Trying to understand true digital audio


New member
Username: Dana_w

Post Number: 2
Registered: Jan-05
So much info out there - I don't know where to begin.

Here's what I want, and maybe you someone can help steer me in the right direction:

DVD/SACD Up-scaling Player w/HDMI to Samsung HL-P5685W.
CD/SACD/DVD-A (et. al.) Player w/HDMI (or whatever the digital equivalent to that is?) to Receiver TBD. Btw, what is the rating structure for audio outputs?

I'm confused! Do I need separate DVD and CD players both with HDMI outputs (to a receiver with 2 HDMI inputs...does that exist?) so that I'm getting the best possible sound as well as the most versatility in formats?

Ack! Thanks so much for your advice.


Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 271
Registered: Oct-04
The upper end Denons do all that you describe. I'm very happy with the CD play-back of the 2910 I bought recently.

It really depends on your price range. The new offerings by Yamaha look good for the money. Also I've been reading that the new Harman Kardon DV-31 is a good hybrid player (no HDMI or upscaling though)


New member
Username: Dana_w

Post Number: 4
Registered: Jan-05
So would you advise going the all-in-one route with a universal player rather than a CD/SACD player purely for audio and a DVD/HMDI for my video? I'm trying to learn how I can have digital signals for BOTH audio and video... does that make sense?


Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 273
Registered: Oct-04
Depends what kind of system you're building. For truly the best system it would the best route to buy high end components for each type of medium.

You could easily spend $2000 on a high end CD player... or $20,000.

For hybrid players it's true that in most cases you lose a little performance here or there. The Denon 2910 does extrememly well in audio playback across CDs/DVD-V/DVD-A/SACD, it has HDMI support and selectable video upscaling ONLY on the HDMI connection. The 2900 and most recently the 3910 is a step up mostly in audio quality (according to select reviews I've read), although I'm perfectly happy not to spend double the $ for the new 3910. Unfortunately the 2900 does not have HDMI or scaling support, but is a great unit.

Pioneer Elite also makes some excellent players, that do everything well. The 59AVI is IMO a better deal than the 3910, definitely a solid unit that does it all well.

BTW... the HDMI cable carries digital signals for both audio and video. You can also connect with analog cables and optical/coax, but I don't really see the point.

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 412
Registered: Feb-04
I would second Kano's opinion that Denon makes very good universal players. The 2900 or 2910 should suit most people's audio and video needs, unless your other hi-fi equipment is high end. For example, if you have very detailed, revealing speakers (say, more than $1500 per pair) for listening to music, then you may reap the benefits of a better dedicated sacd/cd player.

New member
Username: Canuckinapickle


Post Number: 10
Registered: Jan-05
I recently listened to a SACD on a Marantz Player (I think it was universal) and a Universal Denon Deck of about the same price and was impressed by the Denon. I think the Denon was the 2910.

Good luck with your decision!

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest

My understanding is the HDMI connection is quite rare on receivers as of today. There would be little need for the HDMI connection on a stand alone CD player since the connection is intended to provide audio and video in one cable. A coaxial or digital output, or in some cases a simple analog output, will do everything a CD player requires.

I would think the most obvious answer to your question would depend on how much you value the best sound quality. Do you sit and listen to music without any distractions? Are you interested in being at the top of the price/performance curve or somewhere in the middle?

A dedicated CD player will provide a slight improvement in performance over most comparably priced combination units. Whether you can discern the diference depends on you, your music and your system. It is generally regarded as true that the more formats the player is asked to decode the lower the level of performance on at least one of those formats. Universal players offer the most flexibility at a typical cost of some performance over individual players. A dedicated SACD or DVD-A player is likely to have somewhat better performance on that format than the universal player which tries to accomodate everything equally well.

My personal preference for a SACD player is a mid priced Sony DVD/SACD player. It is in another room from the Sony DVD/SACD player I purchased two years ago and the performance of the new player is noticeably better that the older player. There seems to be a large improvement in the processing power of the SACD players as Sony brings the format down in price. I opted to spend slightly less right now as the performance increases over the next few years. I have the Sony paired with a mid priced Philips CD player for the Redbook discs.

The Hi rez market is in flux at the moment with new players not getting the same quality reviews as the previous models and a few players being upgraded in performance at lower prices. A quality player is never a bad choice as long as you consider this year's $900 model will be as good as next year's $600 model - probably.

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