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ToneWinner AT-300 - Budget Dolby Atmos/DTS: X Pre-amp with 13.1 channel support + 3 sub outs. (2 Viewers)

DanH1972

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ToneWinner, via their initial North American distributor Summit Hi-Fi, introduced their budget-friendly AT-300 13.1-channel pre-amp/processor not long ago. ToneWinner appears to be an OEM supplier for other known electronics brands as well.

The GUI is a bit on the rudimentary side, but functional, and it takes a bit of time to decipher the ToneWinner "speak" as their manual leaves something to be desired in the skimpy translations from Chinese to English. Once you get past the initial growing pains, the AT-300 is no slouch in the sound department and the fit 'n' finish is fairly solid (except for the light plastic front knobs) when considering its present under $1,400 (USD) price-point and its capabilities versus all other competitors on the market thus far. Like most manufacturer overstatements, ToneWinner does advertise this as a "16 Channel" processor. A bit disingenuous since it actually supports 13.1-channel immersive audio with two additional sub outputs containing the same managed low frequency content.

One issue that I and others have noted is that the subwoofer outputs do run on the "hot" side and adjustments need to be made on the subwoofer trims from the start to set them to a more standard and appropriate reference level. Depending on the subwoofers you own and how sensitive their inputs are, you may have a bit of fidding to do to get the levels adjusted just right. Perhaps that can be addressed with a future firmware patch if enough customers let them know. Speaking of patches, ToneWinner does appear to keep the unit up-to-date with fairly frequent firmware updates, which can be found on Summit's website. It does have its share of small quirks, but considering how many top dollar receiver and pre-amp models have been pushed out the door recently with hair-pulling, truly half-baked software (including Emotiva, Anthem, JBL Synthesis, and others to name names), one can live with the few noted (so far) on other theater forums, for the most part.

ToneWinner AT-300 @ Summit Hi-Fi (link)

Quick spec highlights:

Up to 9.1.4 or 7.1.6 Dolby Atmos processing
Up to 7.1.4 DTS: X processing (see below)
Dolby Surround upmixer
DTS Neural: X upmixer (see below)
Three subwoofer outputs (combo of XLR and RCA plugs) with separate delay and volume settings.

ToneWinner's in-house calibration and PEQ software
*Summit Hi-Fi sends an updated "pro" calibration mic kit when purchased through them, at no additional cost.

Six HDMI 2.0 ports with 2.2 HDCP (supports Dolby Vision and HDR10 - haven't tested for HDR10+ or HLG compatibility as I don't have a display with those features).
Two HDMI outputs
ARC and eARC support
Bluetooth control and audio input
Smartphone control app
RS232 control port, IR input, and trigger out
Firmware and cal mic update via USB stick (FAT32)

---
DSP Chipset: Analog Devices ADSP-21573

DAC Chip: Cirrus Logic CS42528 (24 bit/192 kHz) - no native DSD decoding that I can tell in the specs, so any DSD sources will need to be pre-converted to PCM at the player.

---
Future Updates:

I received a reply from a ToneWinner representative from China early this morning that they are currently in discussions with DTS about adding DTS: X Pro (which includes an updated Neural: X upmixer and DTS: X decoder without the current 11.1 limit) to the processor in no small part due to various requests they have gotten about including the new format. They stated they will let me know of any updates on this front. That type of polite e-mail campaigning might work for getting the updated Dolby Surround upmixer version, which includes Front Wide speaker support. Contact: [email protected]

Since Summit Hi-Fi is located in Canada, they are currently having ToneWinner drop ship product directly to customers in the U.S. from TW's Chinese warehouse to limit customs delays. That said, it may still take about a week or two to receive a U.S. shipment when stock is available. Like everything else, ToneWinner has been hit by the microprocessor shortages plaguing the world's economy.
 
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Josh Dial

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I'm hugely skeptical of this brand and model. I've read a number of "reviews"--mostly on social media--and almost all of them appear to be native/guerrilla marketing without proper identification.

Also I think it's completely wrong to equate the issues this device has had with the software "issues" from Anthem and JBL.
 

DanH1972

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If you buy almost any piece of electronics these days it comes from China, Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, etc.. or at least almost all the parts that go into said unit. The company you are supposedly buying from may slap their name on the product, but more than likely it's going to come from an OEM manufacturer like ToneWinner. They do make consumer goods for some of these major brands already. The AT-300 is just one of their house brand products. Kind of like ATI makes a house brand of amps under their own name besides building models for others like Monoprice, Outlaw, Mark Levinson, etc.. Also, see Apple having Foxconn build most of their branded gear.

Summit Hi-Fi in Toronto (a legitimate business) is indeed the first AV dealer to offer their products in North America. Gotta make inroads into a different market and it has to start someplace. I look at Summit trying to not have U.S. customers deal with double import duties (China to Canada, Canada to the U.S.) and spend extra time in two customs facilities as a courtesy.

The main reason I bought this in the first place was price vs. features, especially with AV products shooting up in some markets $200, $500 or more, especially Sound United products. The next high quality product with 13.1 immersive processing is around $3,000 retail now.

I think the two above posters doth protest too much.
 

DanH1972

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I'm hugely skeptical of this brand and model. I've read a number of "reviews"--mostly on social media--and almost all of them appear to be native/guerrilla marketing without proper identification.

Also I think it's completely wrong to equate the issues this device has had with the software "issues" from Anthem and JBL.
JBL/Arcam and Anthem put out product with major issues and non functioning features, some have yet to be addressed. You're severely downplaying their screwups. Emotiva is in the same boat. Many manufacturers are now rushing their half finished products out the door with consumers forced into being Beta testers. Look at Sound United and their HDMI 2.1 chipsets. They weren't even properly tested before release and now they have egg on their faces.
 
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JohnRice

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I’m always amused when someone quotes Shakespeare. The quote rarely means what they think it means, and sometimes it actually means the exact opposite,
 

DanH1972

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I’m always amused when someone quotes Shakespeare. The quote rarely means what they think it means, and sometimes it actually means the exact opposite,
I have the feeling that if the AT-300 had the letters SVS silkscreened on the front panel instead you would probably be gushing over it as the new found bang vs buck champion. ;)

I thought people not looking to spend a small fortune for a basic 13.1 processor might be interested in knowing about this model. Apparently on what HT Forum has sadly and apparently become, I guess I was wrong.
 
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JohnRice

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If it was from SVS, or Emotiva, or Marantz, or Anthem, or Monoprice, or Yamaha, or any of a thousand different companies it would have a domestic distributor. There is simply nothing more to it than that. If someone wants to buy one, I’ll be eager to hear their honest, non-influenced feedback. My objection is quite simple, and already stated before the protesting response. It has no domestic distributor and is drop shipped from a distant country. The specific country isn’t the problem. For that reason and that reason only, I’ll pass.

Surround processors are simply too complicated and prone (especially recently) to glitches. I own a lot of Emotiva gear, but am unlikely to ever buy a processor from them for the same reason. They have a history of being glitchy. There’s no reason to get emotional and insulting about a couple other people expressing their honest opinions. It’s kind of how forums like this work.

I’ll be moving on now…
 
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DanH1972

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If it was from SVS, or Emotiva, or Marantz, or Anthem, or Monoprice, or Yamaha, or any of a thousand different companies it would have a domestic distributor. There is simply nothing more to it than that. If someone wants to buy one, I’ll be eager to hear their honest, non-influenced feedback. My objection is quite simple, and already stated before the protesting response. It has no domestic distributor and is drop shipped from a distant country. The specific country isn’t the problem. For that reason and that reason only, I’ll pass.

Surround processors are simply too complicated and prone (especially recently) to glitches. I own a lot of Emotiva gear, but am unlikely to ever buy a processor from them for the same reason. They have a history of being glitchy. There’s no reason to get emotional and insulting about a couple other people expressing their honest opinions. It’s kind of how forums like this work.
I'm afraid that you were the one saying right at the start that a product that people actually have in their possession from an actual dealer (nevermind if it's Canadian) is somehow "suspect." I would not put a product up for consideration that was somehow shady or malevolent in intent in some way. Look over at AVS Forum, for one. Yes, some owners have experienced a few glitches and are in the process of working with Summit and ToneWinner to isolate the problems. Others have had no discernible problems so far. I haven't yet... knock on wood. Does that make me "influenced?"

However... unlike something like an Anthem AVM70 that didn't at release and still doesn't have a fully working calibration system that is one of its major selling points seems to me to be a MUCH bigger issue. Just look at the hair pulling JBL Synthesis and Arcam put their new pre-amp customers through! They're much bigger companies.

Does the fact that the product's box is coming from the dealer first somehow make the product magically better? For U.S. customers, Summit is just skipping a step in the customs process. If you're in Canada, ToneWinner ships to Summit and then Summit sells to their Canadian customers from their Toronto store or online. If I have a problem, I send the unit back to Summit. Ever heard of manufacturer drop shipping? Triad Speakers does it all the time. They shipped my Gold LCR's straight to my house, never once setting foot at my dealer's. Ferguson's Build.com does it too. Amazon has in the past before they had tons of warehouses. Are the products they sell that way all now suspect because the dealer doesn't get the box first? Come on! You're being ridiculous.
 
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Jeff Aguilar

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I am one of those individuals who took a chance on buying the AT-300 and had it drop shipped from China.

I have discovered many new products over the years reading about them on theses forums. I bought SVS 16/46 PC subs when they first came out because of all of the excitement here on HTF. I upgraded to the Outlaw 950 back in the day because of all of the hype too. Both of those were really good experiences. I’ve had some frustrating experiences to, like the Emotiva UMC-1 even after reading about the previous bad experiences people had with the prior processors but I thought I would give it a try. I ended up returning that because of a bad experience with it.

I have also tried a few no named tubes amps because of reviews too and have really enjoyed them. Right now I’m running a Chinease Yaqin that was dropped shipped from China. Awesome sound.

I thought I would give the ToneWinner a chance even though it is not sold or distributed here in the States. It was compelling to expand my setup from 7.2.4 up to 7.2.6 for a great price. I knew that if I didn’t like it I would have to pay a restocking fee but at the price of $1,299 I thought I would give it a try.

It is replacing a Marantz 7703 which has been a solid processor. My system is pretty simple since it is really just for movies and football games. Regular TV viewing is in the Family Room. I have an Apple 4K box, an Xfinity Box, an Oppo 203 and an Optoma UHD65 projector. I have had no glitches with my setup. No audio dropouts, no issues whatsoever. It did take me a few tries to update the firmware since the memory stick was just too big for the processor to recognize but that was my issue, not the ToneWinner.

This is a huge step up in my Theater Room! The best way to describe it, the sound field seems to have fully encircled me! My subs were hot. I used the ToneWinner onboard software and then went ahead and used my Soundmeter to double check all of the levels. I am really glad I took a chance on this processor!

Jeff
 

DanH1972

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I am one of those individuals who took a chance on buying the AT-300 and had it drop shipped from China.

I have discovered many new products over the years reading about them on theses forums. I bought SVS 16/46 PC subs when they first came out because of all of the excitement here on HTF. I upgraded to the Outlaw 950 back in the day because of all of the hype too. Both of those were really good experiences. I’ve had some frustrating experiences to, like the Emotiva UMC-1 even after reading about the previous bad experiences people had with the prior processors but I thought I would give it a try. I ended up returning that because of a bad experience with it.

I have also tried a few no named tubes amps because of reviews too and have really enjoyed them. Right now I’m running a Chinease Yaqin that was dropped shipped from China. Awesome sound.

I thought I would give the ToneWinner a chance even though it is not sold or distributed here in the States. It was compelling to expand my setup from 7.2.4 up to 7.2.6 for a great price. I knew that if I didn’t like it I would have to pay a restocking fee but at the price of $1,299 I thought I would give it a try.

It is replacing a Marantz 7703 which has been a solid processor. My system is pretty simple since it is really just for movies and football games. Regular TV viewing is in the Family Room. I have an Apple 4K box, an Xfinity Box, an Oppo 203 and an Optoma UHD65 projector. I have had no glitches with my setup. No audio dropouts, no issues whatsoever. It did take me a few tries to update the firmware since the memory stick was just too big for the processor to recognize but that was my issue, not the ToneWinner.

This is a huge step up in my Theater Room! The best way to describe it, the sound field seems to have fully encircled me! My subs were hot. I used the ToneWinner onboard software and then went ahead and used my Soundmeter to double check all of the levels. I am really glad I took a chance on this processor!

Jeff
I'm integrating the AT-300 into my system in a more permanent capacity with a bit of a reshuffle and will do some longer listening tests of the unit. Hopefully, the lucky streak continues for you. At least Summit is seemingly willing to coordinate with TW for firmware updates when people with issues send in their data logs.
 

Foxman

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I was seriously considering this unit to upgrade from a 20-year-old processor dating back to pre-HDMI. At the end of the day, as inexpensive as it is for what it is, I went the cheaper used route, but almost everything I have read from real-time users has been very good FWIW.
 

DanH1972

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After further beta testing of the latest firmware patch with some customers on AVS Forum, it appears Tone Winner is getting ready to drop another firmware update into the wild that further stabilizes the platform in the next week or so.

Reports indicate that the latest update is rock solid as of this moment. At least the company is so far willing to respond and react in a timely manner to user comments unlike some in the AV industry, which is a sad fact.

Once the new firmware is made available on Summit Hi-Fi's site, I'll let you know.
 

DanH1972

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I was seriously considering this unit to upgrade from a 20-year-old processor dating back to pre-HDMI. At the end of the day, as inexpensive as it is for what it is, I went the cheaper used route, but almost everything I have read from real-time users has been very good FWIW.
Yes, it does still seem like a great bang for the buck product. Any quirks are getting ironed out as we speak and as above, TW has been working with its customers to create a new firmware that should address these issues. Beta testers seem to have helped narrow down the problems and it's reported that the latest beta firmware is quite stable for a variety of audio codecs.
 

DaveF

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Does this have any room correction a la Audyssey or ARC? I didn’t find anything listed on its website specs page.
 

DanH1972

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Does this have any room correction a la Audyssey or ARC? I didn’t find anything listed on its website specs page.
It has a proprietary in-house room correction system and Summit provides a better calibration mic than the one normally provided by Tone Winner. The trick is to aim the mic from the main listening position to each speaker as you run through the setup. There is a pause between test tones to allow repositioning of the mic before the burst happens again. Maybe not as refined a process as ARC or Audyssey or even Trinnov's proprietary calibration setup, but again you're dealing with a lower cost 13.1 channel processor that is thousands less.

Some have gotten even better results with using the tried and true Room EQ Wizard (aka REW) calibration software on a laptop and their recommended miniDSP UMIK-1 USB omni-directional calibration mic (the software is free, but the mic is around $140). Go through the much more precise REW process and then plug its results manually into the AT-300's delay, trim, and EQ menus. Even with the added expense of an external calibration system, you still come out way ahead of other immersive surround processors on the market in terms of cost.
 
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DanH1972

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Here is ToneWinner's direct link to the latest Version 4.0 of the English language firmware:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/t5mjgqpp7pc1ps4/AT-300_En_v4_00_0069_20211106.upg?dl=0

Be sure to disable any ad blocker software just on the Dropbox site or the page won't load properly. That's for Firefox anyway.

You do not have to decompress the file. Install it in the main root of an empty, small capacity Fat32 formatted USB stick, insert the USB stick into the front slot of the AT-300, turn on the unit, open the setup menu to About and then Firmware Updates. Do not remove the stick until the unit reboots as normal.
 
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