CBIII vs. Halcro SS100 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 249 Old 10-20-2006, 04:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I currently have a CBIII with extreme dacs and am considering going with a Halcro ss100. Has anyone here compared the two side by side and know what the sonic differences are if any?HDMI is not a real issue for me right now as my display does not have it. Yes I have been happy with the CBIII, but I seem to think the Halcro in the long run would be better based on the more rapid upgrades and such. Further, it bothers me a little that I have to pay an additional $2000 for a six shooter just to do DVD Audio or SACD. Considering what to do, any input from you guys would be helpful.
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post #2 of 249 Old 10-20-2006, 04:32 PM
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I am in the same boat and considering the Halcro, coming from a CBIII. However, I would like to audition the Halcro before making a decision.

Speaking to Theta, they are planning on an HDMI input for LDPCM in 2007, and an HDMI 1.3 for decoding within the Theta in 2008. Halcro will probably beat them to the punch, but only by six months or so.

The problem is that I find it hard to believe that the Halcro can sound as good as the Theta. I have spoken with John B. at Theta at length about their philosophy and how they handle the signal in the Theta, and it just seems right to me.

The Halcro is not only adding a lot of video processing in the system (which interferes with the audio signal) but also putting that huge LCD on the front can not help the audio at all. Also, my contact with Halcro has not impressed me with their technical knowledge at all vs. just speaking with John at Theta.

At this point I am waiting until they have their multi-channel LDPCM update for the Halcro, which is probably this Spring from what I can tell. At that point I will want to audition one and see. Theta has been very good to me, as I was one of the first Casablanca I customers. I find it hard to believe that anyone could do as good a job as they at audio reproduction.

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post #3 of 249 Old 10-20-2006, 04:38 PM
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"HDMI is not a real issue for me right now as my display does not have it. "

HDMI is useful for more then just running video to your display. It can be used even without a display to pass audio digitally into a processor to use its own processing and DACs. For example feeding DVD-A and SACDs into the processor.

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post #4 of 249 Old 10-21-2006, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badbenzz View Post

Further, it bothers me a little that I have to pay an additional $2000 for a six shooter just to do DVD Audio or SACD. Considering what to do, any input from you guys would be helpful.

Would it matter if by going this route, the Six Shooter sounds better? Is it that you do not care if it would not sound as good and prefer the ease of all in one? I think Halcro appears to be a fine company I would have no problem using them from my conversations with them. I am sticking with Theta because of the Six Shooter. If you are wililng to give up some quality on the analog bypass for SACD, then it would be a great for what I have seen so far. I think a cheaper pre/pro outperformed the Halcro on analog bypass in The Absolute sound comparision. So far, for music, no all in one box pre-pro that I have tried has equaled the Six Shooter for SACD. I like the Meridian 861 too. It is a hell of a performer and does not get enough "press" around here.

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post #5 of 249 Old 10-22-2006, 11:56 AM
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perhaps your best bet is getting a cheaper processor and a good 2 channel preamp.

i don't think any pre/pro will beat that combo for sound quality if that is paramount. until MC audio gets better, i wouldn't worry about it that much for now. perhaps Mike L. can chime in here as he has some expertise in the area.
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post #6 of 249 Old 10-23-2006, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badbenzz View Post

I currently have a CBIII with extreme dacs and am considering going with a Halcro ss100. Has anyone here compared the two side by side and know what the sonic differences are if any?HDMI is not a real issue for me right now as my display does not have it. Yes I have been happy with the CBIII, but I seem to think the Halcro in the long run would be better based on the more rapid upgrades and such. Further, it bothers me a little that I have to pay an additional $2000 for a six shooter just to do DVD Audio or SACD. Considering what to do, any input from you guys would be helpful.

Count me as another in the same boat as you, bb.
One of the reasons I ended up with the CBIII instead of the Halcro was that the SSP-100's were being delivered DOA when they were new. After experiencing an expensive, excellent sounding DVD player that remains trouble-prone, (PMDT), I was hesitant to choose the SSP-100.
In the meantime I have continued to maintain a separate video processor. I could upgrade that to handle HDMI but I will, of course, lose the audio benefits until Theta provides the HDMI upgrade.
But I have no complaints about the audio on the CBIII. What I find interesting is that nobody has compared the 2 units side-by-side. Most reviews I read on the SSP-100 include the Halcro amps. I am interested in knowing how the Halcro will sound with the amps I have now vs. how the CBIII sounds with the amps I have now. No way to know that for sure short of getting one into my system to try out...
I agree that Halcro will beat Theta to market with HDMI and LPCM, etc. but if Theta is getting their offering out before the middle of next year I will most likely wait since I really have few other complaints about the unit.
Your other aspect is the $. Yes, the SS will cost $2k at list. But the results are something competitive with quality stand-alone 2 channel preamps. For that money how could you do better?
I guess the question I have relates to the innards of the Halcro and for this I need the input of the experts here at AVS. I have heard that the DaVinci boards and same DAC's that are found in perhaps a 1/2 dozen quality, but cheaper, prepros. Can Halcro do so much around those boards/chips to make their unit sound better than, say, Anthem, Parasound and , ahem, NHT ($2,500)? I know that can be done on the DVD player side by such names as Camelot and Esoteric but is it the same with processors?
The final issue related to $ is the loss you will inevitably take on trading in or selling your CBIII. Even if you got a good buy on it (and I know you did) you still stand to lose 25% or so of your investment less than a year ago.
Thx.
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post #7 of 249 Old 10-23-2006, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
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BP your right and that's why I started this thread in the first place, no one that I am aware of has done ahead to head comparison between the 2 units. Clearly, if the Halcro is close to the CBIII in sonic performance then there is no question that the Halcro would be the right choice for me, based on the shear convience of it.
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post #8 of 249 Old 10-23-2006, 08:18 PM
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The thing you have to remember is that the SS is a SOTA 2 channel and 5.1 channel analogue preamp. No pre-pro can give this quality with MC analogue inputs into the same dirty chassis as the digital environment. This is why Theta chose this application. SACD/DVD-A are amazing through the SS with a good player. Also serves as a great 2 channel line stage for your phono pre if you use vinyl, an old audiophiles favorite.
TAS compared the SS favorably with the $20K Goldmund. Highly reccomended indeed. If you're an audiophile don't miss this great upgrade. Hell, the cables to do the job in a high end system will cost more than the SS.
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post #9 of 249 Old 10-23-2006, 11:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Hummm you guys are making me rethink this situation. You do make an excellent point tyree.
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post #10 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 12:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badbenzz View Post

I currently have a CBIII with extreme dacs and am considering going with a Halcro ss100. Has anyone here compared the two side by side and know what the sonic differences are if any?HDMI is not a real issue for me right now as my display does not have it. Yes I have been happy with the CBIII, but I seem to think the Halcro in the long run would be better based on the more rapid upgrades and such. Further, it bothers me a little that I have to pay an additional $2000 for a six shooter just to do DVD Audio or SACD. Considering what to do, any input from you guys would be helpful.

I would be interested in this comparison as well. I have CBIII with extreme dacs with digital output card tied into Generation VIII which feeds my main speakers with extreme handling the center, rears and one sub and superior dacs handling the sides and the other sub. I do not have any video switching to pollute my set up. Instead I use DVDO Iscan VP-50 that I just took delivery of for all my video switching and scaling. I seriously doubt Halcro ss100 will beat my Theta set up but I'm open to a shoot out as I always do with any equipment I buy. I've tried just about everything except ss100 and everything else was shot down.
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post #11 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 08:56 AM
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I've been doing the same comparison.

The quality of the parts in the Halcro do not compare to those in the CBIII.
I have talked to engineers at both companies - the Theta engineers are sticklers for quality and will only implement a feature when it is the BEST it can be. The Halcro people are more concerned about the features than the quality - they are concerned with being competitive with other companies on a feature-by-feature basis. Theta is not. They are concerned with the quality of the product and only that.
Theta made some good, and verifiable, arguements regarding the quality of currently available HDMI parts being no good for high-quality audio. Though there are some just now coming on line for 1.1. 1.3 is still a ways off.
The Theta unit is MUCH more flexible and future-proof than the Halcro. I started with a very early Casablanca I and now have a well-decked out Casablanca III.

All in all, Halcro makes a fine peice. Is it in the same league as Theta quality-wise - NO. Does it have an impressive feature set - YES. Where am I going to spend my money - Theta.

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post #12 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 09:06 AM
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Peter,

I for one would say the feature set on the Halcro is minimalistic. Probably as scaled down as I have seen for a relatively expensive piece. It has a scaler but short of that it is simply a THX processor thta is short on goodies...... but one that has beaten out my previous Lexcion in sonics. I am curious to see what Theta comes up with as well...too bad it'll be a year or more.

I am also having a HT meet in a coule months (date to be dtermined).Come up and hear it....I can guarantee you'll be genuinely impressed.

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #13 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by thebland View Post

Peter,

I for one would say the feature set on the Halcro is minimalistic. Probably as scaled down as I have seen for a relatively expensive piece. It has a scaler but short of that it is simply a THX processor thta is short on goodies...... but one that has beaten out my previous Lexcion in sonics. I am curious to see what Theta comes up with as well...too bad it'll be a year or more.

I am also having a HT meet in a coule months (date to be dtermined).Come up and hear it....I can guarantee you'll be genuinely impressed.

Jeff:
I understand your current Wine of the Week has been aging for many, many years now. I really hope it is "ready for drinking!"
BP

TO ALL: Still curious as to an explanation of the how the implementation of the Vinci boards and the DAC's used in the SSP-100 are different in the SSP-100/80 vs. the other good prepros that use the identical boards and DAC's?
Reading the previous post about the quality of the internal parts of the Halcro compared with the Theta is very interesting and makes sense based on Halcro's outsourcing of all their components vs. Theta's in-house efforts for much of their product.

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post #14 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 09:50 AM
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Jeff,

If I can make it, I would be very interested in hearing your setup. Are you using the Halcro's video processor at all, or are you using an external unit?

Peter

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post #15 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 09:56 AM
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BP,
You know aside from Lexicon / Meridian most all manufacturers farm out the heavy stuff...Runco is a great example of taking a standard chassis and squeezing out more excellent performance. Theta is undoubtedly no different (or anyone else e.g. Anthem, ADA, Halcro, etc.). I imagine we could speculate until the cows come home as to what manufacturer adds what secret ingrediants. Who knows if guts is guts and all should sound the same..? This piece sounds different than my Lexicon. I can't specualte as to why. It may (or may not) sound different than the Anthem. Side by side testing would certainly help. I do know my processor does not run nearly as hot as the Anthem and we know heat is the enemy of such electronics. I just don't know. I do know that I am happy with the sonics.... and that's all that matters..

Try Brothers Grimm BluRay! Amazing sonics!!

Wines of late...? I am running the Detroit Marathon on Sunday and have cut my drinking back a little. That said, a 2002 Joseph Phelps would be nice cab in the $50 - $60 range.

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #16 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterS View Post

Jeff,

If I can make it, I would be very interested in hearing your setup. Are you using the Halcro's video processor at all, or are you using an external unit?

Peter

No I have it bypassed. All my sources are HD (save for DVD which I haven't watched in a while). If you can make it great...! I am anxious to show the forum members what this processsor does. The same group was wowed by my Lexicon last time so we'll concentrate on powerful soundtracks with delicate dialog overlayed.

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #17 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 10:04 AM
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Maybe this is moot for a lot of you guys but as much flux as there is in all of this I'm concerned about paying for a device that does both video and audio processing. It seems to make more sense to keep them separate so that you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater if say the video begins to lag and the audio side holds it's own.

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post #18 of 249 Old 10-24-2006, 10:07 AM
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Makes reasonable sense Art.

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #19 of 249 Old 11-02-2006, 03:35 PM
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Dear AV Forum members,

We can't participate in real time in the freewheeling forums very well, for a number of reasons, but we do know there is a lot of interest in HDMI.

There is a new page on HDMI stashed on a part of Theta's site, which will soon be made public.

The URL for this page is http://www.thetadigital.com/faqhdmi.htm. We address topics we have been asked about by dealers and distributors as well as Theta owners and you folks:

* How is Theta Digital implementing the new HDMI standards?


* What is Theta doing to make the latest technology available to Casablanca owners?


* What will the new Virtu and Valis have in the way of HDMI connectivity?


* What is Theta doing to implement the latest Dolby and DTS formats?

I hope this helps add clarity to the discussions and decision making processes.

Sincerely,

Evelyn Sinclair
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post #20 of 249 Old 11-03-2006, 03:47 PM
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Keith I have maintained this position for years! Imagine my surprise when the Six Shooter not only matched every 5k two channel pre-amp that I have tried but BEAT them . No BS. Only thing so far that I have tried that is better is the VTL 7.5 and that's about 5 times the price of the Six Shooter. I realise I am in a minority here and many would just prefer to use a single component that does it all. But for some of us, audiophile types to get this level of quality for so cheap thrills me to no end. Ok, enough of me ranting about the Six shooter. I do not want to steer you away from it by "turning you off" with the over-hyping that guys typically do. This is one case where the product actually performs as advertised. It rates as the best price to performance device I have ever purchase in my many years as an audiophile.

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post #21 of 249 Old 11-03-2006, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evelyn Sinclair View Post

Dear AV Forum members,

We can't participate in real time in the freewheeling forums very well, for a number of reasons, but we do know there is a lot of interest in HDMI.

There is a new page on HDMI stashed on a part of Theta's site, which will soon be made public.

The URL for this page is http://www.thetadigital.com/faqhdmi.htm. We address topics we have been asked about by dealers and distributors as well as Theta owners and you folks:

* How is Theta Digital implementing the new HDMI standards?


* What is Theta doing to make the latest technology available to Casablanca owners?


* What will the new Virtu and Valis have in the way of HDMI connectivity?


* What is Theta doing to implement the latest Dolby and DTS formats?

I hope this helps add clarity to the discussions and decision making processes.

Sincerely,

Evelyn Sinclair

Thanks for the updates. This is what we have all been waiting to hear.

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post #22 of 249 Old 11-05-2006, 03:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the update. That's helps me alot in making my decision. Humm six shooter huh? BP where are you?
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post #23 of 249 Old 11-06-2006, 07:55 AM
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Thank you for the update. That's helps me alot in making my decision. Humm six shooter huh? BP where are you?

Hey BB;
I am still up in the air on the SS. I am not sure yet whether the new HDMI solution from Theta will incorporate SACD and DVD-A capability. If so, I may pass on the SS. If not, I have heard so many good reviews about it that I might have to make room for one.

BULLDOGGER;
I know you use the 2 SS's for multi-channel analog. Do you use the SS for 2 channel or do you use the regular stereo analog connections?
Thx
BP

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post #24 of 249 Old 11-06-2006, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by BP View Post

Hey BB;
I am still up in the air on the SS. I am not sure yet whether the new HDMI solution from Theta will incorporate SACD and DVD-A capability. If so, I may pass on the SS. If not, I have heard so many good reviews about it that I might have to make room for one.

BULLDOGGER;
I know you use the 2 SS's for multi-channel analog. Do you use the SS for 2 channel or do you use the regular stereo analog connections?
Thx
BP

BP, I use the SS for two channel as well. Right now I am using a Sony XA-9000 for my music source but am not really that happy with it. It is just is lifeless with CD. The SS has beat 5 very good two channel pre-amps some former Stereophile Class A two channel pre-amps that my friends have either brought over or I have borrowed. I could not begin to tell you what might better it for between 5 and 10K for music? One friend whose opinion I really value cursed me out. I did not tell him that the SS was that good and asked him to tell me what he thought compared to his pre-amp. He said I was %$$#@ with him as I clearly knew which one was better. I was not trying to ^%%$$# with him, I just wanted an honest opinion without creating an expectation. He still does not believe me. Says, " I embarrassed him." Boy, audiophiles really can get pissed over gear.

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post #25 of 249 Old 11-06-2006, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BP View Post

Hey BB;
I am still up in the air on the SS. I am not sure yet whether the new HDMI solution from Theta will incorporate SACD and DVD-A capability. If so, I may pass on the SS. If not, I have heard so many good reviews about it that I might have to make room for one.
BP

My five cents.

Don't expect this in the first round of HDMI 1.3 from Theta. There are concerns re HDMI and jitter. And the SACD/DVD-A player would have to output those sonic formats via HDMI. SACD and DVD-A are a niche market whereas Theta anticipates that Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD and DTS HD will gradually evolve to the standards over the years, right only with HD DVD and Blue Ray, but in time with digital satellite and cable as well due to more efficient compression and as good or better sonics than currently with Dolby Digital.

I would not hold my breath hoping for SACD and DVD-Audio via HDMI from high end companies such as and including Theta - except for lower end companies like Oppo (a great piece for the buck, though). Mebbe in a few years when they get this feature on Pioneer players, etc and upgrade them for the audiophile market.

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post #26 of 249 Old 11-06-2006, 03:21 PM
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Get the Six Shooter. You won't be sorry. I'm not.

"Doug Winsor" used to troll at some AV Forums as "Steve Bruzonsky"! My home theater at:
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post #27 of 249 Old 11-06-2006, 05:59 PM
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Many comments/speculations but it seems that nobody has directly compared a CBIII & a SS100 yet.
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post #28 of 249 Old 11-06-2006, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Good point Keung, that's why I started this thread in the first place. What I have heard on my own (speaking to others no hearing it myself) is that the SS100 is more dynamic for movies then the CBIII, but still can't hold a candle to the CBIII when it comes to 2 channel music.
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post #29 of 249 Old 11-07-2006, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by badbenzz View Post

Good point Keung, that's why I started this thread in the first place. What I have heard on my own (speaking to others no hearing it myself) is that the SS100 is more dynamic for movies then the CBIII, but still can't hold a candle to the CBIII when it comes to 2 channel music.


Then you only have to calculate your movie/music listening ratio and you'll be set on what company to choose from.
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post #30 of 249 Old 11-07-2006, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Bruzonsky View Post

My five cents.

Don't expect this in the first round of HDMI 1.3 from Theta. There are concerns re HDMI and jitter. And the SACD/DVD-A player would have to output those sonic formats via HDMI. SACD and DVD-A are a niche market whereas Theta anticipates that Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD and DTS HD will gradually evolve to the standards over the years, right only with HD DVD and Blue Ray, but in time with digital satellite and cable as well due to more efficient compression and as good or better sonics than currently with Dolby Digital.

I would not hold my breath hoping for SACD and DVD-Audio via HDMI from high end companies such as and including Theta - except for lower end companies like Oppo (a great piece for the buck, though). Mebbe in a few years when they get this feature on Pioneer players, etc and upgrade them for the audiophile market.



The CB3 doesn't have to decode DSD in this case: only LPCM (over hdmi from the Oppo) decoding is necessary. In fact, do we need hdmi 1.3 ?
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