● Power: 100 Watts x 6 (7th Channel
Requires an Outboard Amplifier)
Digital Inputs: 2 Optical, 2 Coaxial
Digital Outputs: One Optical
Two Component Video Inputs
● 7.1 Channel Discrete Input Set
Dimensions: 5.5" H x 17.4" W x 13" D
Weight: 21.8 Pounds
MSRP $399.95 USA
Regardless of the price, the receiver is the central component of most home
theater systems. With all of the important duties that a receiver is required
to perform, it is one of the key purchases for both the beginning and
experienced home theater enthusiast.
In an effort to try to make sense of one of
the key price points in the home theater receiver market, Secrets will be looking at a host of the currently available
models for our “Budget Receiver Roundup”. The defined budget price point is an MSRP between $300 and $600 which encompasses a range of very attractive models
from all of the major manufacturers. Models in this range have accumulated
more features in recent years, but in this price range one still has to deal with
tradeoffs in inputs and processing. To begin the “Budget
Receiver Roundup” I looked at the $400 R-765 from Sherwood’s premium Newcastle
Right out of the box, the R-765 looked impressive in a handsome silver finish.
I generally like the appearance of silver components, even though they take away from
the monolithic presentation of my all black stack. Looking over the specs, the R-765
is a six-channel receiver with an equal 100 watts into each channel (not
necessarily driven at the same time) and all of the standard decoding
facilities (DTS, DTS-ES, DD, DD-EX and DPL-II). Internally, the R-765 is based
on a Cirrus Logic CS-493264 DSP and an AKM AK4529 multi-channel 96/24 DAC.
The R-765 has a very clean front panel, with two primary rows of buttons and a
good size volume knob positioned to the right. The upper row of buttons
controls input selection, DSP mode, DPL-II music parameters, and the selection of
digital inputs. The input buttons do not directly select the inputs, but
rather are grouped into the general categories of audio, video and 7-CH.
Pressing the respective button multiple times toggles through the list of
inputs assigned to this button, which is not as convenient as direct selection, but not
particularly cumbersome either.
The surround fields are selected with a left
and right arrow that scrolls through the options. There are also buttons that
turn on Auto Sound mode detection and toggle to a stereo mode. The smaller row
of buttons controls system setup, tone controls, and tuning for the radio. I’m
pleased to say that one can do a full system setup directly from the R-765’s
front panel. One of my pet peeves in the world of modern electronics is the dumbed down front panel
that one sees on some products. I recently experienced the utter frustration of
trying to watch a DVD on a modern slim-line DVD player without the remote
control. Needless to say, trying to watch is all I could do with that DVD as
one could not even execute basic menu functions without the remote control.
Finally, the front of the R-765 has a standard composite video and stereo
audio input set that is
neatly covered by a removable gray cap (you might use this if you were feeding
the signal out of your video camera to the receiver).
The back panel of the R-765 is well laid out, with
connections grouped by functionality. The
audio inputs are grouped into blocks of digital inputs, analog stereo inputs, and a multi-channel
(7.1) input. The video inputs are also logically broken down into
component video inputs, S-Video inputs, and composite video inputs. This is an
interesting departure from the more standard layout that puts analog audio,
composite video, and S-Video all inline for each input. Personally, I think this
works for the R-765, primarily because it only has two true A/V inputs on the
back panel. Thus, since there is less of a problem with confusing the inputs,
it's better that things are spaced farther apart, causing fewer problems getting
your cables connected.
The RCA inputs are gold plated which is a nice
touch and a set above most receivers in this price range. All binding posts
are five-way. My banana plugs fit snugly and
securely in the binding posts, and overall they seemed to be quite sturdy. The
binding posts are color-coded, which should help during setup. It should be
noted that there are no secondary (“B”) connections for main speakers. Since
most people will be placing a receiver like this in a simple one room theater
I don’t find this omission troubling.
The remote is a very large black unit and with mostly black buttons. It is comfortable for me to hold, but it may seem a bit large for those
with smaller hands. The remote is programmable for seven other devices and
features both volume punch through and the ability to program macros, both of
which are nice additions. My primary problem with the remote is the placement
of the input selection buttons which share space with the numeric keypad
portion of the remote. I found this a bit awkward, and I also found that the
input names were hard to read in a dimmed room. This led to some frustration
until I memorized the buttons' positions. One of the primary functions of a
receiver’s remote should be input switching, and I would have preferred to have
seen this implemented better.
Setting up the R-765 was relatively easy, using either the remote or the front
panel. One simply presses the speaker setup button and then uses the up or
down arrow to adjust the desired parameter, be it speaker size or position.
Pressing the speaker setup again takes one to the next parameter and
ultimately to the next speaker. Finally in this setup routine one can select
crossover frequency at either 80, 100, or 120 Hz. I like the fact that R-765
has an 80 Hz crossover frequency option, as many receivers in the budget group
only offer 100 Hz as their lowest setting, which I find too high.
channel level can either be accomplished by using a test tone that cycles
through the channels automatically while playing a test tone or by using the
channel selector button that toggles through all of the channels. In both
cases, channel level is simply adjusted using the up or down arrow on either
the receiver itself or the remote. One thing I liked about setting up the
R-765 was that it was very easy to tune channel levels and settings on the
fly. I don’t end up doing this much, once I have everything dialed in, but it’s
a nice option to have.
Input setup is equally simple. Just select an
input and press the input button until you have the desired input. It
doesn’t get much easier than that.
The R-765 was used to control an abridged version of my home theater, playing
CDs, DVDs, and an Xbox. Throughout this time, I had no problems whatsoever in the
operation of the unit. Using the R-765 was the model of ease and simplicity
for me. This is exactly what I want from a well-designed receiver. Simply put,
I really enjoyed using the R-765.
I started my evaluation of the R-765 by using it for audio with my Xbox and a digital input. At the time, I was playing
Star Wars: Knights of the Old
Republic, and I have to say, the R-765 effectively contributed to this very
enveloping gaming experience. In- game dialog was very clean, and
sound effects worked very well.
Moving to more serious material, I began with my favorite wind
band track from Gustav Holst’s "Second Suite in F" Fantasia on the Dargason
CD-80038) played back using one of the digital inputs. I really liked the way
things sounded tonally, with clarinets and other reed instruments exhibiting
full harmonics. The dynamics also seemed to work really well,
with the crescendo’s fully developing and decrescendo’s appropriately falling
away. Brass instruments had a nice edge to them that represents
their live sound.
Switching things over to 7-Ch in and letting my DVD
player’s D/A do the decoding, showed me that the R-765 was missing a bit of
detail and air on the high end, but not much. Moving back to the digital coaxial input,
I played track 12 of Reference Recordings Arnold for Band (RR 66). This lively
track features lots of well recorded brass instruments, and I really felt that
the R-765 was producing a very correct sound for the brass. Next, I put in the
DVD-A of Queen’s A Night at the Opera, which yielded a very full and tonally
neutral sound. Continuing with rock, I ran the Who’s Tommy on SACD through the
7-Ch analog input. While I felt that R-765 could have been stronger in the bass
range, its overall presentation of the disc was very good. I wrapped up my
music listening with the DVD-A of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. This was perhaps my
favorite disc I played on the Sherwood. I felt the receiver’s midrange clarity
and appealing tonal balance really complemented Fleetwood’s sound and
particularly Stevie Nick’s vocals.
I watched a number of movies using the R-765, and overall I felt the sound was quite
good. Dialogue was clean and clear, and the sound was more than sufficiently
detailed. To really see what the receiver could do on some tough material, I
put in a DTS demo disc. I started with the “Battle” scene from Pirates of
the Caribbean. I found that spatially, the receiver was creating a good and
convincing sound field. Dynamically, on this track, I felt like I could push the
receiver to its limits. This is a challenging scene, and although I felt the
R-765 went plenty loud, I would have liked a little more headroom for the
system. Overall, this dynamic performance is similar to the other budget
receivers I have heard. Next I moved on to the “Marshes” scene from The Lord
of the Rings - The Two Towers. I felt the detail in this scene was very good,
and it was able to effectively convey the complexity of sounds. Like its
performance with the music tracks, I really appreciated the R-765’s balanced
tonal presentation. I finished up my evaluation with more Pirates of the
Caribbean, this time the “Storm” scene. Looking back at my notes all I have
written for this scene is “sounds excellent”, which I think is an appropriate
way to sum up how I feel about the R-765.
The Sherwood Newcastle R-765 is a very good receiver that will appeal to the
user with relatively light input requirements. In my system, this limited me to
only using the receiver with my DVD player and my Xbox as I did not want to
string cables around to the front A/V input. Now this won’t be a deal breaker
for many, but for me it meant leaving my TiVo and my PS2 unhooked while I was
reviewing the unit. The flip side to this simplicity is that it made setting
up the R-765 a breeze.
Ultimately, while I had some issues with the R-765’s remote control, I found
operating the R-765 a painless and quite enjoyable experience. The R-765 also
performed very well for me on both music and movies, with an appealing
sound. I can’t help but like the Sherwood Newcastle R-765, and if you can work
around its input requirements, I highly recommend it.
- Matthew Abel -
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