German electronics manufacturer, T+A, is relatively unknown in Australia, but the maker of high-end equipment plans to change all that with its stylish K6 DVD receiver. Their idealistic motto "Fantastic-sounding AV that happens to also look rather smart" suits the company perfectly and the smart looking K6 fits that description to a tee.
The K6 is encased in solid aluminum and features a sculpted, contoured design that is much more curved than the images suggest. The most striking feature is the unit's size. Considering the number of components it can replace, the K6 would be a welcome addition to any style conscious home.
The exterior, which comes in either silver or black, is devoid of any buttons. They are located under the front lip of the device and are only slightly larger than a match head. Sitting centre is small pop up LCD panel with a changing layout depending on which device is selected. When not in use the motorized screen automatically drops discreetly into the top of the box. The case also features an innovative cooling system that allows the relatively compact K6 to have its large power output.
The remote control is also encased in metal and feels well built, but doesn't quite match the style of the main unit. Its numerous multicoloured buttons are not as tasteful as the minimalist design of the player but are well laid out and functional.
Turn the K6 around and you'll notice dozens of inputs that reflect the multiple functionalities of the unit. The K6 can be used with a maximum of 8 external devices along with its own integrated AM/FM tuner and DVD player. Other adaptors include two analogue stereo inputs as well as co-axial and optical inputs.
Functions that can be controlled via the Digital Signal Processor (DSP) include volume, inputs, signal processing, tone control as well as surround sound decoding. This latter feature handles DTS 5.1, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital 5.1, stereo, mono, plus several DSP modes. Even though the K6 doesn't include the newer 6.1 surround format, we're yet to see many videos that support it. There are five, 60W continuous output stages which support the surround operation.
The single slot DVD player is capable of reading DVDs, video CDs, CD-R and CD-RW media and you can store up to 60 different radio and TV station names for display via the LCD. One of the major letdowns is a lack of support for upcoming future trends such as Blu-ray and HD DVD. Anyone spending this level of money would expect that the device will be usable for several years at least. Further, the K6 even forgoes current features such as an HDMI port, DVD or hard-drive recording and even the ability to load more than one disc.
Initial set-up is no problem. This consisted of plugging the K6 to a TV and hooking up a set of home theatre speakers. There's microphone that you can use to monitor the position and volume of your speaker setup, and after plugging in the aerial for the tuner, you're ready to go.
To test the device we watched the Matrix, a classic because of the contrasting scenes and audio throughout the movie. We hooked the K6 up to Sony's newLCD TV and B&W's 703 speakers. Images were excellent with no detection of distortion or poor quality.
Audio was comparable with many cheaper systems, until we turned the volume right up. The K6 shows its brilliance during these extreme conditions. Unfortunately, unless you have an equally high-end set of speakers, you can't really enjoy the level of audiophile quality the K6 projects.
We did have some minor issues. Despite the fact that the outputted video quality can match the level that could be sent via a HDMI source, this extra feature is something many tech-heads demand, especially considering that most of the buyers would be technology enthusiasts. Secondly, when changing between modes such as listening to a CD then watching a DVD, the K6 doesn't automatically change the stereo to surround sound modes. Finally the maximum 60W per channel can be regarded as inadequate for power users. There's some consolation in that the K6 will retain its sweet sound even with high outputs.