November 30, 2010
| by Arlen Schweiger
Here’s a novel thought: Setting up your home theater can be fun!
With a component such as the DTR-80.2 9.2-channel THX Ultra2 Plus A/V receiver from Integra, you can spend a day tweaking your system’s sound and still not discover all of this beast’s capabilities. It may take a day just to sift through the 120-page manual.
Integra components are typically obtained through custom electronics (CE) professionals, who should be versed the DTR-80.2’s ins and outs, as its setup and operation can be daunting. But if you do install this receiver yourself, chances are you’re a techie—and you are about to have a blast.
The rear panel is very busy, but also well marked, so making all of the A/V connections is more tedious than difficult (go wild with eight 3D-ready HDMI 1.4a inputs). Integra is considerate with its speaker connections: terminals for a surround-sound setup are color-coded, and included in the instruction manual are corresponding stickers for your wires.
There are front-panel niceties, too, like USB, HDMI, analog audio, video and digital optical ports.
The first thing I did was update the firmware. I connected an Ethernet cable from the rear port to my Linksys router, and followed the menu steps. The manual noted that the process could take up to 30 minutes, but it didn’t take half that before the onscreen display told me it was “complete.”
Fortunately, my PC is in my theater room and I had it on while updating the receiver’s firmware. Almost instantaneously, the notification popped up on my desktop saying that a DLNA-compatible device had been found on the network (good sign). By going through the NET/USB button on the receiver’s remote, I verified that the DTR-80.2 quickly discovered my PC’s Nero Media Home network software (better sign).
Using the onscreen display, I played some of my high-quality 256 and 320 kbps (kilobits per second) MP3 files. They sounded superb, and changing tracks was simple via the RETURN button; you can also use traditional FAST FORWARD buttons to go to other tracks or move within a song, as well as PAUSE it.
Next I tested Pandora. It took a few tries, as inputting the email address and password is rather clunky. It’s worth it, though, because having a networked, multizone receiver with Pandora access will make you golden for hosting parties. Options include creating a new station, playing a “quickmix,” playing one of the customized stations I’d already created, or signing out. I picked a station I’d made for jam-band music.
After brief buffering, Pandora delivered, and the sound quality was impressive for streaming, much better than through my computer and its speakers. You can drill into Pandora functions to give songs a thumb’s up or down, delete selections, bookmark and more. One thing I couldn’t find, though, was artist and song title info.
Network access is only part of the DTR-80.2’s charms. Other highlights include Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction and speaker setup, as well as a wealth of listening modes to suit your sources (I found “all channel stereo” quite enveloping). Surround sound from Blu-rays and DVDs was expansive and detailed through the DTR-80.2, whether it was Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio or regular Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1—I did not try out the Dolby Pro Logic IIz “height channels” application, but you can wire your system for that extra front-channel configuration too.
Plus don’t forget about the strong video processing, which comes via HQV Reon-VX for processing and upscaling, so all of your sources can get the HD treatment, like the much-improved standard-def channels I watched through the DTR-80.2 that I’m still waiting on my cable provider to add to our HD lineup.
Lately, most of my listening has been of the two-channel variety, and another plus of the receiver is its built-in phono stage—something missing from high-end processors I’ve used that cost twice as much. And my records sounded stunning with airiness and clarity.
One thing I was looking forward to was the Audyssey audio equalization and calibration. My theater is an acoustic nightmare with its combination of brick, concrete, carpets and wood paneling. Setting up the microphone and letting Audyssey sweep through my Paradigm speakers proved beneficial to the balance and soundstage. And, yes, the process was fun!
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.