Originally Posted by dtjv
Thank you for your elaborate response. I had noticed the SE-Oppo, but I assume that it will not be able to measure op to the DX-5 (although I would have to test this, of course).
Looks like I will have to look on for the "sheep with five legs" (if that's an expression in English as well...). However, I am still looking forward to auditioning the Ayre at my local dealer's just to see what it will be like.
The Oppo SE (Special Edition) uses a higher-performance DAC chip than the stock unit. In my experience designing digital audio products, the DAC chip is perhaps 20% of the overall performance at best, so I don't think there are major gains to be had here. It also has a few minor component changes to the audio path, but my understanding is that these are not things that materially improve the sound quality.
The most interesting thing is that they have made some unspecified changes to the power supply that improves the isolation between the audio section and the video section. I don't know what these changes are, but I have seen reports that suggest noticeable improvements to both the audio and the video over the stock unit. This is notable because the SE is specifically marketed as having improvement only
to the analog audio outputs, and is not aimed at those customers using the HDMI connection for their audio.
The changes made to the Ayre unit are massive compared to the SE version. In fact, I don't think they can really be compared in any meaningful way. I haven't seen an SE unit, but we have compared the Ayre against the stock Oppo and we wouldn't release the unit unless the performance were commensurate with the price. Our reputation as a company is based upon our products. Many of the companies that are failing now are doing so because their product s do not
provide the expected level of performance.
The Ayre DX-5 will have substantial improvements to the picture quality, the digital audio (HDMI and AES/EBU), and the analog audio (two-channel only). It will also have a USB audio input so that it can connect to your computer and be used as a music server. This means that it can be the sole digital source for audio and video for many systems.
Like any piece of equipment, it is not for everyone. I think that most customers will get incredible performance for the money from the stock Oppo. The SE will provide a noticeable improvement for a moderate price increase. The Ayre will provide a substantial improvement, as well as important additional features for a signfificant price increase. At any given price point, I think that these three players will be among the top choices for Blu-Ray players. The Theta could be interesting also at the revised price of $3,000. With its linear power supply, I would expect it to fit in nicely between the SE and the Ayre. I can't think of any other models of Blu-Ray players that offer as much as these four Oppo-based units.