Check out the Meridian 598 as well as the Cary unit you mentioned
I too was seeking an all-in-one solution that would give me the best of both CD and DVD and found that the Camelot Roundtable player was the best solution available at a relatively reasonable price. As far as I am concerned (and many others) it is the best sub-$10,000 DVD player available and offers an excellent audio section based largely on the acclaimed Uther DAC. It is a bit expensive, but worth every penny for the quality and versatility if you ask me. It is available in both the Mark I version, with 24/96 upsampling and the Mark II with improved 24/192 upsampling. Both sound and look great. Good luck with your hunt for a new player.
I'd go for the Muse Model 9 Signature with Progressive Scan output option. For some reason, Muse just doesn't hold it's resale value, so buying it used you should be able to get a good price (around $2K?). It's an awesome player for both music and movies. I own one, so I'm experienced with it and biased about it, and share your same goal - a one-box solution to both problems while getting great performance.
Just purchased the Philips DVD963SA with 192/24 CD oversampling and SACD. $ 430 home delivered. Sounds better than the Meridian 500/566 24bit DAC purchased @ $ 3000 that is replacing. After serious comparison testing, disconnected and switched off the Meridian. As far as I am concerned Sony and Philips supply equipment at reasonable price that sounds a lot better than the over priced "high-end" "high-price" brands. The Philips now drives Mark Levinson and Martin Logan.
Well not much to say. CD comparison to the Meridian combo is extended low frequencies, the high end has lost a bit of harshness and is more "sweet". With sweet do not mean coloration or a sound that is more pleasent to my hears. It is closer to live performance. I could not notice much difference in the mid-band. Presentation, field depth, localization of instruments and voices are more present, i.e brought a bit forward adding more sense of live performance. Resolution is enhanced, with instrument details available where could not hear before. I have no comparison with other SACDs so cannot say much, I compared Bocelli CD with SACD, no drammatic differences but a sense of musicality not present in the CD and of course more extended low and high and minute details not audible in the CD. However you need to have a top notch system to dig out the advantages of SACD reproduction. It must be said that the mastering is probably not specifically done for SACD so there is probably some tuning at recording level that will allow a better differential between the two standards. I have only had the Philips for two days now and the sound is still changing a bit.
Should you have specific questions, ask will try to answer the best I can
Yes it has PCM coax and fiber output. The set up software allows selection of 96Khz and 48Khz as output and can have a selection between PCM only or "All".
I am extremelly impressed with its performance, now that it has had some running-in, in absolute terms, if you consider that the price tag is around $400 you ask yourself a lot of question on how you have been spending your money and how much vapor-ware you were getting. I think it did switch the light on for me, can see a lot better now
Thanks a million for your detailed posting. I was in hibernation. (They really should provide Internet access on planes these days!)
I'm glad to see you are enjoying your 963. Here's another one for you. Did you have a chance to compare yours with SACD-1000 or better yet Sony XA777ES? Where do you rank your machine amongst these contenders?
I was dangerously close to buying a cheap Chinese SACD player (either the Xindak SCD-2 or the Shanling T200, both have Tube output stage) but backed off in the last minute in favour of proven technology. Now contemplating between the SACD-1000 and XA777ES. Any advise??
I was in that situation as well, but decided for the 963 because of the 192/24 CD oversampling not available with the SACD 1000 or the XA777ES(as far as I know). Since my collection is mainly CD and there are few SACD out there, CD reproduction performance was paramount over SACD. After running-in, the Philips on oversampling is just excellent, and the difference with SACD is not that much(tested on 2 CDs only). The 963 is a machine with a lot of attention to audio. Besides the dual laser one for CD and the second for SACD, there is a "direct mode" switch on the front which switches off all the video circuits to avoid interference with audio circuits and best audio performance. The new DAC chip is ailed as superior to other brands. However have not done a direct comparison of SACD performance between the Sony and the Philips. According to informed sources at Philips the 963 is better than the 1000.But again, opinions. My initial intention was to buy the Philips as SACD and use it with the Meridian 566 DAC for CD reproduction since I liked the Meridian sound. But after auditioning the 963 conclude the Meridian was ready for retirement