It's been an awfully busy weekend
and first I apologize for taking this long to post my impressions. This is by no means a review but my hope is that it provides some insight into end-user experience with the DHC 40.1 as there is almost no information out there on user opinions.
This unit replaces my almost 2 year old Integra DTC 9.8. I usually don't replace pre-amps within 2 years but circumstances caused this change. I experienced the DTS bomb issue (google for it) with my integra 9.8 for the first time and that caused me to go to the dealer for a firmware update on the DSP. While I got the issue fixed, the guy who helped me with the update mentioned about the 40.1. Usually, I don't get suckered into it, but if I were to spend just a couple of hundreds more why not give it a try... so this happened. The main intent was to experiment with dynamic volume and dynamic eq.
Brought the unit home, did the connections and fired up audyssey, and when I was done, the unit sounded awful and every time I switched from TV source to Blu-ray, there was a strange loud sound from the surroud back left channel and the citation amp powering the SBL went into protect mode. Did a lot of sanity checks and everything looked right. Removing the SBL input into the amp fixed the issue, but then what on earth was going on? I tried turning off "Audyssey" and the problem went away. So the next logical thing to do was to redo Audssey. So this time when I started Audyssey, I noticed that the DSX (google for it) defaulted to front high/wide. I set the rears to surround back and repeated Audyssey. Once done, sounded beautiful (after making Audyssey stick, details further down in the post), just like my DTC 9.8. My biggest concern was the lack of resolution with MultiEQ on this unit compared to MultiEQ XT on the DTC 9.8. Did some measurements with ETF (too detailed to explain here, maybe sometime later.....) and found that the Low Frequency response (sub 100Hz) looked as good as the DTC 9.8. So that made the worry go away and hey, the unit sounded very nice. I tried Dynamic EQ and Dynamic volume (DEQ and DV) and this is my first impression. These are very nice features, but IMHO I wouldn't shell out $500 or more for just those features especially if you are going to be listening close to reference volume. The reason I say this is because I tried listening to my favorite movies and tracks at -6 master volume and there was almost no difference between turning DEQ and DV on. So if you mostly listen close to reference, save your $s if DEQ and DV are your only reasons to upgrade.
Now if you start dialing down to -9 and -15, boy does it make a difference. It sure sounded a lot better with DEQ on at MV -15 as compared to DEQ Off. I wanted to see why, so I measured with ETF again (someday I will post these charts so you can actually see the dynamics at work). There was about a 3dB boost in the LFE octaves with DEQ turned on. With Dynamic volume, there are 3 levels; light, medium and Heavy. I mostly prefer light, sometimes medium and rarely heavy. Heavy seems to muffle the voices and I find myself turning the volume all the way up.
There is surely an issue with Audyssey in this unit. I have tried this several times. Once Audyssey is done, the equalizer setting defaults to Audyssey but for some reason Audyssey doesn't stick. I realized this when I noticed no difference with Audyssey turned on vs off. I measured and the frequency response (FR) looked identical. Thankfully turning off Audyssey and turning it back on, gave me a nice flatter response. Strange why I have to do this. Hopefully, integra is listening and will addresss this with a firmware update if all 40.1 units have this bug. It is no big issue because it is a one-time thing where you turn off audyssey and turn it back on and it sticks. The novice user maybe fooled into thinking that he/she is listening to Audyseey when sadly it maybe a placebo experiment. So if you don't have measurment equipment similar to mine (I use ETF with a galaxy CM-140 mic and an RME sound card) once you are done with Audyssey, just turn it off and on a few times, maybe turn off the unit and turn it back on (reboot) just to make sure it sticks.
Overall, fantastic unit for the price of sub $1.5K. Can't go wrong. If you can find one for close to $1K simply grab it. There are a lot more things to say like how nice the new processing modes sound with 2 ch sources, but I will leave that to others. I love the streaming audio feature that allows me to access my music server database. Awesome feature! Made me go buy a Roku 1001 for the living room.
I will try to address questions as they pop up. Again, thank you for being patient with me. If I had the time, I would have written a professional review with all the bells and whistles, but honestly, this is what I can do now and hope this helps.