Antex XM3000 Listening Tests and Conclusion
While I don't have another unit upon which to make an adequate comparison, I feel compelled to run through a few stations and give some quick impressions. The important thing to remember is that the unit works; it passes XM radio to three separate zones using one antenna. You can be listening to light jazz in the kitchen while your better half is listening to 80's retro in the den and the little on can be listening to punk in their room. Very nice. All from one unit.
For this test, I set my receiver to 2.1 using my Axiom m22ti's as fronts and the famous EP500 as the sub. I've found that these speakers mate together flawlessly creating a full soundstage that is both revealing and involving. Imperfections in the source material are quickly uncovered, sometimes to painful effect. If you want accuracy in source reproduction, Axiom is a good way to go.
Given the tenor of Gene's recent editorial , I decided to start on channel 50, The Loft (Acoustic Rock). I was hoping to hear a good amount of dynamic range and to see how accurately the guitar was conveyed. Unfortunately, the first song that played was Fleetwood Mac's "I don't know to." I just couldn't get past the compressed vocals. It sounded like she was singing at the bottom of an empty grain silo. Fortunately, I found this particular song to be and abnormality as many of the other tracks I heard had a much better sound than this.
Joni Mitchell's "Harry's House" started off a bit forward (putting it lightly) but the vocals were very warm and lifelike. There were moments of compression but the only time it really got annoying was during the trumpet section. At the higher notes, the trumpet would compress audibly completely losing its normal, full sound and being reduced to a bad imitation of a kazoo. One oddity that I noticed was that during the station identification, the sub would sustain a really low note that I almost felt more than heard.
Next, I wanted to test the low-end response. First I tried the underground dance station (channel 80) - which is odd because I thought dancing underground would be like being buried alive. Anyhow, that music is already so compressed I could only take a minute or two before I had to turn it. I can report that the EP500 did a fairly nice job of making me think I had to "pop" my ears. Biting the bullet, I switched to Snoop Dog's Classic (classic?) Hip Hop station (channel 65). There was quite a bit of compression evident but much of it I would expect given the age of the music. Giving up, I prepared to move on when Public Enemy came on. Come on, talk about old school! Sounded terrible but I couldn't help myself. Flavor of Love aside, Public Enemy had something going for them back in the day.
Last, I switched to traditional Jazz (channel 70). The first track I heard was Chaka Khan's rendition of "I love you Porgy." Wow, what a difference from some of the other stations. While I would have liked to have heard a bit more dynamic range, overall, the experience was entirely pleasant and involving. Apparently not all XM stations are created equal. Once again, I found as I listened that the source material played a big part. Some of the older music had reduced audio quality. The most consistent "problem" area was audience applause which generally sounded like someone crumpling wax paper. Overall, I found this station to be one of the more pleasant to listen to.
Conclusions and Overall Perceptions
As a consumer-direct product, the Antex TriplePlay XM-3000 may not make much sense. It's expensive and is really designed and intended for use in a custom install application. It simply doesn't offer the kind of flexibility in customization a consumer is likely to want (it is meant to be set up once and rarely changed). However, as a custom install product, it is great in that it simplifies three zone installations to the point of being ridiculously easy. Once the installer sets up whichever touch screen remote the consumer wants, almost all of my "suggestions" are moot. A quick scan of the Internet gave me absolutely NO credible competitors to this product. That alone is a testament to the innovation of the TriplePlay. As a custom installer, I'd view the TriplePlay XM-3000 as a Godsend. Setup is a breeze; and once it is done, you are unlikely to have to make many changes. On the other hand, if a customer wants to do something minor (like change a password) the setup menu is easy enough to navigate that a user could be talked through it over the phone.
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
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|Ease of Setup|