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Which source(s) to pair with top video-processor?

clarkc

Standard Member
I am contemplating a major upgrade to my whole AV setup. Assuming I were to acquire one of the better processors (e.g. Crystalio 2, VP50), I am struggling with the implications for choice of source(s). Despite much digging, I am still not very clear on this point.

I should add that I currently have a Sony HS50 beamer and will be looking for a good plasma or LCD flat screen shortly (Sony 46X looks attractive). I am based in Germany, watch a combination of SD TV via SAT, DVD. In the near future hope to enjoy HD TV (via SAT) and the new HD player formats. I am not a gamer (but who knows). I wish to enjoy pride-inducing picture quality for all formats !

I am considering the HTPC route. The flexibility and everything-in-one-box convenience is very appealing although I am somewhat wary of the tales of endless DIY tinkering – once configured, my setup should simply work ! Some even say with the right HTPC components, a video-processor is superfluous although the connection flexibility of the better processors sounds great. To complicate matters, I am also aware that both Vista and the new Apple OS may open up new possibilities sometime soon...

The alternative route is to go with dedicated units (DVD player, SAT boxes, DVD recorder, later Blu Ray, etc – hmm, long list !). Given the capabilities of the video-processors, does it make any sense to go for higher end dedicated units or is this simply wasted money? I have looked at the Denon 3910/30 DVD unit for example. Presumably with an external processor, a lot of the scaling/deinterlacing power in the DVD player is pointless?

Many issues I know ! Any thoughts or guidance on useful criteria for source selection or on any other points above would be much appreciated !
 

Tacitus

Active Member
Clark, I am not one of the resident experts here and a complete amateur compared to many posters, but I have been going through similar considerations. All of this of course depends on budget.

I have decided to settle on an Arcam DV139 for 4 reasons 1.) I already have Arcam kit - the AV8 processor and P7 amp 2.) The DV139 has one of the best sound capabilities of any DVD player on the market (at least within a reasonable budget level) - I think sound is a very important consideration in choosing your source, as well as video 3.) It provides top quality upscaling which is ideal for getting the most out of the 100's of DVD's I've collected and 4) it has the ability to pass the signal directly to a video processor. I will later on then add a video processor, but after I have played around with it on its own, so I can determine whether the vp will actually make a difference worth the extra spend.

I am also toying around with the idea of getting a new HD-DVD player - but not an expensive one. From what I have read it seems like Blue Ray has not got its act together yet, and the expert advice seems to be to buy a cheap HD-DVD player where the quality is supposed to be better and there are a number of good DVD's on the market. In other words keep the investment minimal until the market settles down, and the quality is worth investing in.

I have discovered through experience that the AV market technology has a cycle of about 2 years, and it is important to get something that you will be happy with for at least that long - no matter what gets brought out. Otherwise you better have very deep pockets. For instance two years ago I bought a Sim2 Domino30H for circa £6995 which has been excellent - and still is. I thought I would not have to reinvest for many years.

But technology has moved on rapidly and now Sim2 have brought out the new 1080p Sim2 D80 for circa the same price. The good news is that the quality is getting much better and prices are being squeezed. For instance I now believe I can get the new JVC HD1 for circa £4500 with a quality that matches the D80. So I will be soon placing my order for that one. However given all of this I could still live with the D30 - and that is the important point. Get something you can be happy with for several years, until you have the money and believe the technology is sufficiently developed to take another plunge.

Lastly, I think this website is your best source for consideration of components. The guys on here really know what they are talking about and if they don't somebody soon corrects them. So the great thing is that while you are enjoying the technology you have purchased for the next few years, you can be planning your next kit with advice from all of the experts in the field. How good is that!

I hope this is not too rambling and is helpful for you. Cheers
 

clarkc

Standard Member
Tacitus, many thanks for taking the time to write, I enjoyed reading your response. Very happy to see a fellow non-expert here – safety in numbers! I think your wait-and-see strategy re video processor makes a lot of sense. And I note your reference to being able to to pass the signal directly to a VP. That is exactly the kind of criterion which is essential to identify upfront so as to keep the path to future upgrades open.

Like you, I previously chose a DVD unit which has great audio, in my case a T+A 1210R (small but high quality German company) – great unit but now getting on a little (no DVI/HDMI). In future the (stereo) audio side may not be so important as I hope to move my CDs all to HDD and playback via an external DAC (research going on here too!). This is another reason for considering an HTPC – high end audio and video from one box ! Sounds too good to be true, particularly as I just read about another poster’s hard core DIY adventure with umpteen driver problems.

But I absolutely agree with you that this forum is the best place to work out whether my ambitions are realistic. And good luck with the beamer upgrade...
 

Tacitus

Active Member
Clark, great to share our mutual experience. I would be interested to hear how your htpc experience goes, because its one of those areas I keep hearing about and thinking should I get serious about it.

Also if you are based in Germany it would be good to hear what you think are the quality products over there. The Germans are well known for their approach to quality and some of the things I have seen have been very impressive. I occasionaly have to go over on business, so I would have the opportunity to purchase something useful. Please keep us informed. It adds to the richness of this website.

Thanks for your reply and good luck to you as well!:thumbsup:
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
Good thread, guys. Getting high quality audio and video from a PC can be done, but it can be difficult to get it entirely satisfactory, so that don't have to keep tinkering. You're absolutely right to plan your strategy, keep your options open, and continue to question all the options.

A close friend of mine (who thought he didn't need advice) spent quite a bit of money on HD Satellite and an HD Ready plasma that was recommended by the AV magazines. He's now wondering why it doesn't look any better than DVD.

Great DVD playback can be achieved with a basic PC.
Add an SD video capture card, and it will work well with SD TV.
Things get a bit more difficult and expensive with HD, but there is a clear way forwards with HD DVD & BD, though it's hardly like falling out of bed.
Try to use an external HD video source with a PC, and you suddenly have a real challenge. That's not to say it can't be done, but those big-ticket video processors suddenly start to make some sense.

Of course, if the upmarket display manufacturers got their acts together and started using HQV, VXP and similar processing, none of this would be a consideration, and you would only have to plug one player and one receiver into your TV, and you would be done. But so far it seems there is only one TV (Pio 5000) that will allow you do that and get everyth8ing that HD offers, but that's rather expensive. There will surely be more in the future, and in larger sizes and smaller prices, but right now I believe the real potential of HD is mostly being wasted.

Touching on the subject of PC audio, it now seems to me that it's quite possible to get very high quality from a PC in a very convenient manner, though simply connecting an expensive sound card to an AV amp is not necessarily it. Audiophile media players may be a very good way forwards. I heard the new Slim Devices Transporter recently, and that had a touch of magic about it, and there are other more cost-effective ways.

regards, Nick
 

VirusKiller

Active Member
Barring financial catastrophe, I too am going to get a JVC HD1 and am considering what sources to feed this rather wonderful 1080p projector. I intend to use the Gennum processing in the projector until I have enough cash to replace my Crystalio (I) with something more contemporary.

I'm currently entirely SD. SDI-modded Meridian 598 DVD and Sky+ boxes feeding the scaler.

However, I'm thinking of replacing the Meridian with an Oppo DV-970HD (£139) as a 480i/576i HDMI video transport. Did I really just say that?!!!

HD-DVD and SkyHD are also obvious possibilities. I won't be able to replace my SDI Sky+ until I get a scaler that can get hold of the 576i fields from the SkyHD box.
 

VirusKiller

Active Member
You can still use SCART out on the SkyHD box, don't necessarily need a vp50 for that.
That's true. The JVC HD1 accepts RGB+sync :smashin: as well as having a couple of HDMI inputs, so I guess that would do the job. What's the SCART RGB output like?
 

clarkc

Standard Member
Tacitus, I can recommend a couple of German companies to have a look at. My existing setup (DVD/CD unit, integrated amp, processor, tuner) all comes from T+A (http://www.taelektroakustik.de/eng/index.htm). It is a neat concept as the integrated amp provides audiophile quality 2-channel sound. The processor module provides an extra 3 channels for surround sound with the same output units so there is no compromise on quality by going to multi-channel. They are beautifully engineered units and sound great, also look great (to me) especially if you like a more minimalist style. Another German company with an excellent reputation for high-end equipment is Burmester
(http://www.burmester.de/english/welcome.html). Also great-looking gear, beautifully built although I have not had any direct experience with this. For speakers I chose units from Piega, a Swiss company (http://www.piega.ch). Also beautiful units, well constructed and very transparent. I have the luxury of a surround set but they are primarily conceived for audiophile stereo listening. Overall, I am very happy with this equipment but a) I wish to enjoy the convenience of HDD audio, b) the outputs from the DVD unit are not ideally suited to my Sony HS50 projector and c) I would like to enjoy HD in the future. So time for new toys !

Very happy to keep you posted on the HTPC project. At the moment, I am tending towards separate systems for audio and video which would eliminate some of the integration complexity (but will probably increase the cost :( ).

Touching on the subject of PC audio, it now seems to me that it's quite possible to get very high quality from a PC in a very convenient manner, though simply connecting an expensive sound card to an AV amp is not necessarily it. Audiophile media players may be a very good way forwards. I heard the new Slim Devices Transporter recently, and that had a touch of magic about it, and there are other more cost-effective ways.

It seems there are plenty of ways to ensure ‘bit perfect’ digital output from an HDD (including the Transporter mentioned by Nick which has its own DAC). There are also a number of standalone DACs with a USB interface (e.g. Stello, Bel Canto, Aqvox) which should make life simple.

On the video front, I may go the cowardly route :D with a readymade HTPC, possibly from a German company (http://www.sonavis.de) which theoretically should allow the integration of SD & HD TV, SAT, PayTV and recording capabilities. I will probably follow your approach and do some testing before investing heavily in a dedicated video processor. But based on what I’ve read to date, the flexibility and performance offered by the Crystalio II and VP50 units is very tempting... :rolleyes: .. particularly as I intend to invest in a decent LCD or plasma panel.
 

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