Articles, Reviews and Measurements of Audio Products

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Processor Review

  • 9,392
  • 80
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Onkyo PR-RZ5100 Audio/Video Processor (AVP). It is on kind loan from a member. The PR-RZ5100 was announced (I think) around 2017 and seems to be discontinued. It cost US $2,300.

The outside enclosure certainly gives a "high-end" feel to the PR-RZ5100 with its extra tall front face and large volume knob:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor  Dolby Atmos Surround Review.jpg

Unlike many modern AV processors, boot time is very fast.

The back panel shows the usual connector including XLR Outputs:

Onkyo PR-RZ5100 AV Home Theater Processor  Dolby Atmos Surround Rear panel inputs connectors H...jpg

The unit is reasonably heavy although peaking inside, the front half is mostly empty other than a transformer there.

For my testing, I focused on HDMI input and Pure Audio mode for all tests. Pure Audio shuts off the front display as is the case with some other units, making a bit annoying to operate.

The on-screen display was decent quality and easy to navigate. Oddly I could not find a factory reset option so...

Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamp Review

  • 9,029
  • 88
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 phono preamplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. The S2 costs US $399 on Amazon including Prime shipping.

I must this say this is the cutest tube audio product I have seen:

Pro-ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier Audio Review.jpg

A nice set of controls let you pick one of six (6) different gains plus a useful subsonic filter.

Power is provided through an external switcher, a bit larger than a typical USB charger:

Pro-ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier Back Panel Connectors Audio Review.jpg


Sorry, don't know what tube is in there. Perhaps the owner can chime in.

Phono Preamplifier Audio Measurements
My standard dashboard is a 1 kHz tone at 5 millivolts simulating a moving magnet cartridge. Here is the output with 40 dB gain setting:

Pro-ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier Audio Measurements.png


SINAD is mainly determined by the "tube 2nd harmonic distortion" to the tune of -72 dB. Add a bit of noise to it and you arrive at our SINAD of 69 dB. This naturally ranks near the bottom...

Buchardt S400 Speaker Review

  • 57,241
  • 759
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Buchardt S400 2-way stand-mount speaker. It was kindly sent to me by the company for testing. As best as I can tell, it is sold by the company direct and costs €1,800 per pair which translates to US $1,950 as of this writing. Interestingly the cost is inclusive of any import duties and taxes! The warranty is a generous 10 years.

The S400 nails the industrial design, showing a highly differentiated and modern look in a loudspeaker:
Buchardt S400 bookshelf speaker audio review.jpg


Success in speaker business is 80% marking and I think Buchardt has nailed that with this look and feel.

The back panel of a speaker is usually boring but not in this case:

Buchardt S400 bookshelf speaker back panel passive radiator audio review.jpg


Instead of a port we have a passive radiator which is said to eliminate the noise from the port. In listening tests, that seems to be case with me only hearing nice low frequencies and not much else from the back.

Terminals are nicely spaced and easy to use.

The S400 is...

Burson FUN Headphone Amp Review

  • 9,153
  • 68
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Burson FUN PC-100 headphone amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. I believe the sample I have has the standard op-amps in it which then costs US $199.

Unique with Burson amplifier products is the standard PC desktop drive form factor allowing it to go into a tower PC:

Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC Audio Review.jpg

The volume control feels good but he metal knob is slipper relative to the torque it takes to rotate it. I only tested it using the 1/4 inch headphone jack.

The unit can be powered with the no-name external laptop sized power supply or 12 volt PC drive power:

Burson FUN PC-100 Headphone Amplifier PC back panel inputs Audio Review.jpg

The industrial power switch is a touch touch. Usually these are used for mains disconnect and such.

In use, the FUN stayed quite cool despite using discrete class-A amplification architecture.

Headphone Amplifier Audio Measurements
As usual, we test headphone amplifiers by feeding the same voltage in...

Audyssey Room EQ Review

  • 29,258
  • 331
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audyssey Room Equalization. Audyssey is standard technology in a number of Audio/Video Receivers such as the Denon AVR-X3600H I recently reviewed. The standard version in the AVR is mostly all or nothing so I downloaded the Marantz/Denon Android App that for $20 lets you customize some critical aspects of it as you will see later.

My setup is my main music system which I would show you a picture of but it got so torn up with cables going everywhere to wire up the AVR which I am ashamed to show you. So see this picture from measurements of the Lyngdorf RoomPerfect EQ:

...

Parts Express DIY C-Note Speaker Review

  • 15,298
  • 110
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Parts Express C-Note DIY Kit. It was kindly purchased, put together and shipped to me by member @Winkleswizard. A pair of these with everything you need including the cabinet "flat pack" costs just US $100. And that includes free shipping if you are in US. So quite a bargain if it performs well.

Being unfinshed MDF, there is not much to look at as far as asthetics:
Parts Express C-Note MT Bookshelf Speaker DIY Kit Review.jpg


But there are some technical points to note. First is the inclusion of a waveguide around the tweeter to bring the "directivity" (spread of the sound wave) closer to that of the woofer at crossover point (woofer gets directional there). The tweeter is also moved closer to woofer to reduce the center to center distance as to improve vertical directivity. The waveguide is NOT notched however. The woofer simply overlaps it.

The MDF cabinet felt quite stout to me both in feel and in use. There is certainly more to...

Denon AVR-X3600H AV Receiver Review

  • 56,684
  • 530
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Denon AVR-X3600H 9.2 channel AVR. It was purchased new by a kind member who drop shipped it to me. It costs US $1,099.

From outside the AVR-X3600H seems like any other AVR:

Denon AVR-X3600H AVR X3600 Home Theater Dolby Atmos AVR Review.jpg

But the controls feel a lot better than some other AVRs. The volume control rotary encoder has the right stiffness and feels good to manipulate.

The back panel has the usual connectivity including some useless ones such as component video:

Denon AVR-X3600H AVR X3600 Home Theater Dolby Atmos AVR Back Panel Connectors Inputs Review.jpg

But there is one thing that is special about this AVR: if you set it to 11 channel mode which is more than the number of amplifier channels it has, it lets you disconnect the internal amplifier and route that to pre-out. This means that you don't have to deal with that amplifier clipping and reducing DAC performance when you use an external amplifier. This has been the weakness of most AVRs I have tested. We will see later if...

Schiit Vidar Amplifier Review

  • 22,648
  • 169
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Schiit Vidar stereo amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. The Vidar costs US $699 and nicely comes with a five (5) year warranty. With amplifiers being one of the most susceptible audio products to failure, long warranty is a real value.

The Vidar sports the usual design style of Schiit which in this form factor is attractive:

Schiit Vidar Stereo Amplifier Audio Review.jpg

Despite its narrow width, the Vidar is quite heavy as it uses a linear power supply and class AB amplification topology.

Back panel connectors are fine but I always miss balanced inputs in audio products:
Schiit Vidar Stereo Amplifier Back Panel Inputs Audio Review.jpg

During power testing and such, the Vidar got fairly warm but not too hot and typical of the category. It only shut down once when I ran a sweep causing it to clip at 20 kHz.

I only tested the unit in stereo mode and not bridged.

Amplifier Audio Measurements
As usual we start with our 1 kHz tone...

Verdant Audio Bambusa AL-1 Review

  • 10,668
  • 112
This is a detailed measurements of the Verdant Audio Bambusa AL-1. It is on kind loan from the company and costs US $3,499. I am in mail it back so please excuse the brevity of this write-up.

Verdant Audio Bambusa AL-1 Speaker Review.jpg


Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

All measurements are referenced to the tweeter...

Jeff Rowland 535 Stereo Amplifier Review

  • 28,569
  • 327
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Jeff Rowland 535 stereo (bridgeable) amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. I believe it costs US $5,900.

If you are not familiar with Jeff Rowland, it is a high-end audio company, known for their gorgeous machining of their cases that imparts a 3-D look. You can see that coming through the protective film which I chose to leave on:

Jeff Rowland Design 535 stereo amplifier Audio review.jpg

The unit is incredibly heavy for its small size. The back panel shows the most unusual binding posts I have seen:

Jeff Rowland Design 535 stereo amplifier back panel speaker connectors Audio review.jpg

Those big knobs rotate to tighten bar on two spade terminals. The feel incredibly nice. Alas, they don't mate with banana leads and I had to screw around to connect mine.

The amplifier is said to be balanced throughout including input transformer which is made with wire from Cardas (!).

Company only states that a switching power supply is used but says nothing about the rest of the...

Fostex PM.03 Active Speaker Review

  • 10,558
  • 69
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Fostex PM.03 active monitor/speaker. It is on kind loan from a member who bought it new from drop.com and had it shipped to me. I think the model is discontinued and I can't find an accurate price for it. The owner paid US $90 on drop.

The PM.03 is by far the smallest speaker I have tested. I think it is about 6 inches tall:

Fostex PM03 Active Speaker Monitor  Stereo Review.jpg


This is the main unit which then powers the other speaker:

Fostex PM03 Active Speaker Monitor Back Connectors Inputs  Stereo Review.jpg


A laptop sized external supply powers the unit.

Yes there is a tiny port through which incredibly high pressure air escapes.

Product is made in China.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room...

Pioneer SC-1222 AVR Review

  • 6,734
  • 27
This a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater Audio/Video Receiver. It is on kind loan from a member. The SC-1222 is discontinued. I see one on sale on Amazon for US $540.

The SC-1222 came out in a series of AVRs from Pioneer with class-D amplifiers, running much cooler than competing class AB units of the time:

Pioneer SC-1222 Home Theater AVR Audio Review.jpg

I had an SC series which I retired due to a bad TI DSP IC that fails and causes loss of audio. So if you are going after then in used market, be very careful.

Being class D, the AVR ran very cool in my tests and never shut down or go into protection. As I note later though, at or near max power there is a loud mechanical buzz/hum from the transformer that is proportional to power level. Likely you won't hear it because the sound it produces will also be loud but it is something that should not be there.

Testing was performed after a factory reset and disabling subwoofer.

AVR DAC Audio...

JBL HDI-1600 Speaker Review

  • 31,223
  • 372
This is a review and detailed measurements of the JBL HDI-1600 two-way bookshelf speaker. They were purchased new and drop shipped to me for testing. The HDI-1600 costs US $900 for one.

Note: my company Madrona Digital is a dealer for Harman products such as JBL line (although we hardly sell any audio gear of this type). And I am personally friends with key people in the company. So feel free to read as much bias as you like in this review.

There is some style to the HDI-1600 but overuse of plastic degrades the image of having bought anything expensive:

JBL HDI-1600 Speaker Audio Review.jpg


Back panel binding posts are OK but the bi-wire shunt is thin and flimsy (does the job though):

JBL HDI-1600 Speaker binding posts biwire biamp Audio Review.jpg


Product is made in China.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that...

Infinity RC263 Center Speaker Review

  • 8,736
  • 53
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Infinity RC263 center home theater speaker. It is on kind loan from a member. The RC263 costs US $268 on Amazon including Prime shipping.

The RC263 is too large for my photo booth so you have to settle for where I test speakers for listening:

Inifniity RC263 Center speaker Home Theater Review.jpg


As you see the RC263 is a 3-way which is a recommended configuration for horizontal center speakers (two-way "MTM" designs tend to have poor horizontal direcitivty). Inclusion of two mid-woofers should help with power handling which is critical for center speakers as in movies most of the energy is directed at it (due to anchoring the screen). We will see this in measurements to follow.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able...

Meridian G68ADV: were AV Processor Ever Good?

  • 10,339
  • 89
Any avid reader of Audio Science Review knows that we are disappointed with the objective measurements of today's home theater receivers and surround processors. They generally rank in the third performance tier and often below a $9 phone dongle in distortion and noise. Today's players are almost all mass market companies as the advent of HDMI AV standard killed all the high-end audio companies that were producing AV processors. Reason is that their volume was too small for the HDMI transceiver IC companies to support them so they had no choice but to exist the market. But did they ever produce good products? A member loaned me the Meridian G68 processor to answer that question.

The G68ADV feels quite elegant compared to the generic look we have in AV products:

Meridian G68 Surround Processor Audio Review.jpg

The interface is very easy to navigate with a number of hard buttons to select input (and "more" button which shows another row).

I see the G68ADV costing about $1000 in...

Verdant Audio Bambusa MG 1 Speaker Review

  • 16,946
  • 236
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Verdant Audio Bambusa MG 1 Bookshelf speaker. It is on kind loan from the company. The MG 1 costs US $4999 for a pair.

As the model number implies, the MG 1 cabinet is made out of laminated Bamboo which I like:

Bambusa MG 1 Bookshelf Speaker Audio Review.jpg


The back panel is shows nice quality binding posts that are easy to manipulate:

Bambusa MG 1 Bookshelf Speaker Back Panel Binding Posts Audio Review.jpg


When the owner contacted me to send me the speaker I cautioned him that if measurements don't look good, I would still be publishing them. To my pleasant surprise he said he had no issue with that whatsoever.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't...

Silent Angel Bonn N8 Audio Grade Ethernet Switch

  • 18,089
  • 203
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Silent Angel (Thunder Data) Bonn N8 8-port gigabite audiophile Ethernet switch. It is on kind loan from a member. It seems to cost US $399. As a way of comparison, a brand name switch without the "audio grade" designation costs US $35 so about ten times cheaper.

From outside, the Bonn N8 looks like the most generic switches:

Silent Angle Bonn N8  Audiophile Ethernet Switch Audio Review.jpg

Look at the cheap labeling underneath:

Silent Angle Bonn N8  Audiophile Ethernet Switch Bottom Made in China Audio Review.jpg
The external power supply from respected Mean Well company is a bit step above what you get with these cheap switches.

Company advertises better clock, better power supply filtering and better PCB layout as the improvements. Some generic eye pattern and noise improvement graphs are shown by the company but of course, no graphs showing the improvement out of any audio streamer. Unless you listen to digital bits from Ethernet cable, I am not sure what is behind this common and...

Infinity R162 Bookshelf Speaker Review

  • 17,988
  • 136
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Infinity R162 bookshelf speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $270 from Amazon including Prime shipping.

Despite its budget price, the R162 looks good and weighs a good bit:

Inifinity R162 Bookshelf Home Theater Speaker Review.jpg

The back side shows the typical, too close together binding posts:

Inifinity R162 Bookshelf Home Theater Speaker Back Panel Binding Posts Review.jpg

If you care about country of manufacture and can't read it above, it is China.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of...

RME Babyface Pro FS Portable Interface Review

  • 14,131
  • 71
This is a review and detailed measurements of the RME Babyface Pro FS Portable professional audio interface (ADC, DAC, headphone and digital I/O). It was kindly sent to me by the company. The Babyface Pro FS Costs US $899. It is an upgrade to the non-FS version of the same product.

The Babyface Pro FS makes a hugely positive impression the minute you take it out of its nice hard case:

RME Babyface Pro FS 24 channel bus powered professional portable sound interface review.jpg

Machined out of a solid chunk of aluminum, it is quite heavy and sits still even with heavy XLR cables pulling on it.

The LED displays are bright and cheery and hard buttons are easy to figure out (I did not even bother with the manual).

The side panel has provision for external power but it is not needed. Despite all of its functionality and LED bar graph, the Babyface Pro FS is entirely "bus powered" via USB 2.0:

RME Babyface Pro FS 24 channel bus powered professional portable sound interface power and mid...jpg

The only reason to use an external power supply is for stand-alone operation or...

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Review

  • 24,855
  • 213
This is a review and detailed measurements of the JBL Studio 530 bookshelf speaker. They normally cost US $600 but routinely go on sale. That is how I purchased mine for US $280 direct from JBL.

The 530 has a very unique style of its own:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Audio Review.jpg

I normally take speaker grills off for measurements but because this one only covers the woofer, and it looks darn ugly without it :), I tested it as you see pictured.

While the outside is nicely finished for a budget speaker, I was taken back by the rough bottom of it. Some cost cutting was done there but I guess on the plus side, it is not slippery.

The back panel shows dual set of connections for bi-wire/bi-amping. Personally I would rather see a single set that is spaced farther apart:

JBL Studio 530 Speaker Monitor Back Panel binding posts Audio Review.png
If you care about country of manufacture and can't read it above, it is China.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the...
Top Bottom