Originally Posted by rblnr
If bluray/DVD via hdmi into a CBIII is inferior to, say, an Oppo SE into an SS, the update is a failure, particularly with either of the upper end DACs. If two channel music out of the SE via analog is better than coax into the SupII or Extreme, ditto.
2 channel performance over S/DIF using an Xtreme card relative to an Oppo SE obviously has nothing to do with whether or not HDMI is a failure because you don't need HDMI to make this comparison.
For what it is worth, here is my take on the 2 channel question. I compared the Sony XA5400ES 2 channel through the six shooter with a Compli S/PDIF through the Xtreme cards. The Xtreme cards won. According to Kal Rubinson is his latest column, the Sony is the price performance category leader for 2-channel analog, at least at par with the Oppo SE. I provisionaly conclude the Xtreme cards probably still beat the Oppe SE. Norm will soon provide an addition datapoint by comparing an Oppo SE Nuforce over SS with a digital transport over Xtreme cards, we'll see.
To beat the CBIII + Xtreme card and a decent digital transport on two channel, you probably need to spend a few grand (according to Steve, the PWT + PWD combo will do the trick). Anyone that has found a sub 2K CD player that sounds better analog through the SS than digital through the Xtreme cards please speak up!
In economic terms, on the basis of 2 channel performance, at current street prices the CBIII + Xtreme card (currently one listed on A'gon for $4000), is still a competitive DAC + Preamp. For full retail it has been left in the dust by technological progress and better 2 channel can be had for less than $5,000.
Multi channel performance and whether HDMI will be a failure or not is a different discussion altogether.