I found the Sony AVD-C50ES for $999 today. $999!? Huh!? Oh.... it comes with a full set of crappy speakers. I asked the salesfool is you have to buy that as a set, and looking it up... No, you don't. It was $499 just for the Rec/DVD/ player which seemed about right.
I was also looking for the Pannie Newform's John Mayer had raved about (as a Newform owner I'm inclined to listen to John).
I found the SA-XR45 John raved about online for ~$300, and the SA-XR25 which seems to basically be the same for ~$250. It didn't look like it was lower powered or anything, but it doesn't have an on-screen display. No big deal.
Best Buy had the Pannie XR25 for $260 so I decided to try it instead of the Sony (since the Sony doesn't have the S-Master Pro chips and the Pannie uses TI's chips which I think are basically what TacT uses, but correct me if you know diff.)...
I hooked up this crappy little rec. and set the menu to change the speakers to Large (small is defaut). Sub, Center, Surrounds to 'No'. I know John mentioned it's default w/ some surround effect on stereo, but I didn't see anything like that. You can set it to DPL2, but I of course didn't that. It seemed to be straight 2 chan direct from the coax in to speaker wire.
Well... it sounded killer!
Not blow me away and worship it, but it was really good!
I listened to it w/ my own Ref. CD I put together so I knew every track very well, and the disc shows off every trait in a stereo.
The bass is AWESOME. Very tight, fast, and clean. I thought that it might even be better than my regular system, but changing back to my regular system, I found it wasn't any better, but I had been listening to the Pannie WAY louder than I usually ever listen to music (which is often REALLY loud in the first place).
The best way to describe the sound is that it's AWESOME on the bottom end but gets progressivly worse going up.
The very top end sound pretty good/decent, but tape hiss sounds about double the volume of my norm. system, and while my norm. system sounds totally liquid and 'you're there' realistic, the Pannie sounds like there's a clear element of distortion in the mix/this is clearly a recording, and that's sure how these new Pannie/Sony systems are spec out.
Still for ~$250... this thing's REALLY good.
A great bedroom system.
Dynamics didn't sound compressed at all on my GR Research Alphas -which are VERY effi. so they're probably not a good reference point to people w/ med or low effi. speaks wondering if this thing's got enough power.
I played it on my 88db Newform 630's and it really controlled them very well too. That single Scan Speak woofer was moving like crazy on the bass, but it was really tight and deep.
(note -at those same volumes my GR Alpha's woofer can hardly be seen moving at all. It's such a HUGE diff. to see a single woofer tourtured like that! hehe).
My regualr amp, the 250W x 2 digital Acoustic Reality eARTwo is connected to the (IMO) very good sounding, but certainly not world class Outlaw 950 pre/pro.
That combo clearly beats this Pannie on the mids, and kills it on the highs, so IMO this little Pannie's no giant killer, but it's not totally shamed by my norm. system.
Since I was able to crank the hell out of this Pannie on the Alphas, and I've been waiting for the Le Amp 2's to come out from nOrh to use for surround amps... I decided to try this little critter w/ my Newform 645's (which are my surround speakers now). They've got an external x-over which wires the woofers into ~4ohms.
This Pannie's amps (like the all digital Sony's too) are rated 6ohms. I figured I'd try the 4 Ohm Newforms and see if the Pannie blew up...
Nope. It seemed fine. We'll see long term though. I've got 30 days to return it...
I'm going to use this Pannie for my Newform surrounds fed by the Outlaw's analog outs. It sounds better than the pure digital feed IMO, and plenty good for surround duty as your ears cup away from behind you so you're not hearing the upper range very well anyway, so no big deal that the Pannie's not that great on the upper end.
Now I began to level match the Pannie to the mains.... I thought it'd be a good idea to keep the Pannie volume low and set the Outlaw's output level extra high.
Doing that I noticed for the first time the display kept flashing 'overload' on loud stuff and what seemed to match up to the bass beats (which makes sense).
I thought... oh, man... no it can't handle 4 ohms. Crap.
But just to try it... I crank UP the volume on the Pannie but drastically lower the output on the Outlaw so the level still matches, and Wham-o the 'overload' message never pops up at all!! Cool. I guess I don't understand why that was better, but great. Obviouly it didn't like the goosed power from the Outlaw for whatever reason.
Also... despite all that 'overload' message flashing.... the actual sound didn't cut out, or change, or Anything that I could tell, which I think is also a pretty good thing. hehe
Now this critter's got a tiny fan on the back (~50 cent size -the coin, not the rapper hehe-, and I know people are probably going to want to disconnect it, or think it's horrible that it's even got a fan, but it seems to only turn on here and there, and it's very quiet IMO. Also seems like if it's running and the sound gets quiet or stops then the fan stops right away too as if it's not just temp controlled, but also knows that there's no/low output signal so it needs to be extra quiet.
Maybe I'm wrong about how it's working, but it seemed ok to me.
I listen from about 13' away from the thing and I don't hear it at all.
It's pretty hot in our house in AZ and the actual unit never seems to get more than a little warm, which is what I've found in most digital amps (and certainly a VERY nice benefit out here. I'd never buy a tube amp even if I wanted one.)
The fan kicks on and here and there, puffs out some warm air, and shuts off.
The main speaker outs have crappy binding post plugs. No spades, but Bare wire or banana plug'll work.
The outputs for the other speakers are horrible tiny snap shut thingies. You'd have to have 16ga. wire to fit it. Probably better off to pop out those crappy things and solder your wire to the wire inside. hehe
For some reason it also has a ~5" long strip of light on the center face that looks like neon (I know it's not). It's SUPER bright, annoying, and pointless!? WTF was the reason for that thing!?!
Thankfully the 'dimmer' button on the remote cuts off the light, so no big deal, but pretty weird.
This looks like the digital amp revolution is getting started in the mass market. I still think it's not enough to just have a 100% digital chain -or more specifically... you technically can't have a 100% digital chain, and it doesn't seem to be the best thing in the world to just get rid of anything analog in a system -though mostly... it seems to work VERY well.
Clearly this Pannie's not better sounding than my system that still has A/D/A conversions in it, but maybe if the parts around these systems are more mid/hi fi than what's in this low end player that it might really be a future giant killer??
I think I'm going to try one of the those new Sony Recs. or their new Rec/DVD player combos later that use their latest S-Master Pro dig. amp chips and see if those sound any better that this system.
Still a very good low price on those, but looks like the TOP Sony Rec. is $4,500 which ain't so cheap, and unlike the others it's the only one that uses a torroid based not switching power supply and (they say -top grade) MOSFET outputs.
Maybe some of that'll trickle down a little in the future and the power/dist/ ratings will greatly improve too. We'll see.
This Pannie's certainly an interesting little digital micro Rec.!