I think the best investment is in the best AV pre/pro you can afford. They provide many benefits especially room mode correction. I see no value in the analog section of the Oppo 105 when used with a pre/pro.
FWIW, I own the Oppo 83 and a Marantz AV7005.
Support for 4K will get incorporated into gear just like 3D did. Manufacturers need something new to justify releasing new products. I have no doubt that Blu-ray will be around 20 years from now. DVD is closing in on 20 years since its introduction and new movies are still released on DVD. Unfortunately, many times the DVD is bundled with the Blu-ray version so they can justify a higher price.
Can I ask what you are not satisfied with and what you are trying to accomplish?
Thank you for your replies.
Bob, I am with you (or I want to be) that "...that Blu-ray will be around 20 years from now"). There is this question I have that by purchasing an Oppo 105, or any Blu-Ray player for that matter today, am I investing in the past? Should I just stop worrying and learn to love streaming (with apologies to Stanley Kubrick)?
I still think Blu-ray is better than streaming is today. If a film is worth watching then it is worth watching on Blu-ray. Also, there is the uncompressed audio Blu-ray offers that streaming does not.
I just need to take care that the investments I make into my audio and video equipment will yield positive long-term results. That said, I could still upgrade my Oppo, know that it is a quality product and one I will use for years, and take short steps into the world of streaming.
Internetmin, I still think my Oppo 83 does a fine job. Movie use will still be primary, but I do want to use it more for music and the 105 has the much better DAC. Besides, I think the difference in the internal components will yield an all-around much better, satisfying experience.
What am I trying to accomplish? Hmmm, that is a moving target at the moment (rolleyes). On the one hand, definitely finish getting the home theater components in place (it's not a real "home theater" like some of you have), enjoy whole-house audio, and step into (for me) the brave new world of streaming and begin to experiment with on-demand content. That may mean, getting a smarter TV or investing in a set-top box of some kind - not sure.
On the other, I'd like to simplify things.
Blu-ray is not the past. But, as I said, I see no reason to upgrade from your Oppo 83. Just because the 105 has a better analog section, does not mean that you'll hear the glory.
The largest contributor to the sound of any system is the room and the speakers in that room. Every disc spinner, preamp, and amp will have a frequency response pretty much flat as a board in the audio band. On the other hand, speakers rarely have a flat response and the constraints of the room will almost guarantee that the response will be quite variable (+/- 5dB or more) in the bass region. That said, the biggest bang for the buck in getting the best sound from your system is dealing with the variations in response in your room. The Oppo 105 can not help you do that.
I have a Marantz 8801 and Oppo 105, the Sabre dacs in the Oppo 105 are used for my 2/ch and I let the Marantz 8801 take care of all multi/ch duties. Lets just say I plan on keeping the 105 around it streams well and a few more things that can round out any setup! If it were me in your shoes I'd sell the 83 and get the 105D.
Thank me later!
Bob seems to be hanging his hat of acoustic room correction, because if there is one component likely to become obsolete it's the processor as technology changes. So Bob, are you recommending something like a Marantz 8801, a Classe SSP 800, or a Bryston SP3? Risk is relative. Upgrading the DAC in an Oppo is much less risky.
OTOH, worrying about obsolesce can lead to inaction and missing the goodies available in the present.
re - your last sentence - I almost added something to that effect in my OP. I am definitely not going to wait around for something else, the next big thing, whatever, because you are correct, the cost of waiting means missing out on doing something right now. I am reminded of those Emo fans who have been waiting for years for the XMC-1 to arrive.
That said, given somewhat limited funds and using a Blu-ray player that is two generations behind the current model, I am faced with three different options now:
- Purchase either an additional two or four speakers plus at least one sub to complete speaker set-up
- Continue to enjoy two-channel for now and upgrade the Oppo
Bob, I appreciate your comments regarding the pre-pro but wouldn't I need to finish the speaker set-up first? By this stage of the game, I really should have had my speakers and be in a position to look at a new pre-pro, but things got a bit derailed a few years ago, and I also made, in retrospect, an unwise speaker decision which while not locking me in, has made trying to sell them difficult before starting over. I am open to suggestions why still getting a pre-pro is a viable option.
I think Bob's point(s) is/are:
1) If the system is a HT rig employing a pre-pro and decoding is done therein, any potential benefits of the superior Oppo analog section are lost (bypassed). (tho, if that's not the case, then the analysis changes.)
2) If you're investing in an upgrade, upgrade the pre-pro, which is doing the heavy lifting. He mentions adding room correction, a feature generally found in the pre-pro, as the most audible improvement available to most HT rigs not yet so equipped, and I'd agree 100%.
As to worrying about technology going obsolete, I'm not sure I see the concern. The existing systems I've heard (especially Audyssey xt32) sound great. If something better comes along tomorrow, that's another upgrade - but you run the same risk (even greater) with a disc player that may prove next-gen format incompatible.
As between a disc player and a pre-pro, I'd certainly second Bob's recommendation to budget disproportionately for the latter.
Thanks Marty, said better than I ever could.
DB... I guess you need to define obsolete. When ESS releases their next gen DACs, will that make your Oppo 105 obsolete?
I hope room mode correction systems keep improving. When they do I'll consider upgrading, because that's where the most benefit exists. I won't replace my Oppo 83 until it dies. If that's tomorrow, then the Oppo 103 will be its replacement.
Finsup... I assume you have some speakers, right? If you do and if they produce bass and if they're in a room, then you have a room mode problem. Thus, a modern pre/pro can help.
For some additional insight into this, you might want to read the Harman papers: http://www.harman.com/EN-US/OurCompany/Innovation/Pages/WhitePapers.aspx?CategoryID=White%20papers
especially "Part Three: Getting the Bass Right."
I have two speakers now. The HK 990 is the only stereo (only) component I know that also has room correction. I am reluctant to invest in a pre-pro, room acoustics notwithstanding, until I add more speakers. Once I get myself to at least a 5.1 system, I will definitely add a pre-pro.
I had the CAMBRIDGE 650 Blu-ray player that is nearly identical to the OPPO . It was a fine unit but it crapped out on me in year 3
I then upgraded to the ARCAM Blu-ray player : big improvements across the board and not subtle.
Both were used for Home Theater Blurays (movies and concerts) ..... HOWEVER .....neither is a match for a stand-alone top quality CDP that I use for music playback.
Fin, with the HK 990, you should have a nice HT/music system now. What do you think you're missing?
If you don't have a sub, I'd invest in that first. What's your speakers and how big is your room? How do you have the Oppo 83 connected?
You might consider "investing" in some AC power isolation and conditioning devices. AC is unlikely to change-or improve in quality- in the forseeable. Good clean power benefits your digital and perhaps your entire rig-permanently. Why not sample Shunyata and MIT offerings. A good setup will give you a component-like upgrade; - perhaps making your 'conditioned' 83 look & sound as good as a 105 running from your current power set up. If you haven't experimented be prepared to smile when you do. And evaluate more than one conditioner so you can experiment. Let us know your results...
So I ask you again, Bob, are you thinking of the sonics of a $3.5K, $8K, or $10K processor? My reading suggests not everyone is pleased with ARC.
Caveat re my previous post: I use acoustic room correction (ARC) via Velodyne SMS-1s for my subs, but otherwise have no experience with the technology. ARC is one of the functions that doesn't work properly in the Cirrus chip of the Cary Cinema 11a, the only processor I own that has ARC. From what I read, the efficacy of ARC is a debatable matter. I use a Parasound Halo JC-2, an analog preamp, for stereo with surrounds going directly to amps, and, perhaps in my ignorance, am very pleased with the sound.
Db, I'm using a Marantz AV7005. I don't know what price has to do with it. I personally couldn't justify the extra $1K to get to Audyssey XT32. But, I feel that any room mode correction is better than none.
I'm sure you can find people on both sides of any topic. I don't know what that proves other than that people have a personal preference. Some folks like tubes, some prefer solid state.
There are movie buffs that wish to see movies as the director intended. So they turn off some of the video processing available in TVs today. I'm in that camp regarding video and audio. My desire is to hear music as closely to what the artist intended. Thus, I use active recording studio monitors and I try to minimize the colorations caused by the room.
My observation over the years about audiophiles in general is that they like to play music producer. It's not about high fidelity for them, it's about getting a certain sound. So they tweak everything possible hoping to luck into that combination that yields what they seek. I can imagine that many of these folks would not accept room mode correction.
There are some audiophiles that live and die for analog. There's no way they'll ever accept digital processing in their systems. The room colorations, which they've always heard, is considered natural and musical to them.
Then there are others that gladly accept analog parametric equalizers, like those built into Vandersteen's top speakers, but again, wouldn't consider using a digital product with other speakers.
I have no issue with any of these groups. I do admit that I think some of it is irrational, but to each their own.
I would like to make a comment that hasn't been brought up yet about the ESS Sabre DACs and that is what do you connect them to that will pass their signal untarnished? This is the issue that I think will be debated in the coming years as hi-rez audio becomes more prevalent. I think the debate will start with the release of Benchmark Media's power amp. I'm looking forward to it, because I think it'll finally get people looking further down the signal chain and asking questions about their speakers. Speaker distortion is never talked about and yet it's easily orders of magnitude greater than good electronics.
Db, the efficacy of "automatic" room mode correction could very well be less than optimal, but I think it's just as likely that many people just find the sound different and for some reason not to their liking. I know that Ethan Winer (of Real Traps) is not a fan. Whether or not his financial interests bias his opinion, only he can say.
Depending on the size of your room, there will be room modes that could be corrected above the reach of the SMS-1. Dr. Toole has written that simply correcting the single worst room mode yields audible improvements. He also writes that 1/10 octave resolution is necessary to uncover room modes that could be corrected.
Before I made the switch to a pre/pro and active speakers, I had a Bryston BP26 preamp, and Bryston 7B SST monoblock amps. The source was a Benchmark DAC1. I was very happy with the sound. It took a huge leap to go in a totally different direction. And, yet, I never once thought the changes yielded a "lesser" system.
Many years ago when I first bought the Bryston amps, Barry Ober (http://www.soundoctor.com/about.htm
) was working for M&K. He advised me to buy Anthem AV separates. I thought he was nuts. It was AV gear and didn't cost enough. Knowing what I know today, I would have taken his advise.
What does price have to do with it, Bob? The reviews I've read suggest a Marantz AV7005 does not have the same quality of sound a Bryston SP3 is capable of delivering. I decided to go analog rather than climb the slippery slope up the processor ladder from the Cary 11a, a sonically very good processor with digital bugs,, a slope that changes too frequently. Thus, I use analog from the Oppo 105 and Sony XA5400ES to the Parasound JC-2. As an alternative, the 105 can send all its channels directly to the amps.
I do agree with you that audiophiles are a superstitious lot, grabbing onto popular myths as they come along. I also agree that the transduction process, converting acoustic energy into electrical and electrical back to acoustic, is the source of most distortion.
Isn't there a saying that ignorance is bliss? Maybe I'm there.
The reviews I've read suggest a Marantz AV7005 does not have the same quality of sound a Bryston SP3 is capable of delivering.
That's quite possible. Bryston doesn't do any video processing in their surround processors. And I've come to believe that a reviewer's job is to emphasize (maybe over emphasize) subtle sonic differences. I also believe that Bryston's pricing is impacted by their incredible warranty. Even so I noted no substantial difference between my Bryston BP26 and my Integra DTC9.8 when I made the switch, though I freely admit to not being the most discriminating listener.
My undergraduate advisor had a saying: "fat, dumb and happy." I've been trying to avoid the first two while searching for the last.
What I'd like to see in an AV pre/pro is a way to incorporate external DACs. If the HDMI out would incorporate the digital audio stream post processed you could run it through external DACs and then back into the analog inputs.
Bob, a look at the versions of used Meridian pre/pros is revealing of the upgrades that have occurred along the way. I have a Proceed PAV/PDSD pair, and the idea Madrigal had was that the PDSD would be essentially a card cage into which the latest and greatest technology could be inserted. Of course, that died with Madrigal. The technology of analog preamps seem much more stable so that's where I hang my hat.
Funny thing is that I didn't notice much a difference when I moved the Oppo 105 from the Cary 11a to the Parasound JC-2, but for the Sony XA5400ES it was as though a veil had been lifted.
If you're correcting for ROOM INDUCED effects, the benefit of room correction shouldn't vary whether the system is good, great, greatest. Of course, that assumes that there are room induced effects to correct AND that the correction software causes no "collateral damage".
In every listening room in which I've done an A-B (+/- 6) there is no question re: the former. Others may debate the latter, but - as a practical reality - I believe that the benefits of fixing the room swamp any delta in the "native" (that is, uncorrected) performance of virtually any two pre-pros, regardless of the price delta. That judgement will surely vary from individual to individual, but I suspect that it will vary much less with increased exposure to A-B testing. I know that some who claim extensive A/B experience remain unconvinced, but I gotta confess that that always baffles me. One man's meat, I guess.
BTW, I still own a Theta Casablanca which has wonderful "native" SQ, but IMHO it can't touch the eq'd performance of the relatively inexpensive Integra AVR which replaced it in my HT room. But, hey, I can also succumb to audiophelia disease. The Theta soldiers on valiantly in a vinyl-based, multichannel, dual-use system in my den (because the cognitive dissonance of vinyl to ADC to DSP to DAC diminishes the "philosophical satisfaction" I get from LPs), but IMHO it is never going to provide the SQ I get from the less expensive replacement.
As always, YMMV.
I discovered that I could compare the Oppo 105 direct to the amps or through the preamp by connecting one to the XLR and the other to the SE inputs of the amps, and switching between them. I left that arrangement connected so I can choose either. It occurred to me that I could do the same with a processor that had functional ARC if I could find one cheap enough to try. A used Marantz or Integra might do. Output from the 105 and 5400ES could be HDMI to the processor and analog to the preamp. I wouldn't want to digitize analog from the phono stage, so it would go only to the preamp.
Thanks for implanting the idea. Now to find an inexpensive processor.
Would a used Anthem AVM50 with ARC be suitable for implementation of acoustic room correction?
Shortly after the Cary Cinema 11a came out, an AVS thread was full of raves about its sound quality and hisses about the buggy implementation and inaccuracies of its acoustic room correction.
I was impressed by an early gen avm 50 I heard some years back, but I believe that there has been more than one version, so it's hard to say much with confidence. I think it was a fairly pricey piece (IIRC), so you might want to consider the Onkyo PR SC 5509, which IMHO is a very fine sounding unit (Audyssey xt 32) at $2k-ish, new. (They also pop up used for <$1500 from time to time.) I can't guarantee that you'll love it, but I do.
Good Luck with the experiment.
Upgrade your power. That's simple and very basic. You cannot' get good sound from digital w/o isolation---that's not complicated--is it????
I don't have the HK 990, was only referring to it as the only stereo component I know of that has room correction.
Room dimensions are 17'8" x 15'6" x 8'. Speakers are along the long wall - PBN Montana XP (not the XPS) L/R and PBN Montana SPC center. Speakers are about 16 inches from the front wall, twelve feet to the listening position. That is a bit of a problem since the back wall is about a foot away. Room is carpeted and there are metal window blinds but no curtains so that is another issue
Current source is the Oppo 83 > Lector Zoe pre-amp > Butler 5150, but only for L/R at this time.
I had a Raysonic CD-128 also in the system but pulled that out for the downstairs system. When the Raysonic was in the system, the sound was OK, not great, but I am pretty sure it could get better with some extra work in positioning, maybe trying different cables. I'd like to try a higher current solid state amp with the speakers
Listening to CDs via the Oppo is a little more fatiguing over the longer term. Sound is very forward, detailed but maybe a bit too etched so my thought was getting a better DAC via the 105 would be a start.
Again, I just don't want to go with a pre-pro until I decide to either keep the PBNs and buy a couple of their mini-monitors to complete a five-channel system or sell them and try something different. There are some things I can do (trying them along the short wall, getting some window treatments, even trying power conditioning that has been suggested.
Fixing the room should be my first priority. There is a local guy who offered awhile back to come over and take measurements for me so I will reach out to him and see if he is still available.
Bob, you also mentioned a sub. I don't have one but how would getting one help with the etched nature of the sound I am presently hearing?
Fin, wow, did I ever misread your earlier post regarding the HK990.
The Raysonic CD player is tubed. Your preamp is tubed. You describe the sound with the Oppo source as etched. Could it be that this is more a solid state vs tubed thing rather than a DAC thing?
Can you temporarily move your listening seat away from the back wall? Maybe 8 feet away from the speakers instead of 12. Adjust the toe-in accordingly. That should minimize the room reflections somewhat. If the sound is still etched to you, I don't think curtains would help much.
I understand your hesitation about the pre/pro. I don't have a multichannel system either, mine is 2.2 channels. I don't think RMC will be a solution for your etched sound. And I don't think a sub will make any difference in that regard either; I was still talking about room modes.
Given your current system I see nothing wrong with going the Oppo 105 route and growing a multichannel system without a pre/pro.