Audionet MAP 
Multichannel Preamp/Processor 

by Ari-Martti Pohtola
Photos by

Published 20th Oct 2002


Aesthetically MAP has the familiar Audionet “no-nonsense” look. The front panel has a display, power button and only three other buttons for the settings. MAP looks solid and stylish without any extra bells and whistles.

Managing and using the MAP was not so straight forward and easy compared to my own Sony TA-VA777ES processor. One reason is that I am just used to push only one button when I switch from the automatic signal detection to Analog Direct 5.1/DVD-A mode. Because MAP has only tree tiny buttons in the front panel for settings, you have to use the remote control from the beginning, and you certainly need it when you want to change the settings of the different modes.

Main power switch is located in the back panel and there are almost all kind of needed connectors starting from front channels XLRs and 7.1 inputs. Because you have lot of choices to connect different kind of equipments to and from the MAP, your investment is well protected also that way.

There is an EQ setting for the center channel, luckily MAP does not have any exotic and useless EQ´s or DSP-modes. To have the center channel EQ is very good idea for the people who needs tonal adjustment for their front L/Rs and center channel.

Curiously, there is a loudness setting, which is very rare among this class of High End equipment. Even thinking about to switch the Loudness on, seems impossible. When switching the Loudness on, it really does not sound good either, as you can imagine.

The manual strongly advises to take care of the proper grounding and the mains polarizing of this preamp. There is a message in the display warning about wrong phase, asking you to flip the wall outlet mains plug. 

During the test I had the MAP standing on the sorbothane feet, my DVD-A/CD was placed on the Cyrus Isoplat.

I also covered all of the unused MAP´s RCA-connectors with Cardas RFI Caps (43 pieces all together!) 

The MAP was connected to my power amp, Mark Levinson No. 332 with Transparent Music Link balanced cable, my DVD-A/V/CD Pioneer DV-939A was connected to MAP with Goertz Triode Quartz RCA / Analysis Plus RCA cables. For the coaxial connection, I used Van Den Hul DIII Hybrid.

DD/DTS Sound

During the DD/DTS testing, I found the sound to be extremely detailed, with lot of small details (small clicks, sound of lips smacking, sound of feet etc.) The dynamics and accuracy of the soundstage was very good all the way, and especially the bass routed from LFE to front L/R was very dynamic and accurate. The channel separation was good and effects moving from channel to channel were extremely smooth and natural, without any dead spots in the soundstage during the effects moving from channel to channel. Tracks containing explosions and many sound layers, were also accurate, no blurring to the sound, neither no traces of sound becoming flat or dull.

Unfortunately this processor does not automatically detect the different DD/DTS modes, so you have to manually choose the needed mode via the remote control from movie to movie.

This machine has a ProLogic II mode, but I did not review it (basically because I do not need that kind of stuff).

Conclusion of the sound as DD/DTS processor: It is extremely hard to find any other so good sounding DD/DTS processor from this price/performance point from the markets.

Sound in Stereo

(The following Redbook listening notes are based on the setup that I was only using Pioneer 939A player as a transport via the coaxial connection to Audionet, so the Audionet DACs were used instead of the players own DACs).

My power amp Mark Levinson No. 332 is very unforgiving, and it tells immediately, if even a minor change is made to the signal chain.

At first I was using Audionet own power cable with the MAP. I found that the bass sounding a bit soft and the level of bass was a bit too loud also. 

When I did the classical portable radio test, (the high AM frequency test) to hear the RFI from the power cable, I heard the RF interferences with the Audionet power cable from end to end, and the interferences were reflected also to the right channel speaker cables nearby. When I switched to my own power cable with the ferrite clamps on both ends, I could not hear the RFI anymore with this simple test.

Curiously, one interesting thing happened also after switching the power cable: the bass did not sound so loud anymore and the sound of bass became clearer. I really do not know what is in the end of the day causing this, but anyhow I noted a difference in the sound when I switched the power cables.

Before starting the testing period of MAP, I feared that MAP would sound too crispy, cold or clinical in my setup (ML 332 and Dunlavy SC-IVAs, you know), but the results were quite the opposite. The sound was warm, there was an improvement further on to the warmth, liquidity and depth information after placing those 43 Cardas RFI Caps on. 

During the evaluation of the MAP, I did compare the overall 2-channel sound of this unit to my earlier test with the Sphinx Project MK II (owned by friend of mine, Mr. Robin Lybeck). The listening equipment and setup was the same as I had during this test, the only difference was another balanced XLR cable between my preamp and the power amp.

Sphinx Project MK II had a bit more dynamic and accurate bass with the lowest notes, although MAP managed very well in this field too, producing also detailed and accurate bass without being too excessive.

Further on, the Sphinx brought the middle frequencies a bit more to the front and the Sphinx had more body and weight in the mid band (which I think was good). With the Sphinx, the weight and the body of the mid frequencies sounded especially good, during listening some piano works (e.g. Loussier playes Satie). It could be that the different XLR cable (Siltech) between the pre and power amp in the Sphinx test was playing a minor role in these results also.

With the MAP there was a lot of resolution and high frequency details present, but curiously in a way, that the high frequency details earlier more visible presented, were now not so visible anymore, but the tiny and small details were now more in the front and visible than earlier.

If our Publisher is sensitive to the sound of piano hammer, I am overly sensitive to the real/imaginary distortion of the transients. Audionet manages to produce fast and loud transients very well, without any blurring/distortion, it also handles very well big orchestras many layers without collapsing the sound. The depth of the soundstage is pretty good, although I have heard even better presentations in this field.

MAP has four different digital filters. With Redbook listening I found the Audionet oversampling filter the best sounding, Lagrange sounded a bit darker, Blackman sounded ”rocky” and ”old fashioned” and Kaiser sounded more two dimensional and somehow in the wrong way too clear, but with some piano works this filter sounded good.

Then to the most interesting thing: The Chesky´s DVD-A /DAD 96kHz recordings sounded extremely good! The used 96Khz DADs were Babatunde Olatunji: Love Drum Talk and Rebecca Pidgeon: Four Marys. Audionet can handle directly these 96 kHz signals via the coax link from the player. 

Even the Eagles Hotel California DVD-A downsampled from 96 kHz to 48 kHz sounded very good with Audionet DACs. You have to run the 192 kHz PCM thru analog domain, and in this case, 192 kHz and D/A processing was handled by my Pioneer 939A.

Audionet 7.1 direct is done in pure analog domain, so no digital processing or conversion is happening here. Via 7.1 inputs the sound was ok, the Pre sounded pretty much like nothing.  So I got the impression that via the 7.1 direct, the MAP did not add here its sonic signature, which in many cases sounded very good when I was using MAP´s DACs in the Redbook listening. Therefore, using the 7.1 direct, I had the feeling that this pre mainly provided the gain/volume for multi channel use, nothing more and nothing less. 

Overall impression of the sound with Redbook material using Audionet DACs, has still not convinced me yet in all areas, because like I earlier said, the sound was a bit too soft/warm in my setup. With the tested Redbook material I was not especially happy with the sound of the electric guitars, in other words MAP did not show the aggressive ”push” or ”You know, this one goes up to eleven...” sound of the guitars. If you have ever played Les Paul with Marshall loud, you know what I mean by this lack of attack here. The guitars sound was perhaps too nice and pretty for my taste.

I have tested also in my setup Mark Levinson No.383, which also makes the aggressive sounding material “prettier” and more “listenable” but comparing Audionet MAP to ML 383, Audionet does not smooth this kind of material as much as ML 383 does. On the other hand, this problem has also its sunny side: with Audionet MAP, You can once again listen to those old CDs with excessive amount of digital glare, without a pain.

Digital link

Audionet has just pushed to the market their new DVD-A/V/CD-player, named VIP. Many people interested in the high resolution solutions, are also interested to hear about their solution to deliver 192 kHz LPCM-signal digitally to MAP, hopefully based on IEEE 1394 Firewire.

Anyway, if you are interested in this option, there is a SW/HW upgrade kit coming for MAP to solve the digital 192 kHz signal delivery from VIP to MAP.

This digital link is a proprietary solution from Audionet and you need to get a DVD-A player also from them to make the solution work. However, this kind of tested and measured proprietary solution is surely working and available almost immediately.

So if You are looking/waiting for a multi channel preamp/processor to come to the market with a non-proprietary, seamlessly working digital link, connecting different manufacturers products together and using high resolution standardized digital link via IEEE 1394 Firewire, let me warn you: You may have to wait for a long time. In addition, you have to wait for reasonably priced good universal DVD-A/V/SACD players that also have these features.


If I would use MAP only for movies and 96 kHz signal handling, I would not hesitate a moment, so good this processor/pre is. But like I have heard three times earlier, the Audionet seems to sound perfect in all areas when all the components (source and amps) are from Audionet, so that means that I would have to make some serious upgrading to my system to get all of the formats sounding perfectly right.

Everyone who has been looking for a reasonably priced High End multi channel preamp, may be interested in this product. For the last Two Years, I have not found any other reasonably priced, upgradeable, compromised High End mc preamp/processor from this price/performance point.

Price in Finland: 6000

Representative in Finland: Hifi Guru OY

Below you find some of the answers I got from Audionet to my questions about the MAP.

Dear Mr. Pohtola,

please find the answers to your questions in the following:

Q:> …Perhaps the most important question is about the bass management, are You going to provide an update for the bass mgmt to MAP to resend the DVD-A/DVD-V LFE signals to front R + L? (pricing/availability/time schedule)

A: …This is already part of the bass manager when it comes to DVD-V, meaning audio decoding formats like Dolby Digital or DTS. If no subwoofer is selected, the LFE signals are routed to all speakers chosen as 'large' (=full range). These are at least Front L / R. Digital transmission of DVD-A will only be available between our DVD Player VIP and the MAP, as there is no standard interface. With this digital transmission there will be a bass manager available. Detailed information is not available at the moment. If you connect a DVD-A player to the MAP using the 8 channel analog input, there will be no bass management or any other kind of influence on the signals (except volume control, of course). To take into account the needs for a bass management with DVD-A out DVD player VIP has a build in bass manager for DVD-A.

Q:> … How should I configure the MAP, if I want to use 8 channel analog input with my Pioneer DV-939A that way that DV-939A is taking care of the 192KHz decoding of the 2-channel DVD-Audio signals, in the way that MAP is just passing the analog 192 signals without altering/downconverting it any way?

A: …As explained above, when using the 8 channel analog input all channels Are just passing through without alteration (except volume control).

Q:It seems to me by reading the manual at Your site, that there is a > possibility to set the center channel off and therefore the signal is routed to front L + R. This is a problem with Chesky´s 6.0/4.0 DVD-A disks, like…

A: Rerouting channels is done in the digital domain when using the internal decoder with Dolby Digital or DTS. If you connect your player to the analog input all channels are preserved as they get to the input jacks (see above).So no matter what DVD-A producers do, you get the channels as they are Put onto the disk.

Q:…therefore You may consider to add a function that really switches the center off without resending the information anywhere. I do not like Chesky´s…

A: This is no option as bass management is part of Dolby Digital license Which is very strict about how to do this. So we are simply following these Rules that have to be obeyed to get licensed. And I assume other manufacturers Do the same. I don't think that any other speaker setups will become a Standard except the usual ones comprising Front L/R & Center, Surround L/R, Surround Back (or Surround Back L/R) and Subwoofer as this is the most common Home theater setup. All equipment in the studios is used with this and all multichannel formats (Dolby, DTS, AAC etc) are based on this.

Q: I am used to do the firmware/software updates to my AV-preamp via RS-232 myself, and I would like to know what is the procedure/mechanism to make the firmware/software updates to MAP, it is quite uncomfortable to send The MAP to Germany every time in case of adding new features to the MAP.

A:Software updates are done by changing EPROMs. The next upgrade is a Combined soft- and hardware upgrade. The decoder PCB has to be exchanged to a new version (with a more powerful DSP) to have all the new features. For Skilled people or technicians it is not difficult to do it by themselves. No soldering will be required.

Q: How to get HDCD support for the MAP (pricing/availability)

A: This is part of the next upgrade. I expect it to be on the market end 2nd quarter / beginning 3rd quarter of this year. The price has to be determined yet. (A-M comment: will be available by the end 2002")

Q: In Your website in the manual´s technical specs section (very last pages) > there is a curious line: > 8-channel analog inputs: bandwidth: 1 - 60 KHz (+/- 3dB)???

A: This error in printing (" ??? ") has been removed.

Associated Equipment:
  • Player: DVD-A /CD/DVD-V:Pioneer DV-939A placed on Isoplat Cyrus platform, all unused RCAs covered with Cardas RFI Caps, power cable with ferrite clamps
  • Power AMP: Mark Levinson No. 332 , standing on the Sorbothane feet
  • Front Speakers: Dunlavy SC-IVAs with spikes and standing on granite plates
  • Front Speaker Cables: for tweeters Analysis Plus 12, other elements Supra Ply 3.4
  • Center Channel Dunlavy SC-IAV Supra Ply 3.4
  • Rear Channels: Dunlavy SC-I Supra Ply 3.4
  • Interconnects: Transparent Music Link Balanced, DVD-A/V/CD –player Goertz Triode Quartz RCAs / Analysis Plus RCAs
  • Power cables: custom made cable with ferrite clamps and Audionet APC –cables. Separate own group for audio wall outlets, all of the other household power cables have also ferrite clamps installed.
  • Coax cable: Van Den Hul D III Hybrid
  • Cardas RFI Caps in all of the unused RCA inputs (43 pieces !) 
  • MAP standing on Sorbothane feet
  • Room tune: 25 m2 room, heavy rug behind listening position, 2 plate resonators, sidewalls covered with bookshelves, 4 ASC tube traps, 2 couches, a carpet.
  • Speaker setup: normal wide Dunlavy setup

Records used in evaluation

  • Eagles Hotel California 192 kHz DVD-A 
  • Rebecca Pidgeon 2ch 96 kHz DAD 
  • Babatunde Olatunji 96 kHz DAD 
  • High Fidelity reference cd no. 43 
  • Stan Getz Charlie Byrd: Jazz Samba 
  • Julee Cruise: Floating into the night 
  • Fire walk with me: Twin Peaks 
  • Riri Shimada: Erik Satie Pianoworks 
  • Loussier: plays Satie 
  • Chet Baker: Baby Breeze 
  • Joe Sample: the best of 
  • Julio Iglesias Tango 
  • George Duke: After Hours 
  • Diana Krall: when I look in your eyes

Other records used for the evaluation (Definitely not reference sounding recordings)

  • George Winston: Winter (21st anniversary edt.) 
  • Rubettes: Greatest hits (acid test for speakers, except for the Dunlavys) 
  • Led Zeppelin: Remasters Uriah Heep: … Very ´eavy (remastered)

Technical Details

  • Function
    • microprocessor controlled high end audio / video preamplifier
    • Dolby Digital and DTS decoder
  • Audio inputs analog
    • 5 pair RCA, Stereo, gold-plated
    • 1 pair XLR symmetric
    • 8-channel input, RCA, configurable as multi-
      channel decoder inputs (Front L/R, Center, LFE, Rear L/R, Effect L/R) or 4 stereo multi-room inputs
    • 1 pair RCA Effect/Monitor, gold-plated
  • Audio outputs analog
    • 1 pair RCA Front L/R, gold-plated
    • 1 pair XLR symmetric Front L/R, gold-plated
    • 2 RCA Center, gold-plated
    • 2 RCA Subwoofer, gold-plated
    • 2 RCA Surround L/R, gold-plated
    • 2 RCA Aux. L/R, gold-plated
    • 1 pair RCA Effect/Monitor, gold-plated
    • 1 pair RCA Rec. out, gold-plated
  • Audio inputs digital
    • 2 SPDIF, RCA, gold-plated
    • 1 SPDIF, BNC, gold-plated
    • 1 SPDIF, optical
    • 1 AES/EBU, gold-plated
  • Audio outputs digital
    • 1 SPDIF, RCA, gold-plated
    • 1 SPDIF, optical
  • Video inputs
    • 4 RCA Composite Video (FBAS)
    • 4 Hoside S-Video
    • 1 RCA YUV/RGB
  • Video outputs
    • 2 RCA Composite Video (FBAS)
    • 2 Hoside S-Video
    • 1 RCA YUV/RGB
    • 1 SubD15HD VGA
  • Video bandwidth
    • 20 MHz
  • Other I/Os
    • 7-pole socket for Audionet EPS (External power supply)
    • 1 Audionet Link
    • screw for earth connection, gold-plated
  • Display
    • 2 * 16 characters vacuum-fluorescence-display
      on screen display
  • Mains
    • 110 V or 230 V, 50..60 Hz
  • Power dissipation
    • 15 W Stand by, max. 65 W
  • Dimensions
    • 430 mm * 110 mm * 360 mm (W * H * D)
  • Weight
    • 11 kg
  • Features
    • internal or external multichannel decoder (Dolby Digital, DTS)
    •  8-channel input configurable as 4 separate stereo inputs for multi-room applications
    • on screen display
    • Y/C-separator with digital comb filter for conversion from FBAS video to S-video
    • Line Doubler card (optional) for flickerfree video output
    • switchable digital oversampling filter for audio
  • Sampling frequencies and resolution of digital inputs: 
    • 32 kHz to 192 kHz / 24 bit (DVD Audio)
    • multichannel-AD-/DA-converter prepared for 96 kHz / 24 Bit
    • pure analog multichannel- / multiroom-volume control
    • internal jitterkiller for D/A-conversion
    • digital monitor, independent of selected digital input ("Digital Record Select")
    • prepared for Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES 6.1 (Discrete + Matrix); 
  • Soft- and Hardware upgrade estimated in the end of 2002
    • Intelligent TouchScreen remote control COM
  • Options
    • Line Doubler video card
    • MC/MM-phono preamplifier
    • External voltage supply EPS
    • RF-demodulator for laser disc player
  • Decoder-Setup

  • Settings listening position (Delay settings)
    • Listening pos. <-> Front 1 m to 15 m (40'' to 590'')
    • Listening pos. <-> Center 1 m to 15 m (40'' to 590'')
    • Listening pos. <-> Sur. 1 m to 15 m (40'' to 590'')
    • in 5 cm- or 2 Inch ('') steps
  • Level tuning
    • Center +/-10 dB in 1 dB steps
    • Surround +/-10 dB in 1 dB steps
    • Subwoofer +/-10 dB in 1 dB steps
    • LFE Mix +0/-10 dB in 1 dB steps
  • Balance

    • Front +/-9 dB in 1 dB steps 
    • Surround +/-9 dB in 1 dB steps
  • Loudspeaker configuration (Bass management)

    • Front: small, large
    • Center: none, small, large
    • Surround: none, small, large
    • Subwoofer: on, off
    • Cut off frequency tunable from 60 Hz to 220 Hz in 10 Hz steps
  • Loudness

    • Bass 0..+12 dB (fg=250 Hz) in 6 dB steps 
    • Treble 0..+12 dB (fg=6900 Hz) in 6 dB steps
  • Analog inputs IN 1..6

  • Bandwidth 1 - 3.000.000 Hz (-3 dB) 
  • THD + N > 105 dB for 20 Hz to 20 kHz 
  • Signal to noise ratio > 110 dB at 5 Vrms
  • Crosstalk attenuation
    • between channels > 100 dB @ 1 kHz
    • between inputs > 103 dB @ 1 kHz
    • between input and monitor > 100 dB @ 1 kHz
  • Output impedance 22 ohms
  • Output voltage max. 7 Vrms
  • Output current max. 30 mA
  • 8-channel analog inputs
  • Bandwidth 1 - 60.000 Hz (+/-3 dB)
  • THD + N > 100 dB 
  • Signal to noise ratio > 105 dB at 3.5 Vrms
  • Crosstalk attenuation
    • Front <-> Front > 108 dB (A)
    • Front <-> Center > 110 dB (A)
    • Front <-> Surround > 112 dB (A)
    • Center <-> Surround > 108 dB (A)
  • Input voltage max. 3.5 Vrms 

  • Analog input --> ADC/DAC --> Analog output 

  • Sampling frequency 48 kHz
  • THD + N > 94 dB @ 1 kHz / 1.8 Vrms
  • Signal to noise ratio > 96 dB @ 1 kHz / 1.8 Vrms
  • Input voltage 1.8 Vrms 
  • Digital inputs
    • Sampling frequency 32 to 96 kHz (prepared for 192 kHz)
  • PCM-Direct-Mode, 48/96 kHz

  • THD + N
    • > 104 dB / > 110 dB (A) @ 1 kHz, -60 dBFS 
  • Signal to noise ratio
    • > 106 dB / > 110 dB (A) @ 1 kHz, -60 dBFS
  • PCM-Mode (Dolby), 48 kHz

  • THD + N @ 1 kHz, -60 dBFS

    • Front > 100 dB / > 108 dB (A)

  • Dolby Digital (Config 1 *)

  • THD + N @ 1 kHz, -60 dBFS

    • Front > 98 dB (A)
    • Center > 97 dB (A)
    • Surround > 94 dB (A)
  • Signal to noise ratio

    • Front > 110 dB (A)
    • Center > 105 dB (A)
    • Surround > 106 dB (A)
  • Crosstalk attenuation @ 1 kHz, 0 dBFS

    • Front <-> Front > 104 dB (A)
    • Front <-> Center > 99 dB (A)
    • Front <-> Surround > 98 dB (A)
  • DTS (Config 1 *)

  • THD + N @ 1 kHz, -60 dBFS

    • Front > 100 dB (A)
    • Center > 99 dB (A)
    • Surround > 97 dB (A)
  • Signal to noise ratio

    • Front > 110 dB (A)
    • Center > 105 dB (A)
    • Surround > 106 dB (A)
  • Crosstalk attenuation @ 1 kHz, 0 dBFS

    • Front <-> Front > 104 dB (A)
    • Front <-> Center > 99 dB (A)
    • Front <-> Surround > 98 dB (A)
  • Video

  • Bandwidth 20 MHz RGB / S-Video; 10 MHz Composite Video (FBAS)

  • Input impedance 75 ohms

  • Input voltage max. 2 Vpp

  • Output impedance 75 ohms

  • Output voltage max. 2 Vpp

* Config 1: All front and effect speakers small. Subwoofer active.
  • Upgrade features:
  • DTS-ES Extended Surround Matrix 6.1
  • DTS-ES Extended Surround Discrete 6.1
  • DTS Neo:6
  • DTS 96/24
  • "Audionet D8" (improved Dolby Surround EX)
  • Bass manager with double precision
  • HDCD decoding for CD replay
  • Pro Logic II decoding up to 96 kHz PCM input signal
  • Analog/Digital converter with 96 kHz / 24 Bit for surround sources
  • 10-band graphic equalizer for all channels (optional)
  • 3-band parametric equalizer for corrections in bass frequencies with double precision (optional)







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