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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    13


    Time to make some long overdue A/V equipment decisions

    Caveat:
    I am not an audiophile. This is not my area of expertise. I am doing the research but that doesn't mean I understand everything I'm reading. Noob is probably a step above me...


    Background:
    Even with a couple of color wheel/lightbox replacements to extend its life, my Samsung DLP TV finally decided to call it quits after 10+ years of use. Fortunately, the end was gradual enough that I could do the research for its replacement. The end result was the purchase of a Samsung UN65JS8500. I really wanted one of the OLED versions but, damn, they're expensive. Maybe the next upgrade...


    Situation:
    So, there's a new TV in the house. How well will it integrate into an aging (at least 15 years old), Kenwood HT in-a-box system?

    Cable TV - The cable box has HDMI output so no problem with connecting directly to the TV (well, actually a One Connect Mini). The cable box connects to my AV receiver via an optical jack. Not ideal but it works.

    DVD Player - Houston, we have a problem... The DVD player has an s-video/optical audio output. It plugs in nicely to the AV receiver. Unfortunately, the AV receiver does not contain any HDMI output jacks so there's no way to get the output to the TV. The DVD player doesn't have HDMI output so I can't bypass the receiver and connect directly to the TV and the TV does not have an s-video jack. Bottom line: my old DVD player appears to be nothing more than a boat anchor now.

    So, I need to upgrade my DVD player, at a minimum, and possibly the AV receiver if I want to watch DVDs.

    I've always told myself that one day, I would own a nice audio system. Since I'm being forced to upgrade, now seems as good a time as any to go full out. I do like listening to music a lot but the sound system will see more action as a home theater (maybe 70/30). But perhaps with a decent system, that could change.

    And so, research began...

    OMG, I can not believe the amount of reading it took just to come up with a BASIC understanding of everything involved! (i.e. speaker wire resistance, 4 vs 6 vs 8 ohms, balanced/unbalanced connectors, Dolby Atmos, speaker technology, 1 or 2 sub-woofers, bass traps, and on and on and on...). So many bunny trails it's overwhelming. I gave myself a headache. I've talked myself into and out of several models because there's so much information and conflicting opinions. Kudos to those of you who grasp every piece of this.


    Solution(s):
    At this point, I think I have a goal. I'd like a nice mid-level to upper mid-level home theater system that I will build component by component. I believe my end goal will be a 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos enabled system but that's not set in stone. Anything is going to be a step up from my simple 5.1 system. Do I really need 2 sub-woofers? Research 'seems' to indicate yes if you want to eliminate bass 'dead zones' and just overall better quality bass sound. 7.x.2 vs 7.x.4 vs 5.x.2 vs 5.x.4 speaker system? Dolby Atmos up firing speakers or in ceiling speakers? The verdict is still out but hopefully the system I'm building will be versatile enough to handle whatever I decide. So many questions.

    Step One - Upgrade the DVD player. My leading choice, so far, is the OPPO BDP-105D. With it's great on board DAC, I'll be able to stream/play digital music which is an option I've never had. The DVD/CD player will allow me to get rid of the 5-disc, revolving tray CD player I have and the video processing should make use of all my new TV's capabilities. And it has a headphone jack (which the 103D doesn't). If you're married, you'll likely understand why that's important, LOL. In addition to HDMI output, it also has analog output so I can still plug it into my old AV receiver (at least until it gets upgraded).

    Step Two - Upgrade the AV receiver. My leading choice here is the Onkyo TX-RZ900 but it's a tentative lead (maybe the TX-NR1030?). I'm still trying to determine if it will meet my eventual goal of 7.2.4 (if that remains the goal).

    Step Three - Upgrade speakers. At this point, I'll have three good components (TV, AV Receiver, and DVD/CD/DAC player) but it's probably going to sound like crap still because of the old, budget, HT in-a-box speakers I'm running all this nice sound through. However, that starts a whole 'nuther round of discussion, i.e.:
    - do I need a power amp?
    - What about mono block amps?
    - How about powered speakers?
    - Do I need two subwoofers and if so, do I have what it takes to hook them up?
    - Dolby Atmos enabled speakers or add-on modules?
    - etc.

    For now, I'll table that discussion until I get the components. Oh, and since I'm still in the process of relocating to a new state/job, I'm renting a house. Speaker discussion probably won't occur until I've bought my next home (if I understand correctly, speaker selection should be based on the room they're going to be in, right?).


    The Question(s):
    - Am I heading down a good path here with the OPPO BDP-105D/Onkyo TX-RZ900 pairing or have I missed something?
    - Will these choices get me to where I want to go or should I be looking at a different solution?
    - And the biggest question: Have I overlooked something important?


    Mike

  2. #2
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Posts
    18,071


    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Hey Mike, welcome to the forum.

    The Oppo BDP-105D is an excellent Blu-ray player. It's really hard to come up with a player that would better. I'm wondering why you choose it over the BDP-103D. The difference between the two is the 105D has superior DACs for music (using the analog audio outputs), but they are identical for video processing and audio via HDMI. The 105D does have a headphone jack, as you mentioned, but so do a lot of AVRs.

    I'm not looking to change your mind about the 105D, I just curious.

    The Onkyo TX-RZ900 looks like it has every feature you would need, a decent amount of power, and already has Dolby Atmos and DTS:X™.

    The biggest thing that will impact your overall sound is new speakers. You mentioned you are still running speakers that came with your home theater in a box. Generally, they aren't the best quality speakers since manufacturers try to put everything into a package, at a decent price. I suppose my point is if your wanting to get the biggest bang for your upgrade buck, look into speakers and a new AVR first. If finds won't allow to also buy the Oppo, I would look at getting an inexpensive Blu-ray player, and the buy the Oppo when funds are available.

    Maybe someone else will jump in with a different opinion. It happens.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    13


    Tracy,
    Thanks for replying!


    The biggest thing that will impact your overall sound is new speakers. You mentioned you are still running speakers that came with your home theater in a box. Generally, they aren't the best quality speakers since manufacturers try to put everything into a package, at a decent price. I suppose my point is if your wanting to get the biggest bang for your upgrade buck, look into speakers and a new AVR first.
    I agree absolutely, 100% with you on that. Everything I've read about buying speakers all agree on one thing - if you have crappy speakers it doesn't matter how nice the components are (on general principle). You're still restricted by the crappy speakers. However, they also agree that you should buy speakers/amps based on the room you're going to be using them in.

    As an example, I cite:

    How to buy speakers: A beginner's guide to home audio | Digital Trends
    "Room size: Ask a professional for advice and one of the first questions they are likely to ask is “how big is your room?”"
    "...We also need to think about how open the room is."


    and of course the walls and floor need to be taken into account (carpet, reflective surface, like wood)

    As I mentioned, I'm in the middle of a relocation and I'm renting a small house. I have no idea what the room will look like when I buy my next house. I don't think it makes sense to spend thousands of dollars on a speaker system that may or may not work well in their final destination. I'm going to have to use what I have now as a temporary solution. And that's why I can't start the upgrade with them first. But, that does not mean I can't buy a replacement DVD player now. As far as I know, the size/shape/condition of a room has no bearing on a DVD player.

    The Oppo BDP-105D is an excellent Blu-ray player. It's really hard to come up with a player that would better. I'm wondering why you choose it over the BDP-103D. The difference between the two is the 105D has superior DACs for music (using the analog audio outputs), but they are identical for video processing and audio via HDMI. The 105D does have a headphone jack, as you mentioned, but so do a lot of AVRs.
    My approach in looking for a DVD player was to read a good sampling of "Best Of" technical reviews and try and come up with a consensus. That consensus I came up with seemed to point to the OPPO BDP-10xD series. As you point out, it does seem to be the leading player out there at this time (and I did look at the Cambridge Audio CXU and Marantz UD7007 reviews). For example:

    BLU-RAY PLAYER REVIEWS | Sound & Vision
    "Our Top Pick Blu-ray player only gets better with onboard Darbee video processing and full support for DSD file playback."

    5 Best Blu-Ray Players - Apr. 2016 - BestReviews
    "Without question the best blu-ray player available."

    Blu-ray and DVD Player Reviews | Audioholics
    "If you are fully intent on building a two-channel and multi-channel system of equal measure, I simply can’t make a higher recommendation than this product."

    Oppo BDP-103 Universal Blu-ray Player - HomeTheaterHifi.com
    "Other players have come out firing at Oppo, but none has yet to dethrone it as the reference Blu-ray player. It has output that is perfect, has features that no one else has been able to offer, and has performance in all areas that leads the industry. For the single best Blu-ray picture available, the Oppo BDP-103 is untouchable."

    The Best Blu-ray Player | The Wirecutter
    "Universally recognized as the best Blu-ray player available, the Oppo’s superior video processing will provide the best picture from any disc, with better DVD scaling that competing players and better 4K scaling than most TVs."



    As to why I chose the 103D over the 105D, it was strictly because of the audio. Yes, the headphone amp played a small part in the decision, but as you rightly point out, most AVRs also have headphone jacks. As you also mention, the video playback appears to be the same in both models. I could easily choose the 103D, especially considering I won't hear the difference with the crappy speakers I currently have. But I was more thinking about down the road, when I reach my final destination and good sound reproduction does become relevant again. At that point, I'm going to need a good quality DAC. I could get the 103D now and get the DAC later but aren't I just getting a 105D except it's in two components instead of one?

    On the other hand, I haven't checked prices but it's possible that separating the DVD player/DAC components out could be a cheaper route (albeit one with a slightly larger footprint) and that may well be a good argument for going with the 103D...

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