Integra’s DSR-4.8 DVD Receiver ($600) is a simple yet versatile 2.1-channel receiver with a built-in disc player that is designed to let users enjoy many (though not all) of the benefits of a full-fledged surround system, minus the cost and complexity. What is more, the term “DVD Receiver” actually understates the DSR-4.8’s true capabilities, in that the Integra’s built-in disc player can handle a very broad range of A/V disc formats (see “Features,” below for details)—Blu-ray sadly not among them. But the good news is that the Integra provides inputs that make it easy to connect an optional iPod dock or outboard Blu-ray player, should you wish to add either or both.
In an era where features-laden, hyper-complicated multichannel A/V receivers are the norm, the Integra bucks the trend by emphasizing three great virtues: simplicity, ease of setup/use, and strong core sound quality. If you want a high quality sound system for use with your HDTV, but find full-on surround rigs too expensive or dauntingly complex (and perhaps a bit of an eyesore, to boot), this Integra could be just the ticket.
Consider this DVD receiver if: you want a simple, versatile, high-quality, one-box, 2.1-channel A/V player/receiver that can handle almost all of the most important disc formats except Blu-ray (the DSR-4.8 even handles excellent, though admittedly somewhat uncommon, audiophile disc formats such as SACD and DVD-Audio). Note that the DSR-4.8 is powerful enough to drive full-range tower-type speakers, but can also work beautifully with satellite/subwoofer systems, if that’s your preference.
Look elsewhere if: you expect the seamless, 3D, “wraparound” surround sound experience that only good surround rigs can provide. The Integra’s “Theater Dimensional” virtual surround mode does a great job of creating a convincing “quasi-surround” feel, but it can’t reproduce channel-specific effects (e.g., the sound of a helicopter approaching from behind and to the right of the listener) the way a 5.1 or 7.1-channel system can. Also, look further if you require a receiver with a built-in Blu-ray player.
Ratings (relative to other DVD Receivers):