HK AVR525 Replaces Kenwood KR-V990D


I got my HK 525 today! Yeah. (I didn't buy from but bought from Cosco for $649.) Wow. This receiver is quite possibly the best match for me. (I am still considering Parasound separates for amps or the Outlaw monos -- ahhh, who will buy them for me?) Well, I just had to take the AVR525 for a test spin this afternoon.

My system setup:

Paradigm Reference Eclipse/BP (LR)
Paradigm Reference CC-450 (C)
Velodyne CT-80 Sub
Mirage 390is (Rear Surround)
Sony NS725P Progressive Scan DVD
Viewsonic PJ-550P (HDTV Front Projector)
(Lots of Monster connectors, wire, and Niles connectors)

What a different sound that comes from my Paradigm fronts! I would say the sound is quite a bit different from the Kenwood. If I were contrasting the two, I'd say the Kenwood was more forward and the HK definately laid back. The HK just seems to hum along and let the audio do its thing. I'm falling in love with my Paradigm Eclipses again for the first time!

At first, I thought the HK was less powered... but after listening at -13dB I realized my ears were ringing. (I seem to always have this problem with the Paradigm Bipolars... they seem to not get "loud" as the power increases... they just seem to fill the room with more sound!)

I started with music. First it was a CD... Fourplay's Between the Sheets album. (This is one of my reference CDs for testing systems.) The first track is "Chant"... and has a pretty dynamic range and some difficult passages at 1:58 into track 1. That played very well. Very different from the Kenwood which seemed brighter. (Maybe it's the crossover settings on the HK, but my Paradigms -- which are rated to 28Hz -- seemed to have punchier and deeper base.)

The 2nd CD I popped in was Oletta Adams' Circle of One. Another of my reference CDs. I quickly went to track 2 which is "Get Here". I like Oletta for vocals and this is a great reference track. Again, I was impressed with the warmth of the vocals the HK was feeding me.

Then I switched... to DVD, but still music. Eric Clapton's Unplugged (MTV). This time it's track 8 which is "Layla". I like this track for 5.1 surround. Well... it didn't quite play like I thought it would sound. This is most certainly because I was listening to the HK in Stereo and switched to 5.1 Dolby Digital. Still, it didn't play poorly. It just seemed flatter than DD on the Kenwood...

So... I had to prove myself wrong! So I switched to DVD Movies in DD and DTS. I started with the Matrix in Dolby Digital. It played very well and as well as the Kenwood. I then played (and still playing now) Unbreakable. I first did this in DD and it was as expected. I then noticed I was at -13dB and decided to turn the volume up. When I got to -3 (-5) dB... the DD track woke up. I then felt like the HK was performing very well.

Now for DTS. I switched Unbreakable to DTS and WOW! What happened? The sound is much fuller and my ears seemed to feel a richer, deeper sound with more dynamics. I used Chapter 22 (the train station scene) as the test. Switching back and forth from DTS to DD and I just like DTS better! (I am a long proponent and fan of Dolby Digital!)

Well, I think the money is well spent. Some things I noticed. The fan did come on when I had the HK in stereo mode and at -15dB with any of my Jazz CDs playing. The unit was warm but not hot. (Note: my rack is an Archetype rack from Salamander Systems, so it's an open rack.) The fan came on "sometimes" during the movies, but I don't hear it at all. I had to go check several times. (The unit runs hotter when in Movie (DD,DTS) mode than stereo from my tests.)

I still have lots more things to play with. May, component video switching is awesome as well, although I hate that I have to switch my projector from Component to S-Video (I have dual connections from the HK to the Projector) to do any On Screen Display (OSD) stuff. Oh well. I won't complain.

I think I'm going to watch the Matrix on the projector in 3:2 pulldown progressive scan mode and enjoy the system. I don't have much DTS source material or I'd find one of those to watch now.

one minor correction. It was a typo. The Paradigm Reference Eclipse/BPs are rates at 22Hz-22kHz. They do have base extension to 18Hz. I misttyped in my previous message that it was 28Hz. Sorry to you Paradigm folks.

Thanks for the great review! :)

super review. I am glad you are enjoying it. After all, that is why we are all here.

Thanks all. After some more listening last night, the volume was only at -15dB for movies (after some adjustments) and -20dB was loud for music. Watching television -- through the ReplayTV box -- the volume was at like -20dB to -25dB. I used EzSet to setup the speakers and it turned them up a couple of decibels each. I'll tweak it later manually.
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