Processors

Integra DHC-80.1 Surround Sound Processor

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

Physically, the DHC-80.1 is a large box with contemporary styling. It has the curved front panel common to all Integra products. The top has cooling vents in the rear and they should be given proper air circulation as the processor does run a bit hot. The front panel has a large array of controls which include buttons for all inputs, controls for zone output, menu navigation, and other functions. A large metal volume knob dominates the right side. The display carries a bevy of information including the active input, speaker configuration, sound codec, listening mode and of course, the volume level. It has three dimmer settings but cannot be turned off. Also up front are HDMI and USB inputs along with jacks for composite video, two-channel analog audio and a TOSLink connection. On the left are jacks for headphones (quarter-inch) and the Audyssey setup mic.

The rear panel has every conceivable connection one could need. It's hard to imagine a device that cannot be hooked up to the 80.1. There are seven HDMI inputs and two outputs which can feed the same signal to two displays simultaneously. Component, composite and S-video are also supported by both inputs and outputs. Audio inputs include nine 2-channel analog RCAs (including a phono stage), a pair of XLR jacks and seven digital connections both coax and TOSLink. There is also a 7.1 multi-channel input and a second USB port. Outputs number nine speaker channels plus two subwoofers via both RCA and XLR. There are also 2.1 outputs for zones 2 and 3. Something relatively new to the processor (and receiver) scene is a network input. You can connect the 80.1 to your home network via its Ethernet port. Through this, you can stream music from a computer or listen to Internet radio.

The DHC-80.1 includes a full-featured video processing section anchored by an HQV Reon XV chip. This is the same solution found in many high end projectors, disc players, and receivers. In addition to scaling and deinterlacing, it offers a complete set of ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) calibration features to include RGB high and low controls for white balance and a choice of different gamma curves. These adjustments can be made for each source. The best part is you can have different output resolutions and/or refresh rates for all sources. You can also set ISF Day and Night modes. These adjustments are great for displays that lack full calibration ability. Plus with its independent source configurations, you can maintain a single video connection to your TV or projector.

The remote is one of the best I've seen included with any component. It is fully backlit (thank you Integra!) and extremely versatile. In addition to full control of the 80.1, it can be programmed to control other devices. It has a full set of transport controls and pretty much every button you need to control a complete home theater system. It even has a macro capability for turning multiple components on and off and setting correct inputs. Though I prefer a true universal remote like the Logitech Harmony, the Integra remote could easily be pressed into service as the sole system controller.

Setup Menu

The setup menu is quite extensive and contains full access to a myriad of features and options. It is divided into nine sections – Input/Output Assign, Speaker Setup, Audio Adjust, Source Setup, Listening Mode Preset, Miscellaneous, Hardware Setup, Remote Controller Setup and Lock Setup.

Input/Output Assign allows you to specify the signal path for all HDMI, digital audio, video and multi-channel analog connections. Any input can be linked to any signal type for ultimate flexibility. You can also create global settings that are applied to all incoming video. These options are quite extensive. In addition to resolutions up to 1080p at 60 and 24 Hz, there are full picture controls, white balance adjustments and even custom gamma curves available.

Speaker Setup contains all bass management and loudspeaker options. Since there are two subwoofer outputs, you can set them to mono or stereo here. Crossovers can be selected for main, center, surround, back surround, front height and front width channels individually. You can adjust the low pass filter for the sub from 80 to 120 Hz. You can also turn on Double Bass which sums the main channel bass output into the sub. This only works when the mains are set to Full Band. Speaker distances can be entered in fifths-of-a-foot and level settings in increments of .5 dB. If you don't wish to use the Audyssey room correction, the manual EQ has 15 bands for the speakers and six for the subwoofer. Finally, there is a sub-menu for THX Audio Setup which offers a number of options including Loudness Plus.

The Audio Adjust menu has all the options for the various codecs supported by the DHC-80.1. This includes settings for Dolby Volume, Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume. If you're using the processor in a living room, this is great for low-level listening. By changing the frequency response at lower volumes, you can retain optimal quality below reference level. It provides an intelligent choice for volume compression while maintaining decent sound quality.

Source Setup allows you to set input volumes for individual sources to make level matching a simple affair. You can also adjust lip sync in 2 millisecond steps, an extremely fine resolution. If you want to custom label your inputs, this is the menu to visit. Finally, individual video settings are available for all sources. This is extremely handy as you will likely have only one cable feeding your display. Now you can different calibrations for say a cable box and a Blu-ray player.

Listening Mode Preset is the place to specify the default codec to use for each input format. I find this useful for music sources as I generally matrix two-channel content to multi-channel using Dolby PLII or DTS Neo:6. Presets save me the trouble of toggling through the modes each time I fire up the system.

The Miscellaneous menu has options for Volume Display (Relative or Absolute), Muting Level, Maximum Volume, Power On Volume and Headphone Level. OSD Setup changes the position of the menu and controls the overlaid display for such things as volume and input information. Lastly are the three trigger controls. These are quite flexible and can be set to activate components in other zones with or without delays. This kind of control is important in a multi-room system.

Hardware Setup has options for Remote ID, Multi-Zone Setup, Tuner Presets, HDMI, Network and Firmware Update. Updates can be downloaded from Integra's website and installed over the network connection or from a USB thumbdrive. The Network settings can normally be left at the defaults but if you have to specify an IP address, you can enter it here. The final menu is Lock Setup and when activated, prevents any changes to your carefully entered settings.