Multi-Format players of yesteryear, vs. Now

Hello good people

I have a Pioneer DV AX10 player. It is a fairly rare bird that was above Pioneer's Elite players. At the time (Ten years ago now) it was a universal player that did all formats (SACD, DVD Audio, HDCD) but is pre Blu Ray. When I bought it new, retail was 6K and I paid just under 5K.

It's built like a tank, 55lbs!, double airlock transport, shielded with 1/4" thick copper all around it, balanced outs, multi-channel surround outs. You can turn video off, digital off, etc. etc. It was touted as a true high-end machine, gunning for Sony's top-of-the-line SACD player, but adding DVD audio and a great DVD section as well. Until Blu Ray came along, I had never seen a better picture.

Now I'm finding that I'm really interested in getting back to good, engaging, two-channel sound.

I know that this is the HT spot, but I couldn't find a more appropriate forum, plus the machines that I'm looking at do HT as well so, my question:

While I've always liked the DV AX10 for music, will something like the Oppo 95 from today sound better than a super-premium unit like this, from ten years ago?

Electronics do age, and the DACS from today (Burr Browns in the AX10) should be better, yes?

Before I drop another grand or three (with mods) I want to have an educated idea about whether I'll really be stepping up.

The rest of the 2ch system is an ARC LS-16mkII, an ARC HD-220, and NHT 2.9's. Yes, I know, I might want to do something about the speakers one of these days.

Thanks guys. James
Very likely the Oppo will trounce the Pioneer. However, in this day and age I would forget about discs for 2 channel altogether and move straight to a PC/music server based system. Once you have experienced the convenience of your entire music collection at your fingertips there is no going back. With the right hardware/software, there will be no compromise in sound quality.
I have a descendent of the same player (Pioner Elite ). Don't be so sure that the Oppo will trounce it, as they sound different. Oppo's tend to sound a bit lean. Oppos do offer balanced 2 channel output, if that is important to you. I would definitely sample first.
i know your ax1-as you observe it's a helluva well built piece and, to my recollection sounded great--the cd direct feature was a real bonus. i'd be really reluctant to replace it--at worst i'd keep it as a transport and experiment with dacs. like richard, i wouldn't assume that a more technologically advanced player like an oppo will sound better to you--e.g. i've got a 1989 denon 3520 20- bit cdp (another overbuilt monster) which, delusionally or otherwise, i still believe outperforms my pricey modern players.
I had the Pioneer along with a Classe CA400 amp and Plinius M16 Preamp, Dali Grand speakers, It put me right in small venues with the right recording, wish I would not have broke it up.

There is something to be said about quality gear and the sum being greater than the parts. It sounds like you love the Pioneer. The best advice in my opinion is to order the Oppo direct from OppoDigital (I think there is a 30 day money back) and try it head to head. Unless someone has had both units, anything we would say in a forum is pure speculation. If oppo won't do a money back then call music direct in Chicago. They carry the premium version of the Oppo with the higher end analog outs. I'm a big proponent of trying out gear in your own equipment chain.

Have fun and I think we'd be curious to hear your impressions. As a side note, if you are interested in adopting bluray that's one thing but if you are looking for transports in general and looking for pure audio quality then you may want to check out the Ayre and Simaudio units.

All the best
Keep the Pioneer! I have always been a fan of the Burr-Brown DACS. The high-end "Elites" or better were purpose built during the Hey-Dey of CD/SACD DVD-A technology. I would not be surprised that in a blind set-up you would not beat 50% vs a compatible $2000 player. Just my opinion.

Yes I have owned four Pioneer "Elite" Players, three receivers and one RPTV.
Well, hey, thank you everyone for the responses. I think you're right, I have to get an Oppo and do an A-B. I was sort of expecting the general consensus to be that advances have been such that a new higher-end machine would of course trounce anything 10 years old. But here we are, able to spend 50K or more on a device to turn a vinyl pressing into sound. I'll figure something out and chime back in to let you know what I discover. Thanks for the resources for the new machine.
It's probably worth trying the oppo if you want a one box solution, but that is likely a sideways move. I also agree with keeping the Pio as a transport (they simply don't build em like that anymore) and spending money on a good, current DAC which would also allow you to go the computer audio route. This is where all the change is going on, and DACs seem to become obsolete very quickly these days. Edorr is right, you'll not want to look back once you go that route. It's a pain to set up right but it is the future.
I have a late 80's/early 90's Denon DCD-3520 CD player that is also built like a tank(40++ lbs) that still sounds fantastic and operates perfectly today, of course it is only a redbook CD player. Also in my possesion is an Integra DPS-10.5(same as Onkyo DV-SP1000) universal player(non BD) that is well worth the $200.00 I spent for it considering it's msrp was $2300.00. For a secondary music system in which you do not need to have BD, either of these are great choices. Main system my choice would be the Oppo 95.

Hello fellow Forumites. I thought that I'd get back to you on what I ended up doing with the DV AX-10. I thought long and hard about what direction to take. I also read quite a bit and talked to several people about various options, and finally sent it off to David Schulte at The Upgrade Company for his premier upgrade. I just got it back yesterday so I have not had too much time to listen yet, but initial impressions are that voices are fuller and richer and have a dark tinge that's really engaging. Highs are sweeter and grain and glare have all but disappeared, and the bottom is tighter and deeper. Very nice. He said to give it a few hundred hours for the new parts to burn in. Also, I always hated the flimsy fixed power cord (what was Pioneer thinking on a unit like this??!!) and a 24k gold Furutech outlet had been machined in where the old cord came out. Very Nice indeed! So, happy I am. I already had a decent Elite Bluray player, so hated to invest again. Time now to sit back and listen. Thank you again for your thoughts!
How much was the upgrade, if you don't mind my asking?
It was right at 1K.
The new Oppo doesnt do 2 channel as well as a Lexicon RT10 that is 10yrs old so dont believe all the hype.
Says who the 95 is hype,it does 2 channel with style and grace.
It's not hype! just flat out the best thing todate to spend 1k on period.
Spend $1000 all you want but for $400 it can be bested.
Ultimatezap, I would be weary of putting money into a digital player that old. What happens when it breaks down. Parts could be hard if not impossible to find.
I'll byte ! what combo you have in mind for $400, keep in mind all it does on the musical side so well via those dual Ess Sabre dacs cd,sacd ,usb high rez files up to 24/196 and also dvd audio and lets not mention bluray if movies are inculded.

Your up, and there is more!
Lexicon RT10 Plays SACD DVDA 2 channel and grwat SD DVD.unless you have a huge display blu is pointless, I have a 98in 1080p projector and blu's premium vs performance still isnt worth it.
But this was about music so I will attempt to sray on topic, and the Lexicon is simply a better player, I own both, can you say the same or is this some uneducated guess on your part?
Oppo is a fantastic video player, Lexicon is better at audio.
Could be your setup!And just to be clear we are talking about the 95 and not the 93, also did you ( if where talking about the 95)set the FL/FR option instead of stereo? which gives 4 dacs per channel in stereo Rca or Xlr, and are we talking rca or balanced outs!Its the best source I've heard in my setup, but to each is own, always!