How Big of a Deal is THX Select Certification? Kenwood VR-7080

Marc W

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I'm researching a new receiver purchase, and I want to get the best-sounding receiver possible for under $400. I was primarily considering Onkyo, Denon, HK, and Yamaha, but then I came across the Kenwood VR-7080 -- a THX Select Certified product for around $320.

Once the Kenwood popped up on my radar screen I went to the THX website to do some research, and also read an interview or two that Audioholics has done with the THX folks. The main gist of a THX Certification seems to be that certified equipment has been tested and shown to be capable of reproducing sound as the director intended it to be heard. I don't know all of the finer points of what is involved in the certification process, but my question is -- how much weight should I place on this rating? Should it be a major consideration? Or just a minor one? And speaking of "weight," the Kenwood is pretty light -- less than 21 pounds . . . .

In addition to the THX Select Certification, the Kenwood also has a lot of bells and whistles, and what appears to be a pretty cool remote. That's all well and good, but I don't really need anything too fancy. What I really want is a receiver with high-quality sound, because I've been slightly disappointed with my Pioneer VSX-811 in this regard (either "Loudness" or "Midnight Mode" need to be on when listening at low volumes, and sometimes it sounds a bit too bright). The Kenwood does have Timbre-Matching and some sort of auto-eq system which might contribute to the sound quality -- then again they might not -- I just don't know.

My primary use for the receiver will be TV and DVDs, with music a distant second place. I don't have a large number of components, so just about any receiver out there should have enough connectivity for me, and I don't need any particular features (other than 6.1). I just want the best quality sound I can get. Is the THX Select Certification an indication of sound quality, or merely sound accuracy? (a subtle but significant distinction)

I realize that what sound is "best" is a very subjective thing, and that auditioning various receivers side-by-side would be the best way to figure out what I like, but for practical reasons that simply isn't going to happen. The next best approach is to read reviews and solicit educated opinions, so that's what I'm requesting. Comments or suggestions?

Best Regards,

Marc
 

Johnny_M

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well, i have this receiver and have been very happy with it. the thx processing is a bit over rated tho. you have the option of using thx processing or kenwoods built in eq system, personally i think the eq system sounds much better, but in any case i love this reciever. i upgraded from a crap sony receiver and have had no complaints about this kenwood. the touchscreen remote is a cool conversation peice, but not very practical and eats batterys fast, i ended up buying a nice learning remote instead. but for overall sound quality i think youll be happy, what kind of speakers are u going to use?

Johnny
 

Marc W

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My speakers are:

Center -- JBL EC-35
Front -- JBL 3800s (3-way, 8" woofers)
Surround -- JBL 2600s (2-way, 6" woofers)
Sub -- Hsu STF-2

My parents bought the fronts and surrounds about 15 years ago. They've been used very lightly, and are in excellent shape. They're not a perfect match for the (brand new)center. They are pretty close, but I'd like to get them closer, if possible. This is why the Kenwood's Timbre-Matching feature interests me -- I figure that it might help improve voice-matching with my speakers.

I'm not planning on going beyond 5.1 at the current time, but I may in the future.

I'm glad to hear that you're happy with the sound of your Kenwood, Johnny. Does it still sound good at higher volume levels?

Best Regards,

Marc
 

David Judah

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There are two aspects to THX: One is a minimum standard of performance on the harware side and the other is a set of processing the signal undergoes.

For hardware, it's not critical, IMO, because there is alot of good equipment that isn't certified.

Also, I rarely engaged THX post-processing when I had a receiver capable of it. RE-EQ is a nice feature to have for some older titles, but many now are compensated for when the DVD's are being made. Some receivers offer it even if there is no THX certification, though. I never found the Timbre Matching and Adaptive Decorrelation to make any difference with discrete soundtracks(the latter might have been more useful for Pro-Logic decoded material).

One thing I did like was the subwoofer filter. It allowed a max output cut-off so you could set it just below a level where the sub would bottom out. I thought I read it was a part of THX, but I could be mistaken, and it might have just have been a feature included with the particular Pioneer receiver I owned.

In the end, I wouldn't have its inclusion make or break my receiver selection.

Good luck,

DJ
 

Johnny_M

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it sounds very good at high levels. i have yamaha speakers all the way around. if you have a good sub setup the reciever for smalls speakers, small eq, and cinema eq, this routes all low frequencies to your sub and the receiver amps only have to work on the highs and mids, sounds much better at high volume.


Johnny
 

Drew_W

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THX tames my Athenas nicely when I'm pumping them with an Elite 53TX...

To me, the difference is noticeable, and the post processing makes a difference. Of course, YMMV.
 

Jon_Welker

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To be honest, I didn't take the time to read your entire post, but my standard reply to your topic question is that THX is nothing but a lot of talk and a badge. DO NOT buy a component just because it has THX stamp on it. There are plenty of good components from plenty of good manufacturers that do not have THX certification. However, a lot of these components would still meet THX's requirements (that they never make known), but simply chose not to throw money away on the certification process.
 

Marc W

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You make some good points Jon. Thank you, and thanks to all who have responded.

I'm less enthused about the THX rating of the Kenwood than I originally was, so once again, I am juggling the merits of a few different options. After I narrow the choices down to three or four, I'll start a new post to solicit opinions on them.

Best Regards,

Marc
 

John Garcia

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Your receiver's bass management will do this regardless of THX...
 

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