Preparing to Pull Trigger on 555ES

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lin Park, Nov 20, 2002.

  1. Lin Park

    Lin Park Second Unit

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    Just wanted to check back and make sure there is nothing out there currently (or in the next few months) that competes in this price range. Looks like about $600 shipped and will be mating it with the following:

    Denon 2700 (or Audio Research SP16 if Santa comes through)
    Panasonic RP-91
    QuickSilver V4's
    Vandersteen Model Fives
    AudioQuest Interconnects and Speaker Wire

    Are there any other options for me that provide good redbook CD playback and multi-channel SACD? I'll mostly be using it for 2 channel with the occasional 5.1 suare (sp?).

    Oh, and can someone explain the discussions going on about DSD to PCM conversion and IF it relates to the 555ES?

    Thanx,
    Lin
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Lin, for $600, the 'C555ES is your best bet as far as SACD players go. It is the real deal. [​IMG]
    Regarding DSD-to-PCM conversions, there has been a concern whether non-Sony and non-Philips SACD players convert the DSD bitstream to PCM before converting to analog. Sony and Philips, of course, co-invented the SACD format, so other hardware manufacturers must pay royalties to utilize the technology to its fullest, meaning to do straight DSD decoding. This might cause some manufacturers to use a PCM DAC.
    The first-generation Pioneer DV-AX10 universal player (DVD-Audio and SACD) converts DSD to PCM. In addition, the first-generation Accuphase two-box SACD system supposedly converts DSD to PCM. This has been a lingering concern with many other SACD players, but it is not considered to be a commonly encountered problem. The exception is bass management. At present, there is no way to perform bass management (bass redirection, time alignment) in the DSD domain. As a result, the DSD bitstream must be converted to PCM. All SACD players, including those from Sony and Philips, do a DSD-to-PCM conversion to perform bass management. I have read here that the process often involves conversion to 32-bit/384-MHz PCM. Perhaps others can confirm this.
    For the 'C555ES specifically, DSD-to-PCM conversion only occurs when bass management is applied. Does this adversely affect the sound quality? Perhaps. However, since bass management cannot be performed in the DSD domain, we cannot say for sure. However, an alternative is to pair the 'C555ES with a pre-pro or home-theater receiver that can perform analog bass management. One could also use an Outlaw ICBM. Then, you could shut off bass management on the 'C555ES and have the pre-pro or receiver handle bass management. I would be interested to compare bass management in the 'C555ES to analog bass management on an external unit. Some external devices will allow you to adjust the crossover frequency, which the 'C555ES does not allow. So, analog bass management might be a better way to go.
     
  3. Dan Joy

    Dan Joy Supporting Actor

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    Keith,
     
  4. BeatCrazy

    BeatCrazy Stunt Coordinator

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    Keith,

     
  5. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Dan, the 'C222ES handles bass management the same way as the 'C555ES. Bass management is handled in the PCM domain.

    I too have heard that the 'C555ES is disappearing. Apparently Oade Bros. no longer has it.
     
  6. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    Keith said:
     
  7. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    As a new owner of the 'C222ES, I'm curious as to the best setup for multi-channel. Since my centre and surrounds are not full range, I have them set to "Small," with the mains at "Large" and "Subwoofer = Yes." I don't have a SPL meter yet, so I've set the balances by ear.

    Dan,

    Since you prefer Direct, are your surrounds full range?

    Keith, Sam, Jagan (and others with the 222ES or 555ES),

    What settings do you use?
     
  8. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    How come I keep reading that bass management cannot be performed in the DSD domain? I keep hearing that there is no way to do it at present. Can someone please set this straight?

    Chris,

    I have small speakers, but I use the direct mode since I don't want to introduce extra processing. Thus far, I am happy with the sound overall. My primary complaint with multi-channel mixes is the often gimmicky use of surrounds, which bass management does not address.
     
  9. Dan Stone

    Dan Stone Stunt Coordinator

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  10. BeatCrazy

    BeatCrazy Stunt Coordinator

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    Guys,
    Burr-Brown chip diagrams can be found here.
    Plus, Sony clearly states in the owner's manual of these players that bass mgmt is handled by a DSD LSI. The more I think about it, this DSD LSI actually might come after the BB1738.
    Another edit to my post:
    I'm sure many of you know and respect Mr. John Kotches author of Secrets of Home Theater (you know, DVD Shootout?). He knows the innards of audio gear like few others. Here's a quote from him regarding this DSD BM subject. DSD bass management
     
  11. BeatCrazy

    BeatCrazy Stunt Coordinator

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    Some clarification on my earlier post;
    For the Sony DVPNS999ES, time delay is performed in DSD by Sony's CXD9722 chipset. The following is from Sony literature for the DVPNS999ES:
     
  12. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Sam, thanks. As I said, there has been a lot of talk around saying that bass management, including time alignment, could not be done in the DSD domain. I wouldn't have thought that Sony, which is championing DSD technology, would actually do a conversion to PCM for bass management, but that's what I had read was required. In any event, it would not surprise me if universal players performed all bass management in the PCM domain so that common circuitry could be used for SACD and DVD-Audio. I also wonder what sort of licensing fee Sony would charge for its proprietary DSD bass management circuitry.
     
  13. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    ChrisAG,
    I do not own an SACD player yet (gasps all around) [​IMG]. I am waiting for a universal player with bass management. Hope you get your 222ES working the way you like it!
    -JNS
     
  14. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Jagan said:
     
  15. Todd Schnell

    Todd Schnell Second Unit

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    Linn did you find any internet dealers with the 555ES in stock?
    I made a few calls yesterday, & all dealers I tried were out of stock, but expecting more units in early December.

    I'm also strongly considering the 555ES.
    What I'm wondering is, does the 555ES still make sense if I don't have a need for SACD?
    The SACD titles I may want are very few if any at all.
    The SACD format itself is promising though!

    At the $600 price range the build quality on this piece is excellent!
    It also appears it is a quality red-book player.
    Is there a better red-book player in this price range?

    I'm using a Denon 5803, & finally have the funds in my budget to upgrade my cd player.

    Thanks for any input on this matter.

    Todd
     
  16. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Todd, I think you will be hard pressed to find a better CD player for $600 than the 'C555ES. It is an excellent player. That said, there are differences to be heard among players, so you need to determine if the sonic character of the 'C555ES is to your liking. I find the 'C555ES to be a very detailed player, but it is not harsh or lacking in emotion. The 'C555ES has excellent rhythm, pace, drive, etc. Simply put, it is a great player. [​IMG]
     
  17. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    Todd,

    I purchased the 222ES primarily because I wanted a good CD changer. The 555ES is reportedly even better. I believe that at their introduction, each of these models were slightly overpriced ($800 and $1700 US, respectively), due to the novelty of incorporating the fairly new technology of multi-channel SACD. IMO, the first price cut to the 555ES, to $1200, made it an attractive buy (the current retail price is only $800). The same can now be said of the 222ES, at $500 retail. Since both of these players can be purchased online for substantially less than retail, they are now excellent deals, even if you were to use them only as CD players.
     
  18. Lin Park

    Lin Park Second Unit

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    Todd,

    I ran into the same thing you did with the exception of one source I'd rather not reveal at this point because it might cause me to lose my chance at getting one. Based on my conversations with people, I'd be very surprised if anyone gets there supply in early December, or ever for that matter. Sorry I couldn't be of more help and good luck with your search.

    Lin
     
  19. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Brick-and-mortar stores like Tweeter, The Good Guys, and other ES dealers may still have the 'C555ES. The downside, of course, is that you would probably have to pay full retail, which is $800. That might be better than not having one, though. [​IMG]
     
  20. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I'm still not certain whether the C555ES has been discontinued, despite the fact that I purchased the (supposed) last unit that Oade Bros. had on Friday. Again, we've heard rumors of its demise before - all exaggerated, as it happens - but given that there are no announcements for new SACD/CD-only models of this quality at this price and given that the C555ES stock seems to be drying up everywhere, I was finally compelled to pry open my wallet.
    I only got the C555ES yesterday, and only had a chance to hear the multi-Kind of Blue and Look of Love SACDS last night. Except for a brief listen to the CD layer of Look of Love, I haven't given the C555ES a redbook workout. But the SACD... oh my, the SACD! [​IMG]
    I'm still not convinced that electronics like this require a break-in period, but I've been advised that they do and particularly so for the ES-series Sonys. But right out of the box, SACD is giving my ears a whole new dimension of sound. I'm very familiar with the remastered CD of "Kind of Blue", and the SACD provides a wonderfully faithful reproduction of the original mix in multichannel, while vastly expanding and deepening the soundstage and giving every instrument a far more natural timbre. While Look of Love is probably closer to a reference recording, I actually preferred the sound of the piano on Kind of Blue... those first slow, descending notes of the piano solo in Flamenco Sketches always sends a little shiver up my spine, but my whole body got goose-pimply upon hearing the SACD.
    A quick question about setup: should I start with the notion that each channel should be set to output at the same SPL level, as with DVD calibration? Or is there a decided preference among listeners for de-emphasizing the center channel in favor of the two mains? Or was I reading reviews where folks had unmatching center speakers, and thus de-emphasis of same was simply due to a lack of optimal equipment? Finally, while I don't find the 120Hz crossover to be grossly sub-optimal (I have center and surrounds crossed-over), how many of you have the Outlaw ICBM and how much of an improvement did you achieve with it? My wife is considering holiday gifts, and the ICBM is well up the list for me... [​IMG]
     

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