AVS Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello all-


I want to hear SACDs through something better than an Oppo 980H's analog outputs, and am thinking of upgrading my audio system. I'm looking for the following (ranked in order of importance):


1. improved CD playback. My current system does pretty well, but I'm looking for better. This is 60% of what I'm looking for. Note that while SACD playback is what created my problem, I list CD playback as highest priority since classical CDs are at least 75% of my content, and the content I like the best. So, I want whatever I do to improve CD playback as well.


2. decently good SACD playback (i.e. better than the Oppo through its analog putput). 30% of what I'm looking for. 2 channel SACD playback is fine.


3. ability to decode DTS-HD (and similar). 10% of what I'm looking for, and am completely willing to sacrifice it in favor of 2 and especially 1. However, if I decide I need to buy several more HDMI-compatible components, I'm going to be sure that they can do this.


My systems is as follows:


Oppo 980H -> stereovox coaxial cable -> MSB Link III DAC -> Kimber Kable KCAG interconnect -> Cambridge Audio 640A -> Monitor Audio Silver RS6 speakers. I intend to get a Blu-ray player within 6 months. Note that I don't use HDMI at all for audio at this time.

The problem is the Oppo; its analog output isn't so great. I get around this for CDs with the oppo->coax out->DAC and it works well (though I think it could be better). It doesn't work for SACD.





I'm thinking of the following options:

A. purchase a good CD & SACD player . Something like the Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player SA8001 (other recommendations are welcome).


Cost: $1000 at the new MSRP price. I'll probably also need another pair of analog interconnects unless I want to settle with junk ones.


Advantages: cheapest option. Focuses most on my main objective - I hope that CD playback will be noticeably better than my current setup. If the Marantz works well, I'd keep it for the foreseeable future. And frankly, it hits my problem straight in the jaw - the problem is the Oppo is a very versatile, but not really a good player. I am trying to get around its weaknesses with the DAC; since I'm told the thing is stellar when it's combined with a good DAC. However, I may have to just cough up the money for a better player.


Disadvantages: I believe, but don't *know* that sound quality will be better. It doesn't help me for the inevitable move to multi-channel. I will still need all my other components (i.e. I can't sell anything to offset the cost). I'll have a two player system - one for DVDs, one for CDs/SACDs, and eventually a third blu-ray system. I'll need another pair of analog interconnects for the DAC to Integrated Amp, or just use junk ones (which would make one wonder why I'm doing this in the first place). I don't know if the Marantz-Kimber-Cambridge 640A combo will work well.

B. buy a HDMI-capable reciever . Something like the Denon 3808 or the Onkyo SR-875. Use it in place of both the DAC and my stereo integrated amp.


Cost: about $1600 at the MSRP price for the a new Denon or Onkyo.


Other Accessories to purchase: 1 more HDMI cable (I already have one HDMI cable), for a total of 2 (Oppo-IntAmp-TV)


Advantages: I know that sound quality is at least somewhat better than my current setup. Prepares me for the eventual move to multichannel (which isn't that important to me, but nice). Get the same component processing audio for the Oppo, for the cable, and the eventual blu-ray player - i.e cable, oppo, and blu-ray can be routed through the integrated amp. I can sell the MSB Link III, the stereovox cable, and probably the Kimber since I won't need them anymore. I know the combination of Oppo-Denon-Monitor Audio speakers works very well (I'd have to audition the Onkyo if I wanted to try that option).


Disadvantages: I don't know if it'll have better sound quality than option A. If option A had significantly better sound quality, I'd go with option A.


C. buy an Integra DTC-9.8 (maverick option) and use it as a preamp for the (stereo) Cambridge (i.e. replace the old MSB DAC with the new Integra preamp). Eventually purchase a 3808/SR875 in a few years or so when they can be found used for cheap, and once I feel ready for multichannel.


Cost: whatever the cost of the integra is.


Advantages: I get something that I'd like to have eventually. I get a preamp, which allegedly will make sound quality better over an integrated amp. Get great digital video processing. Get allegedly excellent audio via the Oppo-Integra combo. Get the same component processing audio for the Oppo, for the cable running from the TV, and the eventual blu-ray player - cable, oppo, and blu-ray can be routed through the preamp. I can sell the MSB Link III, the stereovox cable, and probably the Kimber since I won't need them anymore. [i.e. the main "advantage" over the 3808/875 is that I get a pre-amp on top of my integrated amp instead of just an integrated amp]


Disadvantages: I don't know 100% if it's possible/advisable to use the Integra as essentially a preamp for a stereo receiver (i.e. if there's some engineering thing that will make it impossible). I don't know if all these components will be compatible. I don't know how much better CD playback would be.



So, these are my thoughts. What would you all do? Are there alternatives I haven't considered?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,156 Posts
Two questions:


1. What makes you think the Oppo's analog out is sub-par?


2. What makes you think the DAC in an A/V receiver or processor is better than your MSB?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,984 Posts
It seems to me that you have several, separate issues.


I can't help with CD and SACD. But, if you are getting a Blu-ray player and want to be able to hear high bit rate formats such as TrueHD, uncompressed multichannel PCM, and dts-MA, then you have to get an HDMI receiver in the class you mentioned.


It's possible that such a receiver may also help with your other issues. The Denon 3808, for example, supports SACD over HDMI.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
775 Posts
If I were you, I would go with more of the sure thing. Buy better speakers and/or better separate amplifiers. Maybe placing your speakers in a more optimal location. I really don't think spending a ton of money on a receiver and/or player is going to solve your problems. I would look deeper than that. Plus everything on your system would sound significantly better instead of just your dead format SACDs if you chose a speaker or amplifier upgrade. You might hear a difference getting a more expensive CD player but it won't be nearly as big as new speakers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the feedback so far. As BIslander mentioned, I have many seperate issues which makes finding the right AVS subforum for this difficult (to say nothing of getting advice or actually making a decision). A few responses:


McNarus:


1. my evaluation of the Oppo's analog outputs come from my own listening (yes I will admit Stereophile's review led me to the problem, but I definitely can hear it). Oppo playing CD->analog out->amplifier is definitely weak in many areas, while if it's routed digitally to the DAC sound is excellent and consistent.


However, I never tried Oppo playing SACD->analog out->MSB DAC->analog out->amplifier until you asked the question. My preliminary opinion is that while the sound is outstanding, I can still hear inconsistencies which are probably generated by the Oppo as well as the radio shack interconnects I have to use since I only have one pair of good analog interconnects.


2. excellent question. The only answers I can give are a) the MSB is several years old, the Onkyo has the latest Burr-brown super duper DAC and b) I've heard the Denon and remember that I could hear a difference. Obviously, I would need a careful comparison if/when I get the Denon/Onkyo, and if the new component has only a minimal improvement I would consider taking advantage of the return policy.


Mr. Audio: agreed in principle. Hence, I'm inclined to go with the amp upgrade. And your reminder of taking a deep look (esp. speakers) is definitely well taken, though I believe my speakers are outstanding and am disinclined to move to the $2000-$3000 speaker range.


I'm currently inclined towards the amps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,509 Posts
your best bet is to find a dealer that allows for in-home demo prior to purchase. That way, you will know whether or not the problem can be fixed within your budget, or if you should focus on something else (room treatments, listening position, speaker position, speakers, more powerful amplification).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,156 Posts

Quote:
1. my evaluation of the Oppo's analog outputs come from my own listening (yes I will admit Stereophile's review led me to the problem, but I definitely can hear it). Oppo playing CD->analog out->amplifier is definitely weak in many areas, while if it's routed digitally to the DAC sound is excellent and consistent.

Well, if you're gonna believe what you read in Stereophile....



Grab your voltmeter and a test disk, and measure the levels at the speaker terminals. That may well explain the differences you hear.

Quote:
2. excellent question. The only answers I can give are a) the MSB is several years old, the Onkyo has the latest Burr-brown super duper DAC and b) I've heard the Denon and remember that I could hear a difference. Obviously, I would need a careful comparison if/when I get the Denon/Onkyo, and if the new component has only a minimal improvement I would consider taking advantage of the return policy.

CD playback was a mature technology long before you bought your MSB. I don't think you'll hear much difference in a careful (i.e., see above) comparison.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top