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Sending my Sherwood Newcastle R-963 back to the dealer! (and short review)


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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   BenG

BenG

    Agent



  • 28 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 04 2001

Posted April 22 2002 - 11:50 AM

...Because they sent me a black one, not "titanium" like I had wanted Posted Image They're going to exchange it for me.

QUICK REVIEW:

-Home Theater-

DTS is awesome. I was upgrading from a DD-only receiver, and suffice to say, watching Gladiator in DTS-ES was worth the price of admission.

Dolby ProLogic II is also a great improvement. I wouldn't compare it to Dolby Digital or DTS, but considering that it is working its magic on the sound-stream from analog cable (ugh), the results are very pleasing.

I cant say that I am noticing a HUGE improvement over my old receiver in standard Dolby Digital soundtracks. I never really had any complaints about the performance of my old receiver in this regard, however, and my mediocre speakers may mask any further discernible differences (that will be my next upgrade!). I can say that the finer details of certain soundtracks are more easily heard, and the overall surround effect is more "full", but the difference is a long shot from night-and-day. Again, this doesn't disappoint me; I only point this out for those who may purchase the R-963 (or any new receiver, for that matter) expecting such a dramatic improvement.

-2 Channel Music-

With my old receiver, I found that I had to crank up the Treble and Midrange settings to defeat the "muddiness", and achieve the level of "detail" in music that I desired (again, my speakers are probably the major culprit here). With the Sherwood, I can keep the settings flat, and still hear all the subtle nuances of the music. Other than that, I am having a tough time deciding if this would be a "warm" or "bright" receiver (would the added crispness and detail indicate "brighter"?). Perhaps my ears are not keen enough to make this distinction Posted Image Overall, I am content with the improved clarity, as this was my major complaint about my old receiver.

Pro-Logic II and DTS-Neo (Music Modes) are interesting to play with, and for some tracks, can add an intriguing atmosphere to the music. However, I listen to my music as I wander around my house mainly (in and out of the sweet spot), so I still prefer Direct 2-Channel. "Matrix" is very cool, in that it seems to make equal sound come from all speakers rather than merely creating an atmospheric effect. I'd imagine that this would be more useful with 5 full range speakers.

Once I upgrade my speakers, I'll do a more in-depth comparison and review of the two-channel performance (if someone doesn't beat me to it). My current speaker setup is less than optimal.

-SUMMARY-

I originally became interested in this unit simply because of it's cosmetics (no one else seems to make a quality receiver in this price range that comes in a silver hue; and yes, LOOKS are IMPORTANT! Posted Image ). I made the decision to purchase it based mainly on specs (since reviews of this unit were practically nonexistent): 120Wx7 (even more driving a 4-ohm load in 2-channel), all the decoding modes that I will ever need for the foreseeable future, a handy on-screen display, a beautiful learning remote, etc etc.


Having spent a few days now with this receiver, I know that I have made the right choice. The minor quibbles I had with the sound quality of my old receiver are absent in the Newcastle, and combined with all the new decoding modes I now have access to, I consider my $1300 investment to be money well-spent.

On the other hand, waiting for the Titanium model to arrive once I send this one back will be quite difficult Posted Image

(Yeesh, that's the longest "short" review I've ever written.)