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The SRX-3's half-inch-thick sculpted metal faceplate and robust construction standards bespeak a high-end aesthetic. Great, but we had a little trouble reading the backlit LCD; after squeezing in three sets of Sirius stream names, channel numbers, and artist names, each readout is rather small. The viewing angle of the LCD is limited, it's way too bright at night, and Antex doesn't provide an option of dimming or turning off the display. Then again, Antex's product designers assume most end users will stash the SRX-3 in a closet or equipment rack and rely on their home automation displays to deliver Sirius stream information.
Three stereo analog and three optical digital outputs are provided to feed up to three zones or rooms. The only other connectors of note are the RS-232 port and the IR remote-control input that work in conjunction with home automation systems. A high-quality indoor/outdoor omnidirectional Sirius satellite antenna is supplied with the SRX-3.
The curvy little plastic remote doesn't look or feel very high end, but it can select among the three zones and 10 stream presets. Again, most SRX-3 owners will jettison the remote and instead use their home automation system to control the unit.
Inquiring minds might want to know if the SRX-3 offers any advantages over purchasing three separate Sirius tuners. We can think of a few: the 3.5-by-17.75-by-12-inch (HWD) SRX-3 will likely consume less space than three separate tuners, and it requires just a single Sirius antenna. The most annoying downside: you'll still need to sign up for three separate Sirius subscriptions to feed each of the SRX-3's tuners. With the company's current pricing model, that's about $27 per month: $12.99 for the first subscription and $6.99 apiece for the other two.
We auditioned the SRX-3's analog and digital outputs and found no difference in their sound quality. However, we did note the SRX-3's overall sound quality was slightly ahead of the best-sounding Sirius home receiver we've tested so far, the Kenwood DT-7000S. The SRX-3's stereo separation was a tad sharper, bass was a little better defined, and Sirius's MP3-like compression artifacts were reduced. That said, our hopes for this high-end receiver to deliver true "CD-quality sound" were dashed.
On the upside, Sirius continues to add new streams and programming choices, such as the all-Elvis-all-the-time music stream. The news, weather, and talk streams from Air America, CNBC, CNN, BBC World Service, E Entertainment Radio, ABC News & Talk, ESPN, NFL Radio, the Speed Channel, and Radio Disney have commercials; the three NPR streams are commercial-free. In selected markets, Sirius offers local traffic and weather reports. And of course, Sirius is the only place you'll be able to hear Howard Stern in 2006. Prefer rival satellite service XM instead? Check out the Antex XM-3000 Triple Play tuner.
If you're a Sirius fan looking for a more modest home receiver, you'll want to opt for the aforementioned Kenwood DT-7000S, which rings the register at a reasonable $300. But if you've already invested in a custom-installed whole-home audio solution, the Antex SR-X3 is the only product currently available that will let you and your family listen to up to three separate Sirius stations throughout the house.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.