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Kal/Experts: SACD better via HDMI (mid price pre/pro) or Analog (hi-end pre/pro)?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
So here is my dilemma. I would love a one-box solution for CD/SACD music and HT. Unfortunately, nothing seems to provide the perfect answer in my budget (4-6k). Either there is very good SQ in analog direct, or very good auto room correction, but, unless you jump to expensive units like McIntosh mx150 (bizarre analog direct process) or Anthem D2 (complicated RC and maybe not the best 2 channel), it's very tough to get both. Great pre/pros like the Classe, Bryston and even Cary are out, no real auto RC. The Arcam 888 might be an option, but it's room correction is supposedly not nearly as good as Audyssey.

I am seriously thinking of getting a mid-priced pre/pro like the Marantz av7005or the Integra 80.2, and adding a good preamp with HT Bypass like the Classe CP-800 or Mac C48/50. This would well serve the desire for great room correction for movies and great preamp for 2 channel, but still leaves me with a dilemma on SACD multi-channel music.

I doubt the analog inputs on the Marantz/Integra will do great justice to the OPPO BDP-95's excellent DACs ( I would need the high-end pre/pros for that). However, is it possible that (assume via Marantz/Integra) an Audyssey room-corrected SACD input via HDMI would likely sound as good as (or at least close to) a non-corrected analog input in a higher end pre/pro? I understand the wild card here is of course my room, however, I would venture a guess that my room could certainly use room correction. It is an untreated 15x20x7basement and a bass "sucker", meaning it is very tough to get good strong bass response down there. I just got Revel Salon2 speakers (no bass slouch!) and unless the recording has juiced bass (like many modern jazz albums), I get very little bass response (outside of my sub).

Would greatly appreciate any and all opinions. Thanks much!!!
post #2 of 31
^^^Hi, no expert like Kal, but IMHO in the size of your basement you might not really need a pre/pro + power amps. A nice AVR with Audyssey on board will do just fine with a universal player (I have a Denon DBP-1611), plays everything from CD to Blu-Ray, even SACD. Moreover, this will save you cost which you can spend on quality speakers.

Unless you are an audiophile, I doubt your config and my config would make a real difference in a control blind test.

Let's see what others have to say!

Take care!
post #3 of 31
^^
I am happy passing DSD from my Oppo BDP-95's analog output through my JBL AV-1's analog bypass, I love the DAC's on the 95! I wouldn't mind having your 'dilemma' though, you can't go wrong either way.
post #4 of 31
^^^
Many posts on the 'Official Oppo BDP-95' forum from users with the Marantz AV 7005. . .
post #5 of 31
Hdmi
post #6 of 31
Unless you have a turntable, use HDMI. The Oppo 95's analog output is superb but, imho, is not enough of a make-weight over the best DSP and EQ in a good prepro.
post #7 of 31
I've read somewhere (forget where) that EQ isn't ideal to compensate for dips and if lack of bass is your main concern it'd be better to deal with that specifically. I have Arcam AVR600 which has the same RC as the AV888 and it's adequate for my purpose. My other main concern is how DSD is decimated to PCM and I like it at 176.4kHz, although Oppo fans obviously disagree.
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses so far.

Kal, I know you have heard alot of pre/pros and are a strong believer in RC/EQ, so I kinda figured you might lean this way. Glad to hear it though.

Killian, thats an interesting comment re dips. I do eventually intend to get the room analyzed and see if I can add some wife-acceptable room treatments. The Arcam 888 is the closest thing to a one box solution in that it supposedly has outstanding analog/2channel preaqmp performance, and also has a respectable auto RC system. Unfortunately, from what I've read, it isnt in the same league as Audyssey, Lyngdorf, etc.

Very interested to hear others weigh in and offer their opinions and experiences with comparing SACD via HDMI to room corrected mid-price pre/pro vs SACD analog into uncorrected high end pre/pro.
post #9 of 31
Get the best of both worlds, use a '93 or '95 via HDMI to a Denon AVP with Audyssey XT32 upgrade. Sound is incredible.
post #10 of 31
Why don't you try the new McIntosh MX121? I just changed my Anthem D2V for this one, with very favorable results (in features, rationality and sound, although I don't use it for stereo) and it will cover most of your wishes at about 5-6 k.
post #11 of 31
I agree with Kal. I send all of my digital sources through HDMI to an Integra 80.3 pre/pro using audyssey xt32. My difficult to tame room sounds much better via correction than it did via an Oppo 95 analog out.
post #12 of 31
Just throwing it out there but how about trying to improve your listening area, good luck.
post #13 of 31
I remember a time when people listening to SACD really didn't want any processing of the signal what so ever. Cringed at the thought, even.

I would think it's dependant on the room acoustics and the equipment involved. I say hook the player up both ways and decide for yourself. I listen to a lot of stereo music from Sirrius/XM through my Dish Network receiver and it sounds much better through the analog output than HDMI regardless of the receiver connected (and I've had quite a few).
post #14 of 31
Why don't you see if there's a dealer out there that will help you work within your budget for the MX-150? That's obviously the one you want. Failing that, you can then explore other options.
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkad View Post

I doubt the analog inputs on the Marantz/Integra will do great justice to the OPPO BDP-95's excellent DACs ( I would need the high-end pre/pros for that). However, is it possible that (assume via Marantz/Integra) an Audyssey room-corrected SACD input via HDMI would likely sound as good as (or at least close to) a non-corrected analog input in a higher end pre/pro? I understand the wild card here is of course my room, however, I would venture a guess that my room could certainly use room correction. It is an untreated 15x20x7basement and a bass "sucker", meaning it is very tough to get good strong bass response down there. I just got Revel Salon2 speakers (no bass slouch!) and unless the recording has juiced bass (like many modern jazz albums), I get very little bass response (outside of my sub).

Would greatly appreciate any and all opinions. Thanks much!!!

My room is just slightly smaller then yours 14x19x7. Yes is sucks out bass with out good subwoofer placement and ample subwoofers.

If I were you, and I was. lol. I would worry more about room treatment first and then at least 2-4 great subwoofers in the centers of each wall. It will give you more consistent bass throughout the seats.
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

I've read somewhere (forget where) that EQ isn't ideal to compensate for dips and if lack of bass is your main concern it'd be better to deal with that specifically.

There is a difference between dips and nulls. You can compensate for the former with EQ. You must deal with the latter by fixing room acoustics and system setup. Lack of bass, if not related to the other issues, is a level issue.
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by gene c353 View Post

I remember a time when people listening to SACD really didn't want any processing of the signal what so ever. Cringed at the thought, even.

Archaic bias, imho.

Quote:


I would think it's dependant on the room acoustics and the equipment involved. I say hook the player up both ways and decide for yourself. I listen to a lot of stereo music from Sirrius/XM through my Dish Network receiver and it sounds much better through the analog output than HDMI regardless of the receiver connected (and I've had quite a few).

Sirius/XM is so poor a source that anything that you think helps, helps.
post #18 of 31
I am far from and expert for sure. I just bought my 1st Sony Blu Ray player (had Panny previously) and for the first time EVER I heard (finally!) Pink Floyds Dark Side Of The Moon on SACD. It's played via HDMI and it sounded just plain awesome to say the least. I have a Integra DTR40.2 and Paradigm Monitor 9 speakers and LCR350 for center with aged ADP150's for surrounds and I was REALLY impressed. I think what your hearing from some is correct. But quality speakers it could make a difference. The Integra DTR 80.3 is an awesome piece of eq.

Jeff
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post


Sirius/XM is so poor a source that anything that you think helps, helps.

Well, it does help. And quite a bit too. I'm not sure why. I can't believe the DAC's in the Dish receiver are that much better than what's in the SC-27 but something's going on somewhere. And Sirrius/XM doesn't seem that bad to me. I enjoy it.
post #20 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ridom View Post

Why don't you try the new McIntosh MX121? I just changed my Anthem D2V for this one, with very favorable results (in features, rationality and sound, although I don't use it for stereo) and it will cover most of your wishes at about 5-6 k.

Hi ridom. I see you over at Audio Aficionado. Glad you like the mx121, but you luckily have a great separate preamp for 2 channel, and at the mx121 street price (5k?), I'm looking at it as a one-box solution. Also, I have a few issues with the mx121: no XT32, it's DACs are not as good as the OPPO 95 (see nycjazz response on the AA mx121 thread), seems like it has a convoluted process to use unprocessed analog from a CDP/BDP (again, nycjazz mentioned this on AudioAfi). Close, very close, but not sure it's really the answer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by javry View Post

Why don't you see if there's a dealer out there that will help you work within your budget for the MX-150? That's obviously the one you want. Failing that, you can then explore other options.

javry, no doubt I would like the mx150 (even though it digitizes all inputs so you have to use it's dacs, and it apparently has limitations on usb input?). However, I can't see how any dealer is going to sell me the 12k mx150 for anywhere near 4-6k. I can't stretch beyond that because I want to upgrade my L/R amp as well (to used Levinson 532h, used Mac452, or used McCormack DNA500).

As for room treatment, understand I am severely wife-restricted, hence the hopeful focus on room correction for the missing bass as well as the likely (hopefully?) significant multi-channel music and HT benefits.
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

There is a difference between dips and nulls. You can compensate for the former with EQ. You must deal with the latter by fixing room acoustics and system setup.

Oh, I'm confused, aren't they the same terms used interchangeably:

Quote:
If acoustic interference causes a 25 dB dip at 60 Hz, adding that much boost with an equalizer to compensate will reduce the available volume (headroom) by the same amount. Such an extreme boost will increase low frequency distortion in the loudspeakers too.

(source)

Quote:
3. Nulls in a room are at least as damaging as peaks, and EQ cannot improve nulls by much if at all. Applying enough EQ boost to counter a typical null that's 20 to 30 dB deep will just overload your power amp and likely blow up your loudspeakers.

(source)
post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkad View Post

javry, no doubt I would like the mx150 (even though it digitizes all inputs so you have to use it's dacs, and it apparently has limitations on usb input?). However, I can't see how any dealer is going to sell me the 12k mx150 for anywhere near 4-6k. I can't stretch beyond that because I want to upgrade my L/R amp as well (to used Levinson 532h, used Mac452, or used McCormack DNA500).

True - but I did see one on A'gon for significantly less than the 12k MSRP. I'd love to post it but that would be in bad taste. Just suggesting that a conversation with a dealer won't hurt. You never know.
post #23 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by javry View Post

True - but I did see one on A'gon for significantly less than the 12k MSRP. I'd love to post it but that would be in bad taste. Just suggesting that a conversation with a dealer won't hurt. You never know.

He's asking around 8k, so still a stretch. Bottom line, not sure I need much better than the Integra for movies, and I can get a really good preamp that will hold it's value better than an expensive pre/pro. It's the mch SACD part (and to lesser extent, DVD and Bluray concerts) that I'm struggling with, but clearly I have to make compromises somewhere, and if HDMI/RC'd mch audio can reasonably compare to uncorrected 7.1 analog (even in higher end prepro), then that's where I will probably make the cut.
post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

Oh, I'm confused, aren't they the same terms used interchangeably:

People are often casual in their use of the terms but a dip is generic as any frequency-defined reduction in level wrt reference level. Nulls are also dips but especially deep and usually narrow ones due to a nearly complete cancellation at that frequency and location. The former can be fixed with EQ, the latter cannot.

Both your quotes refer to nulls although only one uses the term.
post #25 of 31
Thread Starter 
Kal, etc, what options are there for standalone RC units and is that a viable option or does that introduce more problems due to another box/cables in the system? If, say, a Cary C12 or Arcam 888 or even a Bryston SP3 are sonically outstanding as 2 channel preamps and with multichannel music/movies, but the only thing missing is the best room correction, perhaps an outboard rc/eq unit may be the best option. I will look it up, but are there good Trinnov, Lyngdorf or Audyssey standlaone units worth considering?
post #26 of 31
Trinnov, Lyngdorf, DEQX, etc. All incur additional A/D/A, of course.
post #27 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

Trinnov, Lyngdorf, DEQX, etc. All incur additional A/D/A, of course.

A quick look at their websites show only 2 channel EQ/room correction devices, no multi-channel (unless of course you buy individual units for each pair of outputs in a 5.1 or 7.1 config). Am I missing something?
post #28 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkad View Post

A quick look at their websites show only 2 channel EQ/room correction devices, no multi-channel (unless of course you buy individual units for each pair of outputs in a 5.1 or 7.1 config). Am I missing something?

Nope.
post #29 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkad View Post

A quick look at their websites show only 2 channel EQ/room correction devices, no multi-channel (unless of course you buy individual units for each pair of outputs in a 5.1 or 7.1 config). Am I missing something?

ADA does incorporate Trinnov into their TEQ-4, TEQ-8 and TEQ-12 (4/8/12 channels), but they don't fit within the budget you've provided.
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkad View Post

He's asking around 8k, so still a stretch. Bottom line, not sure I need much better than the Integra for movies, and I can get a really good preamp that will hold it's value better than an expensive pre/pro. It's the mch SACD part (and to lesser extent, DVD and Bluray concerts) that I'm struggling with, but clearly I have to make compromises somewhere, and if HDMI/RC'd mch audio can reasonably compare to uncorrected 7.1 analog (even in higher end prepro), then that's where I will probably make the cut.

Hi JeffKad: I agree with you, there is always a compromise for us mortals with limited budgets. To get great stereo sound from a prepro you'll probably have to go really upmarket and even in this case probably you will not get the quality of a cheaper tube (or even solid state) preamp. So perhaps your solution is the best: a combination of a decent multichannel prepro (like the Integra) and a very good preamp (there are dozens of opportunities in A'gon). And yes, you can always compare the analog sound from your Oppo with the prepro's for SACDs. Btw, in the case of the MX121, I did not miss my Anthem D2V. I am still struggling with its maximization, but also I am not so convinced that I am able to discern quality differences in multichannel music at the level I am able to in stereo.
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