Listening Evaluation & Conclusion
The Private Music Of Patrick O'Hearn
Looking through our CD collection, we selected the new age instrumental CD The Private Music Of Patrick O'Hearn. This older CD released for sale back in 1992 is chock full of high-energy electronic synthesizer, horn and percussion music. If you're a fan of instrumental music you should have this CD in your collection.
Powering up our receiver, CD player, and amplifier to proceed with our evaluation, we noted a high-pitched, high frequency whistle combined with several brief and intermittent pops and clicks transmitted through the Axiom speakers. We changed the transmitting channel on the transmitter in an attempt to rectify the problem but it persisted. We began a very lengthy process of elimination in an attempt to find a solution starting with disconnecting every wireless device we had installed in our building but the problem remained.
Next, the thought occurred to us that this might be a problem with power. Keeping in mind that the DC transformer used with the Digital Audio Link is nine volts, we assembled two isolated power supplies using two nine volt batteries and two salvaged power cables from discarded transformers. Using our DIY power supplies the high frequency whistle was significantly muted, but the strange series of intermittent pops and clicks remained.
We tried every possible thing to find a solution to the problem. We even tried the Digital Audio Link with several other pre-amp and amplifier combinations in different rooms of the building but we were unable to rectify the problem. We decided to proceed with the product evaluation in the hope that we may find a solution.
Selecting track number seven "Down Hill Racer" we began our evaluation. From the very first note we were stunned and amazed at the level of clarity achieved by the wireless transmitted signal. The little Axiom Audio M3Ti bookshelf speakers really sounded enormous and effortlessly reproduced the magic of Patrick O'Hearn's music. Saying we really love these little speakers would be an understatement! We found it very surprising that once the Digital Audio Link began transmitting signal the mysterious clicks and pops we encountered previously were not audible in the transmitted signal. We can only assume that if the Digital Audio Link is not transmitting signal it must be picking up RF from some source at our location.
We continued our evaluation and listened to the Patrick O'Hearn CD in its entirety. The Digital Audio Link never missed a beat reproducing this wonderful music, it sounded as though we were listening to a hard-wired system. We were pleasantly surprised at the level of performance achieved using the Digital Audio Link to transmit wireless full range signal from our receiver to our amplifier.
We have had several recent conversations with Sonic Immersion Technologies about the interference problem we encountered in the full bandwidth evaluation period. Sonic Immersion Technologies indicates they are aware of the problem with the pre-production evaluation unit they sent us for review and have their engineers working on a solution before the Digital Audio Link is released for sale. This information is welcome news and if the engineers can find a solution to this problem the Digital Audio Link would be considered a very high value product.
Continuing with our evaluation, we wanted to see how the Digital Audio Link would handle LFE transmitted signal from our receivers LFE output to our Axiom Audio EP-600 subwoofer's input. This installation scenario reproduces the need for a wireless subwoofer location. Many pre-constructed homes, condos, townhouses, and apartments have no access to install wire runs for optimal subwoofer locations.
Setting up the Digital Audio Link for LFE transmission, we connected a "Y" splitter from the Yamaha RX-V2600's LFE subwoofer pre-out to the Digital Audio Link transmitter right and left input. Next, we connected a pair of analog interconnects from the Digital Audio Link receiver's right and left channel out-puts to the right and left channel inputs on the Axiom Audio EP-600 . This would be the correct method of termination for a single subwoofer that has right and left analog inputs using the Digital Audio Link. If you were using dual subwoofers you would be able to use the right output from the Digital Audio Link to supply signal to one subwoofer and the left output to supply signal to the other subwoofer. The crossover setting on our Yamaha RX-V2600 was set for 80Hz and all speakers were set to small, thus redirecting all frequencies below 80Hz to the subwoofer.
Powering up the receiver and the subwoofer, we were very surprised and somewhat mystified that we heard dead silence. Gone was the mysterious pop and click we encountered during the full range evaluation. Tuning up the receiver to a high volume level with no source playing and placing our ears in close proximity to the subwoofer driver we heard absolutely no noise, whistle, or hiss.
War Of The Worlds
We selected the LFE intense DVD War Of The Worlds for evaluating the performance of transmitted LFE signal between the Digital Audio Link and our Axiom Audio EP-600 subwoofer .We selected this DVD because it contains a significant amount of gut wrenching LFE effects. We use this DVD regularly for product evaluation and that gives us the benefit of knowing what the sound track should sound like.
We began our LFE evaluation with chapter six, "Machine Emerges". As the alien vessel begins to make its assent from under the ground, the road begins to crack, break up, and splinter apart. The wireless transmitted LFE signal between the Digital Audio Link and the Axiom Audio EP-600 subwoofer was absolutely flawless. We could detect no amount of signal degradation or loss of information transmitted from the DVD's LFE sequence. As usual the Axiom Audio EP-600 subwoofer rocked the house and had everything in our room human and non-human feeling the effects of the awesome LFE content. At no time during the DVD LFE evaluation period did we experience any noise, signal degradation, or any other strange anomaly. All that was heard and felt were the clean glorious LFE effects provided by the excellent sound track found on the DVD.
The manufacturer claims a useable range between 30-150 feet. We placed the receiver and transmitter in various locations in our building and we were only able to obtain a steady useable range of about 50ft with one wall between the receiver and transmitter. Distances longer than 50 feet produced intermittent signal dropouts and/or no signal at all. We were pretty disappointed with the range performance of the Digital Audio Link considering it's a 5.8 GHz device. We expected far better range and we therefore cannot recommend the device for use in multi-room installations.
The Digital Audio Link is by far the best wireless receiver and transmitter we have tested to date, and it should be considering its somewhat lofty price tag. We started this review with skepticism and a simple question: Is the Digital Audio Link the product that finally unlocks the combination for successful wireless home theater? Our answer to this would be that the Digital Audio Link fell just short of providing a viable solution for a complete wireless home theater system. The Digital Audio Link can be of great benefit for home theater installations that require wireless rear surrounds or wireless subwoofer locations.
This is the first wireless transmission/receiving device that we have reviewed that can be implemented and successfully installed in a high-end home theater system for transmission of wireless low frequency information to subwoofers and tactile transducers. The Digital Audio Link would also be a viable solution sending full bandwidth information to surround sound speakers providing the engineers fix the interference problem we encountered in our review. The simple fact is that the Digital Audio Link is a giant leap forward in wireless audio transmission devices, considering the previous devices we have evaluated.
This little transmitter and receiver may have the ability to open up doors for difficult installations where wires can't be installed. For many, this may be the difference in listening to their systems with or without surround sound speakers and subwoofers. Keeping this simple fact in mind, we find it hard not to recommend the Digital Audio Link for these types of installation scenarios and hope to see the bugs worked out for improved performance of full range wireless transmission.
Sonic Immersions Technologies
The Score Card
The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:
Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating
Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.
Audioholics Rating Scale
- — Excellent
- — Very Good
- — Good
- — Fair
- — Poor