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JBL Synthesis SDP-45 Surround Processor Preview

JBL Synthesis SDP-45 Surround Processor

JBL Synthesis SDP-45 Surround Processor


  • Product Name: SDP-45 Surround Processor
  • Manufacturer: JBL Synthesis
  • Review Date: March 12, 2013 04:40
  • MSRP: $TBA (if you have to ask...)
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now
  • 7.1-channel digital surround processor
  • Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio decoding
  • 8 HDMI inputs, 2 HDMI outputs
  • 9 digital inputs, plus USB 2.0 type B for sound-card functionality
  • 8 pairs of analog inputs and both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs
  • RS-232 and Ethernet control capability
  • 3-year warranty with 2-year “48-hour, no downtime” support (US only)
  • Includes rack ears and fastener hardware (requires 4 rack spaces)
  • Dimensions (H x W x D): 6.3" x 17" x 15.5" (16cm x 43.2cm x 39.4cm)
  • Weight: 24 lb (10.9kg)
  • Includes rack ears and fastener hardware (requires 4 rack spaces)

Executive Overview

At shows like CES, JBL Synthesis is one of the products you seek out, because you know you'll likely never experience them anywhere else. These are high-end products for the cost-is-no-object buyer. They (generally) look great, they have top components, and they leave all of us drooling. When JBL announces a new component, we can't help but want to take a closer look at it.

The JBL Synthesis SDP-45 surround processor is an "ultra high-end" (their term) head unit for the discerning buyer. It features 7.1 channels with both balanced and unbalanced outputs. There are eight 3D compatible HDMI inputs with two outputs, but no word if these are independent or mirrored. The SDP-45 has nine digital audio inputs (some combination of optical and coaxial), six RCA and two XLR stereo analogue inputs plus a full 7.1 channel set of inputs for legacy gear. There is no mention of any analogue video inputs. The JBL Synthesis SDP-45 surround processor has a single USB audio input (no word if it is "Made for iPhone" or has any other certifications—JBL actually suggests that it is for computer sound cards), an iR input, one trigger input and three outputs, and Ethernet and RS-232 ports.

The processor uses Crystal Semiconductor 24-bit/192kHz D/A converters, two 32-bit floating-point engines, and discrete Class A circuitry which should all work together to deliver pristine audio reproduction. To this end, JBL has included separate power supplies for the analogue and digital sections, and a bypass mode that provides an all-analogue signal path for audiophiles who want to hear the most from analogue music sources. In addition, they have utilized a completely asynchronous signal path from the SDP-45's A/D converters and all digital inputs, allowing the outputs to be completely buffered and internally clocked to a very stable crystal oscillator. The SDP-45 is compatible with all the latest HD audio formats, though there is no word if other file formats (such as AAC, FLAC, MP3 or WMA) are supported. 

Custom installers can tailor the performance of the SDP-45 for any room. With comprehensive bass management for all sources and individual and delay adjustment for each channel, not to mention a four line display on the front panel, the SDP-45 should be a breeze to set up. The SDP-45 has Dolby Volume on-0board for equalizing volume and a selection of 2-channel DSPs. The JBL Synthesis SDP-45 Surround Processor/System Controller will be available through JBL Synthesis dealers in March 2013.


It's hard to judge the JBL Synthesis by other systems. With no mention of 4K (or any other upconversion), multiple zones, the newer height/width channels, room correction, analogue video inputs, streaming (though it does have an Ethernet port), Apple or Android compatibility, multiple subwoofer support, and much, much more, it would easy to dismiss the JBL Synthesis as overpriced and under-featured. But the Synthesis line is aimed at a different type of consumer. These consumers are likely to have separate boxes that do their upconversion and scaling, boxes that stream, boxes that do room correction and split out the LFE to multiple subs, and much more. Plus, the JBL Synthesis products are sold as a solution—not individual units. The processor, amps, speakers, and more are all sold as a group by custom installers. As such, don't expect to see price tags next to these products anytime soon. Besides, if you have to ask...

For more information, please visit www.jblsynthesis.com.

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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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