I am very happy with mine in all respects actually.
I will state that I have the unit running into my Ayre K-1xe preamp via the DIN output on the Opus 21. (The DIN output bypasses the volume control, and is the absolute best way to get the best sound from this unit, as per Jeff Kalt, the wner of Resolution Audio.)
Also, I feel that the Opus 21 is somewhat analog sounding, (which is how I like my sound to be actually), and lacks the ultimate digital dynamics that some units have, such as the Ayre C-5XE, which has great dynamics, but sounds very digital sounding to me. (It might be that you prefer the dynamics of that type of CDP, over the analog sounding ones, like the Opus 21.)
Good Luck in your search for your CDP.
I much prefer the Opus with a preamp in my system. I tried it direct to my VAC monoblocks and it was ok, but I gained clarity and resolution with a preamp (Dodd pre). Also, I didn't feel the Opus had enough gain run direct and the pre helped in that regard. I also use the DIN out of the Opus, though in A/B testing I thought the differnce as compared to using the RCA outs was negligible. This is obviously a system dependent issue, since there a many here that prefer running the Opus direct.
So the Pre-Amp is acting like loudness button? Where did Jeff Kalt say it was better thru a Pre Amp? Better how? More like the ultra compressed music most people think is natural? How can adding stages to the signal path improve anything but the bottom line of Pre amp manufacturers?
I've done a good bit of research on this topic lately, as I run a CDP directly to my amp. Here are the two key points I've gotten from the preamp advocate camp:
1. a preamp greatly increases the soundstage depth (though the advocates disagree as to why); and
2. the volume control components in CD players are much lower quality than the other parts in order to keep cost down.
The experience I have in this area is of such a nature that I'm not comfortable commenting either way, but the report of what I hear from manufacturers, dealers, and other users are what I've reported here.
Thanks to everyone who responded including email responses. I greatly appreciate the sharing of your time and experience. Seems that there are 2 distinct sides to this one...since I've already tried the direct route I will give the pre- a shot. Thanks, again.
Please read my post again.
Here is what I wrote: (The DIN output bypasses the volume control, and is the absolute best way to get the best sound from this unit, as per Jeff Kalt, the owner of Resolution Audio.)
Where in that sentence to you see anything about using a preamp?
Oh I guess I thought you meant the DIN goes into a pre-amp..how is the volume set without a preamp if you bypass the units control?
I must confess I'm confused as well; I read the sentence as the DIN output bypassing the attenuator circuitry on the Opus 21, allowing the signal to pass more directly to a preamp.
Where in that sentence to you see anything about using a preamp?
I think its the prior sentence, wherein you said you're running the Opus into an Ayre preamp that's leading to the confusion.
Okay guys, I see your confusion, (and probably my own!).
Here is what Ardri wrote: "Where did Jeff Kalt say it was better thru a Pre Amp?"
He didn't, at least not per se.
What he told me was, exactly what I wrote earlier which was: "The DIN output bypasses the volume control, and is the absolute best way to get the best sound from this unit, ...) And hey, if you don't believe me, call or email Jeff. (He is one of the better owners I have run into. He ranks right up there with Charles Hansen, of Ayre fame, IMHO!)
Now, it is true that by using the DIN output, (hence by-passing the built-in volume control), that you'll need to use some sort of device, (typically, a preamp) to control the volume. So bacially, what Jeff is saying is that while he uses a very good analog volume control in the Opus 21, it is not as good as what a really good preamp has, (which makes perfect sense to me).
Hopefully, that clears up the confusion. I have tried running the Opus 21 directly into my amps, and it seemed slightly better running through the preamp, at least to my ears. (But then again, I was not using the same cable, so it could have been that aspect of the setup that I was hearing.)
I see a BAT Tube Pre-Amp in my Future.
Who makes a DIN to XLR cable?
I use an Audience AU24 cable, with a DIN to an XLR, and I had mine made special by Audience for about $500.
(This was back when the AU24 was just starting to get good press, because now the price is closer to $1,000. Ouch!)
(I prefer the XLR terminations as they lock in easier than RCA cables, and unlock just as easy! Those locking RCA terminations can be a pain to get unlocked, IMHO.)
Plus, my Ayre K-1xe preamp has three balanced and three unbalanced inputs, and I knew I would already be using all three of the unbalanced inputs, (tuner, SACD player and CD recorder), whereas I was only using the one set of balanced inputs for my phono input.
I like the AU24 cable as it is pretty neutral, and does not accentuate the digital sound, however, I am sure that there are other equally as good cables out there.
(i.e. It is not as ruthlessly revealing as say the Nordost Valhalla cables. I am a big fan of the Valhallas, but just not in that particular cdp to preamp link. In fact, I would love to find an inexpensive 4+ meter pair of XLRs to use between my preamp and my monoblock amps.)
Having added an Opus 21 to my system recently I've been through the usual experimentation with cords and tweaks. Trying a suggestion from another Audiogon thread brought a surprising improvement that includes better bass definition; you may find it equates to "slam". Check out the thread in "Tech Talk" under "Copper Sleeve over IEC"...
Hard to beat a $5 tweak that works!
I tried running mine straight into my amps. Very clean sound, less sibilant vocals, but lacking personality and depth. I stayed with running from the Opus into my BAT VK30 preamp, and consistently like it better. A little more noise, but much more life to the sound.
I have to agree with other's who have more success using a preamp. I have an Audio Research LS 26 tube pre and a Spectron Amp. There is level of detail and musicality through the pre that is lost when I run direct. It just sounds flat when run direct to amp. Trust me, I hoped and prayed this would not be the case as it was a 5k decision to add the pre. Also, using the DIN is significantly more dynamic and musical. I purchased the din to rca cable from DNM for about $175, have also wondered about the Audience DIN which is probably made better and more resolving. Also, get Isoclean gold-cap fuses. They are far superior in my experience to the German fuses with ceramic ends. Isoclean fuses added a nice crisp silkiness to the top end as well as weight and pitch definition to the bass. Not night and day, but certainly noticeable. This CDP also responds to different power cords and interconnects. It really is a very good player. Don't give up without some experimentation.
My experience parallels J evege and Gnobber. I found running the Opus 21 directly into my amp (BEL 1001) to sound very clean but flat and not as involving as running through my preamp (deHavilland Ultraverve or Audible Illusions 2C). I too had hoped and prayed that it would sound better direct, and even now occasionally hook it up that way in a fit of wishful thinking, but every time I do I go back to the tubed preamp. I also got a DNM DIN to RCA interconnect to bypass the internal volume control but, unlike some of the others posting I hear almost no difference between the DIN and RCA outputs- as a matter of fact I find the DIN output to sound a little less smooth, but this may be a function of the interconnect itself (my RCA out interconnect is an Audience Au24, which, as noted, is available in a DIN to RCA version for more $$$). As an aside, does anyone have any experience with the RA integrated amp, which connects directly to the cd player thus eliminating the need for an interconnect as well as a separate preamp??
Talk to me about your new Mojo Mini Mac and associated system. Thanks.