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  1. #1


    Integra DHC-60.5 Preamp Review

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    I am a big fan of preamps. Whether it is for a 2-channel setup or home theater, the preamp can concentrate on source switching and processing, while the power amp does its job. Hopefully this means the designers can focus all your hard earned cash on the processing end, and not have to spend money on incorporating amps into the box as well.

    The problem with many home theater preamps has traditionally been price. However Integra, Onkyo, Marantz, Outlaw, Emotiva, and others have now made them more affordable.

    Dennis Burger reviews one of the newer offerings from Integra, the DHC-60.5 7.2 home theater preamp. While this piece is full-featured, and seems to have a lot going on, for the price.

    ...Integra's new DHC-60.5 7.2-channel network A/V preamp ($2,000) a bit of a pleasant curiosity. Not a wholly surprising curiosity, mind you, given that the DHC-60.5 is a more affordable follow-up to Integra's renowned (and still flagship) DHC-80.3 9.2-channel preamp, which boasted 4K upscaling and a plethora of streaming audio services way back in 2011. To those bullet points, the DHC-60.5 adds Ultra HD pass-through in addition to upscaling and, although it does lose two channels of processing as compared with the 80.3, it is among the first AV products of any sort on the market to support HDBaseT, a nascent technology that carries a fully uncompressed HDMI signal at distances up to 100 meters (330 feet) via a single Cat5e/6 cable. HDBaseT also has the potential to deliver control, Ethernet, and even power signals over that same single-cable connection; however, in the case of the DHC-60.5, Integra intends for the HDBaseT port to be used as a zone-two monitor output or even as the main monitor output in lieu of HDMI, which could be quite handy if your AV rack is a considerable distance away from your display. In fact, its HDBaseT port is kept wholly separate from the standard Ethernet jack and, out of the box, it's covered with a foreboding sticker that reads "Custom installer use only."

    The Hookup
    Granted, as feature-packed as it may be, I still found the Integra DHC-60.5 to be one of the easiest-to-integrate surround sound controllers that I've installed in my system in quite some time (and in that I'm including both preamps and receivers). In fact, the only other product that really compares is Onkyo's TX-NR626 receiver, which stands to reason since Integra is the upscale, install-oriented counterpart to Onkyo. The companies' products share similar design aesthetics and virtually identical user interfaces. In fact the Integra DHC-60.5's remote control is a fraternal twin of the remotes for Onkyo'sTX-NR828 and TX-NR929 AV receivers. Likewise, the Integra Remote app for iOS is incredibly similar to the Onkyo Remote 2 app in terms of layout (as well as its incredible responsiveness to IP controls), even if the color scheme and button shapes diverge a bit.
    Around back, the DHC-60.5 also sports a very Onkyo-esque look, by which I mean that - aside from the lack of speaker binding posts and the inclusion of balanced XLR outputs - it very much looks like a mainstream receiver. I mean that not as a pejorative, but merely a descriptor. For its size (at nearly eight inches tall, it's quite a bit taller than most pre/pros I'm accustomed to), the Integra is nicely and logically laid out, with very little in the way of wasted space ... although I feel that with a little rearrangement it could have accommodated the 7.1-channel analog audio inputs it lacks. Given that the bulk of the connected components in my home theater - my Dish Network Hopper satellite receiver , OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray player , and PlayStation 3 - connect via HDMI, hookup was mostly a snap. The only remaining connections were a single stereo RCA analog interconnect for my Control4 Wireless Music Bridge and a single optical digital connection for my Autonomic MMS-2 Mirage Media Server.
    Given that no other components in my primary or secondary home theaters feature HDBaseT connectivity, Integra arranged for me to borrow an Atlona AT-PRO2HDREC HDBT receiver to test out the DHC-60.5's multi-room video distribution capabilities. The setup is incredible straightforward: if you're using an HDBT connection to your main display, you simply toggle the Monitor Out to HDBaseT, which disables the second zone monitor out selections in the menus. If you're running the HDBT connect to another room, you simply select HDBaseT as the Zone 2 Monitor Out. The only point of confusion in the setup of the multi-room capabilities is that, when you set the Zone 2 Monitor Out to HDBaseT, the "Audio TV Out (HDBaseT)" options in the setup menu are grayed out (you only have the option to toggle it on or off when the main Monitor Out is set to HDBaseT), leading one to believe that audio isn't available to a second zone. That's actually not the case. I ran the Integra's second zone monitor output to the Atlona receiver and from there into an HDMI input of the Anthem MRX 710 receiver I currently have installed in my second home theater system, and I can report that it does indeed deliver sound. The downside is, the sound is delivered as two-channel PCM only.
    Read Dennis' review of the DHC-60.5 in its entirety at Integra DHC-60.5 7.2-Channel A/V Preamp

  2. #2
    Senior Member David Vaughn's Avatar
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    Given Onkyo/Integra's reliability problems the past few years, I no longer recommend their products. There's a huge thread over at AVS dedicated to all of the performance issues with their AVRs and pre/pros.
    David Vaughn
    Technical Writer/Blu-ray Reviewer
    Sound and Vision Magazine

  3. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by David Vaughn View Post
    Given Onkyo/Integra's reliability problems the past few years, I no longer recommend their products. There's a huge thread over at AVS dedicated to all of the performance issues with their AVRs and pre/pros.
    I've known about the issues with Onkyo's AVRs, but I haven't heard that their pre/pros had issues.

  4. #4
    Senior Member David Vaughn's Avatar
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    Yep...I had two bad ones.
    David Vaughn
    Technical Writer/Blu-ray Reviewer
    Sound and Vision Magazine

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