Product Review (October 2005) - Antex
TriplePlay SIRIUS® Satellite Radio Receiver

By Kevin Nakano


Antex, located in Gardena, CA has introduced the high-end SRX-3 TriplePlay satellite radio receiver designed to provide users with up to three independent zones of SIRIUS® programming. The SRX-3 has all the markings of a high-end component with its beautiful front panel and attractive multi-zone blue display. The power button also has a blue light behind it that is illuminated when the unit is off. Users can activate one, two or three zones based on their needs. The first zone will cost $12.95 a month and each additional zone will cost $6.99 a month. If you happen to already have a SIRIUS subscription, then each of the zones on the SRX-3 will only cost $6.99 a month. The unit measures 17-3/4 x 3-1/2 x 12 inches and includes an IR remote, three stereo cables, a power cord and antenna.

Antenna
The high gain omnidirectional antenna supplied with the SRX-3 is designed to be outdoor mounted. The optional 30-foot RG-58 cable was provided for the review. We found that the SRX-3 receiver worked well even with the antenna mounted indoors near the roofline of the vaulted ceiling of our media room. Antex does recommend outdoor installation for optimal signal reception. However, it's a good idea to try other locations to avoid having to place the antenna in harsh weather conditions. Here in Los Angeles, the SIRIUS® satellites are located Northeast of our location. The extension arm allows the antenna to be easily positioned and pointed in different directions. The long cable connects to a 50 ohm SMA connector located on the base of the square antenna housing.

Installation
The SRX-3 is easy to install in an existing audio or home theater system. Using the Setup menu, users can access the SIRIUS® ID numbers for the unit. All three tuner numbers are displayed on the screen and are needed for the activation process. We installed the unit in our system and it was as simple as connecting the antenna, plugging in the audio cables and providing power to the unit. In fact, it was similar to connecting a CD player. Our system included a Parasound AVC-2500u preamplifier and HCA-2205AT 5-channel power amplifier. Our system utilized three M&K S-150 THX ULTRA speakers with a pair of SURROUND 250 MKII Tripole™ handling the rear channels. Two MX-350THX subwoofers provided the bass.

The front panel power button is brightly lit and can cause some distractions when using the unit in a home theater environment. We would have liked to see a dimming option for the power button and maybe even a disabling function for the backlight.

Rear Panel
The rear panel of the SRX-3 is simple with a trio of digital toslink optical outputs as well as two-channel line level outputs. An RS232 serial interface allows the unit to be commanded from third party controllers such as Crestron, Niles, Elan, Sonance etc. In addition, the IR input jack can be used to remotely place an IR receiver for convenience. The detachable power cord is a bonus for custom installation. Finally, a 50-ohm SMA antenna jack is provided with an SMB adapted to connect to the long 30-foot cable provided. The detachable power cord made it easy to install the unit into the tight quarters of our audio cabinets.

Inside
The internals of the SRX-3 are divided into three separate boards, a satellite interface board, an audio processing board and a power supply board. Separating the electronics helps improve audio quality and reduce noise. The single RF input is demodulated and then separated into 3 data paths, each containing independent Sirius streams. This allows the user to control each zone independently while they operate concurrently. The analog audio outputs benefit from a trio of Crystal (Cirrus Logic) CS4334 Delta-Sigma D/A converters. While these are not considered high-end DACs by any means, the unit should meet the performance expectations of typical multi-room audio applications. If higher quality audio is desired, the user has the option of using the optical outputs and better electronics. The digital outputs are handles by Burr Brown (TI) DIT4096 digital audio transmitters.

Display
The blue and white display is both attractive and functional. It gives the unit an elegant look while offering excellent contrast for easy reading. Three groups of channels are shown simultaneously with detailed information for each including Category, Channel Number, Channel Name, Artist Name and Song Title. Channels can be programmed to be skipped or blocked with the latter requiring a password. Pressing the Zone button moves the highlighted area to the next zone indicated by the bold area. Only one of the three zones are highlighted on the display allowing the user to change the settings with either the remote or the front panel controls.

Remote
The 20-key remote included with the SRX-3 has the basic functions needed to select a zone, choose a genre, select a channel (up/down or manual) or choose a preset channel. Keys are spaced far apart and are clearly labeled for easy operation. However, the remote does not offer any backlighting, making it difficult to use in poorly lit environments. We would have also liked to see an RF-based design since many users may want to control the audio from different rooms. Fortunately, the unit has an IR input jack for remote IR sensors as well as an RS232 interface on the rear panel for external controllers
.

The Up and Down buttons change to the next valid channel in the genre. The Right and Left buttons change the genre from Pop/Rock, Country, Hip-Hop, R&B, Dance, Jazz/Standards, Classical, Variety, News, Sports and Entertainment. The Preset button is used to select one of 10 preset channels. Holding down the Preset button allows the user to save a preset station into the unit. Each set of preset channels are saved independently for each zone.

Performance
The SRX-3 is an easy to operate component with all the features needed to distribute audio to multiple rooms. In our tests, the SRX-3 sounded significantly better than the SIRIUS® Sportster we recently reviewed even when the analog audio outputs were used. The bottom line is there can be differences in audio quality between mainstream and high-end products with similar technology. We preferred to use the digital audio outputs with our Parasound preamplifier as it provided us with the best sound quality. Music channels such Alt Nation and The Vault offer good audio quality while talk shows such as Court TV suffered from significant compression artifacts. The poor audio quality on talk radio channels has nothing to do with the SRX-3 as we have heard this on XM Radio as well, but has everything to do with the amount of compression applied to those channels.

Conclusion
The Antex SRX-3 multi-zone SIRIUS Radio receiver offers customers high performance in a stylish package. The unit is obviously geared for those needing SIRIUS radio from a single controller in multiple rooms. Supporting both analog outputs as well as optical digital outputs offers the best flexibility in different installations. The price will prevent many from incorporating this unit into their system. However, custom installations need components offered in this package and Antex delivers it with the SRX-3. If you haven't heard satellite radio, you might be surprised just how addicting it can be.

- Kevin Nakano






OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player




Review - At a Glance


Antex SRX-3 TriplePlay Satellite Radio Receiver


Technical Specifications

Front Panel

  • Main Display 160x240 graphical LCD, backlit
  • Display indication for all 3 zones
  • Power On/Off button
  • Channel Up/Down buttons (buttons repeat if held down)
  • Category Left/Right buttons
  • Select button
  • Zone button
  • Preset button
  • 0-9 direct entry buttons
  • Infrared receiver eye


    Receiver Unit Specifications

    RF/System

  • Physical: Single SMA to Antenna
  • Input Frequency: S band
  • Input Level: -65dBm to -20dBm
  • Input Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Demod/ Descrambling: SIRIUS Proprietary
  • Analog Performance/Connectors

  • Compression: ePAC
  • Conversion: 24 bit D/A
  • Frequency Response: 20 to 20kHz 3dB
  • Harmonic Distortion: < 0.02%
  • Output Level: 2VRMS maximum
  • Rear Connectors

  • RF Input: Female SMA
  • Audio Line Out Connectors: 3 pairs RCA : Left, Right
  • Digital Audio: 3X S/PDIF TOSLink
  • IR: Hard wired IR input via a 3.5mm tip jack connector
  • Data Control Port: 3 wire (Rx, Tx & Gnd) RS232 Interface
  • Data rate:19,200 baud, no parity, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit
  • AC input: 3 wire cord

    General

  • LNA Supply: 7.5 volts, 250mA
  • Power Input: 85-140VAC, 50-60Hz
  • Certifications: UL, FCC Part 15 Class B
  • Operating Environment: 0-40C, 0-95%
  • Relative Humidity non-condensing
  • Antenna

  • Input Frequency: Min: 2.32GHz, Max: 2.33GHz
  • LNA Noise: 0.7 dB at 25 C typical
  • LNA Gain : 42dB typical
  • Operating Temperature: -40C to +85C
  • VSWR, Antenna Module Output: 2:1 at Zo = 50 ohms
  • Power Requirements: 5.3-8Vdc
  • Cable Type: RG58U
  • Output Connector Type: SMA female plug
  • Package Contents

  • Antex branded SIRIUS Multi-zone Receiver
  • Remote Control
  • Antenna
  • 3 RCA stereo audio patch cables
  • Owners Manual


  • Company Information
    Antex Electronics Corporation
    1125 West 190th Street
    Gardena, CA 90248
    Phone: 310-532-3092

    Source: Manufacturer supplied
    Warranty: 12-Month Limited Warranty
    MSRP: $1999

    URL: www.antex.com
    Email: asupport@antex.com

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