Receivers

Integra DTC-9.8 THX Ultra2 7.1 SSP

ARTICLE INDEX

So how does all this technology sound in practice?

Amazing.  I can hardly express how happy I am with the sound of this unit.  For those of you who have ever sat though a professional demo in a controlled environment, you know the feeling when the hair on the back of your neck stands up, and you think, "I wish my home setup were this good!"  The Integra DTC-9.8 can help get you there.

In my case, I have a relatively large room with acoustic treatment and some other very good equipment to complement the Integra.  I can safely say that I get that exact same demo experience when watching some of the new movie disc formats in the room.  The intro to Cars on Blu-ray made me simply shake my head. I think I have listened to the opening to that movie 30 times in the last couple of weeks.  With the silent McQueen prepping himself for the day's race, to the contrasted roar of engines and tires, to the pumped up soundtrack of "Real Gone", it was an experience no one could resist.

To take things to a softer note, I went to the Phantom of the Opera HD-DVD.  When I was a teenager, I saw the play Phantom when it was visiting Toronto.  Listening to the audio from that movie reminds me so much of that wonderful experience which opened my eyes and ears to the wonders of theater, but honestly I think I enjoy it as much watching the HD DVD at home now.

On the audio side, I was just as impressed.  I store all my music in lossless format on a PC which was connected to the Integra.  The image and presentation of the soundstage put forth by the unit were amazing.  I tried it with and without the Audyssey EQ, and it did make a difference. It wasn't jaw dropping, but it helped enough to give it a big thumbs up, and my guess is in a room with less acoustical treatment, the difference would be even more pronounced.

So what's not to like?

I am a reviewer, and if I ever found a product I didn't have anything to complain about, I would probably stop writing.  The Integra is pretty close to perfect, but there is one annoying little thing.  When the digital format changes, say from Dolby Digital to Stereo PCM, there is about a 1 second delay before the new signal is locked on.  For most people you will never notice this, as your DVD player will be sending DD all the time and your CD Player will send PCM.  In this case, one will only ever notice the delay when changing sources, and since you are starting to use a new source you probably won't even notice the second it take to sync.  In my case, my media server sends all kinds of different audio formats (16/44.1 PCM, DTS, AC-3, 24/192 kHz, and the list goes on), and everytime it sends something new, there is a one second delay before the audio starts.  It isn't serious, but the Anthem D2 locks almost instantaneously.

On the Bench

The Integra shines.  I took the measurements using the balanced inputs and outputs. Measurements were at 2 volts RMS output.

THD+N was 0.009% at 2 volts output. Notice the almost complete lack of harmonics.

thd + n

Using 10 kHz and 11 kHz sine waves, there was no observable IMD peak at either the B-A position (1 kHz) or the A+B position (21 kHz).

10khz - 11khz

The measured frequency response was 20 Hz - 20 kHz +0, - 0.015 dB.

frequency response

Conclusions

Honestly, if you are in the market for a new SSP, and you can't afford to buy an Anthem D2, just go buy this unit.  I can't give my recommendation any more strongly.

Associated Equipment:

Anthem Statement P5
Additional Amplifier: B&K ST2140
DVD-Audio Player: Toshiba HD-A2, Panasonic RP-91
DVD Player/Scaler/Media Store: HTPC
Speakers 1: Mirage OM-6, OM-R2
Speakers 2: CANTON ERGO