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Alternatives to Casablanca III

post #1 of 234
Thread Starter 
I have a Casablanca III with one Xtreme DAC and an old superior DAC. I will need to upgrade the Superior to get the HDMI option. I priced the total upgrade cost about $8K.

I am aware that this will always be the case with Theta equipment. While the processor is upgradeable, each upgrade costs around $5K. I heard that even better DAC is planned and also room correction. So more upgrades in multiples of $5K are ahead.

Before putting any more money into the CBIII, I was wondering what my alternatives are. My main reason for owning this unit is the Xtreme DAC. The sound is what I care about most (especially out of the front channels) I would be perfectly satisfied with video processing capabilities of an average receiver/processor (e.g. Sony, Denon).

What other HT (up to 7.1) processors are there with DAC performance that would match the Xtreme performance or better it? I asked about the Integra 80.3 but was told by several members that the DAC is far worse than Theta's.

Thanks for suggestions of other equipment I could look at.
post #2 of 234
I am waiting for my Bryston SP3 to arrive. All of the early reviews say that the sound is excellent. No video processing only switching.

Steve
post #3 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post

I have a Casablanca III with one Xtreme DAC and an old superior DAC. I will need to upgrade the Superior to get the HDMI option. I priced the total upgrade cost about $8K.

I am aware that this will always be the case with Theta equipment. While the processor is upgradeable, each upgrade costs around $5K. I heard that even better DAC is planned and also room correction. So more upgrades in multiples of $5K are ahead.

Before putting any more money into the CBIII, I was wondering what my alternatives are. My main reason for owning this unit is the Xtreme DAC. The sound is what I care about most (especially out of the front channels) I would be perfectly satisfied with video processing capabilities of an average receiver/processor (e.g. Sony, Denon).

What other HT (up to 7.1) processors are there with DAC performance that would match the Xtreme performance or better it? I asked about the Integra 80.3 but was told by several members that the DAC is far worse than Theta's.

Thanks for suggestions of other equipment I could look at.

Moosik, no matter how good the Xtreme card is, I totaly agree sinking a few grand into a DAC card that is over 10 years old just for surround/sub duties, makes no sense, especially when a new card has been announced.

The good news is, one of the best kept Theta secrets is the upgrade will actually work with the old superior card (check this thread for more info - I beleive around october 2011). So you could shop around for a good deal on the upgrade (which you can be had substantially below MSRP), to get into the HDMI game, and wait for the new DAC card to be released. At that point you probably also need to get the Dirac upgrade with the new 96/24 board, and you are looking at as significant outlay (may be 8K street price). But that would give you room correction, a new DSP engine and a brand new DAC card.

Considering the progress that has been made in digital technology this should be the mother of all SSP's. I have heard some 2 channel DACs that put the Xtreme cards to shame, that are very compact. I always wondered why no one could fit six channels of these into a SSP. If the new Theta DAC card does just that, it will trounce all else on the market.

Bit of a gamble, and you may end up waiting a long time, but if just upgrading for less than 4K and using the Xtreme card gets you at par with the best on the market today, that move would make sense in its own right, and the new card would be just icing on the cake.

I personally went a step further and sold my Xtreme cards and still use my analog player with six shooter. Once a new card comes out, I will look into getting my Theta up to specs agains.
post #4 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post


What other HT (up to 7.1) processors are there with DAC performance that would match the Xtreme performance or better it? I asked about the Integra 80.3 but was told by several members that the DAC is far worse than Theta's.

Thanks for suggestions of other equipment I could look at.

I can think of a couple that will put you on about the same level. But they will also cost the same. Have you considered a Premium dac for the sides and rears? It is true that the current upgrade will work with the older cards. Theta is moving to a 24/96 operating system soon and it is almost certain the older cards will not work when that happens. The age of the design of the dac cards might be relevant if performance specs of the newest processors offered significantly better specs or sound. For the most part even the processors with newer designs and chips offer about the same measured performance with many reportedly offering less quality subjective sound. Comparing two channel dacs to what pre/pros can do is not an apples to apples comparison. IMO esoteric 2 channel dacs are superior for the most part to the sound quality of all prepros.

Although it may appear that Theta continually upgrades, this is really a new development. After years of being stagnant, Theta is almost finished completely reworking the processor. After the next round of upgrades, there may not be the need for more for quite some time. It is a nice to see the perception of the company changing : ).

The best processor that I have heard for the money is the Classe SSP800. You may want to investigate it.
post #5 of 234
I would think the Datasat RS20i deserves to be on any short list of high end processors.
post #6 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post

I would think the Datasat RS20i deserves to be on any short list of high end processors.

Sure but it would cost double the cost of adding a Premium dac, and upgrading to HDMI with Dirac Live. He's looking for some cheaper alternatives. Even if he sold the Casablanca, the price of the RS20 would be higher.
post #7 of 234
Maybe the AP20 and a modified Oppo 93?
post #8 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

Maybe the AP20 and a modified Oppo 93?

Although that is my preference, he should be aware of some of its limitations (e.g. lack of Dolby PL IIx).

How about Classe or ADA?

Also, I'm guessing the RS20i will be cheaper than the Theta once you also include the upgrade cost for the Dirac.
post #9 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raul GS View Post


Also, I'm guessing the RS20i will be cheaper than the Theta once you also include the upgrade cost for the Dirac.

I don't think so if the RS20i's list is $40,000

Approx. cost of new CB-IIIHD/Dirac Version inc. 12 channels of Theta's best DAC'S (either 3 cards of current Extreme or 2 unreleased 6 channel Super Duper Superior Premium Extreme DAC's........$32,730

$13,745 List CB-IIIHD
$14,985 3 Extreme cards (12 channels)
$4,000 Dirac Live Upgrade

Right or wrong I am figuring the cost of some future 6 channel/card replacement of Extremes at approx. same cost per channel as current card 4 channel card.

This leaves open the possibility of also installing Theta's new $2,000, 12 channel Digi-Output card which bumps the price up to $34,725.
Still considerably under the RS20i's price, unless these unreleased DAC's increase price by over $400/channel
post #10 of 234
RS20i is 16k.

ADA Cinema Reference is 40k.

Dan
post #11 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanFrancis View Post

RS20i is 16k.

ADA Cinema Reference is 40k.

Dan


Ahh haa, I knew I saw you post that price, nice looking piece...thanks!
post #12 of 234
If you have $30K-$40K to spend (and you absolutely had to spend it), the ADA with internal Trinnov is a no brainer.

However, I wouldn't buy it. The days of $30K+ processors are way back in the pre-stock market crash days. Processors in the $10K range are cheaper, better and far more reliable.

The Theta is competent but it's loaded up price is reminiscent of the days of old when some of us paid $15K for a Faroudja scaler that did 600P... That said the price of the $40K ADA is questionable as well.
post #13 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raul GS View Post


Also, I'm guessing the RS20i will be cheaper than the Theta once you also include the upgrade cost for the Dirac.

Not for an upgrade with a Premium dac even with Dirac.. It could be done for about half the cost. Just a little more to add a used Extreme dac which should be more widely available once new dacs are released. Considering what he's invested so far Theta or Datasat RS20 is going to be over 10k total. Classe and the cheaper ADA don't have the extra cost of licensing room correction. There is no way around that extra cost if you want the most current room correction. Parametric EQ may be the most logical choice considering the units that use it.
post #14 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

The days of $30K+ processors are way back in the pre-stock market crash days. Processors in the $10K range are cheaper, better and far more reliable.

The Theta is competent but it's loaded up price is reminiscent of the days of old when some of us paid $15K for a Faroudja scaler that did 600P....

Keep in mind though that on the used market a fully loaded Theta is still a 10K processor. Anyone paying full retail, or even retail -20% for this stuff was shorting the market during the crash (or a VERY succesfull dentist).

http://app.audiogon.com/listings/the...e-dacs-hdmi--2
post #15 of 234
I will be looking into the theta because it has neo x and dolby plz.

5 Quested LT20s wide L,Left,center,right,wide right, and 2 Quested LT-10 heights, 10 18 inch subs all customized to fit behind a 17 foot CIH screen






LL
LL
LL
post #16 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post

I have a Casablanca III with one Xtreme DAC and an old superior DAC. I will need to upgrade the Superior to get the HDMI option. I priced the total upgrade cost about $8K.

Who told you you need to upgrade the Superior DAC? The Superior I DAC works absolutely fine with the HD upgrade. I have a CBIII with Extreme DAC, digi card, and a Superior DAC. I have already confirmed with Theta that it is only *suggested* to upgrade the Superior DAC, but not required, and it will work absolutely fine post-upgrade. Only thing I had to upgrade on mine to make it "HD Ready" is a newer digi card with a vol data port. Cost $100, done. Anyway, I do think the CBIII is worthwhile, especially picking up a good used one. There is just nothing else close to it on the market in terms of sonics and overall system config flexibility.

I just bought a CBIII HD from my dealer this morning and hooked it up in my rack, replacing my CBIII (which is getting boxed up and will be for sale soon). The CBIII HD has the new enhanced multi-channel digi card in DAC slot 1 for Gen VIII hook ups (eventually??), an extreme DAC in slot 2 and a Premium card in slot 3. After dialing it in and watching a movie, I am left nothing short of stunned. I really did not expect much of a differenct in sound quality especially through HDMI. But OMG, the HD upgrade is definitely worth the money if done right, e.g. don't pay for DAC upgrades that you do not need.

Ok so why did I buy a CBIII HD separately? Because, I am impatient and did not want to be without a processor while the upgrade is being done.
post #17 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post


The Theta is competent but it's loaded up price is reminiscent of the days of old when some of us paid $15K for a Faroudja scaler that did 600P.

I had been evaluating getting a used CBIII and upgrading to HD and eventually Dirac ---- but I am amazed to continually read in these forums about so many users having to regularly re-boot from lock-ups and system crashes.

A product that sells a this price point should not only sound terrific, but just as importantly, be solidly reliable.

I sold my CB as I got tired of waiting for Theta to be up front on the HD upgrade. I used to have to re-boot mine regularly as well and I have a friend with the CBIII and he has the same complaints.

My temporary (or maybe not) Integra piece has not crashed since I have had it (over a year)
post #18 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

I had been evaluating getting a used CBIII and upgrading to HD and eventually Dirac ---- but I am amazed to continually read in these forums about so many users having to regularly re-boot from lock-ups and system crashes.

A product that sells a this price point should not only sound terrific, but just as importantly, be solidly reliable.

I sold my CB as I got tired of waiting for Theta to be up front on the HD upgrade. I used to have to re-boot mine regularly as well and I have a friend with the CBIII and he has the same complaints.

My temporary (or maybe not) Integra piece has not crashed since I have had it (over a year)

You may have had a defective CB3. I had mine for years and it never acted up. Don't recall ever needing to reboot it. And that was with RS-232 controls with sliders changing the volume via commands without any delays.

The HD upgrade is why mine is back at the shop. So far Theta has done better than Arcam ever did when it comes to delivering a working HDMI solution. Lockups were a nightmare on the AVR600. Speaker pops ghastly. I never had that problem with the CB3HD. One of the problems was due to my volume card coming lose during shipping, and another due to a TI bug in their chip software. Both have been rectified resulting in changes and improvements. I'm crossing my fingers that my unit will be perfect as the lock-ups were fixed the first time due to power supply.
post #19 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

I had been evaluating getting a used CBIII and upgrading to HD and eventually Dirac ---- but I am amazed to continually read in these forums about so many users having to regularly re-boot from lock-ups and system crashes.

A product that sells a this price point should not only sound terrific, but just as importantly, be solidly reliable.

I sold my CB as I got tired of waiting for Theta to be up front on the HD upgrade. I used to have to re-boot mine regularly as well and I have a friend with the CBIII and he has the same complaints.

My temporary (or maybe not) Integra piece has not crashed since I have had it (over a year)

I used an Integra SSP for thankfully what turned out to be a temporary HDMI solution with my then CB3 and Six Shooter, using the Integra SSP to do audio processing as it input HDMI, and output multi-channel analog to the Six Shooter.

Sorry. The CB3 HD is in a totally much better leage, makes the Integra, as good as I thought it sounded when I had it, as a premadonna mid fi quality. Simply no comparison. I might add that I initially ditched the Integra and an Oppo BDP-83 for a Marantz UD9004 Universal player, which killed the prior Integra Oppo combo. Yet the CB3 HD easily slays even the UD9004. Though to be fair, the CB3 HD with Extreme DACs is somewhat better than using the UD9004 Six Shooter - but the CB3 HD using the Gen VIII DAC for front left and right channels is the real keeper of them all!!

The Integra SSP is a good product for its price point, but no more than that!
post #20 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

but I am amazed to continually read in these forums about so many users having to regularly re-boot from lock-ups and system crashes.

There have been several hundred perfectly good CB-IIIHD's placed into the hands of customers over the past 15-16 months.
I think what we actually see on these forums is the same handful of problematic units being discussed over and over, and that's fine, as long as we realize we're talking about the same units and not more and more problematic units.

But, it appears to me, that once identified, if these units should be reported to Theta, that Theta will work pretty hard to resolve the issues of those few particular problematic units.

It would seem to me, if someone has a problematic unit and they don't report it to Theta and then return that unit for repair, it's possible that we could read about these same problems for years to come.
post #21 of 234
Steve: In my room (dedicated and well treated), the newest high resolution room correction on the Integra (at least 1 or 2 steps above what you were using) compared to zero room correction on the CB provides a better solution. I have a friend with the best room I have ever heard and the very best in equipment I have ever heard who happens to own a CBIII. He will confirm what I said.
.
Do I believe the CB with Dirac will be better? ABSOLUTELY and that is why I was interested in re-acquiring the CBIII HD.

But there are too many folks posting on the CB thread about glitches/crashes/freezes for a product that costs this much. Clearly many are willing to live with those issues given the sound quality of the CB, but I'm probably not one of them.

But that's just me
post #22 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

Steve: In my room (dedicated and well treated), the newest high resolution room correction on the Integra (at least 1 or 2 steps above what you were using) compared to zero room correction on the CB provides a better solution. I have a friend with the best room I have ever heard and the very best in equipment I have ever heard who happens to own a CBIII. He will confirm what I said.
.
Do I believe the CB with Dirac will be better? ABSOLUTELY and that is why I was interested in re-acquiring the CBIII HD.

But there are too many folks posting on the CB thread about glitches/crashes/freezes for a product that costs this much. Clearly many are willing to live with those issues given the sound quality of the CB, but I'm probably not one of them.

But that's just me

To be fair there are, including me, 3 or 4 people having issues that are posting here. Each forum for any given processor always a few people with problems of one type or another.
post #23 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by sierraalphahotel View Post

To be fair there are, including me, 3 or 4 people having issues that are posting here. Each forum for any given processor always a few people with problems of one type or another.

Halcro had issues when updating the SSP-100 to full res (non LPCM) data streams able to carry 1080P24. Those that had older boxes upgraded were plagued with problems while those, like myself, who got a brand new unit had far less issues. Melding old hardware with new hardware and software is liable for some incompatibilities...
post #24 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioguy View Post

Steve: In my room (dedicated and well treated), the newest high resolution room correction on the Integra (at least 1 or 2 steps above what you were using) compared to zero room correction on the CB provides a better solution.

But that's just me

That's not a surprise. I remember you found even an Onkyo better, "Also, i was able to compare my previous CB II without room correction to my current Onkyo with room correction and it was no contest."

I will not attack your opinion. I only posted that as I feel many may disagree with your deep seated positions. You do seem sincerely interested in a new processor and maybe open to other options now that Lexicon is delayed by a year or two. It's valid to desire,well demand any feature. From reading the manual for the computer software, Dirac Live's set-up seems rather straight forward.
post #25 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post


Halcro had issues when updating the SSP-100 to full res (non LPCM) data streams able to carry 1080P24. Those that had older boxes upgraded were plagued with problems while those, like myself, who got a brand new unit had far less issues. Melding old hardware with new hardware and software is liable for some incompatibilities...

After the next upgrade I am not sure there will be any old hardware left. I guess the same can be said for entirely new platforms.
post #26 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by sierraalphahotel View Post


To be fair there are, including me, 3 or 4 people having issues that are posting here. Each forum for any given processor always a few people with problems of one type or another.

True, I wish it wasn't me though. I believe the difference with the few of us, is that we are not bashing the product, but speaking openly about it to confirm if it's just a problem with our units or not. And if it is a problem, identifying it quickly so others may benefit down the road. I'm sure the things discovered with my unit have either confirmed a problem resulting in a change or shown where improvements could be made like adding brackets, etc. Who would have guessed Texas Instruments would have a bug in their chip software?

And as much as mud get flung on this forum, it's a fast way to get info to the masses for sharing both good and bad. If you fly solo trying to figure everything out you may just go insane. Sometimes a 2nd or 3rd opinion from fellow owners helps keep the medication away.
post #27 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

That's not a surprise. I remember you found even an Onkyo better, "Also, i was able to compare my previous CB II without room correction to my current Onkyo with room correction and it was no contest."

In fairness, I have seen numerous people speak highly of the new Integra, and stating that it is a decent improvement over its prior versions (I think Roger or Kal my have also stated this). If this is the case, then all the comments from people referring to the old version should also be taken with a reasonably sized grain of salt.
post #28 of 234
Thread Starter 
My CBIII also has issues that require reboot occasionally (e.g. when you forward a movie sometimes). I've gotten used to it, so it's not a deal breaker.

I am trying to find out how the DACs on an Integra 80.2 would sound compared to Theta's Xtreme DACs (room correction is a secondary concern for me). Has anyone on the forum compared them?

If the difference is subtle or not very significant, then I'm ready to jump ship from continual Theta investments. If it's the difference between Hi-Fi and mid-fi, I'll send my processor for the upgrade.
post #29 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post

My CBIII also has issues that require reboot occasionally (e.g. when you forward a movie sometimes). I've gotten used to it, so it's not a deal breaker.

I am trying to find out how the DACs on an Integra 80.2 would sound compared to Theta's Xtreme DACs (room correction is a secondary concern for me). Has anyone on the forum compared them?

If the difference is subtle or not very significant, then I'm ready to jump ship from continual Theta investments. If it's the difference between Hi-Fi and mid-fi, I'll send my processor for the upgrade.

Moosik, if you want a processor for movies only and you are not a big time special effects movie buff with 6 subs to shake your house, I think you would be OK with the Integra. If you need MCH for a classical SACD collection go down the CBIII path.
post #30 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post

My CBIII also has issues that require reboot occasionally (e.g. when you forward a movie sometimes). I've gotten used to it, so it's not a deal breaker.


I don't recall you mentioning whether or not you had updated the software in your CB-III since you bought it.

While v316 didn't fix every problem like this in every unit, it did make this problem less troublesome for allot of people.
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