Panasonic SA-XR57 review - 230v version

 I have a 230v Panasonic SA-XR 57 with a MA Bronze 2 set-up and a Pioneer DVR330s in a 10m by 5m by 2.2m living room.



Set-up:

Easy and fairly intuitive with fairly straight forward instructions and diagrams.
If you have some experience with setups before, its a cinch.
I found no disadvantage in not having a OSD but having to do most of my setup using the front panel was not nice.

Using a SPL meter, most of the setup was quickly done using the DVE disc.
There is no individual distance adjustments for the rear channels.

Connections are not-gold plated - which is expected for the price.
The DVD input is part of the 6-channel input, a simple cost -cutting measure but it helps keep the price down.

There are enough connections for a basic HT set-up.

The amp is very light (4.7kg) so you can swing it around and do the hook-ups first then position it.

Being a 230v version there is no need for a transformer. It uses a 2-pin removeable power plug.

Movies:

This is the highlight, with a high-speed DSP chip. Recognition of the various formats is almost instant and in particulat Prologic IIx is well implemented and adds ambience to movies in stereo or TV broadcasts which are recorded in Dolby Surround.

Directional play and movement is nice and has pinpoint precision. It gives away very little to higher end amps in terms of its processor. The mass market availability of such chips allows even a budget amp like the XR 57 to sound realistic and clean.

Music:

For those who are fond of a valve like presentation, stay away from this amp. The amp has an in your face sound, best suited to dance, or those who like a more edgier sound.
It becomes fatiguging after a while and even for movies, it is not so easy to live with. Partnering it well is essential. Avoid steely sounding speakers.

There is no direct function but the bi-amp function defintely adds vigor and pace to the music. It plays quite loudly and providing the load is not complex (stay above 6 ohms). I found no reason to turn up beyond -35db on the volume dial in my living room.

Radio:
It has RDS and the radio is fairly average. Again the presentation is very much in your face and rock or poorly recorded stations will be presented as they are. It did not pull in lesser strength stations which my DAB radio from Sangean could. There was no problem with channel seperation for those stations it could pull in.

Will I keep it - yes for movies and hooking up my IPOD it was fine.

For beginners and those on a budget it makes an appealing amp especially with its HDMI option.

A smooth sounding speaker system will make a good partner to it. An already harsh sounding speaker system will make your ears bleed.

As for those primarily interested in music or multi-channel music, this is not its forte and orchestral music with an emphasis on violins will be hard.

A comparision to my Marantz SR 18EX (140W pc THX reciever) revealed the difference in sonic signature. The DSP chip was a newer one and did better in directions but did not have the same air or presence and was inferior in sound to the Marantz in music (but bear in mind the vast difference in cost).

This amp makes sense for budget buyers who want HDMI, but do not need auto-setup and mainly use it for its fine HT capabilities.

Setting up the rear channels in roughly equidistance is important since there is no individual distance setting. Some use of a SPL meter is very useful, borrow one from friends.

After 3 months:

Been using this with a PSB Alpha setup for about 2 months now
The 0.75 inch tweeter is metallic and makes a poorer match for the Panny
Movies are v exciting, the steering is lovely still, v responsive and the equal of most amps for movie excitement under 2k.
Power wise it is sufficient, especially in stereo with tri-amping
If you use 6-8ohm speakers plus 87db and above sens, it will be more than sufficient. Isue it in a hall around 8 by 6 by 3m.

But the main short-coming is in stereo.
The PSB / Panny mixture is steely and will need warm cables and sources to temper it a bit more.
For rock and pop it remains fine, showing off a pacey mid and bass but will grate the ears with a fine violin solo.

The PSB centre is pretty good thogh, able ot lock in the dialogue on the screen v nicely and is size to be used as small but fills the room nicely.

The PSB towers are alright but do not give out much bass under 60Hz even with two cones.
They will need wall reinforcement.

IF the Panny was elling for about $500 SIN$ in SG, it will still be a decent buy, buy at the current prices, you have to look around and see if other amps can do better.

Main issues:
Fast DSP, best for movies
Steely highs, not for bright speakers
HDMI 1.2a

No Auto setup
Single HDMI, no upconversion of video.



I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

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