The B&K AVR-202 Surround Sound Receiver
- Excellent condition, fully funcional. Used as the backbone of a very
high-end system, and recently (but reluctantly) replaced for an upgrade.
Never any issues, always very reliable. Exterior appearance is a 9/10
with some very light use evident. Always well ventilated and
smoke/pet/kid free. Included:
- Original AV5.1 Remote Control
- Original Manual and docs
- Power cord
- Ships to lower 48 only - no PO Boxes. Local P/U Welcome!
Believe it or not, this is the first Surround Sound receiver designed
and built in the U.S.A.! It has pretty much everything you could want
from an audio component, and is a good illustration of what’s available.
For surround sound, the AVR-202 features both Dolby Digital and DTS.
DTS, which stands for Digital Theater Systems, is a competitor to Dolby
Digital. It is also a 5.1-channel system but claims to deliver far
better quality for music reproduction as opposed to Dolby, which DTS
claims is a format invented primarily for movie soundtracks. The AVR-202
also handles two zones. Zone One is for surround sound, so let’s
designate Zone One as your family room. Your kids could be watching a
movie in Zone One and they will be surrounded by 5.1-channel sound.
Meanwhile, you and your “life partner” are quietly in Zone Two (we’ll
designate it as the living room) listening to music. The Zone Two
settings include an AM/FM tuner and 6 external independently selectable
inputs, so you can listen to CD, cassette, whatever. The AR-202 has
universal remote to operate any brand of component, as well as macros
for one-touch complex operation. In other words, you can set it up so
that with one touch, it will turn on your system’s power, hit the
correct input functions on your components and push play on your DVD
player. Quality is obviously very high. The AVR-202 Sports a 105 watt x
5-channel amp with Class A Pre Drivers for ultra-high-quality sound. As
well, it has digital and analog inputs and outputs, as well as composite
and S-Video. Manufacturer's Specs:
Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 20 kHz, +0/-.5dB
Maximum Output: 9 Volts
S/N Ratio: 89 dB CCIR 2 k Weighted @ Max
Input Impedance: 50 k Ohms
Output Impedance: 221 Ohms
Power @ 8 Ohms: 105 watts x 5
Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 45 kHz
THD (S+N): 0.09% @ 1kHz
S/N Ratio (A-weighted): 95 dB
Size: 6 1/2" H x 17" W x 17" D
Weight: 55 Pounds
MSRP: $2,699 USA
From Colin Miller via HomeTheatreHiFi:
Novelty didn’t separate
B&K’s AVR-202 from the rest of the wannabes, but the fact that when I
peeked underneath the hood, it flashed a power supply that put some
dedicated outboard amplifiers to shame. This is quite
sensible, as the greatest limiting factor in the majority of receivers
on the market today is the power supply behind the power amplifier
I had previously stated, on some
written occasion, that any receiver that could perform to my standards
without the help of an outboard amp would have to sell for $2,500 or
more, mostly for that reason. Manufacturers simply couldn’t put real guts in a box with a good front end for less money. They
could do fairly well if they cut back on the amplifier section, and
geared their products towards more forgiving speakers (8 Ohms, high
sensitivity), but when it came to a truly great single-box unit, there
was a hole in the market. B&K must have been listening, and others as well.
Denon’s AVR-5700 and Yamaha’s
DSP A-1, are probably the most famous of the new breed of truly
high-performance, single-box turn keys for digital decoding, signal
processing, control, and power amplification. The
more specialized High-End companies have recognized the niche for more
convenient, less intimidating packages, and have followed the example,
but so far as I know, the first was B&K.
Even when they only offered
separates (preamp/power amp) and merely Pro Logic decoding way back in
1995 (and maybe earlier), B&K was just a little bit ahead of the
rest. Every surround processor/preamplifier they’ve offered, from the first AVP-1000, is not only software, but hardware-upgradeable. Heck,
on top of upgrading the insides to incorporate the latest software
decoding or necessary hardware, you can even opt to change the outside
to resemble the most current model. There
are a few companies who make it their business to ensure that their
customers never get left behind, no matter how long ago they spent their
money. B&K is one of them.
I’m glad to see that what
finally came to market didn’t back down from the promise of that
prototype. I took a look around and found the following characteristics
inherent to the 202:
With a 122 VAC line in, DC rail voltage measured at +/- 67 V, with 4 amp rail fuses. Whoa! Kind of high for a receiver, eh?
The Plintron Torroidal Transformer is rated at 682 VA, with a 12 amp
main fuse. Not a huge transformer, but big enough to crush the average
mass market neighbor with a good drop from a few feet. Plintron is
known for making quality toroidal transformers. Quality is always a
main filter capacitors rated at 27,000 µF each. Hey there, take it easy
big fella! A combined 54,000 µF of storage capacitance. For a
receiver, that's unheard of. This is far more than even a good number
of dedicated power amplifiers have, two-channel or five.
pair of MOSFET output devices per channel. Not a whole lot of devices
per channel, nor did they look overly rugged. I have no doubt they'll
do the job, just don't expect to arc weld for long periods.
LOTS of heat sink real estate. Center and Rear channel output devices occupy one heat sink, left and right front main channels on the other.
output hard-wired to terminals. Good solid connections, and if you
strip the binding posts, it won't be a complete pain to replace them.
casing fits into machined groove of face plate. Unfortunately, you
don't see this kind of workmanship often accompanying a box that sets
out to do so much.
Anyway . . .
The rail voltage is relatively high for the size for the transformer, considering that it supplies all five channels. Explain? Love to. The
consequence of a high rail voltage is that for a given power supply
step-down transformer rating (measured in VA, Volt Amperes, i.e.,
watts), a higher voltage output translates into a lower continuous
current output capability.
In most circumstances, engineers
only count on between 70% - 80% of the transformer capacity, both for
safety margin, and because of the fact that transformers do “weird”
things when they approach capacity, like heat up, supply far less
voltage than required, or otherwise wreak havoc.
For instance, a transformer with
a 600 VA rated limit, at maximum output, can theoretically supply
current and voltage so long as the product of the two (expressed in VA)
does not exceed 600. If the transformer will supply 60 volts rms, the total current cannot exceed 10 amps rms. However, if the transformer’s secondary only offered 20 volts rms, the current capability would triple to 30 amps rms.
In both cases, the transformer remains the same size. The only difference between the two is the ratio of turns between the primary and secondary. Which transformer offers more power capacity depends on the load. The
first will perform better into higher impedance loads that would
exhaust the voltage swing faster than the current capacity. The latter
will better suit lower impedance loads that would bleed the first
transformer dry of current before ever taking advantage of the higher
voltage potential available. If you’d like to throw the numbers around:
Voltage (Volts) = Current (Amperes) x Impedance (Ohms), and so, one can derive that Current = Voltage/Impedance.
Power (watts) applied to a given load = (Voltage applied to the load) x (Current drawn by the load at that voltage) x the cosine of the phase shift between the current and voltage (in the case of reactive impedances). Got that? Film at 11.
Although a lot of people make a
big hype about “high-current” amplifiers, usually without qualifying the
term, sacrificing a bit of current capability for the sake of greater
voltage swing is not necessarily a crippling feature, particularly
taking into account a good deal of storage capacitance and the variable
nature of both loudspeakers and audio.
capability, while certainly nice to have on tap, is not absolutely
necessary for short peaks if the storage capacitors in the power supply
can stash away enough reserve energy. With very little current capability from the transformer, and very little storage capacitance, you’re very much in trouble. But,
with a little saved in the bank, the capacitors can supply bursts of
current for short-term demands, which a moderately robust transformer
can make up between stressful moments. Equipped
with a power supply boasting 54,000 µF (Micro-Farads) of filtering
capacitance right after the rectifiers, and a power transformer that is
pretty big to begin with, the AVR-202 can save enough juice for a rainy
day or two, and perhaps even a minor flood once in awhile.
So, with a somewhat high rail
voltage and a formidable set of storage capacitors, we can state that
the power supply has been designed to exceed its rated 105 watts@ 8 ohms
by a wide margin for short periods, especially if it should only have
to stuff a channel or two at a time. In
other words, the AVR-202 is optimized for transient-heavy, dynamic
program material, coincidentally similar to action-oriented theatrical
audio that often reaches barely sane, if not stupidly high levels of SPL
between spans of intelligible dialogue. Stallone in other words.
But wait, there’s MORE!
Surround - Basic Pro Logic or 5.1 decoding as appropriate, be it PCM (Pro Logic Only,) Dolby Digital, or DTS.
3 Stereo Hall - A 5 channel matrix decoding mode. Retains any LFE in subwoofer.
3 Stereo - A 3 channel (L,C,R) matrix mode. Retains any LFE in subwoofer.
Stereo Hall - 4 channel matrix decoder (no center.) Retains any LFE in subwoofer.
Stereo Front/Rear - Down-mixes
5.1 (except LFE) to left and right front channels, then outputs
identical stereo information to the front and rear. Retains any LFE in
Stereo - Down-mixes everything (except LFE) to stereo. Retains any LFE in subwoofer.
Stereo Lt Rt - Down-mixes everything (including LFE) to left and right front channels.
Headphone (Surround mode? No, not really) - Same as Stereo Lt Rt except that it comes through the headphones.
- Discrete Power Commands - A real help with setup macros, especially if you want to integrate it with an automation system.
- Tuner - Not remarkable in itself, but nice to have with 20 station presets.
- User Presets - Easy access to 20 combinations of preset channel levels, volume levels, inputs, and surround modes. They can be named.
- Completely Upgradeable Architecture - Like
its dedicated preamplifier predecessors, because of its modular design,
the AVR-202 is completely upgradeable in terms of both hardware and
software, from digital inputs to DACs, far beyond mere 5.1 analog audio
inputs, or even flash ROM capabilities of many competing products, which
for me, adds very real long-term value. The model name is also
upgradeable, not important, but thorough.
management allows running a channel full-range AND routing the bass
content to the subwoofer by setting the speaker to LARGE and the
subwoofer to ULTRA mode.
- Build Quality to Envy - A face plate to set the look, parts behind to hold it up.
- Independent Secondary Zone handy for distributing audio and video to another room.
- IR distribution ports (2 inputs, one for each zone, and 4 outputs for other components).
- Four 12 V DC trigger plugs (limited to 50 mA).
- Input names are programmable on the display.
- Seven A/V inputs, 5 A/V outputs, ALL of which include S-Video.
of digital inputs and outputs (7 coaxial - 1 of them is a 3.5 mm plug -
digital inputs, 5 optical digital inputs, a 3.5 mm plug coaxial output,
and 1 optical output).
- Preamplifier outputs for all channels (2 each for both sub and center).
- 5 year warranty
The remote control is both universal with pre-programmed IR codes, and learning capable. It's wonderfully
easy to set up, and the user needs only press a couple of buttons,
scroll through the choices, and wait for the power command to kick in
with the component. Otherwise, enter a code provided by the manual. Or, learn codes from existing remotes. Layout of the buttons is nice and uncluttered, easy to reach, and intuitive.
Although I did like the simple,
minimalist face plate that just oozes class, because almost everything
is accessed though the menu tree, or scrolling slowly through a list, I
did miss direct access from the front panel. So, on my list of complaints:
volume control knob on the front doesn’t turn, but is a stiff,
spring-loaded two-way ramping control, and takes a long time to begin
the ramping (a good second or two).
- There is neither direct source selection on the face, nor a quick turn of the knob to do the same thing.
digital error concealment seems lacking, meaning that if you’ve got
source material that sends a bit stream with holes in it (scratched
discs or faulty CDR recordings) you’ll get a burst of noise where other
processors/dedicated DACs will mute the output for an instant.
remote control interface, though it does offer discrete input
selection, and quick, easy volume changes, does not contain basic
preamplifier functions (like volume) if the last button pushed was an
input, as that subsequently makes the entire remote function as if it
belonged solely to that selected component. One could learn the functions to the respective buttons on each “page,” after setup, but that requires an additional remote from a nice dealer.
- RS-232 port provided does nothing, at least at the time of the review. It's supposed to in the future.
Okay, complaint session over. That said, the AVR-202 has another positive I haven't mentioned . . .
IT EVEN SOUNDS GOOD! (Or
at least conveys an electrical signal that, when converted to acoustic
energy by reasonably accurate loudspeakers, it does so.)
My 5.1 experience with the AVR-202,
whether it be with DTS encoded music recordings, or movie material in
Dolby Digital or DTS, was always smooth, cruising, and easy on the ears. With
Alan Parsons’ DTS disc, or with "Antz", "Bugs", or the Launch Sequence
of "Apollo 13", the AVR-202 carried off the performance without a hitch.
Even though it's not rated with 4 ohm loads, I never had stability
problems at normal listening levels with either the Infinitys or the
M&K's, both of which offer real 4 ohm nominal loads that dip to or
below 3 ohms. Into moderately efficient speakers, especially
those offering a 6 or 8 ohm nominal impedance, volume levels in small to
medium rooms should never be a problem. With truly efficient speakers, output volume won’t become an issue short of sound reinforcement applications. Down
the road, should you move into a large room and/or change over to less
efficient speakers, did I mention the preamplifier outputs yet?
With 2-channel music reproduction, the AVR-202 behaved in every way as a well-trained gentleman. Even with my amp-wrenching vintage Infinity Renaissance 90s, the receiver did very well, considering. It
couldn’t light the towers up as either of my Aragon 8008 models did, or
for that matter nudge a full glow like the Sunfire Stereo amp did. To be fair, speakers like the Renaissance 90s weren’t designed with a receiver in mind. One might even think that they were created to destroy them. Even
so, the AVR-202 fared better than a few “muscle” amplifiers that the
Renaissance 90s had run over in prior encounters, allowing me to have my
fun with the Mars Lasar, Dire Straights (my fiancée hates that group),
Jewel, Fiona Apple, the venerable Miss Amos, and even gold old Maurice
Overall, I’d venture to say that the 202 as a whole leans toward the smooth side. So
long as within its output capabilities, the sound never became harsh,
fatiguing, or otherwise unpleasant, but rather consistently enjoyable.
Regarding the higher frequency reproduction, it has been said that MOSFET devices are inherently smoother, more tube-like, than bipolar transistors. I don’t know if that’s a categorically true statement, but the characterization fits the AVR-202. It
didn’t exactly sound like the big Cary monoblock heaters that used to
squat on my floor, but the top side of the spectrum did stroke me a bit
softly, rounding the rough edges and imparting a refined character while
blending some of the upper-end texture, but still with a glint of
sparkle, with that sparkle more apparent when using the digital inputs.
[It may very well be that the analog input always goes into the A/D
converters by default, limiting the very top-end resolution, as well as
providing a slight upper-end roll-off. This would explain the somewhat
limited bandwidth in the preamplifier section.]
In a way, the digital to analog section reminded me a little of sweet
champagne (California sparkling white wine for you snobs.) In every
regard, a B&K. No doubt, many will find the AVR-202 simply “musical.”
In fact, a few audiophiles whose
opinions I truly respect have deemed my own preferences somewhat on the
analytical side. When I say that the AVR-202’s outstanding performance
overall just doesn’t steep my tea exactly as I’d have it, when it comes
to the last octave and a half up, keep in mind that I wouldn't argue
with anyone's opinion that the top-end is utterly outstanding, even if I
The midrange performance left nothing to complain about. There was no metallic sheen (sheen is typical of less robust receivers choking on a load). Neither musical or theatrical information seemed held back, muffled, or otherwise muted. All in all, just about right.
Bass content, though not the equal of either Aragons or the Sunfire, upheld standards for tight, deep, and full-bodied. The
AVR-202 couldn’t pull off the same kind of weight running full-range
with the Infinitys, but in more practical situations, such as running
the high-pass configurations of the bass management with the assistance
of powered subwoofers, the AVR-202 will do splendidly.
Sound stage (imaging characteristics) of the AVR-202 are immediate, up front, yet very spacious and open. A nice sense of dimension, assuming content allows, accompanies a believable variety of focus and depth.
Top to bottom, front to back,
side to side, and along the other three degrees of freedom for the heck
of it, the AVR-202 is an extremely good product, for the money, or by
sheer value alone. Dare I say that it might reflect well on the tastes of the owner?
The build quality, compared to mass market products, is astounding. The
sonic performance goes neck and neck with the best of its class, and
the drive capability, in the context of a receiver, is tremendous. I
have to say, that even though some of the functional aspects clash with
my own personal preferences, the AVR-202 is top-shelf, through and
through. If you've got the time, the inclination for experimentation,
and a good back, take one home for a spin.