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3043 Views 68 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  jlm
this weekend I will be trying out a fully loaded Ayre D1 in my home on my own system and comparing it to the PMDT currently installed as to audio and video quality.

Ayre: 480p (RGB), 480i (s-video), analog 2 ch audio out, digital audio out as follows: 480p directly to pioneer 50" plasma, rgb in; 480i/s-video via Leeza/DVI and rgb to plasma; 2 ch analog to Lex MC-12, digital audio to Lex dacs (2ch), with and without sigtech room correction.

PMDT: 480i s/video, component and SDI via Leeza/dvi and rgb out; digital audio out to Lex dacs, with and without sigtech.


how will the Ayre 480p compare to the PMDT/Leeza/SDI interlaced and to Ayre 480i with Leeza de-interlacing?

how good are the Ayre internal audio DACs vs. Lex DACS and sigtech room correction

any advice and comments welcome.
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device a game plan. Make sure you have enough wire to do what you need.

Make a list of what you want in a DVD player. Perhaps likes and dislikes. Then go through your checklist.

Be prepared to spend all weekend doing this. It will take longer than you estimate.

If you cannot setup a seperate memory for each output on each player, then you need to change color, tint, brightness, contrast, and sharpness each time you switch between outputs. Best bet is to go through them at the start and write down the correct settings for each output. (480i, 480p, YC, etc.)

Let's hope the Ayre copy you have contains the modification that eliminates the chroma upsampling design error that it used to contain.

(Just kidding ........... of course Ayre would not dare let any of these out at this point!)
advice -- get a buddy to help you.

and -- thanks in advance. I look forward to your thoughts.

good luck.

Lotsa work ahead John. Good to see someone from the PMDT camp will be doing a comparison to the Ayre. Looking forward to the results. I hope to setup a similar deal with Charles when my PMDT gets back from the factory (although in my case I only have a 480i PMDT).
intended hook-ups

Audio comparisons, via switching the lex input only (no wiring changes):

1. Ayre analog

2a. Ayre digital/Lex dacs (2ch)

2b. Ayre digital/sigtech/lex dacs (2ch)

3. PMDT digital/Lex dacs (2ch)

4. PMDT digital/sigtech room correction/Lex dacs (2ch)

Video comparisons, also via Lex, Plasma or Leeza switching:

5. Ayre 480p-RGBHV to plas

6. Ayre s-video/Leeza/DVI/Plasma

7. Ayre s-video/Leeza/RGBHV/Plasma (using vga inpout)

8. PMDT s-video/Leeza/DVI/Plasma

9. PMDT component/Leeza/DVI/Plasma

10. PMDT SDI/Leeza/DVI/Plasma

the Ayre i'm demo-ing will have the progressive option, which excludes component interlaced or SDI as testing options.

i'm pretty sure i can hook all of this up simultaneously, so all i have to do is switch an input or two via remote control for A/B comparisons. obviously, i'll try to match audio levels, video settings etc. as well.

I will try to rent duplicate copies of a few dvd's, maybe buy a second copy of a cd or two so i can be playing the same thing in each unit.

i'm particularly interested in 1 vs 2 (ayre vs lex dacs); 2 vs 4 (ayre digital w and w/o sigtech); 5 vs 10 (Ayre de-interlacing/plas scaling vs SDI/Leeza de-interlacing/scaling/DVI); 6 vs 10 (ayre interlaced/Leeza de-interlacing/DVI vs. PMDT/SDI-same thing)

any suggestions for source material?
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Sounds like a good game plan John. I'd suggest using VE (or Avia) for setup and also looking at resolution and sharpness (and ringing). Maybe use the Superbit version of Airforce One (or one of the other SB disks).

Have fun !
For source material, I would recommend something you have watched a million times so that you can focus on the details carefully -- and not be distracted by the story....
add a few tylenol on the list .. trust me, I did one of those "which is better over a weekend" its alot of work !!

good luck
Awe shucks I use white willow or mentha spicata for my headaches.:)
good work John.........at least one of us can demo!

my two cents:

there are few too many variables in the video setup to make a universal claim on comparative quality. you need either the interlaced Ayre (via component) or a progressive PMDT. if the progressive Ayre looks better directly into your plasma than any of your Proceed setups, then I would lean towards the progressive Ayre...especially if it would simplify your system; however, you prob. use the Leeza for other sources anyhow. but if your goal is to decide whether to get the interlaced Ayre for a direct swap of your PMDT, then you'll be stuck without enough info unless the s-video out of the Ayre is better than the component of the Proceed (which i doubt).

wow is that confusing....i can't even follow myself!!

as for audio, obviously an easy a/b between coax digital inputs on your lex....using the same cd and interconnect. i've done this tryout before, and usually i stagger one machine about 60 seconds behind the other, allowing for easy mental notes on the exact material. then you can try the Ayre's analog out into a lex bypass input....see how that is....Ayre's dacs vs. lex's.

and if everything goes according to plan, this curiosity will only cost you about $7k net!!!

every is looking forward to you! but this responsibility comes at a price....i "owe" everyone a more complete review of my upgraded AVP2, but who has time ;)
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robster: i agree, but ayre only lets out the full blown unit for a demo, no chance to demo the ayre component interlaced.

i have a high interest in checking out the ayre 480p vs the PMDT SDI; even so, Ayre will eventually release its own SDI mod...

also want to see what happens when the close coupled deinterlacing feeds the plasma scaler, presumably leaving the simpler task to the simpler scaler function of the plas. this might make the Leeza/Clearmatrix not so necessary (until SDI and DVI get into the equation)!

Similar concerns over the audio quality, and this might be the prime selling point for me anyway.

i'll be in touch over the weekend as things develop, assuming the thing shows up today!
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it showed up

it required an adult signature, but i fooled them.
some preliminary audio reports:

Ayre makes a big deal about the audio dacs and how physically close they are to the (whatever) to minimize jitter, among other things (they are optically isolated as well), so the first thing i wanted to check is the analog out vs the digital out/lex dacs.

set up as follows:

#1: analog to lex analog in (2ch), using granite audio silver 470/rca cables

#2a: dig xlr out to lex xlr in (2ch), using orchid xlr cable

i could a/b by choosing lex inputs. comparative findings: not a lot of difference; this is comparing the ayre dacs,close coupled, to the lex dacs. i'm going to need some forum clues as to what to listen for, but to my ear, there were not significant differences.


#2b: ayre dig xlr to sigtech to lex, again orchid xlr and orchid/rca digital cables

the main event was #1 vs #2b. the presumption being that the superior ayre minimally connected analog would outperform the ayre digital/sigtech/lex dacs with more connections.

i preferred #2b, probably because the room correction of the sigtech is that good. the imaging was more precise, with more front to back resolution and the bass was tighter and more refined. voicing seemed more in the chest, throat and mouth and less in just the mouth; the sound was more creamy. i looked at material with kick drums, string bass, plucked bass, electric bass, piano, male and female vocal, geetar and preferred the #2b. the sigtech mainly gets rid of room resonances below 300hz,(so bass tightened up considerably) and reflections (better imaging and note definition). the advantages were an improvement over the analog ayre's high quality. says a lot for the sigtech, and the lex.

unfortunately, you can only use the sig effectively with a digital signal, so its is mututally exclusive with the ayre analog.

notes: audio levels were set to match (a must);

material: holly cole/don't smoke; van morrison/back on top; joe beard/for real; cat stevens/tea for the tillerman; bonnie rait/glow.

equip: lex MC-12b, BAT vp6200, wilson watt puppies, rel stadium sub, granite cables, equitech balanced power conditioner

any comments or testing suggestion in this context welcome, especially about isolating jitter effects.

next to try out the ayre vs the pmdt.
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Thanks for the updates! I'm sure it's a lot of work but also what fun!

Looking forward to your video review....
ok...good john....you already saved at least $2k.........not needing the analog audio out!!

now for the PMDT vs. Ayre....digital out vs digital out: can you connect two things simultaneously to the sigtech?

for this audio test, i would use dvd (moulin rouge?...........apocolypse now redux --chopper?) soundtracks as well as music CD's

p.s. holly cole........always my first choice too.
i'm still rockin with the audio; brought out a few more testers, put the rpg diffusers on the front wall, moved some furniture:

van morrison/philosopher's stone


john lewis/bach preludes and fugues

bozz scaggs/dig; again better bass control and vocals with 2b

buddy guy/sweet tea/ #7 a huge recording, an all time favorite;



marley/catch a fire/concrete jungle; this is the biggest bass i have ever heard, nothing but the sig can handle it, your pants still flutter, but you can hear the bass strings, not just a big 60hz test tone

cooder-bhatt/meeting by the river/ganges delta blues...this is the kicker, 2b was able to clearly image the big drum and define the edges of the sound, 1 put out more of the drum, but in a less accurate, boomy and diffuse way. by all means run out and get this recording it is amazing. i a/b'd it maybe 50 times to see if the tablas might reproduce differently, 1 vs 2b, when not overwhelmed by the boomy bass in 1; might give a slight edge to 1 here as far as distinguishing individual finger strikes (this is an amazing rush of impacts!) but not enough difference to squawk about.

spent a lot of comparison time listening to cymbals. harmonica, and voicing, listening to transients, imaging and clarity

1 definitely puts out more bass, but in my room it needs control, something not available with the analog mode. an accoustically more perfect room might be able to make use of it. given that this is a HT forum (and Steve B has at least four subs), some readers may like this. my room is huge by the way, so the bass resonances are in the 70hz range. i also have a preference for smooth main to sub transitions and a fairly level LF response (so far, no buttkickers planned)

next step is to compare 2b to 4 (proceed/sig/lex), testing the two transports' digital out with identical room correction (can be done by a/b switching)
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after several hundred button pushes and disc changes, i can report:

comparing the ayre dig out/sig/lex to pmdt/sig/lex:

they are very, very close and i was trying hard to differentiate tiny details; basically the ayre puts our very slightly more bass and has a slightly more open and deep soundstage.

comparing the ayre/analog to either of the above:

again more bass with the ayre analog and a slightly better "shape" to transients (attack on guitar and bass plucks, for example). on one cut, a junior wells track on everybody's gettin some, there is a bass line which actually changes personality as if the player was more pissed off and put a more agressive edge in his plucks, depending on whether 1 or 2b/4 was engaged. sounds wacky, but the a/b definitely showed it on the other hand, only an a/b would pick this up.


the ayre analog is the best, but will require an accoustically better room than mine to not drive you nuts with the boomy bass;

the pmdt and ayre analog are so close and very, very good you can't go wrong with either. i did have the pmdt skip on one of the bozz scaggs copies, but not the other, while the ayre would play either; that and the slightly more pronounced bass and deeper, more open soundstage reproduction with the ayre.
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video report:

something is hinky with the comp out board in the ayre as far as i can tell. it is settable internally with 10 jumpers to either rgbhv or YPbPr, either of which i could use.

yesterday: comp out worked, but i had the plas vga input 1 set to rgb, when i set the plas to component, fine; then i set the jumpers to rgb, but had to use the plas input 2 to get rgb to work. for all of these situations, i set up the plas input approriately and could get the dsiplay to show 525p in, but no picture or menu from the ayre.

i was able to do a brief test with the #5 rgb setting, using avia, video essentials, gladiator and toy story. results as follows, compared to pmdt/dsi/leeza/dvi #10:

the 6.75mhz patch: better defined with sdi #10 (no suprise)

deinterlacing: slight horizontal edge break up/ shimmer with #5, almost none with #10 (gladiator: golden tops of shields in battle, gold chain on Caesar's cloak, parapets on entering rome; VE: lampposts on freeway, a few pans in montage (mast rigging on sailboats, stadium seats);

Y/C delay: avia test: less than half of -.07 off, #10 is spot on

chroma bug: still there in toystory tinker toy lid and mike (not a huge effect, but worse than #10. was going to put on fifth element next, but went out and had to belly dance)

general impression is that #5 is a very HQ image with great depth, but didn't get any farther.


could not get the rgb or comp to work (checked out plas...ther rgb input is working fine) tried all sorts of cable swaps, power on/off etc, jumper checking and changing, no luck) the Ayre s-video #6 was working fine though; it put our the finest s-video i have ever seen (recall that this is into the Leeza/Clearmatrix, dvi out) very 3-d and engaging pic; my guess is this is in large part due to the low noise efforts in the ayre and is a good sign for the sdi unit to come.

my object was to compare the 480p RGB with plas scaling to the all digital pmdt/sdi/leeza/dvi de-interlacing and scaling, but wasn't able to get the rgb working enough to tell more than the first round.

so far, since Ayre is coming out with an sdi option and the clearmatrix/dvi works so well that looks like the way to go.

tomorrow i'll talk to ayre and see if i set something up wrong; the brief look see i got of the 480p was very good pq, de-interlacing effects notwithstanding.
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Thanks for taking the time to comment. As I'm about to import one of these into England, your views are very welcome.

Please keep 'em coming.


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