Preliminary Thoughts - Newcastle SD-860 Universal Player

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Dan Driscoll, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

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    The unit is noticably bigger than my RP-91 (think Denon DVD-2900 size) and well constructed, but is light, only 11 pounds. The front panel looks good and has a nice, logical lay-out. The buttons are small and bullet shaped, but protrude out far enough that they are easy to operate. The well known Newcastle titanium finish works with both silver and black components.

    Set-up and operation are logical and straight forward. Most experienced users will be able to configure the player without needing to read the manual, but read it anyway. Time alignment and bass management are applied to both DVD-Audio and SACD. Crossover settings range from 70-160 hertz, in 10 hertz steps and are applied globally to all speakers set as SMALL. Speaker distance and level settings are available individually for all 6 channels.

    I have only watched a couple of movies (Serenity & The Great Raid), but video performance looks pretty good so far. I would rate the PQ as somewhat better than my Panny RP-91 with film sourced material. I have not watched any video sourced material yet. The make and model of the deinterlacer and MPEG decoder chips in the SD-860 are not known. I did receive a request to open my unit and check, but I declined. I have a fondness for warranties. [​IMG]

    The main reason I got this player was for audio, especially SACD and DVD-A. DVD-A on the SD-860 is definitely better than on the RP-91. The SD-860 has better resolution, detail and frequency response than the RP-91, IMO. FYI, I only compared hi-rez stereo DVD-A (Alan Parsons' I, Robot on HDAD and The Corrs, In Blue), I didn't have MC set-up with the RP-91. FWIW, CD sound quality is acceptable, but my Carver SD/A-360 is noticably better.

    I did not have an SACD player before this, so I can't comment on relative merits. However, stereo SACD doesn't seem to be a big improvement over well recorded CD albums. The difference between Elton John's re-mastered early CD's and the stereo SACDs is relatively minor, IMO. OTOH, multi-channel SACD is considerably different. Unfortunately, I can't compare it to CD, because the MC-SACD tracks on most of the disks I have are not the same mixes as the CD tracks. A lot of material and in some cases, time, has been added, at least on the early Elton John albums the were released on SACD last year. The MC-SACD mix of Razor Face (off Madman Across the Water) is almost 90 seconds longer than the stereo CD and SACD mixes. The same is true for a lot of the tracks on the DVD-A release of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, so this is not exclusively an SACD issue.

    Equipment used: Sherwood-Newcastle SD-860 universal player; Rotel RC-1070 preamp; Yamaha RX-V596 receiver/pre-pro; Carver SD/A-360 CDC; Sherbourn 5/1500A power amplifier, Vandersteen Model 2C mains, VCC-1 center, Paradigm ADP-370 surrounds, no sub, Pioneer SD-533HD5 RPTV, Outlaw Audio PCA and MAS Silver audio interconnects, Rhino Cables component video cables, Monster HTS-2500 Power Center.
     
  2. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    I'll try and find out which decoding chip they're using while I'm at CES this week as I have to meet with Sherwood anyway.
     
  3. Hartwig Hanser

    Hartwig Hanser Second Unit

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    Andrew, do you know now the chip?

    Hartwig
     
  4. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    No.
     
  5. scott>c

    scott>c Second Unit

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    I bought the the 860 off Andrew and this player is really nice. Looks sharp, plays and sounds great. Thanx Andrew
     
  6. scott>c

    scott>c Second Unit

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    I bought the the 860 off Andrew and this player is really nice. Looks sharp, plays and sounds great. Thanx Andrew
     
  7. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    No problem Scott.
     
  8. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    FYI it seems to be using the ESS Vibratto chipset.
     
  9. Hartwig Hanser

    Hartwig Hanser Second Unit

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    Never heard of this chip. Do you know anything about it? how about tolerance of wrong flags? macroblocking? chroma upsampling?

    Hartwig
     
  10. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

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    Assuming it's the same chipset used in some players tested by Secrets, are they using the Vibratto for de-interlacing, as an MPEG decoder or both? According to the DVD Benchmark, as a de-interlacer the chip is a flag reader and does well enough on film based material, not so good on video sourced material and doesn't handle bad flags well at all.

    As an MPEG decoder it has a good history, it was used in the Denon 5900.

    However, the Vibratto II chipset used in the 5900 is fairly old, it's likely the chipset in the SD-860 is at least a newer version or even a completely redesigned chipset.
     
  11. Hartwig Hanser

    Hartwig Hanser Second Unit

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    I asked around and heard from a dealer, that it is indeed a flag reader and therefore by far inferior to others like the Denon 1920.
    I currently use a flagreading player (neuneo 2085), which produces an excellent picture with correct DVDs, but shows horrible steps in diagonal lines on several DVds. I want to avoid this in the future and therefore will abstain from this player.
     

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