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New Technics DVD-A10 - first impressions. (1 Viewer)

Philip Hamm

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I wasn't really sure that getting this DVD player was a wise move for me. After all, I was very happy with my Proscan. However, the Proscan has had a few quirks that have been annoying me for a long time. Disc spin noise was pretty loud. DD 2 channel dropouts (which are a loud “pop” though my DD decoder) have been kind of annoying. Occasional freezeups. Horrible DACs that have rendered my previously glorious 96/24 DADs worse sounding than CD. Cheezy plastic look. No “blacker than black”. All these things got on my nerves after two years of ownership, despite the perfect downconversion and good picture.
After a while thinking about it and researching I decided to spend my tax refund check on a new Technics DVD-A10 from J&R since they're only $350. The main reasons I decided on getting the DVD-A10 were the quirks stated above, not the additional DVD-A capability. (I have to admit my Steely Dan DVD-A has been calling to me despite having an excellent DTS track)
My DVD-A10 arrived today. My initial impression was that the thing is HEAVY. At 19 lbs I'm a little concerned about my Bell'Oggetti tempered glass holding it up on the same shelf as my CLD-99! I plugged it in carefully using the makeshift 6 channel audio switch I rigged (two radio shack L/R/C(omposite) switches). It looks beautiful and the build quality seems to be more in line with the rest of my system (as a contrast to the cheapish feeling Proscan).
The first software I tried was my Steely Dan DVD-A. I A/Bed the DVD with my CD. My impression is that DVD-A seems slightly better. The sound was smoother and I could really hear the nuances of the bass players fingers a little more than with the CD. (Side note: DVD-A and SACD are doomed if they're trying to be “mainstream”. I'm no audiophile but I'm more discerning than most people. Now, my system is pretty modest, but I can barely tell the difference. SACD is supposed to be even better sounding than this, but to tell you the truth after hearing the track compared to CD I don't think anyone but really die hard audiophiles or people who REALLY care about sound are going to care. That is unless they make a bunch of multichannel music. I like multichannel music, but I've been perfectly happy with DTS tracks, including the one on this disc. They're both doomed to very limited releases like the old MFSL or DCC audiophile discs [which I have many of and they're great] IMO.)
The real test is video. I did some reasearch and was pretty sure my player had the “chroma bug”. Also in my research I found that Panasonic has always used its chroma bug free MPEG chip. I though it would be tough to tell with the NTSC lines on my set, but I was pretty sure I had it. Also I wanted to see how the video, particularly downconversion, compared. Since I have the DD and DTS of ANTZ I put that in both players and let 'er rip.
WOW!!!!!
The Panasonic looked better, and I looked for chroma bug artifacts. It seemed to be showing up on the Proscan and not on the Technics. On the chapter “Insectopia” where Bala is pulled out of the back of the penny, you see her face silouetted against a black background. I paused both players at the same spot. The Proscan showed color stepping all around her face. It was like looking at a low bitrate JPG. The Technics – PERFECT. And the difference was NOT subtle by any means!! The MPEG decoding on this machine is a big step up from the Proscan.
Next the credit downconversion torture test. The results are exactly what I expected. Some shimmering on the Technics and absolute perfection on the Proscan.
The chroma bug torture test Toy Story menu followed. The Proscan failed, but still I had to wonder if I was seeing line artifacts from NTSC. Then I tried the Technics. NTSC is not the problem. The Technics looks perfect!
So in short, I am VERY happy with my new DVD player. And as a bonus it even does DVD-A!
Addendum: One of the things I thought I would miss about the Proscan was the neato "Info" menu. On my previous DVD players (Toshiba 2006, Pioneer 414) if you wanted to change something, subtitles, audio, angle, etc. you had to fish for the button. On a universal remote like mine (OFA avProduce8 which I LOVE) that meant mapping a bunch of buttons and remembering. On the Proscan, hit "Info" and there's a menu and it's all right there. Slightly annoying was the fact that if I've got my mattes on they cover the menu. Well the Technics has the same kind of feature! :) And as a bonus you can configure it to be in the middle of the screen, so mattes won't cover it up!!!! Cool!!
I am one happy ol' skool HT camper.
Now time to listen so some Sam Phillips in glorious 96/24 stereo PCM!
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Philip Hamm
AIM: PhilBiker
[Edited last by Philip Hamm on July 27, 2001 at 08:22 PM]
 

Dennis Nicholls

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Besides, no more DIVX!
tongue.gif

Side note: DVD-A and SACD are doomed if they're trying to be “mainstream”.
Phil, have you purchased any classical DVD-A's yet? I'm wondering myself if there will be any real benefit with "mid-fi" systems. (Mine has a Yama. HTR-5250 and Polk RT55i's for mains - nothing fancy by HTF standards but way better than the general population probably has.)
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KeithH

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Philip, thanks for posting your thoughts of the 'A10. When you compared the Steely Dan DVD-Audio disc and CD, did you use the 'A10 for the CD? I ask because I and many others have found the 'A10 to be lackluster with CDs. I never use it in this way as a result. Anyway, I am a bit surprised that you found the CD and DVD-Audio disc to be so close. I think the CD sounds great as the album was very well produced. However, I prefer the DVD-Audio disc. It sounds far more real and three-dimensional than the CD.
I find SACD to be better than DVD-Audio and to be much better than CD for the most part. In a few cases, I find the SACD to be only marginally better than the CD. This is true for some older rock albums in which the masters are not the greatest.
Note that all DVD-Audio discs feature multi-channel tracks and that SACD is going multi-channel. Sony released it's first multi-channel SACD player this month for $350 retail. The low price and multi-channel capability could bring SACD to the masses. We'll see.
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My:
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KeithH: Saving the Home Theater World Before Bedtime
 

Carol Curtis

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Oct 12, 1999
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Philip, GOOD LUCK with your Panasonic. I'm still very happy with my Proscan that you told me to get & I have never had any kind of a problem with it. I've read all about the disc spinning noise problem but believe it or not mine doesn't make any more noise than other dvd players. Maybe I got one
when they were having a good day at the factory :) In the future though I would like to get a dvd-audio player or maybe sometime down the road they will make combo dvd-audio / SACD audio players. Samsung are you reading this? :)
 

David Judah

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Congrats on the new player.
I'm a bit suprised that there wasn't much of a difference between the DVD-A and CD as well. How were you A/B'ing it? Were you using the 6 channel outs for both or the 6 channel outs for DVD-A and the regular analog out for CD? If it was the latter, perhaps the makeshift audio switch was the problem.
DJ
 

Eugene Hsieh

Supporting Actor
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I find SACD to be better than DVD-Audio and to be much better than CD for the most part. In a few cases, I find the SACD to be only marginally better than the CD. This is true for some older rock albums in which the masters are not the greatest.
That's interesting that SACD is better than DVD-Audio. I fully believe that SACD is usually better than CD, but I still do not believe this is necessarily a function of the format. I think this is probably in large part due to the fact that there attention paid to the mix/detail when creating a SACD. So again, like many things in home audio/video, we are comparing apples to oranges.
Anyways, I still don't know where the A10 fits in the Panny/Technics line. Can someone enlighten me? I find that Panasonic's naming schemes confusing and sometimes misleading. Is the audio circuitry that much different from the RP61/91 line?
 

Philip Hamm

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quote: When you compared the Steely Dan DVD-Audio disc and CD, did you use the 'A10 for the CD? I ask because I and many others have found the 'A10 to be lackluster with CDs. I never use it in this way as a result. Anyway, I am a bit surprised that you found the CD and DVD-Audio disc to be so close. I think the CD sounds great as the album was very well produced. However, I prefer the DVD-Audio disc. It sounds far more real and three-dimensional than the CD.[/quote]"Far" more is subjective. I did prefer the DVD-A, just not by much of a margin. I suspect the reason is that my somewhat inexpensive speakers couldn't really resolve the difference that well. There would probably be more noticable with better speakers. My comparison between DVD-A was using the analog stereo outs from the Technics. Not going through the makeshift 5.1 switch (which works perfectly), but straight Audioquest cabling all the way. For CD I used my Pioneer CLD-99, a formidable CD player, through the internal DACs in my Onkyo TX-SV919THX receiver, also formidable. I switched between the analog and optical input to A/B, playing the songs together.quote:
I find SACD to be better than DVD-Audio and to be much better than CD for the most part. In a few cases, I find the SACD to be only marginally better than the CD. This is true for some older rock albums in which the masters are not the greatest.[/quote]It really doesn't matter to me, as I have little more than passing interest in these super high quality sound formats.
However,
After writing my note here yesterday I put in one of my Sam Phillips 96/24 DVD-Video discs and did the same A/B comparison. Holy smokes it was quite dramatic. Sam has a peculiar voice that that sounds grating when played back on anything but a very nics system. On the 96/24 DVD-V discs it sounded clear and smooth. The heck with DVD-A and SACD that can only play in limited machnies. I say give us more Classic DVD-Video 96/24 discs! :) Anybody with a DVD player can enjoy the high quality of these things today!!! :)
The Proscan is still a good player, particularly in bang for the buck. It just has some quirks, as do all players of that perios. I will miss the perfect downconversion.
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Philip Hamm
AIM: PhilBiker
[Edited last by Philip Hamm on July 28, 2001 at 09:25 AM]
[Edited last by Philip Hamm on July 28, 2001 at 09:29 AM]
 

David Judah

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I wonder if your receiver is passing the analog signal from the DVD-A10 through unaffected or is reconverting to digital and then back to analog. I know my Yamaha receiver would do that.
DJ
 

KeithH

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Eugene,
It is true that we don't have access to music common to both SACD and DVD-Audio. All I can say is that DVD-Audio is impressive and beats CD, but SACD always impresses me more. I A/B DVD-Audio discs and the corresponding CDs and SACDs and the corresponding CDs there, and I am continuously floored by the quality of the SACD format. However, I will give you that we are not only talking about different music, but we are talking about different players too. Anyway, this is what we have to work with. For me, SACD is decidedly better.
Philip,
No question that our opinions of various audio formats, components, etc. are subjective. I much prefer DVD-Audio to CD, but then again, I feel SACD is better yet, as I said above in my response to Eugene.
As for speakers, I don't know what you have, but my speakers are hardly expensive. Energy e:XL 16 bookshelf speakers only go for $300 a pair. I feel they are a steal at that price, however. Anyway, it is possible that you won't find DVD-Audio to be significantly better than CD in any set-up. These things are subjective, as discussed.
As for getting more 24/96 DADs, don't hold your breath, I'm afraid. That's just not the way the music business is going these days. We are seeing more SACDs and DVD-Audio discs (and CDs, of course), but DADs seem to be a thing of the past. I agree that it is a shame since DVD-Video players are ubiquitous.
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KeithH: Saving the Home Theater World Before Bedtime
 

Philip Hamm

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I wonder if your receiver is passing the analog signal from the DVD-A10 through unaffected or is reconverting to digital and then back to analog. I know my Yamaha receiver would do that.
My receiver is a dinosaur. The only digital processing that every happens is when I use a DSP sound field like Prologic of Hall or something, which I never do. The Onkyo 919THX was the first receiver ever made with a 5.1 channel in. It preceeded the first DOlby Digital processors by months. Which, strangely enough actually makes it perfect for the DVD-A10. The receiver does bass management using all high quality analog componentry. As it should be if you ask me.
Keith,
My ears are not what they used to be thanks to years playing bass in loud rock bands. :) Not too bad though.. My speakers are B&W 602s.
It's sad that 96/24 DVD-V isn't more supported. I think that even with all these high resolution formats, the sound really comes down to the mastering. The difference in quality between my Sam Phillips CDs and the 96/24 DVD-V was dramatic. The difference on the Steely dan was more subtle. However, I'm going to do some more A/Bing of the Dan today to get a more detailed impression.
So how is the multichannel mix of "Metallica"?
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Philip Hamm
AIM: PhilBiker
 

ReggieW

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It is curious that some here hear a slight difference in DVD-A and SACD. I have DVD-A in my JVC 721BK (same as 723GD, only in black finish) and have heard SACD at a friends on high-end equipment and couldn't really hear much of a difference despite SACD being DSD based instead of PCM. I must say however, the main reason I prefer DVD-A is because of the multimedia content (videos, multi-angles, audio commentaries, etc
wink.gif
and the amount of content it can hold. Lastly, it has multi-channel capability, something I hear SACD will incorporating soon. SACD media retails for the same price as DVD-A media, but it offers nothing but 96/24 two-channel music, which is great, but will this format thrive simply off this with no multimedia content? We are talking about a market where the general public is up in arms over the $17.98-19.98 msrp of regular CD's. DVD-A has been accepted as a universal format (not to mention it already has some public notoriety because of the "DVD" logo), and nearly every manufacturer will be releasing their DVD-Video players DVD-A ready in the coming months, including Sony who developed SACD but doesn't seem to supportive of this format. Support for SACD appears scant (where's the media? I've seen a few at Tower Records), and I have already seen online retailers opening DVD-A sites next to their DVD-V sites. (DVD empire, Amazon, etc
wink.gif
. I could be wrong, but it just appears that DVD-audio is far more appealing to someone who wants a multimedia package than SACD, and I believe that this is why one will thrive and the other may sadly disappear (though the DSD technology will certainly remain around).
Reg
 

Eugene Hsieh

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ReggieW, I hope you have your flame retardant suit on because I said the same thing a few months ago and got chewed out for it.
But nonetheless, I agree with you. It's a great technology, but it seems to me it has not been marketed correctly. However, there is always hope. SACD multichannel will be out soon.
It will be interesting though to see when more titles are out for both. Right now I don't think anybody can truly rate the pure quality of one over the other since there is so little stuff out there, as I mentioned above. However, if the SACD is truly mixed better and more consistently good, the DVD-A types should be stimulated to get their assets in gear to do the same. Competition is always good.
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Eugene Hsieh, VisorCentral FAQ Editor
1000 km on a tank of gas??? Check out the Prius and drive the future now!
 

Philip Hamm

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I didn't start this as a DVD-A and SACD discussion. However, I suppose that's inevitable.
Like I said. They're both doomed as large scale formats. There is more available on SACD, and from what I've read it sounds better. Also, the audiophiles, the only people who care to buy this stuff, prefer SACD. I predict that DVD-A will go the way of DTS CDs and 96/24 DVD-Vs and enjoy a limited release schedule. SACD will, in comparison, thrive, with an audience similar to that of the audiophile CDs like MFSL and DCC. Just my personal opinion.
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Philip Hamm
AIM: PhilBiker
 

Eugene Hsieh

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OK, back on topic then... sorta.
wink.gif

I was wondering what the main differences between the Technics line and Panasonic lines were in terms of audio and video capabilities. I will keep my RP-91, but I would like to know for my own interest and because friends will be asking me now that I have the Panny. Can anyone point me in the right direction? (The Panasonic/Technics websites have minimal useful info.)
Also, I am still looking for better title listings of SACD and DVD-A. Again, can anyone point me in the right direction?
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Eugene Hsieh, VisorCentral FAQ Editor
1000 km on a tank of gas??? Check out the Prius and drive the future now!
 

James Q Jenkins

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I assume the video is the same. The audio section has a bunch of marketspeak gimmicks that may or may not make a difference. These are actually explained in many of the online reviews of the A10. Do a search for "DVD-A10" and you'll see many such reviews.
I've seen and held the Panasonic DVD-A7 and it weighs about 1/8 as much as the very heavy Technics. It also has a lot of plastic, particularly the faceplate, where the Technics has aluminum. The build quality on the Technics DVD-A10 feels much better than the Panasonic. Whether it really is or not is anybody's guess. I suspect not.
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-JQJ
 

David Judah

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I think SACD is generally better regarded, not because of any theoretical or practical advantage(both at their best have sufficient linearity and dynamic range to be considered high resolution and far superior to Redbook CD), but because of the way the formats have been marketed.
DVD-A, because it has DVD in its name, is being targeted for the mass market. Also, because it is also capable of playing DVD-V there will definitely be a bias against it amongst the audiophile community, who don't believe a DVD-V player is capable of high quality music playback(Sony 9000 ES excepted because it is more exotic and expensive).
SACD players, on the other hand, are stand alone music playback devices(again, the 9000 ES excepted), and until recently, have been stereo only(there is another bias against multi-channel music among the audio-centric).
Now the average DVD player isn't geared toward CD playback, but machines like the Technics DVD-A10 or the Panasonic RP-91 are in a different class. An "in the lab" test by Sound & Vision of the DVD-A10 revealed:
...when playing good old-fashioned CDs, the DVD-A10 was as close to perfect as I've seen. Noise performance with 16-bit signals was right at the theoretical limits, while the excess-noise figures with quasi-20-bit signals were very close to ideal...
They both have good quality transports and DACs, although admittedly, not in the same category as some expensive stand alone CD players(which I haven't seen reviewed by S&V).
All that said, I'm impressed with DVD-A and SACD and I hope they will both thrive in the marketplace. Some have suggested that we haven't yet heard these formats at their best because of a suggested up to 20% resolution loss due to the lack of a digital output, and in the case of DVD-A the loss of resolution due to watermarking(I haven't heard enough of the non-watermarked discs to form an opinion).
The record companies and the manufacturers really need to work out a solution so we can have the digital output and so that more releases will pour into the market.
DJ
 

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