Denon PMA-2500NE & DCD1600NE review

Numpty112233

Active Member
Review of Denon PMA-2500NE flagship stereo amp and DCD-1600NE SACD player, how they compare with Cambridge CXA-80, CXC and CXN and other stuff.


I post this as these do not seem to get mentioned on this forum.


Lets be upfront from the start. Unlike many on here I am no hi-fi expert, real or pretend delusional. My experience comes pretty much from listening to what I have owned and I have had little opportunity to hear others’ equipment. Like most on this forum though I am of a certain age and have appreciated hi-fi for many years. I am also as guilty as the next man of confirmation bias and placebo, however hard I try to be objective, open and honest.


Back in the day, within days of arriving at college I blew my entire term’s grant on a Fisher music system that looked like, but wasn’t, separates and came complete with it’s own cabinet. It was the door to an expanding LP collection and served me well as a student.

A year later I had landed a graduate’s job and my wages went straight into a “proper” hi-fi. I treated myself to a Musical Fidelity B1 amp and Wharfedale Diamond speakers. Richer Sounds were knocking out Marantz’s top of the range CD96(?) and accompanying separate DAC for 1/2 price - a snip at £500 each in the 1980s. I got them both on the promise that if I couldn’t hear any difference with the outboard DAC I could return it “no problem” for full refund. I couldn’t and had an almighty row with Richer Sounds who didn’t want it back. Only when I had cleared a full shop of customers did they relent.

A couple of weeks later my flatmate’s brother popped round. He was the Sales Director of a tube amp manufacturer, I can’t remember which one, and lent me one of his products for a couple of hours he had just happened to have in the boot of his car to compare with the B1. The difference was jaw dropping; such transparency, dynamics and sweetness of sound blew me away and by comparison the coloured, muddled, flat and distorted sound of the B1 was 3rd, ney, 4th rate. Sadly it is the only time I have ever heard a tube amp. In truth I was disappointed with the Musical Fidelity from the start. It had the stying, fit and finish of an Austin Allegro and the big parts bin power switch flickered orange when on like there was a dodgy power supply. This hi-fi magazine Best Buy gave the impression of a DIY amp knocked together in a shed.

A year later the local burglars and insurance company conspired together to allow me to upgrade to a new system. I acquired the latest Best Buys, being an Arcam Alpha+ CD player and Pioneer A400 amp. I wanted the must-have Mission 753 speakers but was advised by a magazine journalist that they would be too bright with the A400 and that the Castle Chester floor standers would be a much better combination. On pre-arranged audition Sevenoaks Hifi sold the 753s before I arrived (the power of magazine marketing had these going out the door like hot cakes) so instead I just got the hard sell on interconnect cables. I couldn’t hear any difference with the more expensive ones and left with cheap interconnects and the Castles (for the record their 1/4 horn design sound suits Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet well but can’t cope with Eminem. I have always wondered if I would have preferred the brighter, faster sound of the 753s) I also got a second hand turntable, more of which later. I still have and use this system to this day, but generally stream to it. For many years it got little use as I was working too hard which no doubt has helped the fact it is all still fully working.

In 2006 I got a new system for another room, a Cyrus 6 CD and amp with B&W CM1 speakers. The Cyrus was chosen on size of discount and magazine review and the speakers on audition (with review confirmation bias). It produced a clean and detailed sound with great imaging and sound stage but over time I realised it lacked any fun. Last year I replaced the CM1s with Monitor Audio Silver 2s and the sound transformed from thorough VAT inspection to full on party. Even the ornaments on the mantlepiece started dancing. In the neighbour’s house. Across the road.

A few years ago I took possession of a Cambridge system for my new extension, the CXA-80, CXC and CXN (clearly I had just about forgiven Richer Sounds by now) and liked their powerful, musical sound, particularly that of the Monitor Audio Silver 8 floorstanders. Since purchase this has been my go-to system and I have connected the 2nd hand turntable I have had most of my life, a Systemdek IIX with Linn Basik arm. On the Pioneer this produced a clearly inferior sound quality to CDs and was rarely used so I upgraded the stylus to the Ortofon 2M Blue and got a Pro-Ject Phono Box USB V to make it work with the CXA-80. Whilst the digitising of my LP collection was useful and done with little loss of s.q. the overall sound, like it was coming from the bottom of a well, was still very much the poor relation to CD. I really wanted to appreciate vinyl but just couldn’t get what the fuss was about and didn’t know if the fault was with the turntable, arm, cartridge or pre-amp or if vinyl was just marketing.

When I got my MA Silver 2s last year I also treated myself to an Audiolab M-ONE to use as a desktop office system connected to my Mac via USB and stuck the CM1s on the end of it. Like the Cyrus before it the sound was very clean, detailed and with great soundstage, but grey and lifeless, all charisma surgically removed.

Then 6 months ago I decided I would convert the garage into a dedicated stereo and 7.1.4 AV room. New equipment needed. This time eventually it would be what I really wanted, a “best” system, rather than being sensible price rung down ;-)

Very initial research (I had several months before I needed the stuff as I hadn’t even started to clear out the garage, let alone any of the building works) threw up an AVonline sale bargain; Monitor Audio Gold 5.1 package “only” £5,555. Wow. Only 1 left. This was at 1am. Months too early to start buying now. Lets sleep on it. Next morning I looked again and saw the package offer - another £100 secured a £2,000 Yamaha RX-A 3070 to power them. Out came the credit card. (by the way I think this offer is still on with only 4 left, 3 more than 6 months ago….) Welcome to Numpty112233 world lol.

A game of musical speakers ensued. The Monitor Audio G300s temporarily replaced the S8s on the end of the CXA-80. Initial impression from brand new was more detail, more “hi-fi” but the same sound signature that I like. The S8s went into storage until the new room is finished and it will be interesting to hear the difference going back the way now the G300s are run in. The G50s replaced the CM1s on the end of the M-ONE. Not only did they improve upon the CM1 strengths but also addressed the sterile signature with a huge dose of fun and musicality. The 1st speaker change was big but not huge and the 2nd was transformational. The rest of the “package deal” boxes are still sitting sealed in storage.

Choosing a stereo amp has been far, far more protracted and painful. No immediate impulse buy here but instead months of research into the wee hours drawing up a shortlist that became longer than my arm between £1.5k and £6k, all to be auditioned prior to purchase. I was only requiring two inputs, USB from my Mac (so the CDs & LPs could stay with the Cambridge system) and HT bypass for the G300s. I was wanting a one box solution. Very few amps offer both and so throwing in a 2nd box complicated decisions and budget further. Auditioning was going to be problematic. This would be true for all the amps on my list but let’s take the one on the top of my list as an example, the Cambridge Edge A. Sold only by Richer Sounds, they didn’t stock many of the amps I wished to compare it with (Moon or Hegel for example). Further more they possibly didn’t have for audition some of those they did stock. Certainly they didn’t have Monitor Audio Gold 300s for me to listen to them on. A solution would be to get a home demo. Only my nearest store is a 200 mile round trip and I hadn’t forgotten my previous experience of trying to return and get my money back on a demo. (Cambridge if you read this - I understand why in the U.K. you exclusively retail through Richer as I am led to believe there is shared personnel in the boardroom so I get the business model, however i.m.o. the Edge range should be sold through more upmarket independent retailers who sell more compatible top end speakers and are better at providing a “sophisticated” customer experience. Not doing so potentially cost you my business)

So more online burning of the midnight oil as the room progressed, the building works swallowing more money than I had budgeted ( I hadn’t actually set a budget but lots of things I hadn’t considered quickly mounted up to way more than I had thought, over £2k on worktops for example). I remembered Linn coining an acronym G.I.G.O. - Garbage in garbage out - that they used to market their expensive turntables with the correct theory that nothing downline improved a crappy source, however good it was. In the digital age, however, the source of uncompressed 1s and 0s merely requires a DAC, amplifier and speakers. In my opinion generally speaking differences between cheap and expensive DACs are comparatively small, amps by comparison medium and speakers large. I am therefore of the opinion that this should be replicated in dividing a budget for a balanced system and I eventually concluded the G300s wouldn’t make the most of the Edge A.

At about the same time I stumbled upon passing mention of a group test winning Denon amp, the PMA-1600NE. Until this point Denon hadn’t even been on the radar. No mention of it on this forum or the usual online review providers. To me Denon was good at cheap mini systems and mainstream AV. In my experience the brand has been utterly reliable - I have been woken up by a mini system for the past 30 years, it coming on for 3 hours every single day for 3 decades without once missing a beat. Similarly my more recent but overly complicated AVR has been flawless and (complication apart) user friendly. Neither, though, are particularly hi-fi so the brand hadn’t been considered.

Further investigation revealed it unusually had both DAC and HT bypass so piqued my interest. I eventually found the group test it had won online (link below) and discovered the competition included the Yamaha A-S1100, which had come last. This aroused much interest as the reportedly very similar sounding A-S2100, with its fan club on here, was under serious consideration. Rightly or wrongly I hold more weight to Hifichoice group tests than some other reviews as I understand they are done blind with a group of listeners and directly compare differences between products instead of one person stating one known product is wonderful on its own merit because a manufacturer gave him a sample to promote specifically to support a paid advert. More digging not only revealed similar conclusions in different languages but even more so for the flagship model above this, the PMA-2500NE and I confess I started getting excited to the point of salivating. It ticked all the boxes. Inputs. Flagship. Price. Brand. Reviews.

A new top of the list for audition then but still not needed for a while. A quick price check showed one retailer £300 cheaper than the others and they offered trade ins. My M-ONE would be surplus to requirements and so, out of curiosity I emailed them. Hi-fi Corner offered me over £75 more for it as a trade in than I had paid new, so I quickly convinced myself that Brexit was about to make everything more expensive and pressed the button. Not hearing it 1st would save me an extremely long drive.

Flushed with excitement I had committed - and got a deal (£1,425 + M-ONE) so much cheaper than the £4,500 Edge I thought what the heck and got the DCD-1600NE SACD player as well. I’m not really sure why as my CDs were to stay in another room (the amp source was to be purely the Mac) and I owned no SACDs. I blame Gibsy on here for banging on about SACDs lol.

The 1 to 5 day advertised delivery became 7 - 10 days immediately Hi-fi Corner got my money and a week or so later they sent them both out. Only it was just the SACD player turned up. 3 days later a battered amp finally appeared, but didn’t work. DPD had obviously given it the red carpet treatment. So another 10 days wait for the replacement.

This, however, gave me the opportunity to play with the DCD-1600NE in my Cambridge CX set up and these are my conclusions;-


For following comparisons;- amp is Cambridge CXA-80, speakers Monitor Audio Gold 300 (series 4)


A/B comparison between CD ripped to Mac as lossless AIFF file (better sq than ALAC) and streamed wirelessly via Airplay to Cambridge CXN

and playing CD on Cambridge CXC using digital co-axial to CXN


Playing the CD on the CXC sounded better, like a ballet dancer taking off her hiking boots and skipping lightly across the floor.By comparison ripped CDs over Airplay sounded heavy.


A/B comparison between Denon DCD-1600NE and Cambridge CXC transport & CXN DAC.


I have already ascertained that CDs sound better from the CXC when using the DAC in the CXN network player before sending via balanced cables to the CXA80 amp rather than simply using the DAC in the CXA80. The CXA80 DAC sounds dull and hard in comparison. Via the CXN there is an added sparkle and “musicality”.


Connecting the Denon to the unbalanced analogue in of the CXA80 and playing the same CD there is another clear step up in sound quality. In isolation I enjoy the sound from the CXC & CXN DAC, however by comparison the CXC / CXN sounds thin and the Denon puts more meat on the bones, the sound is fuller, richer and smoother. It also feels, operates and looks a more premium product. Pricewise they could be considered comparable - ok the Denon is twice the price (I paid £670 and £300) but as a transport only the CXC is but half the product and requires a DAC.


A/B comparison between SACD and CD layer in the Denon


My first experience of SACD was an assault on the ears, and not in a good way. I had not heard Herbie Hancock’s Sextant album before and I had it too loud. The following screeches were like fingernails down a blackboard at full volume. Furthermore, bizarrely, track 2 had me in a cold sweat peering into the dim corners of the room expecting to see Kojak coming for me. And no I wasn’t on drugs. I suspect this album would be better on vinyl.

Things improved immeasurably thereafter and I concluded SACD was indeed a step up, further increasing the same differences already revealed between the Denon and the CXC.

The improvement, however, was only slight. On the face of it I should be disappointed, having forked out a not inconsiderable sum extra for a player with SACD capability and even more for a handful of SACDs. The opposite is true as what this player does is upscale my existing large collection of CDs to “near SACD” standard, thereby, in theory, saving me a fortune in buying a library of seriously overpriced SACDs, and in reality not actually being able to as the available selection at any price is bare bones. As I type Amazon have just informed me my order for Dark Side Of The Moon, which was a 3 month delivery, cannot be fulfilled as it is no longer available. HMS SACD, I am discovering, is a rapidly sinking ship. Only classical music still supports this format - and then not necessarily the better performances. If anyone can point me in the direction of a plentiful supply of cheap SACDs please let me know.


A/B comparison between CD layer of SACD and CD


For this I used Brothers In Arms and what ensued was 2 minutes of panic. I was expecting them to sound the same. Anything but! 1st up was the CD layer in the Denon. Then I switched to the CD in the CXC and over half the volume was lost. The sq was there but it was very, very quiet. What was the matter with the CXC? It was just out of its warranty and clearly something was wrong. After much concern and head scratching I swapped the disks over and suddenly it was the Denon that went all quiet and the CXC back to full volume. The issue was with the disks. Phew! After that I gave up on this comparison.


Meanwhile trading in the M-ONE (which was a vey nice wee unit) freed up the MA Gold 50s to put on the Cyrus, an excellent partnership that the Cyrus had been waiting 13 years for, but I digress.


Finally the replacement PMA-2500NE amp arrives - and this one actually turns on. Yippee!


1st - 2 things to note. There are no balanced connections. It doesn’t do the housework.


A/B comparison between Denon and Cambridge amps using SACD


The difference is a big un! The Denon takes the Cambridge strengths to another level and fully addresses its weaknesses. It is better in every way. At two or three times the price it should be in a different league… and it is. If anyone bothering to read this far is looking at the new CXA-81 then also audition the group test winning PMA-1600NE which has recently come down in price.


Following comparisons are with the Denon amp and CD player and MA Gold 300 speakers;-


A/B comparison between DSD and FLAC via 8 metre Supra USB

Bach Cello Suite transcribed to violin by Rachel Podger


First thing to state was when downloading DSD in 256 I quit the download once it hit 11Gb. 11+Gb for one album!!! So I went down a level to 128 but even that took up almost 4 times as much storage as a 192kHz flac, which itself is a very big file.


This is a high quality recording of solo violin, so no bass. I was expecting both to sound exactly the same but they weren’t. The DSD was a more grounded, solid sound - slightly less shrill and fatiguing. I won’t be bothering with DSD though as the files are simply far too big.


A/B comparison between CD and AIFF ripped CD


The same 1s & 0s here were taking very different paths. On the one hand they were being read at normal speed by a quality, low vibration transport before being converted to analogue in the same player and being sent to the amp via 0.6 metre analogue RCA. This was being compared with them being ripped at fast speed by a £20 poorly made external CD drive into my Mac before being sent to the amp’s DAC via a 8 metre USB cable. Both DACs were upscaling to PCM 352.8kHz


The result was remarkably similar. I struggled to tell a difference and I wouldn’t want to put money on guessing right in a blind test. Maybe the ripped version was slightly duller but we’re splitting hairs here.


A/B comparison between CD and vinyl


Time to connect up my old turntable. The result was truly a revelation. For the 1st time in 30 years of ownership it sounded really good. Clearly what had previously been holding it back had been the phono stage as, using the on-board Denon stage, it sang. Yes, it sounded different to CD, but it was like comparing siblings rather than being a poor 3rd cousin. Violin, guitar and saxophone sounded velvety rich and smooth across a large soundstage but perhaps the biggest difference was it was very difficult to critically listen to the sound (as I had been with digital) but rather I found myself just enjoying the music and how it flowed. And that, ultimately, is of course what it is all about…

I fear the money I don’t have that was going to get spent on SACDs will now get spent on somewhat larger disks of plastic.


CONCLUSION


Denon’s DCD-1600NE SACD player is a quality piece of kit. Well engineered and put together it produces a great sound by upscaling CDs to near SACD quality. Its SACD capability is unfortunately limited by the lack of availability and price of such disks. Sadly it lacks a digital in for other sources to make use of its excellent DAC


The PMA-2500NE amp is the star of the show though. Not only is it in a different league to my Cambridge CXA-80, as it should be for the price, but, unlike many of its competitors, it is a complete package with HT bypass (which unusually goes straight to the power amp) and very high quality upscaling DAC, MM & MC phono stage and headphone amp. Very much recommended.




Postscript. Cables, cables, cables. Get yer popcorn…


I have a confession to make. When comparing the Denon with the Cambridge I was using different cables in each, both interconnect and speaker. For those of you in Camp A this will not matter one jot as all cables sound the same. For those of you in Camp B my comparisons are now rendered meaningless as all cables sound different. I have sat too long on the fence in this entrenched war, my left bum cheek on one side, my right on the other, and it’s giving me piles. Time to get off and nail my flag to the mast, thereby alienating half of the two readers still wading through this post.


I had been leaning more towards Camp A until I changed my USB cable used between my Mac and M-ONE feeding MA Gold 50s. The reason for change was purely to go from 0.6m to 8m and I was concerned the longer cable may suffer dropouts, otherwise I fully expected it to sound exactly the same - it’s all just 0s and 1s right? It didn’t. The longer Supra cable sounded far more transparent than the shorter Fisual Havana. The difference was immediate and obvious when I wasn’t even listening for it and I was genuinely surprised. I then got a basic freebie and compared it to the Havana. The Havana was slightly better but the difference very much smaller. Fwiw both cables are What Hifi 5 star…


A/B comparison between analogue RCA cables - freebie supplied with Denon 0.6m, QED Performance 40 2m and QED Reference 40 0.6m using Brothers In Arms SACD


The QED sounds brighter, fuller and more open, the Reference more so than the performance. The freebie is flat and coloured by comparison. The QED lifts the sound but some may find the extra clarity and sparkle of the Reference over the Performance fatiguing. The differences between all 3 is slight and not night and day like between USB cables though, not enough to warrant me to upgrade cables on my other systems where perhaps differences would be negligible (as I found when auditioning my A400 & Alpha+)


Speaker cables yet to be tested. Bi-wire anyone?

DEIT - UPDATED REVIEW HERE;- UPDATED Denon PMA-2500NE & DCD1600NE review - a voyage of discovery…
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
Go on. You may as well blame me. My wife does for everything. Glad you're enjoying your new kit and a nice insight.:smashin:
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Question...
Spent all day listening to the turntable on this system...
As above I have owned it 30 years now and hardly ever used it as it really was 3rd rate compared to CD through first the A400 int phono stage and then the ProJect USB v stage. Through the new Denon int stage though it finally sings - huge soundstage, powerful bass and a dynamic, lively, fun, warm and smooth sound
The Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking is probably the best example of improvement as before it was sooo dull and now is transformed. Misplaced Childhood always was good and is now great but the bass on Jeffrey Morgan is perhaps now too much. Claudio Abbado's solo violin on Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (Nathan Milstein, Wienner P.) is just the sweetest sound I have ever heard.
But....
now I'm really liking it I'm left wondering how much improvement can be gained and from where?
Turntable Systemdek IIX
Arm Linn Basik LV X
Cartridge Ortofon 2M Blue
£20 would get me an improved mat to my felt one
£500 would get me a refurbished ProJect Classic OR an MC cartridge
Would any of these make big sonic improvements or would I do better investing in more LPs?
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
I think I've managed to answer my own question - it's good to talk (to yourself) ;-)
Upon researching a rather lovely and upmarket 2nd hand turntable that is up for sale I discovered Youtube is full of high end turntables playing away on 1080 quality I could listen to through my hifi - it was an education and rather splendid they sounded. A certain moderator on here may raise an eyebrow when I say I preferred the sound of one to my 25th Anniversary Brothers in Arms CD. Link here for this of you who can and wish to compare;-

The price of the cartridge and phono amp on this recording are many times the price of my SACD player though so it really ought to. Not often that SACD is considered value for money....
The point is though that my poor old turntable, after being much maligned for 30 years as being crap, is now that it is feeding a decent phono stage giving 97% of what these high end turntables on YouTube can produce and has it's own sonic flavour that I rather like. It's putting a big smile on my cake hole.
So I've treated the Old Girl to a kinky red leather platter mat for £25 and we've reaffirmed our vows as we are again inseparable. The 30 year itch has been soothed, the postman continues to bring new LPs and she happily pirouettes with sprightly charm.
It had never been my intention to have my turntable on this system but it's absolutely not going to be coming off and back onto the ProJect Phono USB-V where it sounded like the music was coming from the room next door.
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
How is the DCD 1600 sound now? I'm beginning to experience a dreadful bout of upgradiatus and I'm thinking of getting rid of my Marantz cd6006 and replacing it with the Denon which will be used exclusively with a headphone amp.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Extremely happy - it's a lovely piece of kit and imo a big step up from the CD6006 and your Rega should make the most of it.
Just scratching around for the well recorded SACDs it deserves. I understand you have a good collection though so treat the Mrs to lunch on the way to the shop ;-)
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Extremely happy - it's a lovely piece of kit and imo a big step up from the CD6006 and your Rega should make the most of it.
Just scratching around for the well recorded SACDs it deserves. I understand you have a good collection though so treat the Mrs to lunch on the way to the shop ;-)
The stand out SACDs are:
Pink Floyd, DSOTM and WYWH
Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms
The Who, Tommy
Supertramp, Breakfast in America
Simon and Garfunkel, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
America, America
Carly Simon, Anticipation
Art Garfunkel, Breakaway*

*Breakaway is a really cheap way to listen to SACD and it's an excellent recording at can be had for £11.99.

 

gibbsy

Moderator
At the moment I have the Marantz sa8005 in the cabinet connected to both the Rega amp which is in turn connected to the headphone amp. This is to facilitate the Rega being used with the Denon receiver and so is the easiest position for the headphone amp as well.

I also have the cd6006 which I use with just headphones as it is near my comfy chair. My thinking is to get another SACD player to use with the headphone amp in the comfy chair and sell the cd6006 to help pay for it. Does this make sense or is just an acute case of upgradiatus.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
The DCD-1600 is a noticeable step up from my Cambridge CXC transport - CXN twin DAC, which, in turn, I understand from what I have read, is a step up from the CD6006. This, of course, based on standard CDs. The DCD-1600 really does upscale CD sq up to almost SACD level - the difference being much closer than that between it and the CXC - CXN for CDs. Basically it has turned my large collection of CDs into "almost SACDs" as it upscales to PCM352.8kHz
And it plays my small but growing collection of SACDs really rather nicely.
It is also manufactured to a very high standard and is a quality piece of kit that I expect to last my lifetime
Does it make sense to upgrade? Only you can decide that - but you only live once and if it makes you happy, which it will (and what it is all about), and if it's relatively easily affordable then.....
And if (when) you do I'd be interested to know how it compares with your SA8005 ;-)
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
I've managed to get hold of some of those recordings
I'll add Breakaway to my purchase list - thank's for the heads up. I wasn't so impressed with Angel Clare, however I've only listened to it the once so maybe better 2nd time
Jazz at the pawnshop 30th anniversary and some Reference Recording SACDs are also worth a mention
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
At the moment I have the Marantz sa8005 in the cabinet connected to both the Rega amp which is in turn connected to the headphone amp. This is to facilitate the Rega being used with the Denon receiver and so is the easiest position for the headphone amp as well.

I also have the cd6006 which I use with just headphones as it is near my comfy chair. My thinking is to get another SACD player to use with the headphone amp in the comfy chair and sell the cd6006 to help pay for it. Does this make sense or is just an acute case of upgradiatus.
I think we all have or suffer from a degree of upgradiatus . I know I do, at the moment. I think if you have the means to follow your Hi-Fi dream then do so.

After reading threads in which it has been said that Red Book CD's played back via a SACD player sound better than when played by a "standard" CD player, I am tempted to go down this route. Very tempted.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I think we all have or suffer from a degree of upgradiatus . I know I do, at the moment. I think if you have the means to follow your Hi-Fi dream then do so.

After reading threads in which it has been said that Red Book CD's played back via a SACD player sound better than when played by a "standard" CD player, I am tempted to go down this route. Very tempted.
I already have an SACD player, two really if you count my Pioneer LX500 4K player, the main one being a Marantz sa8005 as well as a standard CDP in the Marantx cd6006. The sa8005 is simply better with redbooks, no doubt about it.
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
You and a couple of others have given me an itch to scratch, insofar as CD replay via SACD. I have, for a year or two, fancied upgrading my Arcam CD player for a new model, probably Audiolab. But recent reading has steered me towards SACD. It need not be brand new. Once I have replaced my PC I shall be on the SACD player trail.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
You and a couple of others have given me an itch to scratch, insofar as CD replay via SACD. I have, for a year or two, fancied upgrading my Arcam CD player for a new model, probably Audiolab. But recent reading has steered me towards SACD. It need not be brand new. Once I have replaced my PC I shall be on the SACD player trail.
I love spending other peoples' money. ;)
 

HenryHonda

Active Member
I concur re the Denon SACD players :smashin:

See my thread from a few months ago:


After having auditioned a DCD-1600NE and a Marantz SA8005 - and after having read a stonking review in HiFi News, by Ken Kessler - I have being enjoying its big brother, the DCD-2500NE, for the past few months. Yes, much more expensive, but I haven't regretted it for one second.

As you say, feeding them with SACDs is not cheap! I've discovered Acoustic Sounds in the USA and, especially, Discogs.

Fully agree also with your observations on the amazing performance with Redbook CDs. I'm going through my collection 'discovering' detail and quality reproduction that I previously never knew was there.

Enjoy! :thumbsup:
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I have being enjoying its big brother, the DCD-2500NE
Please do not put temptation in my mind. How did you think it compared with the sa8005? I've found a 1600ne for £699 but I'm really tempted with the 2500ne. Would it be worth the extra over the 1600.
 

HD lover

Active Member
I concur re the Denon SACD players :smashin:

See my thread from a few months ago:


After having auditioned a DCD-1600NE and a Marantz SA8005 - and after having read a stonking review in HiFi News, by Ken Kessler - I have being enjoying its big brother, the DCD-2500NE, for the past few months. Yes, much more expensive, but I haven't regretted it for one second.

As you say, feeding them with SACDs is not cheap! I've discovered Acoustic Sounds in the USA and, especially, Discogs.

Fully agree also with your observations on the amazing performance with Redbook CDs. I'm going through my collection 'discovering' detail and quality reproduction that I previously never knew was there.

Enjoy! :thumbsup:
I have the 1520AE CD player from 4 years ago. It’s a beautiful player. Probably the best one I’ve ever owned. Though occasionally it doesn’t ‘like’ some discs. Would the 2500NE, which looks very similar to my player, minus the USB and headphones socket, be a significant increase in the quality of sound, or is it just a build thing? The 2500NE is almost double the cost of my 1520AE and I’d like to be as sure as possible it’s a decent upgrade. Have to say I’m very tempted anyway.:D
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
After having auditioned a DCD-1600NE and a Marantz SA8005 - and after having read a stonking review in HiFi News, by Ken Kessler - I have being enjoying its big brother, the DCD-2500NE, for the past few months. Yes, much more expensive, but I haven't regretted it for one second.
Delighted you are enjoying the 2500. I appreciate, now that I have read your other thread, that you didn't listen to them back-to-back, but how does the 2500 compare for sq with the 1600? When choosing the DCD1600, as I stated previously, it was a bit of an unnecessary impulse purchase when I got my PMA 2500 amp. I am thoroughly enjoying it though so no buyer's remorse! I briefly compared it with both the DCD 800 (not SACD but upscales redbook and has USB in) and DCD 2500 by looking at photo's of the internals. The 800 only had 1/2 the internal bits (technical term) of the other two, which were remarkably similar, so I went with the 1600 as it was less than 1/2 the price (I paid £670 without trying too hard) so couldn't justify the extra for an impulse purchase. Curious how the sound compares?
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
As you say, feeding them with SACDs is not cheap! I've discovered Acoustic Sounds in the USA and, especially, Discogs.

Fully agree also with your observations on the amazing performance with Redbook CDs. I'm going through my collection 'discovering' detail and quality reproduction that I previously never knew was there.

Enjoy! :thumbsup:

I am finding SACDs are indeed over priced, but more importantly of very limited availability. I have discovered, however, I can download DSD and copy onto DVD-RW, which is a faff but broadens the library. I've actually been buying more vinyl than SACDs as the PMA 2500 amp's phono stage is making my old turntable really sing like I've never heard it before.
And like you I am rediscovering my CD collection in a much improved light...[/QUOTE]
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
List price at Hifi Corner £699
Medium length eyelash flutter brought it down to £670 including delivery
With you wit, charm, long eyelashes and AVF Forum Moderator badge providing lots of free positive publicity I have no doubt that if you polish your neck with Brasso you could do much better ;-)
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Yes, I've found that price and have asked my local AudioT if they can supply for that price. I've placed the Marantz and headphone amp in it's possible new position and I very happy with that, three metre lead reaches quite well. Now I need the Denon to connect back to the main system and sell the 6006.
 

HenryHonda

Active Member
Don't forget, my DCD-2500NE came from a well known online/high street retailer - who gave me a price-beat, as well as a healthy discount on a 6-year warranty...

They don't advertise the products online, but all you need to do is phone telesales and give them details of product and price-beat dealer. They'll come back with a deal.

Of course, if you are comfortable with another retailer, then great.
 

HenryHonda

Active Member
Please do not put temptation in my mind. How did you think it compared with the sa8005? I've found a 1600ne for £699 but I'm really tempted with the 2500ne. Would it be worth the extra over the 1600.

I have the 1520AE CD player from 4 years ago. It’s a beautiful player. Probably the best one I’ve ever owned. Though occasionally it doesn’t ‘like’ some discs. Would the 2500NE, which looks very similar to my player, minus the USB and headphones socket, be a significant increase in the quality of sound, or is it just a build thing? The 2500NE is almost double the cost of my 1520AE and I’d like to be as sure as possible it’s a decent upgrade. Have to say I’m very tempted anyway.:D

Delighted you are enjoying the 2500. I appreciate, now that I have read your other thread, that you didn't listen to them back-to-back, but how does the 2500 compare for sq with the 1600? When choosing the DCD1600, as I stated previously, it was a bit of an unnecessary impulse purchase when I got my PMA 2500 amp. I am thoroughly enjoying it though so no buyer's remorse! I briefly compared it with both the DCD 800 (not SACD but upscales redbook and has USB in) and DCD 2500 by looking at photo's of the internals. The 800 only had 1/2 the internal bits (technical term) of the other two, which were remarkably similar, so I went with the 1600 as it was less than 1/2 the price (I paid £670 without trying too hard) so couldn't justify the extra for an impulse purchase. Curious how the sound compares?

As per my previous thread, I only had the chance to compare the DCD-1600NE with the SA8005 - and even then, not back to back (few days between).

Can't comment on the earlier Denon model, as I've never heard it.

As far as the SA8005 vs the DCD-1600NE is concerned, my observations are in the previous thread but, in summary, more depth and width to the soundstage, slightly crisper highs, and slightly tighter control of e.g. bass guitar notes (more well defined). Also, SA8005 discontinued a while ago - I was auditioning an ex showroom unit.

So, it was going to be a DCD-1600NE - until I read compulsive reviews of the DCD-2500NE in HiFi News (Ken Kessler) and Australian HiFi magazines.

This was to be my 'forever' disc player - so, being lucky enough to have some of my retirement lump sum available, I just went for it...

As far as the DCD-2500NE is concerned, it's like it's younger brother - but with many of the power supply and post-DAC amplifier components hand selected from best quality ranges (e.g. electrolytic capacitors), and I'm convinced I can hear a real improvement (but are aware of possible cognitive bias...).

The drive mechanism is an in-house design - not a repurposed DVD drive - and incorporates a metal tray and very robust build. The whole thing is very heavy, with well thought out anti-vibration design and construction.

If I had one criticism, it's that the blue display is relatively faint - even on it's highest brightness setting - so impossible to read from my 2 metre listening distance in a bright room. Although, I always play discs in Pure Direct mode - which switches off the display and the digital output circuitry.

Interestingly, I always played my previous Arcam CD82 via digital coax output through my Oppo Sonica DAC - which has the much vaunted Sabre ES9038PRO DACs. However, I much prefer the result which I get from using the DCD-2500NE onboard DACs (PCM1795) and post-DAC amplifiers. It may be the DACs, or it may be the post amplification...

Is the premium for the 2500 over the 1600 worth it...? I have to say, the law of diminishing returns will always apply at this price point, and you have to decide for your yourself - auditioning is a must, if you can get it. I was lucky enough to have taken a punt and am not disappointed but, then, your perception of value for money - and sound quality - may well be very different.

If I had gone with the 1600, I would not be disappointed, but I am thrilled with the 2500.

Regarding burning DSD files to DVD, you do really need to be careful on the quality of DVD-R which you use. I have found that, while it doesn't like Ritek DVD-Rs, Verbatim discs work fine. However, if there is a particular SACD title I'm really keen in owning, Discogs has really come up trumps on a number of occasions... I'm just awaiting delivery of 'Aja' and 'Gaucho' (Steely Dan) from a German dealer - and Donald Fagen's 'Nightfly' is superb in SACD (IMHO ;-).

If anyone want's to see the two reviews of the DCD-2500NE which I have mentioned, you can either web search or, if you want to PM your private email address, I can send you the .pdf files.
 

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