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best CD/HDCD/SACD/DVDA player for $500


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#1 of 35 OFFLINE   Sathyan

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Posted May 11 2003 - 07:06 AM

My five disc CD changer (a Sony) ate another CD today. I'm getting a little annoyed by this. Time to upgrade! I'm looking for a single-disc multiformat CD player. It should play the following: CD-DA, XRCD, HDCD, SACD, DVD-A, and DTS CD's (receiver doing the decoding) using pressed media and CDR's. I have far more regular CD's than anything else so redbook performance is very important. I also want HDCD decoding which I don't see on any of the universals (other than the withdrawn Apex). If I have to choose between SACD and DVDA, I choose SACD as the catalogue is more interesting to me and I can get multichannel playback from DVDA from the DTS track on a regular DVD player. I don't care about video (DVDV, VCD, SVCD) as I have a player for that, or compressed formats (MP3, WMA). Is DSD to PCM conversion (like the new Pioneer will do) transparent? -Sathyan See link for system. NP Ormandy - Fireworks! (LP)

#2 of 35 OFFLINE   Rob||Kur||

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Posted May 11 2003 - 07:09 AM

I haven't seen any units that do SACD and HDCD, but the Pioneer Elite DV-45A does DVD-A/SACD/CD very nicely, with 24-but Burr-Brown D/A's. A very competent player. I plan on picking one up soon.

If redbook performance is important, the Pioneer will be far superior to your Sony changer.

You can find them rather cheap on eBay.

Or try Froogle.
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#3 of 35 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted May 11 2003 - 09:29 AM

Rob said:

[quote] If redbook performance is important, the Pioneer will be far superior to your Sony changer. [quote]

Well, I think it depends on which Sony changer we are talking about. I wouldn't call the '45A an all-star with CDs. Posted Image
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#4 of 35 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted May 11 2003 - 09:29 AM

Sathyan, I'm with Rob. The '45A is really your only option at the price point.
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#5 of 35 OFFLINE   AaronJB

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Posted May 11 2003 - 11:55 AM

The 45a is the only option at the $500 or less - I believe the Pioneer will be out later this month or early next month, but again, it will convert DSD to PCM. SACD-Only options include: Philips 963: SACD/DVD-V player that also upsamples CDs to 24/96 or 24/192. Can be found for $399. Well-regarded performance (I have it and I've been happy with it), although some quirks overall, including the fact that the multi-angle icon stays on in the upper corner of the screen during multi-angle material ("Tomorrow Never Dies", "Clerks: Animated Series"). Sony 755: $ - around 200. SACD/DVD-V player. Sony C222-ES - SACD-only player. $ between 4-500, although some may have it for slightly less.
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#6 of 35 OFFLINE   Sathyan

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Posted May 11 2003 - 12:53 PM

My CD changer is a $130 Sony CDP-CE375 so I'm sure a $500 single-disc player is better. Let's put it this way, using the Onkyo receiver DAC was a major improvement.

I'm going to wait for the Pioneer DV-563A to come out. It will be a good option if it sounds good (less money spent on hardware=more money for software). The DSD to PCM conversion gets done at 384k/24-bit which exceeds both CD and DVDA by quite a bit. On my cheap system it should be transparent.

I couldn't find the 45a on Pioneer's site.

The other option I'm considering is getting a Panny S55 for DVDA and Sony 755 for SACD (and a couple RS switchboxes) but are either of these good for redbook?

The two high-rez discs I have are
DVDA - Emma Shapplin Etterna (DTS)
SACD - Ana Caram Blue Bossa (Chesky)
are these considered representative of the formats? If not, what should I buy? I'll be using these for testing audio sources. The Chesky is one of my three best CDs.

SACD - Norah Jones Come Away with Me is ordered.

I was hoping to be able to add HDCD at this juncture but it doesn't look like it. I'm not sure I can hear the advantage of HDCD anyways. I have two Dixie Chicks Fly which sounds like an average CD and Lara St.-John Bach Works for Solo Violin which is among my best CD's sounds awesome (more of a "there" feeling) but this may have nothing to do with the HDCD technology.

(The other of my best CDs is Jacintha's Lush Life, an XRCD now available on SACD).


I would say my format priorities (with # owned) are:
1. CD-DA (246 discs)
2. SACD (1 disc)
3. HDCD (2 discs)
4. DVD-A (1 disc)
5. DVD-V for music concerts and opera (2 discs)

a good bit of my CDs are CDRs (recorded from vinyl, etc.). CDRs do not sound good on very transparent systems so I don't want to go too high-end.

thanks

Sathyan


#7 of 35 OFFLINE   LanceJ

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Posted May 11 2003 - 02:38 PM

Sathyan: If I am not mistaken, when I read the back cover of "Etterna" it said it used the 48kHz/24bit format. This is not dvd-audio's highest resolution. I'm not saying it will sound bad, it's just not the best dvd-audio has to offer.

If you want a reference dvd-audio, AIX Records can sell you one (make sure you click on the "Tech Talk" link). And most Warner & other DTS Entertainment dvd-audios use 96kHz for their hi-res tracks and a few from Warner use 192kHz (but not "Fragile" from Yes--the packaging text is wrong!).

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#8 of 35 OFFLINE   HienD

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Posted May 11 2003 - 08:04 PM

I'm in the market for a SACD, HDCD and DVD all in one player too. I have about 40+ HDCD's. I might have to look into getting unit without HDCD. I wonder how much of a difference HDCD will make. Maybe I'll try to find a used denon 5 disc changer that has HDCD decoding.

#9 of 35 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted May 11 2003 - 10:49 PM

Sathyan said:

[quote] My CD changer is a $130 Sony CDP-CE375 so I'm sure a $500 single-disc player is better. [quote]

I certainly would expect the '45A to best the 'CE375.

Unless you are ready to jump on the '45A, wait for the '563A. The DSD-to-PCM conversion concerns me in principle, but it may be implemented well. Getting an 'S55S and 'NS755V is an option, but I don't like it because both are DVD players. It really is a shame that Sony discontinued the 'CE775 changer. I feel it is a better audio component than Sony's budget DVD/SACD players, plus it offers the convenience of the changer. If the 'CE775 were still available, I would suggest the 'S55S/'CE775 combo. Seeing that Sony has forced you to look into a two-DVD player option, I'd wait for the '563A or go with the '45A.
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#10 of 35 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted May 11 2003 - 10:50 PM

Hien, HDCD isn't a big deal to me. I've heard HDCD-encoded discs sound wonderful on non-HDCD players. It's all in the quality of the player overall. However, if you do want to have HDCD as an option, the Denon changers are solid for the money. I don't know what your budget is, but you can get a new Denon DCM-380 for $300. See www.crutchfield.com for more information.
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#11 of 35 OFFLINE   Doug_H

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Posted May 12 2003 - 12:20 AM

I have found my ability to listen to redbook CD's has all but vanished since I started up the DVD-A player. I have HDCD capability in my receiver and it is a long way short of being anything special. I would get the best DVD-A/SACD player you can and rest easy knowing HDCD isn't worth having unless it happens to be on the player, at least in my opinion.
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#12 of 35 OFFLINE   Mark Hedges

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Posted May 12 2003 - 01:59 AM

I think you can get the sony C222ES for around $350 or so of you shop around. I have quite a few HDCD's too and would like a player that does SACD and HDCD but I don't think there is such a beast for under $1000. Mark

#13 of 35 OFFLINE   Sathyan

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Posted May 12 2003 - 12:43 PM

is HDCD something that happens in DAC or transport?

#14 of 35 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted May 12 2003 - 11:09 PM

Sathyan, HDCD decoding occurs in the DAC. So, if you use the digital output on an HDCD-capable player and connect the player to an outboard DAC, receiver, or pre/pro that is not HDCD-capable, you will bypass HDCD decoding.
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#15 of 35 OFFLINE   Sathyan

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Posted May 13 2003 - 03:49 PM

I listened to the DV45 at my local audiophile store. It sounded really good (hooked up to Rotel separates and B&W speakers). I could not tell between the 45 and the 47 in audio performance. The big defect I noticed on both was in bass management. You can only choose between large & small speakers (can't set a crossover). And the default crossover is too high. I could easily tell where the subwoofer was by listening. Hopefully Pioneer will fix this in the 563. Tested with CD (Chesky), SACD (Chesky) and DVD-A (DTS =- yes it was only 48k). Impressive in all. The SACD layer had a bigger soundstage, and was warmer and smoother (more analog-y). I've heard the CE775 (at CircuitCity with HK receiver & Infinity speakers) and the Pioneer was definitely superior on SACD. And I can say now that DTS compression is not transparent. CD performance - better than the Sony but less than Rotel HDCD player. Connected the Rotel ($500) and Pioneer to a Rotel 980 DAC and I couldn't tell between them. So they're equivalent as transports. Sathyan

#16 of 35 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 15 2003 - 08:20 AM

Do you guys feel the Sony 222ES is better than the Philips 963sa for both CD and SACD? What about the BM/time alignment/level processing such as they may or may not have? I'm thinking about pairing an SACD player w/ the Panny RP91 I just ordered. For now, I would only do 2-channel playback since my preamp can't accept MC inputs. I'd probably also want to upgrade my rear speakers anyway before really delving into MC music. For me, if I get the Philips, I would probably use it for DVD-V as well since it should be better than the RP91 for 16x9 DVDs and video-sourced DVDs. So any "SACD-only" player will have to be significantly better than the Philips for CD/SACD, if it's in the same price range. Thanks. _Man_

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#17 of 35 OFFLINE   KeithH

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Posted May 15 2003 - 08:26 AM

Man-Fai, good question. I am intrigued by the performance of the '963SA with CDs since it upsamples to 24/192. Overall, I've read mixed reviews of the '963SA. I seem to recall reading about some QC issues with it. Do a search here and on AVS Forum. All I can say is that the 'C222ES is an excellent value. If you get a chance to compare it to the '963SA, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
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#18 of 35 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 16 2003 - 05:20 AM

Keith, I'm aware of most/all the problems w/ the Philips 963sa since I try to follow all such threads in AVS and here. But admittedly, I've been more lax about the audio side of it since my priority was DVD-V before. Anyway, I just read a couple comments on AVS that say they're hearing some amount of degradation from the 963sa's BM circuitry when not in bypass mode -- even when all channels are set to large. Wonder if it's anywhere close to the degradation that's been reported here about other SACD players. Also, seems like most of the more discerning listeners prefer the 24/96 upsampling over 24/192 from this player -- maybe even prefer no upsampling over 24/192. I guess at 24/192, the player might be fudging the sound too much. _Man_

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#19 of 35 OFFLINE   Paul.S

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Posted May 18 2003 - 11:40 AM

Seems like HDCD-enabled CD/DVD/SACD players are rare. I have quite a few HDCDs (especially country artists, interestingly enough; even more specifically MCA Nashville artists like Vince Gill and George Strait . . . produced by Tony Brown, the same guy responsible for so much country ending up on DTS CDs . . . hmmm . . . I digress). I don't think Sony (or any other SACD player manufacturer) has included HDCD capability in any of its DVD/SACD players, have they? And in the entry-level arena (excluding high end players such as the Denon DVD-2900), is the Mitsubishi DD-8020 the only (DVD-A/-V) combo player that has included HDCD? Paul

#20 of 35 OFFLINE   Serge Ch

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Posted May 18 2003 - 03:22 PM

HK receivers have HDCD decoding capability




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