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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in the midst of building a new apartment and at the last minute I was able to allocate money to install a HT, mind you this is not a dedicated HT. One of the restrictions was I needed a complete in wall system asap and jumped on the synthesis four speakers.


Now that I have had some time to read through the product manuals for the processing I'm not sold on the rest of the system. I wondering what other option are available, my budget is about 20g+ for processing and amps for the following:

2 s4vc

1 s4hc

4 s4ai

2 s4s



I am probably going to add a jl f112, the s4s are in the front corners, at the rear of the room after the interior decorator is finished with her BS =)


btw the room is at the upper end for the S4 about 7500 cubic feet
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Either it's as I am finding it, not too many comparable systems, or I wasn't clear on what I am looking for.


I'll start with the likes and dislikes for the synthesis.


likes:


Rack mountable


No real video processing

(the amp rack is in another room, all the source equipment is in case work under the tv. I ultimately would like to have just a straight a/v pre amp that will split audio and video, to send the signal to their respective processors. Surround processing in amp room, video processing @ tv)


118 band 8ch eq

(this is not a dedicated theater room actually I only have a front and one side wall. The rest of the room is open to the kitchen on the side and dining room to the rear. So I am concerned about acoustics and I am definitely going to need notch filters.)


dislikes


upgrade ability, the inability to handle loss-less audio. This is my biggest concern I dont want to have to dump sdp 5 and sdec 3000 in a couple of years when the format is more widely available.




The only comparable system that i have found is meridians c series but the c50 10 ch amp seems undersized [email protected] there is mention of a c59 (5ch [email protected]) in the c50's manual but I cant find any other info on it. Does this amp exist?


Also when reading about meridians room correction software, from what I understand, only filters low range and not mids or highs. Is this correct? If so I'll prolly need a anolog eq for each channel to correct the room, atleast that is what i am thinking. Something like a rane rpm 88 (I know it's a commercial eq, but I'm a commercial sound installer and I use these all the time so I'm just going with something I know. Alternative/comparable eq's suggestions appreciated.)


I also looked at qsc's dcm 30d and dcp 300 but they are a little too commercial for my app


I'm just looking for some additional brands that are comparable to the above. It seems like most units are to be displayed and not rack mounted. Yes I know that they have rack trays, I just dont like them.
 

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Congrats on your Synthesis® Four speakers. You should be quite pleased with them under the circumstances.


My downstairs Synthesis® One Array has the S4Ai units subbed in for the S1A units, and I'm very glad I went this route. In addition I have a separate JBL Performance Series MCH music-only system on the main floor, so I have the pleasure of listening to those same Ti drivers as in your front speakers.


I struggled a bit about the JBL electronics, too, especially as the lossless landscape keeps evolving. I ended up going with them anyway. Here's why.


The amps are as rock solid, steady, and durable as they come. While the power ratings may seem low for the price, it's the most accurate power rating I've seen. They're built to take whatever you throw at them and then to arc-weld your engine block when not in use in your HT. I've got some big name amps that have more rated power that can't touch the JBL amps. They are powerful, effortless, and cool. I never run out of headroom, and the power reserve seems limitless.


The SDP pre/pros are behind the times in some ways, but the way the SDP units work with the SDEC units was the deciding factor for me. This became abundantly clear during the calibration process, when the true power of the networked parametric EQ/processors came to bear. Hearing (and seeing) the system go from fantastic to indescribable was a literally STUNNING experience.


OTOH, if you're not going to have the JBL DACS calibration done, then I'd definitely suggest getting something else, as you can't really do the calibration yourself. In the case of an SDP-5 and SDEC3000 combo, you'd be wasting money for the SDEC3000. You can't control it without the DACS interface, and only a JBL Synthesis® technician has access to that.


Some of the other user-friendly units already mentioned will serve you better in that case.
 

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@ filecat13:


Do you mean that the S1A units sound significantly better then the S4Ai's? I was planning to combine the SK2-1000BT's at the front with S4Ai's. The SK2-1000BT's have Beryllium horn highs and mids, but there are no Synthesis surrounds with these drivers, so they might have a different sonic character.


What about the amps? They have built-in vents, so are they noisy when placed near the listening position in a rack?


I wonder what the advantage is of a combined SDP-40/SDEC-3000 combo versus a Denon AVP-A1 and an Audyssey system. Fact is, the SDEC-3000/4000 are very, very expensive. The SDP-40HD is to, if you consider that is unable to cope with lossless multichannel audio. I do not understand why the SDP-40/SDEC-3000 should ba a magic combo. Audio leaves the SPD-40 in an analogue form, so if you use a Denon instead, what is the difference?

The SDEC3000/4000 are networked, but there is not network communication between these and the SDP-40HD, is there?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thanks for the replies.


the cary 11a seems like a great unit and it's definitely an option. I may just use it with the sdec 3000 since the sdec can operate on it's own and is set for my particular speaker set.


@filecat13


thank you. I am planning to have a tech dial in the system but as far as the sdec 3000/4000 being locked are you sure about that? the manual provides a generic user name and password to access the dacs.


I am kinda looking forward to be able to sit on my couch and play with the configuration of the system. It is able to save data to a cpu so if I f... things up I can reload the techs settings or if I prefer mine save it under another name.


I hope the tech doesn't try locking the system because then fists will be a flying haha. Srsly I am going to be sure to talk to them about this before committing to the system it may be a deal breaker.


the jbl amps, I actually had a question about them so I had to call jbl. The synthesis tech could not answer my question. So they had a crown amp tech call me back to answer my question. They are basically crown amps.


I have installed crown amps commercially for about 20 years and they are and always have been superior to any thing else on the market. So I'm definitely using the amps and most likely the sdec, the only thing I'm questioning at this point is the preamp.


@ Thomas


you bring up one of my peeves with jbl. the spd 5/40 converts the digital signal to anolog only to send it to the sdec to be resampled wtf? Especially when the sdec 4000 supports cobra net which can handle most audio formats several times over. very disappointing.


I am considering using the sdp-40 instead because of the fact that lexicon has announced an upgrade for the mc-12hd to handle loss less audio. The mc-12hd and sdp-40 seems to be basically the same unit and considering the interrelationships mentioned above, it gives me hope =)
 

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@ mikeybx:


I can't think of a reason to choose the Cary over the Denon AVP-A1HDA.


About the JBL amps: Don't you think their built-in vents might spoil the party?


About the SDEC3000/4000: If you are a pro audio installer, then why don't go for the BSS London instead? Might save you some $'s.


About the SPD40: If it supports high res audio, it might become interesting again. In the mean time, my vote goes to the Denon. Maybe (I am not sure about this) the built-in Aydyssey version in the Denon might be good and flexibele enough so you do not need the SDCE3000/4000 anymore. The fact that the audio signal stays in the digital domain all the time (as opposed to the extra D/A, A/D stage with the SDEC3000/4000) is the icing on the cake.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I am an installer, I work for an investment group that owns a few chains of bars and night clubs. I typically only deal with jbl, ev, eaw, dbx, rane and crown, that's pretty much what i'm limited to as far as discount buys.


Fan noise has nevr been an issue as far as commercial and in my application, the amp rack is in another room, so I am not worried about it.


As for the denon i have always had onkyo/denon/pioneer processors, I was really trying to take the next step with the jbl. I was rushed into the choice and went with jbl because of my prior experience with their pro loud speakers.


the more i read on the dacs configuration the more i am swayed toward the sdec because of the way it is specifically design for ONLY the synthesis series is compelling.


the difference a dbx drive rack makes when used with a pre programmed set of loud speakers and amps is night and day compared to the same set up minus the drive rack and say a rane rpm processor instead. I am hoping that the difference that an sdec over say an audyssey will be the same.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeybx /forum/post/17013321


the more i read on the dacs configuration the more i am swayed toward the sdec because of the way it is specifically design for ONLY the synthesis series is compelling.

I don't think it is. It is rebadging of the BSS London (see www.bssaudio.com ). I a not saying it isn't a good unit - it better be, considering the price - but I still don't understand why the combination SPD-40/SDEC would be so magic.


What do you mean with 'the dacs configuration'?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasBelgium /forum/post/17013552


it better be, considering the price

you aint kidding. I dont doubt that this unit is a bss audio unit considering they are all harmon companies. If you read thru the sdec configuration manual , what jbl calls "dacs configuration" basically the GUI that is used to configure the sdec, you will see that it is specific to only the synthesis line of speakers.


So is it worth it to have a bss audio processor specifically tuned to your speaker set? I'm beginning to think so. Also I noticed this morning that jbl rents configuration kits which includes all the necessary componets needed to dial the system in, so I may even attempt this myself.
 

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The SDEC is basically a custom Soundweb London unit or units. (My SDEC4000 is two units networked together.)


When hooked up to the DACS-4 unit, five mics, and two (yes two) laptops, the system is totally configurable, based on equipment profiles that are programmed into the software. The DACS unit compiles everything and loads it into the SDEC once the configuration is set.


It's hard to beat a system that knows what amps, processor, fronts, surrounds, and subs you're using, can test them, can measure them against known profiles, can evaluate your room at five different locations at once, and can use multi-band parametric EQ to guide calibration and instantaneously produce graphs of the changes and do overlay comparisons from channel to channel in real time.


There's no doubt in my mind that there are better individual components with more up to date architecture than the SDP pre/pros. What I do doubt is that there is a better integrated system. The guy who did my calibration said I could substitute another pre/pro without affecting the SDEC, but that I might have to "ear-tune" the system through the new pre/pro. Otherwise, it's possible to redo the whole system using the DACS-4 and new/pre pro, but it would take a lot longer and the result would be less predictable, since the new unit's profile would not exist in the software.


Mikey: if JBL rents configuration kits, it's news to me. If you can really do this, then you can probably use just about any pre/pro and take the time to do a thorough job.


If you confirm this, please PM me the info, as I've got some spare Synthesis® Three gear from an old system that I'd love to set up again. I just don't want to pay someone else to do it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThomasBelgium /forum/post/17012191


@ filecat13:


Do you mean that the S1A units sound significantly better then the S4Ai's?



What about the amps? They have built-in vents, so are they noisy when placed near the listening position in a rack?



The SDEC3000/4000 are networked, but there is not network communication between these and the SDP-40HD, is there?

Hi Thomas. I mean that I prefer the S4Ai to the S1A. I didn't like the S1A much at all. To me, the S4Ai is a much better surround speaker in my installation.


The Synthesis® amps have fans, and they vent out the front. Mine run very cool, thus very quietly (if at all), and I only hear them at shut down, when they power up for a few moments after everything is turned off. Actually, the SDEC units are the noisiest thing in the system. They have little fans just like a network server would have, and they run constantly. It's important to know this before deciding where to place them.


The SDEC units are not networked in a traditional sense with the SDP-40 or SDP-5 as the case may be, but the SDEC "knows" which unit you have. On initial start up, the SDP "searches" for the attached SDEC and runs a quick configuration routine, then it reboots itself to a ready state. Every time the SDP unit is completely powered down, it re-runs this routine on initial start up. It doesn't do this if you simply power it down to standby.
 

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The amps are actually made by ATI (Amplifier Technologies Inc.) in Montebello, CA, to JBL Synthesis® specs.
 

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As to the noiseof JBL amps, our 4 units in our showroom are pretty loud. We can here them in the same room and behind a sound curtain. And yes, they are ATI units.


The Cary Audio unit has been prefered to other units based on sound.

Discussion here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1087315


The S4Ai surrounds are the best for an in-wall variety, configurable to direct, bi-pole, dipole or seperate channel sound. We have 4 of them in our showroom.


The SDEC units have to be set-up by a JBL technician or Synthesis dealer and the software is propietary. It is locked into a laptop in the calibration package and cannot be changed on the fly. But doing so doesn't make a lot of sense since the calibration is based on JBL's own sound curve to emulate JBL and THX certifed theaters.

The Audiocontrol Diva does allow for 20 customizable memory settings though.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ifor /forum/post/17017340



The Cary Audio unit has been prefered to other units based on sound.

Discussion here:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1087315

I have to write that the 11a is so frustrating and unreliable that its sound quality is not enough to recommend it. A number of my acquaintances have ribbed me about the Lexicon (Synthesis® SDP-x) gear being behind the times, then I have to listen to their constant niggling complaints about losing LFE or EQ or sound altogether when using their HDMI capable units. The Cary in particular is irritating because both units I've heard will drop audio if you breathe wrong and require some kind of voodoo ritual to get things working. Sometimes it makes weird little noises, too.


There is no excuse for this kind of erratic behavior in a $4k unit.


The Synthesis® stuff has something going for it: it works predictably every time. Perhaps JBL/Lexicon/Harman has the right approach in letting the technology mature. It frustrates me to wait, but less so than paying thousands for a unit that has to be nursed along and requires me to adapt to its needs rather than the other way around.
 

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"I am considering using the sdp-40 instead because of the fact that lexicon has announced an upgrade for the mc-12hd to handle loss less audio."


The MC-12HD already handles multi-channel LPCM. The upcoming upgrade is just to expand it from accepting 6 channels of LPCM to 8 channels.


Shawn
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by ifor /forum/post/17017340



The SDEC units ...and the software is propietary.

Spoke to jbl today, london architect is used to configure it, available from bss's site, and the design file is stored on the sdec. You can also make separate design files that can be saved to a lappy and uploaded at any time. It's not on the fly but you can have and load different configurations.
 
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