Wow! I didn't expect this: I think I'm done w/ analog amps (receiver or separates)

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Kevin Alexander, Dec 5, 2004.

  1. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    As you probably guessed before you opened this thread, I decided to give the Panasonic SA-XR50 digitally amplified receiver a go 'round in my system to see what all of the hype has been about for the last year. I expected to be somewhat impressed from alot of the opinions I've heard, and from people who's judgement I've come to respect. What I didn't expect was to be all but floored w/ the sound that comes from this little, lightweight, and inexpensive box. Everything that you've heard about these digitally amplified Panasonics are true. They are hyper-clean, airy, open, and surprisingly powerful in my 26L X 11W X 8H room. I can hit reference levels easy w/ power to spare in my listening area. I have had upper tiered receivers from Yamaha, H/K, Denon, Rotel, Sony ES, and Pioneer Elite. Half of those were powered w/ outboard amps from H/K, Acurus, and Adcom. I just sold an Adcom amp that I loved, but had I listened to this receiver a year ago, I would've sold the Adcom then.

    I was looking into getting a new seven channel Adcom amp and the new Onkyo TX-702 7-channel receiver, but right now, I'm in no hurry to spend the money. This is the sound that I've been aiming for for a long time. I've heard it said that digital amplification is the future, and after hearing the Panny XR50, I think I am thoroughly convinced of that.

    With all of that aside, the Panny does have some shortcomings. First, where is a 7-channel incarnation? Harman Kardon does a 7-channel digital receiver, and so should the Panny and others. Second, it doesn't have all of the sophisticated switching and ins/outs of traditional analog designs, and it has a few usability issues w/ the speaker connectors, but for $220 delivered, I'm not gonna complain much about it. Next, some may find the sound a little forward and slightly cool, but the detail and ultra-clean sound will astound any first timer. If I could describe the sound in one word, it would be DETAIL. You hear every little thing w/ the Panasonic - especially, and not limited, to center channel dialog. No longer do I ask my wife, "What did they say?" Believe me, you hear everything, and you hear it very well.

    When it comes to digital amplification, yes, I am now a believer that it is indeed the future, and I encourage everyone who hasn't given it a listen to do so. Like it or not, you'll be impressed w/ what these lightweight contenders can do.
     
  2. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Wait until you burn it in. That seems to be the concensus of digital-amped receivers over at audiocircle.com, where digital power amps and receivers are discussed each and every day.

    Will be getting the $99.00 TEAC A-L700P digital power amp and mating it with my Cambridge Audio A500 stereo integrated amp (used as a pre-amp).
     
  3. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    I think the benefit of the TI PurePath (equibit) technology of combining power amps and DAC into a single operation on a chip is the secret to the Panasonics quality sound.

    The simplicity of this design and the preservation of the source signal's quality till the very last moment before it hits the speakers is not reproduced by using an analog preamp with some other technology digital amp, IMO.
     
  4. Joe Mihok

    Joe Mihok Second Unit

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    I am curious. Right now I'm a proud owner of a Pioneer VSX-1014TX. I noticed I have one "Digital OUT" jack on the back of the reciever. If I wanted to try out a digital amplifier, I would obviously not use the 7-channel analog pre out, but the "optical out" .... right ? I'm not quite sure what kind of connection these digital; amps have but I assume it's optical or coax .... right ?
     
  5. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    Maybe someone else can answer that question w/ a certainty Joe, because I cannot. But definately give in to your curiosity, you'll really be impressed.
     
  6. Will-Layfield

    Will-Layfield Stunt Coordinator

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    Joe it is not a digital amplifier that you can hook up as an amp for seperate channels. It is more like a digital reciever. So instead of having the analog amplification it amplifies its siganl to the the speakers digitally. Kinda like using a chip in say an onkyo sr-601 instead of its conventional analog "insides". Anyone else please chime in if they feel this is not a good response or if it doesn't really answer his question!
     
  7. Muhammed

    Muhammed Agent

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    There's been a lot of fussing over the XR70 as well, but no word on if it's a major step up from the XR50 or not. Many people seem to have noticed that the digital receivers sound better with speakers that have a higher impedance (8 ohm) instead of lower (4 ohm).
     
  8. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I have seen some test results of digital amplifiers (separates as well as in receivers), and they typically do not get any where close to "doubling down" when the impedance goes from 8 ohms to 4 ohms. No analog amp truly doubles down either (unless you only look at their specs and not actual measurements [​IMG] ), but they typically do a lot better into lower impedance loads than digital amps do. One digital receiver, can't remember which one, actually dropped its power output into a 4 ohm load vs 8 ohms. The problem? 4 ohm speakers demand more power than 8 ohm speakers.

    So, a lot of digital amps of the same power rating into high impedance loads as analog, lose the power battle when the impedance drops. So sound quality can suffer.
     
  9. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    My rear surrounds are 4-6 ohms nominal, and they seem to get plenty of juice. I haven't noticed a step down from my Adcom powering them.
     
  10. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

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    Think of them as "Power Digital to Analog Converters", not power amps. Killer app is powered monitors, pro audio touring rigs. Can't wait.
     
  11. Joe Mihok

    Joe Mihok Second Unit

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    This makes no sense to me. A speaker is an analog device. You can't just feed it a digital signal ....... This goes against everything I've learned from this forum and with personal experience. You have to have some kind of analog conversion before the signal reaches the speaker ......
     
  12. joseFMJ

    joseFMJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah Joe, if you want to try a 'digital' amp you can use the digital out from your 1014 to feed the outboard amp. However, what you will be getting from that digital out on the 1014 is just a copy of the source signal, if you use the Panny, which is a digital receiver, you will have the means to control the volume of the signal bits, not sure what the purpose of such a connection would serve...maybe you want to compare the sound of the two? There are actual digital amplifiers, such as the Carver zr1000 and 1600...
    The conversion of the digital bits to an analog signal occurs just before the amps speaker terminals of course.
     
  13. Joe Mihok

    Joe Mihok Second Unit

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    Thanks Jose, that makes much more sense to me [​IMG].
     
  14. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    IIRC, the frequency response of these "Power DACs" in the Panasonic (TI chips) are designed for an 8 Ohm impedance. By the way, this is the same technology used in the more expensive TACT amps (digital correction fame).

    When the impedance changes, so does the frequency response (espeically at the higher frequencies). I think there is as much as a 2dB change in the higher frequencies for a lower impedance load.
     
  15. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    The important thing to keep in mind is that this is relatively new technology made availiable to the masses in a low cost design. Sure, there can be issues w/ driving lower impedance loads w/ the Panasonics (although some experience no problems at all), but this technology will continue to improve (no doubt very quickly) to the point where even the most inefficient speaker can be driven w/ ease while still keeping the cost low. Progress doesn't stop just because some of us, myself included, may have recently laid down several thousand on a new traditional analog design amp. You can't stop progress, and these digitally amplified designs seem to be the way of the future.
     
  16. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    It's suprising isn't it, Kevin? I was on an upgrade path to complete seperates using around 4K worth(at retail)of receiver/amp combo until I tried an XR25. My receiver and amps are now gone and the only thing I miss are some of the convenience features since the Pannys are rather spartan in that area.

    Some have speculated that the lack of negative feedback in the Equibit chip is what contributes to that clean, detailed sound. Whatever it is, it's amazing if your speaker's impedance curve is friendly to these digital amps.

    I'm going to get an XR70 to replace my 25 for Christmas, because I'm completely sold on these inexpensive little digital receivers and my wife likes the fact they are cheap and don't take up much space.

    DJ
     
  17. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    Very much so! I have officially abandoned the Onkyo/Adcom purchase, and now hope w/ all hope that there's a seven channel version of the Panasonic on the horizon. Like you David, I can't believe that I just saved myself just over $2000.00, and no less than equalled (I'm totally confident that I bettered it) the sound quality that I would've gotten w/ the Onkyo/Adcom combination for only $220 shipped. Unreal.
     
  18. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

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    Stop it, all of you! You are either scaring me, or tempting me....Can't decide which....
     
  19. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    Go ahead Colin, you know you want it....[​IMG]
     
  20. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    I wish for that too; I'm suprised they didn't do it for the XR70 considering it has PL IIx. In the meantime I run my rear surrounds in parallel. It's not a perfect solution, but so far I haven't had any problems with the 4 ohm load for those two speakers.

    Eventually, I'd like to see them produce a more feature-laden model with 5 way binding posts throughout and all the little nicities. From what I was told, they intended to produce small, cheap units for Joe six-pack, but maybe now that they've been embraced by HT entusiasts, they'll rethink their strategy, and make a flagship that is truly a flagship--at least that's what I suggested to this areas Panasonic rep.

    They are aware that the XR series is selling outside their intended demographic, but it's hard to say if they'll act on that information and make something in like the $600-$1000 range. I hope they do.

    DJ
     

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