INTEGRA DTM 5.3 Multi-Zone Stereo Receiver
By Ron Goldberg
According to the Distributed Audio Alliance's Web site, multi-room audio is affordable and flexible—"For less than $1,000 per room, you can listen to any music you want from anywhere in your home at anytime-with
just one push on a simple keypad or remote control." Most C-tailers and integrators will quietly smile at this, knowing that while it's the truth, it isn't necessarily the whole truth. But Integra's DTM 5.3 receiver is a unique solution that can live up to both claims.
When was the last time you saw an A/V receiver that didn't offer surround sound? Me too, but the DTM 5.3 is a stereo receiver, pure and simple. Actually, not so simple—in addition to straight two-channel play, the unit offers integrated multi-zone capabilities, which are pretty much this product's raison d'etre. On the back panel, there are connections for a second zone, which can be configured for A-Bus remote operation (via CAT5) or a straight line-level zone two output (via standard RCA jacks). There's also a 12-volt trigger, and a selector switch that lets you set up the unit for A-Bus or IR control.
In terms of more traditional connectivity, the DTM 5.3 has A/V connections for a DVD player, a second video source component (in and out) and a monitor output. All video connections are composite, which may disappoint some customers, but this is, after all, a budget-oriented product. There are also audio-only connections for a CD, a tape deck (in and out) and a turntable (yay!). Speaker connections points are more robust than you'd expect at this price point (no spring clips here), and there's a subwoofer output, although this connection is not associated with any bass management features inside the receiver. Naturally, since the DTM 5.3 is a receiver, there's an integrated AM/FM tuner, which offers 40 presets. For further convenience, there's also a headphone jack, as well as a spare AC input on the rear panel.
The DTM 5.3 offers 100 watts into two stereo channels, with a THD of 0.08% at rated power and full frequency response. The source inputs are nicely quiet for a unit in this price range, with a S/N of 100dB for the line-level connections and 80 dB for the phono connection. On the tuner side, the specs are respectable—23 microvolts of FM sensitivity (at 75ohms, in stereo) and a capture ratio of 2 dB, with 40 dB or image rejection. Given a decent antenna (300 and 75 ohm terminals are provided) the "radio" performance here is unlikely to disappoint the target audience.
The multi-zone capabilities are obviously the selling point of this receiver, but in terms of sound quality and flexibility, this unassuming product holds its own. The tuning circuitry in particular does a nice job of locking in what you want and locking out what you don't, and I would say that its performance is the equal of some outboard multi-zone tuners that cost much more. In terms of an audio punch, the amplifier was beefy enough to provide reasonable bass through both the bookshelf and floor-standing speakers we auditioned it with. This receiver won't have any problems driving the in-walls of a distributed audio setup.
The dedicated subwoofer output was a bit of a puzzle. As previously mentioned, it doesn't really correspond to any actual bass management features—even if you connect a sub, the low frequencies are still being routed to the main speakers. There is no speaker-level subwoofer
connection; the jack is meant to feed a powered sub, and the bass output level is controlled by the sub's amplifier. One the one hand, this isn't the most versatile bass implementation we've seen, but on the other hand, many multi-zone components in this price range don't feature this kind of connectivity.
For a lot of consumers, the idea of simply having FM in one room and CD in the other is an appealing one, though not so appealing that they'd be interested in investing in a full-blown distributed audio setup. Additionally, some consumers are actually turned off by the idea of more technology in the house.
What Integra has done is take those two qualities and build them into a product that is also capable of more versatile multi-room applications, up to three zones and two separate sources. While the DTM 5.3 isn't going to replace the Crestrons and Russounds in your product mix, it offers a viable alternative to having separate audio stations in each zone where the full-on distributed treatment may not be necessary or desirable. Your "simplicity-first" customers will appreciate the lack of a learning curve, and instantly feel comfortable. This unassuming product is worth a look and listen. CR
Integra DTM 5.3 Multi-Zone Stereo A/V Receiver
Simple, Familiar Operation
Up to three zones and two sources.