Great DACs vs Room Correction. Which way to go? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 08-21-2012, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all!

I am looking for an audio solution. My main entertainment setup is currently just a Yamaha HTR-3064 (lowest end Yamaha AVR), a Sony BDP-S480 for Blu-Rays and 5.1 SACDs, and a Yamaha DVD-S2500 for DVDA/SACD/CD Stereo playback. For speakers, I have Wharfedale Evo2-20 as fronts and Evo2 Center as the center channel, and the stock HITB Yamaha speakers/sub that came wih the 3064.

I have just ordered a set of Wharfedale Evo2-30s to be used as fronts, while the Evo2-20 will be moved to the rears. I have always felt the 3064 is doing my Wharfedales no justice, and I will soon upgrade to the Denon 4311CI, a sub...most likely Paradigm PDR-80 or PDR-100 will also soon follow. Since i live in a condo, I wont be needing anything more powerful for at least another 4-7 years. So the only missing link then, will be a good universal player to replace the S480/S2500 combo I use now.

My main concern here is audio performance, and more specifically music performance. Video performance and good movie audio would be icing on the cake, but music is king. I've narrowed down my choices to the Oppo-93 and 95. I am fully aware that the 95 has the better DACs, by a wide margin. I am not too sure how wide the margin between the two is on video processing, but I am sure they are both good enough for me. So the question is, which would be better for me?

My current S2500 has excellent DACs, and the difference in sound quality during stereo CD/SACD playback between the analog out of the S2500 vs the HDMI out from the Sony S480 (it streams DSD to my receiver which can decode DSD), is huge! Its apparent that the AVRs DAC is inferior to the S2500's DAC. I can't judge multi-channel music output, since my current AVR does not have multi-ch analog in.

However, the Denon 4311CI is a completely different monster. It does have great DACs, does have multi-ch analog in, and it has Audessey room correction. From what I've been gathering, room correction can have a DEEP impact on sound quality, perhaps a bigger impact (at least with the level of components I am working with), than the quality of DACs on components.

If I buy the Oppo-95 it would be because of its superior DACs, it would be for the sake of getting the better music performance. However, to utilize those DACs, I would be employing the 95s analog outs, which would render the Audessey room correction pointless. As transports (HDMI/digi out), I am not sure how huge of difference there is between the 95 and 93, but I am sure there is very little difference that I will be able to pick up at this level. What would produce a better (by better, I mean natural) music experience? Room correction from the Denon 4311CI (with the Oppo-93), or analog out from the Oppo-95 sans room correction?

Sorry for the long drawn out post!
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-21-2012, 11:07 AM
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This is a no-brainer. Room correction can make a serious difference. Allegedly better DACs do not. Period.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #3 of 14 Old 08-21-2012, 11:31 AM
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And, I don't think the Denon processes the analog inputs, so there's no point in getting a 95; the only difference between the Oppo 93 and 95 is the analog stages. Stick with your current player, enjoy XT32, and spend the money burning a hole in your pocket on new music and movies. Or just give it to me... smile.gif

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post #4 of 14 Old 08-21-2012, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
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i definitely need a new player. The Sony doesnt do DVDA at all, and the Yammie S2500 will only play copy protected multi-ch DVDAs if it goes through analog out. it downsamples them when you go through optical or coax. So if i want the XT32 to work its magic on 5.1 DVDA playback, i need a new player frown.gif

I was thinking of buying the 95 just to test the two setups, returning it for the 93 if thedigi playback sounded better. But i dont think im gonna bother, and just grt the 93 straight up. I'll save the extra $500 and spend it on music! smile.gif
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-21-2012, 12:39 PM
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Treat the room

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post #6 of 14 Old 08-23-2012, 09:47 AM
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I own a BDP-95, it's a superb player and an outright bargain even at $1k.

Could you discern the superior DACs in the 95 over the 93? I don't know.

Treat the room yourself. You very likely know this,... however enormous gains are to be had by addressing some simple optimization techniques acoustically between your loudspeakers and room. Some bass trapping, attention to early, and very early reflections, mains proximity to boundaries, and addressing lateral energy to allow for best imaging, yet maintain adequate spaciousness and over-all listenability.

EQ'ing the system is the final step, not an ill advised first step. Properly EQ'ing the sub system in both the time and freq domain, and ideally blending them to the mains is easily performed as long as you have access to some simple measuring tools.

Yes, room correction such as Audyssey is very powerful tool. Oftentimes much of what it's attempting to correct can be physically addressed by positioning and small adjustments.


Bottom line, as much as I love the BDP-95, when one has huge 20-30 dB SBIR induced swings in frequency, it's difficult focusing on DACs.

Best of luck
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-23-2012, 10:43 AM
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Try an experiment. Hook up S/PDIF using your current setup and compare it to analog and HDMI. If it betters HDMI then you can use the same digital path for your new setup and enjoy having both Auto EQ and good sound smile.gif. Note that for movies you should still use HDMI but it should not be hard to setup both paths, each optimized for the application at hand.

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post #8 of 14 Old 08-24-2012, 07:15 AM
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^^^

how do you propose he perform this "experiment"?

two points to the op...

- "great" (i.e. transparent) dacs exist in virtually everything today...

- optimizing your system once it is in your room (via placement, treatments, eq) results in objectively proven non-insignificant changes...

you can choose to approach sound reproduction in 2 ways...

- speaker/room interface... well understood, proven to have measurable repeatable differences... those differences are often quite significant...

- fairy dust...

guess which way really works better?

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post #9 of 14 Old 08-24-2012, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Try an experiment. Hook up S/PDIF using your current setup and compare it to analog and HDMI.

Would this be done by traditional audiophile means, which is to say sighted, not time-synched, with slow switching (e.g. cable-swapping) and without level matching?

If not, how would those issues be addressed?
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post #10 of 14 Old 08-24-2012, 07:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruinAnteater View Post

i definitely need a new player. The Sony doesnt do DVDA at all, and the Yammie S2500 will only play copy protected multi-ch DVDAs if it goes through analog out. it downsamples them when you go through optical or coax. So if i want the XT32 to work its magic on 5.1 DVDA playback, i need a new player frown.gif
I was thinking of buying the 95 just to test the two setups, returning it for the 93 if thedigi playback sounded better. But i dont think im gonna bother, and just grt the 93 straight up. I'll save the extra $500 and spend it on music! smile.gif

What is this one missing?



"Pioneer Dv610av-s Silver Multi Region Code Free Hdmi 1080p Upconverting DVD Player with SACD and DVD-Audio Playback"
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post #11 of 14 Old 08-24-2012, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

^^^
how do you propose he perform this "experiment"?
I assume his source has both HDMI and S/PDIF. He should connect both and configure them for two different inputs on his AVR. Then by simply changing inputs, he would be comparing one to the other. Similarly to how he did this with the analog out and HDMI already. Except that in this case, levels will be the same due to both connections being digital. Synchronization is also there since it is the same source. Depending on his AVR, switch-over time should be reasonable although never ideal due to handshaking of HDMI. He can do it with his eyes closed, or have someone else do it. I think I covered all the bases smile.gif Either way, he has a basis under which he determined which output worked better. I simply suggested he add one more option to his matrix.
Quote:
two points to the op...
- "great" (i.e. transparent) dacs exist in virtually everything today...
That's a belief, not backed by measurements we have. But let's not argue about it smile.gif.

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post #12 of 14 Old 08-24-2012, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

I assume his source has both HDMI and S/PDIF. He should connect both and configure them for two different inputs on his AVR. Then by simply changing inputs, he would be comparing one to the other.

The above does not address the issues I raised related to time synchronization, bias controls and level matching.
Quote:
Similarly to how he did this with the analog out and HDMI already. Except that in this case, levels will be the same due to both connections being digital.

The levels are not necessarily matched when the methods of decoding the digital data stream are different. As is well known to informed people, HDMI supports different audio formats than PCM or DD. The same media might contain different mixdowns and mastering of the several formats that it contains.

Quote:
Synchronization is also there since it is the same source.

Except it might not the same source for the reasons stated above, and the switch-over time may be significant.

Quote:
Depending on his AVR, switch-over time should be reasonable although never ideal due to handshaking of HDMI.

IOW its not necessarily the slam dunk you just said it was.
Quote:
He can do it with his eyes closed, or have someone else do it. I think I covered all the bases smile.gif

No Amir, you showed with your "eyes closed" comment that you really don't understand the basic principles of blind testing.

Quote:
Either way, he has a basis under which he determined which output worked better.

A rather chancy and probably flawed way, it would appear. Of course all the weaknesses in the procedure proposed above end up producing a sighted evaluation that with a little salesmanship will end up being positive for audible differences even if none are present.
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post #13 of 14 Old 08-24-2012, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj 
"great" (i.e. transparent) dacs exist in virtually everything today...
That's a belief, not backed by measurements we have.

First off Amir the ultimate arbiter of sonic transparency is the human ear, so measurements don't apply.

Secondly Amir if there really is a controversy then it should be easy for you to produce the results of well-done listening tests that are so perfect and authoritative that the controversy is resolved in your favor, as opposed to the well done listening tests that have already been done that show that the controversy has already been resolved in favor of the DACs being transparent.
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post #14 of 14 Old 08-24-2012, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruinAnteater View Post

My current S2500 has excellent DACs, and the difference in sound quality during stereo CD/SACD playback between the analog out of the S2500 vs the HDMI out from the Sony S480 (it streams DSD to my receiver which can decode DSD), is huge! Its apparent that the AVRs DAC is inferior to the S2500's DAC.

It may not be the differences in DACs you are hearing. If one source is digital then it will probably be going through the receiver's DSP. I always advise people with Yamaha AVRs to try them with the PEQ off. I have never liked what PEQ does on any of my Yamaha AVRs. It just seems to kill too much detail.

Whereas the other source is analog, and if you are listening in 'pure direct' mode - that was probably bypassing PEQ... and thus the difference.
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