Typically home theater receivers are thought of as primarily audio components. Though they would handle the switching of audio and video sources, their main purpose is to provide sound to the speakers of your home theater or media room. However, as these products evolved so has their role in our home systems. As well as being the centerpiece of your home theater, today’s receivers can also serve as a hub for a local multi-room audio and video system. This month we will be taking a look at the Integra DTR-7.8 THX Ultra 2 Certified, 7.1-Channel 3-Zone Home Theater Receiver. This is a product that not only lives up to its impressively long name but also exemplifies the abilities of the home theater receivers that are available today.

This receiver is Integra’s upper-mid level model and touts a THX Ultra 2 Certification: This is the highest certification that THX grants. In order to receive this certification, a product must pass rigorous performance and quality tests and meet hundreds of parameters. Additionally, the receiver must also feature THX proprietary technologies (THX Mode) which accurately brings movie soundtracks to your home theater.

The DTR 7.8 supports both 7.1 and 5.1 speaker set ups. (When speaker set ups, or speaker channels, are stated, the first number always refers to the number of speakers you have in your room. The second number after the decimal refers to how many subwoofers are supported.) Which set up you use could be dependent upon whether you are using a pre-existing speaker arrangement or the size and layout of your room. This option makes the receiver versatile enough to be utilized for a receiver upgrade today and ensures performance and compatibility for any future speaker or system upgrades.

Now let’s move on to the inputs and outputs of the unit. This unit can support up to ten sources. On the video side we have 6 S-Video and Composite Video inputs. These are basic analog connections that do not support HD signals but are often found on older equipment and can be used for sources that may not support HD resolution where it may not be needed. There are 3 component and HDMI v1.3 inputs to receive high definition content. A very convenient feature of the DTR-7.8 is that it will take all inputs and send them to your TV over one HDMI connection. This greatly reduces the amount of wiring to be connected to the TV and eliminates the need to change the input of the TV every time you change your source.

In regard to audio, there are eight analog inputs as well as five digital inputs. The analog inputs will allow you to connect standard left/right audio inputs while the digital will allow it to receive surround sound formats. Since the HDMI connections on this receiver are v1.3 it can receive the newest audio formats such as Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio that will be found on your Blu-ray discs. This receiver can also output audio at speaker level, meaning it can connect directly from the receiver to a speaker, or at line level, allowing this receiver to feed the audio to an amplifier if desired. There is also a subwoofer output as well.

One of the two areas in which this receiver really shines is in the set up and processing option that are available. The DTR-7.8 comes with Audyssey MultiEQ XT built in to simplify the set up. How it works is that you connect a little microphone to your receiver and place it at various listening points within the room. At each listening point the receiver will play test sounds and the Audyssey will measure the number of speakers connected, their sizes, crossover frequencies, and distance from the various listening positions. Once the last position has been tested, the unit will then calculate the information and automatically configure the settings. This takes away a lot of the guess work and is quite accurate though it is recommended that, if your application is a dedicated theater, you have a professional calibration done with Audyssey’s professional equipment. Once the settings are saved, you can still go in and customize the settings whenever you want.

The next high point is the plethora of audio processing options. There are 38 processing modes to choose from depending on the content of the original audio source (mono, stereo, digital stereo, digital surround). There are processing modes suited for movies, music, and television shows. There are modes that will take a standard 2-channel analog stereo signal and create a 7.1 channel surround sound environment. With all of these options, Integra has added a feature that allows you to preset the processing mode for each kind of input so once you find your favorites you will not have to repeatedly search for them. The important thing is that everyone has different listening preferences and the DTR-7.8 recognizes that and provides enough options so that there is something for everyone.

One of the best features of this product is that it has multi-zone capability. The DTR-7.8 is equipped with an independent Zone 2 output. The key word there is independent. This means that all of the sources connected to the receiver, and the receiver itself, are shared by both locations but the locations do not need to be watching the same thing. An example of this would be that while the receiver is playing a Blu-ray movie in your theater, someone who is at a bar or lounge area can watch the same thing you are watching in the theater or switch to any other source connected to the receiver (i.e. VUDU, HD cable box, etc.).
While there is full control available from the Zone 2 location it will not affect the main area of the theater. This output supports stereo audio, one subwoofer, composite video, and component video for resolutions of up to 1080i. Though I would not recommend this as a whole house distribution solution, it is a great two room solution.

There is yet another output called Zone 3. This output is audio only and supports stereo sound and one subwoofer. Even though there is only a stereo output, by feeding that into an amplifier you can connect as many speakers as your amp can handle. This zone has independent control and has access to any source connected to the receiver. This is nice for a music only area like a master bathroom or a terrace off a bedroom. Again this is a great feature and should be exploited when possible.

The Integra DTR-7.8 is a great addition and does so much more than just provide sound for your theater. It is a great example of how multi-zone control is now becoming more of a standard than an option. Through compatibility with the advanced HD audio formats of Blu-ray movies and HDMI v1.3 connectivity, this is another product that is not only designed to satisfy the needs of your theater today, but down the road as well. I hope this adds to your knowledge of what is available from today’s home theater receivers. Remember that with knowledge comes power, and with power comes an amazing home theater.

Please don’t hesitate to send any questions or comments you may have using our newly added link below. Also next month we will be talking about Leon Speakers, a speaker solution that can be custom fit to mount directly to your television.
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