Originally Posted by CaliFan
Seems like the answer may be to get the ModWright guys (Dan Wright) (www.modwright.com
) to offer a modded Integra. Start with the stock unit. Keep the codecs and connectivity, keep the DSP, keep the Audyssey, clean up some of the shielding, and at the final stage replace the Burr-Brown DAC with something truly sweet and high-end.
Keep the Integra DSP and do HDMI-out into an external multi-channel DAC that takes HDMI 1.3! (does that even exist?). Let the new pre-pros do their thing (digital compatiblity, decoding, EQ'ing). Then let audiophile-quality DACs do their thing to the final digitial signal.
I would not want to go there, myself. It could open a can of worms about warranties, updates and the like. And, for what? There are no HDMI-in DACs, first of all, not yet, anyway.
I also do not think there is a serious issue about the Integra's DACs. I think the biggest differences we hear among DAC's is from the analog output stages. I am not talking about those DAC's with atomic clocks, or ring-DAC's, or other such exotica. Maybe the double-differential DAC chip idea is superior. The DAC chips themselves are mostly, some exceptions, off the shelf items in high-end DACs. The sound has been crafted and voiced mainly on the analog side of the DAC to give a unique and slightly different sound. Sometimes the differences are mainly euphonic. Some people prefer one sound over another. After Audyssey EQ, many of these individual differences tend to disappear, anyway.
Some people are Ok with the Integra DAC's with Audyssey EQ while others will not be. The only area of the Integra's music performance I think could really use improvement is the analog input stage for vinyl. I can get around this by just using an analog line stage with HT pass-through for vinyl. I still save a lot of $$$ over a high end pre/pro that has better analog-in, but the better pre/pro will not surpass the line stage in this department. There is too much EMI/RFI inside the pre/pro chassis, in spite of shielding. Possibly a pre/pro could be shielded adequately to eliminate this and come close to an analog line stage, but what's the point? Many home theater setups don't even have an analog source, so why should they all pay for a really good analog capability when many will not use it? Charlie Hansen at Ayre thinks as long as your pre/pro is hooked to a TV, cable box, etc. it is picking up noise from switching power supplies in those devices via the interconnects, even if they are turned off and their power supplies are idling. Analog signals, are, unfortunately fragile, and susceptible to all forms of EMI/RFI.
Is the Integra the end-all, be all? Of course not. It's just a realy great $1,600, soon to be $2,000, for the 9.9, pre/pro that sounds pretty darned good as it is, except for the analog-in issue, where it only sounds OK. That aside, it's arguably competitive with much more expensive units sonically, even without regard to features.