Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Palo Alto, CA USA
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Victor, Puget -
Thanks for the posts. I have maybe 4 test discs, but what I have to emphasize here that seems to be missed is that this is not a level balance problem. I have all that worked out once I started to understand the -10 or -15 level settings in the 95. It is a frequency problem. And it is real. This is not to say it is the 95 for sure, but it does seem to point that way. I would love to find out somehow it is a bad cable or setting, but its unlikely.
So, let's just look at the setup once more then a couple of examples. I'm sure I have posted this before, but to be sure - especially if someone can test something similar for me which will help to tell if it is firmware or perhaps the analog board on my 95.
I have the 95 connected to my Parasound proc with 5.1 analog out, SPDIF to another input on the proc and two channel analog RCA to yet another channel. This makes it very easy to A/B with just a switch.
I have no cennter channel, which is a totally other discussion. My system, has worked flawlessly with several other Universal Disc players, but it was time to go Blu-ray and higher quality analog audio, though my Denon was no slouch. So, in came the 95 and from early on, something wrong with the bottom end though my understanding of the problem has changed as I have learned more here and done further testing.
All front and surrounds set to small, even though they are good down to 40 or maybe lower. Crossover set to 80 to match the proc so that when I compare analog to digital they are set the same. I also heard no improvement setting to 60 on the 95. Center is set to off. Downmix set to 5.1.
All levels are balanced well both by ear and meter and using several sets of test signals from different discs. Same with the bass management on the proc. The overall levels are different with analog out being maybe 5 dB hotter than digital and I have not put the time to match them, but the speakers in each realm are well balanced among themselves. And volume or amplitude makes no difference to this issue. And as mentioned bu Puget if I recall, the Radio Shack meter is very inaccurate under 30 Hz and at 18 Hz, is actually about 16 dB in error. This has been compensated for.
Set up to play a Blu-ray or DVD with 5.1 inputs trailers. You all know them - they build up and end with extreme low end that has a bit of room shake and chest resonance. Or even a good looped scene from UP, or Star Wars or whatever creates that low end theater effect for you. Through 5.1 it is pleasant low bass, but no impact. Switch to SPDIF and room shake aand palpable bass is there. Not louder (as a matter of fact down about 5 dB) but more LOW frequency.
Now, if I turn on the center channel on the 95, even though no speaker is connected, there is a large hole in the center - almost like out of phase, but about half (how can I better quantify that without a real time analyzer?) of the missing low freq is back.
Next, put on Dark Side of the Moon. I have many versions and SACD and CD act a little differently.
You all know the opening "heartbeats".
With SACD, they sound like cardboard. It almost seems the low frequencies are doubling. Since SACD can only be played through the analog outs, I can only try turning the center channel on again. But now, no difference.
Take the CD. Now I am comparing the 5.1 outs into the proc pass throughs with the two channel RCA outs, into the proc where they are redigitized.
With 5.1, it again sounds weak and like cardboard, though just a touch better than SACD. Switch to the analog two channel by changing inputs on the proc and windows rattle from the low frequency that is there. Not amplitude - frequency. Solid.
Once again, turning center on makes no change.
So, the difference of having center on or off depends on the format I am listening to. Have not tried DVD-A, but could.
So, since nothing changes at all after the proc and that always worked fine with the Denon. and Parasound confirms no subsonic or high pass filter on the 5.1 pass throughs, I am left with either a bad cable on the .1 output (doubtful but possible and will test today) or a hardware or firmware problem with either my 95 or 95's in general.
I think many people do not hear this for a few reasons:
They have a center channel and its on.
They don't listen as critically as I do or to as many disc formats.
Their system may not be as revealing.
My unit is uniquely defective.
I wish someone here or from Oppo (12 miles away) could come by to hear this. In 3 minutes you would understand and at least I would have an ear witness. But I started life as a musician, sold recording studio equipment for 25 years and have a decent ear. It seems most suggest it is a level balance problem and it is not. It is missing frequency information at the lowest end or a possibility of those frequencies doubling. And since I can get most shiny discs to sound right using an alternate output (not SACD) it is not my related equipment unless I am missing something so obvious I have looked over, under and around it.
Anyone near Palo Alto care to come over? Or if anyone can try any of the tests above - it would be helpful.