DVD-A: Thoughts of a late adopter

A couple years back, I had a home theater setup that required an external decoder and picked up the JVC XV-D723J. Honestly, it didn't really occur to me that I was buying one of the first DVD-Audio players, I just needed one with a built-in DD decoder, and this one was only $150 on eBay. I wasn't really interested in DVD-Audio because, honestly, I thought it was just a multi-channel thing, and multi-channel audio really didn't interest me at the time.

So, a few years go by and I at some point realize that yes, indeed, most DVD-audio discs have a 2-channel mix. Feeling rather stupid, I decided to dip my toe in the water by picking up one of the Talking Heads Dualdisc edititions.

About 30 seconds into it, all I could say was, Wow. As a person whose stereo resides decidedly in the mid-fi range, this salvage DVD player was blowing away my well-regarded CD setup (a Marantz CD63SE) and was at least holding its own against my analog setup (a Pro-Ject with a Blue Point Special and MuFi X-LPS).

So I went on a bit of a spending spree and picked up a few more DVD-a's and DualDiscs. The difference is astonishing. I'm not saying it outperforms the higher class components out there - but this is the best thing to happen to mid-fi since the Rega Planet; I can't help but think that even a few hundred dollar DVD-a player can outperform a CD player at twice the price.

So just a heads up to other mid-fi people out there: if you've been sitting on the fence, unsure if it's worth getting for your 2-channel setup, the answer is a fervent yes, at least if you're asking me.

My questions for the community: how do the early DVD-a players stack up against the current mid-priced units? This JVC retailed for $800 or so but due to some major issues with quality control, they were and are available very cheap. Would I be better served with a newer universal, or should I save my pennies for one of the $400-800 Marantz units?

Also, how is Multi-channel? My B&K Reference 10 lacks discrete 6-channel input, though I'm hesitant to replace it - for the money it really outperforms anything I can afford (I got it for $300 here on AG) but if it really is a big step up maybe I'll save up for one of the newer B&K units.
I am a big fan of multichannel, both DVDA and SACD. I do not use the stereo tracks of my discs, but it stands to reason that these would be better than a CD (except that how the particular disc was recorded can make or break either format). However, I think that an effective multichannel system requires center and surround channel amps and speakers that are equal to the left and right, prefereably the same. This can be expensive.

I think that a universal player makes sense. Then you can buy any disc that strikes your fancy without worrying about whether you can play it. I would be leery about dual discs because they are slightly thicker and do not play in all players. In recent years technology of D/A converters has advanced greatly, so even an inexpensive player will sound quite good in your system. The differences in players relate to what they do with the analog signal after the D/A conversion. These circuits serve all the formats, CD, SACD, DVDA so all can be expected to improve with a more expensive player.