Technics DVD-A10 DVD-Audio player Page 3

Re-Mastering is Technics' effort to maximize CD sound quality by upsampling. According to a graphic supplied by Technics, anything sampled at or above 88.2kHz, at whatever word length coming off a DVD, goes straight to the MASH DAC. However, 16-bit/48kHz material from DVD sources is routed through Re-Mastering DSP (digital signal processing) and upsampled to 24 bits and 96kHz. Data at 16/44.1, from DVDs or "Red Book" CDs, are Re-Mastered (upsampled) to 24/88.2. Bottom line: signals of 48kHz and below are always Re-Mastered. (You can turn Re-Mastering off, but you need a video monitor to do so. I used the DVD-A10 in its default setup mode.)

What exactly is Re-Mastering? Technics: "Re-Master Processing works by using DSP to create a high-range signal above 20kHz comprising a virtually natural harmonic structure and adding this to the originally recorded data on the disc, thereby extending effective frequency response into the ultra-high range. This means it is possible to enjoy superior sound quality even with current CDs."

Whew! "even with . . . " I love it.

"Re-Mastering works by generating musical harmonics based on the original signal. Gaussian dither, a kind of random variation, is added, then the result is filtered and fed through a Spectrum Harmonizer, controlled by a Spectrum Detector, before remixing with the music signal data. The result is a natural, musically appropriate extension of the spectrum of the original music. The output spectrum is continuous and there is no aliasing distortion. Digital Re-Master Processing can make CD reproduction nearly overtake DVD-Audio in terms of high-frequency response."

All other audiophile bases are covered. Capacitors are audiophile-grade TA-KE II types with Japanese bamboo in their conductors' separators! They're encapsulated in a three-layer anti-resonance case with an external spiral copper coil. Advanced Virtual Battery Operation is another "technic" for preventing high-frequency power-supply noise from degrading sound quality as the AC fluctuates. The circuit uses a capacitor to supply power to the MOSFET output devices. The DVD-A10 has one power supply for its digital/control/display circuitry and another (featuring an R-core transformer) for the audio circuits to avoid noise contamination.

And, finally, there are built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, if those be your bags. Man.

Setup and System
I took the same care in setting up the DVD-A10 as I would in preparing any component for review. I popped the player on a Black Diamond Racing The Shelf, supported on the top shelf of a PolyCrystal stand with a trio of Black Diamond Racing Pyramid Cones and Those Things squares. I even plunked a Shakti Stone atop the A10 to eliminate the small resonance I got with the ol' knuckle-rap test.

I took care in routing interconnects to the preamplifier: Cardas Neutral Reference ultimately did the trick, and at an appropriate price point too. I plugged the A10 into a PS Audio P300 Power Plant AC conditioner and also listened to it straight into the wall. Having used the Mark Levinson No.32 Reference and the ARC Reference Two preamplifiers, and pairs of the Krell 350 and Linn Klimax 500 monoblocks, plus the exotic Cary CAD-1610 monos, I'd say I took the A10's true performance measure. I also compared it to probably the best extant 16/44.1 throughput—the Linn CD12—as well as the Accuphase DP-100/DC-101 SACD/CD transport and upsampling DAC with SACD decoding, which has replaced the single-box DP-75V upsampler in our system. (The dCS upsampling gear was in Jolly Olde getting an upgrade.)

In my view, comparing the DVD-A10 with such high-priced front-ends is justified: SACD and DVD-Audio are being hyped as the high-resolution formats of the future. I've already made my feelings about SACD abundantly clear: I love it. For existing 16/44.1 media, however, I still prefer upsampling, especially as dCS and Accuphase do it. Because DVD-A is the format that would be king, I think it should be held up to the same scrutiny as the system it would dethrone.

Although I had only one "official" Warner Music sampler and one "unofficial" sampler, I also had a number of Chesky 24/96 recordings in both CD and Super Audio Disc (DVD-V) versions, plus a few Classic Records DADs (DVD-Vs). Those recordings I had in both CD and 24/96 DVD formats included: Dave's True Story, Sex Without Bodies (Chesky JD164/CHDVD174); Sara K., Hobo (Chesky JD155/CHDVD177); Sara K., No Cover (Chesky DD185/CHDVD195); The John Basile Quartet, The Desmond Project (Chesky JD156/CHDVD178); Chuck Mangione, The Feeling's Back (Chesky JD184/CHDVD194); Red Rodney, 1957 (Prevue/Classic CD PR 5/DAD 1003); and Art Davis, A Time Remembered (Jazz Planet/Classic JPCD-4001/DAD-1001).