Denon 2900 DACs vs. Sony DA4ES DACs

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by RobertHO, Oct 26, 2003.

  1. RobertHO

    RobertHO Extra

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    I considering the Denon DVD 2900 for cd playback.

    Question:

    Are the DACs in the Denon 2900 noticably better than the DACs in the Sony DA4ES receiver?

    Any input would be appreciated.
     
  2. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    To answer your question: YES.

    The Denon's DAC's (Burr-Brown PCM 1790) are currently the most advanced on the market, HOWEVER, implementation is just as important as the DAC itself. For example, the 2900 has better DAC's than some 3-5k universal players from Lexicon and Teac, but they still are said to sound better than the 2900, so there's more to great sound than the brand of DAC's. You will simply have to listen to both the Sony and Denon and decide for yourself. I have the 2900 and find the redbook playback excellent, at least as good as the crop of $500-$600 players from NAD, Music Hall, and Arcam I've heard or owned. I prefer the DAC's in the 2900 for analog playback to those in my NAD T762 AVR - but not by a large margin. Some audiophiles will tell you stuff about how mediocre the CD playback is on the 2900, but I certainly don't hear mediocrity coming from mine, and plus, the reviews have spoken positively of the 2900's CD playback so I'm certainly not alone. It always cracks me up when audiophiles compare a $1000 Universal DVD player like the 2900 to a $2500 CD player like the Arcam FMJ33 and then conclude that the Denon is mediocre in comparison. Well, the Denon shouldn't be better because it costs half as much as the Arcam and has 3 other formats to play. I think for what the 2900 offers at its price point, it's a winner imho.

    Hope this helps,

    Reg
     
  3. AaronBatiuk

    AaronBatiuk Second Unit

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    FWIW, the STR-DA4ES uses a Burr-Brown PCM1604Y 6-channel 192/24 DAC for the front, surround, center, and subwoofer channels, and a PCM1737E 2-channel 192/24 DAC for the surround-back channels.

    You will see benefit from using the analog output of the CD player only if you use the 4ES' analog direct mode. If you use any of the soundfields (including 2-Channel or Auto Decode), the receiver will re-digitize the analog input signal, and it will eventually be converted back to analog by the receiver's DAC anyway. Of course this means that you cannot use the EQ, bass management, DPL-II, or any other type of processing. Only if you use analog direct, does the signal remain entirely in the analog realm.

    If you want to use any type of processing on the receiver, then consider using a coaxial (preffered) or optical digital connection to the receiver.
     
  4. RobertHO

    RobertHO Extra

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    Aaron,

    Thanks for your input.

    Question:

    Will I be able to use the 2900's bass management to utilize my sub through the 5.1 multi channel hookups on the sony da4es? If I have the Sony DA4ES in pure analog direct mode will it receive a .1 signal from the denon 2900 when I play a cd?
     
  5. AaronBatiuk

    AaronBatiuk Second Unit

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  6. RobertHO

    RobertHO Extra

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    Aaron,

    I understand what your saying but my question is: Does the Denon 2900 (when using the analog outputs) output a subwoofer signal when playing a regular CD.

    I know the 2900 has bass management, but I'm not quite sure how it works.

    Can some Denon 2900 owners offer some input?

    Thanks in advance
     
  7. Mark Hedges

    Mark Hedges Second Unit

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    Personally I found the DA4ES' DAC's to be lacking for CD playback. I much prefered the sound using an analog connection to my DVD player (no dedicated CD player at the time) and having the reciever in analog direct mode.

    Mark
     
  8. Cary

    Cary Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm wondering if any of you could help out on questions I have about a new 2900 hooked up to a DA7ES. I just got the 2900 on Saturday and found the performance to be a bit bewildering.

    I have no sub, but am set for 5 large speakers around. The DA7 has been run in Multichannel analog for both CD and SACD.

    CD performance on analog vs. coax digital is very different - far more different than I would have expected between two modern components at these price levels. The 2900's CD playback seems much leaner, with less bass throughout. It's possible that it's also just that much cleaner and I have to adjust to the difference. Imaging seems to be much better with the 2900.

    The Sony's sound is much more present, fuller, and if a negative had to be applied to the same sensation - in-your-face.

    The only SACD I've played is Gabriel's Hits in stereo - again, it seemed that lots of bass got lost. I'm going to listen to some classical SACD and some DVD-A tonight.

    Do these impressions jive with what others have heard? Or is it possible that I've got a setup issue somewhere along the line?? Any help would be appreciated.
     
  9. TrevorS

    TrevorS Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi, Cary

    Your configuration for the Denon DVD-2900 might be the issue. Try setting the Multi-channel "Filter" to OFF and see if that helps. However, be aware that turning the filter to OFF forces all the speakers to full range. In the OFF position the BASS level is increased some 10 to 15dB for certain modes including SACD. Another possible solution would be if your receiver allows you to add a 15dB boost to the subwoofer "pass through" channels, then that can be tried.

    -- Trevor [​IMG]
     
  10. TrevorS

    TrevorS Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi, Aaron

    If you look at the DVD-2900 manual you'll see that it does have a bass enhancement mode available under two channel operation. The configuration choice is up to you. I haven't tried it myself, but it at least appears to apply to CD as well as other two channel tracks.

    -- Trevor [​IMG]
     
  11. Cary

    Cary Stunt Coordinator

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    Trevor, thanks for the heads up. I did switch the Filter to Off and SACD is now fine. The sub is turned on, but I'm assuming that the DA7 is mixing that input into the front full-range speakers. Next up are tests with CD & DVD-A.

    Do I also need to turn on the bass expander on 2 channel to get low bass output, or is that the default? I'll be checking analog vs. digital out on CD tonight, so I should be able to answer that one myself. Then we're firing up T3 for a quick check, but DVD sounded fine before on coax out. Thanks again.
     
  12. TrevorS

    TrevorS Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi, Cary

    Let me just make one comment that may or may not matter to you. If you perform bass management in the processor, then it is probably performing analog to digital and then digital to analog conversions in order to accomplish it. This means that if you want the highest quality sound from the DVD-2900, you are usually best off disabling all bass management (and speaker size control) for the 5.1 pass throughs. Of course, doing this may or may not work for your real world speaker configuration.

    My understanding of the two channel with subwoofer mode is based entirely on what I saw in the manual. The full recorded signal (bass, etc) will normally be delivered to your main speakers. There are two possibilities for the stereo bass enhancement (my guess would be the first):

    1) The bass is filtered out of the main speakers and into the subwoofer (which would make sense to me).

    2) The bass in the mains is duplicated into the subwoofer in order to supplement the mains (which doesn't appeal to me, but probably would to many).

    A little experimenting should answer that one very quickly.

    -- Trevor [​IMG]
     
  13. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  14. AaronBatiuk

    AaronBatiuk Second Unit

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    Trevor said:
     
  15. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  16. TrevorS

    TrevorS Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi, Lewis

    I would guess a subwoofer-frequency-pass filter (optional, but maybe) summed equally into both main channels. That's very easy to do in analog.

    Trevor [​IMG]
     
  17. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Yeah but wouldn't that require some sort of mechanical switch to activate?
     
  18. TrevorS

    TrevorS Stunt Coordinator

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    Well,

    I think you would probably get the best sonic results using a reed relay. However, there are also C-MOS switches out there that could do the job, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are dual-state-output opamps available as well (haven't stared at a catalog in a while).

    Trevor [​IMG]
     
  19. Cary

    Cary Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I'm now satisfied. On the 2900, Filter is set to Off and Sub is On. I was not able to find any combination of speakers with the filter set to On that yielded anything close to what I consider acceptable bass performance. With it set to Off everything is fine.

    On the DA7ES, the Sub is set to Off and I did check the manual, that info is folded into the front L/R. Bass on CD, SACD, DVDA, DTS & DD all sound right to me again.

    So basically I'm now staying with the 2900 and analog out for everything but DVDs with DD & DTS. Sony's Digital Cinema soundfields are too good to bypass. T3 was interesting last night, the re-recording credit is for Sony's Cary Grant theater - exactly the same environment I simulated in my home!

    Checked out Queen's The Game on DVDA - beautiful sound up front - far cleaner than any version I've ever heard. The surrounds get too much guitar and other instruments, but backing vocals give you a nice counterpoint from the back.

    SACDs were Peter Gabriel's Hits in 2 channel and the new Volodos Tchaikovsky 1st in surround. Mercy Street on the new setup was simply transcendental - I've never heard sound anything like this.

    The Volodos shows up both the beauty and problems of higher resolutions. The imaging and piano sound are top notch, but I want to turn around and hit the phlegmatic bunch in back just like in real life.

    Onward to some Mahler and Led Zep and Dylan and who knows what else tonight!

    Oh, on a side note, I think I've officially decided that the center back channel is the least significant improvement anywhere in the chain. A very subtle change at best - perhaps it would be useful in a really big space. Thanks for help to everyone.
     
  20. TrevorS

    TrevorS Stunt Coordinator

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    Glad to hear you're all set, Cary.

    As a completely off topic question (since you mentioned "The Game" by the Queen), did you listen to "A Night At The Opera" as well? If you did, what did you think of it (say relative to "The Game").

    Thanks -- Trevor [​IMG]
     

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