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SPL Phonitor X Review (DAC & Headphone Amp)

Dueprocess

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I purchased SPL's crossover unit (https://spl.audio/en/spl-produkt/crossover/), as I was looking for a high-performance X/O for sub integration (need to high-pass mains). While the price was high, so were the published specs (specifically dynamic range of > 135 dB). There was a review posted here for a preamp (Volume 2, maybe?) that showed SPL's published specs, as far as the tester had verified, were accurate (SNR, etc.), so I crossed my fingers assuming that would extend to their other components and that "Crossover" might actually deliver 135+ dB of dynamic range.

I'd be interested in seeing if the crossover actually measures up to its published specs. While some of SPL's published measurements for Phonitor X seem accurate based on this review, others - notably dynamic range - do not.

If the crossover actually has > 130dB of dynamic range, I'm happy with it... if it doesn't (esp. considering its poor published crosstalk specs which this review shows appear to also present in Phonitor X), I'd be happy to go digital and enjoy the benefits of time alignment, etc. at the expense of some dynamic range bottlenecking.

@amirm Any interest in testing SPL's "Crossover"? If so, what does that process look like?




For those wondering why I bothered to pursue an analog X/O over a digital one (given the relatively affordable digital options and the benefits they bring), I don't have an aversion to digital...
(i) Most digital X/Os lack dynamic range to match new dedicated DACs (currently using D90);
(ii) While most of my listening is digital, I do occasionally listen to vinyl, and I wanted to attempt to preserve the "analog chain", purely in the spirit of that analog source material - not because I thought digital would degrade the signal (obv. modern digital components vastly exceed the limits of vinyl) or because I thought I might be able to hear a difference (I know I couldn't).
 

pozz

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pozz

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Price used to be a relatively certain indicator for quality - not any more, it seems.
Definitely seems that way.
1615309355606.png
 

Dueprocess

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This review was part of the reason I went for the SPL; it seems most analog X/Os are, frankly, quite bad (I tried a couple cheaper options and the subjective performance was bad - i.e. audible noise).

If the SPL lives up to its published specs, you might be able to argue it is worth the $, as I don't think there's another solution with that kind of dynamic range (granted you don't get time alignment, etc., so it is still a question of priorities), but if it only has ~110 dB of dynamic range (like the Phonitor X does when used as a preamp, per this review), then I can't see buying it over, say, MiniDSP's SHD solution (~110 dB), which has a host of addtl. features at a fraction of the cost.
 
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pozz

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This review was part of the reason I went for the SPL; it seems most analog X/Os are, frankly, quite bad (I tried a couple cheaper options and the subjective performance was bad - i.e. audible noise).

If the SPL lives up to its published specs, you might be able to argue it is worth the $, as I don't think there's another solution with that kind of dynamic range (granted you don't get time alignment, etc., so it is still a question of priorities), but if it only has ~110 dB of dynamic range (like the Phonitor X does when used as a preamp, per this review), then I can't see buying it over, say, MiniDSP's SHD solution (~110 dB), which has a host of addtl. features at a fraction of the cost.
I was very interested in the Bryston crossover for a while as well for similar reasons, but opted for something different in the end (buying active speakers and subs with DSP built in).
 

acbarn

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I think if we dug into the pro world properly, we would see how little demanding Pro's actually are from manufacturers in terms of performance. I think all they care about is passable performance, and someone always picking up the phone when they call for potential warranty claims (or devices simply that keep reliability high enough to not need warranty work ever really).

I dont for a moment believe any of these companies that havent been tested, actually perform as well as their presence in Pro industries would have one believe.
I mostly agree, with a few exceptions including RME, Apollo, Genelec and a handful of others.
 

Harmonie

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It's disappointing on one hand, but shows the strength of ASR on the other.
Hence the importance of the treads "What didn't you buy as a result of ASR" aso...

Thank you Amir.
You are heading for "ASR approved" labels on the gears.

Nowadays there are so many standards, why not yours ?
 

respice finem

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Good idea, however this would mean a lot of work, like random re-testing stuff to exclude copycats or "cost optimizing measures" by manufacturers after having their stuff tested. Thinking of the case with the faux DACs some time ago. Sic Mundus creatus est...
Testing and "panthering" is fun, certification is serious business, unless you mean "labels" like those of the notorious HiFi-mags, but I don't think Amir would want to take this path.
 
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rmsanger

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I have the Phonitor E and for the price I purchased it for it is a sweetheart. Sinad & THD be damned but it pairs well with my LCD-X, Clears, and HP3s. I can't speak to the phonitor X but the price was way more than I paid for mine.
 
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Deolum

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Hi Amir i have two questions.

1. Why do you say its a balanced headphone amp? Isn't it unbalanced?

2. Which gain settings did you use for this test?

Thanks!
 

the_brunx

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im curious about the crossfeed etc effects settings. any opinions?
 

Jimbob54

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Hi Amir i have two questions.

1. Why do you say its a balanced headphone amp? Isn't it unbalanced?

2. Which gain settings did you use for this test?

Thanks!

I think its balanced but the output specs dont make that much sense (1/4 inch having more power for all but 300ohm and over)

And I think headamps are tested at high gain unless stated.
 

maverickronin

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im curious about the crossfeed etc effects settings. any opinions?

I'd sure be interested to see what all those knobs are actually doing.

As far as I'm concerned, crossfeed is more important than EQ.
 
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