Best Universal player

I'm sorry if this has been asked before, but I can't find the subject in the archives. I'm looking for a Universal player to replace my two current machines, one for redbook and one for DVD/SACD.
I'm looking at an Esoteric DV-50S against modified Denon/Sony's from APL/ Exemplar/Underwood/etc. I may also be interested in a modded 50S.

My background? I prefer the warmer, sweeter, lusher sound of tubes. That's why I'm looking at modded units. Video performance is also very important to me, which is why the Marantz 9600 is on my radar screen as well. bet. This is a whole new world for me, and I'm trying to navigate the best that I can.

TIA for all of your input.

Denon 5910.
Marantz 9500 - astounding!!!
I am just burning in a new DV50S. About 100 hours use. SACD is superb, but CD a bit thin compared with my old Mark Levinson 390S, lacks the extended bass and intimacy on vocals. Great sound stage and very detailed. Early days, I suspect it will get better. Haven't tried any other formats yet
Do you listen to much multi-channel?
I have a dv50. It sounds pretty darn great to me. Video very good. Haven't seen a 5910. You could also go a UX3.

The Esoteric challenges my vinyl setup in resolution and dynamics.
I owned or auditioned a lot of players (Simaudio Orbiter, Lexicon RT-10, Integra DPS 10.5, Krell Showcase DVD, Denon 3910, Fully modded Modwright 3910 with SS mods, Theta Carmen II, Meridian G98...) and have ended up with the DV-50. The Orbiter was the only Universal that came close, but it does not have multi-channel volume level control which is something I need. The DV-50 is just a very solid performer in my system.

Other things to consider are the bass management capabilities as well as channel level control, if it converts DSD to PCM (debatable if that makes a difference), and the type of video output. There are big differences in players, even through the coax digital output…at least form my experience.
Thanks for the replies. Dbld, no I don't listen to much multi-channel. About 80% of the usage would just be 2 channel audio, and 20% for video. Currenly I have a BAT VK-D5SE w/Super-Pak for redbook and a Sony S-DVP9000ES for SACD/DVD. I'm looking at downsizing/consolodating. The UX-3 is out of my price range. I'm basically looking through AudiogoN and trying to decide if an Esoteric DV-50S is worth the extra $$$ over the modified Denons/Sonys/etc from APL/Modwright/Exemplar/etc.

I had a chance to audition an Exemplar 2900, and was not very impressed. I know I'm stepping down, but I'm hoping for a smaller step down.

Thanks again for all of the replies so far. I'll let you know which direction I go in.

FWIW, vinyl is still my first preference when listening to music.

John, get your 9000es modded by Modwright, and be done with it. With the bon-mods, both redbook and SACD sound quality will make you happy, happy, happy!
For unmodified universal players that I have tried, the Simaudio Orbiter would be one to think about. It was very natural and easy sounding when I had it, and SI deinterlacing for video [instead of the generally underperforming normal pioneer solution] and a DVI output if you use a digital display.

I can't help you with APL or Exemplar, but I was disappointed with the Modwright SS 3910 I had last year when compared to my stock DV-50.

BTW, regarding video, I thought the DV-50S looked better through its component output to my Sharp XV-Z10000U DLP projector than via its DVI output. Might have been some sort of "synergy" issue though...I was baffled at the time. Now I use a DVDO iScan HD+ video processor.
DBLD Read the DV-50 thread, then call me. Email is fine, but talking is better.
Most High end players are lacking when it comes to video performance. The Denon 5910 was rated the best player in 2005 by Secrets of Home Theater as well as many others. It uses the DVDO chip by the way.
One more question. All this talk about upconverting the video signal has me a little confused. I have a HDTV, but it is not a newer model, a Proscan PS-3800 circa 2001.
Is the video upconverting only via DVI and HDMI outputs?
If so, I don't belive that my HDTV receives this, so it would be a mute point, correct?

Most players upconvert only via a DVI/HDMI interface. I know there is at least one, a Zenith model, that upconverts via its component output. Wouldn't be surprised if a few others support it. Whether or not upconverting is worth it is a matter determined by such characteristics as the source unit's implementation of upconverting, the size and capabilities of the display, and of course one's visual perception.
I recently purchased a Modwright Denon 3910 (with every mod he offers. Total cost was under $3500 and I am very satisfied. The unit takes about 150 to 200 hours to break in. It is up there with the very best redbook and SACD/DVD-players and has wonderful video. My audio system is a fairly high resolution Merlin VSM-MX, Joule LAP 150 pre and Cary sixpac amps (w/ upgraded tubes). For the money it's a great choice. If price is no object and you can demo one, I suggest also looking in to the APL ($6500)universal player.
One last question....honest. After doing some more 'homework', I'm now wondering if laying out $4K for a Universal player is a smart move at this time, with Blu-Ray players just a couple of months away. I'm thinking it may be best just to wait a few months and look for a Universl player which does Blu-Ray also.
What do you think?

It seems Blu-Ray players have been a couple of months away for a couple of years now. Eventually this will be true. ;-)

Nevertheless, although the Blu-Ray feature will be a video improvement, it seems unclear as to what will be utilized on the audio side of that technology. Even though there is a lot of audio potential there, who knows if they will take advantage of it?

For me - I'll keep my universal, and perhaps get an additional Blu-Ray player when there is sufficient software and reasonably priced quality hardware to play those discs. I don't know that they will be backwards compatible. I think this will be more than a year away, so for now I’ll enjoy today’s reference recordings.
Well my BAT VK-D5SE w/Super-Pak is superb for redbook. So I'm not desperate. I just thought if there was a Universal player that could come close to my BAT on redbook, I could then sell my BAT and my Sony DVP-S9000ES and go with one unit. I doubt any Universal could surpass the performance of my BAT. So I think I'll just stand pat for the time being.

I realize that Blu-Ray is for video only, but it looks like the US release is May-July 2006 for Samsung/Pioneer/Sony.

Here is a link:

That means by summer 2007 the high end Universal Blu-Ray players should be on the market, and my $4K of spending today will get me about $1K back next year.
Also, under the FAQ section of that link, section 2.2 says that the Blu-Ray will be backwards compatible.

Bottom line, I was just looking to consolidate my system, combining two machines into one. I've already bought an integrated amp w/phono to replace three seperate boxes in my system, so I thought I'd combine digital too. However, considering the current situation I'll wait 6 months or a year. I know I'm not missing anything audio wise.

Thanks for your help.