Originally Posted by Jim Cate
Could we get an update on your listening experience with the five new SACD's and the new Firmware Release, along with the Stags leap 2004 Cabernet?
The Stags Leap was definitely fine. SACD play... not so much.
That said, I am (and have always been) overly critical of the -83's SACD current state. Playback is excellent, although I do favor the MC sound slightly
more than 2 channel stereo. Arguably, the sound quality may be slightly better in analog 2ch mode. However, I just prefer the presentation of a properly engineered multi-channel SACD.
It is odd then, that I found Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" to be more enjoyable in 2ch. But, I did. I think it has something to do with the blending of vocals and piano. To my ears, that sounds more natural, spacious and clear, in 2ch - without any added information.
I did notice a small number of rice crispies littered throughout the disc. I find them more noticeable when listening in 2ch mode. Strange?
I should note that my current configuration is HDMI, not analog. I finalized on that connection since, to my ears, I don't think analog is worth the tradeoffs of using audio management in the -83, versus processing (including Audyssey) in my Denon. I did notice similar artifacts, however, when using an all analog path.
"Time Out," by David Brubeck and Paul Desmond was amazing. Not only was the music wonderful, but the production was outstanding. I felt as if I was on the stage or in the studio. Instrument placement and moreover, microphone placement, was superb. An excellent recording overall. Yes. Snap. Krackle and Pop showed up from time to time. Even that could not spoil my enjoyment of this disc.
Digressing, I think the newer vintages of this Cabernet benefit more from an open bottle, than do earlier years. The 2nd half of bottles from 2005 and up, usually do well by breathing, while the first half is enjoyed. The two bottles of 2004 that we opened for this listening were very neutral from first glass to last. So as not to give the appearance of over-consumption, let me point out there were four of us present and consuming. Sadly, I may have to stop inviting people over to drink this wine. I opened my last case and... well, you know.
The reason I ask is that I have been listening to several stereo CDs and SACDs using the stereo/analog outs, with my pre/pro set to "analog bypass." - While also enjoying a lovely, full-bodied 2005 Dry Creek Mariner cabernet-blend. - IMO, the audio from the analog stereo outs is definitely better than that with the MC or the HDMI outs, particularly when half-way into the Dry Creek Mariner.
Many people share your thoughts on mc vs. 2ch playback. Especially those that are using analog connections. I found many redbook CD's sound better that way. But, again - I use HDMI for my single connection between the -83 and my AVR. I suppose that I could also use 2ch analog simultaneously, yet for whatever reason, I don't. Perhaps, it is because I often flip between 2ch and MC listening.
I'm sure the 05 DCM helps, but you're probably right about the sound, even without it.
What Firmware Release do you have? And do you recommend the Stags Leap?
I'm running the latest public beta firmware. The SACD rice crispies have been plaguing me since the day I opened the box - regardless of firmware version. Oppo has done great work reducing them, especially with the last release of firmware. I applaud them for that. There is still (admittedly) more work to be done, though. I believe they will correct the problem completely. I just hope it is with the next release of firmware!
I highly recommend the Stags Leap. If you can find the 04, you will be amazed. The 05 is not up to the standards of the 04, yet it is still superior in its own rights. The 2004 vintage was very well produced. It may be the casking, which is alternated every other year. I'm anxious to open the 2006 to see if it feels like the 2004. We'll know at Thanksgiving!
Perhaps by then, the -83's SACD problems will be history.