Ayre DX-5 bluray player - Page 28 - AVS Forum
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post #811 of 1443 Old 11-30-2010, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim Wiens View Post

Actually there is a known issue with the Alien Quadrilogy. The theatrical versions play fine but both director's cut versions start playing only a zoomed-in portion of the upper left part of the picture. It drove me crazy until Oppo told me the workaround. I really hope Oppo puts out a firmware update to deal with this and other issues playing new release Blu-Ray's.

That happened to me too, so I went back into the main menu then hit play again, problem solved.
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post #812 of 1443 Old 11-30-2010, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim Wiens View Post

Michael Fremer was impressed by the DX-5's DVD-A performance but not as wowed by the SACD sound. SACD on the DX-5 sounds pretty good to me, but I sold my C-5xe some time ago so I couldn't tell if SACD on the DX-5 is as good. How do you find the sound of SACD compares between the two players?

I've heard about, but haven't yet read the Stereophile article. I wonder if the author was referring only to multi-channel SACD? I only listen to 2-channel SACD and my DX-5 (once it was run-in) sounds just as dynamic as my C-5xeMP ever did. I'm not sure, but somehow I feel the multi-channel over HDMI output might have something to do with it. Note that the 2 channel interconnects I used for both players are XLR MIT Oracle MA direct to preamp, no mutli-channel processing in between.

I was told that the DX-5 and C-5 handle DSD processing the same way, using a native DSD filter rather than changing the DSD to PCM and then processing it. So for 2 channel both players shouldn't sound different using the same equipment (?) I gather Charles will have to chime in here, not really my turf.
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post #813 of 1443 Old 11-30-2010, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by uppacreek View Post
I've heard about, but haven't yet read the Stereophile article. I wonder if the author was referring only to multi-channel SACD?
Michael Fremer reviewed the two channel analog outputs of the DX-5 only -- no video, no multi-channel. He found the SACD to be less dynamic sounding than the PCM formats.

This is not surprising, because that is the way SACD sounds -- polite, sweet, extended, but not dynamic. However, he claimed that his Playback Design SACD player playing SACD sounded almost exactly like the DX-5 playing high-res DVD-Audio discs.

To me that begs the question as to which player is right. Does the DX-5 soften SACDs? Or does the Playback Design harden SACDs? I've never heard the latter machine, so I can't say. Michael jumped to the conclusion that the Playback Designs was correct and the Ayre was wrong, although I'm not sure why.

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Originally Posted by uppacreek View Post
I was told that the DX-5 and C-5 handle DSD processing the same way, using a native DSD filter rather than changing the DSD to PCM and then processing it. So for 2 channel both players shouldn't sound different using the same equipment (?) I gather Charles will have to chime in here, not really my turf.
Both players use the same DAC chip and and almost identical audio circuit topology. There are some minor detail changes to the power supply regulators and such, but the only change of any significance is that the DX-5 includes the EquiLock circuitry. This increases the resolution noticeably and if anything, all sources would sound softer on the C-5xeMP with greater resolution and articulation on the DX-5. The DX-5 is the best sounding disc player we have ever made.

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I'm not sure, but somehow I feel the multi-channel over HDMI output might have something to do with it.
A lot of readers complained when Stereophile reviewed multi-channel equipment. So now it has been relegated to a semi-monthly column "In the Round" by Kal Rubinson. He has reviewed the DX-5 using the HDMI outputs in multi-channel mode and it will be in the January issue. I have seen an advance copy (to correct for any possible factual errors) and while I cannot say what his conclusions are, I think he won't kill me if I say that he was somewhat more impressed with the changes we made to the Oppo than he was with the Lexicon BD-30:

http://stereophile.com/content/music-round-41-page-2

And Editor-in-Chief John Atkinson's commentary on the Lexicon:

http://stereophile.com/content/mutton-wolfs-clothing

The January issue should be out in a couple of weeks and you can read KR's full report on the multi-channel audio then. (Stereophile does not make any comments on the picture quality.)
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post #814 of 1443 Old 11-30-2010, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Michael Fremer reviewed the two channel analog outputs of the DX-5 only -- no video, no multi-channel. He found the SACD to be less dynamic sounding than the PCM formats.

This is not surprising, because that is the way SACD sounds -- polite, sweet, extended, but not dynamic. However, he claimed that his Playback Design SACD player playing SACD sounded almost exactly like the DX-5 playing high-res DVD-Audio discs.

To me that begs the question as to which player is right. Does the DX-5 soften SACDs? Or does the Playback Design harden SACDs? I've never heard the latter machine, so I can't say. Michael jumped to the conclusion that the Playback Designs was correct and the Ayre was wrong, although I'm not sure why.

Regarding the recent DX-5 Stereophile review, I would have liked it if either Wes Phillips and/or John Atkinson would have also reviewed the DX-5 and compared it with the C-5xeMP on CD, SACD, and DVD-Audio formats since they are both very familiar with having the the C-5 in their reference systems to see if they came to the same conclusion that Michael Fremer did with SACD.
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post #815 of 1443 Old 11-30-2010, 03:38 PM
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Yes, it would have been nice. However Wes has been on a light reviewing schedule this year. And John does more work than any five people I know. It's hard to squeeze things into his schedule.

But here's the quick and easy version:

a) The DX-5 sounds slightly but noticeably better than the C-5xeMP due to the EquiLock circuitry in the analog audio stage.

b) The DX-5 has video capability and the C-5xeMP does not.

c) The DX-5 costs nearly double what the C-5xeMP does.

So if you want video, buy the DX-5. If you don't want video, save yourself thousands of dollars and buy the C-5xeMP.
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post #816 of 1443 Old 12-01-2010, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

A lot of readers complained when Stereophile reviewed multi-channel equipment. So now it has been relegated to a semi-monthly column "In the Round" by Kal Rubinson. He has reviewed the DX-5 using the HDMI outputs in multi-channel mode and it will be in the January issue. I have seen an advance copy (to correct for any possible factual errors) and while I cannot say what his conclusions are, I think he won't kill me if I say that he was somewhat more impressed with the changes we made to the Oppo than he was with the Lexicon BD-30.

For me, at least, this impending review will be far more relevant. I use a Meridian 861 SSP, so the distinguishing performance of a bluray player (or any spinner, for that matter) is as a transport as all analog inputs to the SSP are digitized. I certainly get the appeal of a hiend player for analog performance, but I am somewhat more reserved about whether changes made will translate into improved performance as a digital transport - consequently, Kal's review comments will be most interesting.

My other limitation, for SACD, is necessarily a conversion from DSD to PCM in the bluray player. My SSP does not accept DSD natively, and I am unsure whether DSD-to-PCM conversion has been improved in the Ayre, or it retains the stock Oppo 83 capability.

I'm 'itching' to replace the Oppo 83 in my system, but have yet to see/hear any reason to do so .....

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post #817 of 1443 Old 12-01-2010, 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ca1ore View Post

I'm 'itching' to replace the Oppo 83 in my system, but have yet to see/hear any reason to do so .....

Well I replaced my C-5xeMP and Oppo 83 with the DX-5. Initially I had reservations since I was totally content with both the C-5 & 83 in my home theater as primary source components for both music and movies. Then recently I got my hands on a fully run-in DX-5 to demo in my own system and no going back. I was somewhat impressed by the improvement in 2 channel analog audio due to the enhanced detail from the DX-5, but movie soundtracks simply exploded in audio quality with a slight boost to video quality out of my HD-1.

Ultimately I want to rip my complete disc library to a server to feed the DX-5. So far I haven't been in a real hurry but I'll get there eventually. Part of me is also waiting for the R-series DAC that Ayre has promised
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post #818 of 1443 Old 12-01-2010, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ca1ore View Post

For me, at least, this impending review will be far more relevant. I use a Meridian 861 SSP, so the distinguishing performance of a bluray player (or any spinner, for that matter) is as a transport as all analog inputs to the SSP are digitized. I certainly get the appeal of a hiend player for analog performance, but I am somewhat more reserved about whether changes made will translate into improved performance as a digital transport - consequently, Kal's review comments will be most interesting.

Just remember when you read Kal's review in a couple of weeks that he is a pretty reserved, matter of fact kind of reviewer. I've never seen him jump up and down over any product. So just take the review in the context of all his reviews and I don't think you will be disappointed.

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My other limitation, for SACD, is necessarily a conversion from DSD to PCM in the bluray player. My SSP does not accept DSD natively, and I am unsure whether DSD-to-PCM conversion has been improved in the Ayre, or it retains the stock Oppo 83 capability.

No, we just use the "stock" conversion performed by the MediaTek system processor. We could have put a super-duper custom converter in there, but it would have driven the cost of the player up noticeably for everyone, whereas only a small minority need that feature.

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I'm 'itching' to replace the Oppo 83 in my system, but have yet to see/hear any reason to do so .....

As always, the best thing to do is put it in your own system to find out. Luckily you live near a great dealer in New Haven. Tell Ralph I said "Hi!".
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post #819 of 1443 Old 12-01-2010, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Just remember when you read Kal's review in a couple of weeks that he is a pretty reserved, matter of fact kind of reviewer. I've never seen him jump up and down over any product. So just take the review in the context of all his reviews and I don't think you will be disappointed.

Yes, that's one of the reasons why I find him to be among the more credible reviewers.

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No, we just use the "stock" conversion performed by the MediaTek system processor. We could have put a super-duper custom converter in there, but it would have driven the cost of the player up noticeably for everyone, whereas only a small minority need that feature.

Yeah, that makes sense. It's too bad that SACD has become such a marginalized format. Also too bad nobody made a high quality DSD-PCM converter box: take in DSD over HDMI and spit out PCM over HDMI; passthru PCM.

Certainty and conviction are a sure sign you don't know what you're talking about! The world is not black and white, rather shades of grey!
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post #820 of 1443 Old 12-01-2010, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

I've never seen him jump up and down over any product.

Hey, I got pretty excited over the Squeezebox Touch!

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post #821 of 1443 Old 12-02-2010, 07:56 AM
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The Squeezebox Touch is a heckuva bargain! Does that mean you are a cheapskate??? Although I seem to recall you changing the firmware so you could use it with the DX-5...

I love the concept, as I think a handheld navigation tool makes a lot of sense. The Squeezebox Touch is half the price of an iPhone that can run an app to do similar work with iTunes. The biggest problem for me is that for either product you have to have an active microwave transmitter in your listening room. I don't want to spend tens of thousands of dollars to build a killer A/V system and then degrade the performance, even a tiny bit. And I won't go into the potential health issues. (Luckily my tin foil hat protects me!)

One solution that only uses an IR remote is J.River Media Center. It has a mode whereby the entire computer screen is filled with the song information, so that you can read it from across the room. Then just sit on your couch and navigate from there.
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post #822 of 1443 Old 12-02-2010, 08:08 AM
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It's too bad that SACD has become such a marginalized format.

The only inherent advantage it had over DVD-Audio was that it was simple to use and navigate, just like a CD. DVD-Audio was a nightmare to begin with and then they changed the navigation method halfway through its lifespan.

SACD was doomed from the start because it required not only every consumer to purchase specialized new players, but also every recording studio in the world to replace all of their equipment. Not a likely scenario...

I spoke with one of the Philips engineers who worked on the project and he admitted that the only reason they didn't use high sample-rate PCM was so they could patent and license the system. They missed the $1 billion per year royalty stream they had been getting from CD until the patents expired.

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It's too bad that SACD has become such a marginalized format.Also too bad nobody made a high quality DSD-PCM converter box: take in DSD over HDMI and spit out PCM over HDMI; passthru PCM.

It wouldn't be hard to make one. But there are two problems:

a) The only customers who care about SACD but can't play it are Meridian owners. Meridian won't make an SACD box for the same reason that Sony won't make DVD-Audio player -- stubborn pride. I don't think there are enough Meridian customers who care about SACD to justify building one.

b) The license fees for HDMI and the obligatory HDCP are $30,000 per year. That really dooms such a project to financial failure.
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post #823 of 1443 Old 12-06-2010, 04:32 AM
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Just bought the Ayre DX-5 and hooked it to my Goldmund 16 HD processor using 2 HDMI cables. One to screen and one to processor.

Can you advise what setting I should use? There seems to be a handshake issue whenever I play normal cd, sacds which are recorded in stereo only and during the menu page of blu ray movies. No problem with sacd multi channel playback or movies once i select dolby or dts sound track.

The issue is that the sound would go on and off. I have tried changing SACD priority to CD mode but doesn't solve the issue. No problem with picture image though.

FYI I don't think Goldmund can process DSD format. Have already tried PCM and LPCM on Ayre. No luck!

My display unit is a Runco Cinemawall XP-Opal65. Should I set the Ayre's display setting to Source Direct?

Has anyone tried XLR to RCA terminated analog cables for audio? Will it sound better than RCA to RCA terminated cables?

My Goldmund only accepts RCA plugs.

In case anyone is interested, I've owned Marantz UD-9004 and Pioneer BDP-09FD. Ayre beats them hands down in term of audio, picture quality and movie load up time.

However I can't comment on CD/SACD audio in comparison to Marantz as I have trouble setting up my Ayre DX-5.
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post #824 of 1443 Old 12-06-2010, 10:06 AM
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The only customers who care about SACD but can't play it are Meridian owners.

Let them eat Oppo, like the rest of the world. Works for me.

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post #825 of 1443 Old 12-07-2010, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by nhlwong View Post

Just bought the Ayre DX-5 and hooked it to my Goldmund 16 HD processor using 2 HDMI cables. One to screen and one to processor.

Can you advise what setting I should use? There seems to be a handshake issue whenever I play normal cd, sacds which are recorded in stereo only and during the menu page of blu ray movies. No problem with sacd multi channel playback or movies once i select dolby or dts sound track.

The issue is that the sound would go on and off. I have tried changing SACD priority to CD mode but doesn't solve the issue. No problem with picture image though.

When does the sound go on and off? Is there a pattern to it? Does it just do it when you change discs, or just during the menu, or when?

One thing to try is flipping the DIP switch on the rear panel from "Rsrv C" (up) to "Rsrv D" (down). This changes a compatibility mode with the HDMI handshaking. (If it is already down, try flipping it up.)

I assume that you are not in the US as I don't think Goldmund is sold here any more. Still, try and call Michael at +1-303-442-7300 x223 between 8 AM and 4 PM Mountain time. If you are in Europe, we are 8 hours behind you. If you are in the Far East it is more difficult as we are 12 to 14 hours behind you. Please have the serial number of your unit to hand when you call, as this will help out. We are also happy to call you back and pay for the telephone charges.

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Originally Posted by nhlwong View Post

FYI I don't think Goldmund can process DSD format. Have already tried PCM and LPCM on Ayre. No luck!

I'm confused. If the Goldmund won't accept DSD signals, it will still accept PCM. Changing the On-Screen Setup Menu to play SACD's as PCM will change all of the outputs -- HDMI A/V Output, HDMI Audio Output, and Analog Outputs.

Please note that when playing an SACD that the AES/EBU Digital Audio is inactive, regardless of the DSD/PCM setting.

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My display unit is a Runco Cinemawall XP-Opal65. Should I set the Ayre's display setting to Source Direct?

"Source Direct" sends the raw signal from the disc so that the display (or other external processor) provides any signal processing that may be required. Only use this if the external processing is better than what is built into the Ayre.

I can't keep up with the onslaught of new video displays, so I can't offer a specific "yes" or "no" to that question. In general, you want to have the video scaling done by the best processor there is in the signal chain. With the Anchor Bay Technology chip used in the Ayre, I think you will have a hard time besting it for upscaling DVD's with any other processor. But the best thing to do is simply try it both ways and compare for yourself.

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Has anyone tried XLR to RCA terminated analog cables for audio? Will it sound better than RCA to RCA terminated cables?

My Goldmund only accepts RCA plugs.

All of the Goldmund circuits are only single-ended. Even when they include XLR connectors, they simply leave one of the pins unconnected. With the Goldmund equipment, just stick with the RCA cables you already have.

There is no advantage to using any kind of special cable to go from the XLR output to the RCA input. We have already provided the highest quality single-ended output possible.

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Originally Posted by nhlwong View Post

In case anyone is interested, I've owned Marantz UD-9004 and Pioneer BDP-09FD. Ayre beats them hands down in term of audio, picture quality and movie load up time.

However I can't comment on CD/SACD audio in comparison to Marantz as I have trouble setting up my Ayre DX-5.

Thank you for the kind words -- I am glad that you are enjoying your new player! I'm sure that we will be able to solve the glitches you are experiencing. If you can't get through to Michael, send me a Private Message. It is always easier to solve these sorts of issues on the telephone, so please try that first if you can.
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post #826 of 1443 Old 12-09-2010, 09:42 AM
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Just one question: I'm also thinking to double-wire my DX-5: one HDMI to my new AV-Pre from the HDMI Audio output, the other one from the HDMI A/V output to the 2nd HDMI input of my JVC beamer. The latter cable would be 20m in length, do you think this length will work?
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post #827 of 1443 Old 12-10-2010, 04:34 PM
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10 meters should be fine. 20 meters is really pushing up against the limits of the HDMI format. Everything will have to be perfect to get good results at that length.

The transmitter chip used for the A/V Output is the Silicon Image SiI9134. For the Audio Output it is the Analog Devices ADV7510. In both cases they are fed with a pure analog supply using super-low-noise regulators. So this part is about as good as you can get.

The key is going to be the cable. At that length it would be good to test to make sure it will work, especially if you are trying to pull the cable through the walls of your house. I don't have any definite recommendations, but for a "high-end" cable, you might try AudioQuest. For a lower priced cable you might try Blue Jeans. There are some good discussions on this topic at several places:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI#Cables
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=783852
http://www.bluejeanscable.com/articl...n.htm?hdmiinfo
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post #828 of 1443 Old 12-11-2010, 03:02 AM
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What about "active" HDMI cables or separate HDMI repeaters like this one (http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B001...pf_rd_i=301128 , sorry german link..) which are power-supplied by the HDMI port itsself ?
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post #829 of 1443 Old 12-12-2010, 03:22 PM
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I don't have any experience with these kinds of things. I would be wary of units requiring external power as they normally use switching supplies that add noise.

The longer the cable, the greater the losses. Putting a different driver at the source end isn't going to do much as we already use a good driver. Putting some box at the receiver end isn't going to help much because it probably isn't any better than the circuitry inside the receiver. So the only place that would make sense would be at the half-way point. But it would need to be a very good device with good power supplies to achieve better results than a good passive cable.

One thing that worked very well for us in the old days of DVI were the fiber-optic cables such as these:

http://www.opticis.com/english/02_pr...oduct02_03.htm

They have some other models as well. You should look at the various options and see if one is good for you. Any system that uses a switching power supply should have that replaced with a linear power supply. If the only power required is +5 volts, it should be trivial to find a high quality linear supply for +5 volts.

Again, I would try a good passive cable first. If it doesn't do the job you could try one of the extender boxes or the fiber optic cable.
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post #830 of 1443 Old 12-12-2010, 03:29 PM
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One other important point on using long HDMI cables.

It will be much easier to use a long cable for the audio than the video. This is because presumably most people are running their video at 1080p/60. This requires the pixel clock to run at 148.5 MHz.

In contrast, the audio-only output of the DX-5 sends a grey screen at 720p, which is the minimum requirement to send 7.1 channels at 192/24. But 720p only requires a pixel clock of 74.25 MHz. At this lower frequency there will be less losses and you will be able to run a longer cable for the audio-only HDMI output.
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post #831 of 1443 Old 12-12-2010, 11:26 PM
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I have been anticipating the DX-5 for nearly a year now. It is encouraging to hear about the upcoming review of the video features. However, what is so far nearly completely missing is any serious review of the USB DAC. I own the CX-7 and QB-9 and would consider replacing both with the DX-5 but only if I can convince myself that all functions represent a significant upgrade. The Stereophile review that found SQ of the USB DAC comparable to the CD player was not very reassuring-one would expect it to be significantly superior. I'd like to know how the USB DAC compares to SACD. Has there been any attempt to make this comparison with the QB-9 or, say with the Berkeley, Weiss, dCS, etc? Is any planned in the near future?
Thanks
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post #832 of 1443 Old 12-13-2010, 02:18 AM
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Thank you Charles for your comments. To my knowledge, the HDMI repeater I mentioned (from german vendor CLICKTRONIC) power-feeds itsself from the HDMI port, thus from the DX-5 and its advanced power supply. It has no external power supply. That's why I liked that idea.
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post #833 of 1443 Old 12-13-2010, 08:07 AM
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The problem with the Clicktronic is that nowhere on the manufacturer's website can I find a current consumption specification. This is extremely important!

When we designed the HDMI Audio Output PCB, we had severe constraints regarding space. The 5 volt regulator is an SMT package and there was no room to include any heatsinking. The feed is 8 volts and the current draw of the existing circuitry is 325 mA. This puts the power dissipation at 1.0 watt, which is a comfortable level.

Adding an external device with a small current draw (say, 50 mA or less) would be acceptable. But if the Clicktronic draws, say, 500 mA then this will not work. It would increase the power dissipation of the regulator to 2.5 watts and it will overheat and shut down.

The HDMI specification says that the source must be able to supply at least 55 mA and that the sink shall not draw more than 50 mA. So our design is compliant with the spec. The question is whether the Clicktronic is also.

Unfortunately, even if you purchase the unit this is not an easy thing to measure. It would require the destruction of an HDMI cable in order to insert a milliammeter. (I would recommend using a cheap cable for this test!) This unit is only available in continental Europe, so it is not available to us for test.

My best recommendation is to contact Clicktronic and have them e-mail you a detailed specification sheet. An answer on the telephone may or may not be accurate!

I still think the best strategy is to find a dealer that will let you try a 50 meter passive cable before you purchase it (or offer a money-back guarantee). Failing that, I would be tempted by the Opticis fiber-optic solutions as they produced a visible improvement when we tested them with DVI years ago.

My last choice would be to purchase two 25 meter cables. First try them simply connected together. If that doesn't work you can install a repeater in the middle. If the repeater draws 50 mA or less, you can use one that is powered by the cable itself. If it draws 100 mA or more, you will have to use an external power supply. I would recommend replacing any switching supply with a linear one. Good luck!
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post #834 of 1443 Old 12-13-2010, 02:47 PM
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Hi Charles,

thanks again for your help. Meanwhile I tried 20m simply by connecting my 12,5m Cable (DX-5 to AV pre) and my 7,5 m cable (AV pre to beamer) using a simple manual switchbox I had left in a drawer. It works fine (good HDMI driver in the DX-5!). So a real 20m cable should work too.

Next I put the 12.5m cable into the HDMI Audio output of the DX-5 and connected it to my Marantz AV7005 pre. I got the grey screen and the status LED was blue, but no sound when trying to playback a multichannel SACD. The Marantz does not accept DSD signals, but when I played back the SACD using the HDMI A/V output of the DX-5, the Ayre was forced into PCM (my SACD setting is DSD) and multichannel sound was heard, as described in the manual. Unfortunately employing the HDMI Audio output, it does not function (the player remains in DSD mode), unless I change the DX-5's SACD settings to PCM. I may have been mislead by the manual, but I understood the sentence on page 82 as to be true for the HDMI Audio output too.
The next problem is that connecting the DX-5 to the Marantz vie HDMI A/V results in a sync problem, when the DX-5 is heard via its analog XLR outputs, but not when the sound is decoded by the AV7005. Obviously, the Marnatz has a delay in putting the picture signal to the beamer, because when using the improvised direct connection from the DX-5 to the beamer described in the beginning the sync was perfect. Thus I feel that the same delay might occur when the AV7005 has to decode the signal coming from the HDMI Audio output and the picture goes directly to the beamer via HDMI A/V output.

Any comments on these observations ?
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post #835 of 1443 Old 12-13-2010, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

Let them eat Oppo, like the rest of the world. Works for me.

And for me also. Doesn't mean, though, that one cannot imagine something better. I've seen comments that the DSD-to-PCM conversion is detrimental to sound quality, a claim I'm unable to substantiate due to my Meridian limitations. I do have a Denon player with a DVDUpgrades 3xSPDIF output board, but I no longer have the documentation and cannot recall it's capability - I suppose I'll have to hook it up for a listen.

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post #836 of 1443 Old 12-13-2010, 03:09 PM
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And for me also. Doesn't mean, though, that one cannot image something better. I've seen comments that the DSD-to-PCM conversion is detrimental to sound quality.

Sure, it can be detrimental if done poorly. And even if done well, there are potential differences resulting from the chosen output sample rates of 44.1, 88.2, 176.4 kHz, as we find in Denon, Oppo, and PS3, respectively.

But if done well, there is no reason that the PCM ought not sound as good as the DSD.

Roger

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post #837 of 1443 Old 12-13-2010, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by IngoT View Post

Meanwhile I tried 20m simply by connecting my 12,5m Cable (DX-5 to AV pre) and my 7,5 m cable (AV pre to beamer) using a simple manual switchbox I had left in a drawer. It works fine (good HDMI driver in the DX-5!). So a real 20m cable should work too.

Yes, if a collection of odds-and-ends cables worked then a single high-quality cable should have no problem at all. As noted previously, the audio output is only running at 720p and so will suffer less losses in a long cable. We use an Analog Devices HDMI transmitter chip for the audio output and they make very good parts, plus we give it a double-regulated power supply using ultra-low-noise regulators. (Everything makes a difference.)

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Unfortunately employing the HDMI Audio output, it does not function (the player remains in DSD mode), unless I change the DX-5's SACD settings to PCM. I may have been mislead by the manual, but I understood the sentence on page 82 as to be true for the HDMI Audio output too.

It's a complex machine. I tried to write that section as clearly as I could. If you re-read it, I think you will see that it is only referring to the HDMI A/V output, but that what the HDMI A/V output reads from the receiver will affect all of the outputs on the DX-5.

However, the converse is not true. I'm not sure why it would be a problem to change the setting manually. Normally you would just change it once. If your SSP accepts DSD, then just set the On-Screen Setup Menu to output DSD. If your SSP does not, then set it for PCM.

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The next problem is that connecting the DX-5 to the Marantz vie HDMI A/V results in a sync problem, when the DX-5 is heard via its analog XLR outputs, but not when the sound is decoded by the AV7005. Obviously, the Marnatz has a delay in putting the picture signal to the beamer, because when using the improvised direct connection from the DX-5 to the beamer described in the beginning the sync was perfect. Thus I feel that the same delay might occur when the AV7005 has to decode the signal coming from the HDMI Audio output and the picture goes directly to the beamer via HDMI A/V output.

Virtually every modern SSP made has "lip-sync" adjustments available. Once you get everything connected up properly, you should be able to make any necessary adjustments there. Sounds like you are making great progress so far. Keep up the good work!
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post #838 of 1443 Old 12-13-2010, 11:03 PM
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But if done well, there is no reason that the PCM ought not sound as good as the DSD.

I actually thought that PCM playback would sound better. But when we tried it during the development of the C-5xe several years ago, leaving it as DSD sounded slightly better than converting it to 176.4/24. However, it was very, very close. We know more about digital filtering now and perhaps we could make something better now. But it's pretty low on the priority list. Most people that listen to SACDs have bought into Sony's propaganda about how DSD is the best thing since sliced bread. There are very few people that want to listen to DSD converted to PCM at the very highest level possible. It just not practical for us to design and build a product that might sell only a few dozen units.
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post #839 of 1443 Old 12-14-2010, 06:35 AM
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I actually thought that PCM playback would sound better. But when we tried it during the development of the C-5xe several years ago, leaving it as DSD sounded slightly better than converting it to 176.4/24. However, it was very, very close. We know more about digital filtering now and perhaps we could make something better now. But it's pretty low on the priority list. Most people that listen to SACDs have bought into Sony's propaganda about how DSD is the best thing since sliced bread. There are very few people that want to listen to DSD converted to PCM at the very highest level possible. It just not practical for us to design and build a product that might sell only a few dozen units.

It's interesting, some years ago there was a company out of Switzerland called DVD Upgrades that supposedly put a lot of effort into a 3xSPDIF output board that converts DSD to PCM at either 88.2 or 176.4 khz. I bought a Denon player with this output board, but it has been mothballed for a while. I may have to dust it off and do a comparison of SACD on the Denon vs. Oppo. I've been unable to find any documentation of this thing on the 'net however. I wonder if this thing could be lifed out of the denon and plopped into the Oppo? I certainly do not have the technical chops to do it unfortunately.

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post #840 of 1443 Old 12-14-2010, 08:26 AM
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I own the CX-7 and QB-9 and would consider replacing both with the DX-5 but only if I can convince myself that all functions represent a significant upgrade.

I usually have a grading scale with only three steps of difference:

Noticeable -- This means that the difference would be easily noticeable to a careful listener who is familiar with that system. If you are not a careful listener or not familiar with the system, you would probably notice a difference but possibly not.

Significant -- This means that the difference would be not only noticeable to almost anyone who listened to the system, but that the improvements were large enough that you would not want to go back. In fact you would feel deprived if you had to go back.

Dramatic -- This means that the difference would be instantly obvious to anyone who listened to the system, and furthermore everyone would agree that the improvement was quite large. Anyone who listened would feel completely let down upon returning to the old system.

I don't think it is possible to have a change greater that "dramatic". It is possible to have changes that are smaller than "noticeable". For example, I hear an improvement when I turn off the display of the C-5xeMP. But the difference is so small that I rarely bother to do so, even though it is on the remote handset. We might do it at trade shows to get that last little bit of an edge.

Compared to the CX-7 (assuming it is the latest CX-7eMP version) and QB-9, I would rate the following areas of improvement:

CD -- Significant. The C-5xeMP outperforms the CX-7eMP, and the DX-5 outperforms the C-5xeMP. After spending a week with the DX-5, it would probably take a month or more to go back to the CX-7eMP and forget about how good the DX-5 was.

SACD -- Dramatic. Currently you cannot play them. That is about as big a difference as it gets!

DVD-Audio -- Dramatic to Noticeable. Currently you cannot play DVD-Audio discs, so that again is a huge difference. However, it is possible to rip them to your computer and play them on your QB-9. The original QB-9 only went up to 96 kHz, while later models and all DX-5's go to 192 kHz. But even at the same sample rate, the DX-5 is noticeably better on computer sources (I'm getting ahead of myself).

DVD-Video -- Dramatic! Once again you cannot play these discs.

Blu-ray -- Dramatic! Only a blind man couldn't see the difference between the two players (literally!).

USB -- Noticeable. The 192 kHz capable USB receiver board is identical with later (or updated) models of the QB-9. However, the DAC chip is a more expensive model with twice the current output for a 6 dB increase in S/N ratio, the audio circuitry has some extra refinements, and the power supply is double-regulated, meaning that a regulator feeds another regulator which feeds the audio circuitry. Both sets of regulators are discrete, zero-feedback types. It's not a huge difference, but if you have been living with the QB-9 for a while, you will easily notice the improvement. If that is your main reason for upgrading, it's certainly not worth $10,000, but you won't have to strain your ears to hear the difference.

I think that covers everything.

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The Stereophile review that found SQ of the USB DAC comparable to the CD player was not very reassuring-one would expect it to be significantly superior.

I'm not sure why you would say that. The QB-9 is definitely a significant improvement over the original CX-7. However I would say that it is only somewhere between a noticeable and significant improvement over the CX-7eMP.

But the reason for this improvement is not because a hard drive is better than an optical drive or anything like that. It's just that we have developed a more dynamic and engaging sounding analog circuit for the QB-9. I would hope that we have learned a few tricks in the eight years since the CX-7 was developed!

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I'd like to know how the USB DAC compares to SACD.

There is absolutely no way to make that comparison in a fair manner. It would be like trying to compare an LP to CD. Of course they sound different. But why? The mastering process? The analog-to-digital conversion process? The replication process? The phono cartridge? The turntable isolation platform? The phono stage? The DAC?

There are simply too many variables. And similarly with SACD. The DX-5 allows the best comparison possible, as the DAC chip, analog circuitry, and power supplies are all identical for the two formats. But that still leaves the source and how it was made and mastered as two huge variables.

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Originally Posted by rtrautner View Post

Has there been any attempt to make this comparison with the QB-9 or, say with the Berkeley, Weiss, dCS, etc? Is any planned in the near future?

Both SoundStage and The Audio Beat will have online reviews of the DX-5 in the next few months. I have no idea how much they will focus on computer audio or what they will compare the unit to.

However, I think it is safe to say that both the QB-9 and the DX-5 belong in the top echelon of USB DACs and can withstand comparison with anything out there. (The QB-9 just won the DAC of the Year award from Hi-Fi+ in the UK.) But what really sets the DX-5 apart is that this is the first time that anyone has made one single component that can be used for all of your digital audio and video. It will play any type of audio optical disc, any type of video optical disc, and it will also give world-class service as a music server along with your computer. So if you want rid your system of all of those boxes and all of that clutter, there really isn't any other choice. And considering what it offers, I believe it to be more than a fair value.

But it is your money and your system, and only you can decide if that is true for you. If you don't plan on watching any movies and/or listening to a lot of SACDs, then the improvement over what you have already may not be worth the added expense. The DX-5 is unquestionably better, but what you have already makes compelling sounding music. However, I'd rather spend money on a DX-5 than (say) a new car. It will hold its value longer, provide more pleasure, and require less maintenance. But it won't impress your neighbors....
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