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  1. #1
    Stronzo
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    Default Sony First Impressions REVISED

    Sony AVD S50 ES First Impressions

    By all relative standards, I am new to the world of audio. Two years ago, I was one of your typical ho-hum consumers cought in blissfull ignorance, fully believing that Bose had the corner on the market, and that very little could challenge their lifestyle system. When I look back and think about how much money I have spent on this hobby, I only wish I could have kept such a stance. Sometimes, ignorance truelly is bliss eh?

    Like so many things in life, you often end up in a place that you never could have imagined not long before. Such was my story. It all began what your Circuit City name-brand products, Polk Audio, Onkyo, JVC, Harman Kardon, Pioneer, etc.. I started experimenting with audio, going through it like a fat girl through cake. I then moved up to the world of seperates, having owned mostly Carver, Rotel, and AMC. A simple hobby became a passion, a passion which then turned into an obsession. I then searched the web to see if there were any others like myself, only to discover a network of "audiophools" who shared the same obsessions, often with much more cash, experience, and knowledge. It did not take long for myself to earn a reputation as being one hell of a picky guy. Gear that satisfied most people simply would do nothing for me. Such has been the case to this day.

    The reason I give this backround info is not to shamelessly promote a biography, but to instead emphasize that my impressions are coming from that of a critical listener who like so many others, cannot afford what they truelly seek. The reviews about digital drive amplfiers here at the Audiocircles peaked my interest and inspired me to take a plunge on what seemed to have been a "too good to be true" deal. Fully prepared to spend over three-thousand dollars on Solid State seperates, I decided to head the words of those who have experienced the digital drive amps with suprising and tempting results.

    The SONY AVDS50-ES was an incredibly tempting target from the get-go. An all-in-one unit that could process video, play cd's, mp3's and best of all, sacd's. It had exactly what I was looking for, power, detail, control and quickness, and it had a sub-out which has been a major concern of mine. The review's have been over-whelmingly positive, how could I pass up a chance to get my hands on this inexpensive "magic box". It also had a 5 year manufactorer warrenty to boot.

    I placed the order on a Sunday, and on Tuesday, the unit arrived. I carefully but hastely pried it from the box. I half expected a cheap reciever constructed of flembsy plastic. Instead, I was treated to a solid piece with a nice face-plate and a very solid volume control knob. This Sony felt like a quality product. With baited breath, hoping for bliss and expecting northing short of sheer disappointment, I placed the Polk Audio LSi-15's in their rightfull position, and connected the Kimber 8TC bananas to the Sony. While reaching for a CD to demo, I couldn't help but wonder how this unit would handle a 4 ohm load. Fingers were crossed. I picked out the CD I commonly use for demoing gear, that being Josh Groban's self titled cd. This is a young man with a phenominal voice. The music began to play..

    I was not prepared for the initial out-of-the-box presentation. The sound was smooth, articulate, and incredibly detailed. Far more detailed than anything I've ever heard, even on rigs costing upwards between 20 and 30k. The speaker's still had, and still have quite a few hours left before they begin to break-in, yet even that did not hinder the over-all performance of the music. My findings tended to coincide with other reports. The dynamics were incredible, yet the mid-range did seem thin, the highs tended to get "hot" during higher frequencies and the sound was initially cold and un-involving.

    Despite the Sony's apparent lack of feeling, its sheer resolution, bandwidth and clarity commanded my attention. There is definately something to this Sony, and to digital amplification. Before the Sony arrived, I had a Rotel RA-932 integrated amplifier pushing my Lsi-15's. Over-all, the bass was un-controlled and while the sound was good, there was still a lot of room for improvement. The Sony by contrast, right out of the box, controlled the drivers on the Lsi-15's with ease. One of the greater complaints against this particular speaker is that its bass does not match the rest of the speaker, being called either too slow, boomy, or inaccurate. For awhile, I was beginning to believe those reports as I recieved the same sound. That is of course, until I used the Sony. All those issues went away immediately.

    It did not take long for me to pull out the next cd. My only Super Audio Disc, Pink Floyds; Dark side of the moon. I was absolutely in awe with the level of detail and physical representation in this track. From the early messages in the song, to the famous clock loops. It was like listening to the album for the first time. Crescendo's simply ripped from the speakers as if the drivers had no boundaries. Yep - only on my second disc, and I am hooked.

    It was then, when my father entered my room and said "You know Sean, while I am downstairs, I can actually hear a lot of detail I've never heard before coming from any of your speakers". I simply grinned, told him to sit down as I played a few tracks. His eye's lit up. My mother came in to complain about the volume to where my dad instructed her to sit down and listen for herself. She was impressed as well. If one thing can be said about my dad, he is not one to take out the credit card on a whim. In fact, he is downright cheap. Not so in this case. After listening to Pink Floyd and Eric Johnson, he was online making an order for himself. If that doesn't say something about this unit, than I don't know what will.

    I have only tested the DVD playback capabilities once, on Monster INC, using a pair of Frank Dai's Signal Cable (Component Video) hooked up to a Samsung 27''Dyna-flat HDTV. While I am no video-freak, the picture looked stellar. Far better then the well-respected Panasonic DVD RP-56. This is an area that will be investigated further as time progresses.

    At the moment, I have acrued roughly 10 hours of use on all the components. Clearly, there is still a lot of time and room left to discover this set-ups full potential. I am excited and relieved to know that I have found a unit that will suffice, until the time comes when I can afford that rig of my dream's.

    While I would love nothing more than to end this review with constant praise and a finishing statement, I would like to point out that this unit does have its draw-backs. It is good, but far from perfect. When the blue LED lights up (typically while reading a multi format SACD disc), its glow can be quite disturbing in a dark room. Hell, it is disturbing even in a bright room. The dimmer really does little to mask the greenish/blue text on the display panel.

    I listen to a lot of modern rock, most of which tends to be recorded poorly, often sporting harsh high's. The Sony is still rather bright itself, so the mix may cause fatigue even on the flattest of speakers.

    A larger gripe would be the CD trey noise when a disc is playing. It is high pitched and can be easily audible if there is no backround noise in your room. You should only notice it during the passages of movies or music to where there is no sound data being processed, just pure silence. It is still enough to become bothersome, if for nothing more, than to simply know its there.

    The last and final complaint is that I have come to find its surround sound play-back is horrible in comparison to it's two channel playback. This reciever reminds me more of the SS JVC I used to own. A great unit for stereo, but simply "cheap" and weak for multi channel playback. I could not recommend this particular reciever for anyone serious about home-theater.

    All things considered, I am incredibly pleased with this purchase. I can claim with confidence that this is the single best purchase I have ever made for audio, since I first began purchasing equipment two years ago. While the Sony AVD-S50ES may not be world class, I believe it is a true testiment to the capabilities of digital amplification, and the potential to create incredible all-in-one units that could meet the demands of a disconcerning listener, and an audiophile, alike. A true giant killer.

    Sean
    Last edited by Zero; 10-12-2003 at 01:37 AM.

  2. #2
    Old School
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    Nice write up ATC.
    More later,
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    Vox Copuli
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  3. #3

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    This is of great interest to me. I may be one of the few around here that would get it all in a box IF you could get a high level of quality and performance for all of the elements in the package (Amps, Pre. CD, SACD, tuner etc...). I've always been a receiver fan vs separtates - but I have also always understood the limitations of the format. Often the amp section has been one where the most compromises have been made. It seems like the digital tri-path amplifiers may hold the key to what I am looking for.The NAD L70 has interested me but I felt it was too compact and too limited in scope. The Sony AVD-C70ES may be something I'll look into. It adds a 5 disc changer, oncreases power to 120wpc, adds component video switching, and a lcd remote. For those old guys like me who remember the Life cereal commercial...this is about as good of a recommedation as there can be.

    :D "Is the Sony AVD-C50ES any good? I don't know...whadda you think? I know...let ATC listen to it...he never likes anything. Whoa! He LIKES it! It must be good!" :D

    J K Sean. A very nice review and one that may lead me to give the new Sony AVDs a try.
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  4. #4

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    Sounds interesting to say the least, from the amp tech side.

    I'd like to see how it fairs with a full 4-ohm, 5 speaker hook up.

    Cheers,
    Russ
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.

  5. #5
    Stronzo
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    Default

    An excellent question, and a very important flaw about this amp that I did leave out...., its surround sound capabilities are less than remarkable. In fact, it reminds me of a stereo reciever that simply has the *capability* to do surround, but seems not to be built up to the task. I tried to run the SDA's and the LSi's together...suprisingly enough, the DSP modes sounded best.

    Just a word of caution, the current model I am dealing is not best suited for surround sound.

  6. #6
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    More later,
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    Vox Copuli
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    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
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  7. #7

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    Great review, Sean!

    Here is a note from Ric Schultz, a well regarded modder around your unit and his view of the future of digital amps:

    http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/hi...es/153796.html

    interesting read...
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.

  8. #8
    Stronzo
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    Shack,

    I only wish I would have proof-read my review. I tend to post things with haste and give little regard to how I present and compose myself, especially after these long hours at work. Flat out exhausted!

    I highly encourage you to at least give it a shot. Do a 30-day trial period through Crutchfield if you must, although you will pay damn near full retail... it may be worth it, just to get your feet wet to see what it will do for you.

  9. #9

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    CD trey noise
    DANGIT! Nice review, and out of all the words you could have misspelled you chose my name! How dare thee!?

    Glad to hear your diggin it!
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  10. #10

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    Default dirty discs

    I have mixed emotions about any sony product. I own a sony dvd player. It's about 4yrs old. It plays great. Very sharp but the least little dust or slightest scratch and it will skip. I have to clean every disk that goes into it, new or old. It gets old to get half way or 15/16 way through a movie and have to go back to the beggining. My friend told me he had read that about it in a consumer report after i baught it. I was wondering if they ajusted their dvd players. Has anyone else had this problem

    CJ
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  11. #11

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    needless to say, I have no luck with any Sony ES products, so I stay the "heck " away from them, really don't care either is an amp, a receiver, or a speaker. I would say this a decent Yamaha receiver, not even in the high end catergory, sounds a lot better than the Sony ES receiver regarless with any Sony audio product, they have a bunch of bell and whisle built-in, just make the sound sound worst...Being said that, I do recorgnize that Sony make great video products (TV, DVD, Camcorders...), but not in the audio area...:)
    Last edited by PETERNG; 10-14-2003 at 01:06 PM.

  12. #12

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    I'll had to disagree with your statement. I've got a Sony ES integrated amp (no bells and whistles) running Class A that is pure bliss. I use to own a Sony ES amp and pre that lasted many, many years without a problem and sounded great. Let's not forget that Sony ES also makes a few of the highest rated SACD players in the world too, I own one. They also made a world class speaker (read big bucks), but I can't remember the model. Now this digital stuff, I'm not sold on it.....yet.
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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    F1,

    sure....that's just me..., my .02 cents :) I'm glad that you had good experience with Sony ES products....:)

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    Peter - I feel your pain, its all personal experience in this damn hobby. I wouldn't buy certain gear simply based on some bias from years ago, and from the forum....I have the right to not give a flying fook how good Adcom(e.g.) is or whatever, I won't buy it...period. If you don't limit yourself in some respects, I think you will go crazy.

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    Great review Sean. Glad to hear you're diggin the Sony. I wonder what future amps are going to look like...I really like the sound of their ES receiver.

    Maurice
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  16. #16

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    Adcom RULES :p ;) :D

    Stacked Combos...........removed midranges to add ports is a great idea!.........running your receiver into clipping on 5+ bass is also a great idea (*cough* *cough* AIRPLAY).....

    Your right Mark, we shall limit ourself to what we believe ;)
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  17. #17

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    Just for S & G here is a link to that Sony ES speaker.

    http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cl.p...1334314&2&3&4&
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  18. #18
    Stronzo
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    The search has only just begun! buwahahha This Sony is just a first step - dedicated to the computer....

    Oh no, I have something much grander planned for my sexy twin LSi's..

  19. #19

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    Jesse,
    No offense on Sony, but for that price......I would definetely get the SRT.
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    None taken. I thought it would help show that Sony ES makes some world class gear. I've never listened to the SSM9 ED's, just going on what has been written/said about them. Now, those SRT's.......:D
    'Political Correctness'.........defined

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  21. #21
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    Originally posted by F1nut
    Just for S & G here is a link to that Sony ES speaker.

    http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cl.p...1334314&2&3&4&
    Looks like Darth Vadar's mains...

    Audio biases are harmless, so long as we are aware of them. I still won't even consider Pioneer...
    More later,
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    Rebuilding Maggie 2-ch & Amazing 2-ch... Building 2-ch "wall"... Figuring out the HT

  22. #22

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    Great review Sean.
    Make it Funky! :)

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    Thumbs up Outstanding

    Great review Sean, I should have responded way earlier....beings I am Sony crazy.

    I have always liked that idea from Sony. It is simple, and offers alot of features....a Sony trademark. It is very nice to hear that it fits nicely into the ES bracket, power wise. Running LSi's isn't easy, but you certainly don't see Sony attached to that speaker very often.

    I just saw a scratch and dent 70ES for <$500...I dig the 5 disc changer.

  24. #24
    Stronzo
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    Mark,

    Many individuals, myself included, have largely disregarded Sony as being incapable of delievering a product that can largely succeed others in terms of performance and value. While their conventional ES line has always offered a very good value, it was nothing spectacular. I believe this S50 ES is indeed, spectacular.

    However, it is a far cry from perfection. Its more like a good glimpse into the future of audio, and the potential of Digital Amplifier's.

    This unit will not suit everyone's taste. Even for those that would find this unit pleasing to the ears, will still hold issue with everything being compact. There is something romantic about having a rack full of gear. For guys like us, it is a showcase of hardwork and research, a testiment to our hobby. An all-in-one Sony is impersonal, and represents little effort.

    This is the best $455 I've spent in audio. No - it doesnt do everything I want it to do. In fact, there are many things it doesnt do well. However, I couldn't have achieved these results even approaching this price-tag with anything I personally have experienced.

    If you have a chance brutha, pick one up..
    Last edited by Zero; 10-22-2003 at 11:52 AM.

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    Default ATC, question...

    ATC, if I'm not mistaken, did you say you were driving the LSi series with this digital Sony all-in-one. Just went to Sony's web site and looked at the specs on the STR-DA9000ES Receiver, due out later this fall. It claims to drive 200 watts per channel in 8 ohms, and 220 into 4 ohms. In your opinion, due you think it will drive a full LSi line, LSi15's, LSi Center, LSi7's and LSi F/x. Being a Sony fan I've been wanting to upgrade to the LSi Series but the whole overheating issue has me concerned.
    Money Talks, Mine says Goodbye Rob!!!!
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  26. #26
    Stronzo
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    Grim,

    No mistake being made, I am driving a pair of LSi-15's. If memory serves me correctly, the Sony AVD S50ES suppose to be rated at 100 wpc into 6 ohms. Slightly less than half of the power that the 9000ES is capable of.

    While I have not had any chance to hook up multiple LSi speakers to the Sony, I am confident that it will have the power to drive all the speakers very well..as it drives my LSi-15's with absolute ease. I have yet to use all of her juice, and I really dont feel thats going to happen. . . . my ears would give way first.

    Despite their ohm ratings, the Lsi's seem to be a very forgiving speaker on every source I have plugged them into. Then again, the speakers are only about 6-7 feet from my ears, so it doesnt take much to reach comfortable levels. Others who have owned this unit report that it may be underpowered for large rooms, especially with in-efficient speakers.

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