JBL Synthesis SDR-35

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
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Seems to be getting some great reviews all over, (Including much better than the Arcam AVR30 on which it is based) but it is going to cost you, on the flip side you shouldn’t need a separate stereo amp for music so in that case could be a bit of a bargain.

Bill
 

Big Aura

Well-known member
Oct 13, 2008
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would love to see a shoot-out between this, the Arcam and the Anthem MRX1140 (sadly I don't think WHF has ever reviewed an Anthem AVR?!)
 
D

Deleted member 2457

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would love to see a shoot-out between this, the Arcam and the Anthem MRX1140 (sadly I don't think WHF has ever reviewed an Anthem AVR?!)
Yes, they have:

 
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CJ Reneau

Member
Jul 9, 2021
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I need to upgrade and I like this receiver, but I already have some nice amps and it seems a shame to buy it solely as a processor (esp when there are some really good ones in this price range). Not having HDMI 2.1 out of the box is also a bit of a bummer.
 

Deliriumbassist

Well-known member
Apr 27, 2011
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I need to upgrade and I like this receiver, but I already have some nice amps and it seems a shame to buy it solely as a processor (esp when there are some really good ones in this price range). Not having HDMI 2.1 out of the box is also a bit of a bummer.
For a bit more, there's the Acurus MUSE, which is an absolutely stunning processor, plus there's room for future upgrading/up-speakering (yup, inventing new terms. It's a Monday).
 

Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
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18,920
I pulled the trigger and bought one of these beauties and I’ve got to say it’s the best receiver I’ve owned so far.
It’s early days but so far it is comfortably outperforming my £2000 Yamaha a3060 (which itself is excellent) already and I have not set the speaker levels, distance and run any sort of calibration.
On the negative side, if you are using thick bare wire you might need to change to banana plugs as the hole for bare wire on the binding plugs is the smallest I’ve seen. I’ve had to order a new cable for my centre channel as the wire is barely hanging in there. I would also say that it is a little fiddler than other receivers I’ve owned (Yamaha. Pioneer, Denon and Sony), but the learning curve is definitely worth it. The sound with movies is both bold and cinematic and delicate and light. The sound staging is incredibly impressive and it sounds like I have a new sub. Music streamed through the units Music Life app and via Apple TV both sound much better than my previous receivers.
I’ve not had it long so I need to set it up properly and once done I’ll report back.
 
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Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
438
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18,920
I should also mention for the information of anyone interested in this unit that I have paired it with B&W cm8, cm1 and cm Centre . I’m sure the amp is capable of more but it seems to be a good match in my room.

I originally went to the store to buy some speakers but after explaining what I was after sonically the store manager pointed me towards the Arcam avr30 / JBL SDR-35 and I’m glad he did. Sonically it’s superb.
 
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Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
438
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A quick update, so with basic calibration (no Dirac) the amplifier is sounding fantastic.
I had my first stab at Dirac but I messed it up with poor microphone placement (some measurements were taken right in the corner so it measured the bass too high and therefore over corrected). However, even with that being the case I could see how it can help as vocals and midrange were improved even further.
Unfortunately I ran out of time (kids and wife out of the house), so I’ll have to wait for another golden opportunity to test further.
 

Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
438
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I was finally able to run the Dirac calibration and the results are pretty impressive.

Firstly the negatives though. If you buy this or an Arcam then I would suggest that the first thing you do is put that microphone in the bin. Calibration through that mic resulted in cleaner mid range, but a slightly sharp treble and non existent bass. The mic barely picked up my subwoofer when completing the volume matching. These problems I found oout afterwards are pretty well documented It’s just rubbish.

Add a UMIK-1 (grey imports available for £75) and the results are astounding for movies, especially with the Harman target curve applied. Treble is natural, vocals incredibly clear and bass beautifully balanced. I have been watching Last Jedi and I can’t peel myself away. Whether I use Bass Optimisation or not my single sub is integrated seamlessly, with Dirac choosing a crossover of 70hz across all speakers.

For music however I still think there is work to be done. Mids and uppers are better than no Dirac (which was already good) but the bass feels too light. Maybe I’ve just been used to over blown bass from my other amps, but I feel it needs a subtle uptick to the curve. I’m going to live with the music for a little longer as the bass quality is great and add a gentle slope if needed.

It’s strange though as bass in movies feels balanced but also deep and powerful . I am using different speaker configs for music so let’s see.
 
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