Hardware Spotlight - Sunfire Preamp/Processor and Amp
Sunfire Theater Grand III Preamp/Processor
Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature Power Amp
By Ron Goldberg
Sunfire has always positioned itself at the "pro-sumer" end of the home theater spectrum, and as a result, the company has made a natural transition into the world of products for the custom install market. The new Theater Grand III preamp/processor and Cinema Grand power amplifiers come in an "Architect's Choice" version for these applications, and can easily be said to be among the most powerful products on the market for custom-installed home theater.
THEATER GRAND III
The control center for Sunfire's home theater offering is the Theater Grand, now in a version III configuration. In the Architect's Choice version, it's 17 inches wide, as opposed to the traditional 19 inches, and comes with a smoked glass platform on which to be proudly displayed. Other than that, both this and the standard (non-Architect's) version are identical in function. On the front panel, there a large fluorescent window with a blue display that reads out modes, input selections, volume and other useful information. The window is surrounded by a plethora of orange and blue LEDs — even the Dolby Digital and DTS logos are backlit. A three-stage dimmer adjusts their level or defeats them altogether.
CONNECTIVITY AND FEATURES
While the TGIII's front panel is impressive, it's the back panel that will be of real interest to system installers. The TGIII features connectivity and intelligent routing for practically every component a customer could possibly own, including a phono section and tape dubbing. The jackfield set is almost mind-boggling. There are six A/V inputs and three outputs with S-Video or composite connections, and three component video connections with two output sets. The component video connections are high-bandwidth and will pass progressive scan signals.
Add to that four optical digital audio connections and six coaxial; 40 AM/FM tuner presets, three additional audio-only analog inputs with dual outputs, 8-channel inputs for DVD-A and multichannel SACD, RS-232 control, secondary zone outputs for multi-room applications (which can play sources independent of the main zone) and even balanced XLR outputs for truly finicky high-end components that can accept this connection, like the mating Cinema Grand Signature amplifier. There are also digital outputs to feed external recorders, and an IEEE 1394 port for future use. The combination of all these ports and the fact that the TGIII's software can be upgraded via a data CD released by Sunfire makes this piece about as future-proof as can be expected from a piece of hardware.