Sherwood Newcastle P-965 AV (Audio Video) Preamplifier
with Remote & Manuals
Description was compiled from the review of Brian Kahn, May 2006, of Audio Video Revolution. Introduction
The Sherwood P-965 is a full-featured AV preamplifier that can serve as the centerpiece of a multi-room theater system without blowing even modest budgets. This piece is at the tops of the Sherwood Newcastle line and has just about every feature one could ask for in a high-end AV preamp, yet it is smartly designed to leave out many superfluous features that you don’t need but often pay for in more expensive components. The P-965 is priced at $1,495 and is indicative of Sherwood’s longtime philosophy of foregoing frills in order to keep its pricing competitive.
Standard in size at 17-and-three-eighths by seven-and-three-quarters inches by 17-and-three-quarters inches deep and weighed a respectable 26 pounds. The front panel is attractively finished in aluminum, with two large knobs that flank a large display with a row of buttons under the display with a headphone jack and AV input hidden behind a drop-down door.
The rear panel has a plethora of connections:
- Three component video inputs
- One component video output
- 7.1 analog inputs for your multi-channel music player
- 7.2 analog outputs
- Tape loop
- Phonograph input
- Three analog inputs
- USB input
- Four optical digital inputs
- One optical out
- Two coaxial digital inputs
- One coax out
- Six AV inputs
- Rooms 1 and 2 video out
- DC triggers
- IR input for second room control
Notably absent from the otherwise loaded rear panel of the P-965 are any HDMI connectors.
Features abound in the P-965. On the audio side, the P-965 can handle:
- DTS 96/24
- DPL IIx
- Dolby Virtual Speaker
- Dolby Headphone
- Digital re-mastering to 192kHz/24 bits
- Analog Devices 1852 192kHz/24-bit DACS for all channels
- Pure analog mode
- Selectable crossovers
- Lip sync-capable
- Cinema EQ
- Cirrus Logic 24-bit CS-49400 DSP
- 7.1 input with bass management
- SNAP (Sherwood Newcastle Automatic Parametric) EQ
- Automatic speaker set-up
Video is not neglected, as the P-965 features universal video up-conversion (i.e., your inputs can be composite, S-Video and component and you only need to run one output cable) and relay-switched component inputs for superior picture quality and unlimited bandwidth. Sherwood doesn’t stop there. The P-965 is also user upgradeable with downloadable firmware.
A second remote control is configured for use in the second room. The primary remote control is the highly regarded Universal Remote Control RNC-510. The RNC-510 series also features a large LCD screen, a large preprogrammed library and learning capabilities.Set-up
Setting up an AV preamplifier can often be more challenging than most other components in a modest home theater system. There are typically many more connections and settings involved with AV preamplifier than any other component. This said, the P-965 was one of the easier AV preamps to connect and get running.
The Sherwood features an auto speaker set-up and equalization that was extremely simple to use. I found that it was quite easy to go through the set-up process and had everything ready to go in a few minutes.
I must note that the included remote, the Universal Remote Control RNC-510 normally sells separately for $250. The remote is well-regarded and can be programmed to control up to 10 devices, which should take care of most theater systems. Music and Movies
After I got everything set up, I played a disc from a previous season of “Alias” (my wife controls the NetFlix list). I played the disc through the component video outputs of my Marantz DV-9500. I tried running the cables directly to my projector, as well as through the Sherwood. The video switching did not appear to degrade the picture at all. The audio track was fairly undemanding, but it gave me a chance to listen to familiar vocals, which I find to be a good indicator of a component’s performance. The vocals sounded correct and were very intelligible once I adjusted the center channel level up a bit from where the automatic set-up had set it.
I moved on to a more demanding audio track with “Master and Commander” (20th Century Fox) The Sherwood P-965 did a good job with the soundstage in the battle scene and provided a good sense of envelopment and detail with the individual effects. The vocals were easy to understand, a critical trait in an AV preamplifier. I found the bass to be fairly solid, but it had a bit of leanness in the mid-bass and midrange. I listened both with and without the EQ circuit engaged; I found I preferred the sound with the circuit engaged.
I then listened to the DTS track on “Kill Bill, Volume 2” (Miramax Home Entertainment). I played the scene in which Uma Thurman is placed in a coffin and buried alive. The nails were hammered in with authority; it sounded like there was actual construction going on inside my living room. The P-965 revealed the nuances of the sound effects and I could clearly differentiate between the sounds that were originating inside and outside of the coffin.
I wanted to check out some of unit’s audio features, such as the digital remastering and pure audio functions. I liked the pure audio feature; the difference it made was subtle but definite. I noticed a reduction in background noise and an increase in presence. The digital remastering was more hit or miss. The DACs in the Marantz disc player I was using as a source are quite good. If your source unit’s DACs are not as good, you may want to output the signal digitally and use the re-mastering feature.
I wanted to see how the P-965 fared with stereo music, so I listened to Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms (Warner Brothers), which I recently used in another review. The track “Your Latest Trick” had a clean midrange and did well with Mark Knopfler’s raspy voice. The high frequencies on cymbals were clean and clear, although there was not as much air and extension on the high end in comparison to the more expensive AV preamps I have tested, but there was never any harshness or excessive brightness. Imaging was solid but not pinpoint and the soundstage had good width.
Moving on to multi-channel music, I listened to Blue Man Group’s song “Sing Along with DM” from the Complex DVD-Audio release (DTS Entertainment). I found the sound to be very clean and accurate, with no signs of harshness. The Sherwood definitely performed well as a high-end separate when fed a 5.1 analog signal. While this sounds simple, many units fail to do it well. Overall, this was an exemplary performance from a preamp that performs well above its price. Conclusion
You have to be impressed with the performance of this AV preamp when you consider how it holds up in terms of audio performance, as well as video pass-through. I have no question that the P-965 can serve well with two-channel music and even better with multi-channel audio and movies.
The feature set should satisfy just about everyone. Sherwood paid careful attention to the build quality of the P-965, as the unit was very solid and the front panel conveyed quality and pride of ownership. I can easily recommend placing the P-965 on the really, really short list for those in the market for a controller in the $2,000 price range.
Crafted from the finest hand-selected components and designed by passionate audio engineers, its impressive decoding capabilities include virtually all of today’s best technologies including: DTS-ES Discrete and Matrix; DTS 96/24, Dolby Digital EX and Pro Logic IIx; and Dolby Headphone to name only a few. With a built-in phono section, the ability to Re-Master CD sound to 192 kHz/24-bit, advanced Room-2 functionality; three wide-bandwidth component video inputs with all video sources being up-converted for simple switching Hi Def TV and two remote controls, the P-965 has the capability to satisfy today’s most ardent and advanced audiophile. And with the P-965’s “User Upgradability,” it’s probably one of the few pre-pro’s available today that will still be called “Advanced” in a decade. Together with the A-965 1050W or any multi-channel AMP, the P-965 is a formidable product at price rivaling separates that cost much more. Review of Product Features:
- DTS-ES Discrete and Matrix
- DTS-96/24; DTS NEO-6
- Dolby Digital EX
- Dolby Pro Logic IIx fully adjustable
- Dolby Virtual Speaker
- Dolby Headphone Layers 1, 2, 3
- Digitally Re-Masters PCM to 192 /24
- 192 kHz 24-bit DAC’s for all channels
- Pure Analog Mode; Pure Digital Mode
- Selectable Bass Crossover frequencies
- Upgradeable operating system
- Universal Video up-converts composite and S-Video to Component Video
- 5 Optical and 2 Coaxial Digital Inputs
- Optical Digital Output
- On Screen Display (from all video outputs)
- RNC-500 Remote Control
- Programmable Video Input Labeling
- 24-Bit CS-49400 Crystal Processor
- 12 DSP Modes
- 7.1 channel direct input with bass management
- Sampling Frequency Display
- Room 2 A/V Output with fixed/variable audio level, S-Video and coaxial digital
- IR control with 2 inputs and 1 output
- 2 Video Record Out Selectors
- Two 12-Volt Triggers, one is user assignable
- 3 Component Video Inputs switched by relays for unlimited bandwidth
- 5 Rear Panel Audio/Video Inputs
- 6 Audio Inputs with Phono
- Front Panel A/V Input
- Cinema EQ
- Tone Defeat
- Channel Level Memory
- Advanced 4-gang FM tuner
- 30 Station Presets
- USB Audio
- Sleep Timer
- Aluminum Front Panel
Original manual included for Sherwood P-965 AV Preamplifier plus original manual for Universal Remote Control RNC-510. I had already taped up the box for shipping when I realized I didn't take photographs to show the manuals with the listing. DISCLOSURES
- This product has been discontinued by Sherwood and thus updated firmware is no longer available.
- According to the Sherwood USA website, an authorized service center is available in Southaven MS for support services.
- I do not have the second remote control and thus is not available for this auction.
A 7 Day return is offered only for malfunctions of the preamplifier’s designed capabilities. The remote control is a bonus and its condition is AS-IS.
Preamplifier, remote and manuals must be returned in its original condition, with all included packing materials. Buyer assumes responsibility for all shipping return costs (insurance required).