Nakamichi AV-10 A/V Receiver
in a Flexible Package
It may not be the
prettiest component around, but Nakamichi's AV-10 receiver is lovely in
ways other than skin deep. It's a terrific performer that offers great
sound, all-in-one convenience, and Nakamichi's reputation for quality.
While audio purists
may laugh at receivers as "compromises in a box," receivers are the easiest,
most flexible, and most affordable way to achieve good sound in a modest
package, and most ordinary consumers will be perfectly happy to live with
such a compromise.
Especially if they
spend a little extra for a receiver that's a little higher end than average
- like this Nakamichi.
The AV-10 is Nakamichi's
top of the line receiver, and it won't ask you to compromise very much.
It's positively bristling with features, including Dolby Digital and DTS
5.1 channel decoding capability (and, naturally, Pro-Logic as well), enough
I/O's to choke a horse, and an almost "no brainer" setup that'll have
you up and running in practically no time.
About the only downside
is a poorly designed remote control that has tiny little buttons and even
tinier labels that are hard to read in a darkened room - and a couple
of other minor criticisms we'll mention later..
On the upside, which
is substantial, you get a continuous 100 watts x 5 in surround mode, 120
watts in stereo, with 20 amp peak current (complete manufacturer's specs
are listed below). What this means is that the AV-10 has enough "oomph"
(and quality oomph at that) to drive the majority of mainstream home theaters.
Overall sound quality
of the AV-10 is terrific, for the price, and listening to it is a very
pleasurable experience indeed - one we'll miss. It's clean and natural,
and never shrill or muddy unless the source material was (in which case
you can't blame the messenger!).
Nakamichi uses "advanced
24-bit digital signal processing" and "highly linear 20-bit digital to
analog converters", which helps ensure that what goes in as signal comes
out again as sound. And it does: from subtle strings and gentle breezes
to crashing timpani and exploding spaceships, the AV-10 does a really
Nakamichi says its
power amplifiers use the company's "Harmonic Time Alignment (HTA) technology,"
(a method it says maintains the correct timing relationship between a
signal and its distortion components) to achieve natural, "untiring" musical
reproduction. We don't know about that technical stuff, but will attest
to the "untiring" aspect: our ears never tired of listening to music or
watching movies played through this unit.
The AV-10 also uses
"discrete components" in its amplifier section, as opposed to an "all-in-one"
approach that may be cheaper to build but which can also be "cheaper"
to hear. The best amplification comes from so-called "mono blocks" (separate
mono amplifiers, one for each channel of sound - in this case five), so
Nakamichi's approach makes sonic sense - and explains why this receiver
costs more than most (though, to be fair, it also costs less than some).
We used a DVD player
for the most part to provide the AV-10 with its audio and video signals,
using three of its four audio input methods (conventional analog stereo
RCA patch cords, as well as coaxial and optical digital inputs).
We don't know if it
was the combination of digital output from the DVD player and the digital
input of the AV-10, but we noticed that on some audio compact discs, the
first half second or so of the first note played would be cut off. If
you pressed "Stop" and started again it was fine. Analog input signals
were fine as well - we only noticed the problem with the digital input,
and only on some discs. When it happened, it was annoying - but it didn't
happen on the majority of discs.
We tried the same
discs on other players and with other receivers, and the problem only
exhibited itself on the AV-10. It was strange and disconcerting, but not
enough to cool our love for the Nakamichi much.
Getting back to the
abundance of I/O's, you can also hook in S-Video or composite video outputs,
and operating them is quite easy. You merely choose the digital input
via the remote control, scrolling through the choices via the receiver's
front panel display; in all, setup is easy and once you've done it the
AV-10 automatically senses the type of signal coming in (Dolby Digital,
DTS, Pro-Logic) and adjusts itself accordingly - though it didn't do as
good a job of sensing Dolby Pro-Logic signals coming from our satellite
system as another receiver we tried.
But, again, one doesn't
buy the AV-10 for its bells and whistles; you buy it for its sound.
The remote, while
being the weakest link of the AV-10, is thoughtfully of the "learning"
variety, and programming it to accept your other components' signals is
easy and quick - with the "point and teach" method in which you input
the signal from another remote into the Nakamichi's, and it memorizes
whatever code you're using. This isn't as easy and quick as some other
remotes, in which you merely punch in a code, but it works - and you generally
only have to do it once.
We'd prefer to see
a backlit remote - especially an LCD-based one - but would rather live
with this rather chintzy design than give up the outstanding audio of
the AV-10. And,
to be fair, such an LCD remote would definitely add to the price.
The AV-10's reproduction
of digital surround was outstanding, with sounds placed accurately around
the room and excellent "discrimination" from channel to channel. Nakamichi's
Dolby Pro-Logic circuitry is enhanced ("ambient synthesis") as well so,
while it ain't digital stereo surround, it's still very good - and you
get "natural" and "hall" modes that let you "tweak" the sound to your
taste (or room). Again, there aren't as many digital toys - like innumerable
synthesized surround modes - as on some more mainstream components, but
chances are you won't miss them.
The Tuner section
includes 30 AM/FM radio station presets (probably more than you'll ever
need), and performs well. The AV-10 also comes with heavy duty binding
post speaker terminals that accept "banana plugs" or conventional wire,
and a System Remote interface for operating Nakamichi CD players and cassette
decks from the AV-10's remote control.
About the only thing
the AV-10, with its abundance of inputs and outputs, doesn't handle is
the old fashioned turntable (remember them?). This may be a small oversight
- and if you're going to dump one feature this is probably the one to
dump - but we were disappointed that it wasn't there, especially in a
component that prides itself on its higher end audio capabilites.
So if you're pining
for a way to play your old records one more time, if only to burn them
onto CD, forget it.
That, the remote,
and few other quibbles aside, we give the Nakamichi AV-10 top marks as
a relatively affordable way to get excellent sound quality - and isn't
that what it's really all about? Add to that the convenience of having
an audio/video surround sound receiver with little fuss and a small learning
curve, andyou'll see why we recommend the AV-10 highly.
And miss it already...
Analog Audio Section Inputs: 7 (DVD,CD, Aux, Tape, Video, VCR 1, VCR 2)
Recording Outputs: 3 (Tape, VCR 1, VCR 2)
Output: Pre out: 6 channels (Front L/R, Center, Rear L/R, Subwoofer)
Input Sensitivity/Impedance: 150 mV/47 kohms
Rated Output Level/Impedance
Pre output: 1 V/1 kohm
Recording Output: 150 mV/1 kohm
Subwoofer Output: 1 V/1 kohm
Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.01% (20 - 20,000 Hz)
Frequency Response: 10 - 50,000 Hz +0, -3 dB
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Better than 80 dB (A-WTD, input shorted)
Channel Separation: Better than 60 dB (1 kHz, input shorted)
Tone Controls Bass/Treble: 20 Hz ± 10 dB/20 kHz ± 10 dB
Loudness: 20 Hz + 10 dB, 20 kHz + 6 dB
Digital Audio Section
Inputs: Optical: 2 (Optical 1/Optical 2) Coaxial: 2 (Coaxial 1/Coaxial
Digital Signal Supported Format: DTS/AC-3/PCM Quantization: 16-bit/20-bit/24-bit
Sampling Frequency: 32 kHz/44.1 kHz/48 kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.005% (1 kHz, at 0 dB)
Frequency Response: 10 - 20,000 Hz +0, -0.5 dB
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Better than 90 dB
Dynamic Range: 95 dB
Channel Separation: Better than 90 dB
Inputs: Composite video: 4 (DVD, Video, VCR 1, VCR 2), Coaxial S-Video
(Y/C) : 4 (DVD, Video, VCR1, VCR2), S-Video jack
Outputs: Composite video: 3 (VCR 1, VCR 2, Monitor), S-Video (Y/C): 3
(VCR 1, VCR 2, Monitor)
Video Signal Level/Impedance: Composite video: 1 Vp-p/75 ohms S-Video:
1 Vp-p/75 ohms (Y-Signal) 0.286 Vp-p/75 ohms (C-Signal)
Frequency Response: Composite video: 5 Hz - 10 MHz +0, -3 dB S-Video:
5 Hz - 10 MHz +0, -3 dB
Surround Mode: 5 (DTS, Dolby Digital, Pro Logic, Natural, Hall)
Speaker / Subwoofer Mode Settings and Signal Characteristics
Front L/R Channels Speaker Mode: Large: Full range signal Small: High
pass filter active (fc: 80 Hz, 12 dB/oct)
Center, Rear L/R Channels Speaker Mode: Large: Full range signal Small:
High pass filter active (fc: 80 Hz, 12 dB/oct)
None: No center speaker
Subwoofer Channel SW Mode: Yes: Low pass filter active (fc: 80 Hz, 12
dB/oct) + LFE signal (DTS/Dolby Digital) No: No subwoofer Channel Level
Calibration Range Center: -10 to +10 dB Rear L/R: -10 to +10 dB Subwoofer:
-10 to +10 dB Delay Time Calibration Range Center: 0 to +5 ms (DTS/Dolby
Digital/Pro Logic) Rear L/R: 0 to +15 ms (DTS/ Dolby Digital/Natural/Hall)
+15 to +30 ms (Pro Logic)
Power Amplifier Section
Continuous Sine Wave Power Output Stereo: 120W x 2 (8 ohms, two channels
driven, 20 - 20,000 Hz, 0.1% THD)
Surround: 100W x 5 (8 ohms, five channels driven, 20 - 20,000 Hz, 0.1%
Dynamic Output Power: 150W x 5 (8 ohms, five channels driven)
Power Bandwidth: 10 - 40,000 Hz (Half rated power, 0.1% THD)
Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.1% (Rated power, 20 - 20,000 Hz)
Intermodulation Distortion: Less than 0.1% (Rated Power, 60 Hz: 7 kHz,
Output Current Capability: 20 A Peak (Per channel, two channels driven)
FM Section (All RF levels in microvolts given re 75-ohm antenna input.
Modulation: Mono 100%, Stereo Pilot: 10%, Stereo Audio Signal: 90%)
Frequency Range U.S.A./Canada: 87.5 - 107.9 MHz in 200-kHz steps Europe/Other
Area: 87.5 - 108.0 MHz in 50-kHz steps
IHF Usable Sensitivity: 12 dBf/2.2 mV (Mono, IHF)
AM Section (Modulation: 400 Hz, 30%)
Frequency Range U.S.A./Canada: 530 - 1,710 kHz in 10-kHz steps Europe:
522 - 1,611 kHz in 9-kHz steps Other Area: 531 - 1,602 kHz in 9-kHz steps
General Power Source: AC 110 - 120 V or AC 220 - 240 V, 50/60 Hz (According
to country of sale)
Power Consumption: 1100W max.
Dimensions*: 430 (W) x 140 (H) x 370 (D) mm 16-15/16 (W) x 5-1/2 (H) x
14-9/16 (D) inches
Weight: Approx. 16 kg/35 lbs. 3 oz.
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