Got my Panasonic SA-XR55

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Jongyoon Lee, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. Jongyoon Lee

    Jongyoon Lee Stunt Coordinator

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    Executive Summary

    Goods:

    It's well worth $230 price tag that I paid. The sound is good. This receiver is very quiet in terms of noise floor. The stereo separation is excellent. It can create great soundstage where the speakers seem to disappear. The piano sounds great! I loved Diana Krall's Live in Paris on this receiver.

    Bads:

    Weak mid / low bass. It can sound slightly dry sometimes. Failed to create the depth of the soundstage.

    Disclaimer

    First of all, disclaimer. I don't claim to have "golden ears" or claim to be an audiophile. I don't claim to have the perfect system and listening environment. I'm just an average guy who enjoys music and movies.

    Equipments used

    Sony DVP-S7700 as transport
    Generic Canare LV-77S digital coax cable
    MSB LinkDAC III
    Silver RCA interconnect
    XLO 14 AWG HT speaker cables
    Revel M20
    PS Audio P300 for power

    Source materials played

    Miles Davis, Diana Krall, Stan Getz, Antonio Carlos Jobim

    Review

    I have auditioned only two channel music this time. Part of the reason is that my HT system is still incomplete. I only have three front channels and a sub.

    The only system that I can compare to right now is Classe CAP-151 integrated amps. I realize this comparison is not really fair to Panasonic. To its credit though, Panasonic compared surprisingly well to Classe.

    Musical instruments:

    The musical instruments sound very good. Piano, trumpet, sax, guitar, bass, and percussion all sounded true and musical. I especially liked now piano sounded on Panasonic. Somehow the piano sounds more "real" than on Classe.

    Vocals:

    The vocals sound smooth. Compared to Classe, Panasonic was slightly weak in mid and low base production. As the result I thought the female vocal sounded more, uh, female-like.

    Soundstage:

    I thought Panasonic was excellent in producing wide soundstage. The speakers disappear, and you can tell where the instruments are in the soundstage. However, I wasn't able to hear the depth as I did with Classe.

    Details:

    Perhaps this was the weakest point that I perceived. Panasonic sounds pretty accurate, but it didn't create the ambience that I was used to. I don't know how to characterize this. It's related to the depth that I mentioned earlier. The sensation of the musicians being right in front of you wasn't there.

    Overall, I'm pleased with the purchase. The receiver looks really better in person than on the picture. If it weren't for the basic LED display and huge Panasonic logo, you wouldn't know it's mere $230 receiver. It's a keeper for me, well, until I get bitten by the next upgrade bug.
     
  2. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    Jongyoon

    nice! [​IMG]

    since you are hooked up only on the front channels, you might want to investigate the dual-amp feature (properly set up, the Panny uses the unused surround back channels to power the fronts)
     
  3. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    Have you made any bass, treble adjustments? Do you have your peakers let to small or large? Try setting them to large if you have not done so.
    BTW How much does the Classe cost? [​IMG]
     
  4. Jongyoon Lee

    Jongyoon Lee Stunt Coordinator

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    CAP-151 is an older model before Classe decided to compete against Mark Levinson with touch screen LCD screen on all their products. The price is reasonable at $1500 for a two channel inte.

    Last night after I've posted the review, I took Panasonic out of the listening room and installed it in the living room where HT is set up. I have three source components connected to it, cable set top box, upconverting DVD player, and Playstation 2, all with component video and digital audio. I've noticed a couple of things.

    XR55 makes somewhat loud "click" when the audio changes from PCM to DD. I was doing channel surfing on my cable box. When the type of the audio signal changed as result, such as moving from SD to HD channels, the receiver went click. Pretty annoying!

    There is a tad of lip sync problem on all components. Not too bad, but it's still noticeable. Lip sync correction feature was high on the list when I was searching for the receiver. I thought the superior sound quality of XR55 would somehow make up for it, but I was wrong.
     
  5. Jacob C

    Jacob C Second Unit

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    What kind of display were you using?
     
  6. Jongyoon Lee

    Jongyoon Lee Stunt Coordinator

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    The display I am using is Sony PDP. (KDE-50XBR950)
     
  7. Jacob C

    Jacob C Second Unit

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    Good Ol' Plasma. My guess is they are expecting that receiver to be paired with a CRT given its price point. Still, thats got to be frustrating. Im thinking about getting a panny until I can afford some pre/pro. Thanks for the good info.
     
  8. Nhan_H

    Nhan_H Second Unit

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    Nice review Jongyoon., but I see a few areas that needs looking into:

    1. How was the DVD/CD player connected to the panny unit during your test? I'm hoping it's via a digital connection, since this is where it shines. I've heard that it doesn't do that well with analog connections, but I've not tried it on mine.

    2. It seems that you've not calibrated the unit properly since you mentioned that you don't know if your speakers are set to Large or small, or what the x-over setting is (if set too high, that could explain the lack of mids/bass). Also, as one of the posters mentioned, in stereo mode, the unit will be diverting power from the unused surround channels, so you should be able to get plenty of power in stereo mode.

    Page 21 of the manual is where you need to look at for calibration.

    According to page 24 of the manual, the following were factory defaults :
    a. Front = Small
    b. Subwoofer = Yes
    c. Filter (or crossover) = 100

    This could explain why your mids and lower bass is not very strong.

    3. Lip sync delay is a result of your TV/video processing, not the panasonic's. Usually, the video signal requires more intensive processing (esp. with fixed pixel displays, like your Sony) so it tends to lag behind the audio. That's why some receivers offer lipsync delay to compensate for that. I'm just expanding on what Jacod C wrote above.
     
  9. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    I've had my XR55 for 5-6 months, now. All the talk of a analog connection not sounding/performing as well is all bunk. In fact, I prefer the sound of my Onix player connected to the receiver via analog inter-connects over the digital sound which is utilized via my Panny DVD player and a digital coax cable.
     
  10. Nhan_H

    Nhan_H Second Unit

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    Thanks for sharing the personal experience. Do you have the X88 or 99 or CD-1, btw?

    I don't have a very good player to hook up to the panny right now, so it's via digital for me. Other than the analog from my computer when playing MP3s--but I won't use those for any type of serious listening--although they do sound nice enough.
     
  11. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    I have the XCD-88 player. So far, so good. [​IMG]
     
  12. Jongyoon Lee

    Jongyoon Lee Stunt Coordinator

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    True. Maybe I'm just noticing it more now with the receiver and dedicated speakers compared to the built in TV spekers that I was using before.

    Anyways, I think XR55 deserves another round of audition this weekend.
     
  13. Jongyoon Lee

    Jongyoon Lee Stunt Coordinator

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    I've just spent another couple hours auditioning XR55 against Classe. I'm completely in shock. XR55 has somehow gotten so much better. Still exceptionally quiet, but now the highs twinkle, soundstage is holographic, and the musical instruments sound better than ever. I'll post again after I spend more time with it.
     
  14. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    Jongyoon,

    glad you are loving it [​IMG]

    Are you listening only in stereo? If you are, is there any indication if the amp goes into dual-amp mode?

    [​IMG]

    If the M20s can be biwired you might try triple-amping

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Nhan_H

    Nhan_H Second Unit

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    Nice, I had that CD player and the SP3, along with the REF1s in my home once. Really sweet set up. I saw the CD-2 at the CO GTG, and, it too was really nice. That CD88 was definitely the heftiest CD or DVD player (I had the Sony 7700 at one point) I've ever had experience with.
     
  16. Nhan_H

    Nhan_H Second Unit

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    Nice to see. What settings do you have the speakers at? On your last post, it seems that you left it at 100 Hz x-over. Can you try it at 80 Hz to see if that makes any difference?

    EDIT: Nevermind about the x-over if the speakers are set to Large.
     
  17. Jongyoon Lee

    Jongyoon Lee Stunt Coordinator

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    Last night I've spent good five to six hours with XR55. The reason I spent that much time is becuse I felt XR55 sounded better than my Classe this time. [​IMG]

    This time I also brought my wife into the listening room. She plays a couple of musical instruments, and has better sets of ears. The musical taste differ slightly. We also covered more variety of music this time.

    I've configured XR55 with two large speakers. In the front there are two LED indicators, dual-amp and bi-amp. Dual amp indicator has been always lit throughout the session.

    We both agreed that XR55:

    - creates better soundstage
    - is more quiet
    - has detailed high
    - has less presense
    - has less power
    - produces less bass

    And the verdict was split. I liked XR55 better overall. I felt it sounded more musical. The stereo separation and soundstage was awesome! Kinda makes me wonder if my classe has problem somewhere with producing good soundstage.

    To me the biggest tonal difference was in piano. I felt the piano on XR55 sounded clearer. She thought piano on classe has more presense, thus more realistic. We are split on this one.

    XR55 sounds great with small band jazz (quartet, quintet, sextet). All instruments are clearly imaged in their respective location.

    We didn't like the classical music on XR55 that much. Piano sonata sounded a little too weak. Too lonely perhaps. Maybe due to the lack of strong presense. Also I felt XR55 lacks the punch and detail with orchestral transitions. But then, I don't listen to classical much, so take it with grain of salt.

    XR55 is very quiet. By this I don't mean XR55 doesn't get loud. I mean you hear the music, and only the music. Very low noise floor.

    One place that Classe wins hands down is with the amount of power. XR55 can get pretty loud. Most of the listening was done at -50db to -40db setting. It can go up to -30db with ease, then I thought it started to struggle. As comparison Classe can get louder and louder without any strain.

    Lastly, the bass reproduction. Classe clearly puts out more bass than XR55. I don't feel Classe is "bloated" in mid bass. They are both very musical. But comparing side by side I can't help but notice the difference in bass production. Perhaps that's why I felt XR55 produced better treble. At this point it's just a matter of taste.

    To sum it up, I liked XR55 in the areas of

    - stereo separation and creating soundstage.
    - details in treble.
    - reproducing piano sound!
     
  18. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    As someone that bought and setup a XR55 it is not quite like the average reciever. It takes a learning curve to get the most out of it. Therefore, I'd like to hear how you like it after you learn more about its setup and capabilities.
     
  19. Nhan_H

    Nhan_H Second Unit

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    That's not bad for a receiver that costs slightly more than those optional grills for your speakers [​IMG]

    I was looking up some info on those Revels, and it seems that there are a couple of knobs in the rear of the speakers that controls treble and bass? Also, the speaker's efficiency is relatively low at 87 dB, but expected for a higher-end speaker.
     
  20. Jongyoon Lee

    Jongyoon Lee Stunt Coordinator

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    Nhan_h,

    I like my Revels a lot. The controls in the rear are for mounting option (stand mount vs shelf mount), and treble adjustment.
     

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