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Classe SSP-800 Setup & Configuration

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Basic setup for the SSP-800 is not unlike that of any other modern pre/pro or receiver, although Classe makes several statements to the effect that you should really just let your dealer set up the unit.  This is fine for some, but of course, we here at Audioholics like to do this kind of stuff for ourselves.

The manual goes through the obligatory basic physical setup of the SSP-800, spends some time discussing the basic types of surround sound formats and the number of channels involved, surround post processing to increase the number of channels or add effects, and then finally to the menus.

At this point, I will note that the menu structure of the SSP-800 is arranged a bit differently than is typical with mass-market gear and uses some slightly different terminology. This terminology, in some cases makes more sense and sometimes it is a head scratcher.  Either way, the terminology is a bit different.

When first plugged in and the rear power rocker switch turned on, the SSP-800 will take several minutes where the standby/on indicator will blink and the unit will not turn on until it is finished.  Once the standby/on indicator quits blinking, the unit can be switched to the operating mode, but this brings up a statement about initializing on the front display panel, a boot up process that takes a little longer than just turning on the unit.  Once complete, the touch screen display shows the Home Page menu screen.

Here is where things start to get a bit different in how the workings of the SSP-800 are described by Classe.  There are two basic menu structures, one used for regular operation and other for setting up the unit to operate.  The first menu, for operating the SSP-800, is referred to as the Home Page throughout the documentation but not as a menu, although it is a menu.  The other menu is referred to as the Menu System or just Menu, which is the menu to access all of the setup options on the SSP-800.

Unfortunately, the users manual leaves something to be desired in clearly establishing the menu hierarchy and layout.  The Home Page menu is described in the user’s manual under the heading Using the SSP-800/CT-SSP while the Menu System menu is described under the heading The Menu System in the users manual.  The user’s manual attempts to organize the menu hierarchy with sidebar titles and use of bold, normal, and italicized text, but the subheading items are not always listed in the main heading or in consistent order when they are subsequently described, so it is hard to keep track of where a given feature is in the hierarchy.  The lack of clarity is further exacerbated by the pdf file of the user’s manual alternating between some unreadable, low-resolution images of the various menu screens that are pixilated to the point of uselessness and some more readable moderate resolution screen images.

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Overall view of the OSD                                     Close up of the OSD

I will go through some of the functionality tucked away in these menus without generating the full hierarchy myself.  The various menus will always display on the touch screen, which can be set for various levels of brightness, colors, and a delayed off when not in use, but the SSP-800 can be configured to present the menus as an onscreen display on the monitor television.  The OSD covers only the lower left part of the screen and can be programmed to display for different user actions, time duration, or disabled completely.  The front panel touch display, itself, fits up to six menu items on screen at once along with a More button when there are additional menu items and a Home button to take the user to the Home Page, both of which are located at the top of the screen.  The display will also show a scroll bar to the side when there is a longer list of submenu options.  All of the menus on the SSP-800 can be set to one of six different languages that are further customizable by local Classe dealers for regional variation in dialect and custom.

The Home Page menu display lists four options: Source, Video Preview, Mode, and Controls in addition to showing the current input selected, processing type, and volume level, both numerically and as a relative slider bar at the bottom.  The Source menu option should be obvious in that is selects one of the assigned input sources for playback.  The Video Preview button turns the face mounted touch screen into a video display of the currently selected source, which can be useful for out-of-the-way custom installations where line of sight is obstructed.  The Mode menu command accesses all of the possible decoding and post processing modes.  The Controls function brings up commands to temporarily adjust relative speaker audio levels (trims) and delays, Dolby late night dynamic compression as well as selecting listening/speaker configurations, and a trim reset to the programmed settings.  All of the temporary settings are lost when a new input is selected or the SSP-800 is powered down to standby.

The documentation for the SSP-800 makes a distinction between decoding and post processing of signals.  This is a logical distinction in that decoding outputs the signal in its native format and number of channels while post processing alters or expands the decoded signal to other formats and numbers of channels.

The setup Menu System menu is for setup of the SSP-800 is accessed by either the Menu button on the remote or the physical button on the front panel of the SSP-800.  This is where all of the more permanent settings are made for the SSP-800.  The manual does not provide a listing of the subdirectories under the System Menu heading, only a blurry picture of this menu and its pathways, and then jumps right in on the next page to describe the subdirectories.  The missing list of items is as follows: System Setup, Teach IR, Display Setup, Dolby/DTS, Remote Fkeys, and Status.

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Main Menu              System Setup

Several of these menu items have relatively simple and straightforward functionality.  Teach IR allows for programming the SSP-800 and the remote for additional IR commands.  Display Setup allows the OSD to be set to different colors, screen position, brightness, timeout duration, programmed for which events trigger it to display, or disabled.  This submenu is also where different languages can be set for the SSP-800.  Dolby/DTS contains the usual Dolby ProLogic and DTS Neo6 settings for center width, panorama, and dimension along with settings for use with Dolby Volume.  The Remote Fkeys submenu is where macros can be programmed for the remote control.  Status displays information including firmware versions and hardware versions for various internal components, sensor data including temperature, voltage, line phase, and grounding states, and provides access to Classe’s CANbus configuration menus.

System Setup is the primary menu to configure the SSP-800 for operation with the following functions:  Volume, Input, Triggers, Profiles, Room EQ, Configuration, and Black Level.

As with the menu level above System Setup, a number of the functions are straightforward.  Volume is where settings for maximum and startup volume can be set along with settings for relative input levels and mute settings, which can be varied from full mute to any preset level or an amount to decrease the volume from the current setting.  Volume settings on the SSP-800 can be made in 0.5 dB increments from –99.0 dB to +14.0 dB.  The Triggers menu allows the two triggers to be activated and programmed.  Each trigger can be set for a full range of functions beyond just turning on the unit including setting inputs and processing modes.  The Black Level menu allows the SSP-800 to be set for either 7.5 IRE consistent with North American sources or 0 IRE for sources from elsewhere in the world.

The Profiles function allows the creation of two separate customized submenus that are the Home Page with up to six commands each that is useful for accessing frequently used commands buried deep in the menu structure.  When this functionality is active, the named profiles, default or user assigned, will show on Home Page menu.

The Input submenu is where the twenty input channels can be associated with source input connections.  Independent audio and video connections can are assigned in separate submenus and the audio can be associated with a default processing mode, an independent level adjustment called offset, and a group delay for lip-synching.  Each input can be given a customized name and can be associated with one of the six programmable configurations as a default.

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Input audio connection assignment                  Configuration submenu

The Configuration submenu is where permanent audio settings are stored for speaker setup.  Unlike a typical surround receiver, six different speaker arrangements can be created, which allows for a fair amount of customization.  Each configuration can be given a custom name, set for a different number of speakers, and programmed for different relative levels, distance/delays, speakers that are or are not crossed over, crossover frequencies, crossover slopes, and how the auxiliary channels are assigned.  Using configurations would allow one to create a specific setup for using surround sound versus stereo listening with and without subwoofers, respectively, perhaps a five channel versus a seven channel arrangement for sources with different numbers of discretely recorded channels, or a DTS versus Dolby surround mode.

There is some redundancy in the required input for each Configuration such as the delays for the speakers.  Setting different configurations of which speakers to use with different levels and processing makes sense.  Perhaps different relative speaker levels when a different number of channels or when a different processing mode is used, but the delay settings will likely all be the same unless one is attempting to program their own concert hall modes or perhaps just likes an echo chamber effect.

As for the actual settings that can be made for the speakers, they allow for a high level of precision.  Level setting for each channel pair can be made in 0.5dB increments.  The distance settings for delays can be made in 2 inch (0.051 m) increments, which is very likely closer spaced than your two ears.

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Room EQ settings

The Room EQ menu brings up the settings for the manual five-band room correction equalizer for each of the ten output channels.  The equalizer can be activated or deactivated for each channel independent of the other channels and each band within a channel can be turned on or off independently.  Center frequency settings for a band are made in 1 Hz increments from 20-200 Hz, 10 Hz increments from 200-2000 Hz, and 100 Hz increments from 2000-20000 Hz.  The corresponding gain is adjustable from –64.0 dB to +5.0 dB in 0.5 dB increments and width can be set for multiples of 1 to 20 in integer increments.  Because of the fully manual implementation of the room correction equalizer on the SSP-800, equipment and/or software capable of taking room acoustics measurements, or a dealer with the aforementioned items, is required to put the feature to effective use.

There are a couple of foibles in the implementation of the different functions and menus on the SSP-800.  For example, the SSP-800 can be set to display either relative or absolute volume, but despite whatever setting is selected, the mute setup menu only displays absolute volume.  Speaking of volume, while the SSP-800 has settings to adjust how quickly the volume changes with the remote control and with any connected automation, the physical volume knob on the front is very sensitive and has no such control.  A few degrees turn will cause the volume to change by many dB and a half turn will take the SSP-800 from –99 dB to –20 dB, so a careless turn of the knob could lead to hearing and speaker damaging levels.  It really defeats the purpose of having 0.5 dB fine volume adjustment when touching the knob causes the volume to take off like a bat out of hell.  I also want to mention that the OSD will not display on a TV without an active source component selected. This is not always an issue, but if occasionally one wanted to make some setting changes to the pre/pro when it is first powered on, it cannot be done without first powering up and selecting a source.  There is another issue with applying names to speaker configurations.  The name given to a speaker configuration is never shown within the Configuration setup menu except under the submenu to create the name, otherwise they are simply Configuration 1, Configuration 2, etcetera, but it does show up in the Input menu where a default speaker configuration can be assigned to the input.  These aforementioned really are minor issues that could be fixed with a firmware revision, but they can be irritating nonetheless.

Bass Management Options

With the inclusion of the bass management settings within the Configuration menu, all of the subwoofer settings can be adjusted independently for every user defined speaker configuration.  Want to run the left/right mains as full range for two channel music listening but have them crossed over to the sub(s) for multi channel movie soundtracks?  The SSP-800 allows for a level of versatility in creating such arrangements that few, if any, other surround processors will allow.

Within a defined speaker Configuration, each speaker group/type is set as Full Range or Crossed Over, which is more straightforward equivalent to setting speakers as large and small in typical A/V receiver/pre/pro parlance.  When crossed over, each speaker group/type can be set for an independent crossover frequency in increments of 10 Hz from 40 Hz to 140 Hz.

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Configuration menu speaker crossover settings             Auxiliary channel subwoofer assignments

When subwoofers are enabled within a speaker Configuration, they will function as an LFE channel with low pass bass from all of the crossed over speakers.  Additionally, the SSP-800 has a setting called E-bass, that when activated, sends low-pass information from all of the speaker channels, regardless of their cross over settings, to the subwoofers.  When the subwoofers are disabled within a configuration, the LFE channel is routed to any of the speakers that are set to full range within the Configuration according to the users manual.  Each Configuration can also be set to either a 12dB/octave or 24dB/octave high and low-pass crossover slope that is independent from the other configuration sets.

The two auxiliary outputs on the SSP-800 can be assigned as additional subwoofer outputs for a total of three subwoofer LFE channels without requiring a Y splitter cable providing an effective 7.3 system for those keeping count.  The subwoofers can be configured for either one or two additional subwoofers as mono channels, L/R stereo, or L/C/R for one or two additional subs, respectively.  It is worth noting that the SSP-800 will allow the auxiliary channels, when used as subs, to have independent level trim and delay settings for each of those subwoofer channels.

Remote Control

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Classe SSP-800 Remote

Following through with minimalist approach typical of more Audiophile oriented gear, the remote control that is provided with the SSP-800 is equally minimalist with far fewer buttons than many mass-market remote controls.  There are no number keys, no key to directly select every input or every possible surround mode available on the pre/pro, and no keys to directly control other home theater equipment as is common.

All of the basic necessities are present, however, with power standby, mute, volume, sequential up and down input selection, info/status, adjust display brightness, and an enter key surrounded by four arrow keys.  There are also keys to access the main menus, Home and Menu, select alternate surround modes, set temporary trims and lip synch timings, select alternate speaker configurations, access profiles, and four Fkeys to control user programmed functions.

The remote, itself, is solid and heavy, made of approximately 1/8” machined aluminum with a 3/8” thick screw-in cover plate for the battery compartment.  The black tinted aluminum shell is complimented by cobalt blue backlighting that activates when any button is pressed.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

surveyor posts on August 24, 2013 06:10
And you can obtain this for just $327.59 a pound!
surveyor, post: 983921
Classe- waste of money, IMO!
surveyor posts on August 22, 2013 12:25
3db, post: 983902
Nice shiny box….

Classe- waste of money, IMO!
3db posts on August 22, 2013 10:46
Nice shiny box….
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