Confessions of a SACD convert...

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by pitchman, Oct 19, 2003.

  1. pitchman

    pitchman Screenwriter

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    Gary
    I began dabbling in hi-res audio a few months ago and had pretty much committed to the DVD-A format, but after going through 3 different Panasonic DVD-F85's that all failed in some way after a brief period of time, I decided to switch brands. I had previously auditioned a Pioneer 563A and was disappointed with its somewhat lackluster video performance. I ended up migrating to a Sony DVP-NC685V, and what a pleasant surprise this player turned out to be!

    The 685V is a 5-disc DVD/SACD changer that, to be honest, I knew very little about. Feature wise, it has just about everything that comes standard in this generation of comparable players. The only noticeable omission for some might be a zoom function. Since I never used it on the Panny or 563A, it is a non-factor for me.

    From a performance standpoint, the NC685V is surprisingly robust. CD's sound fantastic and the few SACD discs that I have just knocked my socks off! Dark Side of the Moon which sounded good on the 563A, sounds totally amazing now! In fact, much better than any of the DVD-A's I played on the F85S. Even the 2-channel Rolling Stones, Their Satanic Majesty's Request, which sounded awful on the Pioneer, sounds great on the Sony, with deep, rich bass and excellent tonal quality throughout.

    So, what's the difference? My guess is that it is Sony's implementation of bass management. Although the F85S and 563A reportedly have bass management, you could never prove it by me. Whenever I used either player's on screen speaker setup menu, test signal would simply bypass the subwoofer and no sound came from the sub. After calling Panasonic, I decided that it had more to do with my receiver (a Panasonic SA-HE100) than either player.

    Well, with the NC685V, using either (there are two) speaker setup menues, I hear test signal a plenty from the subwoofer. The player allows you to independently set speakers for either SACD or DVD/CD playback, providing full separate control over each function.

    As far as video performance goes, to my eye, the NC-685V is head and shoulders above the Pioneer and a bit softer (although considerably more film-like, which is typical for a Sony player) than the Panny. Layer changes are slightly slower than the 563A and about on par with the F85S, but they go by smoother than on the DVD-F85S.

    In the end, if you are looking for a great sounding hi-res player (and don't want to shell out for an ICBM) with good video performance and a changer function to boot, you may want to consider the Sony DVP-NC685V. Is it a universal player? No. Does it look and sound great? You better believe it.

    BTW, I traded in the handful of DVD-A discs I had for a copy of the Alias season 1 box set and Dylan's, Blonde on Blonde hybrid; so, I guess there's no going back now...
     
  2. John Robert

    John Robert Stunt Coordinator

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    Gary:

    I too am hooked on SACD sound, although my comparative reference is CD as I don't have a DVD-A player. The difference through my system (Infinity Intermezzos) is beyond night and day. SACDs are more dynamic, tighter bass, quieter backgrond, bigger soundstage, etc.

    I am looking to upgrade my older Sony ncv650p and was looking at the 685V. What kind of BM does it have???
     
  3. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    IMO, DVD-A & SACD are about equal at their best. Alot depends on how they are prepared, and I'm sure, how well they were done originally. For example, the Boston SACD I have is better than Red Book, but not as spectacular as some of my other SACDs. My DVD-A of Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, made around the same time as the Boston SACD, is quite a bit more detailed in the upper frquencies.

    Of course, it's hard to make apples and oranges comparisons and form an opinion of overall format quality, but there are some stunning examples of high fidelity recordings in both formats.

    I'm glad you like your Sony, Gary. They do make some great players. Having one hi-rez format is better than not having any, but down the road when you replace the Sony, you might consider a universal player, so you can have access to even more hi-rez titles.

    DJ
     
  4. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    David is correct. people are just going to have to accept that the diffeences we're hearing are not necessarily in the formats themselves, but rather the quality of the source material and your own components. I have a Denon 2900 which plays both formats VERY WELL, and there are discs from both camps that both excite and disappoint. Both DSD and PCM have their pro's and con's and you will find many adherents of both on these boards, but for me, it's strictly about the music. I am currently listening to the new Prokofiev DVD-A from NAXOS of the Alexander Nevsky score and it is only 24/48 in surround. The soundstage is wide and it is sonically very dynamic - just as dynamic as any SACD I've heard despite the lower than usual sample rate (most surround mixes are 24/96). Otoh, I have the Naxos Holst "Planets" DVD-A with the same sample rate as the Prokofiev, and sonically it is a major disappointment. Now both performances are roughly around the same age (2001-02), but one is markedly superior than the other. The mix on the Holst is just plain bad and the soundstage flat probably due to inept mastering (I also have a Chesky SACD of this as well which isn't much better). The concert hall in which they were recorded may've had something to do with the end result as well. My point is: if anyone trumpets superiority of one format over the other because of yje sonics of the respective formats, then their jiving you. The reality is both are very capable of optimal dynamic range.

    Reg
     
  5. David_D

    David_D Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm glad to see some discussion of the Sony 685 player. I've been wavering between several models, but things seem to be zeroing in on either the Pioneer 563 or Sony 685. Imagine my pleasure when I see a thread that discusses both.

    I'm glad to hear the comparison of SACD performance between the two units. Have any others observed similar results?

    To add some other variables to the discussion... How are these units at handling scratched discs? Also, how hot do they run when operating for an extended time (movie length or more.) I've seen some units in stores that are almost too hot to touch. That can't be good for the discs.

    I'm still using a couple of ancient (one really ancient) Toshiba players. Neither has ever missed a beat Any reliability impressions of these two players? Of course, at this point, the best we can do is guess.
     
  6. Robert AG

    Robert AG Stunt Coordinator

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    It is nice to see some common sense in this thread! As someone who's job includes mixing and mastereing multi-channel music, I can without doubt affirm that the sound quality of SACD / DVD-A or even CD is indeed 99.9999999999% in the original recording, the mixing and the mastering. These formats ALL can be transparent to whatever is thrown at them.

    I have a CD I prepared in which I took the first cut from the 20 bit reissue CD of "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis and took sections and reduced these to 12 bits and others to 8 bits (!). This was done carefully, using the best noise-shaped dither techniques. I re-assembled these sections into a continuous whole where the bit-depth changes at random between 16 bit original, 12 bit reduced, and 8 bit reduced.

    Guess what? I have played this CD for literally dozens of people, and most of them cannot reliably identify even the 8 bit sections !!!! Nobody could tell at all the difference reliably between the 12 bit and 16 bit.

    So much for "Hi-Resolution"!!

    That being said, I always record at the highest bit rate and sample rate I can as it only makes sense - hard disc space is cheap. Keepping the digital data at 24 bits makes subsequent signal manuipulation less destructive than doing this on 16 bits, where rounding errors would start to add up.
     
  7. John Robert

    John Robert Stunt Coordinator

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    Gary:

    Any feedback on the BM capabilities of the 685???
     
  8. Thomas_Riel

    Thomas_Riel Agent

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    I am also in the market for a multi disc SACD player and tossing around a couple of units. Anybody know how the Sony DVP-NC685V would compare to the Sony SCD-C222ES as far as SACD playback?

    Thanks........... Tom
     
  9. Phil_La

    Phil_La Stunt Coordinator

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    I've been planning a new HT setup for a few months now, and the only thing I haven't completly decided on now is the DVD/SACD player. I should finally be buying everything in 2 or 3 days now and I don't know which to get:

    Sony DVP-NC685V
    Philips DVD795SA

    Both are 5-disc DVD/SACD changers, and I can't find many reviews on either of them. I'm glad someone (Gary) is happy with the Sony.

    One question:

    At J&R, it lists these features:

    on the Philips DVD795SA: Upsamples CD audio to 192kHz / 24-bit performance
    on the Sony DVP-NC685V: 192kHz 24-bit Audio D/A Converter

    is that the same thing, just worded differently?
     
  10. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Thomas,

    I have never heard the 685 so i couldn't objectively comment on its performance, but I do have the 222es. It is an excellent component for redbook Cd's and SACD's. The 685 is NOT an ES component (something to keep in mind) and also doubles as a DVD player. If I strictly wanted an audio player, I'd go with the 222es in a heartbeat, plus you get a five year warranty along with better build quality and more than likely better sonics. Sony ES players are generally built to a higher level of quality than the regular run of the mill Best Buy Sony equipment. The 222es has two power supplies, gold output plugs, good separation of digital and analog section, etc; I doubt that the 685 is much different internally than Sony's other non-ES components.

    Good luck,

    Reg
     
  11. pitchman

    pitchman Screenwriter

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  12. peter m. wilson

    peter m. wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi,
    I notced that one of you wants t upgrade his Sony dvp-nc650v 5 disc dvd/sacd player.

    I have this player which I use for sacds exclusivly and find it sounds excellent through my Denon 5800/03 and Totem model 1 speakers. I know it is strictly an interlaced player and perhaps, (if you use it for video also) you probably want a progscan, but are there any other reasons sonically for the upgrade?

    thanks,
    Peter m.
     
  13. John Robert

    John Robert Stunt Coordinator

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    Peter:

    I am looking to upgrade my 650V because I cannot get the rudimentary BM to work correctly on it. Specifically, I can't get any sub output from it (yes, I know that many SACDs don't use the LFE channel). I'm hoping the 685 is a step-up in this regard...
     
  14. CurtisC

    CurtisC Second Unit

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    SACA,DVD-A are both great formats,neither is superior to the other imo after listening to many over the past couple years.I have semi crappy sacd's and semi crappy dvd-a's,this is NOT the format but the original recording/mastering which is still much better than redbook.
     
  15. Chris Tedesco

    Chris Tedesco Second Unit

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    Hey a little off topic but has anyone listened to Beck:Sea Change on SACD? Holy crap! This is a great sound mix.

    Anyways, I have the Pioneer 563a and so far so good. The manual bass change is my only gripe so far. I think the Video Quality is superb! Of course I'm comparing it to a 3 year old unit (Panny 120A)
     
  16. Dan-o

    Dan-o Auditioning

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    Gary, I too am a new buyer/user of the Sony DVP-NC685V since this week. I have a hookup question to ask. Do I use 9 cables.. ie 6 analog for 5.1 (sacd multi) 2 for (sacd 2 channel) and 1 opt/coax for cds to hook this to my onkyo sr800?...also should I set the Sony DVP-NC685V speakers to small and define the sub for best sound?[​IMG]
     
  17. Muhammed

    Muhammed Agent

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    I also just recently purchased the 685V and overall i've been happy with it. I was looking for a 5-disc changer, and also had the F85 high on my list, I tried the F85 out for a few days and redbook playback and video playback seemed to be quite good (regular interlaced). What I didn't like about the F85 was the display, since I often use the changer for music I only use the display on the player and not the OSD, the display on the F85 was quite small and didn't display a lot of info, I didn't have a chance to test the DVD-A capabilities.

    One thing I noticed on the 685V was that when playing redbook CDs the sound quality didn't sound as full or as rich as when playing CDs using the DACs on my receiver, but i'm almost sure it was a volume matching issue (the output when processed digitally was louder than that of the analog outs on the 685V). When I used the CD output on the 685V and adjusted my receiver to increase the output by about +1db, it sounded MUCH better (I can't tell the difference now).

    I've played briefly with the basss management, still tweaking it since I get too much bass in 2-Channel SACD if I have all the speakers set to small, but in multi-channel it sounds great. I have a 2nd set of cables running to my receiver using the CD output from the player, and this also works well for 2-channel since it lets my receiver do the BM.

    Overall I think the 685V has lots of features, the picture quality seems quite good, but if it's picture quality you're after then you'd probably want something with the Faroudja chipset. I'm not using the progressive features of the 685 so it doesn't really matter to me. For those who don't have decoding built-in to their receivers the onboard decoders would also be useful, I haven't compared these to my receiver yet. After tweaking the settings i'm pretty happy with the 685V.
     
  18. Mark Hedges

    Mark Hedges Second Unit

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  19. peter m. wilson

    peter m. wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi,
    Correct me if I'm wrong here but I don't think the 2ch outs on a mltich player decode dsd, but your manual should be able to confirm or refute that.

    Peter m.
     
  20. Muhammed

    Muhammed Agent

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    The reason I also connected the CD outs to another set of inputs on my receiver is because of the way my receiver works with the 5.1 inputs and the way i've wired the subwoofer. I'm running the RCA out from the receiver to the sub (instead of using speaker cables going from the receiver to the sub, and then to the speakers). So basically my receiver is responsible for doing all the crossover work, and i'm bypassing the controls on the sub.

    My receiver just amplifies the signal from the 5.1 inputs, no processing is done. So if i'm listening to 2 channel SACD audio, no information gets sent to the sub (unless I set all speakers to small in the 685V's setup). The 685V crosses over at 120Hz though, when all speakers are set to small, and i'd rather crossover lower. I'm presuming when playing 2CH SACD the output CD out is also 2 Channel full range, just like the L/R output from the 5.1 outs would be when playing 2 channel. The only difference is that my receiver will process the signal and pass the information to the sub (crossing over lower).

    I'm just being picky. I don't need the extra outputs, especially if I set all speakers to small in the NC685V setup, and let it do the crossover, it will output the the signal to the sub as expected, even when listening to 2 channel. For some reason, when running it like this, the have to turn the bass way down, but that's probably just because it's sending everything under 120Hz to the sub.

    Overall the unit is quite flexible. The dual configurations for DVD and SACD might be useful for some, for me though it doesn't matter since I use the 5.1 inputs for SACD, and the regular optical output (unprocessed) signal for DVD and let my receiver do the processing.

    I would have considered the 563A, but I really wanted a changer (at least for now) since I use the unit for music as well.
     

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