Simple suggestion: buy a Denon or Marantz and have it modded,or buy a used Esoteric DV-50, and don't worry now about next generation players. Within 9 months there will be bluray and hd-dvd players, and there are other pressures to move away from players and into pc-based systems. Format development will continue to evolve, and the 'universal' of the future may be quite different. So just set yourself up to enjoy the discs that exist now and don't look for long term stability in high resolution or cd players.
The top player right now for 2500.00 or less is the Onkyo sp 1000 for audio and video and build quality.
Its been compared to the Marantz 9500, Pioneer 59avi, Denon 5900 and 3910 and came out on top in every category in both reveiws.
I have personally compared it to the 5900 and 3910 and it is superior whith film based dvd as well as audio.
The dv-50 would be a small improvement for audio and a downgrade for video,from what I have heard from an actual owner of both.
EVS,as well as RAM East are looking to have mod packages for the sp 1000.
As far as hi def dvd goes, I doubt you will see any player for at least a year, with 3-4 more years of waiting for enough source material to make buying a player feasable.
Where can the reviews of the SP1000 be found?
The only pro reveiws so far are in German and French as this is a newer model.
Go to the avs forums dvd section under the Integra dps 10.5 (same player) and you will find somewhat translated versions of both reveiws of the sp 1000 as well as dozens of owner opinions and comparisons to other universals.
There are also the links to the actual reveiws if you can read German and/or French.
The sp 1000 sells for around 5k U.S.in the east and Europe and 2k in the U.S. and Canada.
Skip the first 2-3 pages of the thread as it was speculation before these two players were released.
If you read the entire thread, you will find nothing negative except a firmware upgrade needed for hdmi/dvi hookups.
This is a problem with pretty much all hdmi to dvi players and the patch is on the way.
This is the only universal I have ever seen get a unanimous thumbs up like this, in the 2.5k and under class.
I agree with Greg. I have an Integra DPS 10.5, and had a Denon 3910 for about a month. The longer I had the Denon, the less I liked it. The Integra (Onkyo) is built better than anything I have seen yet. The video is the best I have seen too...even with the alleged HDMI->DVI bug mentioned above.
In my system, the 10.5 replaced a Lexicon RT-10 which replaced a Theta Carmen II. The Lex had the nicest sound of the players I have had, but the video was not even in the same league as the 10.5.
I don't mean to say that the audio is bad on the 10.5 at all, because it is not. And I still can't say why I think the lex was better with the audio.
I must also say that it seemed to me that the 10.5 took some "burn-in" time, which I will never understand. But for this player, it improved on its "presence" (a stolen adjective from Greg on the AVS Forum). I am hopeful that the modders Greg mentioned will come up with some improvements that will take the audio beyond the DV-50...with any luck.
This is a useful datapoint. Could you elaborate a bit more on what you like about the audio of the 10.5 and what you didn't like about the 3910? I am at this point planning on getting a 2900 or 3910 and having it modded.
I will attempt to explain the difference.
Using analog 2 channel outs, the 3910 has 192hz upsampling on permanently with no way to turn it off.
The 3910 does not sound bad, its just too detail oriented for long term listening.
I found this same signature on sa-cd as well and preffered the body and musicality of the sp 1000.
The sp 1000/DPS 10.5 has a more texured musical quality going for it with just the right amount of detail.
It is more musical and less mechanical sounding than the 3910.
With no hours on either player, I slightly preffered the dvd-a of the 3910 over the sp 1000, whith the sp 1000 sounding too polite whith this format.
DVD-A is by far my least used format, so for me the sp 1000 was superior whith video from component 480p to 1080i on every single movie tried on my 110 in screen and also the better sa-cd/redbook player.
I don't have much faith in the Denon 3910 build or QC, but I would either go for the 2900 modded for audio and accept that it does have decent video but not the best video or go for the sp 1000/dps 10.5 and have the best possible video available and have it modded.
My first 3910 was doa, my second has the upconversion video button not fuctioning and froze up playing its first dvd-r.
It also needs a firmware upgrade for chroma spread and a couple of other glitches.
I guess these glitches are all covered on one upgrade disc ESS-6609-5.
Having them both, I can tell you that the 3910 would be sent for mods right away if I had piked it and the sp 1000 I would have modded eventually.
Doug at RAM East told me he wants to make these twin players his reference offerings whith a no holds barred mod.
Can anyone comment on the DVDA playback, thanks.
I think the DVD-Audio sounds great on the Onkyo DV-SP1000.
At first I thought that my former Pioneer DV-47A and DV-47Ai players were superior and more detailed, but the more I think about it, the more I think the DVD-Audio is superior on the 1000.
The sound on the 1000 on DVD-Audio
is smoother, has more body, and is very slightly more laid-back than the Pioneers.
The Pioneers are actually a tad too forward, a little bright, and slightly thin sounding with this format.
I think the Onkyo 1000's sound is more accurate than the Pioneers.
Hope this helps.
DL's comments on dvd-a playback are most likely more accurate than mine as I have only had Denon dvd-a up to this point which always sounded too bright and too digital to me.
As far as sa-cd, I have had the Denons as well as a RAM modded 963sa and Modwright signature 9000 es.
This could have a lot to do with why I always have preffered sa-cd over dvd-a.
Thanks Daltonlanny, it's rare anyone comments on dvda playback on any universal and I want to utilize all formats. So far the SP1000 seems to be a real winner.
You are welcome Orgazzm.
Yes, I really love the sound of good DVD-Audio discs, and it is very important to me that they are reproduced properly. They can sound truly extraordinary!
Alot of players I have heard sound alittle too thin or bright on DVD-Audio, but the Onkyo sounds about right to my ears.
Ayre is going to have a $ 6,000.00 universal player ready to ship between Thanksgiving and Xmas.
Disregard my last post. I must have spaced out and did not notice your price range was well below what I mentioned.
Why spend money modding average players like the denon (and you're right, its video is much better than the audio)when you can just buy a high end player from the get go and not worry about mod's? Additionally, modded players are very difficult to resell and lose their value much quicker than stock players.
In answer to your question, there are NOT ANY really good universal players in your price range of $1,000-$3,000 that give a good dedicated redbook only player a run for its money. If audio is really important to you then you will have to spend considerably more to achieve your goal.
The McCormick UDP 1 is getting reviews that it has very good cd playback...but that is only in comparision to other cheaper or older model universal's. Its not even on the level of an Ayre CX-7 or Arcam cd 33t (I've heard the McCormack and previously owned those two players). And to be honest, the Ayre CX-7 and Arcam CD-33T are at the beggining to middle end of the spectrum in terms of really, really good standalone players.
To find a universal player that really gives you excellent redbook you're going to have to spend $5,000 or more. You may not want to hear it or believe this but that's just the way it is.
Marantz just came out with a new universal player called the DV 9500 to replace the 8400. Its audio playback is better than the 8400 (and definitely better than the 3910, Marantz's audio is consistently better than Denon's)but still nowhere on the level of the good to very good standalone players. No matter what Denon tells you, most of the upgrades on the 3910 (over the 2900) were made in the video section...not the audio. And the changes/improvements that were made on the audio were not significant enough to make a huge difference.
I'm willing to bet anyone that the sound (via the digital output) of the 3910 is improved but there is no change (or very little change)whatsover via the analog outputs. That's where it takes real money to make improvements. The transport mechanism is another area where real audio improvments occur. Denon hasn't changed their transports in any menaningful way in the past 10 years.
Denon has always been and will always be a decidely mid-fi company. From an engineering and sound standpoint they can't even compete with Rotel...and Rotel is one of the better mid-fi companies who occassionally make a hi-fi piece of gear.
Just telling you like it is! Don't believe the hype. Look at it this way..when you hear the reviewers gush and go ga-ga about new products from mid-fi companies like Onkyo, Marantz, Pioneer and Denon....do you EVER SEE THEM make any comparisions or do face off's against high end gear gear from companies like Arcam, Lexicon, Meridian,etc? NO!!
They just go on and on about how good it sounds but never make any comparisons. Why is that?
Some of you may say that's not fair because those companies prices are much higher! But that's not the point. Mid-fi companies that are really striving to improve should be compared against the best to see (in relative terms)how far they've come and what trade-off's were made.
Products from companies like Anthem or Rotel are routinely compared to products from Lexicon, Meridian or Krell even though the price points of products from those companies are much higher. Why? Because these companieroutinely strive to give 85-90% of the performance of the elite companies at 60-70% of the price. That's called value!
Denon, Pioneer and the like only attempt to better their products in terms of their previous models. And that's what the reviewers stick with..comparing them to their previous models. And even then the improvments are small.
Just the thoughts and observations of a grizzled audiophile!
Does anyone know if the Onkyo/Integra has the Chroma bug?
The Denon 3910 has some of the best video around. As for audio it is mid fi but if you allow a genius like John Tucker to tweak the Audio, Redbook and SACD will compete with players 3 to 4 times their price. Not sure what the retail value will be if you decide to resell.
Mark... no chroma bug as far as I can tell and no macro blocking, excessive video noise ect.
Just the best video I have ever seen whithout all the Denon problems I had whith my 5900/3910.
Avguru... I do not consider Arcam to be Hi end but rather mid fi, and its no universal either in case you missed that part in thr title of the thread.
My local Arcam dealer told me that there quality is not were it once was either...at least not on the players being shipped to him lately.
You have very obviously not heard an Onkyo sp 1000 as it has been compared to the dv-50 as being real close, better than a Marantz sa-14,9500 and Sony 777 and it is a fairly new player to have been compared to many players just yet.
One thing I have noticed is absolutely nobody has been disappointed after trying one, which is a lot more than I can say for any other newer model universal at anywhere near its U.S. selling price.
These hi end universals do not have as good of a video section as the Onyo sp 1000 and you failed to mention this.
If you have not tried something first, why even bother offering an opinion?
After all, the sp 1000 sells for 5k or more in Europe and Asia so it must be hi end by your assumptions right?
If we compare all universals to the 75k Goldman, I guess all your mentioned so called hi end players are really mid fi at best right?
My Onkyo DV-SP1000 just keeps getting better and better!
I have been breaking it in for almost a week now and it is sounding better and better.
Now the SACD performance as well as the Redbook CD performance of the Onkyo is superior to BOTH on my Sony SCD-XA777ES! I am amazed!
The picture is also improving as well. I am currently using a 31" SANYO T.V. with no Progressive Scan input, no S video input, and no component video input, and has aN interlaced image only, and the image from DVD's played back through the Onkyo are absolutely stunning!
I cannot wait to get a HD T.V. with component and S inputs with Progressive Scan! I cannot imagine what kind of image it would have then.
Everything great that you wrote in the threads and told me about the Onkyo DV-SP1000 is 100% accurate. This is one hell of a machine on any format!
You guys talk without actually listening, I have offered to come to AVGURUS home with my modded players to have a comparison done against the DV-50 in balanced mode, in his system, with his stuff. I guess you guys just want to bad rap independent modders, who are experts. John is an actual Rocket Scientist, who puts his heart and soul into audio. Alex is an engineering genious. Tube reserch is doing mods, I guess they are just low/mid fi too. John makes some of the BEST SET amps on the planet. You guys are nutz. When a guy like me, who is willing, and able, to buy any player, up to 20k, says he is willing to compare, in YOUR system. Something is wrong. I like keeping the $$$$ with Americans, how bout you? Especially when they are well spent.
711, who is trashing modded gear, certainly not I,but this thread is about stock universal players.
I just happen to have compared a couple of modded players to the Onkyo sp 1000.
After owning three Denons...all whith problems, I would not even consider having one modded by anyone.
So if I were to have any universal modded, it would be the sp 1000 which sounds very musical out of the box, and has superior video to boot.
The Denons just sound too digital and bright out of the box so why mod a player thats inferior in build, audio and video in the first place over one thats got a great company track record for dependibility, and finally built a great universal?
One of the reasons you see Denons being modded so much is that there is a lot of room in the case on a 2900/3910 which makes it easier to mod.
BTW... my Sim Audio gear is modded for two channel use, and so is my H/T set up.
Ears, I've been following the discourse between 711milin and Avguru over several threads. The basis of 711Smilin's comment bypasses the question of whether the Denon should or shouldn't be modded. 11Smilin has offered Avguru the opportunity to personally listen to two SOTA modded 3910 machines in Avguru's own home. Ignoring the argument about whether a Denon should or shouldn't be modded, wouldn't it make logical sense to HEAR the machines...even if it's just out of curiosity about how they sound? I mean holy crow, one can argue the validity of modding all day and all night, but the lip flap doesn't amount to anything if one isn't first willing to LISTEN!
That's all 711Smilin is doing...offering an opportunity to hear the machines. Only after someone has heard the machines can they effectively debate the pluses and minuses of the mods.
Would you want an attorney to defend you in court if he had only read the facts of your case, but had never personally interviewed you? Of course not. This is the same thing.
Hey Avguru, take 711Smilin up on his offer. Listen to the machines. Then, if you want to continue to argue that they're not worthy, at least you're point of view will be based on some real world experience.
Kumbaya, dudes. Kumbaya.
Guys, my opinion is this, once we buy ANY machine retail, or discounted. My feeling is that I have bought something that has been compromised to fit into mass production. I feel any machine can, and would be made far better with replacing, adding, taking away, modding the existing platform. This is being done by MANY highly qualified engineers, mechanics, rocket scientists, ect. I am not saying that John, or Alex are the only ones to use. My real feeling is that thier is a 5-10 time mark-up over cost, to arrive at retail. Compromises MUST be made. Tweaking, modding enhances the sound, for better, or worse. I feel that when I buy a DV-50, per se, that if I sent it to Tube Research to have it modded, it would come back far superior to what I sent out. Now, how much do I want to spend, and lose if I decide to sell. I chose the Denon after comparing in my home to the AA Capitole II, DV-50, in my home, MF Tri-Vista, in my home, Sony XA777ES in my home, and the Shanling T200C. I felt in redbook the Exemplar 2900 was superior, and more listenable. For SACD the APL 1000 was leaps and bounds ahead. In my research I decided that the Denon, modded would most probably benefit most from the mods, and the cost was RELATIVELY cheap compared to the AA, Esoteric, MF, ect.
This has proven itself true in my experience, for now, the APL redbook has improved into the Exemplar realm, and the Exemplar SACD has improved into the APL realm. Which is better. This is hard to say, yet, as they are both still burning in. Both are greatly improveed over the previous generation. These machines are well priced, and bang for the buck just a STEAL. The Video is enhanced by the new power supplies, and re-clocking, not to mention the new wiring, caps, ect. If I spent thousands on modding the DV-50, AA, or MF, I would loose more than the cost of my machine when resold. I have in fact listened to the newest Meitner gear, but, not in my home. They would not allow me to take them home for trial, they are only by special order. Could I afford it, YES. But, I felt it was too strerile for me personnaly. Yes, it gives everything to me but, does not draw me inn. I prefer toe-tapping, engaging digital, reminding me of vinyl, 3 dimensional MUSIC which touches me, and makes me want to stand up and dance. I could go on, and on, but, now i will enjoy my MUSIC. Enjoy your journey, my friends. I was just trying to help you reach your enjoyment, quicker, easier, with more $$$$ in your pocket for music. I have spent 5 grand buying all my old music from the 60's, 70's early 80's in the last 90 days. Oh, yeah, even some more recent stuff. Enjoy the journey, my friends.
The sp 1000 has that "no buyers remorse" thing going for it from everyone I have seen that posts there opinion for both audio and video.
I would go as far as to say that at this price, and probably a bit more, its as close to perfect as your going to get.
I have never heard the xa 777es, but did hear the previous 777 model.
There was another audiophool at the asylum who compared the sp 1000 to his Marantz sa-14 and preffered the Onkyo right out of the box.
For a 2k universal to have the best one box video available, and be preffered to two different 2-3k audio only players is saying something.
I'm confused as to why the Onkyo sp 1000 is so much better in the video department than the Denon 2900 when they both use the Silicon Image 504 chip to process video?
As for audio, it should sound better considering its twice the price of the Denon - at least in my opinion.