High end HD players - Is there a need?

Mickle

Active Member
I've been thinking is there really any need for high end players? Some of the image quality with even the current modestly priced HD players is astonishing even on large screens. Will the results from higher end players be that much more impressive?

I'm just wondering what the likes of Meridian will offer in their players when they finally arrive.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
I've been thinking is there really any need for high end players? Some of the image quality with even the current modestly priced HD players is astonishing even on large screens. Will the results from higher end players be that much more impressive?
Can we answer that when the high end players arrive? I agree that some of the current gen players offer exceptional picture quality but I think the high end machines still have room to offer improvements: build quality (thus effecting performance), legacy format performance (CD, DVD, DVD-A, SACD) and connectivity (such as cutsom anti-jitter connections, e.g. Denon Link).

So yes I think high end players certainly can still offer alot - as with DVD the difference between low and high end will depend upon your kit, callibration and so forth.

Of course the new concept of transport only players, with all the high end elements incorporated into the receiver, could change the landscape. But we'll need to wait and see how that all pans out.
 

MikeK

Well-known Member
Don't forget that for some people who have their kit on display in their living rooms, each piece essentially becomes an item of furniture as well as a piece of AV kit.
Some will pay extra for good looking kit which looks/is/appears expensive - hence there's always room for high(er) end kit, even if, at the end of the day, it doesn't really perform that much better than it's cheaper counterparts - I wouldn't underestimate the power of branding either!

There's also sometimes a bit of oneupmanship involved too - but this is certainly not exclusive to AV kit, as anyone who has visited a designer fashion boutique can testify :eek:
 

Avi

Distinguished Member
Don't forget that for some people who have their kit on display in their living rooms, each piece essentially becomes an item of furniture as well as a piece of AV kit.
Some will pay extra for good looking kit which looks/is/appears expensive - hence there's always room for high(er) end kit, even if, at the end of the day, it doesn't really perform that much better than it's cheaper counterparts - I wouldn't underestimate the power of branding either!

There's also sometimes a bit of oneupmanship involved too - but this is certainly not exclusive to AV kit, as anyone who has visited a designer fashion boutique can testify :eek:

AV Bling ! :D

AVI
 

Jeff

Distinguished Member
There is still quite a lot the high end players can contribute.

Support all the possible sound format for both internal decoding and bitstream passthrough.

Better video and audio DACs

Better power supply, multi voltage support.

Better build quality

Ultra quiet operation (on all units not on some)

More remote control options (including via Ethernet)

Better video processing

High end audio format support CD/DVD-A/SACD

Audio delay

Better Bass management

Proprietary digital audio connection

Multi region DVD support

More video output options including all the SD resolutions, 24/48/50/60/72/100/120 Hz support.

Allow other sources to be connected for video processing.

Built in test screens.

Colour space selection

Media player functionality for external storage/networked content

Multi room support
 

Timbo21

Well-known Member
Don't forget that for some people who have their kit on display in their living rooms, each piece essentially becomes an item of furniture as well as a piece of AV kit.
Some will pay extra for good looking kit which looks/is/appears expensive - hence there's always room for high(er) end kit, even if, at the end of the day, it doesn't really perform that much better than it's cheaper counterparts - I wouldn't underestimate the power of branding either!

There's also sometimes a bit of oneupmanship involved too - but this is certainly not exclusive to AV kit, as anyone who has visited a designer fashion boutique can testify :eek:

Bang & Olufsen spring to mind :D
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
Good points.

There'll always be room for improvement, it'll just become smaller and smaller.

So every extra £ spent will bring less of an improvement.

You'll find many, many people here (and I'm one of them) who'd argue their home cinema looks better than their local cinema.

The best your home cinema can look is as good as the best quality print at an arthouse cinema.

As we get closer to that with our home set-ups, the gap gets smaller. The smaller the gap, the harder and more expensive it is to make smaller improvements in quality.

As an example - I have a relatively modest set-up. For HD DVD it's an HD-E1 and an Optoma HD73 projector.

Let's take that as a starting point. Then let's take the best cinema picture as 'the ultimate'. A £2,000 Denon must come in that gap. It cannot be better than an excellent cinema.

Frankly, whilst my set-up is far from perfect, it is not massive.

The best PQ I've ever seen is a couple of pristine prints at NFT1. I consider my set-up to be good enough that, I don't think I'd spend £500 on a relacement for my HD-E1, even if it brought me up to being on par with NFT1. It's that close.

Of course, if I won the lottery, and money was no object... :smashin:

But people will talk about "night and day" differences. Well there aren't night and day differences between a releatively cheap high def player and NFT1 - but I'm sure some high end fans will try to magic it up from somewhere.

I agree with Jeff that there are features which can be improved - particularly on the sound front - but not much more.

I notice he mentions broader colour space, and we've had HDMI 1.3 offering the possibilty of this.

The problem is firstly that the information needs to be on the disc. No £10,000 super-duper Meridian can invent information not on the disc in the first place.

Secondly, it's debateable how much of an improvement this would bring. We see banding on some high def images and not others. Most of us see banding very rarely.

Steve W
 

Jeff

Distinguished Member
You are focusing too much on sound and video quality, if you have spent more than 5K on remote control, not being able to properly control the player with the same control system is a dig deal. So before you consider the small improvements in sound or video there may be other things that make a cheap player a complete non starter.
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
You are focusing too much on sound and video quality, if you have spent more than 5K on remote control, not being able to properly control the player with the same control system is a dig deal. So before you consider the small improvements in sound or video there may be other things that make a cheap player a complete non starter.

Good point.

Ultimately, for my main player, I'd always go for a reputable make, just so I knew I was going to get something relatively robust and durable - built to at least a minimum standard, rather than something that feels like it'll fall to pieces after 2 minutes.

Having said that, some no-name units are surprisingly well-built and long-lasting.

Steve W
 
M

mlankton

Guest
Better upconversion of standard definition DVDs. Better DACs. Analog output. Better chassis.
 

Siamese Cat

Member
In the old hi-fi days we used to talk about the heirarchy of equipment with source being the most important. So when splashing the cash we spent most on turntables, and a bit less (not a lot, balance is important) on amps & speakers. Is there a similar heirarchy with AV kit?

It seems to me that another way of looking at this question is whether the extra cost of a high end HD player is worth the extra over a base one is not just about the difference between the two players but the effect that the extra spend has on the end result. In other words if the difference between the two ends of the HD player market is £1000 or so is that money more effectively spent on the display device(s) or the sound system.

I suspect that going high end is more justified with both display devices and sound than it is on the HD player. Of course if you can afford high end on everything then you don't need to worry about this but most of us can't. For those who have to compromise the question is where the money can be best spent in achieving a best balance, with most spent where it will have the greatest effect. And unless everything else in your system is high end then a high end HD player is probably not worth the extra. Spending extra on display or sound could well be a more productive thing to do.
 

Jeff

Distinguished Member
In other words if the difference between the two ends of the HD player market is £1000 or so is that money more effectively spent on the display device(s) or the sound system.

I think we have very different ideas of what is high-end. My DVD player cost £2K and I'm not sure I'd call it high-end. By high-end I think of players from the likes of Merdian and Lexicon which are likely to start at £3K+. Players costing £1-2K are midrange.
 

Siamese Cat

Member
I think we have very different ideas of what is high-end. My DVD player cost £2K and I'm not sure I'd call it high-end. By high-end I think of players from the likes of Merdian and Lexicon which are likely to start at £3K+. Players costing £1-2K are midrange.

In quoting £1000 all I was doing was the rough difference between the cheapest and most expensive hd players on the market at the moment. Clearly there's a much bigger range with SD players. Who knows what will be offered in HD in the future. If it does end up with a price range of, say £5000, then the point I was trying to make doesn't change, if anything it becomes clearer. If you can't afford high end everything where is high end money best spent - display, source or sound?
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
In the old hi-fi days we used to talk about the heirarchy of equipment with source being the most important. So when splashing the cash we spent most on turntables, and a bit less (not a lot, balance is important) on amps & speakers.

I remember this being the theory for a while, but then it really transformed into equal split for the 3 areas.

This was common sense. I saw someone suggesting a Linn Sondeck (I think it was c.£1,000), an amp (can't remember what, but priced between the Linn and the speakers), and a £100 pair of 'bookshelf' speakers.

I had a listen, and ended up with a Linn Axis turntable, an Audiolab 8000A amp, and a pair of Epos ES14 speakers.

On testing the kit extensively (a couple of sessions of 4 or 5 hours each), the idea that the Sondeck based heirarchy with these speakers was preferable was beyond laughable. That was back in '88.

A/V muddies the waters. You now have 5.1 (and more!) speakers, and a decoder built into the amp to create further imbalance.

Steve W
 

MadScientist

Active Member
There is still quite a lot the high end players can contribute.

Support all the possible sound format for both internal decoding and bitstream passthrough.

Better video and audio DACs

Better power supply, multi voltage support.

Better build quality

Ultra quiet operation (on all units not on some)

More remote control options (including via Ethernet)

Better video processing

High end audio format support CD/DVD-A/SACD

Audio delay

Better Bass management

Proprietary digital audio connection

Multi region DVD support

More video output options including all the SD resolutions, 24/48/50/60/72/100/120 Hz support.

Allow other sources to be connected for video processing.

Built in test screens.

Colour space selection

Media player functionality for external storage/networked content

Multi room support

I agree with much of the above, but I think bass management, DACs and much of the audio processing are better handled by a separate Processor so that several sources (CD, DVD, satellite, tuner etc) can benefit.

Personally, that's the way I see my system evolving. A high-end, highly flexible and upgradable processor fed by a several sources. The HD-DVD player of course being highly competent in the video processing dept but not much else.

MS
 

Jeff

Distinguished Member
I think it's a waste to duplicate stuff like DACS and BM, but it's hard to buy high end that doesn't duplicate these things. An alternative is a high end all in 1 system with a built in pre amp like Linn product.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
I think it's a waste to duplicate stuff like DACS and BM, but it's hard to buy high end that doesn't duplicate these things.
I would say it's impossible to buy machines that don't duplicate them. Possibly the 'perfect' AV solution would be to have a high end AV receiver that is fed digital inputs from various devices. However the thing is we don't have a connection for undecoded digital transmission from a 'transport' player to the receiver. HDMI 1.3a will carry bitstream audio but even then the jury is out on whether we will still suffer clock related issues. As for video...there's nothing. Now maybe in time we will see custom solutions (new variants of Denon Link, iLink etc) but you can bet your bottom dollar that there won't be a universal compatible solution!

The other option, as you mention Jeff, is to slew towards all-in-ones. How many of us would want that? Even buying a high-end one it would lack the flexibility or customisation that many of us aspire to in our setups.

Personally I think the future may see high end players be able to cut down on DACS and, if HDMI 1.3a works out, we should get a degree of flexibility between what receivers and players we pair - but only with titles with audio codecs that could be passed for decoding (TrueHD, DTS-HD MA, DD+, DTS-HD, DD). But players would still need high end video circuitary. If we go down custom connections though, whilst it will require matching (for example) a Denon amp with a Denon transport player, it may well enable a true 'transport' only player and present the best overall solution.

It's going to be interesting to see where things go...
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
In quoting £1000 all I was doing was the rough difference between the cheapest and most expensive hd players on the market at the moment. Clearly there's a much bigger range with SD players. Who knows what will be offered in HD in the future. If it does end up with a price range of, say £5000, then the point I was trying to make doesn't change, if anything it becomes clearer. If you can't afford high end everything where is high end money best spent - display, source or sound?

I am so glad somebody brought this up!
I came into AV via Hi-Fi: I had a pretty bogstandard 28" widescreen CRT and I wanted to make the experience of watching films feel bigger and more immersive. For me, the way to go that was affordable and produced the greatest effect was to bring in Hi-Fi quality speakers.
I think that a balance of priorities or preferences is probably best for most people i.e. split your budget equally between all three items. You also have to take into account that most British rooms are relatively small, and that a lot of people live in flats!
I am planning to go HD and am saving and seeing where the technology goes. I currently have a Denon amp (3805) and DVD player (3910) and the Link system they use is great. Ideally, Denon will produce an affordable range and if I spend, say, £1000 on the amp and £1000 on the player then I would expect to see some improvements on what I already have visually, and significant improvements audially.
Derek
 

Timbo21

Well-known Member
In the old hi-fi days we used to talk about the heirarchy of equipment with source being the most important. So when splashing the cash we spent most on turntables, and a bit less (not a lot, balance is important) on amps & speakers. Is there a similar heirarchy with AV kit?

It seems to me that another way of looking at this question is whether the extra cost of a high end HD player is worth the extra over a base one is not just about the difference between the two players but the effect that the extra spend has on the end result. In other words if the difference between the two ends of the HD player market is £1000 or so is that money more effectively spent on the display device(s) or the sound system.

... For those who have to compromise the question is where the money can be best spent in achieving a best balance, with most spent where it will have budget the greatest effect. And unless everything else in your system is high end then a high end HD player is probably not worth the extra. Spending extra on display or sound could well be a more productive thing to do.

You obviously have to judge what is the best area to update. However, I think the whole hifi thinking was, if you put cr*p in you get the same out. Likewise, if you have a fantastic source and you're using a pair of £100 speakers, or a cheap little CRT TV, then you're strangling it.

We are in quite an unusual position with these very cheap HD players, since you can get a quite fantastic picture for a few hundred quid, and I was very impressed with the sound from the Toshiba XA1. With DVD we needed, a good mpeg decoder, excellent deinterlacing, and good scaling to get a great picture, which all is costly, especially to get great deinterlacing. But at bit rates of around 6mbits per second, & the lower resolution, you could easily see the flaws when watching on a big screen. Now, however, we have players that will give you 1080p/24, which will no doubt become standard on even cheaper models, which means no deinterlacing is needed, and the resolution is great, and we have high bit rates; and perhaps some of the companies that weren't known for their sound quality are now paying a bit more attention to the quality of the audio on the HD players they produce. I think, because of all this, if you have an HD player and a large screen, and you aren't pleased with the results, then it's probably time to get a new display.

I would recommend an amp and perhaps speaker upgrade for those listening with cheaper amps/recievers. If you have a stunning HD picture, but are listening through an amp like a Denon 3805/3806, then I would highly recommend updating that, followed by the speakers later, or immediately if they are a budget satellite system.
 

Timbo21

Well-known Member
Timbo, thanks for that - you 've summed up what I've been trying to say.

Hi Steve :),

Of course if the Hi-Mid and Hi-End companies can deliver great CD/SACD/DVD-A playback as well as DVD & the HD video formats, then that would be a reason to go for them; a sort of Uber player. This is the territory current HD players haven't ventured into, and that's what I guess Arcam, Meridian, Linn and others will eventually offer at a high standard, even if they can't improve picture quality that much.
 

Pecker

Distinguished Member
Hi Steve :),

Of course if the Hi-Mid and Hi-End companies can deliver great CD/SACD/DVD-A playback as well as DVD & the HD video formats, then that would be a reason to go for them; a sort of Uber player. This is the territory current HD players haven't ventured into, and that's what I guess Arcam, Meridian, Linn and others will eventually offer at a high standard, even if they can't improve picture quality that much.

Agreed again.

One box. CD, DVD, DVD-A, SACD, HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc, all in one spot.

What we're missing here is a good stereo/surround solution.

In Ye Olde Dayes ™, there used to be such a thing as a 3.1 amop that you added to your stereo amp.

More of this, please!

And more quality stereo speakers with matching centres, subs, and surrounds.

Steve W
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Agreed again.

One box. CD, DVD, DVD-A, SACD, HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc, all in one spot.

What we're missing here is a good stereo/surround solution.

In Ye Olde Dayes ™, there used to be such a thing as a 3.1 amop that you added to your stereo amp.

More of this, please!

And more quality stereo speakers with matching centres, subs, and surrounds.

Steve W

Steve
Look no futher than PMC with a PV1 sub - they absolutely rock!
Derek
 

kudos2

Active Member
I think there's one area which seems to be overlooked.

Time from inserting disc to video on the screen.

EngadgetHD's impromptu tests at CEDIA show the new generation of machines aren't any faster than the current crop coming in at over 30 seconds.

I reckon that should be down to 10 seconds by now :rolleyes:

Kudos
 

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