JBL Synthesis SDR-35 AV Receiver Review & Comments

Zarf2007

Active Member
I think a lot of these products tend to have bugs on release. I've no doubt the Anthems will improve and most seem happy already. But I'm just leaning a different way now. It helps the JBLs have been out for a while and already refined through updates.
As an owner of the SDP-55 I can highly recommend it, firmware seems very stable now and will only improve going forward.

I am not yet using features such as Dante or the DLBC but plan to in the future. The HDMI 2.1 option to upgrade also swung it for me.
 
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nimman

Active Member

wshuff

Novice Member
Were you able to use Logic 16? That is the feature that would make me look at this unit or the SDP-55 over others, but so far I've been led to believe that Logic 16 only exists in the marketing material. I would love to know how it works, what adjustments it provides, and (of course) how it sounds.
 

Zarf2007

Active Member
Were you able to use Logic 16? That is the feature that would make me look at this unit or the SDP-55 over others, but so far I've been led to believe that Logic 16 only exists in the marketing material. I would love to know how it works, what adjustments it provides, and (of course) how it sounds.

I havent used it yet but my understanding is due to covid the JBL/Arcam guys were concentrating on fixing bugs in the firmware before fully implementing it so at the moment it sounds ok but Auro3d is better. It will likely improve however....
 
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Steve Withers

Distinguished Member
Were you able to use Logic 16? That is the feature that would make me look at this unit or the SDP-55 over others, but so far I've been led to believe that Logic 16 only exists in the marketing material. I would love to know how it works, what adjustments it provides, and (of course) how it sounds.
Yes I did try Logic16, and it worked well, but it's basically just another upmixing algorithm to go along with the Dolby Surround, DTS Neural:X and Auto-Matic upmixers. Personally I'm more of a purist and would rather listen to a soundtrack as it was mixed, but I'm always amazed at how effective these upmixers are, and it does mean you can use all your speakers.
 

sunnPinn

Standard Member
@Steve Withers, I just bought an SDR-35 largely due to your review (thank you), but I'm not thrilled by the fact that I can't reassign amplifiers to different channels. Is it possible for that feature to come via a firmware update, or is that a hardware limitation?
 

Thatsnotmynaim

Distinguished Member
Doubt it, old FMJ design was the same
 

Steve Withers

Distinguished Member
@Steve Withers, I just bought an SDR-35 largely due to your review (thank you), but I'm not thrilled by the fact that I can't reassign amplifiers to different channels. Is it possible for that feature to come via a firmware update, or is that a hardware limitation?
I do mention that you can't reassign channels in the review, and as the previous poster said it's been a limitation of Arcam receivers for a while now. I have asked Arcam to add channel reassignment, but it doesn't look likely at the moment and is probably not possible via a firmware update.
 

sunnPinn

Standard Member
I do mention that you can't reassign channels in the review, and as the previous poster said it's been a limitation of Arcam receivers for a while now. I have asked Arcam to add channel reassignment, but it doesn't look likely at the moment and is probably not possible via a firmware update.
Oops didn't mean to imply that I wasn't thrilled with you because of that limitation; I'm just not thrilled with JBL! As a result, I'm going to end up using my 3x 800wpc class-D amp run two of my overheads for now since I can't reroute my L/C/R amps to overhead duties.
 

Steve Withers

Distinguished Member
Oops didn't mean to imply that I wasn't thrilled with you because of that limitation; I'm just not thrilled with JBL! As a result, I'm going to end up using my 3x 800wpc class-D amp run two of my overheads for now since I can't reroute my L/C/R amps to overhead duties.
No worries. I was going to ask why you wanted to reassign the front three channels, and now I have my answer!
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
I havent used it yet but my understanding is due to covid the JBL/Arcam guys were concentrating on fixing bugs in the firmware before fully implementing it so at the moment it sounds ok but Auro3d is better. It will likely improve however....
Well, I could not find the confirmation of this theory anywhere, but it absolutely makes sense to me. It is better to postpone other actions, such as events or promos, and focus on the work that does not require regular meetings of bigger numbers of people. Later, the risk related to bigger meetings might be smaller, so it makes sense to focus on fixing bugs now.
 

sunnPinn

Standard Member
I bought a JBL SDR-35 about a month ago and finally got it integrated into my system. The first 3 weeks were extremely frustrating because of a bad firmware update that JBL did at the factory. After contacting Harman Luxury support, they directed me to reflash the firmware which solved nearly all the issues. The other issues that I had came down to how Dirac is implemented on Windows, which I've mostly figured out with Dirac support by now.

Bottom line: It sounds incredible. I love the control that Dirac Live + Bass Control gives me over what I was using before, which was Audyssey XT32. I switched from my external class-D amp pushing 800 wpc into 4 ohms to the SDR-35's internal amps for front stage duty and love the result. I'm selling that external amp now.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
Happy to hear that the firmware update/flash worked fine and that it solved most of the issues. JBL SDR-35 - Class G with 16 channels of native processing.
 

sunnPinn

Standard Member
Update: Turns out that the flashed firmware only temporarily solved some of the most egregious issues, but over time they came back. As noted by other owners on other forums, the unit hangs while saving Dirac filters about 25% of the time. My unit created serious clipping issues in the low end, although I cross-checked my curves and settings with other owners and my settings appear to be fine. After updating to firmware that was released a week or so ago, the OSD now behaves incorrectly: when you turn it “off”, the OSD says “OSD Off” and stays on the screen permanently. This is the buggiest piece of gear I have ever used. It’s also the best sounding piece of electronic kit I have had in my system (when it works). I am waiting for an RMA.

@iFi audio I got an ifi Zen Phono preamp for my turntable since the SDR-35 doesn’t have one. It sounds fantastic!
 

The Sound Counsel

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
Ive got an SDP-55 in the system at home at the moment and it has been very, very stable. Sonically it is definitely on another level and I think it will be interesting to see how it compares to the Anthem AVM90 when it arrives in 2022. Bass control and calibration with the Earthworks has got me the best sound I've had in the cinema at home since I had the Trinnov in there and I would highly recommend it. I've not heard the 35 but I would imagine it is equally as impressive.

Dan
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
Update: Turns out that the flashed firmware only temporarily solved some of the most egregious issues, but over time they came back. As noted by other owners on other forums, the unit hangs while saving Dirac filters about 25% of the time. My unit created serious clipping issues in the low end, although I cross-checked my curves and settings with other owners and my settings appear to be fine. After updating to firmware that was released a week or so ago, the OSD now behaves incorrectly: when you turn it “off”, the OSD says “OSD Off” and stays on the screen permanently. This is the buggiest piece of gear I have ever used. It’s also the best sounding piece of electronic kit I have had in my system (when it works). I am waiting for an RMA.

How about you bring it back to the previous firmware? It should not be the solution, but for now, until the newest firmware is fully operational, perhaps you could go back to the old one?


@iFi audio I got an ifi Zen Phono preamp for my turntable since the SDR-35 doesn’t have one. It sounds fantastic!
Great to hear about the Zen Phono. Hope it serves you well.
 

DanU

Novice Member
I got my SDR-35 few weeks ago. Previously I was using the Arcam FMJ processor. The SDR 35 has many of the same issues as Arcam has. I bought the SDR-35 thinking that being the ’Luxury’ version of the Arcam, they fixed all the issues - but this has not been the case!
To start with the positives , the sound is fantastic. I was very happy from this point of view with the Arcam , this is why I bought the SDR.

But so far my experience is that the big price difference is not justified (here in Australia I paid exactly double for the SDR35 compared with my prior generation Arcam FMJ, which was also not cheap!) .

I did certainly not expect to have so many problems operating the SDR35. More than half of the times when trying to load a Dirac setting/file, the unit freezes. After restarting , it displays gargled lines of characters on the TV screen, and so far I could not figure out how to resolve this issue, other than reset to factory settings. This of course deletes all settings and loaded Dirac filters, so I have to re-input everything, then try again to load Dirac filter/files , with high probability of another freeze. One reason I wanted to upgrade the FMJ was the existence of three memory slots on the newer Arcam / JBL generation - but this memory loading has become now the biggest headache

Sub1 and Sub2 outputs seem to be just one output. However, I haven’t tried yet to use CH13/14 for subs. Can this receiver operate two subs independently ?

Initially I had to deal with many more screen freezes and other strange issues, however these seem to have disappeared after the firmware update - however freezing when loading Dirac in any memory slot continues with a high frequency - and this is extremely annoying (and disappointing after paying this amount of money thinking that I’ll get a premium product). It is worse that the prior Arcam FMJ had similar issues, and after all these years they still did not manage to fix these. Worrying for the future is that the FMJ is not supported with updates anymore - obviously I have not learnt my lesson.

The fact that the menu is not displayed anymore on the TV screen (as it was the case with the Arcam FMJ) is a huge step backwards, and impossible to comprehend! Changing settings was so much easier from the listening position with the FMJ - now the user has to go close to the unit to see the little unit’s screen - Why !!!????

So far I am quite unhappy, and I would not recommend any of the JBL SDR 35, SDP55 or the equivalent Arcam processor or receivers , which I understand are almost identical.

Is there any chance that a future firmware upgrade will fix the problems, especially the Dirac memory saving ???
 

Krobar

Well-known Member
I got my SDR-35 few weeks ago. Previously I was using the Arcam FMJ processor. The SDR 35 has many of the same issues as Arcam has. I bought the SDR-35 thinking that being the ’Luxury’ version of the Arcam, they fixed all the issues - but this has not been the case!
To start with the positives , the sound is fantastic. I was very happy from this point of view with the Arcam , this is why I bought the SDR.

But so far my experience is that the big price difference is not justified (here in Australia I paid exactly double for the SDR35 compared with my prior generation Arcam FMJ, which was also not cheap!) .

I did certainly not expect to have so many problems operating the SDR35. More than half of the times when trying to load a Dirac setting/file, the unit freezes. After restarting , it displays gargled lines of characters on the TV screen, and so far I could not figure out how to resolve this issue, other than reset to factory settings. This of course deletes all settings and loaded Dirac filters, so I have to re-input everything, then try again to load Dirac filter/files , with high probability of another freeze. One reason I wanted to upgrade the FMJ was the existence of three memory slots on the newer Arcam / JBL generation - but this memory loading has become now the biggest headache

Sub1 and Sub2 outputs seem to be just one output. However, I haven’t tried yet to use CH13/14 for subs. Can this receiver operate two subs independently ?

Initially I had to deal with many more screen freezes and other strange issues, however these seem to have disappeared after the firmware update - however freezing when loading Dirac in any memory slot continues with a high frequency - and this is extremely annoying (and disappointing after paying this amount of money thinking that I’ll get a premium product). It is worse that the prior Arcam FMJ had similar issues, and after all these years they still did not manage to fix these. Worrying for the future is that the FMJ is not supported with updates anymore - obviously I have not learnt my lesson.

The fact that the menu is not displayed anymore on the TV screen (as it was the case with the Arcam FMJ) is a huge step backwards, and impossible to comprehend! Changing settings was so much easier from the listening position with the FMJ - now the user has to go close to the unit to see the little unit’s screen - Why !!!????

So far I am quite unhappy, and I would not recommend any of the JBL SDR 35, SDP55 or the equivalent Arcam processor or receivers , which I understand are almost identical.

Is there any chance that a future firmware upgrade will fix the problems, especially the Dirac memory saving ???

The Arcams and JBLs are functionally identical and share the same firmware so no differences there. The JBL does have better DACs and includes Dirac Bass Control and Dante.

When uploading Dirac presets you need to wait for the percentage activity on the JBL display to finish before trying to upload another one; some people find using a wired connection helps too. You need to enable Dirac Bass Control and configure subwoofers on channels 13 & 14 to get independent subwoofers, this is worth doing IMHO.

The web browser config is way better than an on-screen setup menu and I think most people prefer it once they have tried it.

The Dirac upload issues have been seen by quite a few people, they reduced the problem and got rid of it for some people with an update just over a year ago but I'm not sure they will make more changes in that area; there is still no obvious pattern to why some people have Dirac upload issues and some don't, replacement units do not help so it seems to be something with the laptop or networks some people use but I don't doubt there are still bugs with Dirac upload. Which NET firmware version are you using? (Hold the menu button and scroll down to find out). Once you are happy with your Dirac presets hopefully you wont need to do any more uploads.
 

DanU

Novice Member
The Arcams and JBLs are functionally identical and share the same firmware so no differences there. The JBL does have better DACs and includes Dirac Bass Control and Dante.

When uploading Dirac presets you need to wait for the percentage activity on the JBL display to finish before trying to upload another one; some people find using a wired connection helps too. You need to enable Dirac Bass Control and configure subwoofers on channels 13 & 14 to get independent subwoofers, this is worth doing IMHO.

The web browser config is way better than an on-screen setup menu and I think most people prefer it once they have tried it.

The Dirac upload issues have been seen by quite a few people, they reduced the problem and got rid of it for some people with an update just over a year ago but I'm not sure they will make more changes in that area; there is still no obvious pattern to why some people have Dirac upload issues and some don't, replacement units do not help so it seems to be something with the laptop or networks some people use but I don't doubt there are still bugs with Dirac upload. Which NET firmware version are you using? (Hold the menu button and scroll down to find out). Once you are happy with your Dirac presets hopefully you wont need to do any more uploads.
I am travelling for work at the moment. For Dirac I use an Apple Mini (2021) which is connected permanently to the receiver via HDMI and Internet / Network is wired - Ethernet, all on the same router via a network switch. Could the MacOS be the cause of the Dirac uploading issues? Should I try to connect both vis WiFi ?
 

Krobar

Well-known Member
I am travelling for work at the moment. For Dirac I use an Apple Mini (2021) which is connected permanently to the receiver via HDMI and Internet / Network is wired - Ethernet, all on the same router via a network switch. Could the MacOS be the cause of the Dirac uploading issues? Should I try to connect both vis WiFi ?

If you have a work laptop or some other laptop/PC you could use I would try that.
 

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