Ok I had had my PXA-H700 installed earlier this year for a few months but removed it along with the rest of the system and hadn't had it installed since.
Theres no question it's a versatile processor. Some people find some of the Para EQ features annoying, some have encountered noise issues, many say it's not Hi-Fi enough.
I won't comment on any of the features or what it can do since we all know what it can and can't do. Theres actually not much it can't do. It's more processor than most will ever need.
What I will be commenting on is the SOUND of the processor. Now I don't have access to countless pieces of mega buck gear but I have listened for considerable lengths of time to very high end, HIGH RESOLUTION systems. So I know whats possible with todays ubber expensive gear.
I can only comment on the differences it made on MY SYSTEM. While not top of the line it's a good choice of budget gear thats well over 10 years old with the exception of the Sony.
The system consists of:
Adcom ACE-15 line conditioner
Sony DVP-S7700 DVD/CD player for playback - Top of the line DVD from around 2000(MSRP$1200)thats very well reviewed with Copper case and considered a solid CD transport with very good digital filters. Many that reviewed it said it should have the ES designation. That would surely have added to the MSRP...so I guess they did us a favor.
Adcom GFA-545 II power amp
Adcom GFP-545 II preamp
Polk Audio Monitor 10 Series II - 2 6.5" woofers, soft dome tweeter and 10" passive radiator. Very well reviewed back in early 90's. Theres other spreakers I would have chose at the time but having a friend that worked at Tweeters I had access to many good deals. They've served me well for the past 17 years and a good match for my Adcom amp.
This test stems from many comments made that that the PXA-H700/701 is not sonically as transparent as other processors and not designed as well as it could have been. I had doubts I would want to use it in my system again. So I figured...I'm happy with the sound of my home gear. Why not compare it directly to the filters in my Sony source unit. Sony doesn't make the best of everything. But they've done seversl things very right in home audio and the DVP-S7700 DVD/CD player is a good example of this.
To keep things fair I went into the Adcom preamp from the H700. I hooked the RCAs from the Sony to Tape1 and the RCA's from the H700 to Tape2. That way A/B comparisons were only one click away. And of course I hooked th optical from the Sony into the Alpine.
I hooked up the Alpine to a 10 amp power supply which is sufficient for a low level device such as this.
I'll start by saying it introduced NO NOISE using the optical input.
After adjusting the X-Over and being sure all EQ settings were set to flat and no Mx processing was activated, all input/output adjustments were made and correct speakers were selected I was ready to go. I level matched on the Alpine unit to the listening level I chose from both inputs. I arrived at a 32 volume level.
I started out with some of the Zuki test discs and played some other well recorded CD's.
On the Opeth CD Ghost Reveries I was pleasantly surprised at the things I was hearing. Fingers sounds on guitar strings were very well defined and not just a backgroung sound. That guitar player was closer to me. Everything was just presented with more resolution. The bass guitar was more up front, bass drum attack and decay was more defined, vocals were more up front and cleaner, cymbals details came through. Everything was more clearly defined and not as confusing. I'm a drummer, so I know what cymbals sound like. Cymbals went from a ping to "OK I can tell thats a medium weight cymbal and not a heavy cymbal. There were overtones that weren't present before.
If any of you know the overhang you get with a nice sounding bass drum, well I heard this compared to a thud with the Sony filters. I felt on every recording I was closer to the recording studio. Like there was a piece of carpet removed from the front of the speakers.
As I write this I'm listening to Opeth/Ghost Reveries Requiem/Harlequins Forest and my spine is tingling from the level of resolution presented to me. I'm astounded. I'm also spoiled since without the Alpine processor the system doesn't move me as much. I feel as though I just hear the music and have no involvement. The Alpine brings you in there.
I felt like I was listening to a different system. My speakers are capable of performance I wasn't aware of. I now feel good saving these for a secondary system in the future.
On some not so stellar recordings there wasn't as much of a difference. But still things were clearer and sounded as if a veil was removed.
I haven't listened to nearly enough material as I'd like but I auditioned enough well recorded discs to have a solid opinion on the sonics of this processor.
In conclusion I'll say this. I do not doubt the sonics of this processor anymore. Despite the flaws it might have from a design standpoint, I am now reassured of one thing:
It sounds DAMN GOOD!