Integra DTR-9.9 A/V Receiver Comparisons & Conclusion
The Integra receiver couldn't quite match the sound of the separates I compared it to—Integra's own DTC-9.8 pre/pro and a Parasound Halo A51 power amp. The latter, rated at 250Wpc into 8 ohms and 400Wpc into 4 ohms, puts out twice the power of the Integra receiver or more. And the combo costs more than twice as much as the AVR.
So when I say that the Integra receiver sounded just a bit less consistently transparent and sometimes very slightly less tolerant of bright program material than the separates, you shouldn't find that either surprising or troubling. And if it strained just a bit more on the most aggressive soundtracks at very high levels, it nevertheless more than held its own.
I recognize that it's a little unfair to compare the $2600 Integra to the $7000 Pioneer SC-09TX, but I'll take a whack at it since the Pioneer was the last receiver to pass through my studio for review in Home Theater magazine (November 2008). The feature set, of course, is quite different—for example, the Pioneer sports ten powerful channels of the latest class-D amplification. We could not measure them all driven at once, but with five channels in use, the Pioneer is measurably more powerful than the more traditionally designed amps in the Integra. The Pioneer also has a sexier face, with a large display window.
But the Integra scores with a few upscale features that were not available to the earlier Pioneer design, including Audyssey Dynamic EQ, Audyssey Dynamic Volume, and THX Loudness Plus. Both can play SACD from a direct digital feed from a properly equipped player—the Integra does this via HDMI, while the Pioneer uses iLink (FireWire). The Pioneer's iLink connection can accept DVD-Audio as well, whereas the Integra's HDMI cannot.
A comparison of the sound must be rather non-specific, since I have not laid ears on the Pioneer for over five months. But I can remember the major outlines of its sound—big, powerful, slightly rich, and unfazed by anything I could throw at it. The Integra is a little crisper sounding, a little airier on top, and perhaps a bit less at ease in the loudest bits, but it's still highly appealing. I will say that, at $2600, I found the Integra to be much better than I expected. The Pioneer is also a great-sounding receiver, but no more so than its elevated price demands.
The capabilities of the Integra DTR-9.9, like most of the receivers we test, can be intimidating. But it's worth getting to know them. And even without all of its gee-whiz features, the Integra sounds exceptional on great soundtracks and equally compelling on music, which may be all you really need to know.
Outstanding audio and video performance
All the latest Audyssey and THX Ultra2 Plus features
Unique, flexible video calibration controls
The dense forest of features and listening modes, and the 160 page manual, can be intimidating