Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bedroom System loves DVD-Audio and HDCD's

Last night spent some time listening to Bedroom System, notably the DVD-Audio of Queen's Night at the Races.  Wow!  The dynamic range on this DVD-Audio presentation (I used 96kHz PCM stereo mode) is fantastic!

Last year Bedroom System got a new preowned universal disc player, a Denon 5900.  This is one of the all time great universal disc (except Blu Ray) players, featuring one of the best Burr Brown DAC's, 120dB signal to noise ratio, and separate power supplies for audio and digital.  Weighs almost 30 pounds, originally cost $2000.

Unfortunately, I was not as lucky with this second purchase of a 5900 as I was with the first which went into my living room.  The second was not as clean looking, and has a noticeable whine on high speed discs like DVD-Audio and SACD.  It may need internal cleaning and/or a new bearing or drive mechanism.  Mind you, the unit works OK, it plays every disc I throw at it, it's just more mechanically noisy than a top shelf unit should be.

I figured I might be able to get the noise fixed at the Denon service center about 100 miles away at probable cost $100-$250.

But I had a cheaper solution.  I simply avoided retiring my previous bedroom player, a Denon 2900.  Very similar to the 5900 except lacking the dual power supplies and also lacking HDCD.  It uses the early-production version of the same DAC as the 5900.  This 2900 I bought a few years ago is minty clean.

So what I do is this: I play low speed discs, CD's and HDCD's, on the 5900, and I play high speed discs, DVD-Audio and SACD, on the 2900.  Only the 2900 needs a video connection, and it connects to video monitor using S-Video through a isolation transformer to prevent contaminating the audio.

This is only for actual discs.  Mostly I listed to computer files through my Sonos system.  But Sonos doesn't handle high resolution formats, and I don't necessarily have all my discs copied to Sonos (copying discs to an online library is an unbelievable amount of work if you are somewhat perfectionistic about it).

In the long run, I have two nearly identical machines, so one could serve as spare parts for the other.  I've even thought about transferring the quiet mechanism from the 2900 to the 5900, but for the time being, why bother?

Both players feed analog into my digitally processed system.  For many years, I have used a TacT RCS 2.0 preamp in the bedroom, which feeds Behringer DEQ 2496 and DCX 2496.  Unfortuantely, the analog input on the Tact features a somewhat outdated analog-to-digital converter which effectively only has about 16 bit performance.

But late last year I bought a new analog-to-digital converter (ADC).  It's actually another Behringer DEQ 2496, which I plan to use for other purposes also, but inside the DEQ is a fairly decent AKM ADC.

I've had this hooked up, but not very well until last night.  Previously I ran the Denon players through my Acurus L10 preamp to set the level, then into the DEQ.  But last night I decided to bypass the gain stage and volume control of the Acurus, and use the tape output instead.  That seemed to really open it up, just like the living room system when I play advanced resolution discs.

And of all the kooky things I was not connecting the Behringer "ADC" to my Tact very well.  I was using the optical output of the Behringer.  But then it had to share the optical input on the Tact (which has only one optical input) with my carousel DVD player.  Last night I got tired of switching the optical cables, and decided to connect the Behringer using AES/EBU instead.


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