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Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo

Posted by Wolf 
Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
April 25, 2013 10:27PM
I am still a stereo fan, because I think with that, at the same money I can get better sound quality than with surround. No question, surround sounds great, but for me there’s not enough money.

On the other hand, maybe it’s a good idea to be prepared for some surround future.

My long time stereo SACD player, a Black Gate tuned Marantz SA-8004, went out of order and I now would like to go totally digital with players, storage and preamp. Only my lots of vinyl have to stay on analog stream.

So my idea was to get the new Masters Series from NAD, ripping everything to harddisk and get rid of the whole SACD, DVD Audio, and CD players stuff.

But when preparing my digital collections, I realized one day the problems with getting SACD content at full DSD quality to harddisk. Because of copying restrictions SACD DSD is changed to PCM, mostly 16 bit – not really better quality than the CD layer on hybrid SACD.

What to do?

Browsing on the internet I saw some digital upscaling for well known bd/dvd players. SACD sounding was said to become wonderful. So why not getting a good old player again and make it better than my SA-8004?

Asking Audiopraise for a Vanity module for i.e. a Marantz DV-8400, Pavel strongly recommended the Oppo BDP-93 plus Vanity93 module. Ok, I read of it but thought it a bit too high and too expensive for my purpose.
But playing DVD Audios, DVD Videos, BDs, and CDs on the same player on outstanding high resolution output as well without ripping before listening interested me highly.
So I ordered the just at Audiopraise’s offered used player and Vanity93.

The player came in very good shape. Changing the boards was really easy.
Using HDMI to TV screen with full SACD sound by coax to DAC and strict stereo settings were a bit tricky, SACD filter testing taking a bit of time. For all of that see below.

But the sound! Unbelievable!
Clear, precise, deep sound picture on stage! Alive!
I have to forget everything I heard before in the studios.

For better understanding, my reproduction chain is as follows:

Digital components so far are now:
Oppo BDP-93 + Vanity93
NAD M51 DAC, as a digitally volume controlled preamplifier as well

The Speakers/Amplifiers are an active engine with a special phase constant crossover. So I can control the listening (living) room on a wide range.

Speakers are a bunch of professional speakers, built into a lot of cabinets, driven by a lot of amplifiers – in total having grown over years.
Don't wonder obout that, one of my teachers at Hannover University has been Prof. Sennheiser (yes, the headphones professor - they built active studio monitors as well in those times).

Everything is stereo only.

For the SACD settings:

The Vanity manual's hint, HDMI device disturbs DSD choice which came from the Oppo player's menu and you have to look for the LEDs on the Vanity board, is essential. With HDMI connection to TV the player's menu (on TV) shows "DSD" but the on board LED shows "PCM". You do need a TV screen to do all the Oppo’s settings. And below you will see, for what it’s nessessary as well.

But the right setting is not an issue! You have to get into the Oppo’s Audio Format Setup and choose HDMI Audio OFF. That’s all. Now not only the player’s menu shows „DSD“, the onboard LED is red – real DSD.

And you can read the whole content of the SACD clearly in HD quality on the screen while the music is playing safe via DSD.

With the NAD M51 DAC the most natural sounding SACD filter for me seems to be #2 (DIP switches 3 and 4 OFF).
The slight powerful sound character of the Vanity93 goes well together with the slight light sound of the M51. I love the new sound. (And it really wasn't bad what I had before.)

Also my wife enjoys it. During decades she is listening with open ears to (my) progresses in sound. If she doesn’t realize, I know I did something wrong or the progress hasn’t been worth the time or the money.

But there is another effect I wasn’t aware of: While a lot of CDs have an outstanding sound now, a lot of others sound poorer than before. The well known effect of High End. But in my collection are enough of the first, I have to hear everything new. The others will go into a special „folder“.

Some hints for DVD playback:

There may be DVDs which you would like to hear in clean stereo instead of front left and front right of multichannel playback.

Ok, in the Oppo’s Playback Setup you choose DVD Audio Mode to DVD Audio.
In the Audio Processing’s Setup you choose Speaker Configuration/ Downmix Mode to Stereo.

But what do you hear with this settings if you play The Eagles’ „Hotel California“ DVD Audio?
The DVD is from 2001 Elektra/Warner. On backside of the cover is announced (among others):
• Advanced Resolution Multi-Channel Surround Sound (96 kHz/24 bit)
• Advanced Resolution Stereo (192 kHz/24 bit) - the only stereo purpose of the DVD

Don’t wonder, you only hear poor Stereo, that is front left and front right from multichannel playback! The DAC shows 96 kHz, while the player shows 2 Channel.

Why that?
„Easy“ answer: You started the DVD in standard order. You did not choose explicit Stereo Playback List from the DVD’s menu. With that DVD you can’t choose that in the player - neither by menu nor by remote! So for that choosing you need a TV screen!

But then in pure stereo: Goodness, what a rich sound, what a Saint Bernard bass!

How much wrong would I have done if I denied Audiopraise’s/Pavel’s recommendation!

Re: Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
April 28, 2013 02:13PM
Hi Wolfgang,
Many thanks for your comprehensive feedback.

Re: Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
April 28, 2013 07:32PM
Hi Pavel,
it's a pleasure.
Re: Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
May 06, 2013 06:29PM
Hi just joined ,just like you Wolfgang I am only interested in stereo, tried multi channel but too complicated and prefer beter quality stereo. I like music from lots of sources includes SACD/CD /hard disk and High res down loads plus Vinyl via a A to D converter.
I am considering an Oppo 93 as a digital source so was trying to understand if the Vanity 2 channel was all I needed or is it best to use the 93 version with the Oppo.I also like to watch blueray films as well so I guess the downmix of all the various high res formats on films will output ok through the boards.
Re: Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
May 07, 2013 12:30PM
Hi Geoff,

as I understand Audiopraise's website, the Vanity 2 Channel is not available for the Oppo player. With the Oppo player you have to decide among Vanity93 and Vanity93 lite. Each multichannel and stereo.

Your final decision has to depend on your playback chain, especially on your actual or for the future wanted loudspeakers. For something near High End the Vanity93 is truely worth its money.

Why do you run your Vinyl through an A/D converter? It shouldn’t sound better with this - unless you spent about 2000 EUR for it. With a very good A/D converter vinyl shouldn’t sound worse but still not better. The only advantage is to store it on HD and play it comfortably from there. What a gear for comfort only! I would like more spending my money for a better cartridge and play my vinyl from the turntable as I do since the sixties.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/07/2013 12:33PM by Wolf.
Re: Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
May 07, 2013 01:29PM
Thanks Wolfgang I mainly want to have 1 digital pre to control volume via a buffalo dac so that's the reason for a/d but I am slowly converting my vinyl to hard disk will take a long time though.I may wait to see if an Oppo 103 option comes available for the extra HDMI inputs I am also thinking about a digital active speaker in the future.
Re: Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
May 09, 2013 07:41PM
Ok Geoff,

for vinyl it should be sure, a good ADC on 192 kHz sampling rate (into the one and only DAC/digital pre) is a better option than vinyl through an average analog pre.
I do understand that you will wait for Oppo with Vanity103. Good luck!

Re: Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
June 19, 2013 09:15AM
I cannot resist on sharing that my vanity93 gives me day after day the same good feeling shared by Wolfgang !
I recently upgrade my system with DAC based on ESS9023 (on battery PSU) and thats just amaizing.
shall I recomend every one having a vanity and non digital amplifier (tact) to re-visit their DAC. Cheap ESS9023 on the 3 spdif output just does the magic / with good PSU.

enjoy the music!
only problem with oppo is its poor user interface which doesnt give the same WAF experience than basic apple tv.
Re: Vanity93 for SACD, DVD Audio, and pure Stereo
July 04, 2013 01:49PM
Hi Wolfgang a silly question for you how do you connect to your DAC is it one lead that is a single stereo conection, I am a bit confused about the multiply channel outputs.
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