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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Panasonic SA-XR50 Receiver by JimOfOakCreek

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REVIEW: Panasonic SA-XR50 Receiver

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Model: SA-XR50
Category: Receiver
Suggested Retail Price: $300
Description: Digital HT Receiver
Manufacturer URL: Panasonic
Model Picture: View

Review by JimOfOakCreek ( A ) on December 09, 2004 at 09:06:18
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for the SA-XR50

I've owned this HT reciever for 4 months now. I use the "A" speaker channel as a 6.1 HT driving inexpensive Polk Audio speakers plus a Dayton Subwoofer. It also drives a pair of Maggy MMGs on the "B" channel in 2-speaker stereo mode only, plus the sub.

When brand new, the Panny was very bright/too bright. That has improved considerably after 4 months. I would still consider the sound on the bright side but very detailed and dynamic. This reciever sounds better at very low volumes than any other amp I've heard. The amp is a class "D" digital amplifier. The way that works (as I understand it) is the data in the signal triggers the amplifier stages in "pulses" of 200khz, which is too fast for the ear or the speaker to notice as "on-off" pulses. When inputting an analog signal it's converted to a digital signal. A digital signal (i.e. CDP) stays digital until it triggers the amp. There is no DAC in the conventional sense. When there is no data (no signal) the the amplifier is dead silent...black. I can turn the volume up to the max and there is no hiss or hum.

The strengths of this reciever: I like the coax and optical digital inputs for CDP, DVD, etc.. I like all the HT options. The tuner is considerably above average for a receiver. The amp is detailed and dynamic but on the bright side. This makes it sound more dramatic on movies. For serious stereo music, I find myself turning down the treble 1dB-2dB at times on some recordings. But it's very very clean and noiseless. Acoustic recordings and vocals come through my Maggies very detailed and spooky-real. The unit itself is small and lightweight. It has a huge amount of connection options and much functionality for the price. The remote is damn nice too!

The negatives of this reciever: It's just a bit brighter than I like. On some rock recordings I find myself turning down the treble 1-2dB. The digital menu is annoying at best. You have to go thru the digital menu to access the Tone controls. The speaker connection on the back of the unit are about as cheap as it gets. The wiring gets VERY VERY crowded back there as well. The instruction manual sucks. There are some functions on the remote that have no explaination that I can find.

The Panasonic SA-XR50 is a tremendous value at my cost, $265. The digital amp is a fantastic performer. I get all the functionality of a HT receiver plus a damn good 2 channel stereo amp. This unit is a keeper until I figure out how I want to upgrade it ;)

Product Weakness: The amp is a bit too bright on some recordings, the electronic menu sucks, speaker connections are plastic junk, crowded wiring, Instructions/manual are damn poor and incomplete, massed produced consumer product.
Product Strengths: All the HT functionality, Digital connections, subwoofer RCA connection and output control, VERY good tuner, excellent detailed and dynamic amplifier, low profile design, 100 Watts/ch EASILY drives Mag. MMGs

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Panasonic SA-XR50 Reciever
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): None
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Onkyo CDP - FiberOptical Connection
Speakers: Maggy MMGs
Cables/Interconnects: 10 ga Lamp cord
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Jazz, Rock, Zappa, 1970's ECM Anything But Rap!!
Time Period/Length of Audition: 4 months
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Panasonic SA-XR50 Receiver - JimOfOakCreek 09:06:18 12/9/04 ( 4)