What's a great multi format player under a $1,000?

Hey folks, I'm stumped. I would like to get a multi format player for under a grand. New or used, don't matter to me... much. Primarily for DVDA & DVD... though one that does the rest of the disc types would be great.. CDR, CDRW, photos, SAcd TOO, (what the hey), etc.

I'd also prefer one that you don't have to mod. My short list has Marantz, & Integra, on it. Yep. that's short, huh? OSD is a must. Decent video, great sound thru onboard proc & analog outs, are the preffferences. go figure. Multi channel isn't too high on the list but yeah, throw that in too as a oh, by the way aspect.

Many thanks.
I own an Onkyo Integra DPC 8.5. It's certainly very decent, but not phenomenal from a sound standpoint. I do get a spectacular sonic improvement when it's used with the Dodson 217 Mark II D DAC that I own. It's a carousel changer and is quite versatile. It does have a video circuit shut-off switch, which improves the sound of the player noticeably, even if the DAC is being used. The remote is nice. Sometimes it makes a vibrating sound, and I think it's mostly when playing SACD's. I don't know why. It was the best compromise I could come up with given my insistence on a changer and a multiplayer. The DAC was a huge, huge, HUGE improvement. (HUGE). I'd give the Onkyo Integra a B or a B- overall for sonic quality, with the understanding that this is from an "audiophile" perspective. Most "regular" consumers (not persnickety Audiogon types like us) would probably rate it an A or A+, I'd guess.
denon 2910
Mdhoover, thanks. I didn't know about any issues with the 8.5 and certianly not like the ones you just said. I'd really had plans to get exactly that one... and now I'm not sure... currently the plan, dare I say it... is get the Sony 400 DVD carosel for Filing mostly.... and a DVDA/cd/cdr/??... so thankks.

You think the one you got might have a problem?

lastly, that Dotson DAC... better than the majority of the pack, or say the Benchmark? 'cause that BEnchmark seems a good buy... but I'm concerened about one of the reviews that said it's merciless in it's revealing of info on discs... or the way the reviewer put it gave me pause. I thought they needed better ICs or something personally.
When I said this:
"Sometimes it makes a vibrating sound, and I think it's mostly when playing SACD's. I don't know why."
I should have pointed out that this is not generally a very big issue, at least from the listening position. Since I don't have that many SACD's, it doesn't come up that much anyway. I've noticed it only a few times, and have no idea whether it's an overall design flaw in that model, or specific to my personal unit. The thing to do is to listen to one at the dealer and see if it does that when an SACD is put into it (or any other time, for that matter). I'd hate to be giving you a bum steer. I just don't think that the unit is going to sound like like a megabuck Wadia or something. How could it at that price?

Keep in mind, too, that the Onkyo unit IS capable of spectacular sound when it's used as a transport just feeding a bitstream to the DAC. The Onkyo works well with the Dodson and has the features I want, so I plan to keep it and don't at all regret buying it. It may be the best choice available for a universal player that also has a carousel and still has decent to good sound. I didn't say the unit is BAD, it just isn't SPECTACULAR (but, again, the Dodson goes a long way toward changing that). I have no complaints whatsoever about the DVD part of it; in fact it seems pretty darned good to me, but I'm also nowhere near as psychotically perfectionistic about video as I am audio. (Don't know why that is.)

The Dodson: My experience with other DAC's is zero, but people who "know" tell me that it's a spectacular unit, and one of the best ones out there. My ears tell me the same thing. I absolutely LOVE this unit! It's difficult to describe how excellent it is without resorting to audiophile cliches. It seems to improve dynamic range, detail, smoothness and musicality with no downside at all. Suffice it to say that I won't listen without it unless I have to. The Dodson 218 is said to be even better, but retails for close to 9,000 dollars. In fact, the 217 originally retailed somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 dollars, but I got mine for less than 2,000. I consider it to be the greatest deal I ever got on Audiogon.

again, thanks. Thanks a lot. Price has a way most of the time of separating great from good, in audioland. I understand where the Integra is in that scheme. You've done no harm. In fact though you have allowed me to add another thought to my designs on digital playback... as well as has the folks at Benchmark... I don't know if ALL DAC's are 100% capable of eliminating 'jitter' from the transport, but given all theinfo I've seen lately they do a pretty good job at eliminating a bunch of it... and I've a fair transport already. Just not for DVD/DVDA, hence this little info request... and I'd simply not wish to throw tons of duckets at one either.

So thanks again. I understand.

Any one else having other thoughts on inexpensive multi format players out there that have above average capacity on their own for playback of the audio side of things?

I sure would like to know.
The Denon 2910 is well under that #, new, in stock form and I imagine the 3910 is as well, at least used.

You really think the Denon is worthwhiel? I get the impression for some, that once it's modded it is good, but not until... sort of bothers me a unit needs far more work to become acceptable. Just seems like a hassle to me. Though I'll keep in mind the 2900, and 3900 as you say...

It's odd that no one has hit on the Marantz units. they get a bunch of press, as do the Denons. My experience with Denon isn't too good... all the ones I've heard have been with so-so gear, usually mass media equipment. So I've always envisioned them as only in that category... save the modded ones. When the 'mods' are added into the fray, it's a different story altogether, isn't it?

It's begining to look a lot like a transport & DAC to me as the way to go with digital and that'll sure stretch things... and be lots harder that way 'round. though it is appreciated much to hear the notion.
I love my Onkyo DV-SP 1000. It is built like a tank & sounds very good with my Benchmark. I have not run audio outs as I listen through my Benchmark DAC but it has a similar liquid quality like my old belt driven transport, almost analog like if at all possible.
At $1K for a multi-foramt, I think your options are limited. Not sure "great" is in the cards. The advantage of the Denon is that if you like, you can have it modded later, unless you are philosophically opposed to it. If you are, then maybe you want to think about older gen multi-players like the Sony 9000ES, although it apparently has some known glitches. Or maybe a Muse unit, although I am not sure if there is on w/DVD-A that will come in under $1K. The problem with a DAC and Transport is that you can't get SACD (not even sure if you can get DVD-A) that way unless you go with the megabuck EMM stuff, IIRC. BTW, if you have DVD, you will get multi-channel.
I don't think you'll find "great" SACD/DVD-A (or even one of those) for under $1K, esp. multiplayer. The Denon's are not very good IMHO until heavily modified. Then, they have potential to sound "great", but the mod's to get them great will be over $1K by themselves.

Just my experience and opinion.
Fish, intersting to hear you say liquid with a Benchmark. I had the notion from reading reviews they were pretty dynamic and to the point of being analytical. But having one I'd guess you would know better. Thanks.

swamp, I am fast coming to that conclusion. I did think, though, that a transport per se, wouldn't be hampered by the digital out formating... naive is my middle name sometimes.. and then paired with a multilinguistic DAC, BAM! I'm there. But yeah, copius amounts of duckets ensue to that end. AND, nope. Not philosophically challenged in that regard... just ain't tickled with the notion of buying something that requires a goodly amount of work to achieve some sembleance of satisfaction with it. I wasn't too keen on the old Chevy Vega. Actually I hated them. Looked terrrible, ran even worse. rusted out with only a couple downpours. then a friend of mine put a 327 cid v8, did some body work, paint, etc. after driving it then... well, now that was fun. Stick your arms out the windows and you either would fly, or draw back a nub. surprising speed, and good looks were fascinating things at 17.. and I still don't like Vega's... as a rule. Now gremilins, there's a car!

an honest look at things says to me, "You've already got good CD/SACD... so actually, only DVD/DVDA remain and then as afterthoughts... but good afterthoughts... as my DVD is limited in scope, and w/DVDA more genres open up for investigation... and 24/192 ain't no slouch for listening quality either.

rob... guess I'm on the same track with you. AS those were my thoughts going into this endeavor. As my initial thoughts were to do ONE player for everything. Now I'm of the mind, with this and other info, to simply get the SONY 400 DVD carosel for filing & finding movies easily, (and sweet jumpin' jellyfish, I got a fair number of DVD's), and with something like one of the Integra models for the DVDA... then I saw the Arcam 2900 and figured Well, maybe.... but no. the other two choices let me get both of them new, and add some decent wires too.. and look for a DAC down the road.

then I stopped myself short and thought to ask folks like yourselves. Because, now there are a couple more formats on the way, or already here, and figured I'd gain better insight asking first... actually the price I set to this task with all this in mind ain't too realistic, huh? Having only this past weekend found my first HDDVD's... I didn't even know it was HD till I tried to play it in the PC. Sorry, it won't even play them. Lovely.

Thanks folks, for keeping me straight.
Blindjim, in my system everything sound "liquid", I could certainly imagine the Benchmark sounding analytical in some systems but not for me. I am thinking of swapping out my DAC & trying something different just to try it but the Onkyo will stay for the long haul.
"I am thinking of swapping out my DAC & trying something different just to try it but the Onkyo will stay for the long haul."
The Dodson 217 Mark II D with upgraded 218-like software is fabulous with the DPC 8.5, which (as you know) is the Onkyo unit a step BELOW yours. Just a thought if you decide to audition DAC's, nothing more. YMMV, etc.
Jim- Unfortunately, I believe that I am correct with respect to a transport/DAC that can do hi-rez you are looking at about $6-8K and it won't give you DVD-A. Certainly for those $, you can look at one of the Esoteric one box units, or for 1/2 that, a modded Denon. I did look into the costs of modding an older unit and except for the purchase price of the player, its the same (duhhh!). So that route doesn't help much. Modded players do not retain quite as much value, so you may save something for looking for one already modded here. Thats what I did. Or you might consider an Underwood Level 1 mod on a 2910. If you don't need digital video out, then that is a good way to go and I think you can get into it for just a little over a grand.

I don't doubt what you're saying... not at all. I feel OK with the two gizmos I mentioned above... the DVD carosel, and the ???/integra for DVDA, and at this point, maybe only the carosel.

I'm figuring if I were to drop over a grand into a multi format player, waiting a while till these new issues from Sony, and toshiba? settle in is best. to put that much into another disc player seems silly... to me. I'd prefer to just get another CDP, as a replacement, not in additon to, and stop there... and a tubed CDP of good standing is most attractive to me. ..for CD play only. SACD is nice. .. but I've found a number of them like CD's are not quite the level one might expect in terms of sonics. I suppose that's the case across the board. SACD, DVDA, CD, Vinyl, etc... but in gaining a replacement for my Sony xa 777, I'd wish to upgrade substantially, in the area of richer and warmer. I do like it a lot, though, and suspect improving upon it will be costly.

It is funny to me as you point out modded units are seen as less in value than the originals. In audiophillia nervousa terms where performance is key, people should see improved units as less than. It's hard for me to fathom. It's like, "Oh, it's better now? ..then I'll give you less for it." Funny. and were I to go into a 'pricey' multiformat player altogether, don't you think one sacrifices something somewhere? I'm hard pressed to figure any player in that genre, does all the formats quite so well as each of the others. Above all, I doubt an upgrade/replacement will be done simply for the sake of having something new. that method, makes absolutely no sense to me, though I have been guilty of it in the past... but no longer. I'd sooner have mine repaired first, were it to fail.
Never heard the XA 777 but it supposed to be a darn good player. Although I really like the Exemplar/Denon I have I have not been at all impressed with the software available in hi-rez. So if I were to do it again, I would concentrate on a great CDP and let anything else fall by the wayside. Don't get me wrong, the Exemplar is a damn good CDP and perhaps I would have ended up with in anyways, but the multi-player idea has not been a real issue for me, as of yet.

Yep. the software in every category at times leaves a lot to be desired. Being able to play a whatever' disc, initially, seems attractive... I lose track of the, 'they ain't all great just because they have an enormous smpling rate or word length." notion though.

the xa777 is the 'multi' SACD version of the 777. It uses three pairs of DAC's instead of one pair, as in the 777, for stereo, if you want to go that way. It does get involved if you want to go multi ch. then the three pairs of DAC's for stereo get split up and there is only one per ch being used then. Oh, and you need to use four more interconnects, and move the two already in use for stereo to the multi ch analog outs. It is flexible to enough to allow for 2ch & sub, 3ch & sub, as well. But IMO there is no comparison to the 3 for 2 v. 1 for each. Stereo wins, hands down. Multi ch playback aint' bad... not at all. Just in comparison, 2ch wins... easily and I'm a fairly harsh judge by the way.

The only CDP I've heard yet to surpass it in overall terms is the top Meridian. An ayre model wasnt' too bad and I could well live with it, but both are simply way out there price wise... over 6 or 7K I think for the Meridian, and close to that mark on the top Ayre unit, those figures are just rough rememberances... and likely higher now, and the margin by which they surpassed mine aren't terrific ones either.. just better. sure was too much in my mind to pay for perhaps half again, the current level of performance.

The multi format player is likely gonna be a persistent afterthought now. Given the expense for a very good to great unit being beyond my means at prices beyond my first thoughts, even used. Oh, well.

So I'l hang on and see what the future holds, as the new formats settle in and I complete the few remaining odds and ends left to me..

thanks - sometimes we all just need a reality check.