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Alternatives to Casablanca III - Page 3

post #61 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post


For me, spending big money on audio equipment is worth it when I can hear HUGE differences between pieces of audio gear. If the difference is subtle but costs many thousands of dollars, I do not go for it.

It happens to me in other areas of shopping too. For example, my wife and I were shopping for new track lighting on the weekend. I was suddenly introduced to a world of lighting devices ranging from $100 to $2000. At the end, we settled on a very pleasing $250 track which looked almost as good as another $1700 track that we liked. Once the new track is installed, I will totally forget the many very expensive other tracks I've seen.

You may be in the wrong forum. The law of diminishing returns is strong here. I remember a friend once purchased a large GE television from SAMs Club for at the time half the price of Panasonic's then top of the line I had just purchased. He never understood how I could justify buying the set I owned and had to constantly tell me that. I say if you are more value conscience than performance either of our opinions is of little value to the other. Seriously, the Onkyo may be just the ticket. It will do all you need for a fraction of the price of the Casablanca and you likely will find it just as good. I know for sure my friend would.
post #62 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post

, why are you not curious about the results of my experiment and decide apriori that if CBIII loses out it's because I got it wrong somehow. If you lived close to me, I would invite you over to run the test together.

Way too much stuff in here to address tonight dude but thank you for the invite, quite kind.
I was going to try to cut this post into bullet-points and sections but we seem to be all over the place so I'll try to be as concise as possible.

It is not that I'm not curious about your results, I am more intrigued then you might imagine.
But I am inclined to believe, from your posts just prior to this thread, that there is already a bias towards the cheaper, easier, more available, etc. processor.
I thought you stated quite clearly that the Casablanca was too complicated for your needs and desire something simpler.
That of course does not mean you shouldn't try to compare....

Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post

I have no idea which DAC will win out. It's very possible that I will find out that CBIII continues to sound amazing compared to the Integra. In that case, would you question my Integra not being setup properly?) If the CBIII wins, I'll go for the HD upgrade.

I am having a bit of a problem with your terminology.
You have been talking about which box is or has a better DAC but then you seem to be comparing the entire box (SSP with DAC's).
It is confusing as to what it is you hope to accomplish and what exactly you're comparing to what!
At this point I don't even feel like we have a competition, let alone a fair one either way.

There is no question that this is an expensive sport to be involved in and your concerns over future costs are no doubt valid.
Again, the idea behind the Casablanca is that it is upgradeable, that does not mean you have to get every option or upgrade, or get it when it comes out.
You do these things at your leisure, when and if you can afford them.

I am quite sure your intention was not to discredit Theta as from reading your posts I understand that you have enjoyed your Casablanca a great deal and have enjoyed the sound of the Extreme DAC

If you liked the sound of your CB-III and wished to keep it, there was also another much cheaper alternative you have at the moment while you waited to do whatever upgrades you want in the future.
That is to acquire a used Six-Shooter.

Remember, the upgrades your talking about, the CB-IIIHD upgrade (which I still feel is relatively cheap) Dirac Live and an as yet unreleased DAC card are state-of-the-art components, and the options are,
1. be prepared to pay the price for State-Of-The-Art
2. wait until such things are available used
3. get a mass market SSP that you can live with.
post #63 of 234
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

You may be in the wrong forum. The law of diminishing returns is strong here. ... I say if you are more value conscience than performance either of our opinions is of little value to the other. Seriously, the Onkyo may be just the ticket. It will do all you need for a fraction of the price of the Casablanca and you likely will find it just as good. I know for sure my friend would.

You're right, Bulldogger. I guess that my question is value oriented. I put it here because I knew that this is where CBIII owners are likely to reside. But I am not a value shopper who is willing to compromise on great sound , and especially not stereo sound since I listen mostly to classical music and opera in stereo mode.

Here is my system:
Legacy Whisper speakers each bi-amplified with matching CODA amps
Legacy LF Extreme subwoofer
Legacy Silver Screen Centre powered by CODA 20 amp
Older Celestion SL600Si speakers (rear) powered by Wyred4Sound ST1000 amp
CBIII processor with Xtreme DAC
Oppo BDP93
(soon to be joined by a Mac Mini with Hiface converter)

The total retail value of my system is well above $20K, so I don't feel too guilty hanging around this forum. When it comes to processors, I am performance conscious in the sense that I would not settle for less than the sound I am currently getting with the (10-year old) Xtreme DAC. I am value conscious in the sense that, if I can now get this kind of DAC sound with the Integra processor, I would not seek further Casablanca upgrades (even though I know these upgrades will take the CBIII where it had not gone before).

All I would like to find out is if the Integra (or any other low-priced receivers) have caught up with the Xtreme's performance in the decade since its release. I find it interesting that, in this entire thread, no poster has authoritatively compared the Onkyo/Integra DAC (without room correction) to the Xtreme DAC.

I was originally hoping to receive a resounding response of:
"NO. The Xtreme is still light years ahead of what they are putting in commercial receivers"
or
"YES. DACs in the top end of commercial receivers have caught up in the past decade with the standards originally set out by the Xtreme DAC."
Instead, the conversation has meandered to issues of room correction (which, admittedly, are interesting in themselves) and to challenges of the validity of my upcoming test.

I do hope to get a definite answer once I compare my (non-HD) CBIII and my Integra (currently on its way) and to report it here.

Thank you all for the spirited discussion around these issues.
post #64 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post


"NO. The Xtreme is still light years ahead of what they are putting in commercial receivers"
or
"YES. DACs in the top end of commercial receivers have caught up in the past decade with the standards originally set out by the Xtreme .

That's because most came from other processors and not mass market. Usually there are intermediate steps. Audio guy and Edorr both have owned the Onkyo and switched either from it or to it. There are in fact years of reports of owners switching to different processors. I have only been told by three guys or seen reports that they found better sound than the Casablanca with Xtreme dacs. One purchased the 30k Krell and the other asked that his opinion not be shared but I can tell ypu his processor is well over 10k. The other reports were comparing the older Non-HD Casablanca. Everyone is telling me that the improvements with the HD are not the modest ones you might expect from the changed that were made.

I have in fact used an Onkyo,Yamaha, and Harman Kardon receivers in my system all in the last 3 years. I never though the comparison was worth making and still do not. I gave the Harman Kardon away to my wife's brother in law. It offers great performance for what it cost and he's thrilled with it. It was used in my theater when my house was up for sale.
post #65 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

The MX150 is not HDMI 1.4 so you'll have to buy yet another processor to pass 3D.

Not true. There is a free firmware upgrade for this.
post #66 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

Not true. There is a free firmware upgrade for this.

Ok HDMI 1.5 1.6,etc. It's not hardware upgradeable. You don't save any money trying to stay current with Mcintosh Vs Theta. I am a big fan of Mcintosh and own over 50k in Mac gear. I have often considered Mcintosh processors but the Casablanca because of the cost of upgrades is just a much better value.
post #67 of 234
There is also the McIntosh MX-151. This was released a week or so ago and handles 3D and a little other stuff.

The CB and the Mac are both costly and the returns do become smaller, but if you can afford such items then the returns are worth it.

It is up to each person to determine if he or she feels it is a good value. That is the main reason there are so many companies still out there in audio or any other field.
post #68 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by rovingtravler View Post

There is also the McIntosh MX-151. This was released a week or so ago and handles 3D and a little other stuff.

The CB and the Mac are both costly and the returns do become smaller, but if you can afford such items then the returns are worth it.

It is up to each person to determine if he or she feels it is a good value. That is the main reason there are so many companies still out there in audio or any other field.

I think for many others here, it is less about value but the product's performance within reason. It's hard to imagine anyone here with a high end theater with 10s or $100,000 into it throwing in an Onkyo / Integra piece to do the sound. My buddy bought one and I helped him set it up and what a piece of crap. If this is truly your hobby and you're truly inspired to have a $20K forum level of performance, then you stay away from the mass market garbage.

You can get great surround processing with a built in PEQ from ADA, Classe' or others that does a fantastic job for well under $10,000 street.
post #69 of 234
The late great "doug Windsor" would have been all over this thread
post #70 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

Audio guy and Edorr both have owned the Onkyo and switched either from it or to it. There are in fact years of reports of owners switching to different processors.

To be fair though, I had the old Onkyo 885. According to Kal, the newer unit is quite a bit better. Based on the limited numbetr of pieces of hardware that have circulated through my system over the last three years, I would rank the DACs as follows:

1. Perfect Wave DAC MKII
2. Zodiac Gold
3. Perfect Wave DAC original version
4 / 5 Tie - Theta Xtreme in CBIII, Marantz UD9004 internal DACs (it could be the Xtreme's bests the ud9004 when installed in a CBIII HD - I don't know)
5. Pioneer BDP-09 internal DACs
6. Onkyo 885 DACs

I would be interesting to compare the DACs in my Trinnov 4 channel processor with the Perfectwave MKII, not least because the Trinnov DACs are the same DACs that are used in the 40,000 ADA SSP. I probably won't bother with such a shoot-out though.

It is (not very likely, but) conceivable the new Onkyo has closed the gap with Xtreme in a non upgraded CBIII. We can talk about this all day long, but the only way to find out is to try for yourself.
post #71 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post


I think for many others here, it is less about value but the product's performance within reason. It's hard to imagine anyone here with a high end theater with 10s or $100,000 into it throwing in an Onkyo / Integra piece to do the sound. My buddy bought one and I helped him set it up and what a piece of crap. If this is truly your hobby and you're truly inspired to have a $20K forum level of performance, then you stay away from the mass market garbage.

You can get great surround processing with a built in PEQ from ADA, Classe' or others that does a fantastic job for well under $10,000 street.

Completely agree.
post #72 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

I think for many others here, it is less about value but the product's performance within reason. It's hard to imagine anyone here with a high end theater with 10s or $100,000 into it throwing in an Onkyo / Integra piece to do the sound. My buddy bought one and I helped him set it up and what a piece of crap. If this is truly your hobby and you're truly inspired to have a $20K forum level of performance, then you stay away from the mass market garbage.

You can get great surround processing with a built in PEQ from ADA, Classe' or others that does a fantastic job for well under $10,000 street.

Keep in mind though that the price of expensive SSPs is largely driven by sunk R&D cost, not cost of components. The marginal cost of a copy say the Trinnov software is zero, and all the digital processing happens on cheap chips. The secret sauce are the algorhitms. So a high end manufacturer could decided to market its secret souce to the mass market, cut its price 75%, and make up lost margin through higher volume. If succesfull this can change the dynamcs of the industry.

This is precisely what Oppo did with the universal player. The 93 is now close enough to a mass market product, yet performs at the level of what was previously a few thousand $$$ player. They could have elected to position their player in the high-end segment and charge a few thousand.

Don't see this scenario play out in the SSP market, but it could happen.
post #73 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr View Post

Keep in mind though that the price of expensive SSPs is largely driven by sunk R&D cost, not cost of components. The marginal cost of a copy say the Trinnov software is zero, and all the digital processing happens on cheap chips. The secret sauce are the algorhitms. So a high end manufacturer could decided to market its secret souce to the mass market, cut its price 75%, and make up lost margin through higher volume. If succesfull this can change the dynamcs of the industry.

This is precisely what Oppo did with the universal player. The 93 is now close enough to a mass market product, yet performs at the level of what was previously a few thousand $$$ player. They could have elected to position their player in the high-end segment and charge a few thousand.

Don't see this scenario play out in the SSP market, but it could happen.

The Oppo 93 is 5X to 10X the cost of many many Blu Ray players that are found at Best Buy. And Oppo is direct Buy only. There is a similar differential between today's new SSPs (e.g. Classe', ADA) and your run of mill Onkyo garbage. If you want to play, you have to pay.
post #74 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

Completely agree.

Now that's a first!
post #75 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

The Oppo 93 is 5X to 10X the cost of many many Blu Ray players that are found at Best Buy. And Oppo is direct Buy only. There is a similar differential between today's new SSPs (e.g. Classe', ADA) and your run of mill Onkyo garbage. If you want to play, you have to pay.

We were talking about a 2K Onkyo in comparison with a 10K SSP, not a $500 radioshack. The Oppo improved price performance of universal players overnight by a factor of 5 to 1. A high end SSP selling for 2K could do the same. And yes, to make money it would probably also have to be a factory direct model.
post #76 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr View Post

We were talking about a 2K Onkyo in comparison with a 10K SSP, not a $500 radioshack. The Oppo improved price performance of universal players overnight by a factor of 5 to 1. A high end SSP selling for 2K could do the same. And yet, to make money it would probably also have to be a factory direct model.

There is no such thing as a high end SSP @ $2000. We are not there yet. An Onkyo is just an amalgam of cheap parts for the mass market that is Best Buy's bread and butta!

I mean, I don't care what anyone does in their own theater.. it's their choice. But an Onkyo in a high end room?? That's like me substituting a Mustang GT for my 911 Turbo S! No thanks - 1/5th the price, 1/5th the performance!!
post #77 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

There is no such thing as a high end SSP @ $2000. We are not there yet. An Onkyo is just an amalgam of cheap parts for the mass market that is Best Buy's bread and butta!

I mean, I don't care what anyone does in their own theater.. it's their choice. But an Onkyo in a high end room?? That's like me substituting a Mustang GT for my 911 Turbo S! No thanks - 1/5th the price, 1/5th the performance!!

You are dead wrong. Most hardware is cheap, and once developed software cost nothing. Price is largely driven by sunk R&D cost. I would not be surprised at all if Classe could sell their SSP-800 in a factory direct model at a low margin for between 2-3K (provided they could manufacture say 10x more then they are selling now, which would drive down manufacturing cost per unit). Of course, they would need to sell many more units to recover their R&D cost. To sell into the high end of the market is strictly a marketing decision.

By contrast. you could not build a Porsche and sell it for 30K and make money.
post #78 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr View Post

You are dead wrong. Most hardware is cheap, and once developed software cost nothing. Price is largely driven by sunk R&D cost. I would not be surprised at all if Classe could sell their SSP-800 in a factory direct model at a low margin for between 2-3K (provided they could manufacture say 10x more then they are selling now, which would drive down manufacturing cost per unit). Of course, they would need to sell many more units to recover their R&D cost. This is strictly a marketing decision.

By contrast. you could not build a Porsche and sell it for 30K and make money.

You would put an Onkyo in your room?
post #79 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr View Post

You are dead wrong. Most hardware is cheap, and once developed software cost nothing. Price is largely driven by sunk R&D cost. I would not be surprised at all if Classe could sell their SSP-800 in a factory direct model at a low margin for between 2-3K (provided they could manufacture say 10x more then they are selling now, which would drive down manufacturing cost per unit). Of course, they would need to sell many more units to recover their R&D cost. This is strictly a marketing decision.

Look what Anthem's done, they developed ARC for their $6-10k processors and then put a slightly slimmed down version in their MRX series.
I just replaced a BK Ref20 and after considerable research, decided to use the $1k MRX300 as a pre/pro. The technology just changes too quickly to invest in anything high-end, unless you go with something like the Theta that has a great history of upgradeability, albeit at a high price.
post #80 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post

edorr, thanks for the suggestions about experimenting with REW. I'll try to do that.

Even before I get into room correction, I'm really curious to compare the DACs in an uncorrected room.

If your new to using REW here is a tutorial made up by GIK Acoustics which should help.

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v...UUSY&vq=medium
post #81 of 234
Thread Starter 
thebland, you've made it clear that you consider Onkyo equipment "crap" and you keep referring to Best Buy, but we're really talking about a recently-introduced processor that represents top-of-the-line in mass-marketed gear and costs $2500. If the sonic benefits of DACs are going to work their way down into mass marketing, it will probably happen with this type of equipment. A decade is a long time for a company like Onkyo/Integra to catch up with what Theta were doing in the early 2000's. I don't say that it actually happened, but it's valid to raise the question whether or not it did.

Edorr's example of the Oppo provides an excellent analogy. With the BDP93 and BDP95 we can now get gear that would typically cost 5 times as much in the high end market. Thebland, you could have just as easily argued that it makes no sense to have a HT worth $20K+ with a $500 blu-ray source. But then there's Oppo. I believe that the DAC market is ready for such a change too. If it had not arrived yet, someone should do it.

Another compelling example would be Anticable speaker cables at $10/ft for stereo pairs. Who would have thought that you could get satisfying speaker cable for high end systems at this price point?

As I wrote before, for me, the only compelling reason to spend 3-5 times as many dollars on CBIII would be the incontestable superiority of their DACs. I need to be convinced with my own ears. And perhaps I'll agree with thebland that Onkyo/Integra is still "crap". If that happens, my inquiry would have been an instance of wishful thinking.
post #82 of 234
I have onkyo, integra, denon in my house in family room, game room , master BR etc . All are $1000+ MSRP models and none of them comes even close to ADA that I use in theater . It is true that the cost to build them is not much . Most of DAC' s cost less than 5-10 dollars , same way If you add cost of resistors , capacitors etc and the DSP's , it will probably come to few hundred dollars at the most. That would be true for all processors probably . But that doesn't mean that onkyo will sound same as other pricier processors . The premium is for their R&d and intellectual property to use the same components in a way that gives performance ad flexibility / tweakbility that sets them apart from the crowd .
post #83 of 234
A player is a far simpler device than a box that contains a preamplifier and 8 channels of amplification. Heat kills. A player simply picks up the data from the disc and simply spits it out in its native form. The Oppo analogy is a weak one when comparing to a receiver which is the heart of an audio system. Moreiver, the Oppo is expensive compared to the myriad of $100 Blu Ray players.

If your system sounds great to you with a piece from Best Buy, that's your thing. Bruzonsky thought so, too but that was because he didn't have a real SSP with HDMI. As soon as he got it, I suppose he forgot about how great the Onkyo was in his system.

I see no reason to consider an Onkyo in this forum unless for the bedroom or family room.
post #84 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by moosik View Post

Another compelling example would be Anticable speaker cables at $10/ft for stereo pairs. Who would have thought that you could get satisfying speaker cable for high end systems at this price point?

I have never been much for cable making a huge difference even though I do like well made cables. I have Cardas, MIT, Transparent, Harmonic Technology and a few others, I like to call them Audio Jewelry. I did try out a pair of Anti-Cables out of curiosity and it was the first time I really heard a difference in speaker cables. The difference was my speakers sounded horrible, it was very easy to hear the difference. I actually swapped out my main speakers to see if the Anti-Cables just didn't make a good match for the Aerial 9's I had at the time but they were still horrible with my Von Schweikerts. I even went so far as to swap out the cables with some generic Belden speaker cables I used for my subs and they sounded fine. I couldn't hear much difference between the cheap Belden and I think Cardas or maybe Analysis Plus cables I had then but the Anti-cables really stood out. The treble was truncated and the sound stage collapsed with the Anti-Cables, it was shocking actually.

Sorry for the off topic rant.
post #85 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by mani View Post

I have onkyo, integra, denon in my house in family room, game room , master BR etc . All are $1000+ MSRP models and none of them comes even close to ADA that I use in theater . It is true that the cost to build them is not much . Most of DAC' s cost less than 5-10 dollars , same way If you add cost of resistors , capacitors etc and the DSP's , it will probably come to few hundred dollars at the most. That would be true for all processors probably . But that doesn't mean that onkyo will sound same as other pricier processors . The premium is for their R&d and intellectual property to use the same components in a way that gives performance ad flexibility / tweakbility that sets them apart from the crowd .

That is precisely the point I was trying to make. The reason to sell a high end processor for 10K and not 2-3K is because the secret sauce commands a premium. It is not to cost to build it. So some high-end manufacturer could decide to kill their dealer network and start selling direct at higher volume and at a lower margin, and change the industry. Another scenario is someone like Onkyo figures this out and builds a SSP that is as good as the high end.
post #86 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

A player is a far simpler device than a box that contains a preamplifier and 8 channels of amplification. Heat kills. A player simply picks up the data from the disc and simply spits it out in its native form. The Oppo analogy is a weak one when comparing to a receiver which is the heart of an audio system. Moreiver, the Oppo is expensive compared to the myriad of $100 Blu Ray players.

If your system sounds great to you with a piece from Best Buy, that's your thing. Bruzonsky thought so, too but that was because he didn't have a real SSP with HDMI. As soon as he got it, I suppose he forgot about how great the Onkyo was in his system.

I see no reason to consider an Onkyo in this forum unless for the bedroom or family room.

Jeff, dead wrong again. The technology in a a universal player and a SSP is actually very similar. Both have a powersupply, DSP, multi channel dacs and analog output stages. There is no more amplification going on in a SSP than in a universal player. The SSP just adds switching capability.
post #87 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr View Post

That is precisely the point I was trying to make. The reason to sell a high end processor for 10K and not 2-3K is because the secret sauce commands a premium. It is not to cost to build it. So some high-end manufacturer could decide to kill their dealer network and start selling direct at higher volume and at a lower margin, and change the industry. Another scenario is someone like Onkyo figures this out and builds a SSP that is as good as the high end.

Imagine how much I could've saved on my Porsche had they closed up all their dealerships, importers, etc and sold direct from Germany!! It's a senseless argument.
post #88 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr View Post

Jeff, dead wrong again. The technology in a a universal player and a SSP is actually very similar. Both have a powersupply, DSP, multi channel dacs and analog output stages. There is no more amplification going on in a SSP than in a universal player. The SSP just adds switching capability.

For one, I think the receiver adds heat to the circuitry in the box. And heat kills electronics. Otherwise, preamp and SSP manufacturers would add heaters in their preamps so you could get that 'hot' sound and get those circuit boards up to 100 degrees!

I guess the VW bug and my 911 are similar cars offering similar performance. 4 wheels, an engine, a chassis and key!
post #89 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr View Post


That is precisely the point I was trying to make. The reason to sell a high end processor for 10K and not 2-3K is because the secret sauce commands a premium. It is not to cost to build it. So some high-end manufacturer could decide to kill their dealer network and start selling direct at higher volume and at a lower margin, and change the industry. Another scenario is someone like Onkyo figures this out and builds a SSP that is as good as the high end.

Do you still own thousands of dollars of high-end cables? If so I just see hypocrisy.
post #90 of 234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulldogger View Post

Do you still own thousands of dollars of high-end cables? If so I just see hypocrisy.

I do. If anything this proves my point. The only reason these cables are so expensive is R&D costs and proprietary IP, and willing buyers to pay $2000 for a piece of equipment that costs $200 (tops) to manufacture, stictly on the basis of performance. The reason to price and market them as expensive high-end cables is strictly a marketing decision.

Also, I never said the $2000 high end processor has arrived. I just said just like Oppo shook up the universal player market, someone could do the same with SSPs at some point, because the secret sauce is mostly software and the hardware components are cheap.

Not sure where the hypocrisy part comes in.
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