AVD-LA2500PKG Digital Audio/Video Component System

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Price Paid: $1949

Purchase at: Highwaydeals (through Yahoo! Store Order System)

Strengths
Complete ES quality compact A/V system less monitor, ready to go out of the box.
Weight of the AVD-C70ES receiver is substantially less than other Sony receivers of equivalent power rating, apparently due to the digital design.
Styling matches KV-36XBR450.
Excellent sound at low cost.

Weakness
The compromises of any compact system (see below). Although a clever design, the RM-CL70 remote that comes with the AVD-C70ES is inconvenient to use and resulted in excessive delay in setting up the system (see below). The manual could be improved.

Comments/Review
The AVD-LA2500PKG Digital Audio/Video Component System consists of 1 AVD-C70ES Super Audio CD/DVD Receiver, 4 SS-LA500ED surround speakers, 1 SS-LAC505ED center channel speaker and 1 SA-WD200 Active Subwoofer. You won’t be dissatisfied with this system unless you expect the quality and flexibility afforded by top of the line separate components at substantially higher cost and space requirements.

I purchased the system due to pressure from siblings to finally upgrade to surround sound and a desire to do so at reasonable cost. The system replaces Bose 901 speakers that have been in service since 1970, an Adcom GTP-500 Tuner/Preamp, a Rotel RB980 amplifier, an Optimus CD-7250 Compact Disc Automatic Changer and a Toshiba SD-2200 DVD Video Player. The combination of the AVD-C70ES, the left and right front SS-LA500ED surround speakers and the SA-WD200 Active Subwoofer with “Boost ON” exceeded expectations on A/B comparisons with the old system (not necessarily better, but good enough).

AVD-C70ES
Unlike top end A/V receivers that are programmable, the digital audio inputs are associated with specific inputs. The coaxial and two optical inputs are assigned to the AUX, TV/SAT and VIDEO inputs. Due to the built-in video switching capability of the KV-36XBR450, I elected not to use the AVD-C70ES’s video switching capability. The only inputs used are the AUX coaxial digital audio and analog left and right audio inputs. The AUX coaxial digital audio input is connected to the DIGITAL AUDIO OUT on my Scientific Atlanta Explorer 3100HD digital TV/HDTV cable box. The AUX analog left and right audio inputs are connected to the MONITOR output on my KV-36XBR450. In this configuration, the AVD-C70ES defaults to the analog inputs if the digital input is not present.

General:
Six functions are defined for the AVD-C70ES: DVD, VIDEO, TV/SAT, AUX, MD/DAT and TUNER. You can increment or decrement through the functions by depressing the + or – FUNCTION button on the receiver or increment through the functions by pressing the FUNCTION button on the remote (RM-CL70). There is no way to go directly to the desired function. Sony includes an LCD display, buttons and a “Scroll key” on the remote to reduce the number of buttons required. It would be better to refer to the “Scroll key” as the “Scroll roller”, since you roll it vertically with your thumb until you locate the desired menu item and press it to select the item (send the command). To add to the confusion, the manual tells you to “Move the cursor to the desired item by using the Scroll key, then press the Scroll key.” It took me over an hour before I figured out how to use the Scroll key. You use the buttons to select the desired menu (PLAYER, NUM, DISC, TUNER, VIDEO, SAT, CABLE). For example, to select Disk 3, it is necessary to press the > button 4 times, roll the “Scroll key” until the cursor is next to “*DISC3″ and then press the “Scroll key”. Fortunately, I received a Sony RM-AV3000 Integrated Remote Commander for Christmas this year. The first order of business was to program it to replace the RM-CL70 remote. That was problematic because the thumb operated joystick, which is about 3/8″ in diameter, didn’t function properly. I couldn’t get it to output the up and left arrow signals. As a result, I couldn’t setup the speakers using the AMP MENU (a dedicated button on the remote). Finally, I got wise and exercised the joystick by rotating it in circles until the contacts worked properly. Now that my RM-AV3000 is programmed, I no longer use the RM-CL70. To select DISC3 with “DVD” selected, all I have to do is press 3 on the LCD display.

Video:
Only the DVD video was observed. The interlaced output looks better on my KV-36XBR450 than the progressive output. I couldn’t tell the difference until my son pointed out that alternate slightly lighter and slightly darker horizontal bars about 1/4″ wide appear in the progressive mode. Also, 16:9 Enhanced “Auto” is switched to “Off” when the progressive output is detected. You must enter the KV-36XBR450’s setup menu and manually switch to 16:9 Enhanced “On”. 16:9 Enhanced “On” or “Off” is switched back to “Auto” when the interlaced output is detected again. For these reasons, I am using the interlaced output.

Audio:
According to the manual, when you play sound tracks with a 96 kHz sampling frequency, the output signals are converted to a 48 kHz sampling frequency. It doesn’t make any difference to me because I can’t hear the difference. I was leery of the 0.7% THD rating of the amplifiers before I made the purchase. Fortunately, I am unable to detect the difference. Apparently, the higher THD is a characteristic of the digital amplifiers. I was surprised to discover that I could turn the volume to maximum on a classical music CD and not equal the level of my old system. I ran into similar difficulty when I connected the line output from my Adcom GTP-500 Tuner/Preamp to the AUX analog left and right audio inputs when I was comparing the old and new systems. For some reason, there was no response when I connected the GTP-500 to the VIDEO analog left and right audio inputs (what I tried first). Perhaps they don’t function unless a video signal is detected. If so, there is no mention of that fact in the manual. I didn’t try the TV/SAT analog left and right audio inputs.

Tuner:
The AM/FM tuner works fine, but the sensitivity is low in both modes. A loop antenna is provided for AM and a piece of wire is provided for the FM antenna. Obviously, good antennas would help. CAUTION: If you place the loop antenna anywhere near your TV, all that you will here is noise. In my case, I have it sitting on top of my TV. AM reception isn’t possible unless the TV is off. Considering how little I plan to use the tuner, its performance isn’t important to me.

SPEAKERS

I am satisfied with the speakers, meaning that they sound good to me. They also look good (very modern) and match the KV-36XBR450. The SA-WD200 Active Subwoofer has three controls on top that effect the sound: LEVEL, BOOST ON OFF and CUT OFF FREQ 50Hz – 200Hz. I have the LEVEL and CUT OFF FREQ controls set at their midpoint and BOOST ON selected. The speakers don’t come with a manual. Only mounting and connection instructions are provided. One thing that I haven’t tried is selecting BOOST OFF and increasing the AVD-C70ES subwoofer level setting from 0 dB.

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