If the only 2 formats you need are CD and DVD for video, it would probably be more cost effective to get 2 separate players. Or possibly a low cost universal and a dac.
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I have had t,he Marantz DV9500 then went to the DVD3910 which I quickly traded in for a DVD5910ci. The 5910 was superior to them all. I see the 5910s for all here once and a while. But a word of caution, these are all older machines and are at the end of their expected life span. You don't mention your budget and when you say "universal" are you wanting DVD-Audio and SACD playback in 2 channel and 5.1 as well?
If you just want to improve CD playback have you considered a DAC to improve your sound quality? Again, your list is of dated equipment and the newer DAC's will outperform the DAC's employed in those machines.
Just food for thought before you spend your money.
The list is of units that run $200- $400 and play almost everything I can afford that and no more. Times are beyond tough $$ wise. I have the 7001 ($799 new) and when I bring in an old Onkyo DX C909 6 disc or an Adcom GCD 700 and they hseem to sound more musical and have a better sense of PRAT I question my universal. The ones above are around the same time as the 7001 but sold for $400 to $600 more. I am thinking the audio section is better. FYI I have had a Rega Apollo, Denon 1650AR, Cambridge 850, Sony 777, many NADs latest being a 545 Could care less about multi channel but most have it
I am not doing the dac thing for the same reason i am trying to avoid two machines. More cables, power cords which combo sounds better ie endless comparing It is why I went back to integrateds.
You can get the Denon 3910 and mod it. Tap the spdif leg of the audio chip and solder a direct output wire to a newly drilled coax terminal for digital out. To further improve performance you can disconnect all the video boards.
By tapping the leg, you shorten the digital audio out path and no longer have to go via the long PCB traces that kill the delicate digital signal. To get really fancy, you could run the spdif through a tube buffer first, but there you would need to tap the transormer to get another power supply dedicated to the tube buffer.
The laser precision of this DVD player seems to be higgher than for typical CD lasers.
Might be able to shed light on experiences with two mentioned here. I have owned the Sony 9000ES, Proceed PMDT and Esoteric DV-50S. Actually, still have the DV-50S. The Sony is a nice player (older) , but; with ample capability. Sound was OK...perhaps a bit brittle/sharp in the high frequency. The PMDT provided good detail and much warmer/smooth sounding then the other two. The DV-50S was superior in every level. Good micro/macro dynamics, excellent with SACD's and true 5.1 channel playback/outs. Built very well inside and out. A clear winner here in my system. Obviously you will have to pay more for the DV-50S then the Sony and Proceed.....that said, the cost has come down quite a bit over the past couple of years for pre-owned.
I second the Oppo BDP-95 recommendation if you can find one. To be honest, even the BDP-93 sounds really good. There's one on eBay right now for about $200. I have a 93 in my HT system, so I only use it as a transport, but when I first got it, I tested it out in my other system using the in-boad DACs, and I thought it sounded great. For $200, it's certainly worth a shot. I don't see any 95s for sale right now anywhere near that price. The Oppo's seem to have great build quality, too.
"There's one on eBay right now for about $200."
That sounds like a really good option. At $200 I don't see any downsides. If you don't like it, you should be able to sell it without taking a loss.
That said, you may want to check the sellers feedback first. Its one of those deals that sounds too goo to be true.
Sony DV 9000 ES is outstanding, and it plays SACD 2 channel. I have this machine in my bedroom system and don't believe you could find a better player in the second hand market that fits your requirements. Sony put this player together too, it weighs 30 pounds! I had the 3910 too, and it is a good machine but not in the league of the Sony for 2 channel playback, but the 3910 plays multi-channel SACD and CD-R. Good luck.
Sony DV 9000 ES is outstanding, and it plays SACD 2 channel."
That's the same one I recommended in an earlier thread. I haven't seen one come up for sale in a while, but they were going for about $400. One of the reasons that player is a nice option is that there are a few reputable companies that mod them. Mine is stock because I have a really good CD player, but if I didn't have it I would probably send the Sony out and have it done.