Looking for a new "universal" player

Hi All,

I'm in the market for a new universal player that will see dual duty as a video transport and hi-rez audio player. Redbook CD performance isn't critical as I have a GNSC-modified Wadia 861 which is doing just fine in that department.

Currently I have a Denon DVD-3930CI which is great for video, but less-than-stellar for audio. I would just have this unit modified for audio performance, but a change in cabinetry is forcing the DVD player to be silver (to match everything else). Denon no longer offers the 3930 (or much of anything else) in silver.

Here's what I "need:"

- Excellent video performance. Current display is 1080i, but I may have 1080p soon.
- DVI or HDMI video
- Silver brushed aluminum faceplate
- Balanced outputs for 2 ch audio.
- Can't spend more than $5k

Here's what I would like to have:

- solid construction (in the same class as the Wadia)
- reference-level SACD performance

This actually shouldn't be too hard to scare up as an Esoteric UX-3 or DV-60 should work just fine. Since my budget is going to pretty much dictate used and the DV-60s seem to be holding their value better than the UX-3s it seems to make sense to push it a bit and go for a UX-3

Anything else out there that I should look at? Although I can spend up to $5k I would prefer to spend a lot less.

My SACD collection isn't extensive at this point, but it will grow over time. I would like to find a player that will serve my needs for the long haul.

Consider the Linn Unidisk 1.1.
I've considered the Linn and have it on my list, but I've always wondered about the build quality. Not to say that the Linn is a low-quality product, but that it doesn't seem to employ the same vibration dampening-through-mass that a number of other top-end players use.

I've heard the Esoteric DV50 (and liked it), but haven't had a chance to evaluate the Linn. Can you compare the sonic characteristics of the two (on SACD)?

I've had an Esoteric DV-50s for some time now and shortly after aquiring it also had a unidisc 2.1 (I know Jim, you got the 'big one') so I can tell you quite clearly the differences between these two, FWIW they both were ran through a Linn Kisto at the time to a fully active Linn setup.

The 2.1 was a little more musical, but lacked some of the detail and separation of the DV-50, and the DV-50 clearly had deeper and tighter bass. Some might find the Esoteric to distinct, and some have said it's analitical, but I would not go so far as that. It is just more detailed than the Linn.

FWIW after a month or so with both connected, I finally sat the wife down to see her opinion, she preferred the DV-50 for it's detail and bass, while I could have easily lived with either, the DV-50 won me over too and that is still in one of my systems today... well actually it's on the counter as I had to try something else for a while but it's still in heavy rotation.

My 0.02.

There really isn't a whole lot of competition out there. It's pretty much the esoteric or the Linn - and like you, I find the Unidisk to reflect somewhat poor build quality for the price, and I found the transport to be too slow in operation for my taste. I prefer $10k+ audio pieces to respond quickly to user input
KennyT... comparing the 2.1 to the 1.1 is like driving a C-class and saying... those AMG models are probably pretty similar. :)

Andrew - take them both for a test drive. Buy the one that you like best....I don't regret my 1.1 for a second however!
If you intend on heavy video performance the DV60 has improoved over the 50, my dad has the 60 and yes it is a tad on the Analitcal side but not enough to overpower its strengths.
The DV-60's are holding their value better because they are newer than the UX-3's, even the UX-3 SE's. The DV-60's have the more up to date video circuitry, including upscaling to 1080p and HDMI outputs, which the UX-3's do not have. Though the UX-3 does have a DVI output, it's not 1080p.

FWIW, I've also owned a Esoteric DV-50S, and the DV-60's video performance is much better.
With the HD DVD vs. Blue Ray battle just begining, as well as HDMI 1.3 emrging, I suspect manufacturers know that many consumers might be reluctant to purchase high end players until things settle. Maybe the new Arcam's can tide you over?
To me the HD format war isn't worth worrying about right now. My display has a native resolution of 1024x768 and that isn't likely to change much in the near future.

I also doubt that there will be true reference quality universal players that incorporate the new formats for some time to come.

I've heard good things about the Arcams, but they don't have balanced 2ch outputs... that's a show stopper for me.
I wouldn’t spend allot of money on a universal player with the HD wars underway. I’m using a low budget option for very good DVD-V playback (which doubles as a good, but secondary DVD-A and SACD player); the Pioneer Elite DV-79AVi, which can be had for under $1000 and can be modified into a giant killer (if you really like). The DV-79Avi has HDMI, and lot’s of other HT goodies but I think it's limited to 1018i, and no balanced outputs.

It’s a pretty good at CD, SACD, and DVD-A... I did a fair amount of A/B comparisons with my GNSC modified Wadia 831. The Wadia’s CD playback bettered the Pioneer’s SACD and DVD-A but I don’t have a lot invested in those formats… The Wadia seamed to provide a fuller soundstage and better clarity across the spectrum. But for <$1000 with plenty of upgrades available (based upon it’s predecessor the DV-59avi) I felt it was a no brainer. And there are silver faced versions out there as well.

Overall the Pioneer’s build is good but I do worry about the drive mechanism. The draw isn’t as sturdily as I would like.

Just my 2 cents.

Opps, missed the balanced requirements. You'd think this would be easier than it appears.
I would spend whatever you want right now, this war between formats shows no hint of being settled, and it could end up a case of murder/suicide where both get dumped.

I know, I didn't have the 1.1, and said so..... Unfortunately for me you bring the point a little to close to home.... Everytime the AMG MB's goes into the shop, they give me one of those POS C classes!

03-06-07: Chadnliz
I would spend whatever you want right now, this war between formats shows no hint of being settled, and it could end up a case of murder/suicide where both get dumped.

A la SACD and DVD-A, huh?
C-class a POS huh? I wouldn't go that far... after all I drive a Toyota!! :)

Your Toyota dyno's out over 1,000bHP at the rear wheels for gods sake.... and yes, the C class is a POS!

Talk to ya' soon!

Jmcgrogan2 with all due respect I was responding to anothers opinion and offered mine, I was not talking to you.
03-06-07: Chadnliz
Jmcgrogan2 with all due respect I was responding to anothers opinion and offered mine, I was not talking to you.

Chadnliz, with all due respect, this is a public forum, obviously you do not understand what that means. If you want to send PM's, please do so off-line.
Ok will do, but in the future only respond to the poster in the forum and not question an opinion meant for the person who asked questions and opinions....deal?
No deal. News flash...public forums are for the sake of all involved, not just the original poster.
Though I will take note that you have some issues, and I will not respond to you in the future....

If you do not wish for anyone to read and/or comment on what you have to say, do not post it in a public forum. It really is that simple.
ouch, man that stings...guess you told me.