CDP or DAC with DVD player


Is there an easy answer to this question:

Which will sound *better* for 2 channel audio?

1. Lower end audiophile CDP (e.g., Marantz CD5001 or Onkyo DX-7555)


2. Regular DVD player (e.g., Marantz dv3002) coupled with a nice DAC such as Channel Islands VDA-2 or Benchmark DAC-1.

People talk about cd playback being more than just the D/A conversion, and I want to believe that. Actually, my preference would be to buy the CDP, but I can't see doing it if it doesn't offer better sound. Any feedback from personal experience with this decision would be great. Thanks in advance.
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Braudio7 - I have the cheapest Sony DVD player ($69) with Benchmark DAC1. It is connected with 1 ft 75 ohm coax. In addition TV is connected with Toslink and I'm planning to make another connection to my MAC Mini using Toslink and Toslink/XLR adapter. Advantage of this setup is independence of transport, good sound with DVDs and inherent ability of DVD players to play MP3 (seldom use). Also since Benchmark rejects jitter distance is not important - my 1 ft coax is not even the best choice (best is 1.5m) but it doesn't matter. Benchmark tested connection with something like 1000ft of Cat5 cable and found no sonic difference. In addition DVD players have very good tracking. Benchmark works with coax up to 24bit/192kHz covering other possible formats. There is a new format on DVD called CODE pushed by Neil Young, Mellencamp and few others. It is 20bit/96kHz.

Disadvantage is inability to play SACD direct - only converted to PCM if your DVD player does it. Also Benchmark does not have analog inputs.

I connected it directly to power amp using Benchmark's volume control. It saves me money on interconnects. Possible analog sources like digital camera can be connected thru TV A/V input.

Sound wise it's subjective - some people like sound of oversampling DACs while others like NOS DACs. There is a lot of excellent DACs or CD players and I don't want to suggest that my solution is the best within $1k price range. Why don't you call Benchmark - they have 30 day free rental program. Avoid used Benchmarks. I don't recommend my Sony DVD player since it has horrible logic (displays messages for over 5 sec before doing anything).

I agree w/ Kijanki.
Oppo (best picture) or Sony as a transport and Benchmark or Lavry DAC.
Isn't it possible to have the SACD decoded out to analog and then the redbook CD digital to a DAC? This way you don't have to convert the SACD DSD to PCM. I have a Sony 9100 ES and I am thinking of doing this exact setup with a Benchmark. If I could run a phono stage through the Benchmark I wouldn't even need a preamp.
Jlc76 - That would be the best of both worlds. SACD players are not the greatest redbook players and SACD converted to PCM looses advantage of bit stream. SACD is pretty much one channel Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording format (4 channel "wide DSD"). Remember that Benchmark does not have analog inputs!!!
Well, there is a new Benchmark that has one set of analog inputs, but for my setup I would need two (one for SACD, the other for my turntable...which would still need a phono stage).
Jlc - users reported better results with Benchmark + preamp than Benchmark alone - I don't know why. Why don't you take 30-day free loaner from Benchmark and just try it. It is possible that you would like sound from your Sony more (while playing redbook CD). Benchmark sounds very clean - maybe too clean (takes a while to get used to). Some people call it sterile.
I'm using the DAC1 without a preamp directly to a tubed poweramp and the sound is glorious. Benchmark even recommends trying it w/o a preamp. The DAC1 has a very nice preamp/volume control.

The difference that some talk about is probably similar to when I used the variable output of my Cary308 cdp direct to an amp vs. through a preamp. You get more body but with less clarity and immediacy. I perfered it without a preamp because it had less coloration and was more intimate in presentation.

Anyway, the Benchmarc DAC1 is so clear w/o the hint of digititus or harshness that it excells as a direct connect to a poweramp. Why muddy up its neutral and honest presentation. The highs are so pure they almost sound smooth because there is no harshness to them. It is a real ear opener.
Mjcmt - what happens when you add class D to Benchmark is that lower midrange becomes too lean. It was the case with my Audioquest Indigo thin sounding speaker cables. While upgrating cables I went with Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun and lower midrange (chestiness on male voices) came back. Satisfied with Acoustic Zen I upgrated IC from AQ King Cobra to Acoustic Zen Absolute - next level in clarity and coherency.