Help with Denon 2900/5900 or MarantzDV8400 or ?

I am looking for someone who has first hand experience with any of the "universal players" currently on the market. If you have had a chance to compare them that is even better. I have been researching the models from Denon and Marantz as they are more in my price range. I am looking for a player that has very good SACD & DVD-A performance. I don't know which format will prevail in the future (maybe both) but I would like to be prepared and in the meantime I will sample both. CD playback is VERY (the most important right now) important. I currently have alot of CD's and do not anticipate replacing them. I just sold my Rega Planet 2000, and would like to stay at or above that level of performance. Video performance is important, but probably last on the list if I have to prioritize. A DVI output would be nice as I beleive my Mitsubishi HDTV has a DVI input. I listen mostly to rock and country... Clapton, Dave Matthews, Shania, etc.. but have a little of everything. Here is my list of equipment...

Sunfire TGII processor
Parasound 2205AT amp
Paradigm 100v2 and studio cc speakers
DH Labs BL1 and Q10 cables

Any suggestions would be appreciated...
I own a DV8300 that I will be upgrading to the 8400 next week. I was able to take my 8300 to my local Denon dealer and do an extensive A-B comparison and my results were that in the SACD 2 channel audio playback the Denon seemed
slightly (very slightly) more detailed in the highs. While the Marantz delivered a more controlled bass and natural smoother mids. The 5900 was clearly a much more detailed and dimensionally distinguished video reproduction on Loewe
38" picture tube. My motive is the Marantz dealer gives me my original purchase price towards the 8400 upgrade. I feel the 8400 improvments will hopefully exceed the SACD performance of the 5900. I can live with the picture since I don't have a Loewe TV. This also allows me another year to see what comes out in 2004 as the SACD/DVD-A/V players are really just getting started. Check with me in a few weeks and I will let you know what I experience with the 8400.
It's said that the Denon 2900 (which I own) is as good as any except for the analog output circuitry and the clock. There is a modified version of the 2900 that corrects these deficiencies with top notch circuitry and components, and ends up sounding better than the 5900 for less money.

Frankly, I don't hear a need to upgrade my stock 2900.
I don't have a 5900 in home (YET, one more week) but have heard from 3 seasoned audiophiles whose ears that I trust that the redbook performance of both players is EXTREMELY hard to tell apart, though SACD is a bit better on the 5900, and video is what the 5900 does best (if anyone cares...). If that's true then the 8400 would be an easily better player for music from my listening to it and the 2900. Actually, underwood wally, the modder for these players, just posted an ad here stating that the 2900 and 5900 sound identical on redbook, which is pretty bleak for the stock machine, me thinks, and hopefully the mods really do wonders. I don't mean to upset any happy owners of the Denon's, it's all just my experience and opinion, and if you're happy with the sound, more power to you! It's a personal hobby, there is not a right or a wrong when it comes to art!
There are just so many options and I can't possibly demo them all especially where I live. I am hoping to demo the 2900 within the next week. I am wondering if I should go with the 2900 (based on video/ SACD/ DVD-A performance) and purchase a DAC for redbook. Anyone have any thoughts on using a DAC like Bel Canto DAC2 or MF A3.24 versus having the unit modded. Also from what I have read is the redbook performance the only downfall of the 2900?
Eldartford... You said you don't hear a need to upgrade. What have you traditionally listened to for redbook CDs in the past. In other words how would you specifically rate or compare the 2900 to other units you have listened to? I am really hoping to line up a demo for myself, but for now I have to depend on others feedback. Thanks...
Socrates... There is some price difference between the DV8400 and the DVD2900, I think about $500. What if I was to take that $500 and put it towards a used DAC? Was the redbook performance the only thing lacking in your comparison of the marantz/denon units or in your opinion was the SACD and DVD-A performance of the Denon better/worse then the Marantz. If so how would you describe the differences?
I have a short review posted here on a handful of SACD players and will add a couple more to that list in a few weks; click on the "review" icon under my screen name to read them. The SACD playback of the Denon is a let down when using the 8400 as the reference, as another reviewer also mentioned when comparing these 2 machines. Both myself and the friend who loaned me the 2900 didn't think very highly of the redbook side either in the grand scheme of things, but for $700 one could do worse, a good entry level piece into the foray, great for a $3k or less system. It's fairly priced for what it does, but not an overachiever by any counts, not on any format, except perhaps video and DVDA, according to others, but I don't care for video or DVDA (no worthwhile music) and didn't not compare.

Just my opinions, and for another one, if the redbook of the 5900 is identical to the 2900 then I'd suggest folks spend there money elsewhere if cd playback is important at the $2K level (TONS of competition here), or at least be prepared to buy an external dac, as I know a few folks have already done for their 5900's from reading various BB's. In the end, of course, to each his own! Don't take my word or anyone elses for that matter, listen for yourself if possible, it's MUCH more fun that way. Whatever makes you happy, roll with it. There's always something better out there, the key is being happy with what you have regardless of that fact as long as you are connecting with the music.... :)
Matt54321...A side-by-side comparison of the Denon with other players is not something I was able to do. Of course I have heard various players at audio dealers, but this does not really give a good comparison because the associated equipment and program material is always different. I previously have used a Mission CD player, and a Rotel CD player, and I first experimented with SACD and DVD-A using a Pioneer DV45A. The $400 Pioneer was excellent value, but the Denon does SACD better, (for more than twice the price).

When I say that I hear no need to upgrade, what I mean is that I can identify no fault in the sound. A side-by-side comparison with a $6000 player might reveal something about the Denon that could be better, and make me dissatisfied, so it would be wise to avoid such a test.

Most reviewers have described the Denon 2900 in favorable terms, and I think that the Underwood modifications (described in detail) make sense if you want to spend more money.
I had Marantz DV8400 for a week, and was quite disappointed with its redbook performance, even though I read it betters Denon 2900 (haven't a chance to check it myself, though). I'm doubt that currently there are universal players in DV8400 price range that match quality of good dedicated CDPs.
There is a very extensive denon 5900 thread on AVC forum with many comparisons between 2900 and 5900. ALL who compared them side by side came to a conclusion that 5900 sounds better than 2900 on ALL formats. Some thought 5900 sounds much better and some thought it sounds slightly better than 2900 but I have not seen anyone (except Underwood HIFI who are pushing 2900 with mods for more $$ than 5900) who compared the two and thought they sound the same.