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Sherbourn PT-7030 Surround Processor Review

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Sherbourn PT-7030 Surround Processor

Sherbourn PT-7030 Surround Processor

Summary

  • Product Name: PT-7030 Surround Processor
  • Manufacturer: Sherbourn Technologies
  • Review Date: July 16, 2013 06:55
  • MSRP: $1799
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Buy Now

Features

  • Six HDMI 1.4a inputs and two HDMI 1.4a outputs (one output is ARC enabled).
  • Twin Cirrus 32-bit dual-core DSP processors for true 192 kHz audio performance.
  • Genesis Torino high-performance video engine for true 10-bit video processing.
  • DCDi CinemaFormat Conversion and Truelife video enhancer.
  • Individual DACs and volume control circuits for each channel, and a very tightly regulated multi-stage linear power supply ensure the absolute best audio performance.
  • HDMI 1.4a Deep Color Compliant.
  • Configurable CEC participation (CEC can be limited to avoid conflicts).
  • Discrete multichannel parametric EQ for precise room correction.
  • Full set of 7.2 balanced outputs and full set of 7.1 unbalanced outputs.
  • Plenty of inputs for all your digital audio source components: (4 x digital Toslink, 3 x digital Coax).
  • Plenty of inputs for all your analog audio source components: (one stereo pair of balanced inputs, seven stereo pairs of unbalanced inputs, one 7.1 channel set of unbalanced direct inputs).
  • Three zones of stereo audio and composite video outputs ( in addition to the main zone).
  • Component video inputs and outputs.
  • Full integration with popular remote control and automation protocols.
  • Bluetooth wireless audio
  • iPod/iPad support

Connectivity

  • 6 – HDMI 1.4 inputs (all support 3D)
  • 2 – HDMI 1.4 outputs (Output 1 is ARC and CEC enabled)
  • 3 – zone video outputs (composite)
  • 2 – composite video inputs
  • 1 – composite video output
  • 2 – component video inputs
  • 1 – component video output
  • 1 – Reference stereo audio input (balanced, stereo)
  • 1 – 7.2 Balanced output (7 channels plus 2 subs)
  • 1 – Tuner input (unbalanced, stereo)
  • 6 – Line inputs (unbalanced, stereo)
  • 1 – 7.1 unbalanced input (7 channels plus sub, unbalanced)
  • 3 – zone audio outputs (unbalanced, stereo)
  • 1 – audio out (mix out, unbalanced, stereo)
  • 7 – digital audio inputs (4 - optical Toslink; 3 - coax)
  • 1 – USB input
  • 2 – digital audio outputs (1 - Toslink optical, 1 - coax)
  • 6 - Trigger outputs (independently configurable)
  • 2 – IR outputs; 4 – IR remote inputs
  • 1 – RS-232 serial control input

Dimensions

  • Size: 17" wide x 7.5" high x 15" deep (includes feet and connectors)
  • Weight: 33 lbs / 15 kg (unboxed); 37 lbs / 17 kg (boxed)
  • Rack mountable: Yes, with included rack mount kit

One of my favorite all-time movies is Back to the Future—which is the phrase that came to mind when I started reviewing the Sherbourn PT-7030 surround processor. And it has nothing to do with time travel or flux capacitors...though I'm pretty sure hooking this up to 1.21 jigawatts of amplification and pumping them through speakers taller than I am would be pretty cool...Anyway, the reason I thought of Back to the Future is that Sherbourn has gone back to what made this hobby cool in the first place: simplicity. And that's not to say that this is some sort of stripped down, under-featured product either. It has everything you need for excellent surround sound—but it skips a lot of what you don't. And we are so overdue for a feature stand-down it's not even funny. In an age of feature-bloat I literally sighed a breath of relief when I took my first look at the clean front panel of the PT-7030.

This is an audiophile-level product I can really sink my ears into.

I won't go into much of the background, but Emotiva took over the dealer-centric and rather closed-door Sherbourn Technologies—and then promptly redesigned its entire line-up and opened up its products for direct sale to the public. It was awesome. The PT-7030 is their latest product, a seven channel surround processor that has six HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs, USB and wireless Bluetooth audio support, six 12V trigger connections, and both fully balanced and unbalanced preamp output connections that will work with any surround amplifier. It also has four zones, a reference balanced stereo audio input and carries a 5-year warranty. Video processing is done by a Genesis Torino chip and it carries twin Cirrus 32-bit dual core DSP processors.

Editorial Note: Not mentioned in the video review is that when you purchase the PT-7030, you also receive a 25% off upgrade certificate towards your next processor or receiver.

Sherbourn PT-7030 Surround Sound Processor Video Review

Features You Need, Nothing You Don't

The Sherbourn PT-7030 does just about everything you need it to, and nothing you don't. It's a product that seems to have the guts and bells & whistles that matter—particularly to the custom installer. Take the six HDMI 1.4a inputs and two HDMI 1.4a outputs—that's going to get everything you need into the system and also allow you to connect any ARC-enabled device as well to one of the outputs. Twin Cirrus 32-bit dual-core DSP processors provide the expected 192 kHz audio performance, and video processing is aptly handled by the familiar and adept DCDi chipset.

PT-7030 HDMI analogue inputs     PT-7030 rear connections

Sherbourn PT-7030  Backpanel Views

The PT-7030 has six HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs, USB and wireless Bluetooth audio support, six 12V triggers, and both fully balanced and unbalanced preamp outputs. It also has four zones, a reference balanced stereo audio input and 5-year warranty.

Each channel has Individual DACs and volume control circuits and Sherbourn used a multi-stage linear power supply with a large toroidal transformer (remember, these are a preamplifier circuits, not full-gain amplifiers). For connectivity, a full set of 7.2 balanced outputs and as well as 7.1 unbalanced outputs are provided. I've always wondered about "high-end" products that don't provide balanced connectivity. Apparently Sherbourn did, too. Digital audio isn't neglected either, with four digital Toslink and three digital coax connections. And Sherbourn could probably have stopped there, but the addition of Bluetooth wireless audio was a nice touch, giving users with smart phones, iPods, and iPads the ability to stream directly into the PT-7030 wirelessly.

PT-7030 angled

Sherbourn PT-7300 Frontview

Seriously, this thing is insane. You know what it doesn't have? 4K upconversion, network audio, millions of DSP audio modes, a GUI on-screen display and automatic setup (though it does have per-channel or global 10-band parametric EQ). The remote control is also an affront to all things sane and decent—one of the worst I've seen in a product costing more than $1500. I literally had to search just to find the volume. I'm just not sure the negatives have much weight against the sheer value of the product overall—particularly when you consider the needs and preferences of the CE installer. And right now, Sherbourn is offering the system for just $1799 and including a PA 7-150 amplifier. That's a 7 channel, 150 watt per channel amplifier...for free. I don't know how long that deal will last. Sherbourn sweetens the deal further for custom installers by providing extensive drivers for all popular home automation systems right out of the box—plus, the processor can be controlled via Ethernet or RS-232. Rack mount ears are even included—something we tend to find handy around here.

 

PT-7030 internals

Sherbourn PT-7030 Top View 

Dire StraitsI connected the system into Audioholics' reference system 2 and drove a set of RBH Sound Signature Series speakers with a pair of Emotiva XPA-200 amplifiers for center and surrounds and two XPA-1 monoblocks for the mains. Beginning with some familiar stereo tracks I queued up Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing". The lead guitar had a nice sustain and you could visualize the finger movements like it was happening right in the front of the room. Vocals had that a nice authentic gritty texture and the tone was accurate to what I've come to expect from this track when played through a high end system. The toms in "Money for Nothing" maintained that natural decay while the keys rose overtop and gave way to the grungy opening guitar solo. Bass was well-maintained and deep and the Sherbourn PT-7030 just seemed to really do a good job of passing through the audio unmolested.

Bach Violin ConcertosAnd because I wanted to listen to dynamics, I put up some Bach—"Concerto No. 1 in A Minor for Violin and Strings" as performed by Camerata Antonio Lucio, a string ensemble led by Dutch violinist Emma Verhey. Her violin floated through the speakers and seemed to originate from within the room itself. While most of my listening was done in pure stereo, I was particularly fond of the Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode whereby this track came alive in the surrounds in a way that I wasn't expecting. It was discovered entirely on accident, but I enjoyed the surprising rendition of the artificial DSP surround and felt the processing to be rather transparent.

Getting to surround sound, I selected a few HD music tracks, including John Gorka's "Branching Out" from his album The Gypsy Life. This is an AIX records album and features surround sound mixes from both an audience and on-stage perspective. It also comes with 1080p Blu-ray video. I did my listening in the stage mix and could really hear all of the rich detail afforded by the acoustic guitar and mandolin. Behind all of that was Michael Manring's electric bass work that just gave everything a nice foundation. The Sherbourn really did justice to these tracks and it was clear that a lot of attention was paid to making sure the sound quality afforded by this surround processor was transparent and clean. Video was pristine and the source was meticulously passed through from my Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player to the Epson Pro Cinema 6010UB projector. I also passed through some DVDs, including the Matrix (the original, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the two sequels). Upconversion from component video to HDMI worked flawlessly and there were no visible artifacts or other issues with black levels or picture quality that I could determine. The Sherbourn's Genesis Torino chip does a great job scaling analogue input to HDMI. In fact, all of the movies I watched on this system (most of which were sourced from Blu-ray) looked and sounded excellent.

 

PT-7030 close up

Sherbourn PT-7030 Close Up

When this surround processor was first announced, it was rumored to cost around $2500. At under $1800 and with a free 7-channel amplifier, I'm concerned someone over at Sherbourn is going to lose their job. This is a great, no, better than great, deal for what is a very nice separates system with lots of excellent custom installer appeal. While the menu is basic and it's short on seldom-used over-the-top bells and whistles, the PT-7030 has a simplistic appeal—and I like that.

Riddle me this: Which do you prefer—a flagship AV receiver or equally-priced separates? We want to know, so leave us a comment at YouTube.com/audioholicsLive, or visit us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/audioholics or check us out on Google Plus

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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