Panasonic XR70 Review
Previously I bought the Panasonic XR50 receiver and auditioned the receiver it in my main system. While showing promise in level of detail, I returned the unit. This second time around, I've learned from my mistakes and installed it in my secondary receiver based system with its higher 8 ohm impedance speakers and smaller (12*18) room. The point here is the Panasonic XR70, while a better sounding product (especially when mated with the S97 Dvd player) must be carefully matched to provide the performance of which it is capable. Don't use this receiver with low impedance speakers!
Simplicity For The Consumer
The Panasonic combination is easy to set up and use especially from the remotes. This is a welcome change from the typical nightmare of deep, buried and complicated settings from the makers of traditional receivers. After initial setup, just press one button usually. See the attached picture. Add to this substantial space savings and energy efficiency. Digital power amplifiers should not be judged by their (lack of) weight.
This all digital receiver power condition requirement is rather different than traditional (partial) analog receivers. The fact is it is easier to optimize either an all digital or all analog component. The age of the analog and digital mix is ending. After weeks of experimentation, I concluded that the high current outputs on my two Monster Power conditioners did not sound as good as their TV/Monitor output. Go figure! The best match I found was the Tripp-Lite LC2400:http://www.tripplite.com/products/pr...productID=2845
This unit powers both the Dvd player and the receiver rather superb. Basically, if your sound quality is to bright then add more conditioning or switch to a different type. If the sound quality is dull and bass heavy then too much conditioning has been applied (as one gets with stage 4, 5 and 6 levels of conditioning). To much conditioning is just a bad as to little.
The sound quality is hugely three dimensional at all frequencies with no irritation whatsoever. It is so articulate that analog amplifiers (with their resolution reducing and soft sounding negative feedback) find it hard to compete. Bass in my 12*18 room is tight, deep, punchy, and articulate with first rate rhythm and pace. I use the top Boston Acoustics VR-M90 speakers: http://www.bostonacoustics.com/hs_pr...&CategoryID=38
I've heard new sounds. This increased resolution a bankable improvement. All frequencies have top notch detail and purity, while not being the least bit edgy. Indeed this overachieving system has progressed so far, that its performance is close (better in some ways?) to that of the expensive separates of my main system. And yes, I do own Krell. For those who are offended, I apologize that a complete $600 front end system can leap-frog so far ahead. Sorry but true!
Update: to hear the best sound-staging use FULL range speakers with no separate bass amplifiers. And don't use a mono subwoofer except for movies. Otherwise you will loose the precise focus and placement such as when a bass drum is whacked.
I thought the HDMI audio sound quality is really superb as I listened to both regular CD audio upsampled to 176KHz and DVD-Audio at 96Hz as set in the Dvd player. It is also possible to set the remaster to 88.2 Khz at the receiver. One can hear a cushion of air around classical instruments - if the system setup is perfect. Finally after 30 plus years my analog Opus3 Depth of Image CD has been bested by a 24 bit 48Kz DVD-audio of Shostakovich Jazz Suites Nos.1 and 2 on Naxos. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the promise of early of digital (perfect sound forever) is finally being fulfilled.
Soundtracks such as the new Fifth Element Dvd have better sound quality and imaging than they have any right too. The extended encompassing envelope is quite convincing. Matching/voicing all speakers is still very important. BTW, I uninstalled the two BACK surround speakers from my main system because I could never get the FRONT channel voices from sounding heavy. The Dolby IIx curse. What is the point here? The fact is that Dolby 7.1 IIx setup will actually degrade the sound quality in many systems. Panasonic should be congratulated for stopping at 6.1 channels, that is until Dolby can figure out their mess.
Remaster or Digital Upsampling
In the past I've tried upsampling circuits from Pioneer, Denon and Berhinger. I never cared for any of them. They softened the bass and made the treble just brighter and like spit. Same goes for dither or noise shaping too. All were simply marketing hype. So it was a huge surprise that the Panasonic Remaster 1 (level set to -2 ) improved the sound quality. Finally someone has succeeded in adding beneficial overtones to the music.
A huge benefit of all digital processing and amplifiers is their much greater immunity to external and internal noise/RFI/EMI distortion. Analog circuitry is completely susceptible to any level of interference. For example, say the 2.4GHz carrier frequency of your wireless computer network enters into the analog circuitry through one of the many antennas (I mean cables) connected to your system. That is just one common prescription for degraded analog based sound quality. This Panasonic combination rejects the common high levels of digital noise (even self induced) with its all digital circuitry. Again, in the right system this tour-de-force $330 receiver sonically outperforms most any analog equipment (within 10 times its price) under real-world conditions.
Bottom line: only digital signals can fight interference effectively. The result is that our battle weary ears can finally seek relief in an exponentially increasing all digital world. Analog is dead.
Say goodbye to six expensive analog, one coaxial and three component video cables. Just use the superior performing and included HDMI cable. Version 1.1 of the HDMI specifies that hi resolution multi-channel audio can also be transmitted. While curious to see what the HDMI jitter measurements are, it is not at all necessary given the extreme resolution and purity noticed. Remember this statement in the coming years, once the established reviewers finally hear these improvements too. No more need for tubes, phonographs records even noisy SACD. Congratulations Panasonic!
- No hearing damage levels allowed
- No low impedance or low efficiency speakers
- For use with small to medium rooms
- I don't know how the Panasonic will sound with extremely revealing speakers such as the Gallo Reference 3.
- This inexpensive system still requires excellent power conditioning. However, you mileage may vary as I do live in a metropolitan area with known high levels of interference.
- Keep the two units separated by 6 inches.
- Panasonic Marketing
XR70 with DVD-97 Player
The XR97 DVD player is a high performance unit which also requires careful system matching, even after Panasonic has improved the unit with firmware upgrades. To maximize the picture quality, use the single HDMI connection. I connect my display's 1280*720p 1:1 mapping DVI input to the XR70s HDMI output port. Use the DVD player's picture adjustment controls to keep the displays controls in their neutral position. If your display has non-defeatable digital picture enhancement or scaling, then install the 540 firmware. Hopefully few will experience the ugly Genesis DSP based macroblocking effect.