I am not new to the Lyngdorf brand and product line. In fact, it was not that long ago when I reviewed the Lyngdorf TDAI 2170, an integrated digital amplifier that impressed me with its best-in-class digital amplifier technology, dead silent background, crystal clear dynamics, and proprietary room correction system. Since then, I have admired this company's ability to implement sophisticated technology into practical applications.
You may be familiar with the Steinway & Sons product line, created by the Steinway Lyngdorf company, which offers ultra-premium audio and home theater systems that are state of the art, operating within a proprietary, digital, and active ecosystem. The Steinway Lyngdorf team is the same design and manufacturing group that produces the Lyngdorf MP-50 ($9,999) reviewed here. And a cursory glance at the design and spec of the two units reveals just how much the MP-50 is the beneficiary of trickle-down technology from the Steinway & Sons processor, the P200,�which retails for $18,000. While the P200 is different in that it only works with the Steinway & Sons system, the MP-50 shares a few technologies with the P200: the chassis, power supply, and convection cooling technology, along with its RoomPerfect calibration and room correction system.
The MP-50 continues the Lyngdorf Scandinavian appearance with its matte black metal and glossy glass front display, along with its iconic oversized volume wheel. The unit itself has six metal panels connected with recessed screws to form its finely finished casework, which measures 5.8 inches high, 17.7 inches wide, and 14.6 inches deep. Overall, it offers an understated but sophisticated look.
The Lyngdorf MP-50 is a fully featured surround sound processor with the latest in immersive surround sound formats, modern digital connectivity, and functionality. This processor supports Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, and Auro-3D, which are included without any upcharges. All legacy surround sound formats are present as well.
All eight HDMI inputs are Ultra High Definition (UHD) compatible, with support for 3D, UHD, BT.2020, and HDCP 2.2. The HDMI board used is not the typical off-the-shelf product typically found in surround sound processors, but rather a custom version where Lyngdorf writes their algorithms and software.
There are two HDMI outputs, and one HDBaseT Ethernet output capable of transmitting uncompressed full HD video and audio over a category 5e cable or higher, up to a distance of 300 feet, with the use of an HDBaseT receiver or HDBaseT equipped projector.
Later this year, Lyngdorf is offering an HDMI upgrade, which offers 18-gigabyte bandwidth with an HDMI 2.1 feature called eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel) on all eight inputs and two HDMI outputs. The full upgrade must be performed at the company's Denmark facility and includes round-trip freight for the cost of $1,300.
There are a total of nine digital audio inputs, not including the previously mentioned HDMI inputs: One AES/EBU, three S/P-DIF coaxial, four optical, and one USB. All digital inputs are asynchronous, with full clock recovery to control latency issues. I should also point out that the MP-50 has no analogue inputs.
Output options are numerous, providing flexibility for sophisticated home theaters. 16 fully balanced XLR audio outputs deliver up to 12 discrete audio channels, to create up to a 7.1.4 immersive surround sound configuration. Four additional XLR fully balanced outputs are available for any combination of additional subwoofers or speakers. For example, 9.1.6 or 7.3.6 configurations are possible. One observation worth noting is that there are no RCA output connectors; audio connections between the processor and amplifier are by XLR balanced connectors only. Included is a digital coaxial S/PDIF output for a second stereo zone. A sophisticated DCI-compliant digital AES/EBU input for digital cinema server integration is available as an optional upgrade.
There are a host of other relevant connections worth mentioning. The RoomPerfect setup microphone uses a specific XLR connection, and an RJ45 LAN Ethernet input provides hardwired network connectivity to the MP-50. There is also an RS-232 port for control devices, along with two IR inputs and one IR output. Four trigger outputs can turn on other components, allowing easy system startup. Two USB connections facilitate music file playback, as well as software updates. Lastly, there is an SD card slot for storing system settings and backup.
The MP-50 lacks any form of wireless connectivity; however, once hardwired to your network, the MP-50 connects through Apple's Bonjour IP discovery service, which is available in any OS X operating system. There is also a Windows version available for download. I was able to access the Lyngdorf MP-50 web menu on my network, which allowed complete system setup, customization, and unit control. If you have a wireless network in your home, you would be able to access the MP-50 web menu wirelessly with your computer. I found this type of connectivity invaluable for system setup, software updates, and streaming. Additionally, the MP-50 can be set up through its on-screen display, along with its slender and straightforward remote, which can work in either Infrared or Radio Frequency modes. I suspect Lyngdorf intended the MP-50 to be operated by a robust control system, but I was able to control the processor with the provided remote with no issues.
The MP-50 also has a built-in media player for network or USB-attached files. Streaming music is possible from an attached device on your network, or through Internet radio (Vtuner), Spotify, and Airplay.
As I mentioned earlier, sound calibration is accomplished with RoomPerfect, a Lyngdorf-designed calibration and room correction system. The application manages speaker level adjustment, balance, and room correction. According to Lyngdorf, RoomPerfect represents one of the most extensive patent filings in audio history. The system measures, at a minimum, two million audio reflections, which creates a three-dimensional model of the listening room. It takes into consideration power response (energy), distance, and level compensation, while understanding dispersion characteristics of your loudspeaker, integrating it all for an optimal result without the need for acoustic room treatment. One of the goals of room perfect is to maintain the tonal characteristics of the speakers used in the system. Their technology adapts the sound system to the room, rather than adjusting the sound system to a pre-conceived target curve. During calibration, RoomPerfect listens to the speakers located within the room from several positions, as opposed to just the primary listening position. As a result, the signal becomes more linear, while maintaining the overall tonal characteristics of the speaker. Another benefit is that the speakers can be located up against a wall or even in the corners of the room, assuming the speakers are not rear ported, with no detriment to their performance.
Additionally, a voicing tool allows for the creation of individual equalization profiles for each source. Up to eight filters can be used to change the frequency response, gain, and slope.
For this review, I installed the MP50 in two different rooms: my Family Room, which has a 5.1.4 immersive surround sound speaker system and my living room with a 5.1 surround sound speaker system.
My family room, which measures 20 feet long and 15 feet wide, with nine feet ceilings, has a PSB CustomSound in-ceiling and in-wall enclosed speaker system. The left, center, and right (LCR) speakers are model C-LCR, and the immersive speakers are model C-SUR, while the surround channels are model W-LCR. A Halcro seven-channel amplifier was used for all ceiling channels and surround channels were powered by a three-channel DeChiro amplifier (using only two of the three channels). The Subwoofer is a Paradigm Reference Studio SUB 15. The MP-50 replaced an Anthem AVM 60. My primary source was a MacBook Pro for music streaming, and an XBox One for Blu-ray playback.
Before I began any critical listening, I set up the MP-50 with my sources, labeling them accordingly. Next, I identified the sizes, quantity, and location of each speaker within the room.
Bass management is configured as part of the speaker set up and is specific for each speaker. Indicating the speaker size, within the speaker set up menu, controls standardized frequency cut-off, or it can be customized per speaker.
Lastly, I performed the RoomPerfect calibration, with the supplied microphone and microphone stand. Unlike some calibration systems, RoomPerfect requires the manual measurement and input of each speaker's distance from the primary listening position. Using a measuring tape would require two people, so I obtained a quality laser-measuring device to complete the measurements. After inputting all speaker distances, I ran the RoomPerfect guided setup, and performed eight different measurement points by moving the microphone around the room, as indicated in the manual, and obtained a 93 percent room knowledge.
Impressed with the MP-50's performance in the family room, but somewhat concerned that an architectural speaker setup wasn't the best test of the processor's fidelity, I moved the unit into my living Room, which measures 14 feet wide and 15.5 feet deep, with ceilings hovering 13 feet high. I replaced my current processor, an NAD M17�with the MP-50 and maintained my reference amplifier, an NAD M27. The primary source was an Oppo BDP-105D. A 5.1 Vienna Acoustic speaker set up from their Sch�nberg�line of on-wall speakers (now discontinued) was already installed and in use in this room. A MartinLogan BalancedForce 210�subwoofer handled frequencies under 80hz. I performed a new speaker setup within the MP-50 and recalibrated RoomPerfect in the same manner previously described. In this instance, I obtained a 98 percent room knowledge score with eight measurements.
Click over to Page Two for Performance, The Downside, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...