Esoteric DV-50: Any cdp's Significantly better?

Is there are anyone out there who has compared the Esoteric DV-50 to a number of dedicated red book only players (or other universal's) and found one that is SIGNIFICANTLY better?

I stress significantly because in my humble opinion the redbook playback (if comparison unit is just a cd cd player only )must be significantly better to justify losing DVD-A, SACD and DVD-Video capability.

I keep hearing there are better one box solutions and being a die hard 2 channel fan I would sell my DV-50 if I found a player in the same price range that sounds significantly better. But every time I do an AB comparision to other well respected units the DV-50 has slayed each and every one.

So far, it has eaten the lunch of the Classe CDP-10, Ayre CX-7, Linn Ikemi, Cairn Fog Vers. 2, Cary 306/300, Arcam DV 27A and CD 33T, Myryad CD 600, etc. It even betters a Sony SCD 777ES/MF Tri-Vista 21 transport/dac combo that I previously owned. I'm only comparing the DV-50 to single box cd or universal players, but I just wanted to mention the Sony/MF combo. I'm sure there are some dac/transport combo's that will handily beat the DV 50.

Some may say that the DV 50 should beat all the above because the of price point ($5,500 vs. average price of $3,000 for the above players). But I disagree since conventional wisdom says that stand alone players (especially with the pedigree of those mentioned above) should produce better redbook than a universal player trying to be a jack of all trades. Only the DV 27A does video plus audio. By the way, I was very impressed with the 27A as just a cd player. Of all the above I would say the Ayre was the best.

Next on my list is the Electrocompaniet EMC 1UP and the Resolution Audio Opus 21. However, I must tell you I am really impressed with the DV 50 and all the great reviews are absolutely true. I've noticed that many people who are using it or comparing to other players are using the RCA analog outs instead of the balanced outs. There is a significant improvement in sound if you use the balanced outs and I'm only interested in hearing comments from people who have compared it against other players using the balanced outs on the DV-50.

My system components are as follows:

B&W N803's speakers & HTM-1 center
Cary Cinema 5 (5 x 200) amp
Anthem D1 Statement pre/pro
Esoteric DV 50
Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun speaker wire
Nirvana SX balanced interconnects from DV-50 to Anthem
Acoustic Zen Matrix reference II interconnects from D1 to Cary
No after market power cords or isolation equipment

My system sounds great! Those who comment please make sure to specify what specific improvements you heard over the DV 50 and what cdp were you comparing it against.

pretty nice HT system ya got there...

as for your question- I heard the DV-50 last night at a local dealer- very impressive for a one-box. Still does not touch my Vecteur L-4 transport/Audio Logic 24MXL dac (with nos tubes and XLR output option) combo though. I have yet to find the one-box player that can beat the best 2-box combos I have had now and in the past...
I have not done the comparison but it would be interesting to hear the Exemplar Denon 2900 compared to the DV-50. I have heard the Exemplar and it is an outstanding unit and great value. It is also apples to apples as a universal player.
It is a great paler..especially for the price ( I formerlly owned one) but there are better red book players (at higher price points I shoul add) The two didgital fron I ends I have owned since the DV-50 are the Wadia 861 w/ GNSC Statement mod and the DCC2 with Meitner modified philips. Both are significantly better....but...both are alot more expensive. I recomend you stay with the Esoteric if you are happy with it..again...I think it is a great player and doubt that you will find anything that blows it away in the same price range. Good luck on your search.

GNSC statement modified Wadia 861 SE
Well if anybody reading this in the Seattle area has a DV-50 you can bring it over and we can compare it to my Audio Aero Capitole MK II. I've been curious about the DV50 for a while now. For additional fun we can compare it to the Versa Dynamics. :)
about a year ago i compared the DV-50 to the Meitner DAC6/modified Philips SACD 1000......although it was very nice and a great performer for the money it was not very close on either cd or sacd in my system to my ears. the Meitner combo had a good deal more detail, refinement, and a lower noise floor.

i have previusly owned the Linn CD-12 and the Audio Aero Capitole Mk. II. i did not have the AA or Linn at the same time as the DV-50.....BUT....i would say that the CD-12 was as much better on CD as the Meitner and the Audio Aero would be a close preference but the DV-50 is more neutral sounding than the AA.

i agree with Dan......hard to beat the DV-50 for the price overall. our local audio club compared the DV-50 the Exemplar modified Denon.....i preferred the DV-50 (although to be fair some preferred the Exemplar).

the new Meitner CDSD takes the performance of the Meitner DAC6/CDSD combo even farther down the road of digital performance.
It took me over a year, listen to different players every chance I get and I brought the DV-50S. My experience told me some, only "some" very expensive players are marginal better in some way but none do as many jobs as the DV-50S manage to do. In its price range, IMO nothing touch it! After my unit burn in, set it on top of my black diamond source shelf, using a high quality balanced interconnect and powercord. I have never heard this unit sounded so good before in any store, I thought I got a totally different player. All my concern now is to feed this machine more music, CD's, SACD's, DVD's (yes, dvd too), maybe some DVD-Audio. Five or six years from now, I maybe out looking again since digital technology should have taken a big leap ahead. For now I will enjoy!
I have compared the DV-50 directly in my system with the Exemplar 2900 on Redbook, Sacd, DVD-a. The Redbook was FAR better on the Exemplar. The SACD/DVD-A is very comparable with the edge going to the DV-50. I sold my 2900, and am now waiting for the 3910 to reach me from Exemplar. I am told that this beats the 2900, hands down. But, I will not know till next week. I also have another 3910 modded by Alex paychev coming next week. In the comparison I must add that the APL SACD 1000 blows away All I have compared with in SACD. in fact it the Best SACD player I have heard yet IMHO, and some of my vinyl loving friends agree that it bested or came so close it hurts, to thier beloved TT's.

More to come. BTW The DV-50 is built like a Tank AND has great video. I combine my HT with 2 channel. SS for HT and Tubes for 2 channel and am also lookin for the best 1 box solution. For performance the DV-50 is beaten for music here. Hopefully with the new video chip, new power supply, caps, wiring ect, the 3910 should beat the DV-50 in all area except for weight and looks of unit.

Good luck in your audio journey
Hey 711smilin,
How do you combine your SS. HT, with 2Ch tubes? What does your switching? What pre-pro do you use? You have an interesting set up, I'm sure. Thanks

What the heck, I'll chime in again. DV-50 lasted 3 months in my house. It was an excellent DVD-Audio player- that's about it. CD/SACD playback was quite sub-par and significantly poorer in many key areas. Over the top in dynamics, bass power. Lacking in fine detail and transparency. Playing each piece of music as if all were movie soundtracks. DV-50 is a high-end DVD/Universal player that has no place in any audiophiles music room.
I have used the DV-50 as a CDP for about 8 months and it has been very satisfying - very good on red book, excellent on SACD. As is the case in high-end audio, everything is relative. But I couldn't resist trying the EMM DCC2, with the DV-50 as a transport. The soundstaging, imaging and detail leapt a whole order of magnitude. particularly transparency and resolution. Cant wait to hear if the CDSD, if EMM ever makes them available, will improve it even more.
Obviously, without the CDSD, I cant use SACD, so am just talking about redbook.
Oldpet, I have 1 bellogotti rack with B&K 507 AVR/5 Klipsch cornwalls, SVS B4-Plus-Crown K2, will have Denon 3910 moded by either the guys, depending on which sounds better. This rack is to the Left of my Elite HD730. To the right is another rack with Wavelength Cardinal X1's, Exemplar Exception II(siltech and Volume) either one of the 3910's. Plus 60 watt custom PP with Genelec Gold lions to switch for HIGH spl. I use custom 6 gage cryoed cable. I use APL's silver interconnects, compared against the highest end in the best salons in Chicago, I could find no better. Plus I do not believe in paying for the wire desease.
If we are comparing Esoteric DV50 with much more expensive units, some may as well post a comparison of DV50 with the Esoteric X-01 single box unit. I heard this box (redbook and SACD only) next to Burmester 001 and Bel Canto PL1-A, and X-01 was incredibly better than the other two. I have not had the opportunity to compare X-01 with DV50, though.
My findings on Esoteric X-01 are posted at:
First of all, thanks for all the responses that I got. I really appreciate the candor, comparative analysis and information from all who responded. Now, here are my final thoughts (somewhat long winded but I believe necessary) and I invite all who responded before (as well as any newcomers to this thread) to chip in and ad their rebuttals:


Last night (8 hours) I did an extensive AB comparison between the DV 50 and the Electrocompaniet EMC SE 1 UP (has the full monty of upgrades available)and again the DV 50 wins. The attributes of the Electro are it sounds more analog, has a slightly wider sound stage, has deeper bass and seemed to have a more quieter background (at least initially) than the DV 50. I was quite impressed with my inital listening sessions (and I'm still impressed) with this awesome player.

However, after prolonged listening sessions and comparisions I began to really pinpoint the reasons for those differences. First of all, the DV 50 is extremely transparent...not only to the music but to other componenets in the chain. This is an important distinction to make as they are not the same thing. (More on that in another forum)! But the DV 50 is ever so slightly warm.. the Electro is very warm. One of the "perceived" benefits of warmth is most audiophiles associate it with a "more analog sound". But warmth at the loss of transparency is not a benefit to me and that was definitely the case here.There is a thin layer of "haze" on the Electro that doesn't allow the music to cut through as well as the DV 50. This haze is a lack of absolute transparency.

I've also noticed that many so called "analog sounding players" achieve that affect by pushing the soundstage behind the plane of the speakers which gives a more laid back presentation and the perception of more soundstage depth. In truth, what this does is reduce some of the detail that would normally be in the listeners face and "opens up the soundstage" by the old adage "less is more". The perception is the noise floor and background is quieter...but it only sounds quieter because notes, dynamics, details that would normally be upfront are being heard to a lesser degree. In reality musical detail that was recorded on the disk is being minimized by the player's perspective. Notes and harmonics between notes don't cut through the soundstage as cleanly on the Electro. The DV 50 is also morre truthful in timbre accuracy. I noticed for example the brush used on the ride symbols in jazz music is more distinct and separated than on the Electro. The brush sounds different (as it should) on different cymbals with the DV 50 whereas with the Electro its all homogenized into one sound.

Another drawback is that you lose the sense of immediacy and urgency that can come across with artists who are known for that. Ray Charles and Rod Stewart are two artists who come to mind that consistently sing music that beneifts from a sense of immediacy (Joe Cocker on "You are so beautiful to me" ) is anotherexample. But the point I'm trying to make here is on these types of songs I want a "front row perspective" to be able to feel the raw emotion. That's what the DV 50 does. The Electro gives you a 3rd or 4th row perspective that, while maybe sounding more analog it errs on the side of reducing detail by making it less noticeable..even though the disk may have been recorded otherwise.

Forall you Electro owners, please note I never said your unit was less in fact has plenty of detail. I only said that detail is less pronounced and shifted back in the soundstage so it doesn't draw as much atention to itself. As an audio purist I want to hear the music the way it was recoreded..not the way an audio company wants me to hear it. I've heard enough of the DV 50 now (and compared it to enough players) to know that it is a very transparent player.

The bottom line between the two players...the DV 50 is more transparent, has a tigher, more detailed bass (Electro bass goes a touch deeper),is more dynamic and is more detailed. The Electro has a wider soundstage, warmer sound, better bass depth and may be more pleasing to some audiophiles ears because it is less of its less "forward" perspective. I like the DV-50 better and so does Stereophile (Class A+ rating), Soundstage and many other reviewers.

Now, in response to those who added their comments to my original e-mail:

Reb 1208- I respect your opinion but there's no way the DV 50 is over the top in dynamis and bass. There's also no way its not transparent. Earlier I made a point about the DV 50 also being transparent to the rest of the components in your system and it sounds like you may have other links in your chain that may exacerbate or react aggressively with the DV 50. Also, there is nothing "sub-par" about the redbook performance of this player. Its a great cd player.

Drhst20 & Springbok- Thanks for your feedback. You both have had the benefit of listening to other cd players that costs multiples of what the DV 50 costs. That's where I'm headed as I beleive the only way to really know how good a component is to to judge it against the very, very best and then see whatconcessions/trade-offs have been made in regards to price vs. performance. I hope to get my hand on some $10,000 plus cd players in the near future.

Sinsosin- I agree with you that there are a number of different players that may outperform the DV 50 in one or two areas but overall the 50 is still superior. I haven't even begun to experiment with power cords or isolation/vibration control units.

711 Smilin- There's a saying in in the computer world "garbage in garbage out". Denon is known to use very cheap parts in their players and the 2900 (or 2910) is no exception. These are decidely mid-fi players and its hard for me to believe that they can be modded to come anywhere near the performance of the DV 50.

Even if you change the dac, op amps, capacitors, resistors, power supply, etc there's still the issue of cheap PCB boards, poor circuit paths and most importantly a cheap transport to begin with. I know mods are all the rage right now but it reminds me of friends of mine in high school who would go to the gym and workout but instead of taking a shower afterwards they would dry the sweat off and put on cologne to hide the stink. You can only hide it for so long! The denon's are cheaply built to begin with. And I was struck by the fact that in cd playback the 2200 sounded better than the 2900. I ab'ed both of them extensively about a year ago. The 2200 is a $600 retail player and it sounded better (in cd playback) than a $1,000 player.

I live in the Chicago area and it seems so do you. I'd love to bring my DV 50 to your place (or vice versa) for a face off. Are you upt to it?

By the way, all of my listening tests on the DV 50 were done with the filter in the middle (FIR) position. Not only do I find this setting to sound more natural, it does the least upsampling which tends to keep the bass tighter and not over exaggerate certain frequencies. Vocals sound more focused and natural. I've noticed with some upsampling players that decay and attack of notes can sound exaggerated and the same holds true for treble detail (like symbols, bells, etc). This is less so on the DV 50 but can still be heard depending upon the music.

Again, thank you everyone and please add your comments. Let's keep this thread going!

Avguru and 711smilin, I, for one, hope you two get together to A/B the Exemplar and/or APL Denon 2900 and the DV50. I think it would be very interesting to read your individual comments about this comparison. Please keep us posted.
Avguru - seems that you'd already decided your player is the "best." So why was it that you wanted others' opinions again?

Just curious.
AVGURU, you may want to add the Krell SACD Standard to your already extensive comparison deck. By the way, my friend and fellow audiogoner pscialli has just acquired the Denon 2200 and is only moderately happy with it. He finds it somewhat unfocused. And do please keep your analysis coming. They are wonderfully insightful.
Avguru, just FYI, here's a link to the 6Moons Exemplar Denon 2900 review, where the reviewer compared the redbook performance of the Exemplar Denon 2900 to the Reimyo CDP-777, which is considered by many to be the best redbook player made today. The Exemplar is said to be nearly equal to the Reimyo, for $10,000 less.
Avguru, email me, I live in Wilmette, I would love for you the hear and experience what I have in reference to the DV50, I am sure we would have a real good time too. My 3910's are being shipped tomorrow, so I will get them by the end of next week. I really believe both of them will impress the S*** out of you, not just audibly but video too.

The DV 50 will always be heavier, built more solidly ect. But, we can see what sounds better to our ears together.

I already know that to my ears, both my sacd 1000, and my 2900 sounded better, too me, and my new machines should be much better than those.....

Are you ready to RUMBLE?

BTW, I understand TRL is modding the DV-50's and that the mod with REALLY make it a fabulous contender. That I believe is without tubes, you would have to check it out yourself.
Avguru, I like the flexibility of different filter this player offer. Depending on my mood, I use different filter for my listening session. Most of the time I set it on (RDOT). I like slower music with the maximum setting. Just personal taste! I do enjoy reading your review! Try the Black Diamond source shelf if you have a chance. The DV-50's performance does leap forward in a big way.

I don't think I said the DV 50 was the "best" anywhere in my thread. I just pointed out the players that I've compared it to and IMHO I think it sounds better than those. You ask why I even bothered to ask for opinions? I did because I wanted to know if anyone else had compared their DV 50 to the players I listed (or players in the same price range as the DV 50 or those I listed) and if so what conclusions did they come to. Its very possible that my ears are prejudiced after owning one for 6 months. Or maybe I'm hearing things that others don't.

I find it very interesting that everyone whose responded to my thread keeps pointing to players that are twice the price of the DV 50...or they mention dac/transport combo's that are really expensive. I explicitly put a disclaimer in my original thread that I HAD NOT LISTENED NOR COMPARED THE DV 50 TO DAC/TRANSPORT COMBO'S as its not a fair comparision. Of course, a Levinson, Goldmund or DCS Verdi Stack combo will handily beat the DV 50. We all know that. I was looking for another player (not necessarily a universal) in the same price range of the DV 50 which is signficantly better.

So far, from the responses that I've received it doesn't seem that anyone has any suggestions. I have yet to hear anyone come to the defense of any of the players I've mentioned. And keep in mind these players are not chopped liver...these are great players, especially the Ayre CX 7, the Arcam CD 33T and the Electrocompaniet. It just so happens that everyone participating in this thread seems to be fortunate enough to either have the funds or the means to realistically set their sights on the best of the best in terms redbook playback. For the average audiophile (such as myself) even purchasing the DV 50 at $5,500 is a stretch.

So right now, based on the limited responses I've received, it seems that there are no other players (either stand alone or universal)in the $5,550 price range or less that equal the DV 50 in redbook performance. If that's not the case, I'm open to suggestions. I don't know about you guys, but I'm finding regular redbook cd playback to be exciting and there are a bunch of cd's that are really well recorded out there that sound absolutely gorgeous when played on some of the top digital front ends. It goes to show that cd's came out before their time (recording lables were more interested in lowering their costs and fattening the bottom line) than improving the sound of music. Its only been in the past 6-8 years that digital playback technology has been able to develop to a level that it can now really exploit and showcase the virtues of cd's.

I am quickly losing my interest in SACD and DVD-A and I could easily live with a top-notch redbook player and just buy a cheap universal like a Pioneer or Denon when i'm in that rare mood to hear an SACD or DVD-A disc. I really feel that when cd is done right (both in the recording and playback) it gives up very little to SACD if anything at all. SACD is too hit or miss..some discs are very good and others are just average. I have both Norah Jones and Diana Krall's latest cd's in both redbook and SACD and I hands down prefer the redbook version on both. I even listened to the SACD versions of both on the Krell SACD Standard and Classe Omega and still prefered the redbook version. Both of those listening sessions were done at a dealer, not my home.

Any redbook cd player suggestions please let me know.

Um...I'm going to humbly point again to the Exemplar Denon 2900 (or 3910), which is in the price range of the DV-50 (actually $2000 less for the 2900), and has redbook playback that compared extremely favorably to the Reimyo CDP-777 in the 6moons review. I know you're prejudiced against the Denons because of the build quality and parts content, but you owe it to yourself to get together with 711Smilin and hear one. You may forget all about the "build quality". By the way, I also owned an Empirical Audio modded EMC 1-UP SE. The EA modded EMC 1-UP addressed all the negatives you mentioned in your earlier post about the EMC 1-UP. The Exemplar 2900 beats it.

What the heck are you pissing in the wind about? I gave perfect examples of IMHO of better, less expensive REDBOOK players, which also have a ton more. Your only response was to critisize my players. Than I offer my HOME for a listen and compare, and you sluff it off. What type of man are you?

I agreed your DV-50 is a well made good machine. It is not a GREAT machine for audio IMHO, and am willing to show you.

I've already sent 711 Smilin and e-mail and I'm hoping we can do a face-off this upcomming weekend. As I said before, I will gladly eat humble pie and give proper respect to the Denon if in fact it is better than the DV 50. At the lower price you mention I can finance the purchase of the 2900 100% from the proceeds of selling my DV 50.

My only request is that 711 have a pre/pro with balanced inputs. That's how the DV 50 sounds best. If not, I will galdly bring my Anthem D1 Statement.

Tvad, thanks for your responses and I will definitely keep you posted of the results. I know you are sitting back smugly waiting for me to eat crow (which i will galdy do since I can save $2,000 in the process) but I doubt very seriously the 2900 is on the level of the DV 50. One thing I've noticed about 6 Moons reviews is that they beat around the bush alot in terms of performance issues. (Too much editoralizing and not enough getting to the point). Also, I like technical measurements and detailed analysis (similar to what Atkinson of Stereophile does) or plain talk like Michelson of Soundsstage. 6 Moons provides neither.

Avguru, you jump to conclusions when you state:
I know you are sitting back smugly waiting for
me to eat crow...

This couldn't be further from the truth. I was simply trying to offer you
an option, at your request, while also including my experience with the
EMC 1-UP SE. It's clear from your resistance to the Exemplar 2900
illustrated by your distrust of the 6Moons review that you don't expect
much from the Denon. That's OK. It won't hurt my feelings. But, you
clearly favor the DV-50, and while you ask for options, you also dismiss
them out of hand.

So, I will gracefully bow out of this thread. Best of luck on your journey.
Have fun!

When I wrote that line I was actually laughing! Don't take me so seriously. I get a kick out of these type of discussions and it would be unfortunate if you pulled out of our thread! I value your feedback much so that after your second e-mail prodding me to consider the Denon I contacted 711, we have correponded and and we will be getting together soon.

It's always diffcult when you're communicating by word to convey your true feelings or give someone an accurate impression of who you are. But trust me I look at this as a way to have fun and hopfelly get educated at the same time. I guess I come accross as to some as very pro-Esoteric but that's only because I HAVE AB'ED the DV 50 to an impressive list of gear. It's not like I'm going out on a limb blindly without doing any of my homework. However, I'll gladly concede that I've certainly haven't heard everything out there (nobody can).

Yes, I'm a little opinionated but not hard headed. Stick with me, TVAD. I'd like to e-mail you when I finish our comparision test. To any others out there reading this who think I'm "brainwashed" by Esoteric I apologize!

I already tried to clue him in on that "fact". He must be turning it on just before each listening session and then powering down after a few hours.
avguru, you seem to have heard Krell SACD Standard in a store. I am not sure if you have been able to compare it to Esoteric DV-50 directly already. Do you have an opinion/feeling on how the two units stack up relataive to each other in RedBook performance?
Another machine that my friend pscialli is trying to have a look at is the SONY SCD-XA9000, selling list at $3k, sometimes discounted for just under $2K. It seems to have received some good reviews, but I am not sure that it is in the same league of DV-50.
Another machine (redbook only) worth looking at is the Audio Research CD-3 III. As I recall it costs approx $5K new. When I heard it, it did outperform greatly a WADIA costing $8K, do not recall if that was the 861. CD-3 had a much more open sound stage, was sweeter, more detailed, and with greater harmonic texture. In particular, Yo-Yo Ma's Stradivari cello sounded like a German student instrument on the Wadia. Of course a cautionary note: I have not had the opportunity of comparing Audio Research CD-3 III to Esoteric DV-50.
avguru, that's quite a list of units you've AB'd to your DV-50. Have you listened to the McCormack UDP-1 yet? That player is on my short list of universal players to audition. I'd be interested to get your experience comparing it to the DV-50.
Given HP's review of the Lector 7T and some posts that seem to support what was said, I wonder if this model should not be considered amongst those discussed here. I have not had the opportunity to hear it myself.
Maineiac: I was wondering when someone was going to suggest the Lector. Not a universal player but does have the added benefit of playing SACD too.Is there anonye out there that can compare it to the DV-50?
Audition the Audiomeca Mephisto IIX CD Player.
For me it is the best one at the price.
I've heard the DV 50 in two systems. I think it does a fine job playing redbook. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to hear it up against another model of comparable or lower cost playing redbook. However, against a much more expensive DAC/Transport combination by the Swiss firm Ensemble, I did manage to get some impression about the nature of its sound.

The DV 50 is warmer and has a more prominent midbass than the Ensemble. Whether the leaner presentation of the Ensemble is a plus or minus would depend on taste and system balancing. The Ensemble was also much more articulate, dynamic and detailed -- the DV 50 sounding a bit muddled by comparison. The Ensemble also had a much more open and airy top end. The more incisive attack of the note on the Ensemble did give it a bit more sibilant and mechanical sound, so my personal ideal would fall somewhere between the two players.

I personally gave away the Sony SCD-1 player I had for four years in favor of a CD-only player that does a MUCH better job with redbook (Naim CDS 3). There was not enough SACD material out there to interest me and the superiority of my current machine on redbook versus the SCD-1 swamped the difference between SACD and CD on the Sony. I may some day be back into some "hi-rez" format in the future when more software is available and the technology is further refined.
Russellcncom, I don't think that the Lector can play SACD. Are you thinking about the not yet released Lector Prestige or the 7t?
Hey guys,

Thanks for keeping this thread alive! People are starting to bring up a lot of good points and mentioning a lot of good cd players. Before I address individual comments I'd
like to give out some valuable information that everyone will find helpful: is an audiophile store that carrys a wide selection of audiophile cd's. However, many people don't know they are authorized dealers for Marantz, McCormack and Esoteric to name a few. They have a 30 day return policy on anything you buy. So those of you interested in the DV 50, McCormack UDP-1 or the very new Marantz SA 11 (replacing the 14) can order one, do a home demo and if not satisfied return it and get a full refund. You're only responsible for shipping charges. Marantz just came out with the DV 9500 (replacing their universal DV 8400) and the audio quality is supposed to be vastly superior to the 8400. It retails for $2,000. I have not heard it.

There's also You can check out any interconnect or speaker cable for a small deposit. They also carry Esoteric and you can get a free home demo.

Now, to answer your questions:

Guidocorona, the Krell SACD player is decidely different from the rest of Krell's cd players..which normally exhibit strong bass, agressive and forward presentation with gobs of detail. The SACD standard is smooth, analog sounding and very even handed across the total frequency range. Some will find its presentation more to their liking than teh DV 50. I felt it was boring and mechanical. All the elements were there but it didn't excite me. But that's my peronsal opinion.

I keep hearing such great things about the Audio Rsearch CD III and the AudioMeca Research Mephisto II and I would LOVE TO HEAR THESE TWO. Both of these players have been around for a while and have a strong and loyal customer base. I believe these two players are at the very top of the list of the best players out there and they probably outperform the DV-50. But I haven't heard them to confirm.

Ggil, The McCormack UDP-1 lives up to the hype in terms of its redbook performance. Very nice, transparent, good soundstage, fine detail..probably on the level of the Arcam CD 33T or the Ayre Cx-7..both of which I feel are excellent cd players. However, the DVD-A, SACD and especially the DVD-Video is not on the same level as the redbook cd playback..which is a shame since SACD has the potential to consistently outperform redbook. My feeling is if you're going to pay for a universal player you should get one that stives to be great for all forms of playback.

Bye the way, I should add no one ever talks about the video on the DV-50 but it is also outstanding. The new version (DV-50S) is suppose to be even better on video due to an improved video dac and DVI output.

Manineiac & Russell, I've heard very, very good things about the Lector and the Naim cd players but have yet to hear them. However, I'm starting to see a trend where players that utilize seperate power supplies (seperate from the transport chasis) seem to have outstanding performance. Naim, Lector, Resolution Audio, Shiguraki Flatfish, etc all fall in this category. I'm thinking all of these players probably are at least equal to the DV 50...the Lector more musical and the Resolution Audio better detail, soundstage..just better. But to what degree I'm not sure.

Remember, when I started this thread I was looking for a player that significantly beats the pants off the DV 50 in terms of redbook performance. Two members feel the modded Denon 2900 from Exemplar does. I will find out shortly. But if all the players above only beat the DV 50 by a 5-10% margin it 's not worth losing DVD-A, SACD and DVD-Video playback for a small increase in redbook performance. SACD playback on the DV-50 is even better than redbook.

I'm thinking the Resolution Audio, Lector, Audio Rsearch and Memphisto maybe the players that siginificantly improve upon my DV 50 in redbook. Next week I hope to get a chance to listen to the daddy of all cd players...the Reimyo CDP 777 that retails for $14,000. many people believe this is the best cd player period in the market...However those who own Meitner gear and DCS Verdi gear may beg to differ. I'd also love to demo a high end Levinson cd player as I'm sure it will DEFINITELY give me a significant improvement over the DV-50...but the price of all these units is very steep.

Sim Audio just introduced a new universal called the Orbiter that retails new for $6,500. I have a lot of respect for Sim Audio and the pictures of it are stunning. Anyone heard a demo of this player?

Finally, many of the people that I've corresponded or talked that were not overly impressed with the DV 50 DID NOT DEMO IT THROUGH THE BALANCED OUTPUTS. I (as did Stereophile and Soundstage) found the balanced performance to be vastly superior to the RCA analog out performance. So, if you do not own a pre/pro with balanced inputs you will not have heard the DV 50 at its full potential. Esoteric makes it clear in their brochure that the DV 50 is a fully balanced design and needs to be operated balanced.

It's amazing to me how many people can spend $5,500 on a cd player but match it up with receivers or cheaper pre/pro's that don't have balanced inputs. Good components need to be matched with other components of like quality to realize their full potential! I personally would not buy a Lector Cd player if I did not have a pre/pro with balanced inputs...nor would I use it with a reciever...even a very high end one. It doesn't make sense to me.

Again, comments/suggestions wanted and well as thoughts on the new Sim Audio Orbiter!

Since your D1 seems to have a quality DAC and can take a digital input, why not use a quality Redbook transport for CDs and a separate DVD player? Have you tried running
the digital output of the DV-50 into the D1?

For the same money as the DV-50, you could also use one of the Theta transports.
Hi, Peter here Guido's friend. I have yet to hear a DV50. I'm still thinking about the Sony SCD-XA9000. Last December, Atkinson gave it a great review. Others have proclaimed it wonderful on SACD, but maybe showing some compromises on Redbook. I'd love to hear theMarantz SA-11, but I was at the Marantz dealer today and he didn't have one. I did get to hear the DV-9500 and also the Linn 2.1. The 9500 was quite good, but I felt lost its focus to an unreasonable degree with Redbook. The Linn 2.1 was very dimensional, focused and detailed. Some have reported that the Linn sounds "dry." This was not my experience. It had great extended highs. Perhaps, some have felt that its bass is lean. To me, the bass was tight and very fast. The Marantz, with which I did a side by side comparison had more bass extension for sure, but it tended to be muddy sounding next to the Linn. I use an LP12 turntable, so I may be just spoiled by that tight Linn sound.
Another player that has gotten stellar reviews, but hasn't been mentioned is the Accuphase DP77. Has anyone heard it? List is $8500, I believe. I don't know that I can go that much on a new front-end, but I'd like to get something very good for the money. That's why I'm quite anxious to hear first-hand reports on the $3k Sony and the $3K Marantz SA-11.
As Guido mentioned, I have a Denon 2200. He was kind in his paraphrase of my opinion. In reality, it's a real stinker. It's actually pretty acceptable on Redbook, but sounds bright and glarey with SACD and unnaturally balanced toward the bottom with DVD Audio. I bought it mainly on the basis of a quite positive mention in TAS 149 relative to some other players that cost more, but I failed to read between the lines enough to realize the level of compromise I'd be making.
On a side note, I was at the dealer today to picj up my newly modded LP12 with its brand new Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge and even with no break-in it smokes most other music sources with which I'm familiar!
Can anyone else chime in on their experience with the DV50 as a transport only. I have an outboard DAC(Audio Note 2.1x bal).
I'm going to replace my Proceed PMDT soon and I'm strongly considering the DV50 along with the Ayre DX-7. Video wise, the DV50 might be a little better but I'm concerned about CD playback 'cause the Proceed's an excellent transport.
Jose21 - I auditioned a DV-50 in my system to see if it would be a suitable candidate to replace my player-DAC combination (it wasn't). Anyway, I used it as a transport into my DAC, and it worked quite well for that purpose; however, it was not quite as transparent-sounding to my ears as my current player/transport.

If I didn't have the ability to do a direct comparison, I think I would have been quite satisfied with the DV-50 as a transport.
AVguru baby, got the 3910 in, WOW can't wait for you to hear it.

have you compared linn unidisk to the esoteric dv50s ?
Yep. If anyone has been able to compare the DV-50 to the Linn Unidisk SC, 2.1, or 1.1 I'd be interested to hear about the experience.
On the subject of the DV-50 as a transport, it's pretty good. At the same time, I use my other player (first a Classe Omega and then an Esoteric X-01) as the main transport (with a dCS Purcell DSD and Elgar Plus) and they are definitely better, but both cost more than twice as much.
MGottlieb, are you using Teac Esoteric X-01 as a transport only, with DCS Elgar and Purcell performing DAC function? Did you find this preferable to using X-01 for both transport and DAC? What have you found to be the sound signature difference between pure X-01 and the mixed brand stack you are using?
Guidocorona: I use the X-01 as a transport with the dCS units (with a Kharma Enigma cable) and, of course, by itself in SACD (and the DV-50 for DVD-A). Yes, the combination beats the X-01 by itself by a small margin--a bit more life and sparkle in the highs, a tad more transparency in the mids, perhaps a bit more detail in the lows. I'm not suggesting it makes sense financially if you're going to do it from scratch, just that I've had the dCS units for a while and am just as happy retaining them. Same thought process with the DV-50: as long as I've got it, it made more sense to keep it for DVD-A rather than go for the UX-1, which doesn't quite match the X-01. Obviously the order you buy things in governs a lot of your choices.
Fair comment MGottlieb. Next question that comes to mind is: is X-01 a better transport for the DCS stack than Verdi with firewire?
Guidocorona: Hard question. I found the Verdi amazingly clean with the Purcell and Elgar Plus, but just a bit too bright and forward for my taste. I had the same reaction when I heard the EMM separates in someone else's system. Apparently making a great DAC doesn't guarantee you can make a great transport. (By the way, as a reminder, the firewire connections are Purcell to Elgar Plus and Verdi to Elgar Plus; the connection from transport (including Verdi) is always a PCM (RCA, XLR or BNC) connection.
Mgottlieb - have you demo' the Goldmund 18d? I haven't been able to see any comparisons of that player either for CD, DVD-A, Sacd or Video.