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Future ready OPTIMUM setup for Audio/Video

Audiolab 6000CDT Dedicated CD Transport

RahulP

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Hi,

First of all, pardon me for a detailed post. :eek:

I wanted to give as much information as I can about setup + thought process + research so that it will be easier for the GURUs here to comment / suggest.

OPTIMUM = best possible w.r.t. budget & needs
* Needs mostly are somewhat universal so hopefully the discussion will help many other FMs.
* The budget can be flexible depending on
a) how much better & future-proof the gear / solution would be
b) If buying will be step by step instead of all at once

Also given numbers to the questions so that anyone can answer one or more questions with a reference.

I will much appreciate comments/suggestions (or solutions even with a paradigm shift :) ) . Thanks a ton in advance. :clapping:

Current Setup :

Amp : NAD 325bee
Speakers : Wharfedale diamond 9.2 (BS)
source 1 : Sony DVP
source 2 : Philips DVP

Room size : 13 ft x 21 ft .
Listening / Viewing distance : 10-11 ft.
[ADDED]Listening Preferences : Original CD collection (or CDs burnt using FLAC). Very rarely MP3s etc.

Problem :

My earlier DVP (earlier Philips model) was giving me reasonably good quality and that being my first setup I was (very) happy with the sound. Somehow it was a perfect harmony. After that dvd player died few months back :(, the problem started.

I bought sony dvp and found the sound too bright (was informed by a friend it is a problem with all sony products including TVs). So just for the audio, as a quick fix, I bought current philips dvp. A rare impulsive buy from me :). But no luck ! bit of improvement on the 'brightness' but the sweet vocals, balance in base/trebble , harmony in general has gone for a toss !

Today am not happy with the sound quality and mostly the 'source' is the reason (hopefully amp & speakers are alright. Fingers crossed)


This might a perfect example of how much important is the 'source' !


Goal :

Phase 1 :

A) Audio : Add appropriate gear to get the best sound (Budget : 20-25K)
B) Video: Add appropriate gear which can render hi resolution video (discs : blu ray/ dvd; formats: mkv, avi, mpg etc) budget: 15K

Will be upgrading to HD 3D LED TV in Mar 2013. (3D because mostly I will go for Sony and higher refresh rates (Motionflow) are 'tightly coupled' with 3D models :( else have no use/fancy for 3D)


Phase 2 :

A) Audio : Add turntable and appropriate amp with phono stage. Optionally add floorstanding speakers.


The questions are about Phase 1 only. But naturally, with the above clear objectives, I will be buying gear kpeeing a reference to the 'dream system' to avoid redundancy / obsolescence. Fortunately, for buying decisions, Phase 1 and 2 are mutually exclusive.


Options considered / researched (Phase 1 only) :

1. CD player
2. Sony DVP as transporter + External DAC
3. FLAC files + Media Player + External DAC
4. I have an old PC but its a very unattractive option for me. Also not researched about upgrades required for sound card / connections etc.


Questions:

1. Technical:

a) Sony SR 750H DVP has coaxial Digital output. Can I use it as a CD transporter ?

b) There has been lot of discussion on various forums. So the million dollar question is :
Other things (amp, speakers) remaining the same can CD/DVD Transport + External DAC of reasonably good quality give Same OR Better sound quality as a CD player

c) Does a media player have a DAC ? If so, how it can be (if at all) used as a mere 'transporter' / player for FLAC files on connected HDD (to be connected to external DAC).
If not I guess DAC in low/mid range media players will be sub-standard ?
c) How important it is for a media player to have the facility to update the firmware (to support future codecs). How does it affect budget (separate league ?)


2. Gear:

a) For CDP my budget would be 17-18 K (for lack of versatility :) ) : I know Marantz CD5004 available on hifimart. Not sure if NAD CDP is within budget. Also, doubtful about the durability of both (read about problems for both viz. 'disc not sensed' etc.)

b) Oppo bdp 93 with shipping comes to 35K (ebay). Will its DAC do the job of providing excellent sound quality (compared to CDP / external DAC) ?
(I am ready to sacrifice the convenience of media player for audio, and don't mind burning CDs using FLAC files. I convert flac > WAV and then use Imgburn to burn audio CDs)
This will also serve me for playing blu ray discs in the near future ( once some sanity is introduced in the price range, cause of mass production :) )

c) For media player solution considering :
* Kaiboer K3 . Around 5K. But 5 star rating in all aspects by AV Max magazine. Kaiboer K3
* WD media player (yet to do full research)
* Others yet to be explored


Thanx !

Cheers !
Rahul
 
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RahulP

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Please feel free to give comments on ANY of the questions :) . Some of the doubts are generic/universal/basic.

(My bad to make it look like an exam paper ;) )

Cheers !
 
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ranjeetrain

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Your option 3 will give you best bang for buck.

Media player with HDD playback and digital out = 15-20k. Invest the remaining money on DAC. Get the best DAC in your budget.
 
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RahulP

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Thanks Ranjeet.

Could you comment on my question 1c ? i.e. Does media player have a DAC ? (... and how to bypass it).

I wonder if 'DAC' now deserves a dedicated forum under 'Audio components'. It would be helpful for FMs to get the info & discussion under one forum.

Cheers !
 
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corElement

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Any digital device that outputs sound has a dac to convert digital information to analog signal. You cannot bypass it unless there is such a feature specifically in the device.

All media players are different, firmware upgrades are dependent on the media player manufacturer's software.

It is a secondary thing to keep in mind. Primary is what you get by default in regards to the device features and topology.

At your budget range there is very little flexibility in regards to the questions mentioned.
 
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ranjeetrain

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Thanks Ranjeet.

Could you comment on my question 1c ? i.e. Does media player have a DAC ? (... and how to bypass it).

I wonder if 'DAC' now deserves a dedicated forum under 'Audio components'. It would be helpful for FMs to get the info & discussion under one forum.

Cheers !

Glad to help!

>> Does media player have a DAC ? <<
Any device that can play digital media has to have a DAC. No DAC and you can't get those digits to make music for you.

>> how to bypass it <<
Most of them will provide digital out over Coaxial or TOSLink or both. I haven't come across any media player above USD 80 that doesn't have digital output. Hook your external DAC to one of these connections. DAC in the media player will be bypassed.
 
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RahulP

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Thanks corElement & ranjeetrain.

@corElement : I think ranjeetrain has answered it.

The thumb rule is any device DEDICATED for a function will always perform better (within same league) than a 'bundled package'. (classic example is professional camera vs. camera in a mobile). Ofcourse, like both of you mentioned, DAC in a media player is inevitable (so its not a 'bundled package' or an 'add-on') but still, my intention was to bypass the comparatively 'sub-standard' DAC in the media player so that an external DAC would give much better results.

@ranjeetrain : Thanks again. Any device that can play digital media has to have a DAC >>>> yes. seems sad but true :) ..

All,
So could you please suggest a great combination of a media player + DAC . I am not aware but there MIGHT be a (expensive) media player with exceptional (built-in) DAC which will do the job.

As i said if it's a good investment, the budget can be flexible. (within reason :) ).


Cheers !
(Extra cheers for the today morning news !!! Finally !!!)
 
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ranjeetrain

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At this price point, get a utilitarian media player. Like 5k or so. Any media player is fine. At that price point there isn't much to look. It should look fine, feel well built, should be able to connect to storage of your choice, and should have a remote (very important).

Invest rest of the money on DAC. There are many options to choose from between 15-40k.

I will suggest put as much money on the DAC as you can now. This will help you in two ways. Apart from giving you the best possible sound from your setup now, it will also eliminate the need to upgrade your DAC when you upgrade rest of your system.
 
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RahulP

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@ranjeetrain : Good strategy ! Thanks.

I see 2 DACs offered in Hifi mart (Quad Link D-1 and Rega DAC) and the price difference is substantial (27K and 50K) .. I need to do research on DACs.

Any further comments / suggestions / recommendations are welcome.

Cheers !
 
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RahulP

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Hi Guys,

The recent research has directed me towards the following choices... would really appreciate your comments based on experience or information :

1. Maverick Audio TubeMagic D2 DAC w/ OPA627 OpAmp Upgrade & GE5670W tube (price : $ 289 + DHL express $40)

2. audio-gd nfb 2.32 ($ 499) OR nfb 3.32 ($ 349) + shipping $ 68 (!!!!!)


3. Used CDP Marantz on ebay (6002/7003) : $226 + shipping (don't know yet)

Notes :

  • The audio-gd option is in the list thanks to impressive performance of audio-gd DAC19 in the recent Pune meet (But its not available anymore except ofcourse used ones on head-fi etc. I don't have previous experience with that or similar sites. [ADDED] I also don't know the parameters to compare NFB2/3 with DAC19. Ofcourse NFB2 is better 3 : http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB3-2011/NFB3.1EN.htm (section: What's different between NFB-2.2 and NFB-3.32?) )
  • The reason am considering the CDP is because of the risk/benefit factor. (Used item / shipping damages but decent built-in DAC)
  • Do not know the difference between NFB2 and NFB3 series. I still don't understand how the later series can be cheaper ! weird !)


cheers !
 
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