What high-end multichannel SACD players are there?


My SACD collection is growing! It looks like SACD is here to stay, as more and more discs are popping up on the MusicDirects of the world.

Anyway, I have an ONKYO SP1000 universal player. It plays SACDs. It is multi-channel. It sounds pretty decent, but I'm sure there are much better players out there.

I'm trying to find out what my options are to replace it with a better sounding SACD player. Looks like there are a bunch of players out there from the likes of Esoteric, DCS, McIntosh, Ayre, Krell, etc... BUT they ALL seem to be only 2-channel!

Isn't one of the main points of SACD to be MULTI channel? All the dics have multichannel tracks, and I would hate to give up the option to play them by moving to a better sounding player.

Basically what I'm wondering is this - What are the options for a true high-end SACD player that also has mutichannel capabilities?
Go with the best, sound and value, Sony 5400. No one does it better.
Esoteric SA60, UX-1/UX-1 Limited also support multichannel audio output from suitably capable discs. Check out the product brochures for details. You can also achieve what is reported to be the ultimate in SACD multichannel playback from opting for a P-03 or P-03U with 3 D-03 DACs or a heart-stopping option of the P-01 or P-01VU with 6 D-01 DACs. Esoteric has just released the new P-02 and D-02 transport and DAC; I would imagine you can chain together multiple D-02 DAC components to a P-02 and achieve the same.
I presume you are looking at MCH analog outs. The alternitive is to get a SACD player with HDMI out and run into a processor. Oppo 93 / 95 will give you both options (MCH analog and HDMI out). For MCH analog there is an upgrade to the Oppo 93 that takes it up a notch. You can google this.

If you want the best MCH analog out, you can go up the foodchain and get the Denon or Marantz (ud9004) Universal player. For HDMI this is non starter though, because unlike the Oppo these players downsample HDMI output.

Other options for SACD with MCH out are Esoteric and Krell.

Keep in mind though that MCH analog is a dead end architecture, and good MCH analog preamp (which make a huge difference) are hard to come by. You can run through the analog bypass of a processor, but depending on quality of hardware you may be better of running digital. Your safest bet is to get an Oppo, allowing you to do both and compare, without breaking the bank.
Thanks for the responses guys!

Currently my setup includes an Anthem D2 as a processor.

Would my best bet be to get an Oppo 95 and connect via HDMI?

The Oppo would need to convert to PCM to output over HDMI. What sample rate and frequency would this PCM be?

Are there other, better sounding solutions to output SACD PCM over HDMI than the Oppo?
For HDMI output, the Oppo 93 is equivalent to the 95. If you do not need the Blu Ray, you can get a Sony XA5400. According to Kal marginally better than the Oppo on HDMI out. Oppo converts SACD / DSD at 88/24 PCM. Very expensive (oppo based) Ayre has optimized HDMI - supposedly better than plain vanilla Oppo. I would personally stay away from Oppo based expensive players that are based on the 83 platform (i.e. all of them).
Depends on your budget. I had a Denon 5910ci for a few years but in the interest of consolidating a BluRay and MultiChannel in to one I sold the 5910 and have just bought the Denon 100 Anniversary Edition DBP-A100 and am very happy with it's performance out of the 6 channel analog out. It was on special at 1/2 off as they are no longer made. I listened to the Oppo 95 at the same dealer and the Denon was warmer and less analytical in my opinion.
But I was used to the Denon sound from owning the 5910. Other options you my look at, again depending on budget and if video is a consideration. All available used: Esoteric DV50 or Dv60; Mcintosh MVP861, MVP871 or MVP881; Denon A number to choose from;Marantz UD8004 or UD9004 as mentioned above. I am sure there are more that I am not thinking of. But again what is your budget?
If room correction is your primary focus with your sacd playback then the Oppo 93 is a safe bet with your Anthem, having said that, if the best of both worlds and SOTA player is what your after( ESS Sabre Dac's are at the top of the pile) , then the Oppo 95 is killer on multi channel sacd via its analog outs! I feed my Anthem avm20 the analog outs from the 95 both 7.1 and 2 channel xlr. You owe it to yourself to research this well, I replaced a Denon 5900 universal player and Pioneer 51fd with the 95, properly setup using the FL/FR quad heaping of the Ess Sabre dac's for the main channels, the 95 bested all three regardless of format being played back. The 95 is also outstanding playing back usb hi rez files. bottom line the 95 is the highend multi channel sacd player your looking for !
Thanks guys.

Budget is up to $3k or so, new or used, could swing more for a really compelling solution.

Current line of thinking is Oppo 95 going over HDMI, unless I stumble across a much better sounding option over HDMI. It wouldn't make sense for me to go analog as my D2 will just re-convert to digital to do room correction and bass management.
Current line of thinking is Oppo 95 going over HDMI, unless I stumble across a much better sounding option over HDMI.
Why 95? If you are going HDMI, get the 93.
Goatwuss, I am using my Denon analog 6 ch out to the 6 ch input on my D2v and it is passing thru without using room correction. I have HDMI setup for BR and have tried it both ways and analog is much better. I ask if spending 3K and buying the Oppo will you have the Modwright mod done? I couldn't afford that but I would have considered it to be a way to go. If you do let us know how that works out;
My experience is very consistent with this. I went from HDMI into an Onkyo SSP, which was very good. But then I went MCH analog into the analog bypass of the Onkyo and things got better. Then I upgraded the Onkyo to a dedicated MCH analog preamp, which was the next step up. Then I upgraded my MCH analog source to Marantz ud9004, which was the next level of improvement. To improve on a high grade analog signal path you need a very high grade SSP, which will probably end up costing you more.

The thing missing in this equation is room correction - which could be a big factor.

But bottom line, if you are getting limited room improvement mileage out of your anthem, it could be you are better off going analog than HDMI purely on the basis of sound quality.

If you have 3K to spend and you are willing to go down this path, I would scout out a used (or new discounted) marantz ud9004. Keep in mind, this player has downrezed SACD HDMI, so it is a big commitment to analog.

I would personally test the waters with an Oppo (which is an easy resale), and if you decidede to go analog you can get your upgraded, or get a higher grade MCH analog player like the Marantz.
Thanks for the responses guys!

Hi Kal - I was thinking the 95 instead of the 93 to future-proof myself a bit. Right now I have my stereo and HT systems combined. I'm hoping to be able to separate the two within a couple of years so at that point I wouldn't mind having the better better analog section. Possibly Modwright?

Maybe in hindsight you are right - if I'm going HDMI only right now, maybe it's smarter to start with the 93, and then later on when I split the systems get another 2 channel player with a better analog section. Something to think about....

Also - I recently snagged a pair of Revel Studios, a big motivating factor being that you owned them for a few years! Fantastic speakers!!!

Theo - Are you going analog direct into the D2v? If so - then aren't your crossovers and everything all screwed up? (ie. bass management)
Thanks for the comments!

The mileage that I am getting out of the Anthem room correction is XTREME as I have Revel Studios in a fairly small room (15 x 13) and the bass would overwhelm the room without Anthem ARC. ARC cleans it right up.

I exchanged some emails with Dan from Modwright, who agreed with you all here - ie GO ANALOG from a great player if possible. If room correction didn't play such a big role in my setup I would go in Analog direct, and preferably find a nice MCH pre. Emm labs Switchman maybe?

Next time - just need to snag a bigger room.

What is the top player up to 5k used of of the MCH analogs? ModWright Oppo 95? Krell Evo 505? That marantz player?

In the meantime digital over HDMI it is I think... but I would like to get a real nice analog player in the future - so I am leaning towards Oppo 95 stock to start with and go digital (and enjoy the nice build quality) and then break off to a real nice analog setup later.
Goatwuss, yes I am running 6 channel analog direct into the D2v and using the 6CH out to listen. I have had no issues with sound quality. I get more dynamic soundfield doing it that way than by running HDMI. I find that the digital route sounds very constrained. I had a McIntosh MX135 prior to the D2v and I always used the 6 channel analog on it as well, of course it didn't have HDMI. You can always make adjustments within either your player or the D2v to sound issues if you have any.
Maybe I should STUFF my huge ports and try and make it work analog???

Edorr wrote, "If you do not need the Blu Ray, you can get a Sony XA5400. According to Kal marginally better than the Oppo on HDMI out."

I recalled your comment being the Oppo 95 HDMI was marginally better than the Sony XA5400. Did I recall incorrectly?


I figure this will be a good place to start to give me flexibility, with possible mods later on
My recollection is Kal's statement was made in his review of Ayre universal player. He compared the Ayre to both the Xa5400 and a plain vanilla Oppo, but I believe this was a 93, not a 95. However, since the 93 and 95 should be identical, this should make no difference. Look up the ayre review online and you'll find out.
I preferred the Oppo with analog outputs but the differences on HDMI were miniscule and resulted in a toss up. The Sony had a bit more low end but the Oppo was a bit better defined. Any choice between them would, and should, be system dependent.

BTW, guys, I had to look up what I wrote (http://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-50-page-2-0) because, in effect, I use them almost interchangeably today.
The reason for my question, Kal, is that I have an Oppo BDP-93 connected to my Cary 11a via HDMI, and have been thinking about moving my Sony XA5400ES back into the media room cabinet as well, connecting it to the Cary via analog XLR. Not sure what that gets me, though, but I have a spare Sony DVP-S900ES for use in the living room that sounds very good playing CDs & SACDs.