Product Review (December 2001) - Kenwood / Boston Acoustics
Unity Complete Home Theater System

Home theater has gained a tremendous amount of momentum over the past few years. High-end systems were the first to offer consumers a "theater-like" experience and were soon followed by less expensive receivers, DVD players and 5.1 speaker systems. The latest trend has been the all-in-one systems for those who have limited space and often times a limited budget. However, few of these new systems deliver the true home theater experience we all desire due to the limitations often encountered with low-end speakers and limited power. Kenwood took a different approach when designing their new Unity Home Theater System. Rather than integrating a low-end inferior speaker system to accompany their electronics for this market, they turned to Boston Acoustics, a name recognized for high-performance speaker systems. As a first joint venture between the two companies, the Unity System offers consumers a full-featured DVD player built right into the AM/FM receiver, along with a speakers system capable of delivering an impressive full-range sonic experience. The Unity consists of the DVR-5070 main unit, remote control, five satellite speakers, and a powered subwoofer. Speaker wires and cables are included to get you up and running in no time.

This system is loaded with some of the latest features including Dolby Digital®, DTS®, Dolby Pro Logic® and the new Dolby Pro Logic® II decoding. Five-channels of amplification and specially designed active equalization for the Boston Acoustics speakers are integrated in the main unit. In addition to playing DVDs, the Unity has the ability to play MP3 audio files ripped onto CD recordable media (CD-Rs and CD-RWs). This capability is particularly useful for those who download music onto their PCs. The Unity even offers the ability to play Video CDs.

Aside from being an impressive all-in-one system, the Unity is amazingly simple to hook-up. Since the DVD player and the receiver are integrated into one box, there is little to assemble. Each speaker has a unique color code matched to the cables provided. In addition, the Molex-style connectors are keyed, making it difficult to reverse the polarity of the speaker. The Unity includes five matched speakers each containing a 3" woofer and ¾" tweeter. The 8" down-firing subwoofer incorporates a built-in 100-watt amplifier. The crossover frequency is a bit high (160Hz) due to the size of the satellites, but with careful placement of the subwoofer unit, the system blended in well together.

The front panel has 5 indicators for DTS, Dolby Digital, Pro Logic, DSP, and CS5.1 to let you know what is being decoded at any given time. Like many components, the Unity main unit has few buttons on the front, making the remote an essential part of the operation. The main display gives the user feedback on what's running at any given time. The speaker indicators are also helpful during playback especially with the many different Dolby Digital configurations (i.e. 1.0, 2.0, 5.1, etc.). Setting speaker levels with the built-in "pink-noise" generator is simple if you have an inexpensive Radio Shack SPL meter. The remote actually has a button for each speaker so that it is very easy to select any speaker for adjustment. If you would rather let the system switch speakers automatically during the level adjustments, that's also not a problem. The front flip-down panel has a set of A/V connections for use with video games or a camcorder. This also includes an optical audio (toslink) input for digital sources.

The rear panel is simple by today's standards with special connections for the speaker outputs (i.e. no binding posts). There are A/V connections (including s-video) for SAT/CABLE, VCR (in and out) and TV audio. There are also both optical (toslink) and coaxial digital connections for the SAT/CABLE and VCR components. A separate component video output is provided for the DVD player. There's also a special 3-pin connector, similar to an s-video connector that is used for the subwoofer interface. I can't get over how easy everything is to set up.

The Unity Home Theater System includes a full-featured built-in DVD player that greatly simplifies the operation of the main unit. The advantage of this all-in-one unit is you simply insert your favorite DVD and the main unit automatically switches audio and video to the DVD player and starts playing. Switching to the correct input is not required, making DVD watching simple, even for the novice. Video performance was excellent on this unit, similar to what we've seen on the more recent mainstream players. The 10-bit video DACs used in the Unity produced smooth looking video without any objectionable artifacts.

The system processes audio using some of the latest 24/96 A/D and DAC devices. These new audio chips offer excellent performance while keeping costs low. We listened to a wide variety of source material on this system including DTS, Dolby Digital, two channel PCM and two channel analog audio for the ProLogic and ProLogic II decoders. We never ran into any problems with this unit and all decoding worked flawlessly. Some of our favorite DTS Audio CDs such as Steely Dan's Gaucho and Alan Parson's On Air were impressive on this system. We even tried out the latest DVD-Audio disc Queen - A Night at the Opera from DTS Entertainment. Of course this unit cannot use the high resolution data carried on the MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing) inherent in the DVD-Audio format, but it did make use of the DTS audio stored in the Video zone of this disc. Interestingly enough, this disc has the latest 24/96 DTS data that is fully backwards compatible with the first generation DTS decoders. The Unity played this new disc without a problem and it sounded great in 5.1 DTS. The bottom line is it had no problem with any format we threw at it.

The Kenwood/Boston Acoustics Unity Home Theater System is undoubtedly designed for those who want the home theater experience while getting the greatest bang for their buck. We found performance to be exceptional for a system with limited power and small satellite speakers. I've heard some of the other all-in-one systems in the past and have always been somewhat disappointed with the performance, but this system was much better than I expected. I can enthusiastically recommend the Unity to anyone wanting a full-featured home theater system. Kenwood definitely did their homework when they designed this system by teaming up with experts at Boston Acoustics. The Unity certainly has its limitations, but given the price and performance of this all-in-one package, it's money well spent.
- Kevin Nakano


Review System

Display - Pioneer Elite PRO-610HD 58-inch HD-Ready TV (ISF calibrated)
Set-top Box : RCA DTC100 HDTV/DSS Satellite Receiver
Room Treatments - Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Audio Analyzer - Sencore SP295 Audio Analyzer


Review at a glance
Kenwood - Unity Complete Home Theater System

KEY FEATURES

  • 8" Subwoofer in Ported Enclosure
  • Boston Acoustics Bass Trac™ Subwoofer Circuitry
  • Complete Surround Sound System including receiver, speakers and subwoofer
  • Digital Audio Input for Decoding Digital Surround from Digital Satellite and Cable Programs
  • Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II Surround Sound
  • Five Boston Acoustics 2-Way Speakers with 3" Woofers and 3/4" Tweeters
  • Full-Function Remote with Video Pre-Programming
  • Plays DVDs, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs and MP3-Encoded CDs

    GENERAL FEATURES
  • 1-Button DVD Play
  • Dynamic Rotary Encoder Volume Control
  • Programmable Full-Function 10-Key Remote
  • Status Display: 9-Character Dot Matrix
  • Size: 17-5/16" x 3-11/16" x 16-1/8" (WxHxD)

    AUDIO FEATURES
  • 24-Bit, up to 96kHz Digital Output Capability
  • A/D and D/A Converters: 24-Bit Resolution, 96kHz Sampling
  • Analog Audio Inputs/Outputs: 3 / 1
  • Bass Management: Pre-Set Built-In Subwoofer Crossover
  • Boston Acoustics' BassTrack™ Subwoofer Circuitry
  • Dedicated Equalization for Left/Center/Right/LSurround & RSurround Speakers
  • Digital Audio Input: 2, with 1 Coaxial and 2 Optical Connections
  • Digital Audio Output: 1 Optical
  • Digital/Analog Input Signal Format Auto Detection/Auto Switching
  • Dolby Digital
  • Dolby Pro Logic: 5.1-Channel Movie and Music Modes
  • DTS Digital Surround
  • Headphone Jack

    DVD FEATURES, DISC PLAYER
  • Audible Fast-Forward/Fast-Reverse
  • Dialog language function (DVD)
  • Disc capacity: 1 Disc
  • On-Screen Menu System: Multiple-Language
  • Parental control
  • Plays DVDs, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, MP3-Encoded CD-R/RWs and VCDs
  • Programmable memory (CD)
  • Random play (CD)
  • Repeat play (CD)
  • Slow motion play (DVD)
  • Still/Frame advance (DVD)
  • Subtitle function (DVD)

    AMPLIFIER FEATURES
  • 5-Channel Amplifier plus 100 watt Subwoofer Amplifier
  • Speaker Connectors: Color-Coded, Individually Keyed Connector for Each Speaker

    MAIN SPEAKER FEATURES
  • Finish: Silver
  • Magnetically Shielded
  • Speaker Connectors: Keyed to Receiver Speaker Terminals
  • Wall-Hangable and Stand-Mountable
  • Tweeter: 3/4"
  • Woofer: 3"
  • Size: 5" x 6-1/2" x 4-7/8" (WxHxD)

    CENTER SPEAKER FEATURES
  • Finish: Silver
  • Horizontal Orientation
  • Magnetically Shielded
  • Speaker Connectors: Keyed to Receiver Speaker Terminals
  • Tweeter: 3/4"
  • Woofer: 3"
  • Size: 7-3/8" x 4-1/2" x 4-9/16" (WxHxD)

    SURROUND SPEAKER FEATURES
  • Finish: Silver
  • Magnetically Shielded
  • Speaker Connectors: Keyed to Receiver Speaker Terminals
  • Wall Hangable and Stand-Mountable
  • Tweeter: 3/4"
  • Woofer: 3"
  • Size: 5" x 6-1/2" x 4-7/8" (WxHxD)

    SUBWOOFER FEATURES
  • Finish: black ash
  • Ported enclosure
  • Speaker Connectors: Keyed to Receiver Speaker Terminals
  • Woofer: 8" Down-Firing
  • Size: 14" x 13-13/16" x 13-3/4" (WxHxD)

    TUNER FEATURES
  • Automatic and Manual Tuning
  • Direct Preset Call: with Remote
  • Quartz Synthesized PLL Tuning
  • Station Presets: 30

    VIDEO FEATURES
  • Black Level Control
  • Digital-to-Analog Converter: 10-Bit
  • Front Panel AV/Aux Input: with S-Video and Optical Digital Connections
  • Multiple Screen Aspect Ratios
  • Video Inputs: 3 Composite, 3 S-Video
  • Video Monitor Outputs: 1 Component, 1 S-Video, 1 Composite
  • Video Outputs: 1 Composite, 1 S-Video

    Company Information
    Kenwood USA Corporation
    P.O. Box 22745
    Long Beach, CA 90801
    1-800-KENWOOD

    Source: Manufacture loan
    Serial Number: 10901069
    MSRP: $1200
    Total Weight: 68 pounds (In box)
    Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

    URL: www.kenwoodusa.com

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