Originally Posted by dtjv
Therefore my question: what is an owner of an "outdated" SSP to do if he wants to go the universal way with your announced player? To get the Blu Ray sound, I suppose I could get the player to decode DTS HD to "standard" DTS, and output it through the S/PDIF, albeit already with a serious loss of quality. However, it seems impossible to get SACD from your player in my situation.
Thanks for your interest in our forthcoming product.
Unfortunately, you are caught in the dilemma that has been created by the giant consumer electronics companies. Long ago, all of the manufacturers played on an equal playing field. The only common sources were LP's and tuners. Everything was standardized. Any innovations (such as stereo) were not patented and not the exclusive right of any particular company. Some companies chose to build very high-quality products at very high prices (eg, Marantz and McIntosh), others slightly lesser products at much lower prices (eg, Dynaco and Fisher), and others made entry-level products at very low prices.
But then things shifted. There were a few minor precedents, but the big one was the development of the compact disc. Now two companies (Sony and Philips) had control over virtually the entire field of audio. For nearly two decades the royalty stream on the patents was $1 billion per year.
Everybody enjoyed the profits of this bonanza, as everyone was forced to buy CD players when the LP was discontinued. This was a blatant case of a forced changeover. At the time that LP's were stopped, they still constituted over 1/3 of all music sales. (And remember that cassette was still a strong format at the time.) But the record companies could manufacture CD's for half the cost of LP's, and sell them for twice the price! Plus the return rate (due to warps, scratches, etc.) was negligible.
Once the hardware manufacturers got a taste of this drug, they wanted more. Ever since, all we have seen is a stream of products with planned obsolescence. It is the model that the US car manufacturers adopted after World War II -- make minor changes (such as bigger tailfins) and then try to convince you that your life is worthless without the "latest and greatest" products.
So in the last 20 years we have seen:
- Dolby Digital
- Dolby Pro Logic
- Dolby Pro Logic II
- Dolby Digital EX
- Dolby Digital Plus
- Dolby Digital True HD
- DTS 96/24
- DTS HD Master Audio
- HDMI 1.1
- HDMI 1.2
- HDMI 1.3
- HDMI 1.4
- CRT Projectors
- Et cetera
- Et cetera
- Et cetera
Without exception, none
of these products have been upgradeable. That is the entire point of developing these new technologies -- to sell you a new widget, even though your old widget is perfectly satisfactory. And now you are being convinced that your life won't be good unless you have the "latest and greatest" way to connect your source to your SSP.
If you look at the ads, they will try to convince you that in order to have a beautiful home, a beautiful wife, and a beautiful sex life, that you will have to buy the "latest and greatest" improvements.
Well, I don't buy it.
I think you can have a perfectly wonderful time watching movies with your TAG McLaren processor.
It is true that HDMI allows for a pure digital connection of high-resolution, multi-channel audio. But it is also a problematic interface, plagued by high levels of jitter. In addition, the weak link in any surround-sound processor (or stereo preamp for that matter) is the volume control. 99% of all SSP's use a cheap little IC-based volume control chip that severely limits the available sound quality. One of the few processors that has an inherently better sounding technology for the volume control is the Theta Casablanca. They have recently announced an HDMI input module, but it is (if I recall correctly) something like a $4,000 option.
What I am saying is that there is no free lunch.
You can either enjoy what you have, or you can continually spend large sums of money to try and stay on the "latest and greatest" merry-go-round.
Including 10 channels of analog out would not be possible in the DX-5 due to space, heat, and power restrictions. But even if it were, it would not necessarily provide the best sound in your system. Nearly all SSP's digitize the analog inputs so that bass management, EQ, effects, and time delays can be applied. You would probably be better off just using the S/PDIF connection with the lower resolution signal than using an analog connection.
If you really want to try to stay up with the "latest and greatest", you are going to have to buy something. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to spend a reasonable amount of money on a great-sounding two-channel preamp for listening to music. (After all, at least 98% of your music collection is not
surround sound.) Make sure this preamp has a processor pass-through mode.
Then buy an inexpensive surround-sound processor that will handle all of the "latest and greatest" improvements. There are some great offerings with tremendous price-to-performance ratios from Arcam, B&K, Rotel, and many others.
The stereo preamp will never become obsolete. The SSP may need replacing every five to ten years, depending on how neurotic the latest ads make you feel. And don't forget, they aren't stopping. The only reason for the existence of Blu-Ray is that the Japanese companies couldn't make money selling DVD players once the Chinese companies started selling them for $29. And already the price of Blu-Ray has eroded to the point where they are already trying to make plans for Blu-Ray's successor. 3-D, anyone?