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One size fits all??? "universal" vs dedicated redbook cd player


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16 replies to this topic

#1 of 17 PaulDA

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Posted March 23 2004 - 04:58 AM

I will definitely be getting a universal player later this summer. I've been leaning towards the Denon 2200/2900, each of which seems highly rated for both DVD-A and SACD playback. Ideally, I'd go with dedicated machines for each type but $$$ prevents this. However, I've read good things about Yamaha S2300mkII universal player and the new S1500 due out in April is said to have the same DACs (if not the same power supply and internal guts) and will retail for 399$US.

Would I better off with the less expensive S1500 and a dedicated cd player like NAD521/541 (which would come to same price, roughly, as Yamaha S2300mkII or Denon DVD2900) or can the universals really do redbook cds justice? I will audition them, of course, but some input on this issue would be appreciated.

P.S., prog. scan is not an issue for me as neither of my TVs has that ability, nor will they be replaced anytime soon. I'm quite happy with the 16x9 "cheat" of my Sony Wegas (yes I've seen the beautiful hdtv monitors w/prog scan but that's for the distant future, audio is more important to me).
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#2 of 17 ScottCHI

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Posted March 23 2004 - 05:11 AM

hey paul

i sent u a pm asking what the "16x9 cheat" is, exactly

Posted Image

sry, can't offer anything to your thread
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#3 of 17 Nathan Stohler

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Posted March 23 2004 - 07:00 AM

I'm curious about the 16x9 cheat as well, as I have a 36" Vega. I think it has to do with the "16x9 Enhanced" option on the TV.

What exactly does this option do to "enhance" the picture? I think I'll play with it tonight. From what I understand, I'd also need to set my DVD player to output to a 16x9 monitor.

#4 of 17 ScottCHI

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Posted March 23 2004 - 07:11 AM

i've played with it. for normal broadcast tv it does nothing but squeeze my picture; i don't gain anything peripherally as far as the view is concerned.

i don't understand what it's for, really.

here's a link:
http://www.liquidthe...m/editorials/48
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#5 of 17 ScottCHI

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Posted March 23 2004 - 07:20 AM

another:

http://www.michaeldv....nhancement.asp
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#6 of 17 PaulDA

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Posted March 23 2004 - 07:43 AM

It only works properly with anamorphic DVDs IF you set your DVD to 16x9. In this fashion, it makes a considerable difference in picture resolution. However, for any non-anamorphic source, it distorts the picture and I'd not recommend it. Unfortunately, on the Sony, to change the setting, you have to enter the setup menu and select it each time you use a specific input. If you leave that input to look at broadcast tv or whatnot, when you return, the setting is off and you have to reset it. The JVC iArt thoughtfully includes a single button on its remote to do this effortlessly.

Nathan,
That is exactly what you must do to your settings in order to appreciate this feature.
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#7 of 17 ScottCHI

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Posted March 23 2004 - 07:53 AM

ok. i understand now.

it allows you to watch 16:9 dvds in that aspect ratio without the resolution loss normally associated with letterboxing it.

it displays just like letterboxing normally would, but the resolution is maintained.

the end of that second link that i posted explains it very well.

thanks, paul. i've learned something today.

Posted Image

in other words, if you set your dvd player up as "4:3 letterbox" and DO NOT use the 16x9 enhanced setting on your tv to watch a widescreen dvd, the display will be at the correct aspect ratio. however, if you set up your dvd player as "16x9 widescreen" and you DO use the 16x9 enhanced setting on your tv to watch the same dvd, the display will be at that same proper aspect ratio, but without the corresponding loss in resolution that accompanies letterboxing.

fiddle around with a 1.85:1 (not a 2.35:1) dvd and you'll see what it does, exactly. if you set your player to 16x9 but DO NOT use the enhanced 16x9 setting on your tv, the image will be displayed unletterboxed and distorted vertically. turn enhanced 16x9 on, and it corrects the distortion while maintaining the higher resolution that the 16x9 format offers.
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#8 of 17 Ray_C

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Posted March 23 2004 - 08:05 AM

In response to your original query...I own the Denon 2200, and it does a very good job with regular cd's when played through the 5.1 analog outs, properly set up for bass mgmt, or course. It's a tad analytical, but some may really like this sort of detail. The Burr-Brown DACs in the 2200 are excellent. BUT...I did end up getting a Cambridge Audio Azur 540C for around $300, as I wanted to relieve my 2200 of CD duties, as I already listen to DVD-As and SACDs on it, as well as take advantage of its excellent DVD movie playback. The Cambridge is a very nice player (I use the analog outs...didn't want to spring for an extra external DAC). I tried the NAD C521BEE, but it was too soft in the high end...the Cambridge sounds just right to me, and I'm very happy. It seems very well-built (solid weight and resonance damping), and it runs considerably cooler than the 2200. I do a lot of listening and movie watching, so I wanted to hopefully extend the life and performance of both components by dividing duties. But if you decide to get a Denon 2200/2900, the CD performance will likely be better than most low- to mid-priced DVD players, and better than most really inexpensive CD players.

By the way, this is all running through a NAD T163 Pre/Pro, which does an excellent job with analog inputs.

#9 of 17 PaulDA

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Posted March 23 2004 - 08:13 AM

Scott,

Just PMed you but you seem to have figured it out. It's what sold me on that TV when we bought it.

Ray,

Thanks for the response. I mentioned the NAD as an example, not necessarily as the one I'd go with. BTW, I never thought of getting a separate player to give the other one a break but that's a good point (might tip me further into the separate player camp).

So you like the Cambridge Cd player? I'd thought of that one as well. Would you rank its DACs higher than those in my Integra DTR 6.4 receiver (don't know what they are, the website and literature don't say)? They probably don't beat your NAD processor's (equal them at best, and that's just a guess). You prefer your Cambridge DACs to the NAD processor?
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#10 of 17 ScottCHI

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Posted March 23 2004 - 08:35 AM

Quote:
Scott,

Just PMed you but you seem to have figured it out.
yep. basically, instead of displaying a smaller image on the same size pixels (is that the right word?), it displays the same image on smaller pixels, thereby maintaining the resolution.

now i have to explain it to her.

thanks again!
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#11 of 17 ScottCHI

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Posted March 23 2004 - 08:53 AM

http://lonestar.texa...arl/goggles.htm

Posted Image
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#12 of 17 Ray_C

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Posted March 23 2004 - 09:34 AM

Paul,

I am unfamiliar with any of the Integra components, but I will tell you that on my NAD T163, just about any of the analog inputs sound better than using a direct digital line (coax or optical). This is the reason I chose the NAD, as I wanted a pre-pro with the best musical performance I could afford as I made the switch to true separates, yet still take care of home theater/movie duties. I would say that the Denon 2803 I was using before I got the NAD had better overall performance of DD and DTS via digital when playing DVD movies, a little more defined overall, but when I use the 5.1 analog outs of the Denon 2200 for DVD movies and let the 2200 do the decoding, it sounds phenomenal...much clearer and fuller than the Denon ever sounded (all going through a Marantz MM9000 amp). Also, the Denon was a big let-down for 2-ch music when using the analog inputs, whereas the NAD shines. I don't mind using the 5.1 analog outs for movies, except for the fact that I loose the rear surrounds on the few Dolby Digital ES and DTS EX 6/7.1 DVD's that I have.

I was trying to choose between the Cambridge 540C and the NAD 541i...got a better deal on the Cambridge so I figured I'd try it out. I'm happy with it....again, I wanted to keep it to $300 for a CD player. NAD CD players are also notoriously finicky about certain discs...even some regular redbook discs. This was also true with the 521BEE. The Cambridge loads and acknowledges discs very fast, and I've had no trouble whatsoever playing anything. I didn't want to risk it with another NAD before I tried the Cambridge.

#13 of 17 NickSo

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Posted March 23 2004 - 09:47 AM

Just another option... you can give the Toshiba SD3950/SD3960 a try, the inmates at AudioAsylum have been raving over it in the Digital Drive section, comparing it to many CD-only players that cost ten times more, and having the toshiba perform quite well against them...

This way, you can get a good DVD player and not have to sacrifice much in CD quality... Or hold out for the Toshiba SD4950 due out in june, which is also a univeral player, and hopefully, will have the same DAC for CD audio as the 3950/3960. Though i bet th high-res audio will not be as good as the Denon's.

Something you may want to consider is all Posted Image


#14 of 17 Nathan Stohler

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Posted March 23 2004 - 12:25 PM

I apologize for continuing the tangent about the 16x9 enhancement, but I have a follow-up question that Paul or someone should be able to help me with.

Quote:
fiddle around with a 1.85:1 (not a 2.35:1) dvd and you'll see what it does, exactly


From Scott's post, does this mean that using the 16x9 enhancement for a 2.35:1 movie (versus 1.85:1) will result in a distorted picture (or worse resolution than normal)?

Thanks again.
--Nathan

#15 of 17 Ray_C

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Posted March 23 2004 - 12:34 PM

No, it will display the correct aspect ratio for 2.35:1 too. I think for comparison's sake, it's easier to see the actual change with 1.85, since when anamorphic, the 1.85 takes up the entire 4:3 TV screen before squashed...whereas the 2.35 will still have letterbox bars before squashed.

#16 of 17 ScottCHI

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Posted March 23 2004 - 12:45 PM

Quote:
No, it will display the correct aspect ratio for 2.35:1 too. I think for comparison's sake, it's easier to see the actual change with 1.85, since when anamorphic, the 1.85 takes up the entire 4:3 TV screen before squashed...whereas the 2.35 will still have letterbox bars before squashed.
yes, exactly. i didn't want the 2.35:1 to confuse things in the comparison. 2.35:1 anamorphic stuff benefits just as much, nathan. of course, it displays "thinner" than 1.85:1, just as it does when you set your player to 4:3 letterbox and don't use the 16:9 enhanced setting on the tv.

the enhanced 16:9 setting is kinda like moving a movie projector closer to the screen to make the image smaller, instead of going to a smaller projector and film size. resolution is maintained. make sense?
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#17 of 17 Nathan Stohler

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Posted March 23 2004 - 10:58 PM

Ok, thanks guys. I'll definitely use this option from now on. I did notice a little difference in clarity when I toggled between the two settings, although it was hard to make a direct comparison, since my DVD player requires me to stop the DVD before changing this setting.





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