Test Bench: AudioControl Maestro M2e Preamp/Processor & Savoy Power Amp

AudioControl's Maestro M2e/Savoy duo produced very impressive power in all tests, with the Savoy generating more watts than expected from such a relatively compact and light amplifier. It met its 150 watts-per-channel spec even with all seven channels driven simultaneously and surpassed it by wide margins in our stereo and five-channel trials.

Other results were generally very good, though noise performance was the one area in which the AudioControl pairing was merely average, yielding signal-to-noise ratios that were 2 to 5 dB lower than from the best units we've tested. But I note that only the analog-multichannel-input reading - a below-average -77.4 dBW - might signify anything approaching audibility, and then only with truly excellent SACD or DVD-A material auditioned at reference levels on low-sensitivity speakers in a quiet room.

DOLBY DIGITAL PERFORMANCE

All data were obtained from various test DVDs using 16-bit dithered test signals, which set limits on measured distortion and noise performance. Reference input level is -20 dBFS, and reference output is 1 watt into 8 ohms. Volume setting for reference level was 84. All level trims were at zero; except for subwoofer-related tests, all speakers were set to "large," subwoofer on. All are worst-case figures where applicable.

Output at clipping (1 kHz into 8/4 ohms) 1 channel driven: 259/355 watts (24.1/25.5 dBW) 5 channels driven (8 ohms): 171 watts (22.3 dBW) 7 channels driven (8 ohms): 157 watts (22.0 dBW) Distortion at 1 watt (THD+N, 1 kHz) 8/4 ohms: 0.02/0.04% Noise level (A-weighted): -73.8 dB Excess noise (with sine tone) 16-bit (EN16): 1.3 dB Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz +0, -0.1 dB

MULTICHANNEL PERFORMANCE, ANALOG INPUT

Reference input and output level is 200 mV; volume setting for reference output level was 76. Distortion (THD+N, 1 kHz, 8 ohms): 0.02% Noise level (A-weighted.): -77.4% Frequency response: <10 Hz to 98 kHz +0, -3 dB

STEREO PERFORMANCE, DIGITAL INPUT

Reference level is -20 dBFS; all level trims at zero. Volume setting for reference level was 84.

Output at clipping (1 kHz, both channels driven) 8/4 ohms: 212/330 watts (23.3/25.2 dBW) Distortion at reference level: 0.03% Linearity error (at -90 dBFS): 0.8 dB Noise level (A-weighted): -73.7 dB with 96-kHz/24-bit signals: -77.4 dB Excess noise (with/without sine tone) 16-bit (EN16): 1.1/0.8 dB quasi-20-bit (EN20): 13.9/14 dB Noise modulation: 0.9 dB Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz +0, -0.1 dB with 96-kHz/24-bit signals: 20 Hz to 44 kHz +0, -1.4 dB

BASS-MANAGEMENT PERFORMANCE

Measured results obtained with Dolby Digital test signals. Subwoofer-output frequency response (crossover set to 80 Hz): 24 dB/octave above -6-dB rolloff point of 80 Hz High-pass-filter frequency response (crossover set to 80 Hz): approx. 20 dB/octave below -3-dB rolloff point of 98 Hz Maximum unclipped subwoofer output (trim at 0): 4.9 volts Subwoofer distortion (from 6-channel, 30-Hz, 0-dBFS signal; subwoofer trim set to 0): 0.04% Crossover consistency: bass crossover frequency and slope were consistent for all sources and formats Signal-format consistency: consistent for all applicable formats Speaker size selection: all channels can be set to "small" Speaker-distance compensation: available for all main channels

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