months after the ST first appeared Maspro have launched the Mark II version,
have the changes been worthwhile?
Back in June, when we reviewed the Maspro ST we were reasonably
impressed with the general performance of this Astra-oriented IRD but its
aspirations towards multi-satellite receiver were limited by the single
line-switched LNB input and modest audio capabilities. The Mark II addresses
these shortcomings and this latest version has two switchable LNB inputs,
connections for a ferrite polariser and an additional J17 de-emphasis mode.
The Mark II won't be replacing the Mk I, not yet anyway, and right now
it is being discounted, from £279 to £229 (with 60cm dish). If you like what
you hear about the ST8 MkII then you had better get your skates on because it
will be selling for £249 until January 1994, instead of its usual price which
is £299 for a receiver with 60cm dish. (The 80cm system is now selling for £269
instead of £319).
Externally the two receivers look identical, which means it's still one
of the best-looking designs on the market, mostly because it doesn't look like
a STV receiver. The basic specification looks good, it has a total of 128
presets, factory tuned to TV and radio channels on Astra's A to D, Kopernikus,
Telecom's 2A and 2B, Eutelsats II F1 and F3. Channels are selected manually, or
sequentially and up to 20 'favourite' channels can be assigned to a pair of
up/down buttons on the remote control handset. The audio system has a total of
20 mono and stereo operating modes, seven of them manually tuneable with
settings for 50uS or J17 de-emphasis (280kHz bandwidth) and noise
reduction/narrow (150kHz bandwidth).
All operating parameters and receiver status is shown by a
multi-lingual, menu-driven on-screen display system. This also includes control
options for secondary facilities, like the 8-event/31-day timer, sleep timer,
picture mute, input level display and parental lock. Sadly there's no channel
ident, other than a one, two or three digit number, and a two character
satellite ID. This can be a nuisance, if , like us you can't resist having a
fiddle about and customise the channel allocations to your own needs.
Like its predecessor the ST8 Mk II performs well, in fact there's no
discernible differences suggesting the new facilities haven't involved too many
changes to the original design. Our sample, compared with rival receivers, has
better than average sensitivity and noise thresholds on Astra channels. On a
steerable 1 metre dish it proved to be a capable multi-satellite receiver,
though of course, much depends on the performance of the LNBs it is used with,
we tried it with three different ones, including one made by Maspro and the
results were most impressive. Not quite in the Chaparral/Echostar league but
not too far behind!
Audio performance is average to good;
there's always a trace of background noise but the
response appears flat and uncoloured. It's well worth piping the
receiver's stereo line output through a through a half-decent stereo TV or
audio system, and if there's a Dolby Pro-Logic decoder in the chain, so much
the better. An increasing amount of material on the BSKYB movie channels, and
Sky One have Dolby Surround soundtracks, and these pass cleanly through the
ST8's audio system.
The modifications made to the original ST8 have been very worthwhile.
They have transformed a capable Astra receiver with multi-satellite leanings
into a receiver that has the wherewithal to actually do the job properly, though
the receiver software appears to have only limited provision for connecting a
positioner. Definitely worth considering if you want to keep tabs on Astra, but
would like to broaden your horizon, by hooking up a steerable dish to that
second LNB input.
Receiver: Maspro ST8 Mk II
price: £250 (60cm dish) until January 94,
Address: Electrotech Distribution, Unit 6, Drury Way Industrial
Estate, Laxcon Close, Neasden, London NW10 OTG.
Tel: 081-451 6766
Ease of use
improvements to an already top-notch design.
Satellite Rating: 90%
System: Maspro ST8 IRD Mk
II Astra receiver. Features: 128 pre-tuned
channels, 20 channel presets, 8-event/31-day timer, parental lock, menu-driven
on-screen displays. Audio:
stereo (3 fixed, 4-variable), 14 mono (10 fixed, 4-variable), 3-modes (50us and
J17 de-emphasis, noise reduction) . Sockets: 2 x LNB F-connector, ferrite polariser (spring
clamps), UHF loop-through, 3 x SCART AV (TV, VCR, decoder), stereo audio out
(phono), AC mains. Dimensions 360(w) x 73(h) x 262(d) mm.
R.Maybury 1993 0910