In the fast-paced and crowded A/V receiver market, only the strong survive. JVC's midline model, the $450 (list price) RX-8030BVK, not only boasts a full roster of all of the latest features, it also delivers first-class sound. Best of all, we found this receiver priced at less than $300 online, putting it squarely in competition with lesser-sounding receivers from better-known brands. If you can overcome its setup hassles, the 8030 is an excellent value that packs a healthy punch.
The uncluttered faceplate doesn't reveal many clues about the receiver's far-reaching control options, but that's mostly because uncommonly used controls are concealed behind a flip-down door. The large, easy-to-read display will never leave you guessing about what surround mode you're listening to. Pick up the 27-pound 8030, and you'll know why its solid feel outdoes that of nearly every entry-level model on the block.
JVC's Quick speaker setup option is unusually straightforward, so most buyers will stick with that. If you want to explore the 8030's advanced setup options, you'll need to read and reread the owner's manual. Part of the hassle can be attributed to the lack of onscreen displays. The poorly designed navigation on the receiver's own display also regularly tried our patience.
The multibrand remote can command cable set-top boxes, VCRs, TVs, DVDs, and satellite dishes, but its design didn't wow us. Its LCD isn't all that functional in day-to-day use; it just reads out the selected source name. We were also put off by the tiny, poorly laid-out buttons, and some of the labeling is impossible to read under all but the brightest light. It's not the worst remote we've seen, but it's nowhere as user-friendly as the better Onkyo remotes, for example.
For reasons beyond our comprehension, the shipping box dubs the 8030 a "stereo receiver," but it is, in fact, a true 6.1-channel surround-sound receiver. According to the spec sheet, it's more powerful than most of its midpriced competitors, with a rating of 130 watts into 8 ohms.
All of the current surround modes are represented: Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 6.1, DTS-ES Discrete, DTS-ES Matrix, DTS-Neo:6, and Dolby Pro Logic II. The 8030 also features the latest advance from DTS, the DTS 96/24 format.
We were jazzed by the 8030's digital five-band equalization option, which lets you adjust EQ at 63Hz, 250Hz, 1kHz, 4kHz, and 16kHz, albeit for the left/right speakers only. The center speaker has its own, less versatile EQ control.