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#47937 - 03/15/03 09:06 PM How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
pleary Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 03/15/03
Posts: 22
Loc: Plano, TX, US
For the past 6-9 months I've researched and auditioned a fairly large selection of home theater electronics in an attempt to find a combination of components that not only does HT right, but also does 2-channel CD exceptionally well.

When I started, I had a pair of Mirage M3si speakers that were leftover from a high-dollar (for me) Mark Levinson system. I also had a Sony 9000ES DVD player that I bought on impulse at the same time I bought my rear projection TV. I figured the M3si's would make nice HT mains, and the 9000ES would make a capable CD/DVD player.

My space and cost constraints are such that it's not practical for me to have separate HT and 2-channel CD systems. It's also not practical for me to spend the kind of $$$ on the new electronics that I spent on the previous Mark Levinson rig.

Alas, the 2-channel CD performance of the Sony 9000ES is marginal, at best (as it also seems for most DVD players save the most expensive). And using its digital out for CD (in conjunction with the receiver/processor's D/A) was also mostly disappointing. Also, most of the receivers/processors that I've auditioned were disappointing in 2-channel CD mode, though a number were quite satisfying for movies.

I was beginning to think that it wasn't possible to have a single system, on a budget, that does movies AND 2-channel CD well...until I heard about the Outlaws.

At this point, I'm fairly convinced that the 950/755 combo will work nicely as the core of my new system. I also plan to bolster 2-channel CD performance by using a separate Monarchy 22C D/A (and DIP) to process the digital out from my DVD and feed the bypass inputs on the 950. It probably won't get me to the same level of performance that I enjoyed with the Levinson #39/380s/23.5, but I'm betting I won't be too far off.

Anyway, before I take the plunge and order the 950/755 combo, I'd be interested in knowing what others are doing to max out 2-channel CD performance with the 950.

Thanks in advance for your comments.

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#47938 - 03/16/03 04:21 AM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
Kevin C Brown Offline
Desperado

Registered: 12/11/01
Posts: 1054
Loc: Santa Clara, CA
My personal opinion, and others might disagree, but if you don't like the analog sound out of the 9000ES (i.e., its DACs), you probably aren't going to like the DACs in the 950 either. Sony, ES gear specifically, does a nice job on their analog backends.

I am slowly becoming convinced that I get better analog sound out of my DVD player (Pioneer 47ai with Burr Browns), but because of the sub phase issue mentioned elsewhere, I'm lazy and just use the DACs in the 950 for everything but SACD and DVD-A.


[This message has been edited by Kevin C Brown (edited March 16, 2003).]
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#47939 - 03/16/03 10:57 AM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
bossobass Offline
Desperado

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 430
Loc: charlotte, nc usa
it really doesn't matter which pre-pro or receiver you buy, or how much money you spend. the problem is still gonna be there.

ANY discrete multi-channel format is better sounding than 2 channel cd.

when you set up your system, whatever it ends up being, you will switch from a good movie soundtrack or dvd-a or sacd or dts-cd to playing a cd. your ears can't acclimate to cd because you have a constant a/b comparison between the formats.

a multi-channel system and good versions of the software simply exposes the inferiority of the 2 channel cd format.

a seperate 2 channel system is the only way to bring them closer, but, i would rather spend that money to upgrade some part of the multi-channel chain or buy hi-res multi-channel software instead.

it's not as much the wordlength and sampling rate (although it plays a part) as it is having 6 discrete channels of preamp/amp/speaker versus 2. many here will disagree, but the 'adequate for cd, great for movies' line is all too common.

if you insist on judging a system (especially a pre-pro) by it's ability to reproduce 2 channel cd, it will be a frustrating search. KCB is right...the player is your best option to improve the cd sound. a seperate, high-dollar cd transport sending analog signal to the 950/770/speakers.
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#47940 - 03/16/03 11:33 AM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
soundhound Offline
Desperado

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 1857
Loc: Gusev Crater, Mars
I solve this problem by having a high quality vacuum tube stereo preamp in line with the front left and right sends of my 950, with it going into an aux input. I have the CD, Turntable etc going into this preamp so that when I listen to 2 channel, I simply switch to those inputs on the preamp.

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The Soundhound Theater

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#47941 - 03/16/03 11:47 AM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
charlie Offline
Desperado

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 1176
Quote:
I'm lazy and just use the DACs in the 950 for everything but SACD and DVD-A.


I don't completely buy into some of the 'high-end' DACs and other related stuff for sale out there, but I certainly agree that for HT, where the visual sense should be engaged while listening, sound quality is probably less of a concern.
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#47942 - 03/17/03 04:12 PM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
Joe Le Offline
Deputy Gunslinger

Registered: 10/18/02
Posts: 2
Loc: San Jose
Thank you to Soundhound for your wonderful idea, i just connect a two channel vaccum tube pre-amp to the aux input of 950, I could not be happier with the stereo music. I canot sellect aux input from the remote control, it only gave me tape input, select from the front pannel 950 is OK, am I missing something? Please, help Soundhound!!

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#47943 - 03/17/03 04:20 PM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
boblinds Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 02/07/03
Posts: 242
Loc: Los Angeles
I think what Soundhound described is a tube preamp BETWEEN the line out of the 950 and his amplifier. As in: OUTLAW950>>TUBEPREAMP>>AMPLIFIER Then he connects his two-channel devices directly to the tube preamp and those sources NEVER go through the 950.

(And isn't Aux input over there on the right lower side of the remote?)

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#47944 - 03/17/03 04:55 PM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
Will Offline
Desperado

Registered: 05/28/02
Posts: 605
Loc: LA's The Place
Quote:

before I take the plunge and order the 950/755 combo, I'd be interested in knowing what others are doing to max out 2-channel CD performance with the 950.

Maybe someone in your area (Plano, Tx) may volunteer to let you audition their setup with their CD player and may even hook a 2 channel 2 CD player player that you would provide, for the demo.

At least around here, certain 950 owners are often willing to show others their setup!

Will

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#47945 - 03/17/03 05:39 PM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
pleary Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 03/15/03
Posts: 22
Loc: Plano, TX, US
Will: Good suggestion, but even if I don't have any neighbors with a 950, the 30-day trial from Outlaw is fine.

At this point, I'm fairly certain that a major factor in the less-than-stellar analog CD playback is my DVD player. While it works wonderfully for DVDs (and probably 2-channel SACD also), it's decidedly mediocre for regular CDs. And honestly, I suppose that CD playback is the best place to compromise for a $1500 DVD/SACD/CD player like the 9000ES. Even so, it should make a perfectly good transport for CD playback in conjunction with the Monarchy DIP 24/96 and 22C DAC/Pre.

With the Outlaws form-follows-function approach, I also expect that the 950/755 combo should be a big upgrade in terms of analog preamp and amp functionality (over the high dollar receivers and less expensive pre/pros). And I guess it goes without saying that its HT processing will be fine for my 5.1 setup.

soundhound: You've clearly got a preference for tube gear, so I can see why you've got the tube pre in the mix, but do you have any opinions on the quality of the 950 analog pre all by itself? Also, does the aux input on the tube pre (fed by the 950?) somehow bypass the volume control and route directly to the outputs?

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#47946 - 03/17/03 06:39 PM Re: How Do You Make the Most of 2 Channel Listening with the 950?
soundhound Offline
Desperado

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 1857
Loc: Gusev Crater, Mars
Quote:
Originally posted by pleary:
..... but do you have any opinions on the quality of the 950 analog pre all by itself? Also, does the aux input on the tube pre (fed by the 950?) somehow bypass the volume control and route directly to the outputs?


The bypass output of the 950 I would rate as being quite good, but not to the level of a tube preamp.

The "aux" input I referred to was a matter of convenience. I actually built the preamp and it has 6 identical stereo inputs. The volume control has two control positions: one is calibrated by trimpots for HT use to a DVD test disc, and the other position is through a conventional variable volume control for 2 channel listening. Either way, the volume is controlled by a conductive plastic attenuator, so it is as transparent as it gets.

Of course, if you go this route, you would need to mark a position on the preamp's volume control as "calibrated" for HT use so that you can conveniently return to it.



------------------
The Soundhound Theater

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