My Blu-Ray HDMI conundrum

A few months ago replaced my analog multi channel preamp (McCormack MAP-1) with an upgraded Onkyo 855, and went all multi channel digital. I did so because the Onkyo produded glorious multi channel SACD sound with my Sony XA 5400 CD/SACD player over HDMI (far better than what I was used to using the McCormack). However, for some reason, using the Onkyo with my Denon 2500 Blu Ray transport over HDMI is a big dissapointment on the audio side of things (video is stellar). Although I cannot do an A/B (Denon has no analog outs), I suspect the analog route would sound better on Blu-Ray. I could ditch my Denon 2500, get a player with multi channel analog outs and run multi channel analog through the Onkyo. I could get a Denon Pre/Pro and run high rez digital through the proprietary Denon Link (an expensive proposition). I could get my Denon 2500 upgraded. I am looking for any advise on how to get better audio out of blu ray.
I am not familiar with the Denon but I was surprised to read your commentary? Though not as surprised as you were to write it I'm sure.

I found this one application note in a review:

"One of the most attractive feature sof this player is its ability to output HD audio codecs in their raw bitstream format. For someone like me who owns a dedicated AV processor, this is a preferred choice because the high quality components in the AV processor allow the sound to be reproduced exquisitely. To enable this feature HD Audio output should be set to Normal. If itÂ’s set to HD Mix then the player sends the audio as a 5.1 PCM signal. HD Mix is actually a feature used for special pip content on a BD disc."

Would be worth checking these settings as the reviewer ran his into an Integra 9.8 and was very happy.

I personally do not like closed systems, so I would not invest in the Denon pre/pro... especially when it doesn't add any other capabilitiess

You can get the new Oppo BDP83 or one of the new Panasonics with both analog and HDMI, plus Ethernet, better DVD playback as a bonus and a much wider range of formats.

If I went this route I would start with the HDMI, postponing the investment in seven premium ICs, which ould easily exceed the cost of a new player.

If and when the analog test is deemed essential, or your curiousity gets the best of you, easy enough to add in the cables.

FWIW I have read nothing to support your theory - which is not to say that it is wrong, just that it is not commonly reported.

Could it be that your gear is not running to spec? Any posts about that from other disgruntled owners on ?
Multichannel analog from a player places a lot of work on the player -- proper D->A, analog output section, bass management, speaker setup. This would be a last resort to me, since it's really not the job of the player.

What and how are you comparing with Blu-ray that has led to your disappointment?
You could replace both of your players with the OPPO BDP-83 for $499. It will give you all the options.

I have the OPPO BDP-83 - the best bargain in HiFi AV right now. I use the 7.1 out exclusively for everything - CD, DD, DTS, DD-HD. DTS-HD, SACD and DVD-Audio. All decoding and speaker settings are in the player. BR video and HD sound is exceptional, and CD/SACD/DVDA/DD/DTS are very good, even though the player is obviously optimized for BR/HD. You can also get SACD/DVDA over HDMI if you so prefer.
Thanks for suggestions everyone. The solution is obvious: First get myself an Oppo BDP-83 and do a shootout against the Denon over HDMI. Then compare the Oppo HDMI out with its 5 channel analog out (I have plenty top notch cables lying around). Best of all, if the Oppo does not get me better Audio I send it back with full money guarantee. A no brainer when you think about it...
Edorr, if you do get the Oppo BDP-83 now (7/09), please make sure you download the latest public beta firmware release and update the player before you do any testing. This firmware is necessary to fix some of the SACD/DVD-A issues. The player's SACD performance is excellent after the update. There are no issues with the HDMI connection.
Vjay00 , I have the Oppo BP 83. Where do you go to get the firmware update.
I cany find anything on the website.
Ozzy, go to the BDP-83 page on the Oppo website, and select the Support tab. You will see the downloadable firmware versions and instructions:
Quick update. I decided to go all out and buy a Pioneer BDP-09FD, which allegedly sets the standard for blu ray analog multi channel out. To hedge my bet I got it at a price I could resell it for, in case it disappointed. The Pioneer analog setup completely blows away the Denon over HDMI, and I am now more than ever convinced Hi Rez audio over HDMI packaged with the video signal is a fatally flawed architecture (in its current implementation). I do not understand what these reviewers (I read multiple touting the audio quality of the Denon 2500) were smoking. It is not even close to the Pioneer analog route. What I also don't understand is why every high end home theater store runs HDMI from 3K players into 8K processors in 30K systems, settle for crappy audio, when all it takes is 6 analog cables and a processor with a good multi channel analog bypass mode. Very puzzling. The other things that puzzles me is why my Sony XA54000ES over HDMI sounds so good. Must be the DSD direct bitstream..... Anyway, my Pioneer stays - analog is back and look for a Denon 2500 listed on Audiogon soon....
Thanks , I just recieved the CD update from Oppo for my Oppo BP 83.
Pretty fast, it only took a few days from CA to Michigan.
Faster than regular mail!