Product Review (March 2003) - Sharp
SD-EX111 1-Bit™ Digital Audio Component

Sharp's 1-Bit™ technology has matured since we first listened to these products over a year ago. At that time we were very impressed with the sound quality and the efficient design that allowed them to be compact. The latest SD-EX111 is an elegant looking 1-Bit™ product designed to be connected to your favorite speakers with a sturdy set of binding posts that work well with banana plugs, spade lugs or bare wire. The front panel has a very clean brushed aluminum look with only the display showing behind a mirrored panel. When the unit is off (standby), the display disappears behind the mirror, giving it a pleasant and modern look. There's also a dim setting for the display, making it more appealing in a low lit or romantic environment. Surprisingly, the amplifier section can drive 4 ohm speakers without a problem. The vast majority of today's A/V receivers cannot do this without the possibility of overheating and/or shutting down. Given the size and performance of the SD-EX111, it would work well in an office setting or any living area with limited space.

Setup
We auditioned the SD-EX111 with a pair of PSB Alpha speakers as well as our reference M&K S-150THX speakers currently in our home theater setup. The PSB Alphas are rated at 8 ohms, whereas the M&K speakers are rated at 4 ohms. We felt the M&K's would be a good test to see how well the amplifier worked with low impedance loads. A pair of auxiliary inputs is available for an external source such as a DVD player or VCR. Also provided are a toslink digital output for an external recorder, a headphone jack and antenna connections for the built-in AM/FM tuner.

The full-function remote control is compact, simple, and fit nicely in my hand. The button layout is logical and easy to follow. We found some of the buttons rather small, but this didn't cause any problems with the functionality. Pressing the display button on the remote shows the time of day when the unit is off. A Timer Playback can be programmed for both On-time as well as Off-time. The Sleep Operation mode plays for a selected amount of time and then shuts the unit off. CD playback modes include Repeat, Random and Normal. The top loading CD mechanism is smooth and works well. Simply drop the CD into the slot, press Play and the mechanism pulls it into the transport. The CD slot automatically closes to eliminate dust from entering the unit.

The SD-EX111 samples the audio signal at a very high rate of 5.6MHz using a 7th-order delta sigma modulation A/D converter. The sampled data is converted to the same DSD format used for SACD. The converted data is then sent to the 1-bit digital amplifier, which results in a great sounding system for under $500.

Performance
The amplifier section is rated at 20 Watts per channel. We auditioned different types of music on this system and found it to be amazingly clean and free of that grainy sound found in so many less expensive products. We used our Sony DVP-NS900V SACD player running through the auxiliary inputs for sound comparisons. The sound quality was impressive in all cases. The SD-EX111 had no problem driving either pair of speakers and in both cases the sound was clean and unrestrained for such a small unit. We focused on the PSB Alphas because they are priced in line with this product. The Alphas worked well with the SD-EX111 with sufficient output levels. At low volume levels, the Loudness control helped boost both the bass and treble by about 3dB according to our Sencore SP295 audio analyzer. The Loudness-2 setting boosted the bass and treble levels by approximately 6dB. This certainly helped the smaller Alphas sound better at lower levels.

The new Sharp SD-EX111 1-Bit™ Audio System is an elegant looking and impressive sounding compact audio system. The ability to drive any real-world load maximizes its compatibility with many speakers, including some of the better audiophile speakers available. The price and performance of this system makes it attractive for many space constrained areas where high quality sound is still desired.
- Kevin Nakano

Review System

Speakers #1- PSB Alpha Speakers
Speakers #2- Miller & Kreisel S-150THX Speakers
DVD/CD/SACD Player - Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player (Using Aux input)
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum Cables

Review at a glance

Sharp - SD-EX111 1-Bit™ Digital Audio Component

Specifications:

  • Ultra-High Speed Sampling: 5.6 MHz (128fs)
  • Power: 20 Watts per channel into 4 ohms from 20Hz-20kHz with no more than 2% THD
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 40 kHz (±3dB)
  • AM/FM Tuner with Station Memory Presets
  • Sampling Rate Converter
  • Color FL Display
  • Gold Plated Terminals
  • T.H.D. 0.02% (at 1kHz, 1W)
  • Full Function Remote Control
  • Video/Aux Input
  • Headphone Input Jack

    Accessories:

  • Full Function Remote Control with AAA batteries
  • FM Antenna
  • AM Loop Antenna
  • Power Cord

    Size (WxHxD): 13 1/8" x 8 1/8" x 7-1/2"
    Weight: Main Unit: 11.2 pounds


    Company Information
    Sharp Electronics Corporation
    Sharp Plaza
    Mahwah, New Jersey 07430-2135
    Phone: 800-BE-SHARP
    Fax: 201 529-8425
    URL: www.sharpUSA.com

    Source: Manufacture loan
    MSRP: $499.95
    Warranty: 1 year parts/labor

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