First thoughts on the 7100. I wanted to set it up immediately but getting everything in and out of the equipment closet to put it into the system would have been a pain. And I wanted to hear it now so I came up with a shootout for my wife and I. She was nice enough to appease me!
So out came my monitor speakers that are connected to my keyboard system (JBL 4208) and the amp an Alesis RA-100, I also grabbed a HK 3480 stereo receiver, my old DVD player on the kids TV, a Panasonic RV-80 (same DAC's as RP-91). Time to do a little stereo listening test.
Before I get into our opinions let me comment on the 7100 itself. It is not a bad looking unit (my wife liked it) but definitely not high end. Very acceptable for looks. It is small about the size of a regular DVD player not he slim ones. But the knobs and buttons have a CHEAP feel when using them. No where near the build quality of the HK, Denon, Pioneer, Yamaha or Sherwood receivers I'm familiar with. I was surprised it had component switching for 2 devices but no S-video inputs/ouputs. The speaker connections are TERRIBLE!!! I was going to use Liberty THX 12 guage for the shootout but switched to Liberty's 14 guage and that was still a pain to put in these clips. If there was one thing I would fix with this unit that would be it. Although, I think it would be tough to add good binding posts given the size of the receiver. The remote seems decent but I use a universal remote so this would be a small concern for me. Anyway, onto the review.
With everything hooked up I used my RTA to match the SPL level on each of the receivers and the amp. My wife did not know which unit was playing and I made her leave the room while I switched speaker cables during testing. We listened to three songs on each unit that we were both familiar with. They were: Luther Vandross - If I didn't know better, Diana Krall - S'Wonderful and Bonnie Raitt - Something to talk about. I think this would be about all my wife would tolerate.
She liked the Kenwood the best! She thought it was cleaner, crisper and more detailed than the others. On the Diana Krall she would have given the edge to the Alesis. She said that the Kenwood and the Alesis were close but gave the edge to the Kenwood. Remember she didn't know which was which while listening, I told her what A, B, and C were afterwards.
My thoughts were pretty much the same I thought Diana's vocals were more realistic and natural on the Alesis. I felt that the Kenwood had tighter bass, more detailed highs and the was most dynamic. The HK was definietely warmer and more laid back than the other two. Paired with a different set of speakers could yield different results.
This was only a mini shootout so I could get a quick listen. Over the next few days I'll have it in my rack with the Triad Bronze system. Hopefully, on Wednesday night I'll have a little time to do some comparisons against a B&K ref 50 with Rotel 1075 amp on Paradigm Signature system. I'll let you know my thoughts then.