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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anybody have any direct experience with the audio playback of the Denon 5900 and 3800 players on CD and DVD-A?


I have a 3800 right now and was thinking about buying a $200 to $300 player with DVI to use for video and keep my Denon 3800 for CD and DVD audio.


Another option would be to buy a 5900 and have one machine. Is the audio section of the 5900 a significant enough improvement over the 3800 to justify the extra money int he upgrade. I know it's all relative, but would appreciate some opinions from people that have heard both.


Thanks.
 

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As you know, whether one audio is "better" than another audio can be a very subtle issue and usually resides mostly in the ears of the listener.


All 5900 owners I'm sure will support the daylights out of their audio as way superior to many/most other combination DVD players - subjectively.


However, the power supplies, transformers, etc. in the 3800 for audio are also large and fairly decent. The BB audio DAC's used in the 3800 are the same ones as Denon used in their ~$4K 5803 AVR - hence doggone good and with very decent specifications.


My 3800's audio sounded subtly a bit "shallow" before break in, but after maybe 200 hours or more of break it's audio now is winding up much more refined, smoother, and detailed than when it was new. I'm now completely happy with it's analog audio ouput. (I don't output it's digital audio.) BTW, the 3800's HDCD two-channel playback is also superb - I can't tell it from DVD-A two-channel - at least with regards to classical music.


Just as a sidenote, since I use all analog audio output from my 3800 on all movies I watch this helped to break in it's audio circuits, which of course radically moved forward the time frame to when analog DVD-A (...and HDCD and CD in my case) began to sound as it should. I suspect that a lot of current and former 3800 owners used digital output for audio on movies, so much of their DVD-A listening (...which must be analog output) and hence audio quality conclusions were really done on essentially "unbroken in" 3800's, which did not make for fair evaluation of the player's audio.


Just MHO, as audio is tough to judge once you get above a certain threshhold in quality.
 

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epiney,


Hey, how ya doin? Yea, I've had both and to my ears, the 5900 is a big enough jump in sound quality to justify the price. The funny thing is that the 5900's domination doesn't lie in any one area, but rather through it's many subtle improvements over the 3800 (I hope I'm making sense, I just got home and am about ready to knock out). One improvement is more flexible bass management with a greater choice of crossover frequencies, while the 3800 has a fixed crossover frequency of 80 Hz. The 5900 also has the newer (but not newest) Burr Brown DAC's for improved sound. The 5900 also has HDCD decoding. But that's just the DVD-A and redbook side. What you also gain is a top notch SA-CD player, with sound that is just as good if not better than my old Sony SCD555ES SA-CD player that I recently passed on to my dad. The didderence between the 5900 and my Sony, is that the 5900 gives you the same bass management flexibility that you get for DVD-A, including time/distance adjustments (if you don't mind converting the DSD stream to PCM). I know that the $1,000 jump in price may give you cold feet (I know it did to me), but it's worth it not just for the improvements in the overall sound of your collection, but its video section is also awesome! Wait until you watch DVD's upconverted to 1080i or 720p through DVI! There are better sounding players out there, but they are way more expensive. For $2,000, this is not a bad deal (considering there are women out there that pay just as much fo those Louie whatever purses). Oh and the sound? Warm, detailed, and three dimensional. The 5900's sound is not analytical by any stretch of the word. Hope this helps.


Juan
 

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Quote:
newest) Burr Brown DAC's for improved sound. The 5900 also has HDCD decoding. But that's just the DVD-A
The 3800 has HDCD also.


I had the 3800 for a year and now the 5900 for about 2 months. The 5900 flat out sounds superior in every way to me. But that's me & maybe my desire to justify the extra money. Go to a reputable dealer that will allow you to audition in your home before deciding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi guys,


Thanks for your input. It's very helpful.


Phil, I use analog for CDs and DVDA and analog bypass on my Anthem AVM20. I've never tried analog for movies, but I will now. My wife thinks I'm crazy thinking about this! Excuse the dumb question, but what is an HDCD? I just started buying DVDA'a and have only been buying regular CDs.


brewerboy: I noticed you are in MD. I'm in N. VA. Did you buy yours at Tweeter? I'm trying to find a store to demo and one that will let me bring in my 3800 to compare since they are discontinued.


Hey Juan, I think I read that you tried the Pio Dv59 as well. That's another option that I'm considering. I might try to bring in the 3800 to a dealer with the Pioneer to compare. I had thought I didn't need SACD when I bought the 3800, but the software titles on DVDA are very limiting.


If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have saved the money on the 3800 and just bought the 5900. I'm dying to use the DVI input on my PJ. I ran 30 foot long component, RGB, DVI and 5 extra RG6 coax to my projector which cost a pretty penny. My HDTV box only outputs through progressive and the DVD looks better on progressive, so I end up manually switching the cables. What a PITA :( . The only way to make it more convenient is to buy two more sets of component cables and use the Anthem to switch. I'd rather invest the money in a new player.
 

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I use the Anthem as well with my 5900 but I don't use the 5900 for movie soundtracks. The reason why is the channel levels for DVD-A compared to movie soundtracks is quite different. I use Avia to calibrate my channel levels using the Anthem in whatever playback mode. Then using the 6ch input I use the test tones from the Chesky DVD-A sampler that are mastered specifically for DVD-A and set my levels in the 5900. But remember to do the processor first as changing those levels has an effect on the analog pass through!
 

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epiney,


Sadly, I have not had a chance to audition the 59AVi, but I've heard nothing but good things (aside from the usual nitpicking) about it. As far as HDCD's, good luck trying to find them! They are badly labeled and if you don't know what you're looking for, you may never find one. The two that I own (Beck's "Sea Changes" and "Mutations") landed on my lap by mistake. I bought these two titles for their musical merits and got the HDCD thrown in for free! From what I understand, the HDCD is supposed to bring out more detail in a recording than would a "regular" redbook cd, but with the advent of hi-rez recordings, it's benefits are lessened a bit IMO ("Sea Changes" is available on both SA-CD and DVD-A). When I first got into hi-rez music, I was on the DVD-A side (more aggressive surround sound, multi media possibilities), but the lack of titles really turned me off. So what is a pig, I mean er person supposed to do? Get them both!:D Hence my decision to get the 5900.


Juan
 

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Quote:
brewerboy: I noticed you are in MD. I'm in N. VA. Did you buy yours at Tweeter? I'm trying to find a store to demo and one that will let me bring in my 3800 to compare since they are discontinued.
Yes I got mine at Tweeter in Glen Burnie. They might not be the most knowledgeable but I have found the service to be second to none. This is just one example. I bought the 3800 over a year ago. I had the unfortunate skipping/freezing on some titles that the 3800s were prone to. I let them know that it was an issue, they notated it in my record and a full year later when the 5900 came out, they let me return the 3800 for the full price I paid as trade-in for the 5900.


HDCD is High Definition Compatible Digital. It's a 20 bit encoding system vice the regular 16 bits in most CDs. Supposedly giving you more depth. I'm not convinced. I wouldn't use this as a reason to get or not get a player. I believe the licensing is now owned by Microsoft with all the good/bad issues that will bring.
 

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For what it's worth, here's a list of all the HDCD's that are available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all of the input. Based on this and ECs comparison of the 5900 and the DV59AVi, it seems like the 5900 deserves a serious review and is probably the way to go!
 

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Omen,


Thanks much for the HDCD list. I have a couple of the Reference Recordings titles and they are superb quality, but they cost a bit more.


I wouldn't buy a DVD combo player that didn't have the decoding chip for HDCD, as why not have even more sound options available in your gear for high def listening? With DVD-A, SACD, and HDCD you wind up with an overall terrific selection of great audio.


I've actually talked to a recording artist or two and politely told them I would not buy their work unless it was available on HDCD, DVD-A, or SACD ..... just my effort at spreading the word in hopes that someday the reqular CD format will be obsolete. I've switched some time ago to purchasing only DVD-A or HDCD.
 
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