Panasonic's strikingly styled SA-XR45 receiver (listed at $399) stands a mere 3 inches tall and weighs just 9.2 pounds, but it still manages to cram six 100-watt amplifiers and a full complement of features into its low-slung case. The designers achieved this radical size reduction by making the amps all-digital. The XR45 is a great choice for space-starved, style-conscious shoppers, but don't expect it to rock with the same authority as similarly priced full-size models.
Just 14 inches deep, the trim XR45 can squeeze onto shelves that are off-limits for most other receivers. The box comes in black (the XR45) and silver (the).
Aside from the solid-feeling, metal volume knob, the streamlined face has few controls. Pizzazz comes in the form of a 5-inch slit illuminated in pale blue--a distinctive styling touch. At the XR45's rear is a small fan--all that power in such a compact chassis can generate a lot of heat--but we never detected any whooshing noise.
The setup rigmarole was easy enough. The large remote's button ergonomics are above par, and the control lets you adjust your sub's level on the fly.
Panasonic threw in all the up-to-the-second surround-processing formats: Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS 96/24, as well as 6.1-channel Dolby EX, DTS ES, and DTS Neo:6.