Antex SRX-3 TriplePlay Sirius Satellite Radio Tuner
I'm hearing voices from outer space. Even stranger, I'm hearing different voices in different rooms. Susan Stamberg lectures me in the kitchen, Frank Sinatra croons at me in the bedroom, and Swollen Member is scratching in the den. Before you assume I need mental-health care, let me explain: I just hooked up the SRX-3 TriplePlay multizone Sirius satellite radio receiver from Antex.
A full-size audio component with high-quality fit and finish, the TriplePlay costs two grand and contains three independent satellite tuners feeding three pairs of analog RCA and optical digital audio outputs. This makes it possible to listen simultaneously - in different zones - to three different choices from Sirius's 100 "streams" (channels) of music and talk programming. A small LCD on its front panel clearly displays the status of all three zones at once, showing the number, name, and music category of the selected stream along with the name of the artist and title of the song or other work currently playing.
|INPUTS/OUTPUTS coaxial antenna input; minijack infrared-receiver input; RS-232 control port; 3 stereo analog RCA outputs; 3 optical digital audio outputs DIMENSIONS 17 3/4 x 3 1/2 x 12 inches PRICE $1,999 MANUFACTURER Antex Electronics, www.antex.com, 800-338-4231|
The gray plastic antenna (not shown) consists of a rectangular base not much larger than a deck of playing cards, a 9-inch arm that pivots at the base and at the top, and the antenna itself, a 3-inch square that bulges in the middle. The antenna connects to the receiver with the supplied 30 feet of coaxial cable.
Sirius's three satellites don't hover over the equator in geostationary orbit, like those that deliver satellite TV, but trace a figure-8 geosynchronous orbit. This means that to "see" the satellite from most points in the U.S., the antenna must point straight up or slightly off the vertical to the north. From my home in central Illinois, the satellites are fairly high overhead to the northwest. (Sirius uses terrestrial repeaters in some urban areas, but I live far enough out in the country that I had to receive the signal from the satellites.)
Antex recommends mounting the antenna outside on a wall, roof, or mast, but I just plunked it down on the desk of my second-floor office, which has a north-facing window. I instantly heard music. It took some further careful positioning to ensure uninterrupted sound, though, as the satellites moved in their orbits.
No special expertise was required to connect the TriplePlay to my Rotel multizone amplifier. I had the system up and running in about 15 minutes even though the manual strongly recommends a professional installer. If you want a slick installation with all the wiring in the walls and the receiver interfaced with a whole-house entertainment system, that makes sense. But if you're at all handy and have more modest requirements, you can do it yourself easily.
Since the TriplePlay consists of three satellite decoder modules, you'll need a separate Sirius subscription for each one. The first zone costs the standard $12.95 a month and each additional zone $6.99 a month. However, if you already subscribe to Sirius in your car or on a portable receiver, then all three zones are $6.99 each.
I primarily listened in Zone 1 using the multizone receiver, a pair of Definitive Technology PowerMonitor 700 speakers, and a Revox CD player. For comparison, I also listened in another zone using a computer audio system with a Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe sound card.
The sound quality of the Sirius streams I heard via the Antex TriplePlay unquestionably surpassed the best FM radio, but it didn't equal well-produced CDs - there was a slight edginess to the music. That said, in this age of low-bit-rate MP3s, the sound of Sirius broadcasts through the Antex receiver should please most listeners.
Other than for local weather and news, you might be tempted not to return to regular radio. The sonic buffet offered by Sirius will satisfy even the most picky or jaded listeners, with 60 streams of music and 40 of news/sports/talk (visit sirius.com for a full list of channels). Sirius offers greater diversity and specialization than the 50 to 60 broadcast stations in markets such as New York City or Los Angeles.
The SRX's output level isn't adjustable - you'll want to connect it to an amplifier with adjustable input levels so you can match each component in your system. It also lacks a headphone jack, which would be handy for monitoring. But in the end, the Antex SRX-3 TriplePlay provides the convenience and elegance of satellite radio in multiple rooms from a single receiver and antenna. Despite the premium price, Antex leads the way in delivering on the promise of satellite radio. More:Radio Special: 3 Table Radios and Antex SRX-3 Triple Sirius satellite receiver Radio's Back on the Table Spiffy table radios from Boston Acoustics, Cambridge SoundWorks, and Teac