Denon PMA-2500NE & DCD1600NE review

HenryHonda

Active Member
he wrote that 16/44 is always that, no matter how you hear it.

Absolutely - you can't create information that is not already there. However, how that information is extracted from the media and conveyed to your senses is the key. Some methods are incapable of extracting all the data correctly - or the data is added-to as it travels through the various stages of transmission hardware.

To reiterate another point made by John Darko, although digital audio is composed of '0's and 1's', it is transmitted as an analogue signal. In an ideal world, it would be a perfect square wave - but it isn't, there are non-linear rising edges and trailing edges, due to hardware limitations, and RF noise can also add to corruption of the square wave.

Picking up RF can seriously corrupt, most noticeably, higher frequency information. For example, switch mode power supplies (SMPS) can inject noise into the reproduction chain - which is why you can readily hear improvements when substituting a linear power supply instead (in spite of claims to the contrary by Rob Watts). Well-shielded USB cables - together with galvanically isolated USB circuits at either end - again work to keep noise low and improve SQ.

I am fascinated by the fact that the human brain can detect much higher frequencies than we perceive we 'hear' in the conventional sense. If you watch the YouTube videos with Rob Watts of Chord Electronics - where he discusses the physics of transients, and why Chord DACs are designed the way they are, it makes perfect sense to me, and why the Qutest noticeably improves reproduction in such a solid way (at least, it makes sense to me as a retired scientist).

There are bound to be the 'Snake Oil' naysayers jumping in at this point - but I'm sorry, what I have clearly heard in the last few months as I have upgraded my digital sources, is too significant to be put down to 'cognitive bias'.
 
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Steven

Senior Moderator
Update...

Have really been enjoying my DCD-2500NE for many months now - both with SACDs and Redbook CDs.

For Redbook CDs, I much preferred the onboard PCM1795 DAC rather than sending digital via coax to my Oppo Sonica DAC. However, during lockdown, I started to research a good quality streaming solution as an addition to my sources. Long story short, I am now the proud owner of an Auralic Aries G1 streaming transport - but that's another story...

The Aries was rather good with my Oppo doing DAC duties, but I thought that some streamed HiRes material was not being represented to best SQ - which led me to try a Chord Qutest DAC... Wow, that produced a significant leap in SQ!!

Now to the point of this post. Naturally, I was keen to hear what the Qutest could do for the Redbook SQ from the DCD-2500NE... So, now - for Redbook CDs - I have Pure Direct switched off on the Denon, thereby activating the coax digital out. The Denon is connected to the Qutest by a Chord Shawline RCA to BNC cable.

For me, a significant step up again in SQ - clearer, deeper more well-defined bass; more well defined soundstage (particularly noticeable in well-mastered classical recordings); significant reduction in slightly harsh edges to higher frequencies. I think, in this configuration, the Denon AL32 Plus processing is bypassed - but the Qutest produces a superior result. This is improves even further by the addition of the LPSU.

Now, I know that the Qutest is a significant extra cost (but I have saved quite a lot of expenditure by not going out during lockdown and after) - and is therefore not for everyone - but I would recommend a home audition from your friendly Chord Electronics dealer if you're at all interested :)
So Denon now a pure (expensive) transport?

Do you dare test with a cheaper player? :)
 

HenryHonda

Active Member
So Denon now a pure (expensive) transport?

No, absolutely not... As I said, I'm not dispensing of my Denon any time soon. I'm only ripping my most frequently played discs - and still use the digital or analogue outs from the Denon for the multitude of others in my collection. For some less than well-mastered discs, using the on-board DAC and RCA outs (not to mention the AL32 Plus interpolation/upmixing function) can make for a more relaxed and enjoyable listen :)

Do you dare test with a cheaper player? :)

I assume you mean Qutest plus cheaper player (as a transport)...?

A 'cheaper player' would still need to perform to the quality of design/build of the Denon. The Denon has a very rigid and solidly-engineered optical (DVD) drive - which is either custom-built, or a custom-modified high-end DVD drive, with an alloy disc tray and a blue/violet laser with increased light focusing capacity for a more accurate read. The less error correction is going on, the better - IMHO :) No cheap PC or DVD/Blu-ray drives here thanks!

(I did work in the optical disc division of Philips in the early 1980s - both on Laser Disc (LaserVision), and later, together with Sony, on the CD)
 
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Khankat

Well-known Member
I am fascinated by the fact that the human brain can detect much higher frequencies than we perceive we 'hear' in the conventional sense.

Thanks for yet more fascinating information. This thread and the other related one are a joy to read.

I completely agree with you. Another example of the human brain detecting a problem that neither the engineers or their computers could, was when then F1 driver Olivier Panis knew his engine had a problem. His engineers dismissed it. Neither they nor their equipment detected anything amiss. But Panis was adamant there was a problem.

Perhaps not the finest of F1 drivers, Panis was every manufacturers dream when it came to testing and evaluating and problem solving. Because of this, his engineers removed and stripped the engine, discovering the cause of what Panis had described. The fault was rectified and the engine then ran as expected.
 

HenryHonda

Active Member
If you are interested in the 4 Rob Watts YouTube videos I mentioned, just search YouTube for "Passion for Sound" (the audio youtuber) and "Interview with Chord Electronics' Rob Watts". You should watch them in order...1-4. :cool:

This is most definitely not 'Snake Oil'.
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
If you are interested in the 4 Rob Watts YouTube videos I mentioned, just search YouTube for "Passion for Sound" (the audio youtuber) and "Interview with Chord Electronics' Rob Watts". You should watch them in order...1-4. :cool:

This is most definitely not 'Snake Oil'.

Thanks. I knew I had forgotten to mention the videos. Thank you for those.
 

Jaded1

Active Member
Thank you for this. Very interesting indeed. Could prove to be expensive pour moi.

I have the 1600 and am still getting used to it. Why? Well, for one thing its very revealing. Ruthlessly so, in fact. Hopping to it from an original Arcam Alpha was a bit of a shock. I like the Arcam.

As but one example of just how ruthless the 1600 is; I have a CD of Linda Thompson entitled Dreams Fly Away: A History of Linda Thompson. Its a compilation disc. Played on the Arcam it's as though each track was recorded in the same studio by the same engineer. Not so on the Denon. On it, I can hear each and every change, track by track. It no longer sounds as if it were recorded in the same studio by the same engineer. With the Denon, I am hearing the truth, is as good a way of putting it as I can think of.

Then I played Graceland by Paul Simon. Wow, what a revelation. I left that on repeat all afternoon.

Recently, I purchased two SADC's of Joseph Hayden string quartets. These are the only SADC's I have at present. The recordings have been described in the press as being a tad thin in places and the 1600 reveals this to be true.

At times, I do consider switching back to the Arcam. At others, I think of running both the Arcam and the Denon on split duties. Then along comes this fella @HenryHonda who gives me more ideas. Aaarrrgh! 😊

I know what you mean. I had the same thing when I owned some KEF R700s

A lot of albums went from sounding brilliant to trash to brilliant to trash on a song by song basis. Got really annoying after a while. Said speakers have since been replaced.
 
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matthewpiano78

Active Member
It is certainly true that there are occasions when high fidelity to the recording doesn't necessarily serve the music best. Much of the whole high end hi-fi scene has been about recreating exactly what is in the recording, but recordings and the musical performances they capture aren't the same thing, and some great performances have been poorly engineered.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I know what you mean. I had the same thing when I owned some KEF R700s

A lot of albums went from sounding brilliant to trash to brilliant to trash on a song by song basis. Got really annoying after a while. Said speakers have since been replaced.
My combination of Denon DCD 2500, Rega Elicit-R and KEF R300s take no prisoners with poor recordings. Get a good recording and it's sublime.
 
Thank you Henry for the DAC info.

I have a DCD-1600NE and I am finding the treble bright and brittle, I have a Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ coming so will post my findings when it arrives.
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
Thank you Henry for the DAC info.

I have a DCD-1600NE and I am finding the treble bright and brittle, I have a Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ coming so will post my findings when it arrives.
Has your 1600 exhibited the same tendency from the time you got it, or has sound reproduction changed as it has been used? Genuinely interested to hear what your findings are.
 
The sound did not change much with break in, maybe a slightly larger soundstage.

AL32 is great with good recordings, but put on some overly compressed music and it becomes a bright harsh sound. My new DAC has solved the problem and it now sounds fantastic with all types of recording.

The DCD-1600NE is a great transport!
 

Melbolivar

Novice Member
My combination of Denon DCD 2500, Rega Elicit-R and KEF R300s take no prisoners with poor recordings. Get a good recording and it's sublime.
Hi, i have found a second hand pair of kef r300s at 700 euros. Current amp. Rotel RA1520, cd player Denon DVD 5000.
You think make a good combination ?
Music preference metal, prog rock, Electronic and Jazz.
Second speakers on my list are B&W 706 s2(800€).
Any advice would be welcome.

Thank you in advance.
Mel
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Hi, i have found a second hand pair of kef r300s at 700 euros. Current amp. Rotel RA1520, cd player Denon DVD 5000.
You think make a good combination ?
Music preference metal, prog rock, Electronic and Jazz.
Second speakers on my list are B&W 706 s2(800€).
Any advice would be welcome.

Thank you in advance.
Mel
The 607s are a two way design and are more a contemporary of the KEF Q350. The KEF R300s when new were twice the price of the B&Ws. They are a better speaker all round than the B&Ws. The R300s with their three way design can cover a great many genres, certainly prog rock which is a favourite of mine. Depending on the condition of the R300s I would certainly go for them and at €700 that is a very good price.
 

Melbolivar

Novice Member
The 607s are a two way design and are more a contemporary of the KEF Q350. The KEF R300s when new were twice the price of the B&Ws. They are a better speaker all round than the B&Ws. The R300s with their three way design can cover a great many genres, certainly prog rock which is a favourite of mine. Depending on the condition of the R300s I would certainly go for them and at €700 that is a very good price.
Hello again, I was meaning the 706 s2(same price with r300s) not the 607.
Any way thank you i lean also to buy the kef.

Stay safe
Mel
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Hello again, I was meaning the 706 s2(same price with r300s) not the 607.
Any way thank you i lean also to buy the kef.

Stay safe
Mel
In the UK the 607 s2 Anniversary are on sale of £449. The KEF R300s were £999 six years ago when I bought them. The cost now of used R300s for a mint pair can cost you £800 on e-bay and they don't hang around long. What you've found them for is a very good price.

I use my KEFs with a Rega Elicit-R for prog rock and acoustic singer/songwriters in the main as well as instrumental work in the form of film soundtracks. The R300s covers them all very easily with a wide soundstage and great instrumental separation.
 

Geoff H from Downunder

Standard Member
Hello there, this is my first post so be gentle...

My system had always sounded good but not great. I knew I had good components and enjoyed the music but it only sounded good at high volume levels which the Minister for War and Finance did not approve of. Main sources were a Marantz SA7003 and a 1980's Thorens TD318 with a mid range Audio Technica cartridge.

Hi Fi.jpg


Here is the system today.

With some time on my hands I thought it would be a good opportunity to upgrade. At the heart of my system was an NAD Masters M3, all 23 kilograms of it. It sits on a home made rack made of Tasmanian Oak and slabs of MDF. I wanted an SACD which immediately whittled down the available options. Eventually I reduced my choices to another Marantz or a Denon. Then I stumbled on this thread. It was better than a Hi-Fi review because all those commenting were owners and users. Also the comments were honest and free of BS. On that basis I bought the Denon DCD 1600NE.

The first thing I noticed was that CD's sounded better, a lot better. And SACD's sprung to life sounding more detailed than I had ever experienced. So a big thank you to Numpty for starting the thread and to all of you who contributed.

But let me introduce the rest of my system. Aside from the Denon and NAD I have a Thorens TD206 with an MC Ortofon Quintet Red. My local Hi-Fi shop is the Lifestyle Store at Northmead in Sydney and one of their sales guys spent a couple of hours demonstrating to the whole range of Ortofon MM and MC cartridges. Of the MM's the Ortofon Black was an absolute stand out, but so too was the price. Then we started on the MC's and so much of the quality of the Black was in the Quintet Red it was at a quality/price point I couldn't resist. Since the NAD didn't have a phono stage I chose a Pro-Ject Phono Box DS which will do for now. My speakers are ELAC FS247's which are transparent but not that easy to drive, so the NAD's 180W came in handy. There is a 1974 Pioneer TX7500 tuner still working perfectly which was my late father's and has been in the family for all of 47 years! The final bit of gear is a Sony CDP CE315 6 CD player which gets used once a year when we stuff it full of Christmas CD's and put it on repeat play. On the very bottom is a 16 kg iron weight which came out of my son's BMW E30 convertible!

The speaker cables are Chord Epic with Chord banana plugs, Chord Clearway interconnects and Isotek Intium power cables. The final addition is a Klipsch R100 SW. How that came to be added to the mix is an interesting and relevant story in itself.

After purchasing the Denon DCD 1600NE and thoroughly enjoying it, I decided to do something I had put off for years, mainly due to my own ignorance. That was, position the speakers and set up the room. A lot of investigation took place and I gave myself a crash course in basic acoustics and speaker placement. Starting with the speakers the one problem I had always had with them was that to get enough bass I had to use a lot of volume which did not achieve domestic harmony. I knew that a lot of this had to do with the size and shape of the room as well as placement of furniture.

The room had some challenges being L shaped and with a floor to ceiling window on on side. Dissatisfied with the sound from the traditional triangular set up, I tried a formula of dividing the length of the room by 3 and using that number as the distance from the side walls which for me was 1.73 meters. To get the distance away from the rear wall I divided the width of the room by 3 and 4 which gave me a range of between 900mm and 1.2 meters. The final step was to move the listening position to close to the speakers then move it half a meter at a time backwards, testing at each step. The sweet spot ended up being closer than the traditional triangle and the sonic improvement was very clear. The sound reflections from the side window were dealt with by thick curtains and the CD shelves broke up any reflections from the rear wall.

A large armchair which normally sits close to the left speaker was given some furniture sliders so a listening session sees it pushed out the way and returned back when finished. All with the approval of she who must be obeyed. For the first time I didn't need high sound levels to get the system to swing and I can now play music at normal or low levels. Domestic bliss at last!

But there was one problem, moving the ELAC's away from the back wall robbed them of their bass so I started playing with the bass settings on the NAD to see if that would help. Dialing up the bass on the amp did help but didn't have a great effect on the overall tonality. Being a typical male I read the manual last and noticed that the amp was set up to take a sub-woofer. Why would you use a sub-woofer I asked myself. So curiosity aroused I then started to search for answers. You all probably know the answer but it was a surprise to me to find out that subs are a legitimate way of improving the sound quality and overcoming room acoustic issues.

In the back room we have a 5.1 surround sound system with a sub-woofer. This was 'transferred' and hooked up. I could not believe the improvement in the quality of sound. It was incredible. The bass was back and the whole sound stage opened up. There was one downside and that was the sub-woofer itself which was designed for movies, not high fidelity sound. Back to the drawing board and I settled on a Klipsch R100 Reference sub-woofer. In a very short time it was tuned to the room and the sound was amazing. From having a good system to having a great system was a revelation.

But there was one final step. In doing my research on rooms and acoustics I was introduced to coupling and decoupling, especially with speakers. Simply put, spikes couple, and an isolation device decouples. The idea is to remove low frequency vibrations from the speakers affecting the components and the room. Some of the devices on the market are not cheap so I decided to try my own. I built 3 plinths for the speakers and the sub-woofer. This room has concrete floors covered with carpet. Made from MDF and wood then filled with builder's sand and painted black so they didn't draw attention, I proceeded to try them out. I was surprised, I did hear a difference. The bass was tighter and cleaner. There was more detail in bass notes. An improvement from spare materials at no cost made it a good deal.

Anyway, without this thread and all your contributions I would never have started on a path that has seen me not only end up with a great sounding SACD but making changes to the room and listening position has made the sound transparent and detailed. Its a sound that shows up poor recordings and absolutely shines with good ones. For that I am very appreciative.
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
Good write up. An interesting read. The "Minister for War and Finance" caused me much merriment. I am intrigued, not so much at the 16kg of Iron, but what was it's purpose in the BMW?
 

Clive D

Standard Member
Good write up. An interesting read. The "Minister for War and Finance" caused me much merriment. I am intrigued, not so much at the 16kg of Iron, but what was it's purpose in the BMW?

To stop the back end twitching by placing it in the boot? 😊
 

Geoff H from Downunder

Standard Member
Thanks for the kind comments.

Apparently, the iron weight was put in to balance the right hand drive models. When first designed they were for European left hand drive cars and the weight balance was perfect. When they then moved the steering column etc to the right hand side it created a weight imbalance, so they added an iron weight to the left rear side to compensate. We never saw the logic in that and took it out to save weight. It sat in the garage for years until one day I spotted it and thought, with a quick paint job that would be a useful addition.... And so it was. The car is long gone but the weight remains, providing one could say, a more nobler purpose.
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
Thanks for the kind comments.

Apparently, the iron weight was put in to balance the right hand drive models. When first designed they were for European left hand drive cars and the weight balance was perfect. When they then moved the steering column etc to the right hand side it created a weight imbalance, so they added an iron weight to the left rear side to compensate. We never saw the logic in that and took it out to save weight. It sat in the garage for years until one day I spotted it and thought, with a quick paint job that would be a useful addition.... And so it was. The car is long gone but the weight remains, providing one could say, a more nobler purpose.
The weight makes sense. BMW like to refer to their cars as "The Ultimate Driving Machine". If you know anything about motor sports, you'll be aware of corner weights and the importance of balancing them.
 

AdeMountainAsh

Novice Member
I aquired a DCD2500NE a month ago. I had used an M2Tech Young as my digital source for many years and loved it's depth and musicality and fun sound. I tried a Chord Qutest for a month and really found it lifeless, but nicely layered and detailed. Went for the Denon DCD2500NE as my aim is to go 2 boxes of the same brand, plus vinyl. The DCD2500NE has all the layering, detail, energy and is totally balanced from high to low frequemcy. It also has a fast, infectious sound with good stage. Build is awesome. Looking for a deal on PMA2500NE now. I also have a pair of T90 and a good valve headphone amp full of high end parts and this really showed what the DCD is capable of. I can also hear an improvement with the pure direct mode on. There is a slight digital glare with this not engaged (display on and digital outputs on), that is completely gone in pure direct mode. Not audible with speakers in the room but obvious with headphones, so it's a slight difference.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I aquired a DCD2500NE a month ago. I had used an M2Tech Young as my digital source for many years and loved it's depth and musicality and fun sound. I tried a Chord Qutest for a month and really found it lifeless, but nicely layered and detailed. Went for the Denon DCD2500NE as my aim is to go 2 boxes of the same brand, plus vinyl. The DCD2500NE has all the layering, detail, energy and is totally balanced from high to low frequemcy. It also has a fast, infectious sound with good stage. Build is awesome. Looking for a deal on PMA2500NE now. I also have a pair of T90 and a good valve headphone amp full of high end parts and this really showed what the DCD is capable of. I can also hear an improvement with the pure direct mode on. There is a slight digital glare with this not engaged (display on and digital outputs on), that is completely gone in pure direct mode. Not audible with speakers in the room but obvious with headphones, so it's a slight difference.
The DCD 2500 will also play very nicely with the Rega Elicit-R. I currently have mine in a headphone only system as I prefer it to my Marantz sa8005 for headphone work. Not tried it in Direct may give it a go now for interests sake although I'm using a Lehmann Linear headphone amp and Oppo planars.

Mount boy then! Escaped to the big city.;)
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
Pleased to hear you are enjoying your DCD-2500NE. I recently added to my tally of amps, acquiring a very well looked after, pre-owned Audiolab 8300A. I have to say, playing my DCD 1600NE through this amp is an improvement over my now vintage 8000A. New kit is a good excuse to revisit your music. 😊
 

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