DVD Player straight into power amp?

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by NicolasB, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    (I have no absolutely what's the best forum for this thread: moderators feel free to move it as appropriate).

    As the system I want to buy is so much more expensive than what I can afford I'm entertaining various wacky ideas about buying pieces of systems and subsequently upgrading by buying the rest as andc when I can afford it. For example, one might buy a good quality processor and amp but only two speakers (maybe even with just a stereo power amp) and get centre, surrounds and sub (and maybe other power-amp channels) later.

    My wacky idea for today is this: some DVD players have built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoders. If you didn't mind limiting yourself to 5.1, could it ever be useful to route the output of the DVD player straight into the power amp and not use a processor at all until you can afford one? For starters is this even technically feasible, or do you need a separate pre-amp stage?

    One particular combination that might be interesting would be feeding the digital outputs of a Meridian 598 DVD player directly into Meridian digital active speakers. In the general case I would assume that decoders built into DVD players probably aren't up to much. But imagine an all-Meridian setup with a 598 going into a 568.2 processor and hence into DSP5000 speakes (or even 5500s). This system is specifically designed to use the DVD player circuitry for decoding the original bitstream into 5.1 digital streams, while the DSPs on the 568 are used for up-sampling from 48 to 96 kHz. Similarly the digital to analogue conversion process is intended to happen inside the speakers. These two facts taken together suggest that result of doing this might actually sound rather good. (Indeed one begins to wonder exactly what the 568 is supposed to be doing under those circumstances other than upsampling).

    I've no idea how feasible this would with non-Meridian kit. Clearly you'd still need a power-amp stage somewhere - but if something similar could be done with a high-end (~£2500) DVD player into (say) M&K active speakers I can imagine the results there might also be rather good.

    What do you think?
     
  2. mjn

    mjn
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    if the dvd player went straight to the speakers or power amp......one question...

    how would you control the volume....
     
  3. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Good question.

    There obviously is an answer to that as far as Meridian kit is concerned, though, because the input signal to the speakers is digital. I think one element of a Meridian system acts a a "controller" and tells the other components what to do, although I'm a bit hazy about the specifics - I know that it isn't necessarily always the same component that acts as a controller.
     
  4. buns

    buns
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    you could use a cheap passthrough processor....then again this may make the original plan seem pointless!

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  5. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    To partly answer my own question, this is from Meridian's US site, talking about the 598 DVD player:

     
  6. buns

    buns
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    I think there is logic within that.....but i havent heard it so i cant really comment. Though is this not a different question to what you asked? Surely the 598 isnt a power amp? or am i confused by meridian models!?

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  7. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Meridian make active speakers - the DSP5000 and DSP33, for example. These are in fact a bit more than what one would normally think of as active speakers, because they accept a digital input. So with something like the M&K S150P what you have built into the speaker is basically a power amp. (Well, two power amps). Meridian digital speakers pack in the DAC, pre-amp, and power-amp stages all in the same box with the speaker. So in this cut-down case the 598 acts as a decoder and produces 6 digital streams from the original DD or DTS data, then all the conversion and amplification is done by the speakers.
     
  8. buns

    buns
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    hmmmmmmm, there are too many things i have no experience within that......... i wouldnt like to comment further on that particular area! It sounds promising, but then again it will cost a fortune!

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  9. Apocalypse

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    Nic B - While my pre amp is being repaired I tried using the onboard decoder of the Sony 900 DVD player with my Rotel power amp, in a word LOUD :eek:

    The DVD player allows one to lower the output of the channels but even at the minimum setting it was simply too overpowering on the ears. I think it's a deep flaw with these onboard decoders that they aren't equipped to handle a power amp :rolleyes:
     
  10. konghh

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    I once posted the question something along this line elsewhere: Does Preamp (a)improves (b) degrade (c) does nothing but control volume of the sound, ie., something like a passive preamp.

    Never quite got a definite answer. So I got a fellow to do some experiment for me. He had excess to a NAD C270 power amp and NAD C370 Integrated amp. Btw, the power section of the C370 is identical to the C270. The C270 comes with variable input control to control speaker volume. He hooked up the CDP direct to the C270 and to the C370 and listened. He told me that with the C370, music has better control/less raw and overall refinement. So in the case of NAD, the preamp in the C370 improves the sound. But that result may/may not applies to other gears. In fact, there are other going the passive preamp route whereby thereotically, the preamp does nothing but control volume.

    I tried another experiment myself. I tried 2 ways of hooking up the system:
    1. DVD to the C270 direct
    2. DVD+Yamaha RXV630 preout+C270.

    In spite of the generally views that AV preamp would "degrade" the sound, I actually prefers the 2nd options. Apparently, the AV "degraded" sound is still better then no preamp at all.

    To conclude: From what I have heard/been told, preamp does improves sound quality. And a "poor" preamp is still better then no preamp.

    Hopes that help.
     
  11. buns

    buns
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    I remember a while back i compared a linn genki (which has variable level output i think) together with an LK85 against the same setup but with th kolektor preamp in there too. There was little doubt that the kolektor route sounded better. This was but down to the quality of the output when starting to use the variable level control in the genki. Im not sure this is the same situation, but what i mean to say is that a dedicated preamp is likely to have better ability at adjusting levels without degrading the sound.

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  12. konghh

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    On variable input device. I note that, whenever possible, you have to set the variable input to MAX to get better sound quality. Anything less and you ended up having to use preamp's gain to get satisfactory sound volume at huge expense of sound quality. That's was the case with the Yamaha AV + C270 (it has both a variable and fixed input).
     
  13. Lowrider

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    I did that with my stereo system, Sony CD with output volume control, directly into the McIntosh power, and it worked very well, no preamp needed...

    But with 5 channel it is a different story, besides the mentioned bass management and volume, I guess you would need one digital output per channel to go into the Meridian speakers, does their DVD have 5 digital outputs... :confused:
     
  14. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I think that's the sort of thing the MHR Smart Link thing is supposed to deal with. Anyway, I refer you to my previous quote about the 598.
     
  15. Branxx

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    You have a good idea but are shooting in wrong direction. What you need is possible and more easily achievable with Home Theatre PC at half price (including a channels volume control).

    No only will HTPC outperform audio quality of £2,500 DVD
    transport/player (check this post), it will also be cheaper more versatile and will perform other functions you can only dream with traditional DVD player.

    My recent comparison between RME sound card and Lexicon MC-12B points to RME performing better for classical music.

    If you want audiophile quality for reasonable amount of money HTPC is the only route. Add to that the video quality will be way beyond any unmodified DVD player.
     
  16. Reiner

    Reiner
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    Technically it can work - if the DVD player does have a volume control. In fact there a a few which do, but most are found only in the budget arena like my Shinco DV-8100. Comes also with a Karaoke function. :D

    Anyhow, alternatively (if the player has a decoder but no volume control) you could try to get hold of an (older) "high-end" AV amp which has 5.1 input only and no digital processing. Thus it will be merely used as a pre-amp. Of course you have to make sure it has pre-outs for connecting a power amp.

    BTW: didn't some of the stand-alone decoders have volume control?
     

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