JBL SDP-55 Pre-Pro and SDR-35 AVR at CES 2020

Although this hardware debuted at CEDIA 2019, my first opportunity to demo the latest processor and AVR from JBL Synthesis coincided with CES 2020. JBL put on a complete home theater demo using JBL Synthesis in-wall and in-ceiling speakers along with the SDP-55 Pre-Pro handling the processing. As I’ve come to expect, the end result was a top-tier audio experience.


JBL’s Synthesis demo at CES 2020 featured an “all in-wall & in-ceiling” speaker installation

While the demo used the SDP-55, to me the more interesting device is the SDR-35 AVR. This is not your typical AV receiver, it is an IMAX Enhanced AVR featuring Class G amplification for seven of its sixteen channels. Class G is a design that provides pure Class A power most of the time, except during dynamic peaks that require more juice. The “2 channels driven” spec for this AVR is : 20Hz – 20kHz, <0.02% THD, 120W (8 ohms) / 200W ( 4 ohms). This unit, and the SDP-55, implement Dirac Live room correction.

Notably, these devices offer Logic16 upmixing that is able to upmix “any” input source from mono to 15.1 (with the caveat that Atmos cannot be natively upmixed, but it will upmix the 7.1 core/bed that is included with Atmos soundtracks. These IMAX Enhanced certified systems also have Dante audio networking built in.

Also shown at CES were architectural JBL Synthesis speakers, including a new 12″ in-wall model that doubles the output of its predecessor.

In this instance, I gave the entire demo a “Best of CES 2020” nod, with a focus on the SDP-55 Pre-Pro and SDR-35 AVR that deserve a lot of credit for making the demo sound like a proper Synthesis system without the five-figure price tag usually associated with that sort of sound.