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Old 07-25-2009   #85
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Question Re: ML 502 Media Console

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Originally Posted by Captain Stereo View Post
The $8,000 Classe SSP-800 blows it away. Not even close. Did a direct comparison in the same system. Had a customer return his D2 to get a Classe because the Classe sounds so much better (he concurs after having it in his system). The Classe was intended to be released at around $11,000 retail, but they made a strategic decision to release it at $8,000 to make it more price competitive with the D2s of the world. If you're a spec hunter and feature guy, get the D2. If it needs to be really really expensive to make you feel it's truly high end, get the 502. If you want the best sounding surround processor in the world, get the SSP-800 and with your saved money, get real cables and power conditioning.
have you ever listened to the 502 ?
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Old 07-25-2009   #86
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Default Re: ML 502 Media Console

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Originally Posted by thierry B View Post
have you ever listened to the 502 ?
Yes, in the same system where we had the SSP-800. In other words, SSP-800 in, then out replaced for testing by 502, no other changes. It was not even close. The SSP-800 was WILDLY BETTER. Why you'd spend the extra for something that was behind the times technology-wise when it was released and by a company that has been thru such exhausting changes is your perogative. Frankly it sounded like a Lexicon, which makes sense since many of Levinson's engineers left after the initial Madrigal purge and left for companies like.....CLASSE! But if you want something that sounds better for $27,000 LESS and by a company on the upswing backed by one of the most successful companies in the industry (B&W Group), then I'd suggest an SSP-800. To be fair, at this point, Levinson's two-channel stuff is still incredible, but I think the 502 was a misstep and not the equal of its predecessor, the Media Console No.40. Of course, the engineer largely responsible for that is now working for......wait for it.......CLASSE!
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Old 07-25-2009   #87
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Default Re: ML 502 Media Console

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Originally Posted by Captain Stereo View Post
The $8,000 Classe SSP-800 blows it away. Not even close. Did a direct comparison in the same system. Had a customer return his D2 to get a Classe because the Classe sounds so much better (he concurs after having it in his system). The Classe was intended to be released at around $11,000 retail, but they made a strategic decision to release it at $8,000 to make it more price competitive with the D2s of the world. If you're a spec hunter and feature guy, get the D2. If it needs to be really really expensive to make you feel it's truly high end, get the 502. If you want the best sounding surround processor in the world, get the SSP-800 and with your saved money, get real cables and power conditioning.
Does the recently released Classé SSP-800 yet decode Dolby HD and DTS-MA? I heard this unit at a Kansas City audio dealer's showroom a few months ago and it did not decode the HD codecs. I was advised that Classé was having a difficult time getting the chipset they needed to provide this audio feature.

Would there be any difference between the D2v and SSP-800 using the processor's pass-through capability? I inquire about this since I prefer to use the DAC's in my Esoteric for CD and SACD.

I have ordered the Anthem but am seriously tempted to cancel it based on your information. You've listened to each processor back-to-back in a static system. I've got to respect that.
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Old 07-25-2009   #88
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Default Re: ML 502 Media Console

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Originally Posted by ChiefTK View Post
Does the recently released Classé SSP-800 yet decode Dolby HD and DTS-MA? I heard this unit at a Kansas City audio dealer's showroom a few months ago and it did not decode the HD codecs. I was advised that Classé was having a difficult time getting the chipset they needed to provide this audio feature.

Would there be any difference between the D2v and SSP-800 using the processor's pass-through capability? I inquire about this since I prefer to use the DAC's in my Esoteric for CD and SACD.

I have ordered the Anthem but am seriously tempted to cancel it based on your information. You've listened to each processor back-to-back in a static system. I've got to respect that.
The new chipset for the dual DSP's is under testing now and will be shipped with new SSP-800's tentatively around the end of August. It is NOT a case of them having any difficulty. Just going thru testing. BUT.....ANYONE who knows what they're talking about will tell you that the actual decoding process is more like unzipping a zipped Windows file than a performance task. And to utilize BD-Live you HAVE to decode in the player and send it to the processor as LPCM (preferably over HDMI), where the performance-related tasks take place, namely the digital-to-analog conversion, electronic delay and level setting, etc. We're all just used to this being done in the processor so this seems new. Now one POTENTIAL advantage of decoding in the processor is that the audio signal is less prone to jitter when in bitstream form than when it has been decoded to PCM. Even then, the difference would be minimal at best even in a very high end system. As for your Esoteric, I would guess you would want to send it to the Classe's balanced analog input where it will undergo no DSP of any kind. Anyone getting a D2 over an SSP-800 is just not listening to the products and more likely reading forums as gospel.
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Old 07-25-2009   #89
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Default Re: ML 502 Media Console

Thanks for the response, Cap'n.

I have called my vendor and canceled the D2v. The basic reason I opted for the Anthem was its ability to decode the HD audio. All of the video upconversion and "broadcast" switching is pure gingerbread. I now plan to give the SSP-800 a thorough audition before plunking down the cash.

I believe Dave Nauber worked on the SSP-800. A retailer I did business with who is no longer in the AV and who knows Nauber stated that the ML40 was the target for this unit. Further, courtesy of Classé, he heard an early version of this piece and was emphatic about hitting the target in the bullseye.

Last edited by ChiefTK; 07-25-2009 at 05:53 PM..
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Old 07-25-2009   #90
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Default Re: ML 502 Media Console

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Originally Posted by ChiefTK View Post
Thanks for the response, Cap'n.

I have called my vendor and canceled the D2v. The basic reason I opted for the Anthem was its ability to decode the HD audio. All of the video upconversion and "broadcast" switching is pure gingerbread. I now plan to give the SSP-800 a thorough audition before plunking down the cash.

I believe Dave Nauber worked on the SSP-800. A retailer I did business with who is no longer in the AV and who knows Nauber stated that the ML40 was the target for this unit. Further, courtesy of Classé, he heard an early version of this piece and was emphatic about hitting the target in the bullseye.
Dave Nauber is a wonderful person and an industry giant, but he is not a technical person. He's the VP of the company. Alan Clark, largely responsible for the Linn Sondek CD12, largely regarded by many as the finest single box CD player in the world for a long long time, had a big hand, and another engineer whose name escapes me who did indeed work on the 40 was another. The SSP-800 blows the No.40 away. At $8,000, this thing is such a ridiculous bargain. You will buy it after an audition, guaranteed.
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