SRS Circle Surround and my Sansui QRX-9001
Having read about the SRS Circle Surround system designed to “expand” a stereo soundfield awhile back I was intrigued. Being on a budget I wasn’t ready to fork over too much legal tender for one of these units.
Time went by and SRS Circle Surround advanced their product line, offering multi-channel offerings. Thus, the older units with but two output channels were no longer on the “cutting edge.” That’s what I was waiting for buckaroos and buckarettes!!!! I live life not on the cutting edge. Nope. I’m typically behind the curve. As an aside, I recently upgraded my aging bought-new Pentium 200 MMX machine with a new older motherboard grabbed off eBay auction site and a 993 Mhz Pentiun 3 socket 370 cpu bought used from a local shop for $40. Wheeeee!!!!! Sure…. it ain’t no blindingly fast Pentium 4 in the Ghz range but, for a hombre that stuck with vinyl records for 14 years after audio CDs were introduced my upgraded machine is nifty keen.
Anyway……. good ol’ eBay assisted my audio endeavors again. Poking through the pages I espy a new SRS Circle Surround 2-channel unit and bid on it. Wheeeeee!!!!! $20 and a nominal shipping fee and I ran my pudgy fingers across the faceplate of a NuReality brand audio processor using the patented SRS Circle Surround technology.
Before I proceed I must digress….. back…. back…. to the distant past of the early 1990s. Curiosity drove me to experiment. I ran the output of various decoders and sound processors into the inputs of my mighty Sansui QRX-9001. Trying the various modes, including Vario-Matrix, the end audio output sounded like crap. Well, it sounded as one would expect crap to sound if crap did utter noises. You know what I mean. So much for those experiments.
Cranking up the NuReality unit and engaging the Circle Surround I fed it a stereo source and connected the outputs to a stereo amplifier. Hmmmmm…. interesting effects but nuthin’ to knock my socks off. The effects were okay but I sure wouldn’t pay more than 20 bucks for one of those early units. Maybe the later multi-channel units are more appealing…. I don’t know.
But, not wanting to quit too soon, i decided to feed the Circle Surround output into my 9001 and see how the Vario-Matrix treated that output. I fed my CD player output into the NuReality Circle Surround unit. Its output went into the AUX jacks of the 9001. Pushed some buttons, flipped a lever and….. the sound came out all 4 speakers.
The NuReality unit has two main controls to effect the soundfield. One knob effects mostly the front channels and the other “wraps” the music around the soundfield…. panning it so the sound appears to be coming several feet to the left and right of the front speakers.
With stereo the panning effect is limited….. with quad…. the panning effect is sent to the rear speakers. WOW!!!!!! I was impressed!!!!! The Vario-Matrix decoder LOVED the output of the Circle Surround unit. No strange noises that occurred when I tried the decoders in the past. The sound was clean and clear and…….. the synthesized quad effects were enhanced by the Circle Surround unit.
The NuReality’s controls gave me a LOT of control over the sound. Close at hand, I was able to quickly tailor the sound for the various CDs. Some sounded best with the controls set to zero while others liked a lot of Circle Surround effect added. Even the quad-encoded CDs played very well being run through the Circle Surround unit.
After several months of listening I find myself using the Circle Surround unit the way I did with Vario-Matrix when I first got it….. it is ALWAYS used!!!! Everything I play is sent through the Vario-Matrix decoder built into my 9001. Now, everything I play…. everything….. first goes through the NuReality Circle Surround processor and THEN goes through the Vario-Matrix.
I am enamored with the results I have heard. Perhaps someday, when I can afford a Tate, I will view it as my main audio processor. Maybe not. I can say that as of now…… I am highly pleased with my present set-up. My listening experience with my Vario-Matrix and Circle Surround working together is as BIG a step up as when I first started running everything through Vario-Matrix.
Later I had a chance to try a Hughes AK-500 SRS Circle Surround processor. Very similar to the NuReality unit I noticed its output was not nearly as ear-pleasing as the NuReality unit. Interesting. I wonder what the difference is? Maybe the Hughes I found was defective…. but, it seems to function okay. There may be some differences in the internal circuitry affecting the audio quality.
But….. whatever the case….. after the wonderful listening experiences I have had the last few months maybe adding a SRS Circle Surround unit to your system may be a low-cost way to greatly increase your listening pleasure.