Monday, August 17, 2020

Outlaw Audio Model 7000X 7 Channel Home Theater Amplifier Review


When it comes to speakers, they all need power. All power, however, is not created equal. If you’re on a budget, sure you can use an A/V receiver with its built-in amplifier to power your speakers. But if you want the best sound out of your speakers, the best route to go is with a separate, dedicated amplifier. Unfortunately, separate amplifiers can be rather pricy. There are options, though. If you are an audiophile on a budget, one of the best names out there for separate amplifiers is Outlaw Audio. Up for review today is one of their 7 channel home theater amplifiers, the Outlaw Amplifier Model 7000X.

Why the need for a separate amplifier, you may ask, when an A/V receiver already have a built-in amp? It’s all based on quality. A tweeter is fairly easy to drive, and so is a midrange. Woofers, or bass frequencies, are harder to drive. For those, it’s better to have power. Also, the more power you have on tap the better you’re able to control the motor of any particular driver. I like to use the analogy of horsepower and torque. You can have a Honda Civic SI with a 180-horsepower engine tweaked up to over 300 horsepower with a turbo charger. But even though you might have 300 horsepower on tap, you still don’t want to tow an RV with it. For that, you need torque. You need muscle behind the power. To really control your speaker and get the output and dynamics they are capable of you need power, like torque. So sure, you can power a speaker with an A/V receiver, but to get the best sound, a separate amplifier is the way to go.




Another issue is the impedance of your speakers. If you have 4ohm speakers I would be extremely hesitance to power them with an A/V receiver. Some A/V receivers may claim they can handle that low of a load, you would be reducing the lifespan of your receiver because of the strain the amp would be under. It may work short term, but the safer bet would be to get a separate amplifier in short order.

Features and specs:
Crosstalk: Greater than -70dB from 20Hz – 20kHz
Frequency Response: 20Hz -20kHz +/- 0.5 dB at rated output (130W)
Input Impedance: 40KOhms
Input Sensitivity: 1.2 Volts
Intermodulation Distortion: Less than 0.05% from 250mV to full rated output (130W)
Power Bandwidth: 5Hz - 54kHz +0/-3 dB
Power Output: 200 watts RMS x 7 into 4 ohms (from 20 Hz to 20 kHz with less than 0.06% total harmonic distortion, A-weighted filter)
Power Output: 130 watts RMS x 7 (all channels driven simultaneously into 8 ohms from 20 Hz to 20 kHz with less than 0.03% total harmonic distortion, A-weighted filter)
Voltage Gain: 28dB

Packaging
The Outlaw Audio Model 7000X came shipped in a standard cardboard box with image and specs printed on the packaging. In fact, it came double boxed to help protect the amp. Opening the box revealed a well protected amplifier held in place by custom molded Styrofoam.  And make sure you practice safe lifting. Weighing in at more than 60 pounds, this amp is a beast! Materials used in construction was almost all metal, with a little bit of plastic in the speaker wire connectors in the back. Quality of materials used as well as the fit and finish, was very good. While Outlaw Audio has sourced the build to overseas to cut the cost and pass those savings on to you, it’s still proving to be a solid, well built product. The connections appeared to be well put together with really tight tolerances. Terminals at the rear felt very solid and having the option of RCA as well as XLR connectors for your inputs at this price point of under $1000 is phenomenal! And for those who are looking to upgrade their gear, it’s a great amp as you don’t need XLR’s in order to use it. But if you plan to upgrade to a separate preamp in the future, you will be able to utilize the connectors at that time. This means it’s also a great amp to grow with.

In turns of power, Outlaw Audio also provides real world numbers in its power ratings. If you look at the power ratings of an A/V receiver for its built-in amplifier section you’ll see it’s rated at 1 channel driven and at 1 kHz. 1kHz is an easy frequency to drive and driving only one speaker, rather than 5 or 7 at a time, is also easy to do. Any wimpy amp can do that. But Outlaw Audio rates their amps and provides all of the specs for all channels driven and at 20 Hz to 20000 Hz. It also provides true power at this rating not only at 8 ohms but at 4 ohms as well.

I like the design of the Outlaw Audio Model 7000X rated at 130 watts per channel at 8 ohm or 200 watts per channel at 4 ohm. You get enough power that is sufficient to power all but the most power-hungry speakers. 200 watts at 4 ohm will sufficiently power even most tower speakers and will provide very good control over even a large woofer in a tower speaker. The front panel is a clean looking solid brushed black aluminum faceplate with a single LED to indicate power. One thing I would have liked to see different is having a single LED for each channel so you can see at a glance that all channels are functioning. The top and sides have meshed vents for cooling, the rear is for all of the connectors. You have both RCA and XLR for inputs for each channel as well as standard plastic speaker connectors that accept both traditional banana plugs or unscrew to allow for either spade connector or bare wire. On the far right hand side you have the connector for the detachable power cord, as well as the remote turn on cable that attaches to your receiver or preamp. All of the connectors on the rear panel felt really solid and well made. Again, even though this is an overseas product, Outlaw Audio seems to have a good QC on their product as it felt very well made and put together. Inside the amp, a large portion of the weight came from a massive toroidal transformer. Each channel also has its own large heat sink and four large capacitors to provide the instant needed power to provide the dynamics that we look for in home theater. Cooling for all channels is passive through the heat sinks attached to each channel, but the heat sinks do their job sufficiently well as the amp didn’t run too hot. In fact it only got warm to the touch. Connecting the amp to the inputs of my receiver was very easy as well as connecting the banana plugs to the speaker connectors in the back. Now that it’s all wired up, let’s see how it sounds.

For the listening test we’ll use both music and movies with a few samples for each. And we’ll be able to amply test how it handles as the front 3 speakers of our reference speakers are 4 ohm and the surround and back surround channels are 6 ohms each, so based on power rating, we should be getting 200 watts per channel on the front and 165 on the sides and rear.

Rhapsody in Blue- Clarinet had excellent air with excellent texture and woodiness of the reed. Piano sounded dynamic with excellent harmonics and naturalness of the strings. The bassoon had very good texture and depth of tone. Brass was extremely dynamic and silky smooth without being too brassy.

Mayo Nakano Piano Trios “Scabious”- Provided an enjoyment I’m not used to having with speakers and piano. Also saying that it is hard to recreate the full natural sound of a piano from a speaker, is a huge understatement. So, when I was listening to this piano track, my eyes got big and I did a double and triple take! How close did they sound to the real thing? Much better than I was expecting! The richness in the tone of the strings, the depth of resolution in the harmonics, and dynamics, I could actually hear the hammers contact on the strings. It gave me goosebumps!

Junior Wells: Why are People Like That- Vocals were extremely natural with excellent timbre and texture. Bass had very nice low-end extension. Drums had great impact and dynamics. Harmonica was extremely crisp, clean, smooth and dynamic. Cymbals were also crisp and dynamic.

Disturbed: Sound of Silence – vocals were nice and raw with excellent resolution and texture of the timbre. Piano sounded very natural, as did the strings. Acoustic guitar was very crisp and clean, providing stellar resolution being able to actually hear the plucking of the strings. The tympani also had very nice dynamics and impact, hearing the hammer hit the pad.

For you gamers: Sugaan Essena- Jedi Fallen Order- The strings on the lute were extremely crisp and clean, being able to hear the bow run across the individual stings. Drums had amazing dynamics and impact. Vocals were extremely raw with excellent texture. The sound stage was nothing short of holographic, being both wide and deep, I felt like I was right next to the band in the recording studio.

Movies
Ready Player One- Race scene- The revving and throttling of the various engines not only had excellent pitch definition of the bass and mid bass.  The stiff aluminum cones provided excellent control, for the necessary output and dynamics for movies. The resolution was phenomenal. Even at loud movie theater reference levels, the sound was excellent when the firework explodes to start the race, I could feel the cushion in my Lazy-Boy resonate! All of the tires screeching, and crashing, all sounded amazingly lifelike with the appropriate dynamics. And when King Kong is running to the finish line, you feel like you’re in the movie!

Spiderman: Far from Home- Ferris Wheel scene- The roars of the fire monster had real power and depth to them. The explosions were life like with dynamics and authority that made me question if I’d need to go to a movie theater again. At least I wouldn’t need to, to get movie theater quality sound. Spiderman shooting his webs, also sounded really crisp and clean. Even the cracking of the flames sounded like a real campfire.  This was also one of the things that I had noticed, the striking resolution.  I had watched this movie at least a dozen times, and the detailed resolution provided was easily noticeable without needing to listen for it.

Greatest Showman- Never Enough Song scene- The silky smooth harmonics of her timbre were masterfully portrayed in layers of texture. And as the passion builds and builds in the song, every note of her voice is remarkably portrayed. Even at loud movie theater volume levels, they shined.

I was very impressed with the performance of the Outlaw Audio Model 7000X 7 channel amplifier. The front speakers being rated to handle 450 watts and the sides and rears being able to handle 250 watts, the 200 to the fronts and 165 to the side and rear did a very capable job of controlling the speakers and made them seem very well controlled. Resolution was quite good and the bass had very good resolution and the Outlaw Audio Model 7000X controlled the motor structure very well for impressive dynamics that wouldn’t be able to be achieved by an A/V receiver. Even though my front speakers had much more headroom to be able to accept more than twice the power they were fed, they didn’t seem thin or strained in any way. In fact, it was just the opposite!  I was used to listening at a certain volume setting, and at the same setting with the Outlaw Audio Model 7000X being used, it was significantly louder by at least 40%!

The extra power however is not the best part.  I had high expectations for Outlaw Audio based on their reputation.  These expectations have been exceeded on all accounts.  Not only did the Outlaw Audio put out a lot of power, it did so with a lot of resolution and true to the source, with plenty of perceived headroom.  The level of transparency was more than I expected at their price point.  But it wasn’t just it’s transparency, it was also its musicality with a neutral sound signature.  The Outlaw Audio Model 7000X was also very musical.  It also proved to be very efficient as well, as even when playing loud for long spans of time, the amp just got warm to the touch.  It’s passive cooling system worked extremely well.  If you’re on a tight budget but still want the performance a separate amp can provide, the Outlaw Audio Model 7000X should be on your short list. At $979 it’s worth every penny and a bang for the buck that is off the charts! Based on its design, features, quality and performance, the Outlaw Audio Model 7000X has earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.outlawaudio.com. Reference gear used: Onkyo TX-RZ920 Receiver, Emotiva BasX A-500 amp, RBH Sound SI-663R fronts, RBH Sound SI-760R surrounds and back surrounds, SI-615 in-ceiling height channels, Oppo Digital BDP-103D transport, Sony Bravia front projector, Elite Screens EZ-Frame screen. 



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Thursday, August 13, 2020

RBH Sound SI-663R Reference Series In-Wall Speaker Review


When it comes to home audio gear, sometimes I can be conflicted. I’m a musician and also being raised around the piano with my mom, I have an ear for quality audio. But I also like, especially in the current economy, being able to support products being made here in the US. With most home audio gear being made overseas, that’s getting more and more difficult to do. And when it comes to home audio speakers, whether it be for regular audio or for home theater, it’s nice to be able to do in-walls.  But most in walls don’t come with an enclosure so you tend to be a little handicapped as far as audio quality. With electronics you also tend to get what you pay for.  Fortunately for those who are looking for quality high-end home audio, as well as made in America products, there is a company you can turn to that’s known for their quality home audio gear. Enter RBH Sound, high performance audio products manufacturer that has been redefining the way you experience sound for over 45 years. Today we will be reviewing their SI-663R in-wall speaker.

RBH Sound has a couple of different speaker lines to give variety to different budgets. We will be covering their Reference Series, which is their top-of-the-line series. And they have several models within that line depending on your needs, such as room size and budget. They start out with the SI-740R which encompasses a single tweeter and a single woofer, followed by the SI-760R which is a MTM design which has a single tweeter between two woofers. Next above that is the SI-663R which adds an additional tweeter and woofer so you have two tweeters in between three woofers. Depending on your room size, you could use SI-740R’s though out or you could use SI-760R’s for the fronts and SI-740R’s for the sides and rears or for larger rooms you could use SI-663R’s for the fronts and SI-760R’s for the sides and rears.  There are several potential configurations depending on your room.

Being in the position of finishing our basement, which includes a large theater room which will house our reference gear for reviews, we were in a unique position. We do a lot of product reviews, however, it’s hard to find reviews for in-wall speakers. Since this is the position we are in, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to review some in-wall products. Given the current environment with everyone having been quarantined due to the COVID-19, there had also been an increased interest in home theater gear.  So we figured the timing was perfect. Given the heritage of RBH Sound, the sound quality and dynamics of their multi-award-winning lines, that we were looking for both music and home theater as well as their top of the line products.  Being made here in the US, RBH had everything we were looking for. We went with their SI-663R’s for front LCR, SI-760R for sides and rears, SI-615 for height channels, and brand new SI-1212 sub for a 7.1.4 setup.



Features and specs:
Model Name:  SI-663/R
Series:  Signature Reference In-wall
System Type:  In-wall/LCR Dual 2-way Speaker
Frequency Response:  50Hz-20kHz (±3dB)
Sensitivity:  90dB Main, 88dB Center, and 92dB Combined (2.83V @ 1 Meter)
Recommended Power:  75-225 Watts Main, 75-175 Watts Center and 75-450 Watts Combined
Woofers:  (3) 6-1/2" (165mm) Reference Aluminum Cone Woofers
Tweeter:  (2) 4.72" X 1" (120mm x 25mm) AMT
Tweeter Protection: Yes
Swivel Tweeter(s):  No
Crossover Frequency:  2,700 Hz
Crossover Slope:  12dB/Octave
Impedance:  8 Ohms Main, 6 Ohms Center and 4 Ohms Combined
Cabinet Material/Color:  Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)/Black
Cabinet Finish:  Black Enclosure
Baffle and Grille:  Baffle Black; Grille Black or White. Enclosure Sold Separately.
Baffle Dimensions:  8" W x 32" H (203mm W x 812mm H)
Enclosure Dimensions:  14" W x 56" H x 3-1/2" D (356mm W x 1422mm H x 89mm D)
Weight:  60 lbs. (27.22 kg)
Warranty:  5 Years




There was no flashy packaging that the speakers came in. RBH only sells through authorized dealers. The dealers showcase the speakers and demo them, so you know what you’re getting. There is no flashy color printed packaging needed to catch your eye. This is understandable. The speaker came in a standard thick cardboard box with the manufactures name and serial numbers printed on the box. Opening the box revealed a well protected speaker held in place by custom molded foam. Pulling out the speaker showed a cloth grill securely held in place and wrapped in plastic wrapping. The speaker baffle was securely screwed in place into the enclosure for shipping. Everything about the speaker system screamed quality. This is their top of the line model and it showed. The enclosure was made of MDF and solidly assembled. Giving it my knock test, it was very solid. Unscrewing the speaker baffle and taking it out of the enclosure, I was able to see the dampening fill inside the enclosure as well as the internal structure for increased stability. It was an extremely well made enclosure that was tuned to the individual drivers for that model so you get the best sound possible, even with them being in-walls. Turning to the baffle and the drivers and crossover network, I was greeted with the same quality. The baffle that housed the drivers was a thick half inch MDF painted black with the smooth texture. The woofer was a 6 ½ inches with rubber surround and black aluminum cone with phase plug. Turning to the back of the driver, I could see the use of a thick cast aluminum basket with a large magnet that had an extruding back end of the magnet for increased range of the voice coil offering increased travel in order to yield better dynamics and power handling capacity. The use of the phase plug also helped for cooling of the motor structure and voice coil for increased power handling capacity as well as sonic benefits in the higher octave ranges. Also included were mounting screws, installation instructions and a cardboard piece to cover the opening during drywall installation.

The tweeter is equally impressive. RBH now uses an air motion tweeter or referred to as an AMT tweeter. It’s basically a folded ribbon design tweeter. Based on the design, it has a much larger surface area which provides higher dynamics and handling as well as a rich, smooth, plush sound providing a resolution and airiness that has to be heard to be believed. Some manufacturers are able to deliver on that signature sound better than others. RBH has worked with Aurum Cantus on a custom design to maximize the performance of the design. AMT’s have become more popular in recent years and can be found on speakers in a wide range of price points but again, you get what you pay for. And with the RBH design, they are able to maximize the delivered sound.

Turning to the crossover network, my being impressed with their designs continues. My attention is instantly turned to the sizable wiring. Typical wiring on the crossover networks you often see 20 or 18 gauge wire, but here it looks like they are using 14-12 gauge wire. Again, the speaker appears to be designed to handle a lot of power to deliver the dynamics of gunfire and explosions often found in home theater content.  All of the internal components of the crossover network such as the coils, capacitors, and resistors house RBH’s name on them so they appear internally made and of very high quality. The push connectors are also high quality and are gold plated.

The SI-663R also has a very unique design and can be used as a center channel speaker without having a separate center channel.  It would entail having a pair of SI-663R’s as front left and rights.  The top woofer and tweeter of both the left and right speakers would be used as the center channel speaker.  There is also a separate internal crossover network as well as speaker terminal for the center channel.  So if your room does not provide the ability to have a center channel speaker, you can have a center channel speaker by using a pair of SI-663R’s.  In essence the SI-663R is an SI-740R on top and an SI-760R below that, with both an SI-740R and SI-760R crossover network.  And when employing a 3rd SI-663R as a center channel speaker, the cabinet is built to have a jumper wired in so all of the drivers are used as a single left, single center, or single right.  It’s a very ingenious design!

All in all, RBH seems to have a very special line of speakers on their hands with their reference line. The quality of all the individual components, be it the tweeter, the woofer, or the crossover network, all scream top of the line. The only real knock that I can see on them is the lack of attenuation for the tweeter or boundary compensation as is found on some in-wall models, however, this is typically set by your receiver during set-up. Depending on install location, these could be nice to have. I would have also liked to have seen the option for a magnetic metal grill. Although the grill they do have being a cloth cover does give a level of sophistication or class that you don’t usually find on in-wall speakers.

The speaker design was also thoughtful in regards to the installation. Around the edge of the opening where the baffle is mounted, there is a metal ring to separate the baffle from the drywall. The sides of the enclosure have a few thin foam pieces on the side that help hold the enclosure in place while you are determining the exact height to mount them at, and holding in place, while securely screwing them to the location.  The baffle is also raised ½ inch higher than the enclosure. The entire enclosure is 3 ½ inches thick so it fits perfectly in between the studs that are 16 inches off center. After they are mounted and you install the drywall, the drywall completely covers the enclosure so the speaker baffle ends up being flush with the drywall. This way when your walls are completed with drywall, tape, texture and paint, the speakers are flush with the rest of the wall. And the paper cover that goes over the opening for the baffle is very thoughtfully included to help keep any construction debris from the wall from getting inside the enclosure. And having the speaker baffle and enclosure being two separate pieces, there is zero concern about any of the drivers being damaged during the construction process of the wall.

Listening Tests

Now that the install process is complete, it’s time for the listening tests. The listening tests will be comprised of both music of different genres as well as selected movie scenes. And we’ll test these SI-663R’s both by themselves, as a stereo left and right pair for their performance in that scenario as well as speakers as front left, center, right, in a 7.1.4 configuration. The height channel speakers being RBH SI-615 and sub being the RBH SI-1212.  The sides and rear surrounds of the 7.1.4 configuration being the SI-760R’s.

Rhapsody in Blue- Clarinet had excellent air with excellent texture and woodiness of the reed. Piano sounded dynamic with excellent harmonics and naturalness of the strings. The bassoon had very good texture and depth of tone. Brass was extremely dynamic and silky smooth without being too brassy.
Mayo Nakano Piano Trios “Scabious”- Provided an enjoyment I’m not used to having with speakers and piano. Having grown up around piano, it’s one of my favorite instruments, even though I don’t play. I’m a clarinet and sax player. But my mom would play almost daily. Also saying that it is hard to recreate the full natural sound of a piano from a speaker, is a huge understatement. She spoiled me with her playing and now I love hearing my wife play her baby grand. So I’ll admit, I’m extremely picky when it comes to hearing piano through speakers. I have yet to hear a speaker system be able to recreate the full sound as if you were standing next to a baby grand being played. Having said that, I have heard a few come extremely close, even $50,000/pair tower speakers that have come up short. So when I was listening to some piano tracks, my eyes got big and I did a double and triple take! How close did they sound to the real thing? I’ll put it this way…I had to have my wife sit down and play for a few minutes for me, to confirm what I was hearing. And no, the RBH SI-663R’s were not able to fully recreate the piano as if you are standing next to one. But the sound they did recreate, was so close to the real thing, RBH is practically giving these away for their price. I won’t name names, but I have heard tower speakers at twice the price not sound as good. And these are in-wall! The piano should not sound this natural on any speaker, let alone an in-wall. Let me rephrase. Classical music connoisseurs WANT speakers to be able to sound like the real thing. It’s just almost impossible, which is why I am so impressed with the performance of these RBH reference series. The richness in the tone of the strings, the depth of resolution in the harmonics, and dynamics, I could actually hear the hammers contact on the strings. It gave me goosebumps!

Junior Wells: Why are People Like That- Vocals were extremely natural with excellent timbre and texture. Bass had very nice low end extension. Drums had great impact and dynamics. Harmonica was extremely crisp, clean, smooth and dynamic. Cymbals were also crisp and dynamic.
Disturbed: Sound of Silence – vocals were nice and raw with excellent resolution and texture of the timbre. Piano sounded very natural, as did the strings. Acoustic guitar was very crisp and clean, providing stellar resolution being able to actually hear the plucking of the strings. The tympani also had very nice dynamics and impact, hearing the hammer hit the pad.
For you gamers: Sugaan Essena- Jedi Fallen Order- The strings on the lute were extremely crisp and clean, being able to hear the bow run across the individual stings. Drums had amazing dynamics and impact. Vocals were extremely raw with excellent texture. The sound stage was nothing short of holographic, being both wide and deep, I felt like I was right next to the band in the recording studio.

Movies

Ready Player One- Race scene- The revving and throttling of the various engines not only had excellent pitch definition of the bass and mid bass.  The stiff aluminum cones provided excellent control, for the necessary output and dynamics for movies. The resolution was phenomenal. Even at loud movie theater reference levels, the sound was excellent when the firework explodes to start the race, I could feel the cushion in my Lazy-Boy resonate! All of the tires screeching, and crashing, all sounded amazingly lifelike with the appropriate dynamics. And when King Kong is running to the finish line, you feel like you’re in the movie!

Spiderman: Far from Home, Ferris Wheel scene- The roars of the fire monster had real power and depth to them. The explosions were life like with dynamics and authority that made me question if I’d need to go to a movie theater again. At least I wouldn’t need to, to get movie theater quality sound. Spiderman shooting his webs, also sounded really crisp and clean. Even the cracking of the flames sounded like a real campfire.  This was also one of the things that I had noticed, the striking resolution.  I had watched this movie at least a dozen times, and the detailed resolution provided was easily noticeable without needing to listen for it.

Greatest Showman- Never Enough Song scene- The silky smooth harmonics of her timbre were masterfully portrayed in layers of texture. And as the passion builds and builds in the song, every note of her voice is remarkably portrayed. Even at loud movie theater volume levels, they shined.

I’ve reviewed a lot of speaker systems and I’ve heard a lot more than that. While there are times that my expectation of a product will be surpassed, I’m rarely surprised. Given RBH’s reputation and the price point of the SI-663R’s, I had high expectations. It’s difficult to design speakers that deliver the sound and energy found in a movie theater. But it’s exponentially more difficult to perform just as well for music. The SI-663R’s both exceeded my expectations and surprised me. Vocals were lush and smooth like honey, the highs from the AMT tweeter were crisp and clean with room filling lifelike dynamics that were not overly bright. And thanks to the 2nd tweeter, my 2nd row got a sonic experience equal to the front row. I expected a great performance for movies. But it was the music performance that surprised me. I was taken back by the natural sound of the piano, AND the imaging and soundstage. I was expecting good imaging, but wasn’t sure what to expect for soundstage. Imaging and soundstage both exceeded my expectations. Imaging was excellent, and they threw a very large soundstage, deeper than I expected. The soundstage wasn’t perfect, and not quite as holographic as I have heard from some large tower speakers. But they are also in walls at a fraction of the price. For the ultimate larger home theater room experience with tiered seating, go with three of these SI-663R’s for the front left, center, and right, four SI-760R’s for both sides and both rears, SI-615’s for height channels and an SI-1212 in ceiling/floor subwoofer. This will give you a phenomenal RBH Sound Signature Reference Series 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos, DTS-X system. Although I will warn you, you may be like me and end up listening to more music than watching movies. Yep, they sound that good!


It’s really easy to think of the word synergy after reviewing these RBH speakers, the definition of synergy is the whole being more than the sum of the parts. With the design of the enclosure being so install friendly as well as having the enclosure being tuned to the drivers and the quality of the drivers themselves really provided a speaker that has to be heard to be believed. While it’s not perfect, missing a couple items that would be beneficial for in-wall speakers such as tweeter attenuation and boundary compensation, it comes pretty darn close. And if there was one thing I could request, it would be to add the option to have magnetic mounted grills.  In rating them I give them two big thumbs up and two big toes because I don’t have more than two thumbs. The sound you are getting with the SI-663R is not only phenomenal, it is a huge bang for the buck for their price point.  I think Ferris Buller said it best when describing the Ferrari 250 GT California, “If you have the means, I highly recommend it!” We may have to rethink having an award higher than Editor’s Choice because that’s what these deserve. Plus there’s also the warm fuzzies for buying American, knowing you are supporting local jobs. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at www.RBHsound.com.  And stay tuned for the SI-760R, SI-615, and SI-1212 reviews.



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Tuesday, August 4, 2020

NAD ANNOUNCES THE MASTERS M28 SEVEN CHANNEL POWER AMPLIFIER

Header image
First amplifier of its kind to feature HybridDigital™ Purifi Eigentakt™amplifier technology
PICKERING, ONTARIO, CANADA, AUGUST 4, 2020 — NAD Electronics, the highly regarded manufacturer of high-performance audio/video components, today unveiled another new and unique Masters Series product. The M28, a seven-channel high performance amplifier that can serve as a powerful engine for a state-of-the-art multi-channel system for music or home theatre. Of note, the reference amplifier is the first multi-channel amplifier to utilize Purifi’s Eigentakt™ (self-clocking) amplifier technology. The M28 ($4,999 U.S. MSRP) is available now to order and will begin shipping in August, 2020.

Hybrid DigitalTM Purifi EigentaktTM Amplifier

First embraced in the NAD M33 Masters Series BluOS Streaming DAC Amplifier, the Masters M28 uses the Eigentakt™ amplifier, manufactured by NAD under license from Purifi, a Danish technology company that brought together several of the industry’s leading engineers.
While there are many good sounding amplifiers on the market today, Purifi has taken a fresh look at every aspect of amplifier performance and found many seemingly small non-linearities that, when corrected, can make a dramatic difference in the overall sound. Advanced technology, well thought-out PCB layouts and advanced mathematical modelling solved the last remaining limitations of audio amplifiers. The measured result is less noise and lower distortion, but the audible result is something more. The detail and transparency of the sound provides new levels of refinement at any volume level.
In common with previous generations of NAD HybridDigital technology, but unlike most Class D amplifier designs, the M28 is not only able to easily handle long cable runs but is impervious to the loudspeaker load it is presented with, maintaining the same wide and even bandwidth response irrespective of the speaker’s impedance and at the same time providing high current capability. On tap is 200W into 8 Ohms of continuous power for all channels driven at the same time and 560W of dynamic power into 4 Ohms. 
Eigentakt technology is very analogue-like in behaviour in the unlikely event the amplifier is driven into clipping. Whereas many Class D designs can become unstable, Eigentakt behaves in a way like the benign way of clipping with instant recovery of well executed traditional Class A/B amplifiers. 
“NAD has always been known for great sounding amplifiers that punch way above their weight and the M28 does this at a reference level and then some” states Cas Oostvogel, NAD’s Product Manager. “Using the Purifi Eigentakt technology, the M28 delivers massive amounts of power with sound quality that has to be experienced to fully appreciate. Even better, NAD engineers have managed to deliver all this performance at a cost less than traditional technology.”

CONNECTIVITY 

For ease of installation in a variety of systems, the M28 accepts both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR inputs, the latter being the same efficient audio interface as used by professional studios to provide the highest level of signal integrity with the lowest noise floor for the best possible performance. The high-quality binding posts provide rock-solid speaker connections.
The M28's styling is designed to match the NAD Masters Series M17 V2i preamp/processor, for a seven-channel home theatre system that will astound you with its power and grace.

M28 KEY FEATURES 

  • HybridDigital™ Purifi Eigentakt™ Amplifier
  • 200W x 7 channels into 8 Ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.003% THD
  • 4-Ohm stable for use with a wide range of speakers
  • Locking XLR connectors and special interface electronics allow long cable runs without noise pickup or signal loss
  • Balanced and single-ended line inputs
  • 12-Volt trigger

About NAD Electronics

Founded in 1972 and now sold in over 80 countries, NAD Electronics is renowned for its award-winning line of high-quality components for audio, home theatre and custom installation applications. Since the beginning, NAD’s commitment to four core values — innovation, innovation, simplicity, performance, and value — have earned it a cult-like following that catapulted it to becoming a household name amongst audiophiles and music lovers alike. To this day, the brand continues to design and manufacture some of the most acclaimed and affordable hi-fi components that include modern features and technologies meant to appeal to a new generation of audiophiles.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

ASUS Announces RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U Gaming Routers

ASUS Announces RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U Gaming Routers
Boldly styled new ASUS gaming routers deliver high-performance WiFi 6, NVIDIA® GeForce NOW recommended and ultrafast networking for low-lag gaming
 
Fremont, CA, July 28, 2020 — ASUS today announced RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U, two high-performance dual-band WiFi 6 (802.11ax) gaming routers. The new models give gamers — especially mobile gamers — even more choice for creating an ultrafast and stable gaming network.

RT-AX86U is an upgraded version of the best-selling RT-AC86U, keeping the classic black chassis with gaming-inspired red accents. It features powerful WiFi 6 technology with combined overall speeds of up to 5700 Mbps[i] and is an NVIDIA® GeForce NOW™ recommended router. The boldly styled RT-AX82U delivers WiFi 6 speeds up to 5400 Mbps and features a futuristic design with Aura RGB dynamic lighting effects.
 
Both models are packed with powerful, easy-to-use game acceleration features that will appeal to every type of gamer, especially mobile gamers. The ASUS Router app includes a one-click Mobile Game Mode, and wired devices can be easily prioritized via the online control panel or by connecting them to the dedicated Gaming Port. RT-AX86U also includes a 2.5 Gbps WAN/LAN port, giving it true 2 Gbps networking capabilities for WAN, LAN and WiFi.

ASUS AiProtection Pro with Parental Controls provides full protection for all connected devices including gaming smartphones. The routers also support the unique ASUS AiMesh technology, which allows them be used as part of a multi-router mesh network in conjunction with other AiMesh-compatible ASUS routers to create a seamless whole-home network.

Visit the RT-AX86U product page and the RT-AX82U product page to learn more.

Designed for Gaming
RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U include a wealth of features designed to allow any kind of gamer to easily accelerate their game play.

ASUS and NVIDIA are delivering low-latency game streaming to supported devices connected to the RT-AX86U. For wired gaming devices, one of the LAN ports on RT-AX86U is also a dedicated Gaming Port that prioritizes any wired device connected to it. RT-AX86U is a GeForce NOW recommended router for the very best cloud gaming experience, and Open NAT takes the complexity out of port forwarding with an easy three-step configuration process. Adaptive QoS can be configured to prioritize traffic from different kinds of apps, including games, so network bottlenecks should be a thing of the past. The RT-AX82U is in the process of being accepted into the GeForce NOW recommended program. GeForce NOW is an open cloud gaming service that lets people play their PC game libraries, streamed from world-class NVIDIA GPUs in the cloud.

The free and easy-to-use ASUS Router app includes the new Mobile Game Mode. This provides one-touch mobile gaming acceleration, automatically prioritizing all traffic from the device running the ASUS Router app to ensure the best possible gaming experience. Mobile gaming devices can also take advantage of lower congestion and faster speeds on the 5 GHz WiFi band.

Users can also prioritize any device on the network using the Gear Accelerator function in the router's online control panel. For wired gaming devices, one of the LAN ports is also a dedicated Gaming Port that prioritizes any wired device connected to it.

Open NAT takes the complexity out of port forwarding with an easy three-step configuration process, and Adaptive QoS can be configured to prioritize traffic from different kinds of apps, including games, so network bottlenecks should be a thing of the past.

RT-AX86U additionally supports lightning-fast 2 Gbps wired connections via 2.5 Gbps port that can be used as either a WAN or LAN. This means that RT-AX86U supports true 2.5 Gbps networking via WAN, LAN and WiFi.

Powerful WiFi 6
RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U are gaming routers that deliver all the benefits of the new WiFi 6 standard, while offering full backward compatibility with existing WiFi devices. WiFi 6 technology provides faster speeds, higher network efficiency, longer range, and improved battery life for connected devices.

The WiFi 6 in both the RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U uses 160 MHz channels to enable combined overall WiFi speeds of up to 5700 Mbps in RT-AX86U and 5400 Mbps in RT-AX82U. In a revolutionary move, WiFi 6 also combines OFDMA technology with MU-MIMO to deliver increased network capacity and efficiency in multi-device environments, as well as improved WiFi signal range for better coverage. The result is fewer WiFi dead spots and faster, more reliable WiFi connections for all devices, throughout the home, no matter how many devices are connected: gamers can be sure their game won't be interrupted by downloads or streaming on other devices. WiFi 6 also includes a feature called Target Wake Time that helps reduce power consumption for mobile and IoT devices, giving gamers more battery life for gaming.

Bold Gaming Style
The new ASUS gaming routers are designed for maximum visual appeal, with bold lines and gaming-inspired detailing. RT-AX86U has a vertical orientation — chosen for optimum performance — with discreetly powerful looks enhanced by the red panel at the front base of the router.

Designed with a full-on gaming vibe, RT-AX82U has a striking futuristic look. Its sleek, geometric lines give it a strong and purposeful stance, reinforced by the four non-removable antennas at the rear. At the front of RT-AX82U, a large full-width louvered window houses the stunning Aura RGB lighting system. Gamers can choose from a range of alternative full-color dynamic patterns — such as the colorful Rainbow effect — or choose their own colors from a selection of patterns. It can also be set to a static pattern if a calmer mood is desired.

Secure and Versatile
For maximum security, RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U support the latest WPA3 wireless security protocol, and include a free lifetime subscription to ASUS AiProtection Pro, which offers commercial-grade security and advanced parental controls. AiProtection Pro protects all devices connected to the network, including those that cannot run traditional antivirus software, such as smartphones and IoT devices.

Built-in ASUS AiMesh support means that RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U can be used as either a controller or a node in a mesh network built using AiMesh-capable routers. An AiMesh mesh network delivers whole-home WiFi coverage for all wireless devices, with seamless roaming and no dead zones.
AVAILABILITY & PRICING
  • ASUS RT-AX86U will be available in August 2020 in North America for $249.99. Please contact your local ASUS representative for further information.
  • ASUS RT-AX82U will be available in August 2020 in North America for $229.99. Please contact your local ASUS representative for further information.
 
PRESS KIT
 
SPECIFICATIONS[i]
 
 
 ASUS RT-AX86UASUS RT-AX82U
Antennas3 x detachable antennas
1 x internal antenna (for 5 GHz)
4 x non-detachable antennas
Operating Frequency2.4 GHz & 5 GHz2.4 GHz & 5 GHz
Wi-Fi Data Rate802.11a:6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11b:1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps
802.11g:6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11n:up to 450 Mbps
802.11ac (2.4GHz, nitro-QAM):up to 750 Mbps
802.11ac (5 GHz, nitro-QAM):up to 4333 Mbps
802.11ax (2.4GHz):up to 861 Mbps
802.11ax (5 GHz):up to 4804 Mbps
802.11a:6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11b:1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps
802.11g:6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11n:up to 300 Mbps
802.11ac (2.4GHz, nitro-QAM):up to 500 Mbps
802.11ac (5 GHz, nitro-QAM):up to 4333 Mbps
802.11ax (2.4GHz):up to 574 Mbps
802.11ax (5 GHz):up to 4804 Mbps
Network StandardsIEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac,
IEEE 802.11ax, IPv4, IPv6
IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac,
IEEE 802.11ax, IPv4, IPv6
Memory256 MB Flash
1 GB DDR3 RAM
256 MB Flash
512 MB DDRIII RAM
I/O Ports1 x RJ45 for 10/100/1000 Mbps WAN
1 x RJ45 for 2.5G WAN or LAN
4 x RJ45 for 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1
1 x RJ45 for 10/100/1000 Mbps WAN
4 x RJ45 for 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1
ButtonPower, WPS, Reset, LED on/offPower, WPS, Reset, LED on/off
DC Power AdapterAC Input : 100V~240 V
DC Output : 19 V / 2.37 A
AC Input : 100V~240 V
DC Output : 19 V / 1.75 A
Package ContentsRT-AX86U WiFi router
RJ-45 cable
Power adapter
Quick Start Guide
Warranty card
RT-AX82U WiFi router
RJ-45 cable
Power adapter
Quick Start Guide
Warranty card
Dimensions242 x 100 x 325 mm
(excluding antennas: 242 x 100 x 164 mm)
275.5  x 184.4  x 165  mm
(excluding antennas: 275.5 x 184.4 x 65 mm)
Weight814.5 g740 g
  
 
[i] Specifications, content and product availability are all subject to change without notice and may differ from country to country. Actual performance may vary depending on applications, usage, environment and other factors. Full specifications are available at http://www.asus.com


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Thursday, July 23, 2020

ASUS Republic of Gamers Unveils ROG Phone 3 and Full Lineup of Peripherals

ASUS Republic of Gamers Unveils ROG Phone 3 and Full Lineup of Peripherals
ROG Phone 3 sets a new bar for performance alongside expansion accessories that redefine the mobile gaming experience
Fremont, CA (July 22, 2020) — ASUS Co-CEO S.Y. Hsu today unveiled the ROG Phone 3 and an array of gaming accessories and peripherals during the Game Changer virtual launch event. As the latest generation of the world’s most powerful gaming smartphone series, the ROG Phone 3 redefines mobile gaming with the latest Qualcomm® Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G Mobile Platform, an ultra-responsive 144 Hz / 1 ms AMOLED 6.59-inch display, and the GameCool 3 cooling system for peak performance during extended gameplay sessions. Mobile gaming on ROG Phone 3 is enhanced by a number of expansion accessories, such as Kunai 3 Gamepad and ROG Clip for console-like controls, and TwinView Dock 3 for dual-screen gameplay.

At this event, ROG also announces the new ROG Falchion wireless gaming keyboard, ROG Cetra RGB gaming headphones, and ROG Strix XG16 portable gaming monitor. The ROG Falchion wireless mechanical keyboard offers a space-saving layout that is 65 percent of the size of a standard keyboard, a user-friendly multi-use interactive touch panel, and wireless Aura Sync lighting. ROG Cetra RGB in-ear gaming headphones feature active noise cancellation (ANC) technology and customizable RGB lighting. To round out this all-new peripheral lineup, the ROG Strix XG16 is a 15.6-inch portable gaming display with a built-in battery and user-friendly kickstand design that supports an up to 144Hz refresh rate and 1080p HD resolution.

The ROG Phone 3 and the abundant choices of gaming accessories and peripherals empower gamers with the ultimate mobile gaming experience. “ROG loves gaming, and ROG Phone 3 together with the full range of gaming accessories are the ultimate game changer,” said ASUS Co-CEO S.Y. Hsu. “ROG Phone 3 is undeniably the next evolution of the gaming smartphone. With absolute power, enhanced audio, better phone controls, and a more connected system with our gamer community, the ROG Phone 3 delivers unimaginable gaming experiences and empowers gamers to tailor these experiences as they wish.”

The President of Qualcomm Incorporated, Cristiano Amon, also joined the virtual event and noted that “Qualcomm Technologies has worked closely with ASUS for years and we are honored to have been a part of every ROG Phone launched. The latest ROG Phone 3 will be one of the first devices powered by the new Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G Mobile Platform to deliver a world-class gaming experience for consumers.”

To establish an integrated gaming ecosystem and deliver more immersive mobile gaming experiences to gamers, ROG also introduces its partnerships with the game development platform Unity Technologies and the online cloud gaming platform Google Stadia™. Game developers using the Unity real-time 3D content creation platform will get exclusive access to a plugin with five ROG Phone features, allowing them to easily optimize their games for ROG Phone. Google Stadia on ROG Phone enables gamers to stream the latest games directly to their mobile device without requiring users to download the game. Stadia supports gaming up to 60 frames-per-second in resolutions up to 4K UHD, with HDR and 5.1-channel surround-sound support — a perfect match for the hardware capabilities of the powerful ROG Phone 3.

The ROG Phone 3 redefines mobile gaming
ROG Phone 3 is the most powerful ROG Phone ever, using the latest Qualcomm® Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G Mobile Platform, which enables staggering multi-gigabit 5G connectivity, Qualcomm® Snapdragon Elite Gaming™, intuitive AI experiences, and desktop-level gaming with ultra-realistic graphics. Featuring the uprated GameCool 3 cooling system, ROG Phone 3 is engineered to deliver nonstop, ultra-smooth performance for ultimate mobile gaming experiences.

A 144Hz / 1ms AMOLED 6.59-inch display provides Delta-E color accuracy of less than one to ensure vivid and accurate imagery, and an industry-leading 25-millisecond touch latency allows a near-instant touch response. The 10-bit display also supports HDR10+ high-dynamic range content for ultimate visual realism. For a more comfortable viewing experience, the display has Low Blue Light (Hardware Solution) and Flicker Reduced certifications from TÜV Rheinland.

The distinctive ROG Phone 3 design retains the core gamer-centric benefits of its predecessors, including the unique side-mounted charging port, and takes it to the next level with a transparent part of the back cover for displaying the heat sink. With its 6000 mAh battery, the ROG Phone 3 has stamina that can be relied on for even the longest battles. The intuitive AirTrigger 3 system now includes a motion sensor in addition to the programmable ultrasonic touch sensors, giving gamers even more ways to control the action. The latest leveled-up version of the X Mode performance-optimization software delivers increased display refresh rates, enhanced touch sensitivity, and fast network connections—in addition to maximizing CPU and GPU performance—making it easier than ever to unlock the full power of the ROG Phone 3.

The ROG Phone 3 also features an upgraded audio system that is tuned in collaboration with audio specialist Dirac. A new, dedicated Game Mode further enhances in-game sound effects for immersive gameplay. The powerful dual front-facing speakers positioned at the top and bottom of the phone are now even more capable of delivering rich, detailed audio that presents perfect stereo imaging in landscape mode.

All-new ROG Phone 3 modular accessories
The wide range of all-new modular accessories for ROG Phone 3 includes the ROG Kunai 3 Gamepad, ROG Clip, ROG TwinView 3 Dock, and ROG Lighting Armor Case. The Kunai 3 Gamepad adds console-like gamepad controls to ROG Phone 3; the ROG Clip connects the phone to PlayStation® 4, Google Stadia™, or Xbox® controllers for an enhanced on-the-go gaming experience; the TwinView Dock 3 expands the phone’s display area to provide true 144Hz dual-screen gameplay; and for extra protection and style, the ROG Lighting Armor Case gives ROG Phone 3 a striking appearance and features Aura lighting.
ROG Falchion: An ultra-portable wireless mechanical keyboard
ROG Falchion is a wireless mechanical keyboard with an innovative design that’s 65 percent of the size of a standard keyboard. It offers a versatile cover case and an interactive touch panel that can adjust volume, play and pause music, and zoom the screen in and out. The touch panel can also be programmed for use as a macro key, and the RGB LEDs inside the touch panel indicate battery status in real time. It provides gamers with ultrafast 1ms response time, 2.4GHz connectivity and up to 400 hours of battery life.  With a cutting-edge design and user-friendly features, ROG Falchion empowers gamers with next-level control and performance.
ROG Cetra RGB: In-ear gaming headphones with active noise cancellation technology and RGB lighting
The ROG Cetra RGB in-ear gaming headphones support multiple platforms via a USB-C® connection, including mobile phones, PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch. The active noise cancellation (ANC) technology and innovative Ambient mode on the earbuds enable users to adjust their listening experience, allowing them to either fully immerse themselves in games, music and other media without distraction, or tune into their surroundings and external sounds. Exclusive 10mm ASUS Essence drivers deliver optimized gaming audio and strong bass. Users have a choice of three sizes of silicone tips and ear fins, as well as a pair of foam ear tips ― all to provide flexibility to ensure a comfortable fit. The customizable RGB lighting on the headphones allow users to enjoy high-quality audio in style.
ROG Strix XG16: The ultimate portable gaming display
ROG Strix XG16 is a 15.6-inch portable gaming display with a built-in battery that supports an up to a 144Hz refresh rate and 1080p HD resolution. Its IPS panel enables wide viewing angles and displays high-quality colors and brightness. For I/O options, the XG16 offers two USB-C® ports and one Micro HDMI port, which provide flexible connectivity and the ability to charge during gameplay. The user-friendly kickstand on the back can be opened up to 70 degrees and provides the display with stability on a flat surface in landscape or portrait orientation for comfortable viewing on-the-go. Underneath the kickstand is a mesh design with cybertext patterning, which adds to its futuristic aesthetic. The ROG Strix XG16 is also compatible with ROG Tripod, which allows gamers to position the display above a laptop for use in a portable dual-screen setup.
 


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