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Secrets Benchmark Product Review
 

Lexicon RV-8 7.1 A/V Receiver

Part II

August, 2005

John E. Johnson, Jr.

 

In Use

Although the RV-8 is very complex, the instruction manual is superb in explaining it all.

I configured a digital input and 5.1 analog input set for my Yamaha universal DVD player, and a stereo analog input set for my McCormack CD transport and DAC. Speakers were Carver Amazings all around, and a Final Acoustics ESL for the center. Velodyne subwoofers rounded out the test system, and Nordost cables connected everything.

Ribbons and ESLs are a very tough test for any amplifier, especially those in receivers, but the RV-8 was up to the task.

The sound quality was more like our McIntosh MC-602 and 1201 in tonality rather than our BAT VK-500, except for, of course, the maximum power. This is definitely high performance audio. I noticed clipping at high volume, such as with Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man", which is a disc I use very often, as the dynamics are incredible. However, the sound itself, within the 180 watt two-channel capability (see Benchmark test results below), was outstanding.

Strings, brass, human voices (such as Mary Chapin Carpenter - Come On, and Natalie Cole - Unforgettable) were superbly reproduced with a clarity that would honor any audio product.

I crossed over the rear speakers at 50 Hz, even though they are full range, so that the bass from the rear would not interfere with the subwoofers at the front. This worked very well, and is something I do routinely. This is particularly nice when playing a heavy bass disc, such as the Copland one shown above.

SACD recordings, played using the 5.1 analog output from the Yamaha, sounded as good as I have ever heard from a receiver. The discs included Hiromi's Brain, which if you have not experienced, is a must hear disc.

Other orchestral recordings include Stravinsky's The Firebird (Telarc SACD 60039) and Liszt's Works for Organ (NAXOS 8.555079).

All in all, I would be very happy with this receiver as the heart of my home theater system and music listening too.

The menus are laid out in a straightforward manner, but it is easy to get lost. In order to enter a particular choice, you have to go one step further in the menu (pressing the right side of the circular button on the remote) and then hitting Enter.

I tried the tuner briefly (I am not a fan of music on the radio), and it set up in a flash. The sound quality of receivers is probably surpassing the FM analog transmissions now, so if you like broadcast music, you should focus on the digital broadcasts over satellite and cable, which the RV-8 can decode through one of its digital inputs.

The other zones are very simple to configure, and Lexicon is unique in providing complete control of second and third zones from the front panel. For someone with music setups in several rooms, the RV-8 is sure to be a delight in this regard.

With movies, the RV-8 excelled just as it did with CD and high resolution audio. I watched a lot of movies with the RV-8 while it was here. These included Assault on Precinct 13, Constantine, The Merchant of Venice, and Be Cool, which are in our movie reviews section now.

In all cases, the movies sounded awesome with the RV-8. There are myriad variations in the ways you can listen to surround sound with the RV-8 and most other receivers, but I prefer just straight DD 5.1 with no added enhancements (other than the 7.1 side channels that are synthesized).

This is especially so with the big speakers that I use for home theater entertainment, and for our tests. Even though the ribbons are very low efficiency, the RV-8 did just fine. If you have cone speakers with an efficiency of, say 90 dB or more, you will have enough power to blow the walls out with this receiver. I use ribbons and ESLs for two reasons. One is that I like the sound. Secondly, they let me find out what a test product can do under stress.

Many high performance receivers have 7.1 sound now, with power amplifiers for all seven channels. Even though the side channels are synthesized, if you have not heard 7.1, do so, because you will be surprised at how much this adds to the sound stage. They fill in the gap that pans from back to front or front to back have without the side channel signals.

On the Bench

Below are our Secrets Benchmark findings for the RV-8. As you can see, it passed most of the criteria, and we set criteria levels to be very high. Each criterion can score a maximum of 10 points. This receiver has just about every feature you can want, except for digital video switching (DVI and HDMI). The power amplifier put out very close to spec with all seven channels driven. We test the maximum output for a five second period, which is a terrific strain on the amplifier. We usually find that the maximum voltage drops down after less than a second, so that is why we set the Benchmark standard as the maximum voltage that will hold steady for five seconds. The RV-8 won't accept digital input for DVD-A or SACD yet, but this is the same for most receivers these days. Perhaps an update next year (maybe that blank panel on the rear panel near the bottom)?

Secrets Benchmark Results
 

Function

Score

Notes

Time Alignment

   
Global A/V Delay 10 Points Delay up to 60ms. 60ms is minimum to get 10 points, with 100ms being preferred.
Speaker Delay 10 Points Each channel is independent, with settings to 30 feet in 0.1 foot increments. 0 to 12 meters in 0.1m increments (0.5 foot minimum to get 10 points).

Volume

   
Muting 10 Points Options are -10 dB up to - 40 dB, and Full. Mute button on remote and on front panel.
Power-On Volume / Max Volume 5 Points Default setting is -30 dB, adjustable from -80 dB to +12 dB. Maximum volume cannot be set.
Input Level Trim 10 Points Very sophisticated. Can set independent input level adjustment for all analog audio sources. Setting to Auto provides automatic monitoring and optimization of input levels. Includes level meters to monitor input levels.
Volume Scale 10 Points Relative scale rather than absolute.
Speaker Calibration 10 Points Adjusted in 0.1 dB increments only (0.5 dB increments is minimum for 10 points).
Headphone 0 Points Has its own volume, but cannot monitor a different source from the main zone.

Dolby Digital

   
Basic Functions 10 Points Meets basic requirements for Dolby Digital.
DRC (Dynamic Range Control) 5 Points Limiter allows setting limits on low frequency content. Compression feature lets you compress dynamic range for night time listening. Compression is accessible through 4 button presses, including press to turn it on. Should be available in 3 button presses or less. When DRC is on, it should be indicated on the front panel, and it is not with the RV-8.
Dialogue Normalization 10 Points Yes.
Lock-on Time 10 Points Fast.
640kbps AC-3 10 Points Specified.

Dolby Digital EX

   
Basic Functions 10 Points Meets basic requirements for Dolby Digital EX.
Flag Respect 10 Points Responds correctly to flags.

Pro Logic

   
Basic Functions 10 Points Meets basic requirements for Dolby Pro Logic.
SurrEnc Flag respect Not Tested This Benchmark specification indicates whether the processor will automatically read flags for two-channel stereo tracks that indicate it has been encoded for Dolby Pro Logic, and not automatically switch to Dolby Pro Logic when playing two-channel stereo tracks that are not flagged as having been encoded as Dolby Pro Logic. The RV-8 does not specify this in their instruction manual.

Pro Logic II

   
Basic Functions 10 Points Meets basic requirements for Dolby Pro Logic II.
Non-mandatory Music mode features 10 Points Includes Panorama/Width/Dimension.

DTS

   
Basic Functions 10 Points Meets basic requirements for DTS.

Bass Management

   
Crossover frequency selection 10 Points Yes, for all channels, including subwoofer. Settings from 30 Hz to 120 Hz in 10 Hz increments. Slope is 24 dB per octave for high-pass and low-pass, except for THX-80 Hz which is 24 dB per octave low-pass/12 dB per octave high-pass.
Crossover Slope selection 5 Points 4th order slope with the ability to select 2nd order for 80 Hz THX.
LFE Trim 10 Points Yes. Called LFE Mix in the RV-8. Settable from -10.0 dB to 0.0 dB in 0.1 dB increments.

DVD-Audio

   
Bass Management for 5.1 Analog Input 10 Points Yes.
HDMI DVD-A Input 0 Points None offered.
iLink DVD-A/SACD Input 0 Points None Offered.

THX

   
Certification 10 Points THX Select, Ultra, and Ultra2 Certified.
Re-Eq defeat option 10 Points Yes. Is defeatable in THX modes. Must be defeatable in THX modes to get 10 points.

Audio Customization

   
Parametric Subwoofer Eq 0 Points None.
Surround Mode Pre-Set 10 Points Yes.
Multiple Surround Management 0 Points No option to reroute or copy surrounds/rears.
Academy Mono Filter 10 Points Available. Restores the proper mono balance of older mono film sound tracks. Can also be applied to 5.1 mono logic in RV-8, expanding mono sources in DD encoded sound tracks to use all channels.
Downmix 10 Points Yes. Converts 5.1 sources to two-channel stereo.

Miscellaneous

   
Front Panel Dim 10 Points Off, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, 2 seconds on then off, Always Off.
Settings Storage 10 Points Settings are retained.

Preamplifier

   
Maximum RMS Output Voltage at Pre-Out 3.35 volts

10 Points

1.0 volt RMS to 1.99 volts RMS gets 5 points. 2.0 volts RMS and higher gets 10 points.

Power Amplifiers

   
2 Channel Maximum RMS Power Output 180 watts x 2

10 Points

If it produces at least 25% above rated output for all channels driven, when driven in two-channel mode, it gets 10 points. Less than 25% gets proportional points.
7 Channel Maximum RMS Power Output 128 watts x 7

10 Points

Output with all channels driven should be at least 90% of rated output. For the RV-8, this would be at least 126 watts per channel.

Video

   
Up-Conversion of Composite Video, S-Video, and Component Video to DVI/HDMI NA This feature, when available, will allow all incoming video signals to be output on DVI/HDMi to an HDTV.
DVI and/or HDMI Switching 0 Points Does not have DVI or HDMI Switching. 5 points if it has DVI switching. 10 points if it has HDMI switching.
Component Video Switching Bandwidth 10 Points RV-8 has 150 MHz bandwidth. Must be at least 100 MHz to get 10 points.

Total Score

315 Points out of 390

Ratio = 0.808

Click HERE to go to Part III.

Copyright 2005 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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