$5000 universal player ... am I a fool ?


So now ... recently my old reference source player finally died and I needed to upgrade to keep up with the times, and I'm not sure if I played the part of a fool or no.
Redbook CD is of the utmost importance to me, even though it is done in the context of my home theater system, Egads ! So I went on the search to find a DVD player that would hold it's own against about any CD player in the $5000 range on down. I'm fairly sure I found that in the Lexicon RT-20 I purchased used off these forums. SQ is as good as any CDP I have owned up to about $7000.
Here is my dilema though : Blu Ray seems to be the future, and this "universal" player does not play Blu Ray.
I've read EVERY long post on these forums about Blu Ray playing 2ch audio, but there seems to be absolutely ZERO concensus about this subject.
So simply put, are there ANY Blu Ray players that MAY equal my RT-20 from it's analogue outputs ? Anyone heard a good comparison, or are we still just guessing ?
timtim
YES I believe so.
I also bought an RT-20 on here new for about $1000. My thinking was that to find a Blue Ray player that met the Lexicon sound quality and video quality with DVDs you would have to spend at least $3-4,000 or more and I knew there was no way that I would do that. I care more about the sound quality for music and then DVDs now - I may or may not buy a Blue Ray so fast but when I do I figure I'll spend $500-750 or so and be way ahead, particularly for 2-channel, having spent about $1500 or maybe $2000 than paying $3000 or more now for a Blue Ray player with the music quality of the Lexicon (or not). Maybe I'm wrong about the quality of the Lexicon and whether or not it is a "deal" at $1000 (then again people seemed pretty happy with it for music and DVDs paying multiples of that) and perhaps there might be a BR player with music quality that is close for less than $3000 but figured going the Lexicon route was the cheapest way to jump from a good Pioneer Elite universal player into more audiophile quality, particularly for 2- channel, without having to spend to the $3000+ level. And then, a few years from now when I am no longer using it as a video player and have a better BR player I'll still have a pretty damn good CD player.
Wait for the new Oppo which will be a BluRay universal format player. Early word is that it is stunning and it is inexpensive compared to what you are considering.
Some reports say that it's still buggy on audio. BluRay appears to be OK.

Regards,
Why compromise with a universal player that attempts to do everything? With your priorities (redbook) and a $5k budget, I would suggest spending $4700 on a top notch "universal" redbook/SACD player, such as the Ayre c5xe, and then spend $300 on a separate blu ray player.
There's a used Esoteric UX-3SE available now under $5k. Best transport available in any disc player except for the UX-1. Plays all formats except for Blu-Ray and HDCD.
Hello,
I have heard some very nice high end units but ended up buying a Marantz SA-8001. This is a very smooth sounding player with dual mono discrete circuits. No cheap op-amps.
It is a 2-channel cd/sacd only player and does very good on redbook cds.
I think i would buy a lower priced blu-ray just for blu-ray until the technology brings the price down and look for a good 2 channel cd/sacd player.

Cheers
Bob
If you're playing CDs through your HT system, why are you worrying about analog outputs?

Spend the money on the best pre/pro (probably the Anthem) and run digital into it. Then every digital source component just has to deliver the bit stream and thus, they can be fairly inexpensive.

Keep the Lexicon and buy the Oppo once they fully release it for 'prime time' (oppo is still getting feedback via a limited release and implementing DVD audio as a firmware update) later this year.... without too many compromises, you'll have both worlds at your disposal.... and not have spent tons to attain them.

SQ is as good as any CDP I have owned up to about $7000.
Can you list some of those CDPs and some comparison of SQ?
I second the Ayre c5xe as an excellent universal player within your budget. I want to eventually (read: soon) add SACD capability to one of my systems, and so far the Ayre is the player to beat in the price range you mention. Still want to compare it to the McIntosh MCD-301 and the Marantz SA-8001 before pulling the trigger, though.

I actually listen to CDs periodically in our home theater (doing that right now, actually) because the electronics are pretty good (Anthem AVM-50 and Anthem Statement A-5 and a Rega Saturn CDP) and the front LRs are my old (1998) but still incredible Aerial 10Ts. I initially did what "Bob reynolds" suggested - digital out from the Saturn to the AVM-50, but found the sound unsatisfactory in terms of detail and soundstaging. So I tried some good interconnects (Auditorium 23) for the analog outs and WOW, what a difference! IMHO the analog outs were better in every way. But that has been MY experience. You could run the same type of comparison and come to the exact opposite conclusion. Regardless, I believe the comparison is worth the attempt!

Good luck!
Another option is Denon will be releasing their new BluRay later this year. This will replace the 5910ci. The new player will play all discs and Bluray. I currently have a 5910ci as well as a Ayre C5xeMP. I use the denon for movies and multi channel but use the Ayre for 2 channel. Although the spec calls out the same D/A convertors, Ayre has a much-much better sound. But stereophile nrates the 5910ci as a top player. I am assuming the new one will be better it is will certainly cost more than the 5910ci, look at denons website they have it on there.
I use a Spectral/MIT system and the Lexicon is a "remarkably" good player allround. An incredible bargain.
Really shines with good AC conditioning. The DVD video is excellent as well.
opinions will vary....buy what you can afford, and like. as to the differences in all players....digital front ends are still 'just that', no matter the money spent.
OK, back to the thread at last. Some of you mis-read my post. I do not have a $5000 budget to spend. I bought a $5000 Lexicon for $800 off this forum .... and it is just that, a FABULOUS sounding cd player with probably the single best DVD picture that is non HD.
But it won't play Blu Ray. Soooo, do I keep the Lexicon as simply a CD player and then add a $500 Blu Ray player to it, or are relatively inexpensive Blu Ray players soooo much better at playing Redbook Cd's that I can just replace the Lexicon entirely ...
Players the Lexicon equals or betters ? Naim CDX, Naim CD5, Sony SCD-1 , Linn's $5000 player, Arcam FMJ 36 ? , Theta Miles w/ Theta Pro Gen 3a, and others I have owned.
Why don't I just get a great Pre-pro ? Because I already own a nice B&K AVR-307 that has better SQ than literally ANY big receiver I have ever heard, and I mean ANY of them. Much more musical and realistic than Sony, Yamaha, ect, ect. Having said that, I've never heard a Pre-pro that sounded as good as most good separate DACs do, unless they are REALLY expensive, and I just can't afford those anymore.
The quality of any digital source will always be revealed or limited by the accompanying electronics. IMO, any reasonably priced Blu-Ray player will be appropriate, and there's no reason to replace the Lexicon.
So you have B&K AVR and used to own Theta Pro Gen 3a. I still don't get what "CDP I have owned up to about $7000" that Lexicon betters. I'm glad to hear you like your new DVD player, but let's keep it in the perspective. Don't get me wrong. I'm also very interested in getting a RT-20 as my last universal player. But I want to hear about more relevant comparison with real world CDPs, not some phantom $5000 player that you have never heard.
04-28-09: Jylee
...I want to hear about more relevant comparison with real world CDPs, not some
phantom $5000 player that you have never heard.

Very perceptive.

Timtim, you wrote "SQ is as good as any CDP I have owned up to about $7000".
It would provide some perspective if you would comment on other CD players
(or universal players) have you heard or owned that enables you to draw your
conclusion.
Jylee ... are you just plain mad, or did you NOT read all of my response ? I will quote again for you " Naim CDX, Naim CD5, Sony SCD-1 , Linn's $5000 player, Arcam FMJ 36 ? , Theta Miles w/ Theta Pro Gen 3a " ALL of these payers or trans/dac combos are in the $5000 to $10,000 range, save for the Arcam which still has a DCS Ring DAC in it. The Naim CDX is a $10,000 player.
But more to the point : I've onwed some of the most highly regarded CD players up to $10,000, and the Lexicon is up their with them ...
Tvad ... what exactly are you guys missing about what I said ? I HAVE OWNED all of the players I mentioned, and find the Lexicon as good or better in terms of dynamics, macro and micro, soundstaging, imaging, and naturalness. What exactly else do you expect me to say ? I'm not being paid to do a full review here. Feel free to contact me privately with any specific questions you have about the RT-20, and I'll gladly share my thoughts with you.
As far as why I'm using a B&K receiver with the Lexicon, times and fortunes change ... stock market changes ... I've owned systems costing as much as $150,000 in the past, now I do not. Do I really have to qualify myself to you to make my threads or posts relavant ? I'm just trying to enjoy my hobby ...
Oh yeah ... The Linn I owned was the Karik/Numerik combo, and I have also owned a Meridian 508.24
But here was the original intent of my question which started this thread ... Could a budget $500 Blu Ray player combined with a DAC like the $500 Cambridge MagicDAC for example, possibly equal the SQ I get from my Lexicon on Redbook CD's ? Simple as that.
Jylee ... Sorry, I mis spoke. The Theta DAC I owned was a Pro Gen V, and not a Gen 3. It's been a few years.
04-29-09: Timtim
Tvad ... what exactly are you guys missing about what I said?

I went back and re-read all your posts. In none of them prior to you posts
today did you write that you owned these players. All you wrote was:

SQ is as good as any CDP I have owned up to about
$7000.
You never mentioned any specific players.

So, in answer to your question, specific players was what I was missing.
Thanks for clearing it up. Take a breath.
Tvad ... Read my post on this thread dated 4-28-09

Here it is copied and pasted :


Responses (1-23 of 23)
Click title to read one, or click date to read all below it.

04-26-09 Yes i believe so. Glory

04-26-09 I also bought an rt-20 on here new for about $1000. my thin ... Ddg123

04-26-09 Wait for the new oppo which will be a bluray universal forma ... Ckorody

04-26-09 Some reports say that it's still buggy on audio. bluray appe ... Metralla

04-26-09 Why compromise with a universal player that attempts to do e ... Cruz123

04-26-09 There's a used esoteric ux-3se available now under $5k. best ... Tvad

04-26-09 hello, i have heard some very nice high end units but end ... Sonicbob

04-26-09 If you're playing cds through your ht system, why are you wo ... Bob_reynolds

04-26-09 keep the lexicon and buy the oppo once they fully release i ... Blindjim

04-26-09 can you list some of those cdps and some comparison of sq? Jylee

04-27-09 I second the ayre c5xe as an excellent universal player with ... 4musica44107

04-27-09 Another option is denon will be releasing their new bluray l ... Theo

04-27-09 I use a spectral/mit system and the lexicon is a "remar ... Psacanli

04-27-09 Opinions will vary....buy what you can afford, and like. as ... Jaybo

04-28-09: Timtim
OK, back to the thread at last. Some of you mis-read my post. I do not have a $5000 budget to spend. I bought a $5000 Lexicon for $800 off this forum .... and it is just that, a FABULOUS sounding cd player with probably the single best DVD picture that is non HD.
But it won't play Blu Ray. Soooo, do I keep the Lexicon as simply a CD player and then add a $500 Blu Ray player to it, or are relatively inexpensive Blu Ray players soooo much better at playing Redbook Cd's that I can just replace the Lexicon entirely ...
Players the Lexicon equals or betters ? Naim CDX, Naim CD5, Sony SCD-1 , Linn's $5000 player, Arcam FMJ 36 ? , Theta Miles w/ Theta Pro Gen 3a, and others I have owned.
Why don't I just get a great Pre-pro ? Because I already own a nice B&K AVR-307 that has better SQ than literally ANY big receiver I have ever heard, and I mean ANY of them. Much more musical and realistic than Sony, Yamaha, ect, ect. Having said that, I've never heard a Pre-pro that sounded as good as most good separate DACs do, unless they are REALLY expensive, and I just can't afford those anymore.
Timtim (Threads | Answers)

Key words are "and others I have owned.
No big deal though ... chill pill taken :-)
I stand corrected.

Have fun with your stereo.
Small point, Timtim, but you said your Arcam FMJ 36 used the DCS Ring DAC. I believe the last Arcam CD player to use the Ring DAC was the FMJ-23. The immediate successor, the FMJ 33, and the next model, the FMJ 36, used chips made by Wolfson.
add the oppo blu ray BDP -83
they are shipping advanced orders 5-18-09
Dear Timtim,
You are no fool. Let me propose a test, since Redbook CD is of upmost importance to you. Choose one of the following:
1. 100 CD's of your most favorite Musicians on
Redbook CD.
2. 2 SACD or 2 DVD-Audio disks of none of your
most favorite Musicians.
3. Zero Blueray Audio only disks of none of your
most favorite Musicians.
What is the point of a better sounding Format if all of your most favorite Music gets thrown under a bus for the sake of a better sounding format. The problem isn't in our Stars (better sounding technology), but within ourselves (our Musical preferences that become severely limited or sacrificed by better sounding technology). We should be able to choose any Music we want on SACD or DVD-Audio, at least prior to both formats being canned. So who was it that told us for the last five years of SACD and DVD-Audio, that we would be limited to only a handful of Musical choices or disks on these Formats? Who was it that told us to spend thousands of dollars on SACD, DVD-Audio Players anyways, despite this? We end up buying a new technology without having anything to play on it, more or less the Musicians we like to listen to. Who controls what Musical preferences that Audiophiles are limited to anyways? Who further controls what Musical preferences that Audiophiles are limited to, through the use of new technology and new formats?
There is only one solution with an over abundance of Formats with next to nothing to play on them. I propose that NO NEW FORMAT even be seriously concidered unless there are at least 100 selections available of various Music from the past up to the present. Otherwise, we end up with sinking thousands of our hard earned money into a New Format that hasn't developed yet, and we end up going out on a limb to become the loser. If someone wants to sell you a New Format, then they had better invest the money to provide a variety of Musical preferences on the software for that new Format. Something that was never done with SACD or DVD-Audio. Why buy the player if there is next to nothing to play on it? They owe you the software if they expect you to buy into their new Hardware.
If you accept less, then you end up with another SACD or DVD-Audio debacle. Don't accept Blueray Audio unless there are 100 Blueray Audio Disks available, unless you would like to see Blueray Audio go the way of SACD, DVD-Audio, or the DODO Bird!
Just orderd my Oppo BDP 83.
don't go for an expensive all in one
do redbook right then get a reasonable priced blu ray
the oppo fits the bill as it does dvd-a and sacd too

I have about 10 dvd-a disc
they haven't been played since my toshiba dvd/dvd-a gave up the ghost

I love blu ray and the audio can be great!
I started with a ps3 - still have in bedroom
fast upload times - but the audio and controls are lacking

I have a pioneer elite BDP 05
great picture and sound but it's slow and sometimes freezes on the latest discs

I've ordered the oppo and will put it in my main HT system with the Kuro - can't wait
Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts and advice. After looking at it and studying it closely, I have came to this decision: At this time there is NO Blu Ray universal player that can compete with my Lexicon at a reasonable price. I'm now looking at the Lexicon as a world class SACD and Redbook CD player, that may have the best DVD playback as well, and all for $800. I'll add a reasonably priced Blu Ray player to the mix and call it done. Thanks again
Hi Timtim,

Thanks for this post. I was looking for this kind of confirmation going with an RT-20 I just acquired for cheap. Thanks for sharing your views and experience. I am now content with the purchase and will likely consider the Oppo bluray shortly.

Thanks,

Kenobi
Ozzy -- How are you ordering an Oppo Blu-ray? Is it available now? How much does it cost?
Timtim...........I was in the same dilema and ended up buying a good Universal player that played everything but BluRay. I then sent it to Chris Johnson of Part ConneXion and for very little money had it modded to an essentially world class universal player! The only thing BluRay is good for is BluRay! There are so many DVD that have fantastic picture when modded like this, the difference is subtle!

So in the end, you can pick up a $5k to $10K player on here used for $1K to $2K and mod it to world class audio and video, (but not bluray) or you can pick up an $800 Oppo and mod it up to $2K and have just that, an Oppo that plays everything including Bluray.......but will not touch the other player in audio reproduction, and it's still and Oppo!!

Personally I'm sticking with the modded Universal players like the Esoteric or Faroudja, and waiting for a format like the Meridian Sooloos to come out that also plays video!