(opsss... double post ^^)
"Short of the audio and video facilities you might expect at this price"
Sorry? It cost 1000£ when the (only...) 2 other AV processors you've reviewed cost more than 4000£... So for the price, pretty low indeed for this type of device, not having all the tons of *unless* features we're used to found in over-expensive alternatives isn't just an ordinary thing? (and maybe a GOOD thing...)
But what about the SOUND please?!!! It's well the only thing that matters in this type of device I guess.... :/
what a stupid -and unless, and unfair- review... :'(
I got this AV amp in the end to replace my Rotel R-1068. Blew it out the water, this amp is SEX ON WIRES. This review is junk.
I havent even heard this amp yet, but I can vouch for the technical issues/errors pointed out by readers here. Absolutely spot on.<p>
besides, if it even sounds <i>half</i> as good as my 8000C then it's worth buying.
I think this review just sums up how far What Hi-Fi have strayed from what they used to represent; good informed opinions on the latest gear to get the best sounds for your money.
Firstly, there is a complete lack of technical understanding about the latest HD formats. Audiolab, and many other top end audio manufacturers, have long stated that the best option for audiophiles and the latest HD formats is LPCM by having the player do the simple decoding (it's like unzipping a zip file, it either does it or it doesn't... there's no shades of being correct or not).
Secondly, this product is not about having lots of useless modes, or redundant legacy connections. It's about getting the best sound for your money with existing lossy movie audio formats AND the new HD audio formats (which it can do perfectly from LPCM). The What Hi-Fi of my youth counted this factor as the most important of all... but it seems like the What Hi-Fi of now has forgotten all this fundamental but basic stuff.
There are several issues with the original WHF review of this product that I feel miss the point of this product and in one case, is technically incorrect
First the technical note. The 8000AP lacks on-board decoding for HD audio formats, because it doesn't need it and nor do you. Why? Because if an HD audio soundtrack is sent to an AV amp in its native undecoded bitstream, the first thing the amp does, is decode it into LPCM. It is only once converted to LPCM that DSP signal processing (delays, bass management, equalisation, matrixing of channels, etc) can be applied prior to digital to analogue conversion. So, whether you choose the player or the amp to decode, the signal WILL end up as LPCM at some point. You are not listening to a soundtrack in it's "unconverted form" because that soundtrack will have to jump through the same hoops whatever.
Now, the Blu Ray standard mandates that a player MUST be capable of decoding soundtracks into LPCM for a simple reason that is overlooked, but will become more apparent as profile 2.0 players make a belated entry into the market place. The reason is, that directors commentaries and the like, which are stored as a separate soundtrack and the much heralded 'online content' (when it arrives) can ONLY be combined with the movies soundtrack as LPCM and that means doing it in the player - it cannot be done in the amp. If these features are of interest, then you'll be wasting money if you think the amp should do it.
For those that want 4 in, 2 out HMDI, enough processing options to make your head spin and are prepared to splash out on a receiver with umpteen (American) legacy composite/S-video inputs, then there are any number of processors and receivers to tickle your fancy.
For those that want a product to treat their sound with audiophile sensitivity and would rather not pay for anything more, then here is a processor that, due to the fact LPCM is all you need, can do that for every source currently in existence and a few that aren't. I had been lumbered with a Jap receiver (Denon 3806) for some while and whilst it's movie performance was adequate, it's stereo performance was resolutely mid-fi. No amount of processing trickery could help with a fundamental lack of transparency, regardless of source.
When the (WHF) first review of the 8000AP came out, it was clear that firmware was a bit under baked, and indeed there were a couple of issues with the unit I borrowed for home demo. This was disappointing. Audiolab have been on the case and I can report that the unit I bought does exactly what it says on the tin. All of these firmware updates have been user uploadable from the comfort of their own PC too.
1080p/24 passes flawlessly and HD soundtracks delivered via LPCM rip round my listening room like never before. Incidentally, I can recall some Pioneer panels having 'issues' with other HDMI sources too, so it may be unfair to blame the Audiolab alone in this regard.
Finally and this is the crux of the issue; For far too long you've had a choice of stereo hi-fi ability with AV tagged on the end, or AV integration and stereo be damned. Finally, in one neat, straight forward package, you CAN have both without paying for all the stuff you don't need.
I've demoed (including some at home) a succession of 'musical' AV amps (including the worlds favourite Onyo 875) and some have nearly come close (the Onkyo!) to warranting the tag. Nothing has come close to handling stereo audio with this sensitivity at several multiples of the price and this should have been given more of an emphasis in the original review in my humble opinion.
Indeed, if music is still a real priority within an AV setup, then the Audiolab is a five star product in a class of one - it's everybody else that has the catching up to do!
Incidentally, whilst the paper magazine may come and be recycled, online reviews are more permanent. Several of the points in this review are no longer correct due to the passing of time, through no fault of WHF. I feel content should be updated to reflect this as people do give credence to the word of WHF a long time after the original review.
I had long been teased by Audiolab of the impending introduction of the new 8000ap as finally there was a product that could provide me with high quality, stereo audio as well as AV surround. I was frustrated that the only products available at around £1000 were AV amps and couldn't understand why a Japanese manufacturer was capable of producing a feature packed but sonically flawed all-in-one but nobody could make a processor (without any amplification) for anywhere near £1000. The built in amplification is never going to match that of a properly made stereo amp especially if driving demanding speakers to high levels.
I toyed with buying an AV amp and bypassing the internal amplification but this would be such a waste of money and the sonic result would be less than satisfactory. Ugly too. £1000 on a processor versus £1000 on a processor with integrated amps can't compare.
I bought my 8000ap as soon as it was available and couldn't believe the improvement in the system. All of the splashy treble and lack of bass control so familiar with AV amps was long gone. Here was a product that had met and exceeded my expectations and I was confident that WHF would feel the same way. I was astonished in what I read. Here was a highly regarded magazine putting features and button count over sonic purity. They had missed the intent of the 'AP entirely. The article seemed to grudgingly acknowledge it's sonic prowess but failed to understand why less is more. Features such as "Concert Hall" and "Live" effects are not what I thought WHF stood for and not ever used anyway. Surely all anyone wants is to reproduce analogue stereo and DD7.1 faithfully? This is the only product that does it. Shame on What Hifi. You've lost touch with your core Hifi base and gone all Plasma, MP3 and graphic equalizer on us. My subscription will not be renewed.
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