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post #541 of 1442 Old 02-20-2010, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

No. Such an HDMI digital transport would make the six shooter obsolete and be of interest to anyone owning a high end SSP that is now getting sub standard audio over HDMI. You are already targeting this market with your DX-5, but you are forcing them to buy all the 2 channel analog stuff in the same package. What I am suggesting is stripping out the DACs and analog section, optimizing DSD to PCM conversion and marketing it as the ultimate digital transport (for less than the 10K of the version which includes the 2 channel analog section). If Marantz, Denon and McIntosh and Krell are all marketing expensive Universal players with expensive MC analog sections - presumably to be used over the analog bypass in high end processors - there has to be a market for a digital transport that gets you the same or better audio using HDMI at lower cost.

This is only true if the customer never listens to music.

But there is no HDMI D/A converter on the planet that sounds even half as good as the analog outputs of the DX-5.

So if the customer only wants it for movies, that is a great plan. For years we have all been listening to 5.1 channels of low-bit-rate MP3, and it has been just fine. The visuals make the sound quality less important for watching movies.

Until someone makes an SSP with Audio Rate Control, discrete analog circuitry, and volume controls at least as good as our $3500 preamp (FET switches and metal film resistors), then anybody who listens to music even once in a while shouldn't mind spending a couple of thousand dollars extra for great music playback.

And they will be still be saving money. To make an SSP with the features noted above would probably cost $25,000 or more. Why spend that much money to get eight channels of incredible sound when eight channels of pretty good sound is all you need for movies? Then you can save your money for where it counts -- those two channels of music playback.

Maybe we will build a "transport" version someday. But only when someone (I guess it will be up to us, as nobody else seems to be willing...) offers a video switcher/scaler that offers galvanically isolated audio outputs and an SSP with the above features. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Until then, the optimal solution for someone who wants multi-channel and listens to music is to get a good two-channel preamp with processor-passthrough and the DX-5.
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post #542 of 1442 Old 02-21-2010, 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by tngiloy View Post

Peter,
The last time I talked with you on the D2 thread you had just committed to buying the Ayre KX-R for your music only system.
I have no doubt that using an Ayre optical disc player to an Ayre pre-amp and then to a pair of full range speakers would be the best solution.
This solution would not only involve buying a stereo pre-amp, but full range speakers. This is financially impossible.

My front speakers are Paradigm S4's and I am able to use them with my SVS subs to virtually create full range fronts by employing the bass management in the Anthem D2. Although not optimal it is, to my ears, very good. Using the banaced analog outs from my CX-7eMP through the Anthem 'analog dsp' for bass management to my fronts/subs is very good. Not optimal, but the best I can get within the restraints of my budget.

When I last talked with you I was using a Bryston bdp1 cd player. I soon after upgraded to an Ayre CX7-e. That was a great decision. The Bryston was great. The CX-7e was better.
I then got the MP upgrade to my Ayre. That made it even better. (BTW- is your CX-5e an MP? If not I recommend it. WOW!)

In an earlier post Mr Hansen claims that the DX-5 will offer an 'appeciable sonic improvement' over the CX-7eMP. Since I spend as much time listening to music as watching movies an improvement in cd sound reproduction is important to me.
I would be be interested in getting better audio and going from WOW! to what I would have to assume is, :.

Even though $10K is not cheap, the fact that the DX-5 would play BR,DVD, SACD, etc., plus be able to be hooked up to a computer as a high quality music server,in addition to being a better cdp, puts it on my wish list.

But for the DX-5 to be a consideration to me it must be able to be used at its highest level of audio/video output with my Anthem D2.
It seems that it can. If, after its release, it is reported by other SSP users that it does function well, with both the 'audio only' HDMI port and the balanced analog outs hooked up at the same time, then it is offically on my wish list.

Tom

Cheers Tom, it's been awhile, good to hear of your upgrade to the CX-7.

Yes, I have the C-5xe with MP upgrade. I agree with what Charles says about the sonic improvment moving from the CX-7 to a DX-5. I say that because my dealer hooked up a CX-7 in my system first, which I thought was great, and then he hooked up a C-5xe. Even with standard XLR interconnects the quality boost was noticeably significant. I was immediately wowed. So if Charles says the DX-5 is sonically similar if not slightly superior to the C-5xeMP given they're both on the same chassis with similar audio components, then I would recommend the upgrade to the DX-5 given the total A/V solution that it offers. In fact, I would do this upgrade myself, but it would only be an incremental upgrade given my current kit, I'd rather wait to see what Ayre has coming later in the R series.

I'm sure a DX-5 running through the D2 will be excellent, but just keep the two channel preamp option open as a downstream upgrade path.

By the way, off topic, but I've upgraded my main speakers to the new Avalon Time. Now THAT was a significant boost to audio quality
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post #543 of 1442 Old 02-21-2010, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by uppacreek View Post

Cheers Tom, it's been awhile, good to hear of your upgrade to the CX-7.

Yes, I have the C-5xe with MP upgrade. I agree with what Charles says about the sonic improvment moving from the CX-7 to a DX-5. I say that because my dealer hooked up a CX-7 in my system first, which I thought was great, and then he hooked up a C-5xe. Even with standard XLR interconnects the quality boost was noticeably significant. I was immediately wowed. So if Charles says the DX-5 is sonically similar if not slightly superior to the C-5xeMP given they're both on the same chassis with similar audio components, then I would recommend the upgrade to the DX-5 given the total A/V solution that it offers. In fact, I would do this upgrade myself, but it would only be an incremental upgrade given my current kit, I'd rather wait to see what Ayre has coming later in the R series.

I'm sure a DX-5 running through the D2 will be excellent, but just keep the two channel preamp option open as a downstream upgrade path.

By the way, off topic, but I've upgraded my main speakers to the new Avalon Time. Now THAT was a significant boost to audio quality

The DX-5 is potentially on my wish list.

A pair of Avalon speakers and a KX-R preamp are on my dream list.

Excuse me while I check my PowerBall numbers...

Tom

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post #544 of 1442 Old 02-21-2010, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by tngiloy View Post

The DX-5 is potentially on my wish list.

A pair of Avalon speakers and a KX-R preamp are on my dream list.

Excuse me while I check my PowerBall numbers...

Tom

Wait a minute you two, I'm blaming both of you plus Charles especially for me wanting this unit now.When I started to change my system I was just going to buy the Classe SSP-800 (been there done that) and also send my CX-7e back to Ayre for the MP mod and be done with it! I did not need to read in this thread and by you, uppacreek confirming it that there 's a improvement from my CX-7e to the DX-5!
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post #545 of 1442 Old 02-21-2010, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

This is only true if the customer never listens to music.

But there is no HDMI D/A converter on the planet that sounds even half as good as the analog outputs of the DX-5.

So if the customer only wants it for movies, that is a great plan. For years we have all been listening to 5.1 channels of low-bit-rate MP3, and it has been just fine. The visuals make the sound quality less important for watching movies.

Until someone makes an SSP with Audio Rate Control, discrete analog circuitry, and volume controls at least as good as our $3500 preamp (FET switches and metal film resistors), then anybody who listens to music even once in a while shouldn't mind spending a couple of thousand dollars extra for great music playback.

And they will be still be saving money. To make an SSP with the features noted above would probably cost $25,000 or more. Why spend that much money to get eight channels of incredible sound when eight channels of pretty good sound is all you need for movies? Then you can save your money for where it counts -- those two channels of music playback.

Maybe we will build a "transport" version someday. But only when someone (I guess it will be up to us, as nobody else seems to be willing...) offers a video switcher/scaler that offers galvanically isolated audio outputs and an SSP with the above features. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Until then, the optimal solution for someone who wants multi-channel and listens to music is to get a good two-channel preamp with processor-passthrough and the DX-5.

It appears you equate listening to music with listening to 2 channel. There are in fact many music audiophiles that are into multi channel music (admittedly deeply frustrated by the lack of available content). I would argue that if McIntosh, Marantz, Krell are releasing very expensive universal players there has to be people interested in getting the best possible MC audio either for Movie soundtrack or music. Also, the 25K SSP is already there (Meridian 861 v6), soon there will be a second one (Theta). These SSPs may not have all the features that are needed to get MC audio up to 2 channel standards, but they confirm there is market for the cost no object MC audio playback.

The issue/opportunity I see is that most of the high end universals (in the 6K - 14K range), will have 4K-8K worth of DACs and analog circuitry build in, and in most MC/HT setups end up being used stricktly as a digital transport - a huge waste. To add insult to injury, none of these expensive pieces are likely to sound any better over HDMI than a $500 Oppo. In fact, for SACD the Marantz and probably McIntosh will sound worse than the Oppo over HDMI because they are converting DSD at 44/16. This creates an opportunity for a HDMI digital transport in the $3 - $5 range, that actually improves SQ over HDMI.

If you strip the DACs and analog section out of your player you have just such a product. Also, the first SSP manufacturer to implement ARC will have a competitive advantage when used in conjunction with your transport, which is a big inventive for them to do so. Of course, Theta should have implemented something like ARC themselves in their Compli BR and CBIII HDMI architecture, but apparently they did not have the engineering resources to do so.
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post #546 of 1442 Old 02-22-2010, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

It appears you equate listening to music with listening to 2 channel.

Yes.

For better or worse, that is where 99.99% of the content is.

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There are in fact many music audiophiles that are into multi channel music (admittedly deeply frustrated by the lack of available content).

I don't see the source of your frustration going away anytime soon. Multi-channel SACD producers are phasing them out. There are a handful of Blu-Ray concert discs in multi-channel, but these will also remain a niche format with very few titles available.

By far the biggest trend at the moment is to computer audio. There is essentially zero interest and/or capability for multi-channel audio in this arena.

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These SSPs may not have all the features that are needed to get MC audio up to 2 channel standards, but they confirm there is market for the cost no object MC audio playback.

When you say "cost no object", do you really mean that?

We make a wonderful preamplifier, the KX-R that can be slaved together to create as many channels as desired. Each stereo unit sells for $18,500 in the US (more overseas). One of the other posters in this thread has one and likes it very much, I believe.

If cost is truly no object, then 4 of these could be slaved together for a state-of-the art multi-channel preamp for a mere $74,000. However, I suspect that you don't really mean "cost no object". One excellent choice would be to purchase four of these:

http://www.placetteaudio.com/passive_line.htm

for a mere $1,700 each for a grand total of $6,800. Another poster earlier in this thread had eight of the single-input mono versions and was quite pleased.

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To add insult to injury, none of these expensive pieces are likely to sound any better over HDMI than a $500 Oppo.

Yes, but where does the blame lay? I say with the SSP's that butcher the incoming analog signal in countless ways.

And how good will the HDMI connection actually sound? HDMI has far worse jitter than S/PDIF. We have never made a DAC with S/PDIF because it is a flawed format that inevitably degrades the sound quality of the signal. You can read more about this topic in this white paper:

http://www.ayre.com/pdf/Ayre_USB_DAC_White_Paper.pdf

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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

If you strip the DACs and analog section out of your player you have just such a product. Also, the first SSP manufacturer to implement ARC will have a competitive advantage when used in conjunction with your transport, which is a big incentive for them to do so.

Until such an SSP exists, the only way to get truly high performance music reproduction is to use the analog outputs of the DX-5 (or other single-box player) into a stereo preamp that has a processor passthrough mode. This will serve 99.99% of all music available today.

If you truly want high performance multi-channel sound, at the present time you will need to split your audio and video disc players. The EMM Labs is probably the best sounding multi-channel source. It is close to $20,000 and of course has no video capabilities. And then you will need to spend another bag of money (somewhere between $7,000 and $70,000) for an eight-channel analog preamp).

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Of course, Theta should have implemented something like ARC themselves in their Compli BR and CBIII HDMI architecture, but apparently they did not have the engineering resources to do so.

I must admit that I was puzzled over that oversight.
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post #547 of 1442 Old 02-22-2010, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

And how good will the HDMI connection actually sound? HDMI has far worse jitter than S/PDIF. We have never made a DAC with S/PDIF because it is a flawed format that inevitably degrades the sound quality of the signal.

Until such an SSP exists, the only way to get truly high performance music reproduction is to use the analog outputs of the DX-5 (or other single-box player) into a stereo preamp that has a processor passthrough mode. This will serve 99.99% of all music available today.

If you truly want high performance multi-channel sound, at the present time you will need to split your audio and video disc players. The EMM Labs is probably the best sounding multi-channel source. It is close to $20,000 and of course has no video capabilities. And then you will need to spend another bag of money (somewhere between $7,000 and $70,000) for an eight-channel analog preamp).

You seem to be confirming that High Rez audio over HDMI is flawed and without something like ARC it is deeply flawed. Also, (mostly because of SSP flaws) a "best in class" HDMI transport won't come close to matching the 2 channel analog out into SOTA preamp for music. Even without your level of deep technical knowledge I full concur based on listening experience.

However, this leaves me with one question. Why - given the foregoing - do you expect a standard Oppo 83 over HDMI into the forthcoming Theta casablanca III HDMI to sound better than say a Marantz UD9004 into the six shooter (as you stated earlier in this thread).
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post #548 of 1442 Old 02-22-2010, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

One excellent choice would be to purchase four of these:

http://www.placetteaudio.com/passive_line.htm

for a mere $1,700 each for a grand total of $6,800. Another poster earlier in this thread had eight of the single-input mono versions and was quite pleased.

As they also make a "balanced" version, could use just two of them to cover 8 single-ended channels. Might cost a little less and look tidier. Also would give the option for a 5.1 system to use the balanced path for the main L/R in one box and the remaining 4 channels to use single-ended thru the other box.
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post #549 of 1442 Old 02-22-2010, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Probably...

It all depends on what is happening at the other end. If ARC is used, then there will be a fixed-frequency audio master clock near the DAC chip. (This assumes that the designer has any brains at all.) Then the incoming audio data is separated out by the HDMI receiver chip and sent to a buffer. It is clocked out of the buffer by the master audio clock at a fixed rate and sent to the DAC chip.

Then there is a microprocessor that looks at how full the buffer is. Too full, and it sends signals up the HDMI cable to the source telling it to slow down, and the converse.

The way that normal HDMI works is really stupid. There is no audio clock, only a video clock. It's because they designed the connector before they specified the system (this is a true story, I am not making this up). Even so, there is still an unused "reserved" pin on an HDMI connector....

Anyway, the audio data gets sent down in the blanking intervals of the video data. The HDMI receiver separates the data -- video, audio, and et cetera. Included in the "et cetera" are instructions on how to create an audio clock from the video clock using specific multiplication and division ratios. The dirty work is done by a PLL, which then creates the master audio clock. This is a pretty nasty way to do it and results in very high levels of jitter.

Now, to answer your question. We do everything we possibly can to send a low-jitter video clock out on the HDMI audio-only connector. Low jitter here means that the PLL at the other end will create a lower jitter master audio clock. But even a $2 canned oscillator at the other end would probably have lower jitter yet. The bottom line is that even mediocre implementation of ARC would probably sound better than great implementation of normal HDMI audio.

BUT there is a huge proviso here -- jitter is only one part of the overall picture. So if someone did a mediocre job of making a fixed clock for their ARC, they would probably also do a mediocre job with the analog circuitry and power supplies. These are the most important aspects and account for about 75% of the overall sound quality.

So I will back-pedal and say that a good implementation of regular HDMI would probably sound better than a mediocre implementation of ARC, even though it would probably have higher jitter.

Confused yet?

I'm not confused at all. Either because I'm so smart or you're so clear or I'm too stupid to really understand what's going on.

I can, however, now proffer the following:

An SSP with ARC, even with a mediocre clock, will sound better than the same SSP without ARC, no matter how good the clock in the player is.

Questionable corollary: Given an SSP with ARC, a mediocre player with ARC and a superb player without ARC, the mediocre player will sound better or at least be much closer the superb player than one would expect. If both players have ARC, the superb player will sound better, but not by as much as if ARC were not used.
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post #551 of 1442 Old 02-23-2010, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

You seem to be confirming that High Rez audio over HDMI is flawed and without something like ARC it is deeply flawed. Also, (mostly because of SSP flaws) a "best in class" HDMI transport won't come close to matching the 2 channel analog out into SOTA preamp for music. Even without your level of deep technical knowledge I full concur based on listening experience.

First of all, you have to realize that everything I write here is just one man's opinion. Like everyone else, I can be wrong about something. I happen to have more experience in many areas of this hobby than most other posters, but I am certainly not infallible!

We are very fortunate indeed that Roger Dressler is participating on this thread. He probably wouldn't have time to do so were he not retired -- he is perhaps the single man most responsible for bringing multi-channel audio to home theater. And if you have read this thread all the way through, you will see several places where he has corrected my mistakes. So in case you needed proof that I am not infallible, there you go.

Second of all, I think it is important to qualify the terms "flawed" and "deeply flawed". Obviously these are subjective, and I tend to approach things from an engineering design perspective. So let me condense my views to a few short points:

a) HDMI is "flawed" for audio because the connector was designed before the sysstem was specified. They should have sent a separate audio master clock, but thought that it was more important to have a reserved pin (which is still unused, by the way). The penalty is that (all else being equal) HDMI will have higher jitter levels than S/PDIF, which is already a convenient, but low performance, way to transmit digital audio.

b) The HDMI committee partially addressed their oversight by permitting, but not requiring, Audio Rate Control. Audio Rate Control allows jitter levels to be dramatically reduced, albeit at a relatively high cost. The system is complex and expensive to implement.

c) Nearly all existing SSP's are "flawed" because due to cost and space constraints, they use high-feeback op-amps in the audio signal path and single-chip op-amp-based IC volume controls. There are a few exceptions. The Theta Casablanca uses a system of FET switches and metal film resistors for its volume control. I believe (but am not sure) that the audio signal path is fully discrete, although it also uses feedback. The Levinson No.40 has a different kind of volume control. I believe (but am not sure) that it is the MDAC style of volume control that they used to use in their No.38 preamp. I am unsure of the other details of the No.40's design. The original version was released shortly before the company imploded. I have heard snippets that the version put back into production a couple of years later had some changes.

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However, this leaves me with one question. Why - given the foregoing - do you expect a standard Oppo 83 over HDMI into the forthcoming Theta casablanca III HDMI to sound better than say a Marantz UD9004 into the six shooter (as you stated earlier in this thread).

I would expect the Oppo/Theta combination to sound better based on two things:

a) The Six-Shooter is a great volume control, but to the best of my knowledge, is identical to the one that is already inside the rest of the Casablanca. The only reason they made the Six-Shooter was because they didn't have any way to send certain types of data digitally, such as "DSD", five years ago. But now they do -- HDMI.

So there should be little, if any, difference in the sound quality of the two paths in the Casablanca from that source.

b) One can take a jittery signal, such as HDMI or S/PDIF, and by throwing money at it, reduce the level of jitter. The more money you throw at it, the lower you can get the jitter. Theta has been building digital products for over 20 years and has some of the best jitter-reduction circuitry around.

So to answer your question, I believe that comparing the two combinations you have proposed, the volume controls will be essentially the same. So the question is whether the improved DAC's and audio circuitry of the Theta are enough to overcome the added jitter levels of the HDMI connection. And in this case my prediction is that they will be.

But, as I said before, that is just a guess. The only way to know is to listen. Then you will know. But also if you go with the Oppo/HDMI solution, you will be broadening the capabilities of your system. If you go with the Marantz/Six-Shooter solution, you will be going down a dead-end road. I don't think that there will be a lot of ways to improve that system, as I don't think that there will be newer and better players made with multi-channel analog outputs. So I think you will have better upgrade options in the future by adding HDMI.

But that is all just supposition and (educated) guesswork on my part. You are the one who is going to have to live with this equipment. So before I spent many thousands of dollars, I would definitely recommend listening to both options and then deciding.
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post #552 of 1442 Old 02-23-2010, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by scottsol View Post

An SSP with ARC, even with a mediocre clock, will sound better than the same SSP without ARC, no matter how good the clock in the player is.

This is true only if all else is equal. And it will never be equal. Even if a manufacturer were to upgrade their SSP to include ARC, it would also almost certainly have a bunch of other changes. So it would be difficult to compare apples to apples....

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Questionable corollary: Given an SSP with ARC, a mediocre player with ARC and a superb player without ARC, the mediocre player will sound better or at least be much closer the superb player than one would expect. If both players have ARC, the superb player will sound better, but not by as much as if ARC were not used.

Yes.

In the old days of DVD players, all video connections were analog. Therefore a player had to have great video DACs, power supplies, and analog circuitry to give a good picture. Now with HDMI where the picture is transmitted digitally, the single biggest difference in picture quality between sources is the quality of the power supply.

Similarly, if ARC every becomes universally implemented, the clocking now occurs in the SSP. There will be some differences with various sources, as there are always various coupling mechanisms (some understood and some not) that can influence the sound quality. But in that case, the SSP becomes more important.

The final thing to consider is that (to the best of my knowledge) Ayre is still the only company that provides total isolation between the video and audio systems. That is one feature that is very unlikely to ever become common, and yet it remains one of the most important determinants of system performance (both audio and video).
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post #553 of 1442 Old 02-23-2010, 03:40 PM
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As Charlie surmised, there is a DC voltage on one of the pins in the Classe's HDMI input jacks, but the voltage is only there when that input is selected.

It therefore should be possible to take advantage of both the DX-5's audio only HDMI out and analog out without having to jump through hoops.

There is every reason to believe that this will be the case on all products with HDMI inputs.
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post #554 of 1442 Old 02-23-2010, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

I would expect the Oppo/Theta combination to sound better based on two things:

a) The Six-Shooter is a great volume control, but to the best of my knowledge, is identical to the one that is already inside the rest of the Casablanca. The only reason they made the Six-Shooter was because they didn't have any way to send certain types of data digitally, such as "DSD", five years ago. But now they do -- HDMI.

So there should be little, if any, difference in the sound quality of the two paths in the Casablanca from that source.

b) One can take a jittery signal, such as HDMI or S/PDIF, and by throwing money at it, reduce the level of jitter. The more money you throw at it, the lower you can get the jitter. Theta has been building digital products for over 20 years and has some of the best jitter-reduction circuitry around.

So to answer your question, I believe that comparing the two combinations you have proposed, the volume controls will be essentially the same. So the question is whether the improved DAC's and audio circuitry of the Theta are enough to overcome the added jitter levels of the HDMI connection. And in this case my prediction is that they will be.

But, as I said before, that is just a guess. The only way to know is to listen. Then you will know. But also if you go with the Oppo/HDMI solution, you will be broadening the capabilities of your system. If you go with the Marantz/Six-Shooter solution, you will be going down a dead-end road. I don't think that there will be a lot of ways to improve that system, as I don't think that there will be newer and better players made with multi-channel analog outputs. So I think you will have better upgrade options in the future by adding HDMI.

But that is all just supposition and (educated) guesswork on my part. You are the one who is going to have to live with this equipment. So before I spent many thousands of dollars, I would definitely recommend listening to both options and then deciding.

First and foremost thanks for a very thorough answer. I will most definitely wait for the HDMI upgrade to be released and evaluated before placing a bet on an expensive source component. I may take the middle road by buying the very affordable Oppo nuforce, play it MC over the six shooter until HDMI comes along and then make a final decision between the digital and analog route.
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post #555 of 1442 Old 02-23-2010, 09:57 PM
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we are concerned this thread could be derailed and we don't want that to happen

Appreciate the sentiment Mark

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also remember this forum has an ignore feature

Sage advice for sure..

Its a shame that after hdmi1.3 introduced ARC for jitter reduction so few ce's have implemented it ;however I think the dx5 is a good value relatively when you consider its unique features and what separate components with the same quality would cost . Its even better when you postulate what $ the AUS version will be ..
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post #556 of 1442 Old 02-24-2010, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by racerguy View Post

Yes, but the only way to playback HDMI-based multichannel audio is with a digital SSP that has HDMI input capability, and Charles is saying that in his opinion all of the SSPs on the market are, by his standards, inferior. If that's true, then what is the point of trying to maximize the HDMI capabilities of the player?



Sure, if there isn't a multichannel preamp good enough to match up to the player, why bother? Same point as above.



Agreed. Been there. Done that. "Optimizing both formats," as you put it, comes with its own set of compromises. Pick your poison. I've made my choice. If Charles doesn't think his player will match up well with my gear, I accept that. At the moment, there's probably not any other digital multichannel processor on the market that's better, but if if it is not capable of excelling with the Ayre player, then there really doesn't seem to be much point to buying the Ayre based on its improved HDMI interface. Right? That says to me the Ayre is geared primarily to 2ch analog users, which is also what Charles seems to be saying. That market is small, and getting smaller every day.


PMFJI here, and I don't want to put words in mouths but it seems to me that if you are satisfied that your SSP is good then the likelihood is that the surround sound you get from the Ayre player should be better than would be possible from any other player since it has a carefully engineered audio only HDMI connection. Does any other unit have this? Maybe the stereo may sound better in some systems, in yours obviously not, since you do not have stereo any more.
I may be atypical, but I may well buy this player for stereo audio alone, so we may not be numerous but I am a potential sale, as long as I like the demo unit...
cheers,
Frank
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post #557 of 1442 Old 02-24-2010, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by scottsol View Post

As Charlie surmised, there is a DC voltage on one of the pins in the Classe's HDMI input jacks, but the voltage is only there when that input is selected.

It therefore should be possible to take advantage of both the DX-5's audio only HDMI out and analog out without having to jump through hoops.

There is every reason to believe that this will be the case on all products with HDMI inputs.

It seems that this is not a problem with the Anthems either.

I just checked with Anthem tech and was told that as long as the source is configured properly- the 'sclaler input' chosen is not HDMI in the source set-up menu- that it will work with both the 'audio-only' HDMI and balanced or unbalanced analog audio connections.

Tom

"You can have my remote when you pry it from my cold dead fingers" tngiloy
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post #558 of 1442 Old 02-24-2010, 07:27 AM
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Charles Hansen,
I stumbled on this amazing thread searching for a playback device for DSD-files. Amazing that you can find time to reply on a regular basis!

In an earlier post you wrote that DSD-playback over USB could be enabled in Ayre's DAC, but felt there would be little demand for this.

I am wondering if the sales and expanding range of Korg DSD-recorders, DSD-disc capability in the Sony XA-5400ES, as well as (slowly) growing number of DSD-downloads will make you change your mind?

In my case, after digitizing my whole vinyl-collection I'm now looking for a convenient and HQ playback system for these files, whether it be 'DSD-Disc' or hard-drive based. If we aren't talking about a major engineering effort here, why not enable DSD over USB support? BTW - does USB offer enough bandwidth for 2-ch DSD?

My ideal product would be an Ayre-quality 2-ch USB-DAC with built-in volume control and headphone-out.
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post #559 of 1442 Old 02-24-2010, 10:27 PM
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Charles, all other things being equal which transmission method do you find to be the best for PCM: SPDIF, Toslink, USB, AES/EBU, Firewire, HDMI (sic) or some other I forgot?
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post #560 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Yes.

I don't see the source of your frustration going away anytime soon. Multi-channel SACD producers are phasing them out. There are a handful of Blu-Ray concert discs in multi-channel, but these will also remain a niche format with very few titles available.

[...]

If you truly want high performance multi-channel sound, at the present time you will need to split your audio and video disc players. The EMM Labs is probably the best sounding multi-channel source. It is close to $20,000 and of course has no video capabilities. And then you will need to spend another bag of money (somewhere between $7,000 and $70,000) for an eight-channel analog preamp).

I am sorry, but I beg to differ. Yes, it is true that a two-channel preamp beats a multi-channel preamp at the same price point, but only if you compare two-channel performance. And I am willing to defend the position that in multi-channel audio (since I'm from Europe, multi-channel equates to SACD for me), the benefits outweigh the problems. Just listen to the quality of (for example) the classical recordings of PentaTone (Julia Fischer's rendering of the Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Yakov Kreizberg conducting Dvorak's no. 9 Symphony and Mari Kodama's Beethoven Piano Sonata's spring to mind), or the three-channel releases of RCA Living Stereo (Van Cliburn playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto with Kiril Kondrashing conducting is my current favourite) on a proper multi-channel setup. The RCA is especially interesting, since it is a three-channel original recoding. Switch from two- to three-channel SACD and be simply astounded by the amount of spatial information and ease the center-channel adds.

I do agree that the vast majority of music is only available on two-channel. However, one can build a respectable library of multi-channel music, and the increased pleasure of listening to these high-quality recordings compensates for the lack in material. I have been listening to a Van Medevoort SA460 player (essentially a modified Sony 999ES, if I remember correctly), through a TAG McLaren AV192R and Van Medevoort power amps connected to IMF RSPM's as front, and KEF Reference for surround (Reference 204 center and TDM surround). Hearing the depth, calm and clarity in the multi-channel recordings is simply astounding, even though there is still a lot to upgrade in terms of speakers or amplification.

Mr Hansen, what is your experience with multi-channel music? Have you ever heard it "done right" in terms of simple available high-end processors? (By this I mean without daisy-chaining mulitple two-channel preamps, which would of course be better, but practically impossible from a financial point-of-view.) Have you heard some real high-quality multi-channel recordings? From the way you speak about multi-channel, I almost get the feeling that you dismiss it out of hand, based on the (in itself fair) assumption that a multi-channel component can never measure up to a two-channel counterpart. But are you sure that the costs outweigh the benefits? Because in my experience, it is exactly the other way around.
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post #561 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

I may take the middle road by buying the very affordable Oppo nuforce, play it MC over the six shooter until HDMI comes along and then make a final decision between the digital and analog route.

That sounds like a great plan for your particular situation. The SE is supposed to sound quite a bit better over the analog outputs. You already have the Six-Shooter. When the HDMI upgrade comes out, you can try it both ways. If you ever decide to upgrade your player later, you can sell the SE for only a few hundred dollar loss.
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post #562 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by f1eng View Post

the likelihood is that the surround sound you get from the Ayre player should be better than would be possible from any other player since it has a carefully engineered audio only HDMI connection. Does any other unit have this?

The Marantz has an audio-only HDMI output. I don't know how "carefully engineered" it is. With the Ayre, we have reduced the jitter to an absolute minimum on the outgoing signal. When the HDMI audio-only output is active, it shuts down the analog audio and turns on a local ultra-low jitter master clock that drives the audio-only HDMI transmitter chip directly. The clock and the transmitter each have their own low-noise power supplies to minimize the jitter. I am confident that the Ayre will have better performance than any other player in this mode.

In addition, the picture quality of the Ayre should be distinctly better than other players. This is due to both the use of ultra-low noise pure linear power supplies throughout, plus the galvanic isolation between the audio and video sections of the unit.

The downside is the cost. Each prospective owner will want to try the unit in their system to see if the improvement in performance is worth the cost.
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post #563 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by dtjv View Post

I am sorry, but I beg to differ. Yes, it is true that a two-channel preamp beats a multi-channel preamp at the same price point, but only if you compare two-channel performance. And I am willing to defend the position that multi-channel audio (since I'm from Europe, multi-channel equates to SACD for me), the benefits outweigh the problems. Just listen to the quality of (for example) the classical recordings of PentaTone (Julia Fischer's rendering of the Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, Yakov Kreizberg conducting Dvorak's no. 9 Symphony and Mari Kodama's Beethoven Piano Sonata's spring to mind), or the three-channel releases of RCA Living Stereo (Van Cliburn playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto with Kiril Kondrashing conducting is my current favourite) on a proper multi-channel setup. The RCA is especially interesting, since it is a three-channel original recoding. Switch from two- to three-channel SACD and be simply astounded by the amount of spatial information and ease the center-channel adds.

I do agree that the vast majority of music is only available on two-channel. However, one can build a respectable library of multi-channel music, and the increased pleasure of listening to these high-quality recordings compensates for the lack in material. I have been listening to a Van Medevoort SA460 player (essentially a modified Sony 999ES, if I remember correctly), through a TAG McLaren AV192R and Van Medevoort power amps connected to IMF RSPM's as front, and KEF Reference for surround (Reference 204 center and TDM surround). Hearing the depth, calm and clarity in the multi-channel recordings is simply astounding, even though there is still a lot to upgrade in terms of speakers or amplification.

Charles, what is your experience with multi-channel music? Have you ever heard it "done right" in terms of simple available high-end processors? (By this I mean without daisy-chaining mulitple two-channel preamps, which would of course be better, but practically impossible from a financial point-of-view.) Have you heard some real high-quality multi-channel recordings? From the way you speak about multi-channel, I almost get the feeling that you dismiss it out of hand, based on the (in itself fair) assumption that a multi-channel component can never measure up to a two-channel counterpart. But are you sure that the costs outweigh the benefits? Because in my experience, it is exactly the other way around.

Without considering the availability of content I also believe Multi Channel wins hands down in terms of price/performance (or cost benefit). Try this: take the best recorded MC material available (to my ears the 2L label from Norway) and play back the 2 channel SACD track on a 30K 2 channel system. Next, downgrade the 2 channel system to a 20K system and add 10K worth of surround, center and subwoofer with amplification, then listen to the multi channel track. I am absolutely convinced 99 of 100 listeners will prefer the multi channel setup (provided the source is a stellar MC recording). Of course, holding on to the 30K 2 channel system and adding another 60K of equal quality harware to get to best 5.1 setup would sound better still. May be upgrading the 30K 2 channel to a 60K 2 channel system would as well - but that is besides the point when considering cost/benefit.

Having said all this, without availability of MC content this is all moot. I also keep digging into my limited MC library for sheer enjoyment, but at some point playing Chick Corea's Rendez Vouz in New York SACD for the Nth time gets old. If you are 90% into classical it becomes another matter.
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post #564 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by tngiloy View Post

I just checked with Anthem tech and was told that as long as the source is configured properly- the 'sclaler input' chosen is not HDMI in the source set-up menu- that it will work with both the 'audio-only' HDMI and balanced or unbalanced analog audio connections.

It appears that virtually all SSP's deactivate the unused HDMI inputs by turning off the Hot Plug Detect (HPD) flag. I believe that this is because of the way that the HDMI switcher chipsets work. So there shouldn't be any problems in this regard.

If we do run into any, we can always modify the firmware on the DX-5. Instead of just looking at the status of the HPD flag, we can also look at the status of the TMDS receive lines. On an active input, these lines will be pulled high. So we have a back-up way to check just in case we run into any funny units out there.
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post #565 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by alrmad View Post

In an earlier post you wrote that DSD-playback over USB could be enabled in Ayre's DAC, but felt there would be little demand for this.

I am wondering if the sales and expanding range of Korg DSD-recorders, DSD-disc capability in the Sony XA-5400ES, as well as (slowly) growing number of DSD-downloads will make you change your mind?

We need to focus our efforts to where they will be most widely used. Sorry, but we can't spend our resources on something that only caters to a handful of users.

Probably the biggest thing that would have us spend time developing support for playback of DSD files from a computer would be the existence of a software player that would play them. That, plus a reasonable number of (hopefully) original titles available for download, or possibly a legion of Korg owners that "ripped" their vinyl to "DSD".

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Originally Posted by alrmad View Post

My ideal product would be an Ayre-quality 2-ch USB-DAC with built-in volume control and headphone-out.

I doubt we will ever build all of that into one box, but within a year or so I would imagine that we will build a headphone amp with volume control that will match the QB-9.
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post #566 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by tyree91 View Post

Charles, all other things being equal which transmission method do you find to be the best for PCM: SPDIF, Toslink, USB, AES/EBU, Firewire, HDMI (sic) or some other I forgot?

AES/EBU and TosLink are both just variants on S/PDIF. All of these are subject to inherent jitter that is caused by modulation by the audio data. This jitter is minimized by having a very "fast" transmission system with very sharp and quick signal transistions. TosLink is by far the slowest and so will introduce the most jitter. AES/EBU is slightly faster than an equivalent S/PDIF transmission simply because the signal is balanced, and two active drivers give twice the speed.

The other thing to consider is isolation between the transmitter and receiver. In some cases the transmitter generates a lot of noise. TosLink provides the most isolation. AES/EBU comes second, if implemented properly with good isolation transformers, and regular S/PDIF comes last.

So we generally prefer AES/EBU and that is what we offer on our optical disc players.

USB and FireWire can have jitter performance ranging from horrible (far worse than S/PDIF) to essentially perfect -- no jitter added by the transmission link whatsoever. It all depends on how it is implemented.

We prefer USB over FireWire because FireWire is only found on a minority of computers and always requires special software drivers to operate in the low-jitter mode. You can read more about this here:

http://www.ayre.com/pdf/Ayre_USB_DAC_White_Paper.pdf

HDMI is kind of like USB/FireWire in that it can range from horrible to essentially perfect. The only way it can be "perfect" is for both transmitter and receiver to implement Audio Rate Control. So far, this is only done by a handful of Sony and Pioneer units using proprietary protocols.

To the best of my knowledge, the Ayre is the first player to use the plain-vanilla, open-standard ARC that was outlined in the 2006 with the release of the HDMI 1.3a spec. Hopefully some SSP manufacturers will pick up on this. In the meantime, our audio-only HDMI output should give jitter performance close to that of a good S/PDIF link, although with multi-channel, high resolution capability.

The reality is that HDMI is rapidly becoming the only choice available for video applications, so we'd better make the most of it.
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post #567 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by dtjv View Post

I am sorry, but I beg to differ. Yes, it is true that a two-channel preamp beats a multi-channel preamp at the same price point, but only if you compare two-channel performance. And I am willing to defend the position that in multi-channel audio (since I'm from Europe, multi-channel equates to SACD for me), the benefits outweigh the problems.

But are you sure that the costs outweigh the benefits? Because in my experience, it is exactly the other way around.

It's a big world and there are many choices. If you have the room for a full-blown surround system and enjoy the software that is available, then by all means you should follow your bliss!

It is impossible for us to fit 8 channels of Ayre-quality analog circuitry into the same box as the Blu-Ray player. There isn't enough demand to warrant making an external 8 channel DAC, and even then there would be the problem of a matching preamp.

The only solution in your situation is to buy the best SSP you can find and/or afford. Or if you only listen to music, you might be able to get away with ganged Placette volume controls -- no time delays and no bass management, but that shouldn't be needed for multi-channel SACD. You will still need a multi-channel DAC. So unless funds are unlimited, you may want to look at the Oppo SE and possibly get some after-market mods from a reputable company. Two good ones are Vacuum State Electronics (Allen Wright) and Electronic Visionary Systems (Ric Schultz).
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post #568 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post


To the best of my knowledge, the Ayre is the first player to use the plain-vanilla, open-standard ARC that was outlined in the 2006 with the release of the HDMI 1.3a spec. Hopefully some SSP manufacturers will pick up on this. In the meantime, our audio-only HDMI output should give jitter performance close to that of a good S/PDIF link, although with multi-channel, high resolution capability.

Charles, sorry if I missed this in one of your prior post, but my question is this. Is there anything in the way you output HDMI audio and Video separately that makes it superior to how Pioneer (BFP-09), Denon (A1) and Marantz (UD9004) are doing it?
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post #569 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 08:27 AM
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Without considering the availability of content I also believe Multi Channel wins hands down in terms of price/performance (or cost benefit).

I hope that I have addressed this point in my reply to DJTV just above.
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post #570 of 1442 Old 02-25-2010, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

Is there anything in the way you output HDMI audio and Video separately that makes it superior to how Pioneer (BFP-09), Denon (A1) and Marantz (UD9004) are doing it?

Please refer to:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post18203168

Thanks.
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