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Panasonic SA-XR57 Multi-channel Receiver Review

AG's

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Hi just joined to comment.
First lol I do love good sound . As a bottom dweller I used Adcom and Parasound though poo I can't afford that now without sacrifice though it's still upper end Audio .

Anyway to point . I bought this SX 57 unit more then 13 yrs ago new , now I say that boy she's old but let tell you as a musician I tuned to audio quality .

My SX57 is mint well it was until the I stepped on it but no worries just a little dent on top . Lol

When I bought it I was impressed it sounded pretty good to me .

So my speaker system was not great for all those years and I morphed into the king of cheap .

I just upgraded my speakers to Acoustech PL series.

Yeah look the them up ,Who ????? never heard of them . Well that's fine and dandy but everything I researched satisfied me so I bought the 5.1 set up .

Ok so to point After the speaker change I was floored by the upgrade accuracy .

Sounds started flying all over the place and still does . I crank this unit to jam with my guitar and distortion is minimal.

Now you folks might use fancy meters and such but as a musician I just my ears because in the end that's what has to be happy .

I use the B channel for my outdoor deck speakers . After all these years she still pumps good sound and the surround is good enough especially if it got me looking left and right back and forward .

I have decided to look into upgrading but honestly I don't know what expect ,will really out perform to my ears ? Screw the meters , no disrespect .

Over all I can't complain it's been a decent unit and I kind of wish they made a higher powered unit

Anyway that's it . A great set of speakers and it will satisfy and it will crank up and stay focused enough to put a smile on your face .
 

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repsych

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Thanks for the review. I like using these with active crossovers fed into the multi-channel inputs.
 

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cookiefactory

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I'm still using my SA-XR57 in my HT system and have not felt the need to upgrade. It's been a workhorse!
 

TinCanFury

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I've been lurking here for a while. I finally came across this one for a receiver I bought new years ago and still use in my bedroom. It's outlived two previous Denon receivers I've owned, and will shortly outlive my Anthem receiver. Not for those other ones going bad, but this is one is small and works great for my minimal bedroom needs while those others have outlived their usability with improvements in technology.

That said, this thing sounds fabulous, especially for it's price and age.

I've listened to the much lusted after newer Denon's on this forum at various hifi shops in my area trying to decide if they were worth upgrading my Anthem M510 to, and never been all that impressed. I appreciate the measurement reviews being done here, but when it comes to the sound coming out, I'm not convinced these measurements say anything informative about how good the unit sounds. This review only further confirms these anecdotal feelings.

That said, I'll likely be upgrading my Anthem to a Denon soon based purely on the lack of better sounding units keeping up with the newer technologies. Hopefully the newer Denon doesn't sound appreciably worse than my 510 or XR57.
 

buzzy

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The real point of the Panasonic SA-XR57 wasn't performance as a 2 channel amplifier. Rather, it offered significant power on 7 channels for home theater at a reasonable price, and all in a relatively low-rise (4.3") case. It also had a number of good features for HT.

While (as mentioned) it was widely discussed in the AV forums at one time, it didn't really seem to catch on more widely and IIRC was discontinued fairly soon. It's interesting to me that there apparently wasn't much demand for the product; compared to the alternatives it offered more power in a smaller size with less energy consumption. Not something the mass market was looking for, I guess, and it seems that has continued to be true over the years.
 

Dougey_Jones

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I remember my SA-XR55 being one of the best sounding AVR's I ever owned if it was fed a digital signal, either 2-channel or surround formatting. Not sure why that wasn't borne out in this review, maybe faulty unit as someone else suggested. Really spectacular sounding in my experience.

Mine was gifted to a friend and is still running as a low-tech 3.1 setup using the Toslink output of a Vizio 65" TV.
 

DonM

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When the digital Panasonic SA-XR’s were released (early 2000’s) they were considered excellent value (digital in's) when compared with other equivalent receivers. This high level statement is supported for the most by numerous reviews and comments in various audio forums available at the time. In addition that sentiment was further justified since Panasonic was using the Texas Instrument Equibit chips (TAS 5182) that were also used in another highly regarded digital amplifier produced by Tact. There was of course a significant price difference so it was likely that Panasonic had employed a power supply that was much cheaper. Unfortunately we can not provide Amir with a brand new SA-XR45 to review in 2022. Readers of this review of the SA-XR57 should be careful not to completely dismiss the SA-XR receivers based on this review of a used product wherein the condition is not known.
 
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cookiefactory

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The SA-XR57 used in this review was mine, and it's in perfect working order. I also have a SA-XR55 and the two are indistinguishable sound-wise. Regarding the discrepancy between the this model's reputation for great sound and the ho-hum measurements, my takeaway is that our threshold for discerning amp sound quality is much lower than most might think. Even mediocre measuring devices can be for all intents and purposes, transparent for all but the most critical listening conditions.
 

ripmixburn

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I own this amp and measured some uneven responses with Arc compared to my Yamaha A-S801. Some vocals are quite sharp and fatiguing. Just turned it on again for the first time and some Billie holiday vocals in the 200 to 800hz range seem to make it most obvious.
 

orangezero

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Just joined this forum to update myself on the tech and learn more about what to do next. I had read all those reviews and personal experiences years ago and bought an sa-xr45. Years later I picked up a sa-xr50 and an sa-xr55 for a steal. Those both have semi perished and I'm uncertain I want to spend the time looking at fixes, but at least currently that bright blue bar of the sa-xr45 lights up my room again and is out of retirement. At one point I was quite jealous of my two friends who I purchased the sa-xr57 which had hdmi inputs/outputs.

I'm not sure if these are great units or if I was hoodwinked by an early online cult, to be honest. :) I assume they've at least saved me some money on electricity over the last two decades. They always sounded good to my ears. I was almost always using them with digital optical inputs.
 

TonyJZX

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oddly it looks like it has one hdmi in and one out... i would consider this a passthru?

ie. it strips and processes the audio and just passes the video to your screen?

also one would hope it could process the analog and component to hdmi as well?

but yes, this thing is certainly 'vintage'... if the unit is barely operational in today's environment then its decidedly 'vintage'... you would need some kind of external hdmi switch if you really wanted to use this today
 

ripmixburn

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oddly it looks like it has one hdmi in and one out... i would consider this a passthru?

ie. it strips and processes the audio and just passes the video to your screen?

also one would hope it could process the analog and component to hdmi as well?

but yes, this thing is certainly 'vintage'... if the unit is barely operational in today's environment then its decidedly 'vintage'... you would need some kind of external hdmi switch if you really wanted to use this today
You could use optical out from the TV, or there are extractors made by companies like OREI. BTW, I have an SA-XR55 for sale in Toronto Canada if you are in the area.
 

orangezero

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I believe you are right, TonyJZX. I'm not sure if the 57 could take analog and component to HDMI, though.

I'd always heard the digital part was pretty good and the analog was just average. With my 45/50/55 lacking HDMI I would typically run video via HDMI out of my pc graphics card and a sound card with optical out or built-in optical out of the motherboard now that that is more common. The lack of HDMI just meant if I used devices other than my pc I also needed to have a little box that would strip the optical out of the HDMI signal and then to the optical in of the panasonic. The 57 would have saved me buying a box for things like an Amazon fire Stick with few sound options. If I remember correctly one of the early amazon fire devices had optical output, but the software is kinda sluggish now and haven't used it in a while.

The 57 would probably also allow less manual HDMI cable unplugging and plugging, but I don't switch devices that often. It certainly feels vintage now that I'm reading about 7.1.4 or 9.1.6 systems...
 

jsilvela

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the vintage Panasonic SA-XR57 multichannel Audio/Video Receiver (AVR). It is on kind loan from a member. It originally cost US $400. I don't know when it came out but I remember the Panasonic advertisement about it with their tall speakers.​

The SA-XR57 is a switching amplifier and it shows from its weight. It is incredibly light despite its large size:


It has some unusual features like automatic speaker selection which I used and it correctly detected I had two speakers. It kept saying they were biwired though which they were not. I connected my speakers to the front left bank (A):

The video features are of course long obsolete.

The interest here was to see how an early sample of switching amplifier performed so let's get into it.

Amplifier Audio Measurements
As usual, we start with our dashboard view of 1 kHz tone into 4 ohm load at 5 watts:

View attachment 43131

As you see, the above is with analog input. Results with analog input was just a hair worse so doesn't look like digital input helps it any.

SINAD is dominated by high fifth harmonic at nearly -70 dB. Add a bit of noise to it and you get the SINAD of 68 dB as indicated. Here is the total ranking:

View attachment 43132

So unfortunately not good (above is using analog input).

Signal to noise ratio is nothing to write home about:

View attachment 43134

Frequency response is good:
View attachment 43135

The peaking is well above audio band.

Multitone shows what we already know:
View attachment 43136

Using analog input, we get this into 4 ohm:
View attachment 43137

Very strange ups and downs in the graph as different non-linearities kick in and dominate. Switching to digital input doesn't cure it:

View attachment 43138

Here is the outcome with 8 ohm and analog input:

View attachment 43139

Thermal Stability
The results here were "curious:"
View attachment 43140

While the trend is toward lower distortion, there is some mechanism that is producing those correlated sinusoidal variations in THD+N.

Conclusions
Panasonic has certainly achieved the efficiency goal in designing this receiver. Alas, it has rather strange response which I think is indicative of less than perfectly engineered amplifier. I suspect you can pick these up for a song so in that regard, it may not be a bad purchase if you want a cool and light amplifier. Otherwise, I can't recommend it.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

We are having heavy rain today and for another three days. It is flooding everywhere. While we have a boat, I may need to buy another one for all the pink panthers to be rescued, should the water levels rise too high. Boats are not cheap so please donate generously using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
oh this takes me back. I had one of these (not the exact same model) years ago.
The beginning of my audiophile journey.
Beyond audio issues there were some glaring things:
- A high frequency whine - from the box, not the speakers. Took me weeks to locate the source of it to the Panasonic. And it depended on whether one feature was on or off. Don't remember the feature.
- The Dolby decoder was baaaad. I had problems with vocals getting muddled if I connected the DVD player digitally. Using RCA connection, problem gone.
I gave mine away to a friend with detailed explanations of what to avoid :)
But it did me fine for a while.
 

jhaider

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I'm not sure if these are great units or if I was hoodwinked by an early online cult, to be honest. :) I assume they've at least saved me some money on electricity over the last two decades. They always sounded good to my ears. I was almost always using them with digital optical inputs.

Well, lots of people like single ended triode (SET) tube amps. These have the same signature as SETs - a frequency response that varies with speaker impedance.

So you can think of them as a SET with 10x the power at 0.01x the cost, with infinitely less maintenance costs or aggravation.
 

orangezero

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Well, lots of people like single ended triode (SET) tube amps. These have the same signature as SETs - a frequency response that varies with speaker impedance.

So you can think of them as a SET with 10x the power at 0.01x the cost, with infinitely less maintenance costs or aggravation.
Thanks for sharing. I may have known that briefly 18 years ago.

I have always liked how music sounds. How do the newer class D amp chips sound in comparison to the panasonics? TDA7498, tpa3255, tp3166.
 
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TonyJZX

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you're in for a ride

this place seems to love the new generation digital amps

besides those you have the new infineons and then you higher end ncore purifi stuff

the digital chipsets have their supporters and detractors here
 

Tim Link

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I had two of the 55s. There was no doubt in my mind at the time that the digital input was very different sounding than the analog input. The sound was on the bright side with either input. The analog seemed smoothed out, softened, duller sounding than sending analog into other amps I had tried. The digital input sounded really crisp, sort of hyper detailed. I would have guessed it was producing lifted high frequencies while the analog input was rolling them off. I wish I would have measured what was coming out of my speakers as a comparison. I couldn't get much bass out of those Pannies when running floor standing full range speakers. Switching to a JVC receiver of similar form factor the bass was dramatically stronger from the same speakers at any given volume. midbass and lower midrange also sounded thicker and fuller. Much deeper extension. Never tried using subwoofers with them. I sold both of these units and both of my customers somehow caused them to go in to protect mode within days of taking ownership and couldn't get them back out. I offered to buy them back but they declined, saying they were sure the unit was fine when I sold it to them.
My understanding was that the TI chips used in the 55s did not use any kind of feedback. The JVC competitor amp was using "hybrid digital feedback."
 
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