Samsung HW-D7000 BD-Receiver Page 2
I also found a few more unusual things. There was an app for Samsung product demos, including not only video and audio gear but the full gamut of the company’s products. Amos TV, which bills itself as “a leading provider of high-definition ambient videos,” offered eye candy and soothing sounds. Viaway mustered a stunning YouTube-like array of A/V content. I punched my way from its app icon to Audio, Music, Classical, Naxos Classical Music Spotlight, and finally to a podcast on Russian music for cello and piano, with narration and excerpts. I was impressed by how easy it was to find content I liked.
One app you’ll definitely want to download is the free Samsung Remote for iPhone and iPod touch. It has three modes. The Full mode is a full reproduction of the very well-designed wand remote—the only drawback is that you have to scroll vertically to see everything. The Playback mode has transport controls. And the Navigation mode devotes most of the screen to a panel that controls the GUI with horizontal or vertical finger swipes.
Limitless, Insidious Streaming
Limitless on Blu-ray Disc subjected me to numerous long trailers, which I couldn’t skip or fast-forward through, before the movie and its DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack began to unspool. The problem wasn’t with the player but with the disc authoring. Fox, please give us a break. In this story of a guy who drugs his way to success with high-tech pills, all the basic elements of good receiver-amp performance were present. Dialogue was clear in both voiceover and dialogue. Music sounded as thin or full as the source material dictated.
Insidious (also in DTS-HD Master Audio) pursues its supernatural plot with a typical quota of haunted-house effects. As dissonant violins stepped up the unease, the receiver showed off its detailed but slightly edgy midrange and decent high-frequency extension. The use of Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in the context of a horror movie is inspired, although if it ever enters my dreams, I may have to throw myself off a tall building.
Much as I love Blu-ray, I’m nearly as entertained when a friend brings over a DVD. The Dolby Digital soundtrack of Source Code—with Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier caught in a computer simulation of a bombed train—gave the Samsung an opportunity to explode repeatedly. No, it didn’t fling shrapnel at the sofa; I’m referring to aggressive low-frequency effects delivered to the speakers and sub on either side of the 80-hertz sub crossover. The receiver never needed more than half of its volume control’s range to blam-blam-blam my living room into oblivion.
Perhaps the most indelible viewing experience was my almost random streaming selection of Super Size Me via Hulu Plus. Despite the ads, I was absolutely gripped by this documentary about a guy who eats McDonald’s for a month while his weight billows by 25 pounds and his brain goes manic-depressive. I couldn’t help wondering if this is what it’s like to get most of your entertainment from streaming. The video and audio quality aren’t anything to write home about, but like a Big Mac sitting on a wrapper in front of you, all that free or cheap entertainment is strangely (perhaps fatally) compelling.
Ideologically, I’m still a disc-oriented guy; I’ll walk to my local Blockbuster to get my Blu-ray fix of DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD with 1080p at the highest available data rate. I also like fresh vegetables. But if I followed the path of least resistance, streaming could easily take over my audiovisual life.
Adventures in Rechanneling
While my Oppo universal player gathered dust, I decided to do without high-resolution audio content for once and fed CDs into the Samsung’s accommodating disc slot. The January Man showcased Martin Carthy’s distinctively nasal voice and ringing Martin acoustic guitar as he knowledgeably roved through English traditional music. This folk-club recording had a particularly jangly top end that the receiver exaggerated slightly.
The Brazilian Guitar Quartet translated Bach’s Four Suites for Orchestra to four acoustic guitars. The essential warmth of the Delos CD’s classical guitar sound came through. I used this selection as a guinea pig for Samsung’s 3DS listening mode. It seemed to bring the soundstage slightly closer to the seating area, although the difference was modest. And it was surprisingly deft at preserving the feel of the original stereo mix.
Finally, I rocked out with Soundgarden’s relentless Badmotorfinger. With this selection, I actively shifted among the three modes of 3DS: Light, Medium, and Heavy. They differed mainly in the amount of presence added to the surround channels. Surprisingly, all of them lived up to the “do no harm” standard, which is key to my appreciation of (or distaste for) surround rechanneling. 3DS is one of the few such modes that I like as much as Dolby Pro Logic II—it’s definitely a lot less synthetically wet-sounding than DTS Neo:6. Score one for Samsung.
The Samsung HW- D7000 may not be the slimmest Blu-ray receiver out there. But the decision to go with conventional Class AB amplification and a slightly larger chas- sis was a smart one, giving this BD-receiver a richer sound than others I’ve tried. The Blu-ray drive leaves nothing to be desired. In terms of design—from the tilting front panel to the remote to the app-delivered features—Samsung has done a stunning number of things right. If you want to combine the functions of an A/V receiver, Blu-ray player, and streaming device into one sweet black box, here’s the way to go. I had fun reviewing this product.
That was that, or so I thought. I packed up the product and shipped it to our studio for measurement and photography. Its successor in my review lineup was an A/V receiver sans Blu-ray drive. I set up this conventional AVR, loaded a disc into my standalone Blu-ray player, and then picked up the receiver remote to start the show. But something wasn’t working. The AVR remote wouldn’t navigate the disc menu. What? Why?
I’d gotten so used to the concept of having AVR and player in one chassis, controlled by one remote, that I’d forgotten what it was like to use two components and two remotes. I fetched the player remote and placed it on the sofa beside the receiver remote, remembering the Samsung fondly.