Since I set up the HomeToys Small Spaces Demo using a Media Center I have been looking at the under-utilized Home Theater Receiver that I had to use just to amplify the 5.1 speaker system. The Windows Media Center takes care of everything else. At that time I looked for a simple 5.1 audio amplifier and had no luck.
Enter Simplifi Digital with the perfect solution. The 5075D is specifically designed to work with MCE systems. I wish I could say this is going to be a long and in depth review of this product … but it’s so simple that the review will be short and sweet just like the product.
Out of the box this is a nice looking component with no knobs or buttons whatsoever … just a blue LED to indicate that it’s on.
Connections couldn’t be easier either. A nice little instruction manual walks you through the process. Connect the 5 speakers to standard terminals. RCA line to the powered subwoofer. USB connection to the Media Server and that’s it.
The unit contains not only the amplifier but also the sound card hence the USB connection. It’s a Creative Sound Blaster Live 24 bit external card. Once you plug it all in, the unit automatically senses that your Media Center is on and turns itself on too.
You need to install the drivers and a few Creative utilities from a CD and reboot the media center to get everything going.
All done. Easy listening … great sound quality … and throw away that other remote (volume control is via the MCE remote now and there is no need to power up a separate component since this one comes on automatically with the media center).
If you like to tweak, there are several settings available on the sound card utility software including:
* Creative MediaSource™ Player/Organiser
* Creative Device Control
* Creative Speaker Settings
* Creative EAX Console
* Creative Graphic Equalizer1
* Creative Surround Mixer
* Creative WaveStudioÂ®
* Creative MiniDisc Center
* Creative Diagnostics
I really think this is a product worth looking at if you are thinking of using MCE. Simplifi has several versions depending on the connections you prefer.
* 5.1 Analog (RCA inputs))
* 7.1 Analog (RCA inputs)
* 5.1 USB
* 7.1 ADAT ((TOSLINK optical connector)
MSRP for the 5.1 USB unit described here is $499.
* Class A/B Hybrid Design provides power and audio fidelity
* Simple Rear Panel Connections make setup easy
* Power Sensing Technology turns amplifier on/off with PC
* Volume controlled through PC
* Media Center AC Power Socket
* Advanced Speaker Protection
* Quiet fan cooled
* Simplifi Media Center Sound to control Surround Sound modes
* 50 W/ch RMS, 8 ohm (1 kHz sine wave, all channels driven)
* 75 W/ch RMS, 4 ohm (1 kHz sine wave, all channels driven)
* 75 W/ch Peak, 8 ohm (useful power)
* 100 W/ch Peak, 4 ohm (useful power)
* 20Hz-20kHz (+/-0.2db over the entire frequency range)
Total Harmonic Distortion
* <.03%, 50W RMS, 4/8 ohms, 20Hz-20kHz Audio Input * USB 1.1 full speed or USB 2.0 full speed Sample Rate * Up to 24 bit, 96kHz (input and output) Subwoofer Output * Line level output, active in all audio modes Line-level Audio Inputs * L/R line level inputs for audio capture or monitoring AC Power * 110-125 VAC at 5A (US) * 220-240 VAC at 2.5A (EU, UK, AUS) Dimensions 17Â¼” (width) x 4Â¼” (height) x 16Â¼” (depth) 44cm (width) x 11cm (height) x 41cm (depth) Weight * 33 lbs (15kg)