Review: Integra DPS 8.3 Universal Player Audio
*This brief review is based on the machine being appropriately broken-in,and applies to the audio performance in two-channel stereo mode only.*
Associated Equipment: Cary 300 SEI,Triangle Celius,Cary CD-306,Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval innerconnect and speaker cables.
I purchased this unit for the progressive scan DVD ability, and hoped to be able to sample some SACD and DVD-Audio titles without dissapointment. I do not have a "home theater" system, so I have to walk the unit to my TV area when used as a DVD player.
Sound performance attributes:
SACD: This circuit was difficult to analyze. Why? The software is extremely varied as to sound quality. Initially, I thought there was a complete bass deficiency. I was playing the Stones SACD's. These are not bass-rich discs.That was the problem. I then played James Taylor's "Hourglass" and was given a revelation. It's fantastic. CCR's "Willy..." is superb. You get rich bass, pure clarity, and a super soundstage."JT" (marked 11.99 at Best Buy) is a pleasant-sounding disc as well. Alison Krauss "New Favorite" lacks the bass detail ala the Rolling Stones SACD's.Roger Waters' "In The Flesh" is hit-or-miss, depending on the track.
Conclusion: If fed the proper titles the unit will excel in SACD mode. (Common sense, but I think there is a perception that SACD will make anything sound fabulous-not true).
DVD-A: I remain amazed at the quality of the sound from this format. Neil Young's "Harvest", REM's "Automatic...",and the Grateful Dead titles are stunning. The kick drum is virtually in the room. The clarity and soundstage are wonderful. Again, not all titles are this good. "Crowded House" gets the music right, but Neil's vocals sound like they're coming from a distant tunnel. (Maybe the 5.1 mix solves this?)
Conclusion: Outstanding performance. Very similar results to the SACD circuit.
Redbook CD: In a perfect world, based on the results of the above two tests, I had hoped to be able to discard my Cary 306. This will probably not be the case. The redbook CD section will upsample to 24/192 if you set-it-up to do so.
In several hours of blind listening tests we concluded that the Integra will actually equal the 306 on some tracks, but certainly not the majority. That's stunning, considering the 306 is considered a "reference" piece. However, there just seems to be more depth and smoothness from the Cary on a majority of the music played.
Conclusion: For US $1200, it's hard to imagine topping this machine. The SACD and DVD-A playback is every bit the equal of the Cary 306 in overall quality. In most cases, better.
For redbook CD, it can compete with the superior units. I would best describe it as a level somewhere between the Rotel 971 and the Cary 306. Excellent Value.