Sunfire TGR-401 AV Receiver Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

 
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Sunfire TGR-401 AV Receiver Review

Sunfire TGR-401 AV Receiver Review

By: Ken Taraszka

Bob Carver is truly among the elite engineers in the history of the AV industry. With a career that spans over three decades and as many companies, he is known for packing huge power into small AV products and making them sound good. The new Sunfire TGR-401 home theater receiver is no exception to this rule. Packing in 200 watts per channel with all seven channels, this is the most powerful receiver on the planet. Thanks to Bob's tracking down-converter power supply, it runs cool even at high listening levels. The new TGR-401 is packed with tons of features to augment all that power for a price of $4,000.

The Sunfire TGR-401 is the newest receiver offering since Elan purchased the company, with lots of cool trickle-down technologies. This receiver has all the things you'd expect from a Sunfire product, like Sonic Holography for enhanced imaging and a direct model for DSP bypass, but it also comes Sirius radio-ready, and with support for your iPod both via onscreen and front panel control. A microphone is included for using the newly added room correction, as well as a 7.1 channel analog input for Blu-ray or HD DVD. It has a total of four analog and video inputs and two outputs, as well as four optical and coaxial digital ins and one output of each. Should you want to add even more powerful amps in the future, 7.1 channel preamp outputs are there, as well as RS 232 control, three IR ins and outs and 12-volt triggers. The TGR-401 offers three-to-one HDMI 1.3a switching and will transcode all analog video to component, though not HDMI, nor will it scale video.

The TGR-401 sports a new look for Sunfire, with a bold black brushed aluminum front panel with a faceted silver bar up the middle to match the rest of the line, making for a sleek and modern appearance. Top it off with the fact that this is the only receiver that accepts the new Ole' XL wall-mount keypads by new parent company Elan, and you have a stylish and functional way to make this the center of a whole home audio system for the smaller residence. When it comes to sound, Sunfire always delivers. Power on command, solid tuners and great functionality, as well as the new wall plates for second zone control, really make this an attractive piece.

High Points
• This is the only receiver to interface with the new Elan wall plates, making set-up for multiple zones a snap and incredibly elegant.
• Sunfire amps put out tons of power, yet run cool, so space is not a big issue. You still want to give it some breathing room, but it can live with much less than almost any other receiver made.
• The sleek new look and excellent iPod interface allow not only better cosmetics, but real-world functionality sure to keep everyone in the family using this piece for years.
• The TGR-401 offers room correction and plenty of flexibility to grow with you as your needs and system evolve.

Low Points
• At this price point, I would like more than three-to-one HDMI switching. I'd prefer at least four. Six would be even better, especially as the HDMI connector is fragile, so extras are always a welcome feature in case you break one.
• While Elan has added great features to this unit, it doesn't internally decode any of the new uncompressed audio codecs offered by Blu-ray and HD DVD, though you still could get them with a player that outputs via analog outputs.

Conclusion
The Sunfire TGR-401 is unquestionably the highest-powered receiver on the planet, and can work well in a modern home, offering options for extremely elegant multi-zone use. It does not internally decode any of the new audio codecs offered by Blu-ray or HD DVD. This is a great receiver and offers excellent sound and room correction, but at this price point and in this day, a receiver needs to be able to handle all the new codecs to be future-proof, and for now, the TGR-401 doesn't have that ability.

Cedar Creek Cinema

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