Sherwood Newcastle AVP-9080R A/V Preamplifier

AVP-9080R

A/V preamp w/ built in DD, DTS, Pro-logic & six channel input

User Reviews (32)

Showing 1-10 of 32  
qwikdo   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 23, 2002]
Strength:

Great in Digital/DTS for movies. Plenty of analog inputs.

Weakness:

Not enough digital inputs. When connected to a dolby digital DSS receiver can't play two channel mode, only can watch movies in 5.1 (My denon 3200 receiver could do this). Have to make analog connections with the dss receiver to get pro-logic sound, very annoying.

After reading many reviews I thought it was time to upgrade my system. Before I was using a Adcom GSA-700 connected to Sony DVP-650V for Dolby digital and DTS. I listen to the system 50/50 for movies and music. I thought with all the features and rave reviews I would try the sherwood to see if it would improve my system. For movies it does the job very well. The sound is very spacious and great during demanding passages. I tried all types of movies and overall it did a fine job. When switching to two channel music I was very dissappointed. I thought this preamp made my music sound thin and bright. I thought that amps really make the difference in sound, boy was I wrong. I couldn't believe how much of a difference in sound it was from my adcom. My adcom was very smoooth in the highs and midrange. Playing the music loud and for a long time I notice I began to get listeners fatigue which never happened before. I switched back to the adcom which took about an hour to hook everything up, but I noticed the sound of the adcom to be more nuetral. It presented the music in a coherent manner which was lost with the sherwood. For movies the sherwood beat my adcom by a little bit. The panning of sounds in DigitalDTS was better with the sherwood. I wanted to keep the sherwood so bad because of the features and price but I will end up selling it. For movies I highly recommend it, but for 2 channel music it doesn't cut it. If music is of concern for you don't get this preamp. My system includes: Sherwood 9080R preamplifier Sherwood 9080AM for 2 centers and rears PS-Audio CX200 Amp for fronts Parasound CD-1000 CD Player Sony DVP-650V DVD Player Mirage M3Si fronts Mirage MCSi 2 centers Mirage 595is rears Kimber 8TC speaker cables all around Kimber PBJ interconnects

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
John Lee   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 10, 2000]
Strength:

Great sound in stereo and multi-channel modes, clean styling, & DTS!

Weakness:

Not enough coax inputs, minor hiss sound, but not much else..

Primarily purchased as a home theatre processor, this preamplifier from Sherwood Newcastle is one which has few shortcomings in home theater or music listening alone.

Despite the clicking sound that is evident in my speakers when turning the volume switch the sound is quite natural when playing DVD's.

Playing such movies as 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Mouse Hunt' with the AVP-9080R's built in DTS decoder made me feel that I was in audio nirvana, hearing every nuance in the recording..

I do notice that when playing movie soundtracks in Dolby Digital or DTS the preamplifier brings about a noticeable hiss into the rear channels. Not too sure if this is the speakers or the Sherwood Newcastle. Is this the same problem that was posted in earlier reviews?

All in all, I find it hard to believe that spending twice the amount as for this unit will truly bring twice an improvement in sound quality. Great job, Sherwood Newcastle!

Similar Products Used: Golden Theater and Acurus pre/processors.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Rich   Audiophile [Jan 19, 2000]
Strength:

Sound Quality

Weakness:

Few Digital Inputs

After submitting the first review on this site of a very early production AVP-9080R, I am providing an updated review. I know this is not considered proper form as many individuals continually re-post reviews (sometimes under bogus names) in an effort to raise a products ratings - a very annoying habit that is all too common on this site. However, I do have several legitimate reasons for re-reviewing this product. First and foremost I have been able to evaluate four different units for extended periods. Second, I have now had over a years experience with this product and am very familiar with its sound in relation to other preamp processors.

Why four units? Well lets just say the earliest production units had some minor operational "quirks" with some of the rarely used features. Unless you had one of these first units you should not experience any of these issues so I won't go into details. Suffice it to say that all functions on the AVP-9080R now function flawlessly. The only reason I mention them is to emphasize, and I can't emphasize enough, how totally outstanding and amazing Sherwoods' customer service is on their Newcastle products. E-mails are answered personally by marketing vice president Jeff Hipps, most often the same day! Questions & concerns are professionally and courteously handled - you can tell that Sherwood wants no dissatisfied Newcastle customers. Any kind of customer service these days is rare; Newcastle service is nothing short of phenomenal.

With the exception of one unit, which hummed when placed in any of the surround modes, the sound on all units has been uniformly excellent and in accordance with my previous review. I have not experienced any of the below mentioned "hiss" or any other significant problems related to sound. I will admit missing the slight ticking noise on the volume control with my first review; all samples with the exception of the most recent unit have exhibited this. Perhaps Sherwood has addressed this as well.

After all this time with the AVP-9080R, my initial evaluation of sound quality stands. It is indeed very neutral and quiet. The analog bypass in particular is worthy of praise even by the most critical audiophile standards. Just select an analog input, engage the tone direct button and you will pure and simply get the same beautiful (or awful) unadulterated sound from your source components' analog outputs. Absolutely transparent! The internal D/A converters seem to be of good quality, although not quite up to the standards of the best D/As in some of the very high dollar processors. Still, you should get very respectable sound when using the AVP-9080R's internal conversion. Keep in mind that the AVP-9080R will not handle sampling rates over 48 kHz, there is no provision for 24-bit/96 kHz processing - you'll have to use the six channel analog inputs (or a stereo analog input).

Sound quality in Dolby Digital, DTS, & Pro-Logic is first rate and again tonally neutral. There is no THX or Re-EQ feature to tame bright soundtracks, which will be reproduced with perfect accuracy (the way I prefer it). Everything from the most earth-shattering explosion to the most subtle foley effects are faithfully reproduced. I am constantly blown away when playing discs such as Saving Private Ryan (DTS), Air Force One, and Titanic (DTS) which I have experienced on much more expensive processors. The other DSP sound modes are, as I mentioned previously, worthless. I haven't listened to them since my first day with the AVP.

As I also mentioned, the AVP-9080R has only 3 digital inputs (1 coax, 1 optical, & 1 RF) which is a limitation. I ended up purchasing an MSB Digital Director which works flawlessly with the AVP-9080R and provides ample digital ins and outs.

Do I sound like a walking advertisement for this product? Probably, but rest assured I have no affiliation with Sherwood and have nothing to gain by posting a favorable review (besides I have plenty of other things to do with my time). Do you need to listen for yourself? Absolutely. Make no judgments based solely on any review. My ears aren't golden enough to warrant a "just go out and purchase it" recommendation and anyone who claims otherwise is deluded, conceited, or just has no knowledge of audio. Everyone has different taste, needs, equipment, and listening rooms - all of which dramatically effect the suitability of any one product to the end user. I do however, feel this product warrants consideration by anyone in the market for a pre/pro; even those who would otherwise dismiss the Sherwood Newcastle AVP-9080R as an unworthy challenger to the many "high end" alternatives. Again, highly recommended.

Review System:

Polk Audio RTA-11TL (mains)
Polk Audio CS350-LS (center)
Polk Audio Monitor 4 Series 2 (surrounds)
Boston Acoustics SW-10 (powered subwoofer)
B&W DM302 (additional mains used in reviewing the AVP)

Carver TFM-35 Stereo Amplifier (mains)
Carver TFM-6cb Stereo Amplifier (center - bridged)
Carver TFM-6cb Stereo Amplifier (surrounds)

Pioneer Elite PD-54 CD Player
Pioneer Elite CLD-59 LD/CD Player
Proscan PS8680Z DVD Player
Echostar Dish 4700 Satellite Receiver (w/digital output)

MSB Digital Director/Jitter Reduction
Tekna Sonic C-10 & C-12 Speaker Cabinet Vibration Control
Monster M1.2 S Speaker Cable (mains & center)
Monster M550i Interconnects (mains & analog out from CD player)
Monster XP (surrounds)
Monster Interlink 400 MKII (center & surrounds)
Monster Lightspeed & Coaxial Digital Interconnects

Similar Products Used: Sony9000ES, B&K3090, Sunfire Cinema Grand, MarantzAV550, many more...
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jim Marr   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 03, 2001]
Strength:

Excellent value for the money

Weakness:

Lack of local dealers for tryout prior to purchase

Due to the lack of local dealers, I took a chance and purchased the amp and preamp from smarthome.com during a limited-time sale of $1099! I have found this combo to be just right for my needs. My usage is 50/50 music and movies (including vinyl) and the Sherwood combo has handled my Magnepan MG3's and MG1's very nicely. I plan to add a center channel and sub in the near future. My overall rating is based on four-channel usage.
Highly recommended!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Greg R   an Audio Enthusiast [Aug 27, 1999]

I just bought this preamp to replace my JVC 1024 receiver. My current system is:JVC 1024
Sherbourn 5/1500 (200wpc)
Paradigm Studio 80's (Bi-amped)
and CC450
BL1 series 2 interconnects
T-14 cables
Pioneer DVD/CD
RCA DSS

There were several things that I did not like about the Newcastle preamp. The main dissapointment was the sound. Resolution and detail were significantly improved over my JVC (which I am only using as a preamp since i upgraded to the Sherbourn), BUT, the bass extension was extremely lacking. This was particularily noticeable when listening to the live version of TUSK (Fleetwood MAC). This track sounded pale compared to the JVC. Although the bass was more defined with the newcastle, it was at a higher frequency than the JVC to the point to where there was no extreme low bass that is typical for this track. My wife explained it as sounding worse than my previous Bose Accoustimass system. Yes, I had turned off the subwoofer menu option since i don't have one.
Another problem I found was the inability to play my DSS reciever in Stereo mode when selecting the digital optical as the input. This is a real bummer since I enjoy listening to the various music channels provided by DirectTV. I don't undertand why my JVC can do this so easily (with just the remote and onscreen display) while the more expensive Newcastle can't. Getting up to manually adjust the Newcastle was totally annoying. This is a real pain since the buttons on the fold out panel must be pushed quicky or else the feature (such as tone) will revert back to normal making you start all over again (STRESS!!!!!!). Why can't you just push treble/bass up or down without having to push the "tone mode" button first. How assanine.

Another thing I didn't like was the lack of "holographic imaging" When listening to funky-techno-pop music (stereo, front speakers only) with my JVC I am accustomed to hearing sound from every which direction. With the Newcastle the sound only came from between the center of the front speakers. The music just seemed to breath better with the JVC (better dynamics?).

Another dislike was the hum that I could here through the center speaker while in stereo mode. This did not happen with the JVC even though it was sitting underneath the Newcastle during my comparison.

I am returning the Newcastle and keeping my JVC for now.
I will give the Newcastle two stars. One for the clear definition in the mid-to-hi range and one for the increase in cardiovascular fitness from not having a fully functional remote. Boooooo Sherwood!!!

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
Eric   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 02, 2000]
Strength:

Elegant styling, Clean and dynamic preamp, component video switching, 6ch Input, value,OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE

Weakness:

few digital ins/outs, voltage problems galore (see below ), poorly written manual.

This product represents a superior concept in design and function. In a nutshell it performs as beautifull as it looks. Minor problems were quickly rectified with superior customer service. Jeff Hipps at Sherwood said "We will move Heaven and Earth" to make it right with when I reported problems with the AC inputs on the back of the unit. A word to the wise; do not plug your power amplifiers into these AC inputs. It will blow the fuse and could potentially damage other aspects of the component. Speaker hiss has also been a problem. An addition of an advanced MR application would be well received, but, for under $1k...

Summary: Great value, solid build, stylish looks. Very few bugs. Go get this one before Sherwood figures it out!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Craig   a Casual Listener [Sep 01, 1999]

Just got this piece into my system and hooked up. I used to have an Angstrom 100 DD preamp which sounded great with music but had too many quality control problems and operating quirks in my opinion. (snaps,pops, clicks etc... that seem to be all too prevalent in DD preamp processors). The Sherwood is ultra-silent and works very well. It does feel like a well made piece. It decodes DD with no problems and provides good sonic detail but the bass is a bit loose and the imaging is mediocre for music. It always sounds as if the music is coming from the middle of the 2 front speakers. BUT.....Overall, I am very happy with it, and do not regret the decision at all. I paid $740 by mail-order and am more than impressed for the price.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
scorchy   an Audio Enthusiast [Jul 08, 1999]

I bought the Sherwood pre-pro 3 weeks ago from Stereo Trading Outlet in Jenkintown, PA. The improvement (along with my new Sherbourn amp) over my old Denon AVR-1400 with Technics DD decoder is night and day. Of course, it should be considering the price difference :)
For the money, I don't think you can go wrong. I think it sounds a little better than the new Sony, and it looks awesome. It's a breeze to set-up, and is future-ready with 6-channel inputs. I only wish it had a digital out for my CD-recorder and a couple of more digital inputs. If you must have these features, the Sony would be a good choice, minus the 6-channel ins.

I got the Sherwood/Sherbourn combo for around $2500 from my local dealer. (I know I could have gotten the Sherwood cheaper through Uncle's, but my local dealer has been great about letting me try out everything over a period of several months, and I think that in those cases it's worth the extra money to buy local.) With the Sherwood and Sherbourn I've got DD, DTS, 6-channel inputs for the future, and 200 wpc. The sound was noticably better than the top-of-the-line receivers in the same price range, and the amp especially blew away the Adcom and Sherwood amps I compared it to. The Parasound HCA-1205 sounded good too, but I thought the Sherbourn was a little better and had more power. Plus, it looks very cool, which made it an easier sell to my fiance'.

I would give this 5 stars for sound, 4 for features. Because of the relatively low cost, I'll round up.

Associated equipment:

Sherbourn 5/1500 amp
Panasonic DVD-A110 DVD Player
Yamaha CDM-900 CD Jukebox (digital out to Sherwood's DACs)
Pioneer CDR-555RW CD Recorder
Paradigm Studio 80 mains with CC-450 center and atom rears.
Audioquest and Monster Cable Interconnects and Speaker Wires.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Frank Parisi   an Audio Enthusiast [Apr 09, 1999]

Just got a new unti and it works great. I would like to up my rating on this preamp. I'm very happy with it since it now works properly.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
rstone   an Audiophile [Oct 23, 1998]

Sorry for the length, bear with me.
After several long (and late) nights of listening to the Sherwood Newcastle AVP-9080, I finally feel I can provide at least some indication of its functionality and sound in my sound system. Immediately upon pulling it out of the box the build quality of the 9080 was apparent. While not back breaking, it weighs in at around 19 pounds (it feels a little heavier but not the 36 pounds SR said it did). The solid aluminum faceplate, which is brushed dark titanium in color is striking and quite attractive, however, it will not match your traditional standard issue black components. It wasn't too distracting, but I may have preferred black. Parts quality is excellent, the 9080 has what looks to be like high quality circuit boards, many heat sinks (it runs warm but not hot), 20 bit Crystal 4226 D/A conversion for all channels, and two 24-bit Motorola 560009 chips for DD, Pro-Logic, and DTS. Analogue stereo signals can bypass A/D- D/A conversion and be sent directly to the main pre-outs. Rear panel facilities are extensive including a six channel input, which can be switched on from the "drop-down" front panel. My only quibble is there are only three digital inputs (RF, coaxial, and optical), it would be fine now but if I ever upgrade my satellite with an AC-3 out I would be calling MSB for a Digital Director. All in all the 9080 is quite flexible and the six channel input ensures at least some degree of compatibility with future formats.

Functionally the 9080, although not easy to set up, worked without a glitch which is nice to see on such an early production model. It did take me all night to figure out how to adjust speaker levels from my couch. HINT: set up the remote control to work with the 9080 first thing, although it comes "pre-programmed" you must enter the magic code to operate all the 9080s functions. The power/standby buttons are odd in that the larger round power button only provides power for the standby mode. As far as I can tell, you must turn on the 9080 with the adjacent (and smaller) rectangular standby button. The light on this button is also bright (and orange) when the unit is turned off, how about a nice small red indicator? I would also like to see the 9080 automatically detect the appropriate surround mode but it does memorize speaker level settings and the last used surround mode for each input - this makes is pretty easy to use. All speakers can be selected as either large or small and the subwoofer (which apparently crosses over at 80 Hz) can be set to off or on - it defaults to on if a small center speaker is selected. Other than those minor issues, I had no problems whatsoever in it's operation.

OK, I made you read all that (or you just skipped to this part) now how does it sound? After plugging it in and hooking it up I powered it up and to my surprise no hums, buzzes, or other unpleasant noises which seem to be so prevalent these days. I did notice an occasional (often unrepeatable) and low level "click" when changing inputs. In fact the 9080 was dead quiet in all modes, even at ear busting levels. The preamp section appears to be very clean, detailed, and transparent. I compared it extensively with my Rotel RSP-960AX preamp (which Home Theater Magazine often uses for a reference) and could detect little if any differences. If anything the 9080 may have provided more detail. Track 8 of the DMP Boston Imaging Disc revealed additional information which I don't remember hearing before. The detail does not seem to be at the expense of brightness. While the Rotel may have sounded a little smoother the 9080 was truly neutral. Strings on track 1 of DGs 4D Classical Sampler sounded absolutely sweet with none of the harshness I have heard on other preamps and receivers. Imaging was also first rate. Track 3 of the DMP disc clearly defined the locations of the primary and backup vocalist, subjectively an improvement compared to the Rotel. While much of my stereo listening was done in with the analogue bypass, I did do some listening to the internal D/A converters. They performed very well, lets just say the analogue bypass mode has become less important to me. Movies in all modes sounded outstanding, as good as I remember hearing. Pro-logic steering was accurate and dynamic. Both Dolby Digital and DTS laserdiscs were decoded without any glitches and provided a truly impressive experience. I did get a repeatable dropout on the DTS Eagles Hell Freezes Over CD but the same dropout occurred on my dealers Yamaha DSP A-1, the disc will be returned. Other than that I experienced no dropouts or anomalies with the digital decoding. The other surround modes have excessive echo and reverb and are not recommendable. These modes have never been important to me so it's hardly worth mentioning. However, if your primary reason for buying an A/V preamp is its ability to create a wide variety of high quality DSP "environments", you would be wise to consider a Yamaha or a Lexicon.

It is apparent that Sherwood put some time and effort into this piece. It is in my opinion by far their finest piece of equipment to date. Although not side by side with the 9080, I have heard the B&K 3090, Yamaha DSP A-1, Marantz AV-550, and the Rotel RSP-970. In my opinion, the 9080, both as an A/V and stereo preamp sounds as good or better than anything even close to its price that I have listened to (if you don't need DTS, extra features, or video switching I have heard the Angstrom 100 is a remarkable piece). I admit I have never been a huge fan of Sherwood products and had pretty much convinced myself during the long wait that I may have to return the 9080. But after extensive critical listening and comparison with my Rotel preamp it is NOT going back, nor will it be for sale. Combine that with some outstanding customer service/support (kudos to Jeff Hipps at Sherwood) and Sherwood has got itself a winner. I have no reservation in giving it five stars.

P.S. I am always hesitant to post reviews, especially one which is so positive. There is much subjectivity to the whole process and equipment often sounds different with other systems and listening areas. However, this particular unit truly did impress in my listening room with my associated equipment. As always these are strictly my opinions, please listen for yourself and if at all possible in your own listening room. Your opinions and experiences are welcome and encouraged.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Showing 1-10 of 32  

(C) Copyright 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.

audioreview.com and the ConsumerReview Network are business units of Invenda Corporation

Other Web Sites in the ConsumerReview Network:

mtbr.com | roadbikereview.com | carreview.com | photographyreview.com | audioreview.com