The JVC RX-D702B Audio/Video Control Receiver Page 2
Considering the myriad features JVC provides in this relatively inexpensive receiver, my expectations for the sound were relatively modest. The 150-watt per channel power rating is at 6 ohms rather than the more standard 8 ohms, and you are warned against using 4 ohm speakers. While JVC claims 150W per channel RMS into 6 ohms, at 20Hz-20kHz with no more than 0.8% THD in stereo mode, in surround mode the 150-watts into 6 ohms rating is specified at a more narrow 1kHz, with no more than 0.8% distortion.
Whatever the measurements show (I suspect JVC's specs are overly optimistic), this receiver sounded as if it had power in reserve driving a 5.1-channel Sonus Faber Domus system, no matter how hard I pushed it. And it produced well-controlled and utterly tuneful deep bass. Bass fanatics will love this receiver.
PBS ran an HD presentation of Cream's Royal Albert Hall farewell concert in Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround, which I taped in HD using my JVC D-VHS recorder. The surround sound presentation offered by this system was enveloping, dynamic, smooth and detailed. Only when I switched back to my reference did I hear what was missing in the RX-D702's sonic presentation. There was a bit less expression and nuance in the midrange, and the high frequency transients were somewhat "smoothed out" compared to my reference Lexicon RV-8, which admittedly costs about 10 times more. That said, the RX-D702 and a modestly priced 5.1-channel speaker system (as long as the impedance stays around 4 ohms) should make beautiful music (and sound effects and dialogue) together.
As convincing and satisfying (musically and spatially) as the Cream concert sounded with both receivers, the truth is that it sounded worlds better downstairs in my far more musically sumptuous two -channel listening space. Of course, I was listening to Stan Ricker's 180g vinyl platters, cut for the Warner Brothers box set and sourced from uncompressed digital. Still, I was feeling and hearing no pain watching and listening to this concert upstairs with this $880 JVC receiver.
When I switched in the CC2 converter (for compressed audio signals) I was mostly hard-pressed to hear a significant difference. But one night, while watching a musical segment from "The Tonight Show," I switched the CC in and thought I heard less "crunch," more "shimmer" to the cymbals, and an "airier " and smoother overall sound.
I was also keen to decode some JVC XRCDs encoded using K2 A/D conversion. I played segments of Holst's "The Planets" (Zubin Mehta and the L.A Philharmonic, mastered from a Decca "FFSS" master tape), and Prokofiev's "Lt. Kije Suit" with Fritz Reiner conducting The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The sound was smooth and rich, even if not the last word in resolving power and harmonic nuance (compared to what I hear downstairs). I played some non-K2 encoded discs as well of course, including the outstanding I Am Sam soundtrack, which consists of Beatles covers, and these tunes also sounded pleasingly full-bodied, with taut, tuneful and deep bass below and a reasonable amount of detail up top.
I watched many movies during the month plus I had the JVC in the system, and sound effects-laden DVDs like Spielberg's disappointing, trite and awfully written War of The Worlds at least sounded powerful. The explosions, and especially that deep foghorn-like sound emitted by the mechanical monsters were house-shattering (in no small part due to my wife yelling out to turn it down because the bass was pummeling her a room away.)
Finding Neverland, which relies more on gracefully written, adult-themed dialog, demonstrated that the JVC (and of course, the Sonus-Faber center channel speaker) reproduced dialog with great clarity and coherence, free of etch, grain and sibilant interference. Only the ultimate level of "believability" was diminished compared to my reference Lexicon RV-8.
About the only disappointment I can register about this receiver is how it sounded with the almost dead SACD format—auditioned through the receiver's multichannel analog inputs. (The DVDs and CDs auditioned above were fed through the JVC's coaxial digital input and thus required no analog-to-digital conversion). The high-resolution analog from the SACD player is re-digitized by the receiver, and all the upsampling and processing in the world can't put it all back together again. SACDs that I know sound airy, delicate and nuanced didn't fare too well. They didn't sound bad mind you, just not as good as they sound when they aren't reconverted to digital as they are in the JVC.
With HDMI's ability to pass high resolution (uncompressed) multichannel PCM, perhaps DVD-As will sound better, but I didn't have an HDMI-equipped DVD-A player (or any DVD-A player) for this review). However, the receiver's lack of bass management for the 5.1-channel analog input means that if you care about surround sound music from uncompressed digital, and you already own a DVD-A player not equipped with an HDMI connection, you don't want to be using this receiver with a satellite/subwoofer system unless you add an outboard box such as Outlaw Audio's ICBM. Unfortunately, that is precisely the kind of speaker combo likely to be used with an $880 receiver. (The same comment applies to SACD fed through the same multichannel analog inputs.)
That discussion begs the question of the resolution at which JVC's digital amplification is implemented. And that of course will affect the final sound obtainable from analog inputted from SACDs and DVD-As (or LPs). (At deadline, JVC USA was still awaiting a response from Japan on the specific sampling frequencies and bit depth of the A/D and D/A converters the signal sees in passing through both the standard 2-channel and multichannel analog inputs. That information will be included in our upcoming Take Two.)
The Faroudja deinterlacing appeared to work as promised on analog cable channels, without jaggies or other motion artifacts, while the receiver's component video switching (bandwidth not specified) appeared to be reasonably transparent and noise-free on DVD and HD signals. However, when I sent the signal over the 30 plus feet length of component video cable from my equipment rack to my display, the picture on both HD and DVD sources did not have the creamy-smooth, bright, vivid and well saturated look provided by my Lexicon's "broadcast quality" video switching,
Despite all of my grousing, it was, in fact, love at first sight when I was introduced to the RX-D702 at a JVC press event last year. This is an impressive, feature-packed A/V receiver housed in a very compact package, and priced astonishingly low. This receiver's digital processing capabilities alone would have cost many thousands of dollars just a few years ago.
Now that I've spent some time listening, I'm still impressed, overall. I especially liked its deep, powerful, well-controlled bass, and overall smooth, rich, non-fatiguing and "un-digital" sound. When paired with appropriate loudspeakers, the RX-D702 should provide a great deal of listening and viewing satisfaction.
Step away from the more mundane competition at this price-point and give the JVC some well-deserved attention. Just make sure it can accommodate your input needs.
Highs and Lows
• Compact, attractive looking package
• HDMI switching
• Wireless USB capabilities
• Dense, difficult instruction manual
• No remote zone operation
• Remote control contains many tiny buttons