Keep listening, it gets better...
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Based on my experience, I think the 5400 is an inferior product when compared to the oppo 83se. I have done the comparison in my system. Was the inferior performance of the 5400 due to a defect in the unit. Hard to tell, but it seemed to be 'veiled' even 'muddy' in the lows. I listened to it for about 50 hours. Before I started to listen, I left it playing by itself for about 350 hours via repeat cycle. I did demo the 5400 at a dealer and it did not sound 'veiled'. My sony unit came from SonyStyle, which gladly took back the unit with no hassle and no cost to me whatsoever.
Punching above its weight means it outperforms what you would expect for its class/price, e.g., a lightweight punching like a heavyweight. And I did not say "dark"; I said darker than my combo. The bass is not muddy, it is pretty taut, just does not go as deep as the CEC/Dodson.
I will give it more time. I am in no hurry. I could easilly live with the Sony and be satisfied. I just like my CEC/Dodson combo better so far, and also recognize this is what I am accustomed to.
Unfortunately, my pre does not have balanced inputs so I can only report on RCA.
Fishing716, it's good to be passionate, but don't give yourself a heat attack.
Thanks for your thoughts on this cdp.
I also recently picked up one of these units. My previous two cdp that are both less than state of the art/ Sony x7esd from 1989 (top of the line Sony in it's day), the other a Sony sacd changer from about 2000- the 333es unit. I have known for years these were in need of upgrade, and finally found it time to do so.
Major flaws in my old units were a lack of inner detail and 'life. Especially when compared to playing the vinyl rig. This created a constant feeling of... after a few minutes of cd play tossing on a vinyl album instead, as I 'just couldn't stand it'.
While the new Sony has only been installed with 24 hours of playback I can already get hints of what it is bringing to the system. It does have an ability to show the intent and nature of the 'music' that really inspires me to listen to cd playback again.
I'll allow it to continue it's burn in for the next few weeks- but for now I am quite impressed with the 5400es. Thanks to all the folks that reviewed and spoke well of this unit, I feel the purchase has so far been well worth it.
I gone mine from American Theatre as well and began using it two days ago. I had (still own) the previous incarnation of this player, the ES9100, which sounded fantastic (particularly with multichannel SACD) via the "i-link" to a Sony compatible receiver. Via it's analog outputs, the 9100 was nothing special.
The Sony receiver died on me, and I replaced it with an Onkyo that will play all the new high rez movie formats but doesn't have an i-link. Frankly, I had forgotten just how ordinary the 9100 sounded via the analog outputs. Whike I enjoyed the Onkyo with my Blu=Ray, the degredation of sound in the 9100 was unacceptable. I decided to buy the 5400 which Kal Rubinson waxed so lyrically about.
I must still be in the burn in phase. It is almost unlistenable now and I hope that with further use it picks up. Interestingly, the analog outputs don't seem to work, although CDs will play via HDMI (and sound much better than SACD right now).
are you implying that american theater sold you a defective unit ?
sldo if you are using hdmi, what cable and what dac are using as the interface ?
i am not aware of hdmi direct to pre amp or amp.
i have ps audio pwt and pwd and prefer coax. i tried their silver hdmi. i did not like it.
The XA9000ES was the "previous incarnation" of the 5400, not the 9100 which is a DVD player. In any case, the 5400 manual states that, when the front panel HDMI light is on, sound will come from the HDMI output, when the light is off, sound comes from the analog and digital outputs.
That sounds like it might be your problem.
Based on my experience, if it sounds unlistenable to you now, it may not be for you. While I found it to improve over the months, I never thought it sounded bad, even out of the box.
I now have burned in the XA5400ES for some 250-300 hrs, and feel than any further improvement will be in infinitesimal increments. (Other users may differ on further improvement.) So time to render a verdict, in comparison to my CEC TL-1X RAM-modded transport and Dodson 218 DAC, with Stealth Sextet digicable. Tried Valhalla and Stealth Indras as analog IC's from Sony to Wyetech Opal pre. Also swapped Valhalla and LessLoss Sig PC's. Used Sony only on RBCD; don't have any SACD's so no comment on its abilities on SACD.
The SONY is an outstanding CDP in absolute terms. For the money, it is a breathtaking steal. I cannot imagine it not competing head-on with $5K range CDP's and acquitting itself well. It is well built, functions smoothly, sounds full-bodied, organic, sufficiently detailed, with good soundstage, good, deep but a bit loose bass, very natural sounding. I could live happily with it. . . . .
BUT, I own what I own, and the CEC/Dodson combo is, to my ears, superior, as perhaps it should be at more than 15X what I paid for the Sony. The combo is just is more detailed, deeper, tauter bass, wider and deeper soundstage and overall sounds more realistic, abeit not as relaxing sounding as the Sony. Is it 10X better -- no, not by a long shot. Is it 25% - 33 1/3% better, yes. The comparison was extremely close on classical -- a dead heat on solo piano -- but the combo clearly (no pun intended)has the edge on jazz, folk and rock.
So I have enjoyed my time with the Sony immensely and will be putting it up for sale, but will be saying goodbye wistfully. (If anyone is interested contact me offline.) Commendable job, Sony. One doesn't need to spend that much for first class digital playback. I could have loved you were I not already committed, and I need the space back.
And Fishing716, please do not assault me!
I liked it, and thought for the price is sounds nice and lush. I returned it. But its not a giant killer. No such thing. My very expensive player outdid it by large margins in every aspect (Simaudio Andromeda) including CD layer Andro versus SACD layer 5400. But again at 10X cost, what do you expect?
I was looking for a player to backup Andromeda if it broke. Well, no such thing at a reasonable price..maybe Lindemann, Meridian 808.2, Accuphase, Spectral SDR4000 PRO. Heavens! These are upwards of 18K. But reference players as Hi Fi Palace (Larry Diaz) says are over 10K anyway. Why mention Hi Fi Palace? It had good article on CD players and how some audiophiles want reference performance for $1000 - 8000.
Thanks Neal for volunteering to do some extra testing.
I don't think the XA5400ES will best the CEC, either. However, I am curious how large or small the shortfall is.
It's too bad that the XA5400ES doesn't have a digital input to allow a complementary test (CEC transport to XA5400ES converter). A comparison of the two mix-and-match setups might indicate where the strength of the XA5400ES as a CD player lies.
I have had the 5400ES now for 3 weeks. it is an excellent player on both RB and SACD. I have a McIntosh and an Arcam as well which are both very good players. The SACD performance of the Sony offers noticeable clarity, detail and soundstage improvements over my McIntosh SACD. In fact I put the same disc in each (I have a few duplicates) and synced them. I heard better sound on the Sony each time.
Big risk? The reviews of the XA5400ES have been mostly very favorable, so I doubt the characterization as big risk is accurate. I bought my XA5400ES from a listing on AudiogoN without having heard one, and couldn't be more satisfied. It had very few CD hours and no SACD hours on it, but I've since cured that defect. Overly bright, not at all.
My previous post was a reaction to your characterization of the risk as BIG. Buying any audio component without extensive listening to it installed in your system entails risk. Regardless of wide praise for a product you can always find detractors.
Regarding your last sentence, "while opinions are a factor, they are a variable, implying probability of truth and falsity," was this meant as a tautology or a lesson in metaphysics?
my statement as to what an opinion is is a reminder to some of its stochastic nature.
i don't think a lesson in metaphysics is necessary.
a big risk for me may be a small risk for you in my opinion the absence of an audition before purchasing is like flipping a coin, regardless of the existence of positive regard for a product.
the variables of one's personal stereo system, differ from theose of other stereo systems.
perhaps the only exception is the recommendation of doctors.
for example, i would place value on a doctpor who said " i would want dr. x to perform a particular operation on me. ". yet, such a statement is no guarantee of a successful outcome, if dr x performs the operation.
however, the point is a medical opinion may have more weight on a medical decision than an audiophile's opinion upon a personal purchase decision.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions. However posting the same opinions in multiple threads without adding any other value is a bad forum manner, especially by digging up a really old thread to do so. XA5400ES is unambiguously warm sounding CDP, and it was a bargain at $1500. One person's opposing opinion against dozens of favorable review does not make this purchase a big risk. IMHO, YMMV.
The main problem with the Sony 5400 is that it is no longer made, and soon, repair parts such as the laser block will no longer be available. Also Sony repair service is poor (the repair people are idiots).
It is possible, but rare, to find an new 5400.
I have owned the 5400 for about a year, and IMO it can not be beat for under $6000.
Perhaps you could find a used one.
My XA777ES was extensively modified by Ric Schultz (EVS) and I haven't put it back in to compare since I bought the 5400.
I had been using the same source for 7 years or more, so I was pretty well acquainted with the sound of my system. I wanted to give the 5400 time to burn in and it's done that - I've had it for a year.
I feel that the 5400 is giving me more enjoyable reproduction than the modified XA777ES, but I do need to make that comparison.
Yes, the whole laser assembly.
You can also find the part KHM-230AAA on eBay.
My slide show on replacing the optical block.