Sherwood Newcastle R-865

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Sherwood Newcastle R-865

Pros

  • Excellent design aesthetic, wide selection of sound format support, excellent sound both in large and finer detail

Cons

  • None to report

Bottom Line

An excellent low-end receiver. Doesn't pump out too much power to each speaker, but sound quality doesn't suffer at all.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 6 stores)

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This aesthetically stunning unit shows off a clean, visually striking design and a metallic grey finish with a gorgeous blue tinge. Smart-looking front-panel buttons, funky neon-blue LEDs and an exceptionally crisp and clear LCD panel all add to its allure. Its build quality is faultless.

In surround mode, the R-865 pumps out 60W into seven channels at 8 ohms with all channels driven (1kHz, 0.05% THD). This is less than many low-end receivers on paper, but don't be fooled: power is in no short supply. In straight stereo mode, power handling jumps to 100W into two channels at 8 ohms (20Hz to 20kHz, 0.05% THD). Each of the seven channels has its own circuit board and operates like an independent mono-block, minimising the risk of electrical interference from internal circuitry affecting the sound.

Processing and decoding options are plentiful, with pretty much everything covered, from 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 soundtracks to the new Dolby Pro Logic IIx format, which converts 2 and 5.1 channel audio to 6.1 or 7.1 by adding matrixed rear channels. If you like DSP modes, the R-865 has 12 of them.

The R-865 has multi-channel inputs, which is good news for Super Audio CD (SACD) and DVD-Audio enthusiasts. There are two coaxial and two optical digital inputs plus a single optical digital output socket. There's also a full quota of eight pre-outs, should you wish to plug into separate amplification. Plenty of analog AV inputs and outputs are available (each featuring stereo audio, composite video and S-Video plugs), and the inclusion of universal video switching allows the R-865 to up-convert any video input (composite or S-Video) to output a component signal--which means you need but one video cable running to your display.

Nine colour-coded binding posts allow for numerous speaker combinations, including the addition of a passive subwoofer, extra rear surrounds and/or multi-room/multi-source listening.

One of the easier to operate receivers we've come across, the R-865 has the perfect combination of functions for the handful of front-panel buttons. A couple of key presses can have you switched from a digital multi-channel DTS-ES DVD to analog CD music using the "Pure Audio" circuits (Pure Audio provides the cleanest possible analog signal for audio CDs, since it bypasses most internal processing circuitry). There are plenty more buttons beneath the fold-down front panel. Setting the correct levels for your speakers is easy thanks to a set of dedicated buttons on the remote and it's just as well, too, since there is no auto setup mode. The remote is of the universal, learning variety (that is, you can point your other remotes at it and it will "learn" their functions), sporting well-laid-out, comfortable buttons, an LCD screen and a backlight.

The R-865's sonic performance was nothing short of outstanding. Movie soundtracks whizzed and banged with incredible punch and impact, yet it could still handle finely detailed sound with ease. The cannon blasts of Master and Commander rocked the lounge, while subtle effects like whistling wind and flapping sails came alive around us. Musically we were most impressed with the fullness of the sound, whether the delicate detail of an acoustic guitar string twanging against a fret or the punch of something faster and louder like Lemon Jelly's 'Tune for Jack'. Everything about this receiver exudes quality. It's feature-packed, with enough power to go loud with ease.

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