I believe I might have stumbled onto something interesting
. I had my house to myself this morning so I thought I would listen to some music. After an hour or so of listening with my Parasound 2100, BDP-83SE and Salk SongTowers I thought I would compare the 886 to the 2100. I tried the 886 in Stereo (using the HDMI input) with Audyssey and then switched back in forth between the 2100 (Stereo analog output of the 83SE) and much preferred the 2100. Then I tried the Pure Audio mode (HDMI) to the 2100 and of course the 2100 sounds better as I lose the sub when in Pure Audio mode.
Now I did not find the soundstage or imaging was askew with the 886 just that the overall SQ was better with the 2100. The vocals were still centered but the dispersion was not as wide and deep as with the 2100. When using Audyssey in the Stereo mode I found the SQ was congested and imaging overall was not as good as with the 2100. In the Pure Audio mode it was somewhat better but not by much.
Now I'm thinking that testing the analog inputs of the 886 would be a good idea but I did not feel like changing the Stereo outputs from the 2100 to the 886. I have the 5.1 output of the 83SE connected to the 886 so I figured I would compare the 5.1 analog input of the 886 to the 2100. Well I have to say I am shocked at how good the 5.1 analog input of the 886 sounds
. I have been listening to Patricia Barber's Verse CD and I'm quite surprised how good the 886 sounds
The biggest surprise for me is that when comparing the 5.1 analog of the 886 to the 2100 is that the sub plays in both Direct and Pure Audio. At first I thought the sub signal was coming from the 2100 but I powered off the 2100 and sure enough I have my sub playing. I even disconnected the HDMI cable and sure enough the sub is still playing.
So several things surprise me with this comparison. First is how good the 886 sounds when using the 5.1 analog input. Second is that the sub is playing when listening to a 2CH CD with the 5.1 analog input. I assumed there was no bass management when using the 886's 5.1 analog input but I guess the bass management is being done by the 83SE. I'm also hearing how good the multichannel DACs are with the 83SE.
I'm sitting here listening and I still can't believe how good the 886 sounds
. I kept thinking well I must have something wrong here but I checked and double checked and only the 886, 83SE, BA A7200 amp and my Anti-Mode 8033 are active in the signal path.
So if there are any other 885/886 owners looking for better analog SQ I would strongly suggest you try using the 5.1 analog input if you have the 83SE or the stock 83 for that matter. I hope someone else tries this so I will know that I'm not mistaken. I just started Beck's Sea Change HDCD and the SQ is excellent!
In the end I still prefer the SQ of the 2100 as the SQ just seems to have a little more space to it but it is very close
. I wanted to add that although I have all the 5.1 cables connnected between the 83SE and the 886 all the above listening/comparison was with just my Front R&L speakers and my Rythmik F12SE sub.