Any reason (besides personal feelings) why NOT to get a Kenwood Sovereign VR-5090?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris Rock, Jan 19, 2002.

  1. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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    I've been into HT for a little over a year now, starting with a Kenwood HTB-503 setup. Since then, I've gotten new front speakers (JBL N-Center and N-26's), moved the original fronts to the rear, and gotten a new TV (Wega 36XBR450). I've also upgraded to a DVD player with DVD-A capabilities.
    I'm ready to take one of the next steps: Upgrading my Receiver. I have the VR-407 that came with the original HTB package, and I must say, I have not been dis-satisfied. However, after getting the HD-compatible TV, and also getting a PS2 and XBox, I've noticed that the VR-407 is lacking - it can't accept component video inputs. What used to be a simple operation (switching between S-Video video sources) has now become a chore, and something that only 1 person in my family (me) is qualified to do. Thank goodness I have a One-For-All Learning Remote™, so I'm able to do several things through macros.
    Well, to get to my point: Tax Return / Birthday / Yearly Bonus time is coming up, and I think I'll upgrade my receiver. After receiving the very-cool marketing gimmick CD from Kenwood, showing off their Soveriegn line of receivers, I almost immediately fell in love with the VR-5090. http://www.kenwoodusa.com/product/pr...productId=754#. It has ALL of the latest sound formats, (Pro-Logic 2, DTS-ES, THX-EX, etc), has AMPLE room for inputs (7 Digital, 11 Analog Audio), is THX-Select certified (whatever that's worth), and has one of my FAVORITE new features: Universal Video HD. This means you can plug many different types of video inputs into the receiver (composite, S-Video, component), and have only ONE connection to your monitor (in my case, a component-video connection). The receiver automatically converts everything to component video. This means NO MORE switching between inputs on my TV. That feature's convenience factor alone is worth nearly half the cost of this machine (to me).
    Anyway, like my post says, is there anyone out ther who can provide me with good reason NOT to go for this receiver? I haven't looked around TOO much, but I think it can be had for around $1299 or so. The VR-5080 (the model just below this one) does not have the Universal Video HD feature.
    Is there any other brand of receiver in this price range that also has this unique feature? Any cheaper receivers have this feature?
    Finally, if anyone reading this post OWNS a VR-5090, please post your thoughts also. I'm really considering this purchase, and I'd really like to hear someones opinion (besides Kenwood's) about this receiver. If you do own this receiver, and you wouldn't mind sharing how much you paid I would also be interested in that. The only online retailer I've seen that carries it is www.crutchfield.com.
     
  2. Shane Acker

    Shane Acker Agent

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    Chris,

    While I don't own the VR-5090 I do own last years VR-4090.

    Don't have an HDTV yet but I have been more than happy with the universal video feature. I am very pleased with the whole package that is in this receiver ie: RF Remote, Ease of use, Killer users manuals, and more than enough power.
     
  3. Steve K.H.

    Steve K.H. Supporting Actor

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    Counter Point... my experience with Kenwood (and Yamaha's, sorry) is the features are solid but the build is not for longevity.

    Sort of the Fiero's of the electronics world.
     
  4. John Sully

    John Sully Stunt Coordinator

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    I second Steve's opinion. There are two well known brands which do not pass the 10 foot pole test: JVC and Kenwood. Check out http://smr-home-theater.org, they have an article there which discusses the differences in receiver build quality. Note that they use Kenwood as the example of how not to build an A/V receiver.
    Now on to the unified video feature. Currently Pioneer and Denon offer this in their flagship receivers which are priced at more than twice the price of the Kenwood. Keep in mind that a decent outboard comb filter (necessary to convert composite video to S-video) costs several hundred dollars. I have a Crystal Vision VPS-1 in my system to convert the composite out from the cable box to S-video and it was around $600. There also has to be a color decoder in the system to generate the difference signals necessary for component video. At the $1299 price point I can't see that you would get either a decent comb filter or a decent color decoder.
    Your Sony TV is blessed with both a very good comb filter and an excellent color decoder. It also responds to discrete IR codes for both input selection and picture presets. If you get a decent remote control such as the ProntoNEO or the Marantz RC3200 (each about $200) you should be able to construct simple wife-proof macros which choose the appropriate input and format on your TV for any given source. Then buy a receiver such as the Denon AVR-3802 or the Integra 7.1 (or is it 7.2 by now?). Your system will both look and sound much better than it would with the Kenwood. Besides, I took a look at the picture of the 5090 and it is one butt-ugly receiver...
     
  5. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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    So, the idea I'm getting is that I shouldn't get this receiver because:

    A. Kenwood builds lousy receivers

    B. Kenwood's products won't last

    C. Universal Video HD can't possibly be all it's cracked up to be because the receiver is only $1299.

    I do understand your point, John, but I'm really sold on the convenience of Universal video. I don't want to get ANOTHER remote. (I KNOW the Pronto remote rocks, I'm just going to take that as a last resort.) Since the picture from my digital cable box sucks so bad anyway (especially on my WEGA, since it's got a line doubler AND it's way bigger than it used to be, being 36") I won't be able to measure any difference on the quality of my cable programming. In addition, I don't have any composite video sources, so there will be no need to convert from composite to S Video.

    Kenwood seems (to me, anyway) to have struck the balance between price and features. I am by no means a high-end HT nut. I've been happy with the sound from my VR-407, and if the VR-5090 sounds ONLY AS GOOD as this one (which is not possible, given the addition of several sound formats and several DSP modes that my current one doesn't have), I'll be pleased.

    I know there are infinite ways to spend Fifteen Hundred bucks, and infinite ways to spend twice that amount on HT equipment. I'd love to be able to get one of those flagship Denon or Pioneer Elite receivers, but it's a simple economic decision right now.

    But, I've also followed the electronics and computer industry for a while, too; and if there's one thing I've learned it's that you always get more features for your money as time goes on. Perhaps I'll wait until Onkyo or Denon or HK puts out a receiver with all these features for that price point.

    Thanks for the replies, though. I appreciate hearing both sides.
     
  6. iweiss

    iweiss Extra

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    I have also been looking into this receiver, and others in the Sovereign series, possibly as a stand-alone product but also as a pre-pro into a more powerful power amp. It is the only receiver (outside of the top new Pioneer Elite) with enough flexibilty to handle all of my components (CD recorder, cassette deck, open real recorder, turntable, laserdisc, dvd, VCR, etc.) and the only series of components to offer a choice of optical and coaxial inputs for all digital sources. Of course, it has five amps rather than six or seven.

    A problem I have is that there are no Kenwood Sovereign dealers within 85 miles of Columbus, Ohio (with > 1M people, not exactly a small metropolitan area) at which I can try it out. What is with their distribution?

    On the other, the store 85 miles away not only carries Kenwood Sovereign but also the Pioneer Elites so I can compare them one on one. They also sell Definitive Technology, so I can hear the receivers working with the actual speakers I own (2004TL) and find out how well either receiver brand works into the low impedance of these speakers. It will be worth the trip.

    The Kenwood Sovereigns and Pioneer Elite 49 are among the few receivers to make their power ratings with all channels driven in recent magazine tests (Sound and Vision and Home Theater).

    I alwo wonder whether the next generation of Sovereigns will offer six or seven channels of amplification as well as THX Ultra2 certification (the current models are Ultra or Select).

    Good luck with your search
     
  7. Randy Prue

    Randy Prue Stunt Coordinator

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    I was happy with a Kenwood 509 (but then I wasn't looking for longevity).

    I would like to read the SMR Home Theater info on receiver quality/longevity, etc., but the link is bad... "no DNS entry" error.

    I tried permutations of the URL, but haven't found it yet. My own link to SMR was to a generated page and so that link fails.

    Could we have the SMR link again?
     
  8. GregoriusM

    GregoriusM Second Unit

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    Here is the link you are looking for.
    http://smr-home-theatre.org/Interface.html
    However, I don't think the Sovereign line of Kenwood's necessarily fits into the bracket they have put the lower end (and older, since this report is from a while back).
    But it's worth looking at.
    Perhaps your dealer will take the cover off of the Kenwood and let you see how its built compared to the ones in the article on SMR.
    Plus, I belive the 5090 was reviewed in a recent HT mag. I can't remember which one.
    ... Greg
     
  9. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

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    I really don't think you should have any concerns with getting the 5090, the build quality is good and never hear of anyone having any problems. I know a few people who have the 5090 and 4090 and they sound and perform flawlessly.

    Kenwood is back in the game and are putting out quality products that compare to all brands.

    Besides, a THX receiver still has to pass a minimum of performance tests to be certified, whether they pay for it or not.
     
  10. iweiss

    iweiss Extra

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  11. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for that link. I'm inching closer and closer to decinding to get this puppy. It looks like I'll get the most for the money.
     
  12. Chris Rock

    Chris Rock Supporting Actor

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  13. iweiss

    iweiss Extra

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    Be careful about putting much stock in some of the review text. There are some basic inaccuracies about the numbers of amplification channels.
     
  14. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    Kenwood using power ratings at 1 khz on one of their more expensive recievers? I pesonally would be a little skeptical.
     

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