Initial Impressions: Integra 8.3 DVD/SACD/DVD-A

My purpose for auditioning this piece was to acquire a progressive scan DVD player that had the possible bonus of SACD, and even DVD-A for my 2-channel system.
At the dealer's showroom we strictly auditioned the AUDIO performance of the machine. We drove it with a couple of nice AR monoblocks, an AR preamp, and some Vandersteen Model 5's. We compared this model with a Linn CD12 ($20,000).
Redbook CD: This model did not shame itself, even compared to the CD12. There was certainly more bottom-end depth and smoothness from the Linn, but the difference was not "vast" on this equipment.We listened to The Replacements "All Shook Down" on redbook vs redbook. On my home equipment (Cary 300 SEI,306/100,Triangle Celius)the difference is far more pronounced. The lower end is completely absent on the Integra. I hope break-in helps this. It does do vocals and mids impressively. I could live with this player if I did not know the quality of the Cary, but the Cary will have to stay.
SACD: On the dealer's setup, we auditioned the hybrid of "Beggar's Banquet". SACD on the Integra vs Redbook on the CD12. Everyone preferred the SACD version of the Integra. The mix is more enjoyable to begin with, and the player sounded great. My dealer commented: "If only Sony could do SACD this good". Against my home system: The Cary 306 redbook is superior to the Integra 8.3 SACD(period).
On the Hot Rocks hybrid, you can feel Jagger's breath on your neck during the opening of Ruby Tuesday" on the Cary redbook. This is completely absent on the Integra SACD layer.
DVD-A (only done at home):This must be the strong suit of the unit. This circuit was very enjoyable. I sampled Neil Young's "Harvest" DVD-A, and it presented itself impressively. Great clarity, and a decent wallop from the kick drum on "Old Man". On the "Crowded House" DVD-A, the music was exquisite, but the vocals sounded like they were 20 miles away. Be careful of your software choices with this format.
Caveats: The Integra units were fresh from their boxes. No burn-in whatsoever. The Integra 8.3 is only a $1200 retail priced piece. It was being compared to a $20,000 CD player, and a $5000 CD player.
Early conclusions: Does this unit belong in an audiophile system: If the next-gen (SACD/DVD-A)circuits are used, it will pass. The build quality is fecal. Absoultely Daewoo.
It is clearly a Home Theater piece, not an Audiophile piece. I got my hopes up after the dealer audition, but was slapped silly with reality at home. Not a bad thing, it's just reality.
Be careful, here. On some combination players, the SACD output is converted to PCM, and run through the same DAC's as the DVD-A, placing the SACD at a disadvantage. Some mfr's. do this to avoid the cost of 2 sets of DAC chips. SACD has special DSD DAC chips that are used. If the SACD in the Integra is converted to PCM, and run through the DVD-A DAC chips, this could explain alot. Other combination units have been known to do this(Pioneer), and I don't know about the Integra. The comments about the Integra vs Sony's SACD performance by your dealer, are not convincing about the actual comparison. When I had my Sony unit, SACD on it sounded considerably better than any CD player I compared it to.(Didn't A/B against the Cary, though). I would question the comparison of this lower cost multi-function player, as being superior to audio-only SACD units costing more than double the Integra. Doesn't pass the smell test to me. Whenever I read a comparison test like this, that has a combination player involved, and SACD is bringing up the rear in performance, I always suspect the DAC chips. Usually the case is that 24/192 DAC chips are used that are compatible with DVD-A, and SACD must be pre-converted to PCM first, and then fed to the 24/192 DAC. This process always reduces the quality of SACD to below that of DVD-A, and makes it an unfair comparison. In a unit priced like the Integra, I would almost bet that there is only one set of DAC's in there, and that they are 24/192's and not SACD proprietary DSD DAC's.

The other thing is the total change in performance capability from the time you auditioned it at the dealer, to the time you got it home. A total lack of bass on your system? But quite good at the dealer? Something is out of whack here. As good as a CD-12 at the dealer, but not as good as a Cary at home? Doesn't make sense.

Remember that SACD laser systems take 400 hours for break-in. If the dealer's unit was broken-in, and yours was fresh in the box, that would also explain alot.

So there are some variables and questions here, that may be explained by further investigation and break-in time.

I would bet that you're absolutely correct on the chipset issue. What has me perplexed and a little peeved is the vast difference between the showroom performance and my home listening. His unit only had 20 hrs max (these units are brand new), and the SACD seemed to be kicking buttock. The redbook was really sweet as well. the dealer did say that this was the closest he's heard any lower level machine come to the CD 12. Yet, when I played some tracks with "drive" on my home system, there was no comparison. The Cary's lower end destroyed the Integra. My system is not exactly known for lower end force.
I have sent my faux review to my dealer and asked that we at least compare the audio settings we're using. They're somewhat elaborate. Why would you ever want the unit to "down sample" anything to 44kHz? (This is a factory audio preset) In the meantime, I will keep burning-in the SACD circuit, and hope to replicate my showroom experience at home.
Chucki,it is odd that there is so much difference between dealer and home. I don't know the details about the Integra, and have never seen, nor heard it.

These "settings" you refer to may be an issue. And down-sampling to 44kHz may be to allow use of certain outboard DAC's or processors that only can handle 44kHz.

At any rate, I hope you get it all figured out, because it sounds like a very promising unit at a good price.
Anybody know if this player is as good as Arcam 27,for picture?
Well, I ought the Pioneer 47a i. Integra didn't even return my email. Their unwillingness to send a player from back east/ or allow me to buy from a non local dealer just made up my mind for me.