• 02-22-2005, 05:39 PM
    bcass
    Digital amps - the Panasonic SA-XR50
    Consumer Reports' December 2004 issue rates this receiver second only to the Onkyo TX-SR701, which sells for almost 3 times as much. The Panasonic is one of the newer receivers with a "digital" amp. People say this runs cooler and more efficiently, and can rival analog amps that are more expensive. Does anyone have any experience with this receiver or the others in this line (SA-XR25, SA-XR75)? It sure sounds like an inexpensive but decent receiver for home theater and for music!

    Thanks,
    Bryan
  • 02-22-2005, 06:08 PM
    royphil345
    I didn't know the Panasonic had a digital amp. Judging by the size of the unit, it probably does.

    I have heard that the Panasonic's amp seems a little underpowered to some people. Sony is mostly ditching digital amplification in their next line of ES receivers except for the flagship model. This year's digital models seemed to be plagued by problems.

    What looks like a great bargain in a home theater receiver is the Pioneer VSX-1014TX mentioned recently in another thread here.

    I usually put a little stock in Consumer Reports findings, but I have their report on stereo receivers and it is a joke. Sound quality is not even considered in the rating. Rating audio equipment with no regard to how it sounds or even if the power rating and specs are accurate? Absolutely the worst, most useless work I've ever seen from Consumer Reports.
  • 02-22-2005, 09:58 PM
    ericl
    Just got the XR25
    I haven't listened to it too much, the little I have sounds good. Sounds better with the Aperion surround package i got for review than with my Klipsch Cornwalls - but like I said, I haven't had it very long. People have been raving about the sound quality over at audioasylum.

    -Eric
  • 02-23-2005, 05:56 AM
    bcass
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by royphil345
    I didn't know the Panasonic had a digital amp. Judging by the size of the unit, it probably does.

    I have heard that the Panasonic's amp seems a little underpowered to some people. Sony is mostly ditching digital amplification in their next line of ES receivers except for the flagship model. This year's digital models seemed to be plagued by problems.

    What looks like a great bargain in a home theater receiver is the Pioneer VSX-1014TX mentioned recently in another thread here.

    I usually put a little stock in Consumer Reports findings, but I have their report on stereo receivers and it is a joke. Sound quality is not even considered in the rating. Rating audio equipment with no regard to how it sounds or even if the power rating and specs are accurate? Absolutely the worst, most useless work I've ever seen from Consumer Reports.

    Well, when you talk about sound *quality*, you're talking about a pretty subjective measurement. I would guess that Consumer Reports wants to be as objective as possible. But you're right, it could be done -- get some audiophiles in a room and do an A-B comparison on all the models.

    Anyhow, they do include some measure of sound quality in the ratings. The overall score includes "performance," which they define as "lack of noise and distortion in the amplifier, plus AM reception [...] and FM reception [...]." The other criteria in the overall score were features and ease of use, but performance had the heaviest weighting.

    One caveat with the XR50 though, is that it has only a one-year warranty, rather than the normal two. This might say something about their confidence in the unit. I have also heard that the build quality is somewhat low -- plastic parts, etc. Still, if its performance is on par with the $800 Onkyo SR701, it could be an affordable alternative.

    By the way, the Pioneer VSX-D914K ($400) ranked 6th in overall score. I would assume that it's just a step or two under the 1014TX that you mentioned.

    Bryan
  • 02-23-2005, 06:06 AM
    bcass
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ericl
    I haven't listened to it too much, the little I have sounds good. Sounds better with the Aperion surround package i got for review than with my Klipsch Cornwalls - but like I said, I haven't had it very long. People have been raving about the sound quality over at audioasylum.

    -Eric

    Thank you, Eric. How do you feel about the build quality of the receiver? Does it seem solid and fairly well put-together? I am wondering about the amp's dynamics and "punch." Does it seem responsive to sudden sounds, like drums, gunshots, brass passages? Of course, your speakers have a lot to do with the sound of the amp... but just your subjective opinion is fine. Maybe I'll go to a stereo shop and do some A-B comparison with the Panasonic vs. Onkyo, Yamaha and Pioneer.

    Bryan
  • 02-23-2005, 10:04 AM
    royphil345
    Didn't see anything about distortion having anything to do with the rating. Or dynamics, or performance at higher volumes. No measurements of any kind for amplifier performance. Only Tuner performance and noise (background I assume).. oh and "crispness".

    The Pioneer is rated exactly the same as the Panasonic if you look at the breakdown. Is it down the list because it's more expensive? (Though it does have more power and features) Their whole rating system just doesn't make sense this time.

    However, The Pioneer IS listed as one of the quick picks for those who desire more power and features. I couldn't live with a receiver that lacked preamp outs. The auto-calibration on the Pioneer seems like a nice feature.

    I really didn't mean to bash the Panasonic. I was just saying that you can pick up the Pioneer for close to the same price now. Seems like it may have a little more juice and features for the $.

    And if someone offered to trade me the Sony receiver that made the middle of the list for my Harman Kardon that didn't make the list at all, I'd tell them to.... well, I'd tell them no. Wouldn't you?


    http://www.t3.co.uk/reviews/default....bsectionid=687
  • 02-23-2005, 11:39 AM
    ericl
    Hi Bryan

    The build quality is nothing to write home about. the back panel is not all that glorious. the speaker binding posts are quite flimsy. Only the front channels have binding posts whereas the center and surrounds have tiny little clip sockets that will only accomodate pins or 16ga bar wire. The thing is quite light, you can hold it in one hand. It does sound pretty good though!

    -Eric
  • 02-23-2005, 11:59 AM
    bcass
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by royphil345
    Didn't see anything about distortion having anything to do with the rating. Or dynamics, or performance at higher volumes. No measurements of any kind for amplifier performance. Only Tuner performance and noise (background I assume).. oh and "crispness".

    The Pioneer is rated exactly the same as the Panasonic if you look at the breakdown. Is it down the list because it's more expensive? (Though it does have more power and features) Their whole rating system just doesn't make sense this time.

    However, The Pioneer IS listed as one of the quick picks for those who desire more power and features. I couldn't live with a receiver that lacked preamp outs. The auto-calibration on the Pioneer seems like a nice feature.

    I really didn't mean to bash the Panasonic. I was just saying that you can pick up the Pioneer for close to the same price now. Seems like it may have a little more juice and features for the $.

    And if someone offered to trade me the Sony receiver that made the middle of the list for my Harman Kardon that didn't make the list at all, I'd tell them to.... well, I'd tell them no. Wouldn't you?


    http://www.t3.co.uk/reviews/default....bsectionid=687

    You're right -- they seem to cater to the average consumer of electronics, not the audiophile. So NAD, HK, Denon, etc. are left out of the list. My situation is that I have a limited amount of money, and my top priority and money allocation is for speakers, which I plan to build the AR.com DIY speakers and build a sub (maybe Tempest?). The hardware will take a back seat and less fundage, so I'm looking at bargains, I guess. After the speakers are purchased and built, I will have about $400 left for stands (DIY), a receiver/amp and a DVD player. The Panasonic fits into that budget and appears to have some good reviews (and some bad ones too, granted).

    Still, I should probably go to a stereo shop and demo the Panasonic next to some analog amps and see what the difference is. I already have an Onkyo HT-R510 receiver that I'm happy with - so maybe another Onkyo is the way to go - like the SR502 or something. This system I'm building with be mostly for music, so if that makes a difference between digital and analog amps, hopefully it will be apparent.

    Thanks,
    Bryan
  • 02-23-2005, 12:41 PM
    Feanor
    You're right about that
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bcass
    Well, when you talk about sound *quality*, you're talking about a pretty subjective measurement. I would guess that Consumer Reports wants to be as objective as possible.
    ...
    One caveat with the XR50 though, is that it has only a one-year warranty, rather than the normal two. This might say something about their confidence in the unit. I have also heard that the build quality is somewhat low -- plastic parts, etc. Still, if its performance is on par with the $800 Onkyo SR701, it could be an affordable alternative
    ....
    Bryan

    For sure, Consumer Reports likes "objectivity". Also, I have an XR25 and it's true that the build quality is not outstanding.

    Nevertheless its sounds is quite good. I recently A/B's it with my 10x more pricey Bel Canto eVo2i, also a "digital" amp and one that is very close to the state-of-the art for that technology. The XR25 held up pretty well in direct comparison, that is, it didn't have any disagreeable qualities such as raunchy top end, flabby bass, muddy mid-range, or the like.
  • 02-24-2005, 12:46 PM
    bcass
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    For sure, Consumer Reports likes "objectivity". Also, I have an XR25 and it's true that the build quality is not outstanding.

    Nevertheless its sounds is quite good. I recently A/B's it with my 10x more pricey Bel Canto eVo2i, also a "digital" amp and one that is very close to the state-of-the art for that technology. The XR25 held up pretty well in direct comparison, that is, it didn't have any disagreeable qualities such as raunchy top end, flabby bass, muddy mid-range, or the like.

    I did a search for XR50 and XR70 on AudoCircle.com and there was quite a lot of discussion of these units there. It seems that most of the members on that site are audiophile-level, not afraid of "modding" their new receivers right out of the box. Some even put $700 into internal modifications of the XR25 and XR45 to get better performance. The cheapest modification is upgrading the power cord, although I'm not sure why this would help the sound output.

    I'm leaning toward the XR45 or XR70 models, which supposedly have some better components and a better power supply than the XR25 and XR50. The power supply apparently can have a lot of effect on how the amp performs.

    Bryan
  • 02-24-2005, 02:23 PM
    royphil345
    "To complete our listening sessions, we compared the XR45 with the full-size Onkyo TX-SR601, using a Philips 963SA DVD player as a source. The bigger box produced more life and detail; the XR45 mellowed out the sound. When we pushed the volume fairly high, we detected some dynamic shrinkage from the XR45, but its audio improved once we backed down to moderate levels. The Panasonic's 100-watt-per-channel rating is a tad optimistic (the Onkyo claims 85 watts), so don't expect this skinny receiver to pump out the oomph of a full-size model". - CNET

    Even people who praise it talk about harsh sound when using the analog inputs.

    It's a fad. It has a nice little sound to it and was alot cheaper than most of the competition, now it really isn't.

    If I was looking for an AV receiver now, I'd pick up that Pioneer with the MOSFET amp for $360.00 in a heartbeat. Try to find a negative comment in any review of the Pioneer VSX-1014TX.
  • 02-25-2005, 08:07 AM
    bcass
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by royphil345
    [...]
    If I was looking for an AV receiver now, I'd pick up that Pioneer with the MOSFET amp for $360.00 in a heartbeat. Try to find a negative comment in any review of the Pioneer VSX-1014TX.


    Thanks, I'll take a look at the Pioneer, although I'm not sure how MOSFET compares with any other technology. I'll have to read up on it. With the digital amps though, it seems like they don't perform as well at high volumes, and they need a long (months?) burn-in period. I don't know if I'd call it a "fad" yet though. I think with some refinement, the digital amps will eventually replace analog in the popular marketplace.
  • 02-25-2005, 09:18 AM
    topspeed
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by royphil345
    It's a fad. It has a nice little sound to it and was alot cheaper than most of the competition, now it really isn't.

    Are you talking about this particular Panny being the "flavor of the month" or digital amp technology in general? If it's the latter, I assure you it's much more than a "fad." Lend an ear to a Bel Canto eVo, PS Audio HCA2 or GCA, or any of Jeff Rowland's new amps, and you'll realize switching amps will very likely replace traditional ss amps. When done right, they simply outperform ss amps without all the heat, girth, and high energy usage. Why do you think so many hi-end manufacturers are introducing new switching amps?
  • 02-25-2005, 10:42 AM
    kexodusc
    I can't imagine anyone knocking digital amps...mind you, tube lovers have been knocking SS for decades now so I guess it's not unthinkable.

    I listened to the little panny the other day. To tell you the truth I though it sounded fine. But maybe, just maybe, it's positive response is more of a result of people casting aside previous beliefs, and facing the conclusion that the differences in sound quality of amps/receivers that are only a few hundred dollars apart price wise isn't astronomical after all.

    Bcass, I'd probably stick with the Pioneer or a Yammie or Denon or something with a better warranty and all the features you need. Personally, I love the HTR-5760 or RX-V650 for $350. Add a used Adcom GFA-535 or a NAD, Rotel, Parasound, etc, amp to the pre outs and you will have a very nice sounding budget system for under $500. My old neighbour did just this and I was quite impressed, I've regretted spending as much on my receiver ever since.
    Also, if you want a bargain on a sub, try the Dayton DVC line of woofers. These are made by the same people that make the Shiva and Tempest drivers. The units are very similar in all aspects, and the DVC's capture over 90% of the performance of the Adire drivers...in most homes you wouldn't use the extra ability. How loud do you really listen to movies or music? How big is your room? For even better sound quality at the expense of high 3 or 4 dB's of SPL, the Dayton Quatro is all the rage in the best-bang-for-the-buck categorie of 15" woofers these days. It's very efficient and can be mated to the PE 240 watt soft-clipping plate amp for under $200 total!!! That'll save you some cash for the receiver.

    My stands cost me about $10-$12 each. With a nice cherry veneer. Using laminate, paint, or a cheaper birch or oak veneer would be a bit cheaper.

    There's a few audioreview.com members that have built Quatro subs, and compare them to favorably to some highly regarded DIY alternatives.

    To me, the receiver/amp is just too important to go too cheap, you could end up regretting it later.
  • 02-25-2005, 10:53 AM
    royphil345
    "Flavor of the month" is a good way to put it. I was talking about the Panny, not digital amplification in general. I don't know if there is a difference between a "switching" amp and what they call "digital" now. I thought there was. Switching amps have been around a long time. My Carver is a "switching" amp and i love the sound of that.

    I just saw that bcass was on a budget and looking for a solid, versatile, powerful receiver to be the heart of his only home theater system. Think the Panny (although terriffic for $300.00) might leave him wanting after awhile.

    I know the Panny is "flavor of the month" and could tell bcass was being a little influanced by this. Knew I'd be the "bad guy" on this thread. Really just trying to offer my honest opinion, maybe encourage some cautious shopping. Offered info about another receiver in the same price-range that seems very worth consideration.

    P.S. MOSFET is just a type of output device some people claim sounds good. Used alot by Adcom. Also, In my experience any "flavor of the month" component reported as needing a long break-in period usually goes down in history as being a bit on the harsh-sounding side.
  • 02-25-2005, 01:00 PM
    topspeed
    I didn't mean to imply that you were being the "bad guy" at all. In fact, I think you gave the poster very good advice. In audio, it's always good to err on the side of caution :).

    Class D/digital/switching amps are all the same thing, although I don't think the modern definition would apply to your Carver. You'll also see them called Class T.
  • 02-25-2005, 02:00 PM
    bcass
    Yes, I appreciate all of your help and advice. That's why I brought up the subject! I will broaden my scope then to other amps in the same price range. This is the fun part of buying new stuff, I think. :-)
  • 02-25-2005, 04:57 PM
    Feanor
    Power cord
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bcass
    ...
    The cheapest modification is upgrading the power cord, although I'm not sure why this would help the sound output.

    I'm leaning toward the XR45 or XR70 models, which supposedly have some better components and a better power supply than the XR25 and XR50. The power supply apparently can have a lot of effect on how the amp performs...

    I "upgrade" my XR25's power cord to a PS Audio xStream Power Punch. Granted, this is a relatively cheap PC (US$50), but I heard no difference at all.

    The older X45 or new X70 are more expensive versions of the XR25 and XR50 respectively, and are reputed to have significantly better power supplies. Yes, the power supply is very important to the performance of the amp.
  • 02-27-2005, 02:17 PM
    RGA
    Power cords are a gimmick -- see bryston's web-site for the reason why. Unless the power cord is exceptionally poor upgrading it is or should be nonsense.

    Consumer reports counducts no real listening tests of gear - they're useless and not objective at all since ti needs to be heard.

    I was not wowed by the panasonic against some similarly priced SS receivers -- given that I generally dislike receivers I was not overly impressed with the panasonic SA XR50 in that it didn't stand apart from the other non digital amps. -- Less noise is something commendable but still has upper midrange girttiness. For $350.00Cdn though it's probably no worse than anybody elses $350.00 surround sound unit...better -- that claim is often made by companies using cheaper parts but an impressive adverising campaign.

    Class D is not new - it is more efficient so you'll save on electricity -- indeed looking at the write up of some of the other features on the uinit one has to roll out of their chair laughing -- such as the multi remaster switch whereby the uinit supposedly *huige grin and chortle* "Our multi re-master feature examines the audio signal and helps compensate for these lost frequencies, providing sound quality closer to the original performance" on MP3's and movies...presumably this is some sort of second D to A converter. :D

    If space is a priority give it a try --- and don't forget about the remote --- for receivers the remote and functioanlity is very important - but the panacea of great sound the panasonic is not...It's good for $300.00US looks neat has a good remote has lots of features and is pretty small and can fit better into smaller cabinets generating less to almost no heat. be wary of perfect sound forever claims. Apparently Perfection was not all it was cracked up to be.
  • 02-28-2005, 07:07 AM
    bcass
    Thanks, RGA. I think you're right that the Panasonic is not a "giant killer." However, for some reason, digital amp technology appeals to me. Maybe because there's less signal conversion with digital sources, I don't know. Since most of my source material is digital (except FM radio I suppose, which will probably be all digital at some future point), I was just leaning toward the digital amp. But like I said above, I'll consider other multichannel receivers in my price range as well. I'll have to go to a stereo shop and just have some critical A-B listening with my own CDs. If the Panasonic sounds as good as other receivers in its range, I'll go with the Panasonic (with the stock power cord! ;-).

    Thanks!
    Bryan
  • 02-28-2005, 11:44 AM
    topspeed
    Whoa there, Tex...
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bcass
    However, for some reason, digital amp technology appeals to me. Maybe because there's less signal conversion with digital sources, I don't know.

    I'm not sure I follow you on this. The amp, whether ss, digital, or tube, has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of signal conversion (processing) being done. That's what DAC's are for. Here is a good article that will better explain how digital amps work.

    Hope this helps.
  • 02-28-2005, 12:26 PM
    bcass
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by topspeed
    I'm not sure I follow you on this. The amp, whether ss, digital, or tube, has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of signal conversion (processing) being done. That's what DAC's are for. Here is a good article that will better explain how digital amps work.

    Hope this helps.

    Sorry - I had read somewhere that a digital input signal stays digital until the output stage with a digital amp. I'm sure I'm confused about it, but gee, it sure sounds good to me. :-)

    Edit: By the way, topspeed, thank you for the link to the psaudio.com site. That really is a good explanation in lay terms of the difference between digital and analog amps. I think I understand it now. It sure sounds like (except for the impedance problem) digital amps really should outperform equivalent analog amps, being 100% linear and much more efficient.
  • 03-03-2005, 01:58 AM
    srgetz
    I have read great things about this Panny amp (receiver). I bought one out of curiosity and played it on my Dynes for a few days. I sold it on ebay...the sound was hard, bright, clinical, strained and very fatiguing on these speakers. I have a 15wpc sonic impact digital amp that sounds smooth as silk with the Dynes (comparitively speaking), and a 35wpc NAD used to power them easily. The Pioneer is overrated crap...or, it needs sensitive speakers to sound decent. If you want a good, inexpensive digital amp get a sonic impact. JMO
  • 03-07-2005, 05:03 AM
    theaudiohobby
    Try some of the Sharp digital amplifiers
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bcass
    I'm leaning toward the XR45 or XR70 models, which supposedly have some better components and a better power supply than the XR25 and XR50. The power supply apparently can have a lot of effect on how the amp performs.

    Bryan

    The power supply is especially important in any component that depends on a clock for sound quality, since Class D amplifiers fall under this category, the power supply is very important, a poor power supply will introduce spurious noise into the clock circuit and compromise clock precision and as result adversely affect sound quality. If a power cord has good mains filtration functionality, probably more cheaply implemented with an actual main filtration circuit, it may have a beneficial effect of components with less than adequate power supply circuits, IOW noisy power supplies.

    On a side note, I heard an SM SX100 with a Quad ESL 57 recently, this amplifier is something very special, It is a giant in its own right i.e. its costs mucho money new and sounds so, however it costs a lot less used/graded , it is best described as having an effortless delivery, to these ears at least grain and etch are very conspicuous by their total absence! I will suggest that you look at for some of the cheaper Sharp digital amplifiers, and see if they deliver some of the sonic magic of their big brother.
  • 03-14-2005, 11:57 AM
    VAB
    Sonic Impact
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by srgetz
    I have read great things about this Panny amp (receiver). I bought one out of curiosity and played it on my Dynes for a few days. I sold it on ebay...the sound was hard, bright, clinical, strained and very fatiguing on these speakers. I have a 15wpc sonic impact digital amp that sounds smooth as silk with the Dynes (comparitively speaking), and a 35wpc NAD used to power them easily. The Pioneer is overrated crap...or, it needs sensitive speakers to sound decent. If you want a good, inexpensive digital amp get a sonic impact. JMO

    SRGETZ, I have a T-amp on backorder, don't know when I'll recieve it as every place is sold out. I noticed you were using the amp on Dynaudio speakers. Which model? I'm planning to hook the amp up to a pair of B&W 601 s3, 88 dB, with 8/3 ohm min. Is the T-amp able to drive the dynes, as I know they are relatively inefficient. I don't listen to music loud, especially in this bedroom system.