Sherwood Newcastle R-326 A/V Receivers


Dolby Pro Logic - 6-channel direct input allows the use of a DVD player or decoder with built-in Dolby Digital or DTS processing

User Reviews (1)

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jhoyt   Audio Enthusiast [Sep 19, 2003]

Full five-channel amplification (50 watts), independent level settings for each channel; no cheesy "surround modes" (hall, theater, etc.); tone bypass; clean, ample power; good looks; quality design and construction


Clunky remote, no phono input, tuner a little weak

I recently stumbled upon the Sherwood Newcastle brand, and in particular, the R-326. I had been looking for a reciever that could simply accept 5.1 input from a DVD player with an onboard DD/DTS decoder. I primarily looked for an older unit on eBay, since everything today except my coffeepot comes with an onboard DD/DTS decoder. Most of what I found was either a modern classic, and priced as such, or unimpressive. Enter the R-326. When I first discovered it, it looked like what I wanted, but I could find very little information about it on the net. The manufacturer's website provided some good info, and AudioReview's reviews of other Sherwood Newcastle receivers were very positive. So, I plunked down a c-note for an immaculate, but used unit, played only on Sunday by a little old lady, or something like that. When I first inspected it, I was disappointed to find that the front panel was not aluminum, but painted plastic. However, I was encouraged by the guts, which were layed out in a very orderly and sensible fashion, much like the flagship R-963. All the RCA jacks are gold plated, it has real live banana jacks/binding posts, and it seems to have been well-built (in Korea). First impressions were good, but a little bewidering. I consider the three years the previous owner had this unit to be its "burn-in" time, so I was ready to go right out of the shipping box. Before I give you my impressions of the most important thing, how it sounded, let me say this: Realistically, any subjective examination or review of any piece of audio equipment is tainted. I'm not only listening to a receiver, but also a cd player, line-level cables, speaker-level cables, and the speakers themselves. Each piece adds its own characteristics to the final result. Imagine looking at the Mona Lisa through four or five pieces of glass, each bearing their own visual characteristics, and you'll get the point. THEREFORE, what I perceive to be the sonic characteristics of the receiver and its parts is heavily influenced by the rest of the system. Please keep this in mind as you read the following. Listening to my favorite disc, "Faithful" (Cathedral Quartet), was underwhelming right from the beginning. Something did not sound right. The lower midrange region was way too loose and sloppy. Finally, after several songs, I realized the bass and treble were not zeroed, so I figured out on the fly how to bypass those. I came back later and listened again, and this time the sound was truly wonderful. Lower register extension was limited only by my speakers, and upper extension seemed very uniform all the way to the top. The sound seemed to be very detailed, as the stereo image was in sharp focus, and I could not only pinpoint the singers and instruments, I could also sensev the space between them. Again, the limiting factor was my speakers. Never once did it sound like one sound was stepping on top of another. It all stayed very orderly and detailed. Obviously, if you're a ponytail- and wire rimmed glasses-wearing ex-hippie, this is not for you. This is, after all, beer on a beer budget. However, I believe this receiver performs its assigned duties extraordinarily well. The R-326 has onboard Dolby ProLogic, Dolby 3 surround, VMax, and stereo spreader features. These are of no use to me, but they might be useful to someone else. They have their place, just not in my setup. The feature I appreciate is "6-Channel Direct", which gives the five channels of amplification and one subwoofer output from an external source. I also appreciate being able to bypass the tone controls. The tuner section seems a little weak in terms of reception, but any station that came in was very clear. The remote? "Ergonomics" never crossed its developers' minds. It does everything I need it to, but large, rectanglar remotes with lots of little rectangular buttons are not very user friendly.

Similar Products Used: Yamaha R-V470 Harman/Kardon Festival 60 MKII
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