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SPL Phonitor X *Updated* Review (DAC & Headphone Amp)

sarumbear

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Curious. What are the following controls do?
  • Crosspeed
  • Angle
  • Laterality
I also find it strange that pre-outs are called speaker outputs. This is not a power amp!
 

SIY

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I also find it strange that pre-outs are called speaker outputs. This is not a power amp!
Studios tend to use self-powered monitors these days, so those really are speaker outputs.

I reviewed another model in the Phonitor series that has the crossfeed feature. November AudioXpress. Complete with measurements. :)
 

Inner Space

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A question for the recording engineers in the room: is SPL/Phonitor gear found in many control rooms? I see it is sold through the pro channels, but how likely is it to be found in the wild?

Who would be the usual suspects in real world pro use - Benchmark, Mackie, MOTU?

My recollections of working in other people's rooms are out of date now, but no one used HPs other than for signal check and click tracks, and they were plugged into generic 600ohm busses. I remember other SPL hardware in some places - seemed satisfactory.

These days in my own rooms I use Benchmarks - I use a lot of their stuff and it's easy to add to the order.
 

D700

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I do love my Topping D/A30Pro combo orange LED 90's black industrial vibe...but man, built-in adjustable cross-feed AND VU meters? Maybe Topping would do a crossover design with them? I would love to have an all-in-one with state of art performance and that classic front plate (chef's kiss)....maybe add eq as well.

@sarumbear when you listen to speakers, each ear picks up sound from both left and right speakers. When you listen to headphones, its left OR right. Crossfeed adds some left channel to the right and vice versa. Adjustable crossed allows you to vary the amount, as well as control other variables. I find it much less fatiguing and more natural sounding to listen with crossfeed.

However, I have to do it through software, using Soundforce plugin called CanOpener. Grace Digital makes some DAC/Headphone amps with cross-feed, as well as some other manufacturers.
 
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Martin

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Curious. What are the following controls do?
  • Crosspeed
  • Angle
  • Laterality
I also find it strange that pre-outs are called speaker outputs. This is not a power amp!

You'll find detailed explanation of those controls on the SPL site, including a couple of videos.
 

Martin

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So how is the crossfeed implementation on this? That's really the killer feature.

I've seen these at shows, but never had enough time to play around with the settings and get a handle on it.

Unfortunately, I think there is a fundamental problem with the crossfeed. The original unit I sent had significant crosstalk:
index.php


I find it odd that the crosstalk is so poor when they have controls to add even more. I discussed this with SPL support and they stated the measured crosstalk is normal and as expected. I pointed out that they should want state of the art crosstalk measurements if they were then going to implement a system to add crosstalk / crossfeed back into the signal. They never responded to that query.

Martin
 

617

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I'd like to point out that the SINAD of 99db easily passes the threshold of CD fidelity and exceeds the dynamic range of any actual recording in existence.

I'd much rather have features I can use (crossfeed, input switching, DAC and amp in one box) and style I can see (this thing looks way nicer than almost any other product) than performance improvements you literally cannot hear.

I'm not saying this thing is a great deal or anything, for the money it should offer better performance...but let's not lose sight of how great the feature set and industrial design are. Give me this over some pathetic 'stack' any day of the week.

We need more features in one box.
 

Skinner001

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I'd like to point out that the SINAD of 99db easily passes the threshold of CD fidelity and exceeds the dynamic range of any actual recording in existence.

I'd much rather have features I can use (crossfeed, input switching, DAC and amp in one box) and style I can see (this thing looks way nicer than almost any other product) than performance improvements you literally cannot hear.

I'm not saying this thing is a great deal or anything, for the money it should offer better performance...but let's not lose sight of how great the feature set and industrial design are. Give me this over some pathetic 'stack' any day of the week.

We need more features in one box.
I would agree to a degree. For people who like owning more stuff it's also nice to play with separates, it's part of the hobby for some.
I wouldn't agree on this particular product since it does so poorly with low impedance headphones - limiting it - for this price I'd expect it to do everything well. Agreed, it doesn't need to measure at the very top since we can't hear the differences when they get that small.

Realistically, if it didn't have the mentioned issue and measured inaudibly worse than the top with perhaps a 1500 price tag, I'd say fair enough - as is, nope.
 

PeteL

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I'd like to point out that the SINAD of 99db easily passes the threshold of CD fidelity and exceeds the dynamic range of any actual recording in existence.

I'd much rather have features I can use (crossfeed, input switching, DAC and amp in one box) and style I can see (this thing looks way nicer than almost any other product) than performance improvements you literally cannot hear.

I'm not saying this thing is a great deal or anything, for the money it should offer better performance...but let's not lose sight of how great the feature set and industrial design are. Give me this over some pathetic 'stack' any day of the week.

We need more features in one box.
Except that Amir Specifically said that distortion was audible with a difficult load.
 

3125b

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But with easy to drive headphones it would be fine.
Not for very easy to drive headphones though due to the high noise level.
 
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maverickronin

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Unfortunately, I think there is a fundamental problem with the crossfeed. The original unit I sent had significant crosstalk:
index.php


I find it odd that the crosstalk is so poor when they have controls to add even more. I discussed this with SPL support and they stated the measured crosstalk is normal and as expected. I pointed out that they should want state of the art crosstalk measurements if they were then going to implement a system to add crosstalk / crossfeed back into the signal. They never responded to that query.

Martin

It's not great technical performance for the price, but, that level of crosstalk is inaudible outside of intentionally pathological test setups. It's not anywhere near the amount amount of crosstalk that crossfeed intentionally introduces either which is often only a few dB of separation beneath the chosen corner frequency.


Do you normally use crossfeed or have you experimented with other implementations?
 

sarumbear

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My recollections of working in other people's rooms are out of date now, but no one used HPs other than for signal check and click tracks, and they were plugged into generic 600ohm busses. I remember other SPL hardware in some places - seemed satisfactory.

These days in my own rooms I use Benchmarks - I use a lot of their stuff and it's easy to add to the order.
If you mix in the box you need a monitor controller, which SPL has various models. If you mix with an outboard mixer you will use the board’s headphone outputs. This is an audiophile product.
 

Lambda

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There are Pictures of its insides available online.
I’m no longer surprised by its bad performance. it all Looks likes its from the 90s with lots of discrete components, Unnecessarily wide layed out on low layer count PCBs with strange rectangular Routing.
Lots of Trough hole stuff.
Not evidence based optimized at all but made to Please special aesthetic.
But to me it looks like a hobby project and im actually surprised i performed as ok as it did.


The Digital board is a small add-on in the corner obviously made by a different team/person
 
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dfuller

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The noise is... not great, but it certainly isn't bad. 97ish dB or so THD+N is not broken, it's just not state of the art. Is it worth $3000? Absolutely not. But it's not broken.

Also, -60dB crosstalk is completely inaudible. Give it a try yourself, take any audio track you want, split it into dual mono, and reduce the level of one side by 60 dB. Do it with headphones. I guarantee you aren't going to be able to hear that.
 
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Martin

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It's not great technical performance for the price, but, that level of crosstalk is inaudible outside of intentionally pathological test setups. It's not anywhere near the amount amount of crosstalk that crossfeed intentionally introduces either which is often only a few dB of separation beneath the chosen corner frequency.


Do you normally use crossfeed or have you experimented with other implementations?
The noise is... not great, but it certainly isn't bad. 97ish dB or so THD+N is not broken, it's just not state of the art. Is it worth $3000? Absolutely not. But it's not broken.

Also, -60dB crosstalk is completely inaudible. Give it a try yourself, take any audio track you want, split it into dual mono, and reduce the level of one side by 60 dB. Do it with headphones. I guarantee you aren't going to be able to hear that.

Good to know - thanks.

I have not used crossfeed. This unit was dropshipped directly to Amir. I may or may not have him send it to me. I am still thinking about it...

Martin
 

max233

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"Considering how much you are paying for this unit, you want to have much better performance than a unique niche." I read a recent review that stated that price is never a consideration in your reviews?
 
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