Is the Exemplar 3910 clearly superior to the 2900?

This is a review of the new Exemplar/Denon 3910, but four improvements made such major improvements in the sound that they must be included. First was the substitution of Amperex 7062 pinch waist tubes for the provided 5695s. During the first 200 hours of break-in I tolerated the 5695s but ultimately I put in the pinch waists. These are far more dynamic and transparent and present a much more plausible sound stage. The second change was treating the entire unit inside and out with AudioTop workstation treatments, including the fuse and tube pins and sockets. This gave a lower noise floor and extended top-end and just greater purity to the sound. Third was a full break-in of more than 300 hours, much of it with the Purist Audio break-in disk. The unit gave a real roller-coast ride with some frequencies sounding great while others were terrible. It often sounded dull and smeared while at other times it was bright. Fourth was finally getting the IsoClean PT-3030G II isolation transformers (a parallel pair). Within 36 hours they had added a further lowering of noise and great authority to the mid-bass and bass. Furthermore they result in having trouble with the volume setting you use. Quiet passages, such as Holly Cole’s Take Me Home on the Temptation album becomes incredibly and realistically loud when she gets going later. Crescendos on symphonic works rock the rooms. I might add that I have the H-Cat P12A line stage that played right into the hands of the Exemplar 3910s vivid soundstage. My old Exemplar 2900 also had all of these benefits with resulting leaps by it also.

I used the Burmester CDII disk for purposes of saying what different music sounded like. On Radka Toneff’s Moon is a harsh mistress, she sounds very realistic but the piano for the first time maintained a fixed position and had the bass authority of a piano. The second cut with flamenco music realistically reproduced the stamping of feet and the clapping of hands. The organ from the Lindenkirche Berlin, cut 7, had both the bass authority and soundstage that you would expect. My wife hates organ, but she came in to listen to this. Steve Ray Vaughan’s Tin Pan Alley was flat scary in its realism and soundstage. Finally, Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall presented specific locations of singers and instruments and clarity to the lyrics that I had never heard before. The boys’ choir voices in second portion were clean, separate, and realistic.

I should add that the 2900 had closed the gap between redbook and sacds, meaning that I really paid little attention to whether I was playing cds or sacds. Dvdas still proved inferior with but two exceptions, the Diane Krall dvda and Sinatra/Basie Live at the Sands. The 3910 changes all of this. Sacds are now clearly superior. You immediately feel the presence of the record venue when they come on. Certainly, some are superior to others, but the old Eva Cassidy Fields of Gold sacd on the Sony Ultimate Collection is so real to almost bring me to tears.

I have long characterized my sound as getting close to real. I have always resisted claiming I was 90 or 95 percent there. Given the improvement I am now hearing, all I can say is that I must have been no closer than 60 percent there in the past, because I am much closer now. On the Eva Cassidy sacd above, I probably could not have heard it as realistic had I been there as the mics are better positioned. I am not fool enough to believe that the future will bring better digital recreations of recorded events, but for now I doubt if any player can equal this.
I wonder how close the 2900 would get to the 3910 were the same mods applied to it? I think we're in danger here of submitting to the latest model symdrone. When something new is imbraced by some as a quantum leap better than the predessessor when really subtle repackaging and reworking is all that really taken place. Imagine a stock 2900 v stock 3910 blind listtening test, I doubt there'd be much in it as both are pretty average sounding in 2 channel.
I, of course, never heard the Denon 3910 in stock form, but I think it is a mis-characterization to say this is a "latest model syndrone." John Tucker told me that his initial intent was to have another available Denon universal player to serve as the base for his mods. I think he was sincere when he said the mods in the 3910 surprised him in being so much better. I also know he went further with once he understood the circuit better. The mods from the 2900 in the 3910 would not equal the present Exemplar 3910.

I am neither interested in whether the stock 2900 and stock 3910 are about equal or whether mods should be done in mc. I do know, however, that many of the mods in the Exemplar 3910 do positively impact the mc sound as well as the video.
Hello Tbg! :-) Did your old 2900 suffer from the popping or hissing at the beginning, or in between, tracks of a disc? I've read alot about it. Is it an annoyance? i'm sure you know why I ask. :-)

Be well
Yes, it did. It never got worse, was never a problem, was common to every Denon I have heard, and is still true in the 3910. Is it an annoyance? No, it merely lets you know when you are about to hear music. I seldom hear it between tracks. It may be the buffer that Alex mentions.
Tbg- Since this is a review, other than the H-Cat P12A line stage and IsoClean PT-3030G II isolation transformers , what's the rest of your system?
Kana, I use the Reimyo 300B amp and Beauhorn speakers. Other stuff includes Acapella and Indra ics, Omega Mikro speaker wires, Mana stands with Neuance shelves, and Hallographic room treatments.
The Dec. issue of HiFi News (pages 46-49) compared the Denon
old Denon 2900 and the new 3910, and said, while the new 3910 added videophile features, the old 2900 was "night and day superior" to the 3910 from an audiophile point of view, and recommended that audiophiles snap up nos 2900's.
My conclusions were not the same. I prefered the 3910s preformance in both SACD and redbook. The differences were not subtle. I could care less about video performance, they all look pretty much the same to me anyway. ;)
Yea, I saw that also. All I can say is that the moded units are not close. I did hear a stock 2900 versus the Exemplar and there was no comparison.

you keep reading and dreaming. Tbg snd I will keep buying, trying, and smiling.

"you keep reading and dreaming. Tbg snd I will keep buying, trying, and smiling."

I was just passing along some info, I saw this morning on another forum. I have no interest in owning a stock or modifed Denon DVD player. Glad you and Tbg like your units. I'm sure all the modifiers appreciate your financial support.
I do not think financial support is the issue. I doubt seriously if your efforts can reach the level we are talking about, but I may be wrong. I resent your implication that we are fools as I am sure you would resent our saying, "if you cannot afford better equipment, don't resent those who can."

"I resent your implication that we are fools as I am sure you would resent our saying, "if you cannot afford better equipment, don't resent those who can."

You are totally off base with this comment.I implied nothing, other than I'm sure the modifiers appreciate your business.

"I doubt seriously if your efforts can reach the level we are talking about, but I may be wrong."

Yes, you could be wrong. Glad to see you have an open mind.