Powerful-sounding receivers are hard to come by.
Sure, you can buy respectable-sounding models from the usual suspects--Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, and Yamaha--but most of the more affordable models lack real muscle. They sound acceptable at moderate volume levels, but can't fully convey home theater impact the way bigger, read "more expensive," models do.
Onkyo's new HT-RC180 ($1,049 MSRP) is THX Select2 Plus Certified and that's always a good sign. A bevy of features including an Ethernet port that enables the HT-RC180 either to receive and output audio tracks playing on your PC, or to bypass your PC and directly stream Internet radio stations such as Rhapsody and Pandora. There's five HDMI 1.3a inputs and the ability to upscale any video input to 1080p via Faroudja DCDi Cinema. You'll soon get the complete scoop in the full HT-RC180 review I did with Matthew Moskovciak.
The features are nice, but it was the HT-RC180's power and dynamic slam that wowed me.
The very first thing I noticed about the HT-RC180 was its ability to play nice and loud without strain. True, in absolute terms it probably can't play much louder than lesser receivers, but the HT-RC180 definitely sounds better playing loud. Home theater, at its best, is all about producing a more visceral experience, and the HT-RC180 does just that.… Read more