UPDATED Denon PMA-2500NE & DCD1600NE review - a voyage of discovery…

Numpty112233

Active Member
IMG_9177.jpg


Now that they have been moved into their new purpose built home and the dust has settled (as the photo’s doubtless show…), they are properly run in and I have had plenty of very pleasurable long nights getting to know them intimately I thought it about time to write the promised long term review of this amp and SACD duo as a follow up to my initial impressions here;-


Denon PMA-2500NE & DCD1600NE review





These have been used with;-


Monitor Audio Gold 300 (Series 4) speakers https://www.monitoraudio.com/site/assets/files/8940/hfn_oct_monitoraudiogold_300_reprint-low.pdf


QED Reference 40 analogue and digital co-ax interconnects and QED Genesis Silver Spiral speaker cable ( for the 50% of you who hear differences in cable this group test will give an idea of what effect these may have;- https://kleinnovations.com/wp-conte...o1-ICs-KLEI-gZero2-SCs-by-HiFi-Choice_1.0.pdf ) in single runs (not bi-wired as Monitor Audio recommend Gold Manual(s) )


Various CDs, SACDs and downloaded files burned onto DVD-R


AIFF & DSD files from Mac via Supra USB


Systemdek IIX turntable with Linn Basik LVX arm and Ortofon 2M Blue stylus (those of you not familiar with the Systemdek it evolved into the Audio Note TT1 and info here;- Systemdek IIX TurnTables user reviews : 4.2 out of 5 - 22 reviews - audioreview.com )


Panasonic UB820 Blu Ray and Yamaha RX-A3070 to HT Bypass (both well reviewed on these forums)


B&W P7 headphones


Home made hi-fi rack using 40mm solid oak butcher block kitchen worktop





For acoustics the room is a self build garage conversion dedicated stereo Hi-Fi listening / 7.1.4 home cinema / office / bike shed (so not, er, dedicated…) Dimensions 5.5m x 4.6m (partly built in to 4m with tall cupboards to get as close to ideal room acoustic dimensions as practical) x 2.4m. No windows or glass / reflective surfaces, 6” stud partition free standing walls, ceiling and suspended floor, except specifically where speakers and equipment are located which has concrete raised to new floor level for direct solid support (spikes through carpet). 3/4 carpeted with thick underlay 1/4 oak floor at rear. Speakers symmetrical along 5.5m wall 2.5m apart 1.07m from front wall 1.5m from side walls (bottom driver 0.92m from side base cupboards) measured from centre of front and slightly toed in. Equipment on dedicated separate ring main with tested good clean supply figures. Central listening positions 2.5m (sofa) and 3.2m (office chair) from front wall.





Denon DCD-1600NE SACD player


An impulse purchase as really surplus to requirements; the initial intention for this system was to have only 2 inputs to the amp - USB from Mac with CD collection downloaded onto iTunes and HT Bypass; my CDs staying with my Cambridge CX system in a different room - I am not, however repenting at leisure. It is a cracking player and getting much use. First up, the issues;- 1. it has no digital input to be used as a DAC (the matching amp does though). 2. it can only play SACD in stereo as analogue out, not surround sound and doesn’t have HDMI or USB out. 3. HMS SACD is a sinking pleasure craft with major availability issues. 4. AIFF files on DVD-R get added hiss at the end of each track. So would I recommend it? Assuming one was looking to play a large existing collection of CDs and SACDs or burned DSD / FLAC / WAV / MQA files then, with one major caveat, which I will get onto later, absolutely yes. For this it is excellent. The AL32 Advanced Processing Plus makes Redbook (standard) CDs sound almost SACD like, as other owners on the earlier thread testify. If you have more budget and if the slight sonic step up from analogue out to digital out to the PMA-2500NE amp’s DAC equates to the sonic difference between the DCD-1600NE and DCD-2500NE players then you may wish to splash the extra cash for that little extra many chase, but be in no doubt the DCD-1600NE has superb sound and build quality most would be absolutely delighted with.





How does the DCD-1600NE compare as just a transport? I lined it up against the Cambridge CXC and Panasonic UB820. It is oft stated on here that all transports sound the same, just reading 1s & 0s and, until I actually listened, I could buy this argument. They don’t. Playing CDs (Talk Talk Spirit of Eden, Blazing Redheads Crazed Women, Yo Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin Hush, Tears for Fears Tears Roll Down, Malcolm Arnold Beckus the Dandipratt ((Reference Recordings)) and many others) the differences were immediately clear. As already stated on another thread the UB820 is a big step down from the CXC, dead sounding by comparison. Of more interest is the difference, if any, between the CXC and DCD-1600NE. By comparison the DCD-1600NE produces a more detailed, brighter, transparent, fuller and more dynamic sound; the CXC being slightly flat. Not as big a difference as with the UB820 but different nonetheless. Also the Denon read perfectly a damaged disk the CXC stuttered and jumped on. Possibly not a straight test as I used different digital co-axial cables (the PMA-2500NE amp has two co-ax inputs). With the Denon I used QED Reference and with the CXC I used Cambridge 300 cable. So time to swap them round. The differences were still there but, and perhaps I could be wrong, they definitely seemed more subtle. The DAC in the DCD-1600 is top drawer, however, so I wouldn’t recommend digital out unless you were using something pretty special as an alternative DAC. Assuming, as I had been led to believe on here, that all digital cables sound the same, indeed have to, and with the conclusions I had so far come to, it made sense to A/B test the QED and Cambridge cables from the DCD-1600NE using the Gaucho 48/96AIFF disk. Comparison was more difficult given the extra time in swapping cable and turning back on components, however the QED was indeed brighter. more open and transparent, going some of the way to explaining the differences between transports. It seems there are subtle differences in sound between a copper cable with two layers of shielding and a silver plated copper cable with three layers and different connectors, at least on this revealing system, if not on one of my others. I’ll get my tin hat and fire proof onesie and lick my mortally wounded reputation and before I hear “confirmation bias placebo for the expensive one” it is true that the QED is listed at 6 times the price of the Cambridge but it is also true I actually paid only £5 more for it than the Cambridge from AVonline - and we are only talking marginal gains in sq. There. That’s me now off the fence on such a contentious subject and now I have poked my stick into this particular hornets’ nest may I politely ask this thread doesn’t degenerate into a popcorn slinging match and things other than cables be discussed. Please.





I am struggling with SACDs, specifically the bare bones availability. Virtually all mainstream music is simply unavailable at any price. Much of what pittance is for sale is left-field, at extortionate prices, from dubious sellers around the world and of poor recording quality. I am referring here to the remastering of old recordings - like what is going on with 4K Blu Rays where some of the re-releases are from such poor original recordings they are no better than a decent bog standard DVD. Get a top level new recording on SACD though and it’s like 7 Worlds on 4K, hair-raisingly excellent. Take Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring for example. This is what SACD was invented for with its sudden dynamic changes. My first SACD of this was Leonard Bernstein / N.Y. Phil. (Sony SICC10267) which was recorded in 1958. A great performance - Stavinsky himself was in the audience and summed it up with the one word “Wow” - but there’s no escaping it’s a 1958 recording with the 2018 DSD Remastering letting you know this in clear detail, warts ’n’ all. Thankfully classical music at least is soldiering on in a limited way with SACD - with sensible pricing to boot - and so other versions are available. My Litton / Bergen version BIS-SACD-1474 is an original DSD recording with excellent results. Remastering of old recordings can get good results though, one example being Jazz at the Pawn Shop 30th Edition SACD. Other new recordings specifically for SACD of worthy note are from the Reference Recordings label, e.g. Mahler Symphony 1 (DSD recording) and Holst Planets (24 BIT HDCD). Interestingly R.R. release recordings with high dynamic range such as these on SACD and recordings with a naturally lower dynamic range such as !Viva Segovia! on standard CD for the same price. I say interestingly because they manage to get this particular CD to sound good enough that if blindfold I could think it were SACD (at least when played on this player with its upscaling): certainly it has a better sound quality than some SACDs I own. With this CD I was able to ascertain that there is a slight improvement in sound quality when using the DCD-1600NE as a transport only and using the DAC in the PMA-2500NE versus using the DCD-1600NE DAC and analogue out. Note using digital co-ax out doesn’t work with SACD. Analogue out is the only option and so I am unable to use the fractionally better PMA-2500NE DAC components for SACDs. Another CD I can tell the difference between DACs with is Spyro Gyra, which is a neat way to round off my SACD issues rant as I purchased it as a SACD and what was sent all the way across the Atlantic was the standard Redbook CD I now have. Ouch!


The DCD-1600NE has the facility to play CD-+R & DVD-+R and so a solution is to download high res files onto my Mac and burn them onto disk, thereby creating homemade SACDs. This has been partially successful.


Let’s start with the failures first. I downloaded both Steely Dan’s Gaucho and Talk Talk’s Colour of Spring as 24/96k AIFF before burning them to DVD-R using iTunes - burn - DVD. They played as an album should from the Mac via USB. With the burned disks though, whilst the sound quality of the music was superb, there was a terrible loud hiss of 1 second right at the end of each track. Digital out to the PMA-2500NE amp DAC and the same ear splitting hiss. Stick the burned DVD-R into the Panasonic Blu Ray though and all works fine - a little groan as it finds the next track, but no truly awful hiss at the end of each, suggesting this issue is Denon related. Sound quality from the Blu Ray player, using the Yamaha AV preamp (Pure Direct) and Denon power amp (HT Bypass) is a BIG step down, flat, dull and sounding like a very compressed file, not a high res one. I have oft read on here that such a set up is a viable option for stereo music playback - indeed it was recommended to me not to bother with a stereo amp & CD player as the RX-A3070 and UB820 are very good indeed. Sorry, but no. I am listening as I type and the difference is huge (update - listening from Mac via Airplay to RX-A3070 preamp - HTBypass and via USB to PMA-2500NE the difference is a lot closer, suggesting the main difference is the players). The hiss makes the DVD-R unlistenable to which is a real shame - the sound quality is slightly cleaner than playing the download via USB, possibly because I’ve needed to put an iFi iDefender3.0 onto the USB to address a ground loop issue with partial success (I only get the ground loop when both USB and HT Bypass are connected. Remove one and the loop breaks. The Mac is on a different ring main)


So onto the success - DSD download. I have downloads in 5.6 DSD128 (double the resolution of SACD) of Eddie Daniels’ Heart of Brazil and Rachel Podger’s Bach Cello Suites transcribed to violin. The latter is available as a SACD but I instead chose to purchase multi format downloads to play around with to hear which I prefer. I was expecting much of a muchness but found DSD provided a fuller, more grounded sound to 24/192 FLAC. DSD files, however, are very large. At 6.5GB Eddie Daniels requires a dual layer DVD+R, which the Denon can play no problem and at 10.5GB Podger’s required 2 disks - a dual layer and a standard single layer. Sound quality is simply superb though. Breathtaking. And no hiss! Just a modest double click between tracks (instead of the Panasonic’s groan) that I can easily live with. But like SACD, DSD DVD-Rs can’t play digital out to make the most of the PMA-2500 DAC (AIFF hi-res can though). Unlike SACD they do play in the Panasonic. As well as large file size, DSDs also have the SACD problem of availability. I went to download DSD files of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me from a U.S. site, where such things are available, only for the purchase to be refused due to me being in the U.K.


I have since tried WAV, FLAC and MQA all with success - and these can be played into the PMA-2500 DAC.


Downloaded CDs work absolutely fine burned onto a CD-R using iTunes - burn - CD and play exactly the same as the original CD.




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Denon PMA-2500NE Integrated Amplifier


If I am pleased with the SACD player above then I am ecstatic with the amp. Powerful and delicate, fast and neutral, musical and revealing, multi layered and three dimensional, it is a true “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” 25kg beautifully crafted, fleet of foot, solid brute of an amp. Officially rated at 80W per channel, Hi-fi News lab tested it at 125W / 198W into 8 / 4ohm http://www.novial.sk/documents-denon/denon-pma-2500ne-hifi-news-2016.pdf But it is far more than merely an integrated amplifier. It is also a DAC, a Phono Preamp, a Headphone amp and has HT Bypass - and don’t think that makes it a jack of all trades; it has proved itself in my opinion to be master of all. Hi-fi Choice describes the DAC of the PMA-1600NE, which if the same as the SACD player above is not quite as good as the PMA-2500NE DAC (including all the electric bits that go with it), as sweeter and smoother than a Chord Hugo DAC - a most highly regarded component retailing in the same ballpark price as this complete package amplifier https://files.hifiklubben.com/4a500.../hfc_427_gt_integrated_amps_reprint_denon.pdf The DAC is claimed to support 11.2DSD256 (four times that of SACD), https://files.hifiklubben.com/4a54e...cd-2500ne--pma2500ne-hi-fi-choice-review0.pdf however I get “unsupported” when using either USB (I may have a setting wrong) or burned to disk on the DCD-1600NE. Probably a good thing considering such a size is over 15 times bigger than CD wav file size. As stated previously sound from the SACD player digital in sounds slightly cleaner than from the downloaded file using USB. I put this down to the cable. If there is a smidgeon of difference in sound between different digital coaxial cables and very slightly more between analogue coaxial (see previous review) I have found to my complete surprise that there are night and day differences between USB cables. My Supra cable that I am using is far superior to my Fisual Havana, however, that it is not entirely clean is in no way helped by the fact it is 8 metres long (The Denon instructions state a maximum of 3 metres) and has an iFi iDefender3.0 attached to tackle ground loop hum. If using USB cable then get as good as you can and keep as short as possible.





There are built in phono stages and then there are built in phono stages. This one is a good’un. I got my turntable in the late ‘80s and connected it to my Pioneer A400 amp’s phono stage. Not one of the superlatively glowing Best Buy reviews of this amp back in the day mentioned how crap the phono stage was in it and the sound from my LPs were very much 3rd rate compared to my Arcam Alpha Plus CD player. I held on to my turntable as I had a collection of LPs but hardly ever played them as my CD collection grew. Much more recently I gave it a second chance with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge and ProJect Phono Box USB-V connected to my Cambridge CXA-80. It still sounded crap - I have previously described the sound as like coming out of a well or from the room next door. I never intended putting it onto this system as I had pretty much given up on it in preference to digital, but out of curiosity I gave it a try - and was immediately blown away. Suddenly it sang. Third time lucky - clearly it had been the phono stages that had been holding it back these last 3 decades and so the turntable has not only stayed, but had much use. Indeed, having not purchased an LP since the ‘80s I have now acquired over 30 new albums, double that of of SACDs. I liken higher res digital as sounding more “analogue” than lower res which is very much a compliment, but it still sounds completely different to vinyl. As stated on my first review LPs that previously were poor second cousins to CD are now siblings of equal merit insofar as giving pleasure. By comparison to CDs my LPs sound somehow more tactile and like a friendly mutt with a waggy tail versus a racing greyhound, both making equally rewarding pets in different ways. Perhaps the biggest difference is in stereo separation. I listen on the sofa sitting looking straight ahead at the AV centre speaker and central Sub and whilst, with digital I am only using the two stereo Gold 300 speakers my eyes and brain are telling me I am using all four speakers with the vocalist or whatever coming from the centre, other instruments from left and right. It has to be said that the soundstage on this system is bigger and more three dimensional than my other systems with everything clearly placed around the room. By comparison there is no brain trickery of sound coming from the central speaker with vinyl, the stereo separation much more clearly defined, the soundstage filling the entire room. The effects are like being in the front row of the audience being performed to with digital versus being placed right slap bang centre stage playing air guitar fully surrounded by the other musicians with vinyl, like I’m actually Santana. It must be noted that the sofa position is a bit forward of the “perfect” equilateral triangle with the speakers and when I move to the office chair directly behind, which is then equilateral, this difference is reduced. It must also be noted that some digital provides comparable sound stage effects as vinyl, presumably depending on how it’s been recorded. The turntable also emphasises the rhythm of the music to irresistible toe tapping proportions, creating a sound that is engaging, making me simply enjoy the music rather than analyse. The snap, crackle and pop, along with motor hum somehow adds to the character, or dare I say charisma of vinyl. That it is user unfriendly can also be a plus - from effort comes reward, particularly as one listens to a full album without jumping tracks and listens intently to the end in order to lift the needle. I remembered that my late wife had Michael Jackson’s Thriller on LP so, unable to download the DSD, I dug it out from under the stairs, enjoyed it every bit as much as I would have the DSD and then stuck it back under the stairs for another 10 years. That the preamp has allowed me to fully appreciate the sound of vinyl is high praise from an old turntable. Having it fixed in my mind for so long that this turntable wasn’t much good I have fought upgraditis tooth and nail, however I have finally concluded that the preamp allows it to really deliver FUN. It’s both a keeper and a user! To sum up I liken the whole vinyl experience through this preamp to my good self - resistant to progress, flawed and hard work but ultimately utterly loveable.





The H.T. Bypass works as it should - effectively using the PMA-2500NE as just a power amp, enabling the AV receiver and this amp to share the MA Gold 300 speakers. The issues are the previously mentioned ground loop problem which I only have when both USB and HT Bypass are connected at the same time and the not so good sound quality from the UB820 Blu Ray player. I was surprised it won AV Forums player of 2019. Picture quality is a definite 10 / 10. Stunning with Seven Worlds One Planet 4k on my 65E8 OLED. Sound 6 / 10 as stated. Build quality 3 / 10 - it’s a cheap, lightweight, plastic thing that is slow and very noisy in use. To be able to clearly hear it spinning the disk from the sitting position over quiet passages of film is really not good.





I am not much of a headphone user in general and not on home systems at all. My B&W P7s are ok but nothing special. Sticking them into the headphone amp the sound is a big improvement over their normal use stuck into my iPhone 6 and I can hear that the amp is getting the best out of the cans - and that these headphones are clearly inferior to my MA Gold 300 speakers, not surprising given they are 10 times the price.





On the subject of my speakers I promised in my first review to report back how they compared with my Monitor Audio Silver 8s once I had them run in. The Gold 300s and Silver 8s are two different quality levels of the same speaker and both of them the previous generation to what is current. My opportunity arose when I came to decamp my new gear out of the garden room to install into this new room and bring my Silver 8s back out of storage and into the garden room allowing me to have them side by side before the Golds were decamped. Going back to the Silver they had a particular sonic that, despite the fact I hadn’t used them for a few months, I instantly recognised. They are slightly warmer (more coloured?), less detailed and softer than the Gold 300s and in my garden room, which is lots of glass and hard / reflective surfaces I actually preferred them to the Golds. Quite a statement given their RRP was 1/3 that of the Gold. Certainly it was a shock to myself. It also exaggerated why, in my first review, I found the Herbie Hancock SACD so hard to listen to, the Gold ribbon tweeters shrill with the room acoustics. In the new room, however, with much better acoustics, carpet and no glass, the Golds have come into their own and are a definite step up from the Silver. I am very pleased with them. As they are wired internally with silver plated cable, as are the bridging cables, I decided to get silver plated speaker cable for them. How this compares for sound with the £1 per metre 4mm o.f.c. cable I got for the AV speakers I don’t know as I haven’t yet a/b tested. It looks bling but is very inflexible. Lesson to all - audition speakers in the room they are going into rather than a shop demo room.





I started by stating there was a major caveat to my recommendation of the DCD-1600NE and it is this - price. I purchase mine only a few months ago from Hi-Fi Corner with the PMA-2500 amp as this store was cheaper than others. The list price for them both was £699 and £1,899 respectively and I got a wee deal off that. At these prices I highly recommend both. The price in this store has just gone up to £999 and £2,399 - an increase of 43% and 27% respectively. Ouch!!! At such a price I wouldn’t have purchased the DCD-1600NE on an impulse and if I were to spend this amount on a need to have basis then I would have pushed the boat out for the DCD-2500NE knowing I wasn’t getting second best. The DCD-2500NE hasn’t changed price and is still £1,499. I will still heartily recommend the PMA-2500 amp at its higher price because I feel it’s worth it, however it would stick in the throat knowing that just a couple of months ago it was £500 cheaper. I recently saw the PMA-1600NE somewhere discounted to £999 which I considered a steal, however Hi-fi Corner are currently advertising it at an increased £1,399. My decision to purchase before I needed to because gut feeling was prices were going to go up for once proved correct.





Finally a game of Musical Rooms. Simultaneously playing from iTunes via USB to my Denon PMA-2500NE, via ethernet cable to my Cambridge CXN / CXA80 / MA Silver 8 in the garden room and via airplay to Yamaha WXAD10 to both my Cyrus 6 / MA Gold 50 in the games room and Pioneer A400 / Castle Chester in the dining room I can skip around the house and compare four clearly different sonic traits. I could (attempt to) wax lyrical about these large differences and rank them in order - unsurprisingly the Denon would easily group test win - but that would be to entirely miss my ultimate conclusion. All gave pleasure. I am extremely happy that now I have the modern equivalent of the “best” system I craved 30 years ago. It is a tick off the bucket list. I am extremely happy with the sound and have satisfied myself that any potential improvements would be extremely marginal gains that won’t, if I am honest with myself, bring more pleasure. So I am going to appreciate the music from now on and stop critically listening to the sound, happy in the knowledge it’s roughly 99% as good as it can be and, as my ears start to fail as I get older, that’s more than good enough for me. I’m a 99% full kind’a guy. Upgraditis is put to bed.





Let me leave you with the equally valid opinions of other owners to compare with my own. On my first review santiago66 posted “fell upon this discussion while searching out some reviews for the big denon 2500 amp & cd player. it’s weird how there are next to zero reviews for these superb, industrial-grade machines. built like battleships and producing deep, wide, clear multi-layered sound through a pair of 10 year old sonus faber toy towers, these old school japanese boxes are making me fall in love with music all over again. cd, sacd, ripped files, vinyl...doesn’t matter. so long as the source recording is good, the sound i hear (and feel) brings a smile to my face. not bad for a grumpy old sod like me.” This is the one and only post he has ever made on these forums, so clearly a man who stays quiet until such times as he feels he has something worthy to contribute - and he has done so far more succinctly and eloquently than myself.





Some other owner reviews of the amp;- Denon PMA 2500
 
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Numpty112233

Active Member
Can anyone recommend a way of converting the AIFF files mentioned above into FLAC or similar?
I tried using free software "Switch" which seemed to do the job - until I played the disk and it wouldn't play.
Are the AIFF file issues some sort of anti-copy protection rather than an issue with the Denon? the files were purchased from HDTracks and I know @HenryHonda had issues making a disk from a download of a different format from this site
Anyone able to shed any general light on this?
 

HenryHonda

Active Member
Can anyone recommend a way of converting the AIFF files mentioned above into FLAC or similar?

I believe that the Music Converter in dBpoweramp should be able to do this - but I've never done that specific conversion myself... By default, dBpoweramp should match the source frequency and bit depth, unless you are using DSP effects.

Problem is, this excellent software is not free - £53 for the 'Reference' version (Music Converter and CD Ripper together). I use it for both purposes. More info on their website... :) Minor version (currently R16.6) upgrades are free/included.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
I believe that the Music Converter in dBpoweramp should be able to do this - but I've never done that specific conversion myself... By default, dBpoweramp should match the source frequency and bit depth, unless you are using DSP effects.

Problem is, this excellent software is not free - £53 for the 'Reference' version (Music Converter and CD Ripper together). I use it for both purposes. More info on their website... :) Minor version (currently R16.6) upgrades are free/included.
You'll be copyright infringing your own post repeating it like that lol ;-) Will look into it thank you
 

HenryHonda

Active Member
repeating it like that lol ;-)

Yep - can't figure out what happened there...:confused: I asked a senior mod and another mod if they could delete the duplications - but nothing yet...

Maybe if you downloaded the free 21-day evaluation version of dbPoweramp, you could try for yourself...?

(I'm now worried about pressing 'post' again :rolleyes:)
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Happy Bunny! Thank you @HenryHonda - Have a cyber pint on me ;-)
dBPoweramp conversion from 24-96 AIFF to 24-96 WAVE has worked successfully with no hiss at the end of each track when burned to DVD-R and played on DCD-1600NE SACD player! Once upon a time life was simple but this particular middle class problem has now been solved.
Further investigation into DSD 11.2 (4x SACD resolution) suggests this is possible with the PMA-2500NE amp's DAC via USB after all. The issue apparently is with the current software on my Mac and downloading Audirvana (or Roon) may well make it work. Not tried it yet but the pic in the review http://www.novial.sk/documents-denon/denon-pma-2500ne-hifi-news-2016.pdf shows it. Henry did you get 11.2 Dog Song sample to play on your DCD-2500NE SACD player? What did you make of the different samples?
Meanwhile well recorded standard Redbook CDs continue to very much impress. I somehow managed to stay up till 5am listening away in the dark and if I didn't know different I would have sworn the CD Jazz Kaleidoscope (Reference Recordings) for example was a SACD from how good it sounded. Whilst burning the midnight oil I fired off an order on Amazon for 18 CDs costing a total of £50 and 1 SACD of Supertramp's Breakfast in America (Original Master Recording) for £35. Today I realise this is coming from the USA and so will probably have import duties making it cost more than the 18 CDs.... As per the title of my O.P. "A voyage of discovery..."
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Supertramp's Breakfast in America
Before you buy any newly pressed or released SACD look on Discogs. Quite a few EU dealers with competitive prices and no import duties on new releases. I got Breakfast from Germany brand new and sealed.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Before you buy any newly pressed or released SACD look on Discogs. Quite a few EU dealers with competitive prices and no import duties on new releases. I got Breakfast from Germany brand new and sealed.
Yes I should have done my homework lol... 'Twas a 3am impulse purchase - I probably could also have got it as a high res download and burned it to disk for a lot less... but clearly I have money to burn after only going for the 1600 player rather than your 2500 ;-) Fingers burned and lesson learned, or not...
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
A tale of upgraditis being a disease that is so difficult to cure and hifi sound quality progress over the last 30 years.





As previously reported my Systemdek IIX turntable, which I purchased second hand more than 3 decades ago, has, now that it’s eventually been connected to a decent phono stage, finally come good and is singing. That it hadn’t all that time meant it hardly got used and I had convinced myself that it (and vinyl in general), as opposed to the phono stage, really wasn’t much cop. The recent discovery that it ain’t half bad given the chance has had me wondering - at great length - how good vinyl could sound given a shiny new turntable costing well into the thousands and I’ve been scouring for ex-demos and trade-ins across the land. The Systemdek sounds good but how much better…?


After much difficulty I recently acquired Pink Floyd’s DSOTM on SACD. On first listening I wasn’t impressed. I must have been in a bad mood as I just listened to it again at a volume which would upset the neighbours… if I had any, which I don’t, and it gave much listening enjoyment.


This had me dusting down my DSOTM LP, which I’ve had even longer than the turntable to do a back-to-back vinyl - SACD sound comparison. I shouldn’t have been surprised as I’ve already done the same comparison with other Lps, CDs and SACDs, as I have already reported, and the result is the same. Using the equipment in the OP on SACD DSOTM has a harder, punchier, faster, more aggressive, cleaner sound, vinyl (after cranking the volume for SACD at 10 o’clock to 1 o’clock) being softer and easier on the ear. However, and this is what continues to surprise me every time, given the same amplifier and speakers, 35 year old analogue audio technology is still remarkably close in sound reproduction quality to modern hi-res digital on a good player. It really can just about hold its own. From stuff dating back to the same era as 26" CRT tellys and VHS. Thank’s to the PMA-2500NE integrated phono stage I can finally, at last, understand why some prefer vinyl.


I’m going to have to play my records on a regular basis as if I haven’t for a few days I start looking to upgrade, chasing the dream, and it’s only when I play it I remind myself quite how good the ol’ girl has become.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Following on from finding the solution to the “hiss at the end of each track AIFF burned to disk” issue above, last night I ventured into downloading more hi-res files. First up was Fleetwood Mac’s classic Tango In The Night, which I downloaded in AIFF 192 / 24 to work on iTunes before then converting to 192 / 24 WAVE using dBpoweramp to burn onto DVD-R to spin on my DCD-1600NE SACD player.


First impressions? The jury is still out. For my 11th birthday - bear with me on this - my parents gave me an LP of Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor. A poor quality old recording on RCA Gold Seal. I loved it and it’s sound was imprinted on my memory in a way that subsequent recordings of other performances just didn’t sound right. They weren’t THAT record. And so it seems with this Tango in the Night.


The sound is technically pretty much perfect - each note clean, crisp, without distortion, where and when it should be on the sound stage. Even without direct a/b comparison with CD you can hear this is hi-res. This 2017 remaster, unlike most remasters, has very good dynamic range, particularly on the title track, which had me cranking up the volume on the PMA-2500NE to the dizzying height of 12 o’clock, somewhere it’s never yet gone near with digital input (it’s limit a deafening 10:30 with the likes of Loudness War Victim Dire Straits B.I.A. Anniversary SACD)


But - yes there’s always a “but” - the sound reminded me in some ways of how I previously described that of my B&W CM1 speakers as like a thorough VAT inspection. All minute detail and and 3 dimensional sound stage but the emotion, the musicality surgically removed, particularly when compared to my Monitor Audio Silver 2 and Gold 50 speakers which brought vivid, happy colour to the greyness. The music from this download resembled a football team made of the 11 very best superstars all strutting their stuff like fine peacocks on a sunny day, each displaying superlative individual skills, but the ball not flowing between them as a cohesive team, the cumulative result being less then the sum of the individuals. The notes are being fired out of my speakers like a machine gun rapid firing razor blades with unerring accuracy, but they are all separate notes, not one piece of music, flowing as my brain remembered it.


This had me digging out my old CD. Only I didn’t have one. What??? Must be on LP. Nope! How come I am SO familiar with this album, not just the music but the order of the tracks? Must be hiding with my Brothers in Arms LP I can’t find… So I turn to my Very Best Of CD, which has 3 tracks in common. The CD suffers from the Loudness Wars so volume needed adjusted. The dynamic compression was clearly noticeable, as was a lack of clarity compared to the 192/24 burned disk, however there was more general echo / resonance / distortion (?) with the notes knitting themselves together to create a smoother, more holistic, musical sound. This contradicts my previous experience where the higher the resolution - and particularly when going to DSD - the more “analogue”, smoother and more musical the sound, with notes taking longer to fade. As I stated at the start - the jury is still out. The burned disk sound, better in so many ways, may well grow on me with familiarity - after all I am slowly coming around to Karajan’s version of Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor even though I’ve only had the CD 30 years.


This is an opportunity to compare sending the download from the Mac direct to the amp via USB and playing the burned disk via both digital and analogue out on the SACD player and whether or not they contradict previous findings.


Conclusion is that the USB sounds slightly, but clearly, dull, flat and coloured compared to the disk. With analogue versus digital out (i.e. whether using the DCD-1600NE DAC or the PMA-2500NE DAC) the difference, if any, is very much closer in that I couldn’t tell in a blind test. Sometimes I think there is very slightly more bite with the 2500s DAC, sometimes I think they sound identical. The difference between USB and disk does make it worthwhile the hassle of creating disks to spin. I have already ascertained that USB is superior to Airplay, at least to my Cambridge CXN (and I think Airplay only uses max 44/16 CD standard?)


The other two downloads I got at the same time were Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature and Ali Farka Toure’s The Source both in 96 / 24 AIFF for iTunes and converted to WAVE and burned to disk.


Two Against Nature, like T.I.T.N., has good dynamic range, but in this case it is perhaps not an advantage - the percussion is prominent, the rest less so, resulting in “thump thump” music. This apart it is very good. The Source is highly enjoyable, combining the “machine gun rapid firing” with the “analogue” smoothness and musicality I have previously associated with hi res
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Following on from the last download post I’ve just downloaded and burned to DVD+R;-


Tears for Fears - Songs from the Big Chair 96 - 24


Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden 96 - 24


Paul Simon - Rhythm of the Siants 96 - 24


Eagles - Hotel California 192 - 24


This is the Songs from the Big Chair version with Steven Wilson bonus tracks. Normally bonus tracks don’t quite cut the mustard enough to make it onto the main album selection but wow, just wow! these are extra hot mustard with bells on. This is unquestionably a “must buy” as not only is the sound quality about as good as it gets but the sound stage is such that the speakers completely disappear within the room. A definite candidate for equipment auditioning.


Spirit of Eden is another candidate for equipment auditioning. I am currently, as I type, A/B comparing with the CD. Not a huge difference but for example where there is a cacophony of sounds the 96-24 version better separates each instrument. Bear in mind that the DAC upscales and so the difference with CD would presumably be greater with no upscaling going on. Both listened to digital out to the PMA-2500NE DAC.


Note: when converting from AIFF to WAVE using dBpoweramp I somehow managed to go from 96-24 up to 192-24 with both SFTBC and SOE. Well above my pay grade to ken what’s going on - I am a Numpty In The Dark re all this stuff - I’m not sure it will have improved the sound but it certainly hasn’t made it any worse. My hunch is that one cannot improve the original and I’ve just unnecessarily doubled the file size but if some knowledgeable soul can shine a light please do.


With Rhythm of the Saints the difference between 96 - 24 and CD is greater than SOE above. Right from the drums at the start 96-24 is immediately noticeable for its harder, cleaner, punchier sound, CD being softer, flatter, fuzzier, smoother and, like Tango in the Night in my previous post, easier on the ear if not critically listening. Another album (particularly tracks 5 & 6 which are quite hypnotic) where the sound stage make the speakers completely disappear.


I downloaded the 2013 version of Hotel California in 192 as opposed to the more recent anniversary edition which scored 2 less on the dr scale on Album list - Dynamic Range Database


In truth I was left a little underwhelmed. There was nowt much wrong but equally it was nothing special (and noticeably more expensive than the others). In hindsight I wish I had got it on vinyl which I think suits this album better than digital….


I’m left feeling that I still prefer the quality of my 5.6DSD downloads to PCM, particularly Eddie Daniels and Rachel Podger mentioned in earlier posts as these I understand were originally recorded in DSD. SFTBC however is about as good as I’ve heard on PCM wave

Anyone wish to recommend any high res downloads?
 

HenryHonda

Active Member
Thank you @HenryHonda - Have a cyber pint on me ;-)

You're welcome :)

Henry did you get 11.2 Dog Song sample to play on your DCD-2500NE SACD player? What did you make of the different samples?

Nope - as expected (and specified) the DSD256 version is not playable on my DCD-2500NE...
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Before you buy any newly pressed or released SACD look on Discogs. Quite a few EU dealers with competitive prices and no import duties on new releases. I got Breakfast from Germany brand new and sealed.
Well my Breakfast In America MOFI SACD turned up a couple of days ago and it is, indeed, excellent, as reported by others on here. Already very familiar with and fond of the music it was a revelation to hear the level of detail as to quite how tight the crotch of the trousers were of the vocalist (must have been 1970s flares to blame). As good as it sounded - and it sounded very good indeed - initial impressions were that it sounded bright and it had me reaching for the treble knob on the PMA-2500NE to tone down the top end.


Turning a knob may seem like a small act but to me it was momentous. Three decades ago I purchased my Pioneer A400 amp and those of you who remember the “giant slaying hyperbole” that was thrown at it at launch (how could you forget?) will also remember that much of this was put down to the benefits of not having any tone controls. No tone controls was not only revolutionary but also a really hard sell to punters brought up on vertical turntable Amstrad “hifi”s and twin cassette tape boom boxes which featured “must have” 5, 7, 9 or even, at the top of the range, 11 slider graphic equalisers (for those of you not teenagers in the ‘80s these were effectively a manual gearbox equivalent of RoomPerfect or other DSP on a stereo system). The A400 ethos was the antithesis of what we were sold before and so, having bought into it at an impressionable age, I haven’t touched a tone control since.


Until this SACD. So I dusted too many years’ dust off my Autobiography LP to compare and to my surprise, instead of the vinyl sounding less bright it just made the SACD’s midrange sound more solid and more coherent with the more punchy bass and therefore more of a contrast to the treble. It also reconfirmed the difference between the two formats of stereo separation; digital creating an imaginary centre speaker to give the impression of being in the front row of the audience and vinyl just coming from left and right as though one was centre stage. So on 2nd listening to the SACD the treble knob was returned to 12 o’clock and it no longer sounded bright.


With me mistakenly having ordered this SACD from Across the Pond it arrived via Germany with a yellow sticker proclaiming “Goods Do not Meet The Requirement Of Article 9 and 10…” however no value was stated on the packaging (unless in the barcode) and I wasn’t required to collect it from the post office on payment of tax and fees as happened last time I bought from the US of A (from which I learned that had I purchased the two CDs separately rather than together I would have had nothing to pay. BTW they were Newcleus albums. I very much doubt any of you would admit to being familiar with such) Can anyone please advise if I am likely to be hit with a tax bill on this £35 purchase, how they would know the value and whether I will owe the money to Blighty or Germany? It is very naughty imo for Amazon UK not to state there would be import duty to pay on the listed price, even “hiding”, until one went digging, that the seller, which even had UK in it’s name, was actually US based. Caveat Emptor.


Having a nice new hifi to play with is proving expensive. As previously stated I had only intended using USB in from my Mac for my already too large collection of stored CDs and HT Bypass. In practice it gets little use from either and the SACD player and turntable that were never to be attached are hardly turned off. Today the postman brought 3 more SACDs and 7 CDs, bringing a total of over 40 SACDs and High Res downloads burned to disk, a similar number of LPs and over 100 CDs added to my library just since I acquired my Denon amp and disk spinner only a couple of months ago. The first of what arrived today to go on was Bach’s Harpsicord Concertos (Linn SACD) and right at the start the treble knob was returned to the 11:30 position. At 52 years of age it seems I have discovered a new knob to play with.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
please advise if I am likely to be hit with a tax bill on this £35 purchase
No. It's because of the trade relation with Canada. The yellow sticker means it is under the tax threshold. So no nasty surprise to come.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
No. It's because of the trade relation with Canada. The yellow sticker means it is under the tax threshold. So no nasty surprise to come.
Good stuff. Thank's for letting me ken.
I got excited with the MOFI packaging as it showed they did an SACD of Billy Joel Greatest Hits, however it is not listed on their site so I'm guessing their policy of limited production, thereby pouring fuel onto the fire of lack of availability and silly prices, means it's sold out. Apparently I can buy it 2nd hand for £144. Not. Have you used MOFI much and if so is there a min order size, postage cost and how much import duty? i.e. what's the final price? as there's a few which do interest. Cheers
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Good stuff. Thank's for letting me ken.
I got excited with the MOFI packaging as it showed they did an SACD of Billy Joel Greatest Hits, however it is not listed on their site so I'm guessing their policy of limited production, thereby pouring fuel onto the fire of lack of availability and silly prices, means it's sold out. Apparently I can buy it 2nd hand for £144. Not. Have you used MOFI much and if so is there a min order size, postage cost and how much import duty? i.e. what's the final price? as there's a few which do interest. Cheers
I used MoFi once. They will not dispatch to the UK on orders under $50 which wasn't a problem with two $30 discs. Delivery, I think was $15. They arrived promptly and then I had an invoice off UPS for £23 £23 import tax which included their handling charge of £8, I will not be ordering from MoFi direct again.

If you order from Amazon then that is usually flagged up as a UK based company which gets their discs from Vancouver, hence the yellow sticker. If I can't get the title via Discogs then Amazon or flea bay are next.
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
@Numpty112233: I have thoroughly enjoyed your reviews mentioned in this thread, and that which preceded it. I have also learned from both threads as a whole.
'Tis a pleasure Sir
I came on this forum to learn from others as I am but a mere Numpty, particularly when it comes to hifi. Since signing up I consider myself better informed and I am grateful to the forum for this.
But it is good to give as well as take - and so I humbly pass on my own experiences, as much as they are, for others to possibly, maybe, benefit from. I have tried to be as honest and open minded as I could be when listening to differences etc. and to not prejudge. As the op header states - a voyage of discovery. I hope I have survived the journey with at least a shred of integrity and so thank you for indicating such.

I hope more on here will post their own reviews so that we may all appreciate hands on points of view from end users and be informed of their experiences.

I have to say writing my own was not only a bit of fun but it concentrated my mind and got me to carry out A/B tests that I would otherwise have put off for another day (i.e. wouldn't in all likelihood happen) and therefore it has informed my own opinions and knowledge - and made me more familiar with and get more pleasure from my own equipment.
I will finish by saying that when repeating A/B testing I have not always confirmed my previous findings, perhaps down to the mood I am in and perhaps down to what I am listening to and perhaps down to something else entirely - and that my final conclusion is when concentrating on listening it is best done in pitch black and not knowing which is A and which B (if auditioning at a dealers take a blindfold and instruct the salesman not to tell you which it is you are listening to... if he doesn't throw you out as a nutter ;-) )
Cheers
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Yesterday I was mostly downloading hi-res albums and burning them to disk.


Specifically;- Prince - Purple Rain (original master, not the compressed Special Edition)


Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree (Remastered)


Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (Remastered)


This time I used HighResAudio as opposed to HDTracks as I had used previously and downloaded and burned them all as 96/24 FLAC to DVD


To review one is pretty much to review all three.


1st up - Prince. The sound is not like the HDTracks downloads sound that I have learned to recognise as “HD sound” but instead is remarkably similar to that from my Purple Rain LP. Yes there are of course differences, digital being harder, faster, punchier and cleaner, vinyl being smoother and easier on the ear. But, I reiterate, the overall similarity was uncanny, including the sound stage, which I have previously reported as being very different between the two. Remember that my Systemdek IIX / Linn Basik LVX turntable was purchased 2nd hand 30 years ago, hasn’t been serviced and only the cartridge recently replaced to a middle of the road Ortofon 2M Blue. On a decent turntable the differences would be a lot closer still.


Same goes for the other two. I previously described the HDTracks Fleetwood Mac Tango In The Night download as a sound which “resembled a football team made of the 11 very best superstars all strutting their stuff like fine peacocks on a sunny day, each displaying superlative individual skills, but the ball not flowing between them as a cohesive team, the cumulative result being less then the sum of the individuals. The notes are being fired out of my speakers like a machine gun rapid firing razor blades with unerring accuracy, but they are all separate notes, not one piece of music, flowing as my brain remembered it.” Not so this HighResAudio Fleetwood Mac Rumours download. Instead it is more cohesive, smoother sound and just as I imagine an LP on a good turntable would sound. Likewise most of the tracks on Shaking the Tree (separate note - some of the tracks tape hiss is clearly audible) which I particularly enjoyed.


Now please appreciate that this is just 1st impressions as acquiring the DCD-1600NE has unintentionally got me acquiring lots of Hi Res music, be it SACD or downloads and it will take more time to familiarise myself and confirm (or otherwise) my 1st impressions of all of them, but assuming my initial conclusions have foundation and assuming my small sample is representative of their full catalogues then I don’t know why that should be.


Is it because this time I downloaded as FLAC whereas before I downloaded as AIFF before converting to WAVE?


Or is it that, instead of just buying in the files from the major record labels these companies are each making their own files from the original recordings using their own equipment and techniques?


One major difference between the two sets of downloads is how the burned disks play on the SACD player. I previously bemoaned how AIFF files had a loud hiss at the end of each track that made listening to the disk utterly unpleasant and I was delighted that converting these files to WAVE stopped the hiss, merely having a slight click between tracks (which both AIFF and DSD also have) which “I could easily live with”. As time has progressed even this is starting to get on my tits. Enter FLAC and the click is not there, the disk playing like a CD. I haven’t tried an album yet where the tracks flow into one another but here’s hoping. So next job is to now convert my AIFF converted into WAVE files into FLAC…. Thankfully we are not currently short of rainy days.


Finally a proper “thank you” to Khankat for his comment above. I was beginning to think I was just talking to myself on this thread (at least the answers this way aren’t too brutally honest lol) so it’s nice to be appreciated ;-)
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
Yesterday I was mostly downloading hi-res albums and burning them to disk.


Specifically;- Prince - Purple Rain (original master, not the compressed Special Edition)


Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree (Remastered)


Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (Remastered)


This time I used HighResAudio as opposed to HDTracks as I had used previously and downloaded and burned them all as 96/24 FLAC to DVD


To review one is pretty much to review all three.


1st up - Prince. The sound is not like the HDTracks downloads sound that I have learned to recognise as “HD sound” but instead is remarkably similar to that from my Purple Rain LP. Yes there are of course differences, digital being harder, faster, punchier and cleaner, vinyl being smoother and easier on the ear. But, I reiterate, the overall similarity was uncanny, including the sound stage, which I have previously reported as being very different between the two. Remember that my Systemdek IIX / Linn Basik LVX turntable was purchased 2nd hand 30 years ago, hasn’t been serviced and only the cartridge recently replaced to a middle of the road Ortofon 2M Blue. On a decent turntable the differences would be a lot closer still.


Same goes for the other two. I previously described the HDTracks Fleetwood Mac Tango In The Night download as a sound which “resembled a football team made of the 11 very best superstars all strutting their stuff like fine peacocks on a sunny day, each displaying superlative individual skills, but the ball not flowing between them as a cohesive team, the cumulative result being less then the sum of the individuals. The notes are being fired out of my speakers like a machine gun rapid firing razor blades with unerring accuracy, but they are all separate notes, not one piece of music, flowing as my brain remembered it.” Not so this HighResAudio Fleetwood Mac Rumours download. Instead it is more cohesive, smoother sound and just as I imagine an LP on a good turntable would sound. Likewise most of the tracks on Shaking the Tree (separate note - some of the tracks tape hiss is clearly audible) which I particularly enjoyed.


Now please appreciate that this is just 1st impressions as acquiring the DCD-1600NE has unintentionally got me acquiring lots of Hi Res music, be it SACD or downloads and it will take more time to familiarise myself and confirm (or otherwise) my 1st impressions of all of them, but assuming my initial conclusions have foundation and assuming my small sample is representative of their full catalogues then I don’t know why that should be.


Is it because this time I downloaded as FLAC whereas before I downloaded as AIFF before converting to WAVE?


Or is it that, instead of just buying in the files from the major record labels these companies are each making their own files from the original recordings using their own equipment and techniques?


One major difference between the two sets of downloads is how the burned disks play on the SACD player. I previously bemoaned how AIFF files had a loud hiss at the end of each track that made listening to the disk utterly unpleasant and I was delighted that converting these files to WAVE stopped the hiss, merely having a slight click between tracks (which both AIFF and DSD also have) which “I could easily live with”. As time has progressed even this is starting to get on my tits. Enter FLAC and the click is not there, the disk playing like a CD. I haven’t tried an album yet where the tracks flow into one another but here’s hoping. So next job is to now convert my AIFF converted into WAVE files into FLAC…. Thankfully we are not currently short of rainy days.


Finally a proper “thank you” to Khankat for his comment above. I was beginning to think I was just talking to myself on this thread (at least the answers this way aren’t too brutally honest lol) so it’s nice to be appreciated ;-)
Although nice, thanks are not necessary. You manage to convey more than just words in your reviews. Thoroughly enjoyable.
I have no idea of the cost of digital music downloads. I don't have the equipment to necessary to play it. We'll, not yet. I might have have gone for the smaller Denon but it's price rocketed recently. I have though, stumbled across a less than perfect Marantz SA 8005, for less than half the cost of the Denon, with a warranty.

I am currently sans amp, it having gone away for service and upgrade. Can't wait to get it back, as I don't have a second amp to fall back on.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Marantz SA 8005
That's not too shabby a player. I own one as well as the Denon DCD 2500. I have to admit that it was Numpty's fault I bought the 2500. I've yet to send him the invoice.:)
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
That's not too shabby a player. I own one as well as the Denon DCD 2500. I have to admit that it was Numpty's fault I bought the 2500. I've yet to send him the invoice.:)
Most things are my fault - except my kids; I woz drunk at the time. He won't send me the invoice incase I show it to his Missus....
 

Khankat

Well-known Member
@gibbsy: would you say that the Marantz improves the playback of Red Book CD's? Sorry to ask, but don't want to wade through previous threads and posts. I am considering purchasing the already mentioned Sa8005
 

Numpty112233

Active Member
Although nice, thanks are not necessary. You manage to convey more than just words in your reviews. Thoroughly enjoyable.
I have no idea of the cost of digital music downloads. I don't have the equipment to necessary to play it. We'll, not yet. I might have have gone for the smaller Denon but it's price rocketed recently. I have though, stumbled across a less than perfect Marantz SA 8005, for less than half the cost of the Denon, with a warranty.

I am currently sans amp, it having gone away for service and upgrade. Can't wait to get it back, as I don't have a second amp to fall back on.
The price inflation is probably my fault also - my initial thread saw a mini sales spike (as reported on the thread) on a product that I suspect had previously been under the radar and not shifting, thereby Hifi Corner not putting up their prices as soon as the others, which, in hindsight (a wonderful thing) allowed me to purchase at a pre inflated price when it should have already gone up. Have a word with Shane of AVonline on here because, whilst they are selling at the higher price, they are doing a very good discounted package deal which suggests (to me at least) he may be willing to move on it. Tell him Gibbsy said so seeing as I'm getting the blame for everything else ;-)
High res download prices are comparable with vinyl or classical music / jazz SACD i.e. £10 - £20
Go on - tell us about yer amp ;-)
 

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