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mapper94
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Future of Digital Source Components

Where does the audiophile community think our digital source components are heading?

LINN replaced their CD12, Ikemi, and Genki with ONE single play CD unit (Majik) yet offers THREE Unidisk based sources. LINN has always preached the importance of the source and have backed this up with some truely extraordinary products such as the CD12 and Unidisk 1.1 (on the analog side the Sondek LP12).

Due to real life compromises I have a combined 2 channel music/AV system comprised of high resolution components (Totem Mani-2, Simaudio P5 & W5, etc.). I am interested in acquiring a high end DVD & Red Book CD player but hesitate.

Is getting a universal player (i.e. LINN 2.1, MacCormack UDP-1) too much of a comprimise? I am not looking for state of the art source component(s) but would like to extract as much as possible off the DVDs and CDs and of course have this stuff reproduced with the spatial cues, nuances, melody, rhythm, etc. intact. I know the sound on DVDs are highly compressed but always feel that the source is important.

Should I wait until the high resolution music and video wars are over? Is it possible that both DVD-A and SACD may fail and in its place either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD end up serving as both the future digital music and video format? It would be suicide to make a future universal player not compatible with what most people already own. Hence a future universal player may well be a DVD/CD/Blu-Ray or HD-DVD unit?

tomjtx
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Try a slim devices Transporter, you might never play a CD again. The TP comes closest to the Ayre of any digital source I have heard for 1/3rd the price.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

If I wanted an all in one player, and was really ambivolent about SACD, the Classe CDP 202 would be hard to pass up. Read JA's review in the achives. If $6500 was in the budget I would certainly go for an audition.

mapper94
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Thanks to everyone for the food for thought.

Currently our entire collection is DVD and Red Book CD based (zero SACD, DVD-A, Blu-Ray, etc., not even a single HDCD encoded disc). The budget ranges from a LINN Majik CD player to the LINN 2.1 Unidisk. LINN is used as an example only as I am willing to consider other brands.

This upgrade must be a SIGNIFICANT jump from my existing Arcam Delta 70.2 (CD) and Rotel RDV 1080 (DVD) pair. Sound wise I would like a detailed yet smooth top, a full and liquid mid range, and deep yet controlled bass. Again the emotion of the actual music must also be preserved i.e. melody, rhythm. Picture wise more detail i.e. the ability to see into dark shadow areas. I am also uncertain what the benefits are of better video chipsets (i.e. Faroudja)?

The display is a 50" Panasonic plasma with a native resolution of 1024 X 768, HDMI connection but not supported by current DVD player. Room acoustics wise is currently very good and no detail has been overlooked i.e. power cables, spikes and stands, balanced operation. I am happy with the current setup but I know that a superior source will benefit this setup immensely.

The concerns are how much of a compromise will a universal player be (does everything but nothing well is not acceptable) and should I just wait another year or so to see where the format wars take us (the bleeding edge is painful)? It is near impossible to future proof a purchase but where do audiophiles think we are heading?

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Tishiba HD DVD
Sony
Pioneer BlueRay

I think the window is closing that there will ever be an all in one player for every format that will do all formats the best. Some who are lucky enough will have a great combo CD/DVD player, an HD DVD player, and a BlueRay player as a PS3 or a stand alone player/recorder.

Whether people are going to agonize over HD DVD at 1080I or BlueRay at 1080P will depend upon what format the movies they want to see come out in. If Sony ever gets its act together with the PS3 that should give BlueRay a huge boost. That has yet to be seen. Rumor has it that Sony lost a major game supplier to the competition. With a lack of machines the point is moot for now. There is a great review of the PS3 in a Stereophile sister publication. Check it out. Ultimate AV

What I think might happen is that many will land on the $1K Sony BlueRay player as their main player for most discs(not cd), quality be damned. Remember, concenience is driving the audio market, not sound quality, You are the exception, not the rule. For many the Sony BlueRay player may be all they really want. Lets hope the software does not go the way of the SACD.

mapper94
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

I think I saw in print somewhere that audiophiles make up approximately 1% of the population. It is true that new formats are rarely created to satisfy the minority's desire for sound quality. The first generation of CD players sounded hideous (shrill top end, no depth, little bass). Come to think of it the majority of CD players (mid-fi units) still sound hideous but the drive to make it cheaper and cheaper will simply make things worse. Sony deserves to go bankrupt...

CECE
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Aony is fading, Philips invented teh CD, they brought it to sony, cus' Matsuhita didn't want to get involved with it, (what a bunch of dopes) so sony got the sharing of patents with Philips. Cheaper and better and better, go look at what $5K got you 5 eyars ago, stuff now smokes it, they is obsolete. DVD recorders now under $300. Philips invented teh one chip DVD recorer to bring prices down and they did, so it's now a mass product. Remeber teh original VHS decks for $1000!!! Junk todays DVD decks are $70..and are better than anything on teh consumer level 10 years ago. Always gets cheaper and better. Do you think you would have DAC for under $1000 like teh Benchmark if progress wouldn't be done in chips, AVA Ultra DAC with chips, tubes swell under $2K? 10 years ago they where $50K !!! Cheaper is always better. Still recording audio on VHS tapes for better fidelity?

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Mapper, "Sony deserves to go bankrupt... "

I understand your sentiment, but Sony going bankrupt solves nothing.

What I find amazing is that you have a room full of college educated people, marketing and engineering, who for decades now just do not get what consumers really want. And, when they do get it right (PS3) they can't deliver what they hype and promise. What could have been a huge boost in BluRay disc sales following PS3 sales could not happen for lack of players.

For me, my 12 year old son, Nick, wanted one, which would have forced me to buy some high def TV, probably a 30-32" Sony Brevia LCD, which did not happen because there were no PS3s.

I look at the IPod and it should have had Sony written all over it. Instead, Sony just keeps pumping out Mini Disc players, $35 Discmans, and urges you to buy a Vio. They give up on HD Plasma TV. Seem to lose intertest in SACD when the potential could still realize some decent profits. Marantz still tries to support SACD with a number of good to great players. I think Denon has more SACD player models than Sony does.

It makes me wonder if again Sony supporting BlueRay sounds the next deathnell of innovation, ie Betamax. We'll just have to watch the movie studios and see which camp does what HD format. The winner is........?

mapper94
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Jim,

When I was in university I wish I had the money for a Sony XBR 36" television with progressive out. The flat screen and picture quality amazed me. Now that I can afford to buy luxury goods, NOTHING in the Sony stable even remotely interest me.

Samsung pushed ahead with DLP, LCD, and plasma displays while Sony sat around on the sidelines getting fat. First Sony gave up on plasmas then they introduced the BRAVIA line of LCDs. I think Sony actually buys their flat screens from other manufacturers (zero risk to not invest in own plants)? Has a single Sony executive actually taken one of those units home and watched something on it? They leave quite a bit to be desired contrast wise, colour rendition wise, etc. Compare this to Panasonic's breathtaking contrast and black levels that set the industry standard. Their 65" plasma unit is now on my wish list.

On the other had LINN was given access to Sony's resources to help produce the guts for their Unidisk units. Overall though it is time for Sony to get their act together, they only have so much cash reserves to burn through.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

It is my understanding that LG was near the larget supplier of plasma glass on the planet to most users under many brand names.

I do like the Samsung DLP sets it is truly amazing quality for much les than plasma...and repairable. Philips seems to be making some effort on LCD, but my concern with Panasonic is their desire to not go full 1080P on their product. Even their STD Def sets gave Sony a run. My son, Scott, a manager for Magnolia/Best Buy is a huge Panasonic fan.

I have an XBR Sony and am pleased for STD Def. For as much TV as I watch it is fine.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components


Quote:
On the other had LINN was given access to Sony's resources to help produce the guts for their Unidisk units.

Hardly, given. I recall the Linn folks rolling their eyes about the upfront licensing costs.

Kal

mapper94
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Jim,

The new 65" Panasonic plasma is supposed to have a native resolution of 1080p. I think the larger the display the more an excellent source will be visibly noticeable (more detail, less artifacts to remind you this is not film, etc.).

The majority of the population has CRT sets with a diagonal screen size less than 36". This sort of calls into question whether a HD source such as Blu-Ray can actually survive in the marketplace. Look what happened to the LaserDisk. We may have already reached the point where the consumer says enough is enough we do not need yet another version of Star Wars (VHS regular edition, limited edition, DVD regular edition, director's cut, ...).

On the music side people seem to accept MP3 files in which over 90% of the original data has been discarded. If the majority of the population can accept this trash as a music source then can a HD music source such as SACD survive? The music file is the source, if it is of such limited resolution why bother with anything better than mid-fi components. Heck using a $29 made in China unit will make little difference, who wants to hear in all its glory the limitations of the music file?

mapper94
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Kal,

There goes my hope of more economical universal players (with the Unidisk engine). I thought I read somewhere that in exchange for the rights to access Sony's resources Sony would in turn have the right to license LINN's Unidisk engine.

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components


Quote:
Kal,

There goes my hope of more economical universal players (with the Unidisk engine). I thought I read somewhere that in exchange for the rights to access Sony's resources Sony would in turn have the right to license LINN's Unidisk engine.

That's still possible although, in this day and age, unlikely. Linn bit the bullet for the Unidisk and, presumably, has amortized those costs by now.

Kal

commsysman
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

The AYRE C5xe has transformed my system! The sound is so close to live to with ALL kinds of music (piano, vocal, chamber music, orchestra, organ...) that I am quite sure I will never need to upgrade; it is nirvana.

If you have $6000 to spend, you will never regret buying one.

mapper94
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

commsysman,

Thank-you for the input. Sadly enough before tomjtx made reference to Ayre I never heard of the brand before. I will have to try to audition Ayre along with Wadia, LINN, Simaudio, McCormack, Conrad-Johnson, Classe, Mark Levinson, Krell, else?

I am sure there are other audiophiles out there who are also videophiles. Is getting a single do it all unit worth the compromise or will sticking to separate video and audio sources be the best way forward? If the separate route is best what are some truely extraordinary high end DVD players audiophiles actually own? Besides better resolution i.e. details in the shadow areas, what are other benefits of high end video sources?

For both high end video and audio sources I am searching for true bargains in that the unit can compete favourably with units costing much more i.e. Simaudio Moon W5 and Totem Mani-2 Signatures.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

I understand. The gentleman who sits next to me in choir said he needed to get a new CD player ( my chance to tell him all I know!!! LOL) and he continues that he bought a carousel cd changer. I asked him what brand he bought, like it really mattered, and he said he did not know, but it cost $39 on sale at WalMart. Whoopeee!

So much for my sphere of influence!!!

mapper94
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Jim,

I imagine that very few people have ever heard a hi-fi system. For the price of sonically challenged rack system it is possible to acquire components which can at least begin to convey the emotional aspects of music. Rotel and Cambridge are just two of many companies who can produce components that are economical yet musically satisfying. Enough so that there is a desire to hear more, the audio bug latches on.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Can he read music, Jim, or does he just mimic you guys around him ? Can he sing on key? Given what he listens to at home, why is he in the choir?

Which raises the question whether Christian charity would dictate that you tolerate a really bad singer in the choir just because that is the way he wants to express his religious convictions?

ROLO46
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

Perfection can never be attained.
If it was we would have to destroy it.
Ignore the format wars they will burnout soon.
Buy a I-Mac dual core , use that as a audio/ video source
and replace in 3yrs time.
Beat the system.
Roger

mapper94
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Re: Future of Digital Source Components

SACD and DVD-A seems to be on their deathbeds and it is questionable as to whether Blu-Ray or HD-DVD can even survive. On one side the studios are reluctant to have the equivalent of their master copies floating around while the majority of the consumers have no need for anything better than DVD. As Bill Gates have preached for years the computer seems to becoming the centre of our multimedia experience i.e. witness the power of the new gaming machines.

I have decided to stay with a traditional two channel stereo format anchored by stand-alone high end components. I truely believe a two channel based AV / music system can exist with little compromise. A good system which can reproduce the power of a full orchestra will have no difficulties reproducing movie explosions. The bottom line is it will sound supremely better than any highly compromised Theatre In A Box.

I decided I want a universal player (regular DVD and Red Book CD) but with little compromise between sound and picture quality. The two finalist are the LINN UniDisk 1.1 and two DVD oriented players from Classe (CDP-300 & CDP-502). The LINN despite the fact it has been around for almost four years is still a sonic tour de force but lacks 1080p upconversion, lacks HDMI and is very expensive. Both the Classe units have progressive output and the soon to be released 502 has the audio section from the 202. Overall I find Simaudio sources to be very dynamic with the Classe units to be more laid back while the LINN is in between. I am eagerly awaiting an audition of the 502 as it may be a sonic bargain.

As DUP noted some price drops have benefitted the audiophile / videophile i.e. the line doublers built into some of the name brand plasmas are better than some very costly units from years ago. Does it matter whether the source or the video display does the upconversion to 1080p? Also does anyone here own the Classe CDP-300?, if so please comment on long term observations of the video and audio sides.

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