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DVD audio vs CD audio

Discussion in 'Music Forum' started by cbeckerson, Nov 5, 2011.

  1. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Is it better to listen to dvd audio on a £350 panasonic dvd player or the same song on CD audio on an £800 Arcam CD player?
  2. Bobrinsky

    Bobrinsky Member

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    DVD-Audio is not the same as the audio on a DVD, it is a high-res sound format, which not all DVD players support. DVD-Audio discs are also almost all 5.1 mixes of music, so the comparison with a stereo CD is not strictly like for like.

    If your Panasonic player is DVD-Audio capable and attached to a decent system, it will sound far better than a CD on an £800 ARCAM player.
  3. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    I would stick with the Arcam CD player. It takes a half decent multi format player to get across h-res and a sub £400 (or sub £500 for that matter) player ain't going to do that.

    You can easily compare the two as the vast majority (if not all) of standard (ie non box set) DVD-A's contain 2.0 pcm stereo as well as 5.1 multi channel. Not all DVD-A's offer 5.1 in anything more than 24/48 either, although modern discs tend to be at least 24/96. To further muddy the water not all DVD-A's have multi channel in at least DTS, some are Dolby surround only.

    Add in issue of mastering, and the picture is even less clear cut.

    Finally, all digital mediums are subject to the compression (see loudness wars) and neither DVD-A nor SACD are exceptions to this.

    Before you're put off for life, I am a big fan of hi-res, I own several DVD-A's and SACD's, and the sound is generally great (bearing in mind the above), but I'm playing them on MFP's which retailed at, at least £900.

    My first move before delving into the world of hires would be to upgrade your Panny.

    To Ebay at once! :D
  4. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Thanks to you both for some great. My current system is as follows: arcam cd 17, arcam A 28 amp, B&W 684 speakers, Panasonic DMR - EX78, project xpression 2 record player and Sony BDP - S363 blu ray player. I do not have 5.1 surround sound.

    The reason for my question is that I have recently purchased the immersion boxers for DSOTM and WYWH and they both come with DVD and blu ray audio. I have always loved, and still do, the sound of my arcam cd player and as it is so much more expensive than the blu ray and DVD players I wanted to get some advice...
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011
  5. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Can someone tell me of an upgrade to my panny that would make DVD audio (PCM) sound better on my system than a cd played through the arcam cd17?
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011
  6. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    Head for fleabay. Look for any one of the below:-


    Denon: 2900, 2930, 3930, or the cheaper (new) 2200.
    Arcam: DV79 (DVD-A only), DV135, or if you are feeling flush, the DV137 or 139. Any one of the last three are truly excellent, in particular the DV137. The DV139 is awesome but mind numbingly expensive even second hand. The 135 doesn't do multichannel just stereo on DVD-A and SACD. All the Arcam players are excellent with standard CD.
    Pioneer: 757i ,868, 989i, all of which do multi channel on both DVD-A and SACD.

    In this house we have the 2900 (my sons front end), the 757i and the DV135.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention, the above, in particular the Denons and Arcams have superb picture quality!
  7. Theo Maxtible

    Theo Maxtible Member

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    I agree with all said by both previous posters, and what I'm about say may not be of interest. It's not meant to detract either in any way from what's already been mentioned, but hopefully of interest. Five years ago, I was asking myself whether a hi-res player (SACD and DVD-A) would make much difference to my music listening pleasure. To cut a long story short, I decided to buy an Arcam DV137 player and AVR350 amplifier, which would initially be partnered with my 5.1 speaker system that I'd owned since 2002. My hope was to replace these speakers with something quite special within a year or two. Unfortunately, finances have not allowed me to upgrade my speakers, and so I'm stuck with what I've got. There's no need (I don't think) to mention which brand of speakers I have, but they cost just short of £1000 and are generally not thought highly of in hi-fi circles. In fact, if you look in the speaker section of this forum, it won't take too long to see how derided they are by many. Anyway, when I connected my new Arcam equipment to my speaker system, I was very pleasantly surprised at the results. In general terms, it's very easy to hear the difference between CDs and DVD-As and SACDs. I'm not musically trained, but believe I have quite good ears for my age. I have quite a reasonable collection of SACDs and DVD-As, possibly totalling 130 albums in total. There's a minority of hi-res titles I own where the hi-res "benefit" seems minimal (if at all noticeable), the vast majority where I'm convinced there's an easily detectable difference, and a couple of handfuls that really do stand out and never fail to impress. Some of this is down to multi-channel listening, of which I'm a convert, and I'll agree that it can be very difficult sometimes to do a "fair" side-by-side comparison. It's probably easier said than done nowadays, but if you have the opportunity to have a demo of hi-res MCH music, go for it! Back in late 2006, I was lucky enough to attend an Arcam demo, which included the DV137, DV139 (which was yet to be released) and the AVR350. I'm probably very lucky, that I'm sure I have more than one specialist hi-fi dealers near me, the sort that sell Meridian and Arcam type of equipment amongst others, that would do a hi-res MCH demo.
  8. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    Thanks for the comments Theo, but you have to be wary with regards comparing CD with hi-res. Some music mastering agencies have tested groups of listeners and found that the vast majority could hear no difference at all between CD and SACD/DVD-A.

    I haven't seen (and I'm not sure anybody has) the test system for these listeners, nor the conditions used, and I suspect that they did not use like for like, which might explain some of the test results. However, as I pointed out above, it is a major problem. It's pointless trying to compare a mid to high end CD player with modest hi-res sources. The dedicated CD should sound better. When you are getting a fair price comparison, then the hi-res should shine.

    But, as with the above post, not always. If you look at the 'compression' tables, sadly, modern hi-res offerings are just as compressed, in some case worse, than the CD offering. Yet people will still say the DVD-A or SACD is better.......... and pay silly prices for them on Ebay.

    Having been introduced to multi channel audio from right back at the start (I was working in hi-fi when the first DSP's appeared) it's something that long waxed and waned with me. I find it simply gimmicky now. The only time I really enjoy it is with the odd video, and even then it has to be a seriously well done sound track to 'wow' me.

    With music I find it simply naff. Very few albums were mastered in surround, and very few actually sound 'natural' when listening to them compared to the stereo version. Even with the listening area seriously well centred, it still underwhelms me.

    Finally, how many concerts have any of us been to that the band uses 5.1 surround sound? In reality, not any..........

    ............and live is the best way to hear music.


    But, as before, each to their own, as everybody hears music in a different way.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011
  9. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Hi overkill. So are you saying ( in layman's terms) that CDs on a good cd player are just as acceptable to a listener with a keen musical ear ie me as DVD audios in a cheap to MOR DVD audio player? What is your opinion of the arcam cd 17 through an arcam A28 amp and b & w 684s?
  10. Tetlee

    Tetlee Well-Known Member

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    Why don't you just go for a standard priced CD-DVD-A reissue of something you like, such as the King Crimson 40th Anniversary reissues(suggest Lizard or Islands as they sound the best of those in high-res for me) as an example and compare with your own ears by switching between the CD and the DVD-A?

    Might be an idea to suggest which discs you are planning to test with here before purchasing so that those that may have listened to them can confirm if the high-res remasters are good or not the best examples for the format(as overkill mentions, some are pretty awful).
  11. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    In a nutshell, yes! :D

    I really like Arcam gear and yes, the CD17 should indeed produce better results than a cheap hi-res player.

    To produce quality hi-res sound you need a quality front end. Simple as. A mid price player that 'does all' is obviously going to compromise somewhere. I had the excellent Pioneer 656 all rounder and while it gave amazing sound, on DVD-A in particular, for a £400 player it wasn't anywhere near my CD player. Only when I bought first the Denon, then the DV135 did I feel that the hires was delivering superior sound to CD.

    Of course this is just my view, others may differ.

    As tetlee suggests, why not get a few decent discs and switch between the Arcam and the Panny? That way you can decide what you think works for your ears. If you're happy with the sound it'll save a few quid! :)

    The KK releases tetlee mentions are available at decent prices over at Burningshed.com.I would add 'Starless and Bible Black' to his suggestions as I'm happy enough with that.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011
  12. karkus30

    karkus30 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting thread. I have a Denon 2900 which languishes under the tv and was replaced by the BRP in my cinema system. Never bothered with hi res discs but this thread has peaked my interest. Is it worth putting the 2900 into my hifi setup as it's wasted under the tv?
  13. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Not too sure mate... I'm finding it all very confusing! I think I might just stick to vinyl and CDs.
  14. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    Is it hooked up to a receiver? If not then I'd dust it off and stick in the hi-fi setup.

    The only reason I mentioned the receiver is that they output 5.1 (and above) so you can have a go with surround mixes.

    If you want.

    If stereo is your bag, then stick it in with the hi-fi, grab a few hi-res discs and give it a whirl! :D
  15. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    If you've got a hi-res player (which you have), as tetlee and I suggested, grab a few discs and see what you think.

    If you like what you hear from the Panny, then think about investing in one of the players mentioned to hear the real differences. :)
  16. Theo Maxtible

    Theo Maxtible Member

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    As overkill and Tetlee mention, if you already have a hi-res compatible player, trying some discs is about the only way to find out. Hi-res is not really confusing at all, at least not any more than vinyl or CDs. It's just that there isn't a simple answer to some of the questions that get asked. You'll have to look long and hard to find universal consensus - and you won't find it. Not all hi-res discs sound as good as each other, any more than all vinyl and CDs sound the same. Then just to confuse things even more, not all hi-fi equipment sounds the same. If you look on this forum and others, you'll find people that think that hi-res is a waste of time - particularly with older recordings. Then there are those that think that multi-channel music is pointless, and that stereo is the zenith. And of course on top of all that, what's to say that we all hear things the same?

    I have some quite impressive CDs in my music collection, and a small number if hi-res discs that are perhaps a bit dull. On average though, the hi-res discs are a good bit better than the average CD that I own.

    Investing in my Arcam DV137 and AVR350 has really given me an enormous amount of pleasure in my recorded music appreciation - and multi-channel music. I'm convinced that this situation would only improve if I bought some more suitable speakers. There's only one way to find out.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  17. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    Some good points there, but the underlined one has been the longest running debate of all.

    A lot of people (I don't agree by the way) think hi-res is a complete waste of time with no audible benefits over CD at all.

    However, only you can tell if that's the case for you.

    To muddy the waters still further :D, I would listen at home, not in a demonstration. Any salesman or rep worth their salt can set up a system so that it would make a **** shine........ ;)
  18. Ronm1

    Ronm1 Guest

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    Pretty much right on here. Comparable h/w makes sense for a valid comparison. When I have had colleagues, who have been in the no diff camp, listen with better quality gear it was easily determined that the HiRes media was superior. Now OTOH HiRes inferior h/w can come so close to RedBook on better h/w still speaks well for the HiRes formats, IMHO, of course.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2011
  19. karkus30

    karkus30 Well-Known Member

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    No, it's not hooked up to anything so will stick it into my system once I have a disc.

    Wasn't a big fan of 5:1 until I bought the BR of Anesthetize. The mix through my 10year old Denon amp is staggeringly good. Steve Wilson obviously has the knack( minus sharona). Would be interesting to hear how the 5:1mixes sound on the cinema system, but I'm not going to go stripping out and reorganising the cinema room at the moment so it will be plain 'ol stereeeeo.
  20. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    He does indeed, but sadly, it's often ruined by the 'loudness wars'. The compression of the hi-res PT discs is worse than some of the CD's!

    I would also take it on advisement with the KK discs. As Tetlee says, despite SW doing the mixing on those, only the three mentioned are any good. Red and ITKOKC are only barely 'passable' (what was gushing reviewer of the IKOTKC disc listening to?) while ITWOP is awful! :rolleyes:

    Thanks for the heads up on the Anesthetize BR disc! :smashin:
  21. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Overkill- do you rate the denon bdp 1611?
  22. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    It's an updated version of the 1610, which was good but not outstanding for the dough. If we are talking Blu ray players, then at that price point and lower I'd be looking at a Panny or Pioneer. Don't forget BD players don't offer DVD-A or SACD unless you spend big bucks (£700-1000)!

    Also ask the question, do you want 3d in the package?
  23. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Actually the Denon does offer sacd and DVD audio which is why I am interested...
  24. overkill

    overkill Active Member

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    It does, but we are still talking the same as a cheap DVD player. I still hold (but that's just my opinion) that sub £600 you are not going to get a real challenge to your CD player.

    If you are looking for a cheap all rounder though, the Denon or the Oppo at that price would be the ones to go for. However, the BDP1611 has youtube and netfix streaming built in which the Oppo doesn't.

    One other thing, Denon are releasing the BDP1612 soon and that is likely to be '3D ready' as well. ;)
  25. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Thanks for the advice dude. The reviews I have read on the 1611 are very positive-especially with regards to the sound but you seem to know lots!
  26. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Here's a review I found for 1611...

    Don't know if I'm expert enough to reply but I went ahead and bought this player a couple of months ago, so for what it's worth:

    This is my third player the others being a Samsung and a Panasonic. Picture quality from the Denon seems much better than the others in terms of clarity and colour. However, it is on the audio side that things very much improve. For b/ray I use the pure direct mode on my amp and the steering, to my ears, is excellent. The quality of playback on cd's is vastly improved as with DVD audio. I only have two SCAD discs but the result of playing them on the Denon is impressive particularly when I compare them to their cd version.

    Works well with my media server (wired not wireless)

    Loading times are possibly not the quickest but not particularly slow either. Really the only negative comment I can make is that there is a fair amount of mechanical noise when loading a b/ray but this goes away when you start the film.

    Afraid I am unable to comment on the 3D function as I'm not even sure the up-date needed for it has been released. It did connect to the internet the first time I switched it on and downloaded an up-date but even after going to the Denon site I can't tell if this was for the 3D function (anyone know if this function is released yet? it was due at the end of Jan). I'm still saving the pennies for a 3D TV and for the new models to arrive in the shops.

    Hope this helps!
  27. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Thanks mate. I do love arcam! I have the cd17 and a28 which sound fab through my b and w 684s. I just want to play all the DVD audios, bd audios and sacds I have accumulated.
  28. cbeckerson

    cbeckerson Member

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    Sorry to ask so many questions... Anyone know much about HDCD? Also - does the Denon 1611 play them?
  29. karkus30

    karkus30 Well-Known Member

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    It's totally different. If you want to try it then get a decoder. The musical fidelity x box is pretty easy to find and very good. Connect CDP to it an play HDCD discs. Pretty good, but the technology as far as I am aware is now dead.
  30. FeisalK

    FeisalK Member

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    I'd say they are different kinds of fun. both can be great :D

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