Sugg. Retail: $799.95 (CAN)
Distributor: TEAC Canada Ltd.,
5939 Wallace Street,
(Reprinted from the Winter/Spring 2000 Issue)
Receivers with Dolby Digital decoding have come down in price below $1000 recently, and the new AG-D9320 almost gets to the $500 threshold. Rated at 130 watts per channel in stereo and 100 x 5, it claims “high instantaneous current capability.” “The AG-D9320 contains massive capacitors within the all-discrete amplifier circuits that maintain the current through even the harshest demands.”
For a budget Dolby Digital receiver, this receiver boasts a lot of features and inputs. Not only are there S inputs for all video inputs, these paralleled with composite RCAs, but there’s also 2 component video input sets of RCAs, with an output set to a monitor. Each video path remains isolated, so composite, S, or component inputs go only to their own type of output. A/V inputs are provided for DVD, LD, and VCR, with additional audio inputs for Phono, CD, and 2 tape monitors.
In addition there is a set of 6-channel inputs to accommodate such future formats as DVD Audio, and 6 pre-out RCAs allow use of the AG-D9320 with outboard power amplifiers, or the feeding of signals to another room. On the digital side, a single coaxial input is complemented by a pair of Toslink jacks, with an additional Toslink optical out. It is also said to have 24- bit/96-kHz DACs. The facilities provided in this receiver are amazingly complete for its cost.
And I haven’t even gotten to the tuner yet. The AM/FM Stereo tuner offers 30 presets for each frequency band. I hooked it up to our outdoor Lindsay double dipole (or bowtie) FM antenna and logged 44 stations, most of them listenable in stereo. This is a quite sensitive and very selective tuner, though it lacks the refinement of sound that one hears from such a tuner as our reference Fanfare FT-1.
Additonal features (yes, there are more!) include the dreaded DSP modes: Theatre, Stadium, Hall, Disco, and Church. What, they left out Gymnasium? Locker Room? Girls’ Locker Room? Now we’re getting interested! Regular readers will know what I think of these artificial sonic environments.
The remote control for the AG-D9320 is quite logically laid out, with most used controls at button in thumb range, and input selectors at top. Tuner controls are below, with Tape and CD control buttons underneath, these able to be programmed with codes for other brands, and initially configured for TEAC components.
I found this receiver quite easy to set up, and within an hour had it happily dealing with Dolby Digital, Pro Logic, and DTS, though in the latter case, I could not get a DTS signal from a DVD from either my Pioneer Elite DVL-90 or the Panasonic DVD-L10 portable player. However, I’m inclined to think that problem is with the players’ digital outputs rather than the TEAC receiver, since it happily reproduced the DTS PCM signal from laserdiscs, and DTS surround CDs.
Both DTS and Dolby Digital sounded great through the AG- D9320, with lots of dynamics and excellent bass. The subwoofer management is excellent, and I chose to run the front speakers in Large mode, running the signal through the Energy Encore system’s subwoofer to the satellites, with the rears in Small mode. Incidentally, this unit, unlike some other receivers and processors, allowed use of Phantom mode with DTS.
Watching movies with this system was fun, the DTS soundtrack of True Lies as spectacular (Harrier jets blowing up bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis punching out Tia Carrere) and silly (most of the dialogue) as those of most James Cameron/Arnie Schwartzie action films. This is an excellent receiver for films.
I found its sound with music to not quite match that of the home theatre room’s resident Technics SH-AC500 processor coupled with the Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature amplifier, which shouldn’t surprise. The Technics costs almost as much as the AG-D9320, while the Signature’s effortless 400+ watts per channel and $5000+ price put it in another class altogether, and I haven’t even mentioned the Newform R645 ribbon speakers (Fall 99). That the TEAC/Energy Encore system even came close is a testament to how good it really is.
However, for those looking for 24/96 playback of current DVD audio discs, look elsewhere. The AG-D9320 did play them, but the sound was oddly burbly in a sort of underwater way; quite peculiar, actually. But I doubt that this will deter anyone looking for an excellent home theatre component that does well with most of the other digital formats. The TEAC AG-D9320 is the best value in Dolby Dgital/DTS that we’ve yet come across, and packs a lot of punch in its sound, too.