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Titanium Dome
09-14-2006, 03:29 AM
Yeah, yeah, I know some of you are die-hard two channel listeners, and I totally respect you for it, but some of us also like multi-channel sound, so please humor me for a moment.

If you have a former Good Guys which became a CompUSA which is now being closed like the one at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, CA, then you might want to visit. Today I got a basket full of DTS 5.1 and DVD-A titles for a song.

Ray Charles, genius loves company superdisc DVD-A, DTS, super hi-rez CD included
Diana Krall, Love Scenes, DTS
Paul McCartney and Wings Venus and Mars DTS
Blue Man Group, The Complex DVD-A, DTS, hi-rez stereo
The Moody Blues, Days of Future Past DTS, HDS
Steve Miller Band, Fly Like an Eagle DTS, HDS
Marvin Gaye, Forever Yours DTS
Sting, Nothing Like the Sun DTS
Sting, Brand new Day DTS
Sting, Ten Summoner's Tales DTS
Don Henley, The End of the Innocence DTS, DTS-ES
Crosby-Nash, Another Stoney Evening DVD-A, DTS, hi-rez stereo
Queen, The Game DVD-A, DTS, hi-rez stereo
Queen, A Night at the Opera DVD-A, DTS, hi-rez stereo
Tchaikovsky, Classics DVD-A, DTS
Frank Zappa, Halloween DVD-A, DTS, hi-rez stereo
Frank Zappa, Quadiophiliac DVD-A, DTS, hi-rez stereo
Medeski Martin and Wood, Uninvisible DVD-A, DTS-ES, hi-rez stereo
Tom Petty, Sound Stage Live DVD Video, DD5.1
Johnny Cash, Live From Austin DVD Video, DTS, hi-rez stereo
Planet Earth (environmental compilation) DVD-A, DTS, hi-rez stereo

I think that's 21 titles. Cost: about $140. Less than $7 each. I would have purchased more, but I ran out of money.

I'll have plenty to listen to over the next few weeks! :bouncy:

Fred Sanford
09-14-2006, 04:03 AM
I'll be passing two of them today, thanks for the heads-up!

je

Fred Sanford
09-16-2006, 11:20 AM
No, I'm a knucklehead, I passed two CompUSAs that are staying open. No joy here.

:(

Thanks for the heads-up, though, let me know how you like the Queen discs.

je

Titanium Dome
09-19-2006, 10:17 PM
I was in the neighborhood again today, so for $16 I picked up

Joe Cocker, Night Calls, DTS
steely dan, Gaucho, DTS
everclear, so much for the afterglow, DVD-A, DTS-ES, hi-rez stereo

It's been a lot of fun so far. :bouncy:

JBLnsince1959
09-20-2006, 11:41 AM
Yeah, yeah, I know some of you are die-hard two channel listeners, and I totally respect you for it


nice to know you still respect me this morning:D

seriously tho, our CompUSA is still open. I checked it the other day just in case...

Titanium Dome
09-24-2006, 01:51 PM
I've always considered Gaucho a fine album, one of steely dan's best. I got the chance to listen to the DTS version today, and I'm totally blown away. This sucker is so amazing that I'm having a hard time describing it.

It's bass is incredible, percussion totally, er, percussive, and the clarity of the recording is breathtaking.

Some of these DTS discs are just OK, like the Venus and Mars I listened to earlier, but this one is a total kick. I'm spinning it again, louder! :D

Mr. Widget
09-24-2006, 02:47 PM
I've always considered Gaucho a fine album, one of steely dan's best. I got the chance to listen to the DTS version today, and I'm totally blown away. This sucker is so amazing that I'm having a hard time describing it.I agree, I think it is one of their best too.

I have that album in vinyl, (Japanese import pressing) redbook CD, SACD, and DTS CD... I find the pumped up bass of the DTS mix "fun", but obviously not true to the original. Hearing the horns and back-up singers coming from the rear just destroys it for me. Maybe if I was a musician and used to being in the band it would work, but as an audience member... those special effects are just too special. The DTS highs are also a little crunched sounding... the SACD is significantly better. There is a lack of delicacy on the cymbals and chimes that both the vinyl and SACD have.


Widget

Titanium Dome
09-24-2006, 06:00 PM
It might be the calibration from system to system and/or the actual equipment in use, but I got no sense of displacement at all with the horns and back up singers. The soundstage was quite solidly up front with acceptable ambience coming from the surrounds.

This is in marked contrast to the McCartney/Wings DTS disc that was annoyingly disorienting at times. :wtf: Sometimes Paul is

here---------------------------here------------------------------here

--------------------------------here-----------------------------------
or here.---------------------------------------------(but never here?)

I'll double check the Gaucho highs vs. the vinyl, but unfortunately my vinyl is domestic and well used, so it's not likely to show well in the comparison. :(

At least we can agree on the music. :yes:

Mr. Widget
09-24-2006, 07:26 PM
It might be the calibration from system to system and/or the actual equipment in use, but I got no sense of displacement at all with the horns and back up singers....Either you have a different DTS Goucho disc, or you may not have your system set to properly decode DTS 5.1 discs. I assume that you have used a test disc to set the relative levels of the 5 channels and the sub. My recording is DTS CD1014. This is a 20 bit 5.1 recording and I am playing it in DTS 5.1... no effects, synthesized 7.1, or other "music settings."

I haven't played the disc in a few years... I just put it on again and sure enough on cut one, Babylon Sisters, when the horns first appear they pan from the front to the rear and stay in the rear...


Widget

Titanium Dome
09-24-2006, 10:13 PM
That number isn't evident anywhere in the packaging or on the disc as DTS CD1014, but on the disc itself the mastering house (Technicolor) has etched 51014-2-2.

Mr. Widget
09-24-2006, 11:11 PM
Every CD and record will have a number on the spine. My disc has other numbers on the disc itself but the number on the spine is 7102151014-2-2... so I'd really doubt they are different mixes.

How is your system set up? I can't believe you aren't hearing the horns and singers coming from the rears.


Widget

Titanium Dome
09-25-2006, 04:15 AM
Yeah, I'm certain it's the same disc. It's hard to imagine there'd be two versions from DTS.

Rereading your comments, I double checked the display on the FAP-T1+, and there was the answer:

CD--------------DTS+DPLIIx-M 7.1
Optical 3------------------- -17.5dB

Did you see it? I guess ol' Jim Fosgate's tube-based algorithms neutralized some of Elliot Scheiner's unique mix. Fosgate is a pretty smart guy when it comes to this sort of stuff, and IMO he rarely misses, though Dolby can lose a little in the transition from his tubes to their digital domain. Once I turned DPLIIx-M 7.1 off, in 5.1 DTS it was startlingly as you said.

http://www.dtsonline.com/entertainment/catalogue/music.php?upc=710215101422

Tastes differ, though, and I liked it even in pure DTS. ;)

Mr. Widget
09-25-2006, 08:41 AM
Tastes differ, though, and I liked it even in pure DTS. ;)Well... no real surprise there. ;)


Widget

bonanzadave
09-25-2006, 01:00 PM
If I ever demo the L100s Its done with my jap press of "Hey Nineteen". What were your impressions of Diana Krall ? Just saw her on Letterman. She is way prego with a Elvis double wammy. Her performance was wonderful for TV.

Titanium Dome
09-25-2006, 08:26 PM
If I ever demo the L100s Its done with my jap press of "Hey Nineteen". What were your impressions of Diana Krall ? Just saw her on Letterman. She is way prego with a Elvis double wammy. Her performance was wonderful for TV.

I used to be a Krall skeptic. About five years ago when I was demoing a CRT projector at a local high end shop in its "premier room" HT (very cool room, BTW), the associate put on the DVD Live in Paris and played it LOUD through some overachieving Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series in a 7.1 set up with Krell hardware and Monster Sigma Retro cables (or whatever preceded that line). The room was very attractive, but it was not well-designed and the equipment was overpowering to say the least.

The musicians seemed to be slapping their instruments, her piano sounded like my head had fallen onto the soundboard, and there was so much sibilance and breathiness to her voice that I thought she was shrieking and gasping over my shoulder into my ear.

Needless to say, I lost all interest in B&W speakers and Diana Krall.

Listening to her with Ray Charles on genius loves company made me interested in hearing more, so when I saw this DTS CD, I grabbed it. I must say, I'm a bit of a fan now. :yes:

Steve Schell
09-26-2006, 02:32 PM
Diana Krall has been a guilty pleasure of mine for some time now. I like both her singing and piano playing. Her recordings have been overused at hi fi shows, like Amanda McBroom's were years ago, putting some people off. The Live in Paris DVD has been widely criticized for bad sound, and rightly so. The Live in Paris CD seems to have better sound, and nicer versions of some of the songs. Her engineer always seems to capture a superbly natural close miced vocal, making DK one of the best choices for a female vocal demo. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" from All for You and the title track from "When I Look in Your Eyes" are two good choices.

Titanium Dome
03-12-2007, 08:55 PM
So here I am listening to in absentia by porcupine tree. The disc includes DVD-A, DTS, and PCM audio tracks, plus DVD video content.

Gotta say, these boys is purty good. The mixing is imaginative and eclectic, making good use of the medium's capabilities. I'm thinking Steve Schell and Widget wouldn't like it, but I could be wrong. :dont-know

I find it addicting.

And I just have to say again how much those HTPS400 subs have evened out the LF response in the room. Amazing! It really shines on mutli-channel sound. The Performance Series is made for this kind of content, no doubt. It's beautiful, pure, clear, immediate, thunderous, and, when needed, HUGE.

Life is good, men and women, life is good. :thmbsup: :wave:

Steve Schell
03-13-2007, 12:21 AM
Dude! Ye of little faith. I just had a listen to "Blackforest Eyes" on their Myspace page and liked it a lot. Reminiscent of Dada, heavier metal but of like inventiveness, harmonies and attitude.

Apparently they have visited the trance genre as well. I'm an enthusiastic though inexperienced trance fan, having enjoyed Shpongle and Dead Can Dance so far.

I'll bet that In Absentia would be big fun in a surround mix.

Titanium Dome
03-13-2007, 06:56 AM
I sit happily corrected. :D

Mr. Widget
03-13-2007, 08:27 AM
Gotta say, these boys is purty good. The mixing is imaginative and eclectic, making good use of the medium's capabilities. I'm thinking Steve Schell and Widget wouldn't like it, but I could be wrong. :dont-knowI happen to own that CD... bought it a couple of years ago... I am not sure if my version has surround channel info, but I have only listened to it on my 2-channel rig.

I really want to like the album, but so far it just hasn't resonated... maybe getting stoned and listening to it in surround mode is what I need to do... neither of which is terribly likely. :D


Widget

Titanium Dome
03-13-2007, 09:13 AM
maybe getting stoned and listening to it in surround mode is what I need to do... neither of which is terribly likely. :D


Widget

Well, I can't advise you on the former :spin: :hyp:, but on the latter there is room for comment. The DVD-A experience spatializes the music more for me, and that's a plus in this case. There are also three nice bonus tracks not on the CD.

However, surround sound never made me like music I didn't like in 2 channel or vice versa. So you probably wouldn't find the surround mix changing your mind.

Titanium Dome
03-24-2007, 10:38 AM
I spent a couple of days with Don Henley's The End of the Innocence DTS-ES disc.

I'm not a big Henley fan, though I like some of his music. I like it more now. All ten tracks on this disc are well known, though perhaps some are not listened to carefully. That's the case for me. I knew all the tunes, but didn't know the lyrics on most of them.

However, it's still the music that carries the day for me or loses it. This disc is a definitely mixed bag, sounding like it was remastered by different people at different times on different equipment with different sources. Whatever. :dont-know

Here's my breakdown on how they sound, with a little credence given to the value of the song itself.

1. The End Of The Innocence Excellent
2. How Bad Do You Want It? Hated it!
3. I Will Not Go Quietly Okay
4. The Last Worthless Evening Excellent
5. New York Minute Very good
6. Shangri-La Okay
7. Little Tin God Hated it!
8. Gimme What You Got Okay
9. If Dirt Were Dollars Very Good
10. The Heart Of The Matter Excellent

On balance, I wouldn't buy this at full price or even 50% off, but for a couple of bucks, sure. Plus, now there are five Henley songs that I like better than I did before, the surround versions are quite good, and I actually understand them.

Titanium Dome
01-10-2010, 07:11 AM
For some reason, Huikyong loves Joe Cocker. I guess she used to hear him on Armed Forces radio in Seoul. She's been playing the DTS Cocker disc, Night Calls, for a number of weeks now. She likes to sit in the living room, surf the net, and blast Cocker through the Performance Series MC set up in the adjacent family room. There's no wall between the two.

I gotta say, I love this disc. It's got a slightly different playlist and order than the two channel CD, and it just sounds a whole lot better to me. Joe's voice really benefits from the extra ambience.

Curiously, the standard set up of the Performance Series system works fine for this and all other DTS discs I've tried, despite my recent comment that on the L7 I had to dial down the LF as it would get too boomy with most DTS mixes.

Titanium Dome
01-10-2010, 07:44 AM
Hmm, I noticed I have some more DTS discs, like Eagles, Hell Freezes Over.
I guess I need to do an inventory.

JBL 4645
01-10-2010, 07:58 AM
For some reason, Huikyong loves Joe Cocker. I guess she used to hear him on Armed Forces radio in Seoul. She's been playing the DTS Cocker disc, Night Calls, for a number of weeks now. She likes to sit in the living room, surf the net, and blast Cocker through the Performance Series MC set up in the adjacent family room. There's no wall between the two.

I gotta say, I love this disc. It's got a slightly different playlist and order than the two channel CD, and it just sounds a whole lot better to me. Joe's voice really benefits from the extra ambience.

Curiously, the standard set up of the Performance Series system works fine for this and all other DTS discs I've tried, despite my recent comment that on the L7 I had to dial down the LF as it would get too boomy with most DTS mixes.

I tend to find only few dts CD have less LFE.1 dynamic range that slams kicks and drops down to the depths of a virtual black hole.

The dts music demo disc that came with the dts Millennium decoder has wicked crazy music effects track that tests the ability of ones sub or there natural caution to trim the level down because it goes down low and high at the same time most times!

I think there is very little call for dts CD at the moment that’s the sense I’m getting unless they have nice back-catalogue to choose from at reasonable price.

I would have thought the JBL Synthesis can trim each mode independently so for music mode you can customize the levels EQ etc over the movie mode so you wouldn’t have to keep making manual changes to the trim levels.


I think there is very little call for dts CD at the moment that’s the sense I’m getting unless they have nice back-catalogue to choose from at reasonable price.

JBL 4645
01-10-2010, 08:29 AM
I agree, I think it is one of their best too.

I have that album in vinyl, (Japanese import pressing) redbook CD, SACD, and DTS CD... I find the pumped up bass of the DTS mix "fun", but obviously not true to the original. Hearing the horns and back-up singers coming from the rear just destroys it for me. Maybe if I was a musician and used to being in the band it would work, but as an audience member... those special effects are just too special. The DTS highs are also a little crunched sounding... the SACD is significantly better. There is a lack of delicacy on the cymbals and chimes that both the vinyl and SACD have.


Widget

I have simple idea for you that shouldn’t cost much?


Okay so you’re distracted by the stereo surrounds voices back vocals when they cut in?

First you’ll need matching JBL five fronts yes I said five!

I’m thinking as hard as I can...but this cold is driving me absolutely nuts. You see I can deal with the JBL bullets and whooshes flying over my head on the surrounds.:D

You need simple means of sending the stereo surrounds to the inner fronts that will have nice frontal effect when they come in as that is where the voices will be if your watching a performance.

Or you can use a audio mixer to send the stereo left and right fronts and surrounds and send them out of the two basic channels with four inputs, do you follow what I’m getting too? Its piss easy to do and shouldn’t take no more than 10 minutes if you have mixer and spear cables.;)

rdgrimes
01-10-2010, 08:56 AM
I gotta say, I love this disc. It's got a slightly different playlist and order than the two channel CD, and it just sounds a whole lot better to me. Joe's voice really benefits from the extra ambience.

Curiously, the standard set up of the Performance Series system works fine for this and all other DTS discs I've tried, despite my recent comment that on the L7 I had to dial down the LF as it would get too boomy with most DTS mixes.
FWIW, it should be noted that DTS 5.1 CDs should not be considered a "high fidelity" medium. What they offer is surround audio, not audio quality. Essentially they take a 5.1 track and squish it down into the available bandwidth of a CDA. Potential audio quality will be comparable to a DTS track on a DVD video. Not horrible, but lossy nonetheless.

Titanium Dome
01-10-2010, 01:42 PM
FWIW, I think we knew that. :D

I'm the kind of person who can pull out the Chritstine McVie cassette I've got and stick in my Technics dual cassette player and enjoy the heck out of it. Sometimes I just like to listen to the music, and not the sound.

I like all kinds of music and all kinds of sound. When I can procure excellent representations of both, that's extra nice, and I've sure ponied up the $$ and the commitment to get the best sound I can afford, supplemented with my skill and labor, but it's always music fist, sound second for me.

My old Stan Kenton and old Wackers LPs still get played because I like the music. The sound, now, that's something else.

Same with the DTS stuff. It's not top flight, but it's really good in some cases and really bad in others; however, it's the music and how it speaks to me that matters first and most. With Cocker's Night Calls, I prefer the DTS version far above the CD.

It's probably fair to say I generally prefer five channels to two as well.

BMWCCA
01-10-2010, 02:28 PM
I'm the kind of person who can pull out the Chritstine McVie cassette I've got and stick in my Technics dual cassette player and enjoy the heck out of it. Sometimes I just like to listen to the music, and not the sound.


A "Perfect" statement, pun intended. :applaud:


Yikes!! (http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000B9EX0S/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&qid=1263162690&sr=1-3&condition=new)
Glad I own the original LP.

John
01-10-2010, 04:06 PM
I just like to listen to the music, and not the sound, but it's always music fist, sound second for me.

More people around here should try to do that!!!:applaud:

Titanium Dome
01-10-2010, 06:23 PM
A "Perfect" statement, pun intended. :applaud:


Yikes!! (http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000B9EX0S/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&qid=1263162690&sr=1-3&condition=new)
Glad I own the original LP.

Holy Yikes! $299.95, then he wants $2.98 for shipping.

toddalin
01-11-2010, 05:02 PM
Not to get off topic, but what bugs me most about listening to 5.1 music on my system is the physical height of the rear channels.

While it is fine for movies to have stuff circling around overhead behind you, it is kind of weird having musicans playing over your head when the front ones are normal. Guess I must be situated in the orchestra pit. :duck:

Allanvh5150
01-11-2010, 10:36 PM
Hmm, I noticed I have some more DTS discs, like Eagles, Hell Freezes Over.
I guess I need to do an inventory.

Play it loud, I am sure you will enjoy it!

Allan.

Titanium Dome
01-12-2010, 12:49 PM
Allan

I sent my GF and her mom off to Las Vegas for her mom's birthday.

I recently got back my Oppo BDP-83 upgraded to BDP-83SE with the superior DAC and improved multichannel analog board.

I am expecting my new JBL Performance Series AV2 today.

I shall obey your order tonight! :applaud:

:band:

Titanium Dome
01-12-2010, 10:32 PM
The AV2 didn't show up, but I played everything through the SDP-5. Parts of that Eagle's live disc are quite amazing and parts aren't quite. The DTS mix is a bit strained sometimes and brilliant other times.

Afterward, I played the 20th Anniversary Brothers In Arms SACD. Now THERE'S a fine disc. Holy mother of pearl bailey's irish cream your wyclef jeans!:jawdrop:

That'll make your SAMmies sing. :D

Allanvh5150
01-12-2010, 10:56 PM
The AV2 didn't show up, but I played everything through the SDP-5. Parts of that Eagle's live disc are quite amazing and parts aren't quite. The DTS mix is a bit strained sometimes and brilliant other times.

Afterward, I played the 20th Anniversary Brothers In Arms SACD. Now THERE'S a fine disc. Holy mother of pearl bailey's irish cream your wyclef jeans!:jawdrop:

That'll make your SAMmies sing. :D

Ti,

I am sure your system far excels mine so maybe you can hear things that I cant on the hell freezes over DVD. As for Brothers in Arms I can definately see your point. This was one of the first DDD recordings ever made and it has stood the test of time extreamly well. Even the 2 channel CD sounds pretty damn good.

Allan.

P.S. The bass line in the intro to New York Minute should nearly make you loose you dinner!!

JBLAddict
01-14-2010, 10:10 PM
Allan

I sent my GF and her mom off to Las Vegas for her mom's birthday.

I recently got back my Oppo BDP-83 upgraded to BDP-83SE with the superior DAC and improved multichannel analog board.

I am expecting my new JBL Performance Series AV2 today.

I shall obey your order tonight! :applaud:

:band:

Hey TiD,

I'm very very close to buying the new OPPO-83, as I just discovered DTS 5.1 DVDs and now really want to start exploring SACD, DVD-A, etc.

Money aside, how much benefit do you expect from the SE upgrade? I couldn't quite understand from the OPPO website and the avsforum OPPO thread if the benefit only comes from using the internal DAC with analog outputs, or if HDMI output (which I'd like to use exclusively) negates the benefit?

Second, it's hard to gauge the generally agreed ranking of the formats. Since so much material is available in so many formats, I'd hate to buy for example Gaucho in DTS 5.1, if DVD-A is superior, or buy in DVD-A if SACD is the generally accepted superior format. I understand that there's pros and cons among formats, but can you put in some general terms which are debated as near equals vs. which are as a matter of fact the most compressed/lossy formats. Since the discs are so darn pricey, I'd rather go right for the brass ring.

Thanks, appreciate any insight

Titanium Dome
01-14-2010, 10:22 PM
Generally speaking, I would rank them in this order.

DVD-A
SACD
DTS

If I had to assign points, with 10 going to the top format,

DVD-A = 10
SACD = 9
DTS = 7

DVD-A really requires a screen for navigation and access to some video material.
SACD does not need a screen for navigation, but its content is less rich and its sound IMO is slightly less satisfying than DVD-A.
DTS is lossy, and it is somewhat more "creative" in some of the mixes.

Titanium Dome
01-14-2010, 10:33 PM
Specifically speaking, each variety has good discs and bad. So there are some very good DTS discs I prefer over some not-so-good SACDs and DVD-As. For example, I like most of the Sting DTS discs and the Joe Cocker DTS disc a lot.

Since there are few--if any--duplicates of the same album in all three formats, you don't have to worry about which version to get. Usually there's only one version and it's on one of the three if it exists in 5.1 at all.

Some discs will have both DTS and DVD-A on them, but I can't recall any SACD that ever had either of the others.

Of course, it's common for there to be a two-channel track on the same disc as the 5.1 mix, though this is by no means universal.

Titanium Dome
01-14-2010, 10:37 PM
As for the Oppo BDP-83SE, I got it specifically to do all the decoding in the player and run the sound out the 7.1 analog pres. (Of course, it will be outputting 5.1, not 7.1.)

Until HDMI is a bit more mature and some of the irritating audio bugs are worked out, I'll limit its use to video.

JBLAddict
01-15-2010, 04:17 PM
As for the Oppo BDP-83SE, I got it specifically to do all the decoding in the player and run the sound out the 7.1 analog pres. (Of course, it will be outputting 5.1, not 7.1.)

Until HDMI is a bit more mature and some of the irritating audio bugs are worked out, I'll limit its use to video.

thanks for the concise rankings, crystal clear info

on the Oppo, now that you have it upgraded, what improvement have you found analog vs. analog?

Titanium Dome
01-15-2010, 08:18 PM
I'm going to cut and paste from a very long series of posts I made in an OPPO BDP-83SE thread elsewhere.


After living with the Oppo BDP-83SE for three weeks, I can record my observations and results. While many posters here feel that a “pure” analog path provides the best results from the SE’s improved analog stage, I did not find that to be true in the absolute sense. For those posters who might intone that any additional A/D/A step negates the value of the analog stage, I found that is not true in every case and it is a weak theoretical assumption to make without real world evidence to back it up.

What I did discover is that in each of my representative set ups, the SE analog stage is an impressive improvement in many but not all ways.

(Here I've edited out some paragraphs and a spreadsheet. They aren't necessary for the Lansing Heritage crowd.)

Titanium Dome
01-15-2010, 08:20 PM
Most readers here will be familiar with some or most of this.


Of the three systems in the test, one is the room’s installed and calibrated JBL Synthesis® One Array electronics stack installed in an electronics closet. The two additional systems I lugged down there were set up in the adjacent room so as to not alter the listening room’s characteristics in any way. Since the equipment closet has both front and rear access, this allowed me to tap into the source and the speaker connections with no problem.

Electronics System One: This system combines the Outlaw 990 pre/pro with a JBL Performance Series AVA-7 amplifier (which is essentially a Lexicon amp badged as a JBL) and two BASH 1000W digital amps for the subs. These electronics represent the economy separates system at approximately $3000.

Electronics System Two: The Synthesis® gear includes the SDP-5 processor (which is essentially a Lexicon MC-8), the SDEC4000 (which is essentially a BSS Audio SoundWeb London BLU-32 I/O Expander and BLU-80 Signal Processor with CobraNet®) and two S800 and two S5160 amps (which are Amplifier Technologies Incorporated units custom built for JBL). These electronics represent the high end separates system at approximately $33,000.

Electronics System Three: This system uses the Fosgate Audionics FAP T1+ pre/pro, a Fosgate Audionics FAA 1000.5 amp, and a Hafler SR26000 amp for the subs. These electronics represent the mid-level separates system at approximately $8,000.

You'll note I'm not including the cost of the Synthesis® speakers in these cost estimates, since it's the same speaker set for all three systems in this experiment.

Titanium Dome
01-15-2010, 08:22 PM
Continuing:


Switching was accomplished using ProCo RMS-1 and RMS-2 analog switchers, so each system could be running and switched in and out on the fly.

Each system was level matched using both an analog Radio Shack SPL meter and a Soundcraftsmen AE2000 Auto-Scan-Analyzer generating pink noise. A SAM II calibrated mic was used for all sound measurements and recorded in AudioTest and/or Fuzz Measure on a MacBook Pro running 10.6.2. Files were stored on a one terabyte FireWire800 10,000 RPM hard drive.

For the measurements and listening tests all non-audio equipment was turned off, including heat, air, and lights. The room is double walled with isolated studs, 5/8 drywall, and insulation. The floor is concrete, covered with carpet. The ceiling is double walled and insulated, with quadrants separated by wave-breaking, intersecting diffusers. In addition to the 18 acoustical panels, four bass traps, and six diffusers on the walls, there are black velvet drapes on sections of the wall, and four Ikea Poang chairs with black fabric covers. In general, the room is a HT variation of the dead end/live end studio design.

All systems were set at 75dB for a complete battery of listening and testing, Then they were set at 85dB for retesting. No one was in the room during any measurements. A listener (me) was present for listening tests. Measurements were taken at the same location as where I sat when listening.

The music used included the following discs:
Vaughan Williams, A Sea Symphony, DVD-A
Wei Li, Autumn Yearning Fantasia (SACD-DSD)
Porcupine Tree, Deadwing, DVD-A
Erich Kunzel/Cincinnati Pops, Time Warp, Telarc CD
Conjure One, Conjure One, CD
Joe Cocker, Night Calls, DTS
Bach & Vivaldi: Violin Concertos, 24/96 CD

For each recording, a measurement was taken at two pre-determined points on the disc, so that the response from each system could be compared at identical points. The software recorded 10 second clips, then these were manually aligned by the clock readings and a specific moment of the clip was captured for visual comparison. This resulted in 14 common reference points.

Halfway through the measurement process, the levels were checked to make sure no drift occurred. No adjustments were required.

Titanium Dome
01-15-2010, 08:27 PM
Now to the listening and measuring:


For the listening tests, I listened through a set list of the same tracks. After each track I wrote my impressions...

(At this point I'm editing out the entire section on process methodology, since I'm just giving an opinion here, and I have no plans to get into a detailed discussion or defense with anyone.) ;)


The Oppo BDP-83SE is a wonderful machine. The improved analog section provides a signal that in most systems will be noticeably improved from the stock board, and in a highly refined listening environment these improvements are more dramatic.

With System One (Outlaw 990), the signal remains analog once it leaves the BDP-83SE, so the character of the amplifiers, speakers, and listening environment are the main factors. The 990 has a very clean and quiet bypass. The analog signals, 7.1, 5.1, and 2.0 came through with excellent quality, and there was no sense of disappointment in the sound. Since the room and the speakers are above reproach and the amplifiers seem very quiet, I did not consider them to degrade the sound in any way.

Compared to the digital outs of the Oppo that required the Outlaw 990 to do the processing, the Oppo’s analog sound had a much more satisfying, realistic, and open feeling. It was clearly preferable to me, and it tended to measure better as well. No doubt this is due to both newer and better components doing the work in the Oppo than in the Outlaw. The one advantage of using the Outlaw’s processing: there was better over all system balance.

With System Two, it became evident that something was missing in System One, and that, of course, was the $16k of processing power in the Synthesis® SDEC4000 that introduces an additional A/D/A step. While in the case of System One and System Three, it was clear that any additional processing was a very slight degradation in sound quality, this clearly was not the case in System Two. In fact, sound quality improved. Remarkably.

I don’t know if this will be true with Audessey or other calibration methods, but the addition of 83 parametic EQ bands, time correction, distance correction, room correction, and pre-programmed profiles of every piece of Synthesis® gear in the chain is an astounding amount of complex balancing that managed to make the Oppo’s analog output even more wonderful. With all of the processing power and A/D/A bypassed, it sounded not much different than System One. With the SDEC4000 engaged, not only did it retain the satisfying, realistic, and open feeling, but coherence and clarity were much improved, balance was restored, and the room fully energized as part of the system.

When running digital direct to the SDP-5, its processing power was evident, but it was not able to match the beauty of the analog signal from the Oppo, which was a surprise. Measurements indicate there’s something (DAC? don’t know) that causes a slight rising output above about 9 kHz, even with the SDEC engaged.This is likely due to the calibration, in which we focused on the analog inputs more than the digital. There also appears to be digital noise in the system, which I attribute to the SDP-5, since it’s not evident when only the SDEC4000 is doing the processing.

When the entirety of System Two is brought into play, the SDP-5 is the weakest link. It’s still an awesome piece of equipment--one of the best of its time, but it’s time to modernize. I’ve already ordered a replacement of a newer JBL/Lexicon processor with HDMI and true 7.1 analog ins and outs. As fantastic as the system is currently with the analog sound output from the Oppo, it will be intriguing to run head to head, analog vs. HDMI.

In System Three, I wanted to hear the Oppo through the ears of analog-loving Jim Fosgate, so the last generation of the Fosgate Audionics gear was brought to play. In its incredible analog bypass mode, it’s a nearly perfect analog device. Its sound (or lack thereof) was better than the Outlaw, and nearly as good as the SDP-5/SDEC4000. The Fosgate FAP T1+ does have analog bass management, so that give it a nice edge, but of course, it still can’t match the magic of the SDEC4000. The Fosgate system did have better balance than the Outlaw, and it energized the room better.

Of course, the FAP T1+ is a premier platform for one of Jim Fosgate’s inventions, Dolby ProLogic IIx. it is incredibly well implemented, and this system had the best results in digital input/analog output using PLIIx. It really was very, very good. in this case, I could have used a regular BDP-83 and been just about as happy.

Titanium Dome
01-15-2010, 08:31 PM
Finally, I'll skip to my conclusion:


My conclusion is that the Oppo’s BDP-83Se’s superior analog board is worth the investment, even if you may need to introduce an additional conversion step, if you observe to following caveats:


Your room needs to be treated.
Your system’s DAC or DACs must be equal to or better than the Oppo’s.
Your system must have flexible, nonintrusive calibration capability.
Your system should be calibrated manually, not automatically.
Your system must be capable of resolving both dramatic and subtle improvements in sound quality.


I found the Oppo’s analog output to be superb. It immediately improved each of the three systems in their analog bypass modes. It evidenced the most astonishing improvement in conjunction with the additional A/D/A step in the Synthesis® system. Even in this instance, a better signal in means a better signal out, additional processing notwithstanding.

To more directly answer your question, the improved analog section in the Oppo improved the analog sound of my Synthesis® system, and the Oppo's DAC outperformed the SDP-5's. When your BD/DVD/CD player out performs your pre/pro in analog conversion, it's pretty astounding. On digital, I'm certain a more current pre/pro will handle digital inputs with aplomb. (I'm about to find out. :) )

JBLAddict
01-15-2010, 09:17 PM
As for the Oppo BDP-83SE, I got it specifically to do all the decoding in the player and run the sound out the 7.1 analog pres. (Of course, it will be outputting 5.1, not 7.1.)

Until HDMI is a bit more mature and some of the irritating audio bugs are worked out, I'll limit its use to video.


wow, that is very very deep! a bit over my head I really must admit, but thank you. I'm not sure what the link posting policy is, but if you can post the link to the SE avsforum thread where this is contained I'd really appreciate it. :)

I have the standard -83 link but at this point, if I'm about to buy my first new CD/DVD player in a decade, and willing to spend serious coin on new HDef discs, I really want to make the best choice to go along with my LSeries HT, even if it's a 1K spend instead of 500.