectors at the same time (I couldn't find this function): You can choose either one in the menu (for the video output, you can choose between Composite, S-Video, YUV, HDMI Main and HDMI sub). The last setting of every connector is stored so you only have to select the output and its setting is automatically recalled.
The device can upgrade every signal to HDMI but it can't downgrade (HDMI to YUV or Composite). For example, if you connect a TV in S-Video mode, you'll only be able to watch Composite and S-Video sources but no YUV or HDMI signal. Anyway I think people who buy this amp already have an HDMI screen or a beamer!!!
When I connected my Klipsch RF7 speakers, I bridged the amp but I recommend you not to do this: The bridge mode decreased the overall sound quality and the sound became less accurate and dynamic. I haven't tried out the bi-amping mode because it only enhances the dynamic response of the speakers (mine have enough dynamic) and it requires a second cable, as well as precise settings. I used special AWG12 (4mm2) speaker cable.
I didn't give it the best mark because it's a bit expensive but then again, if you want higher quality it all comes at a cost.