Iam not the kind of person that would normally use the word love when describing an inanimate object. Dont get me wrong I am quite attached to my portable CD/MP3 player, and have great fondness toward my Tivo, but love…that just seems a little weird.
So the Integra DPS-8.3 SACD and DVD-Audio/Video player has put me in a bit of a quandary. I mean, consider what it does for you. Im sure that you, like me, are accruing a healthy collection of surround sound music and videos carrying various acronyms including SACD, DVD-A, DVD-V not to mention stereo formats on CD-R, and MP3. Add to this assortment the fact that these formats can each carry from one to a number of compression and encoding schemes such as Dolby Digital, DTS, MLP, and DSD, and you start to wonder if youll ever hear the discs as they were meant to be heard. Well, maybe youll get to the right settings, but not without spraining a thumb going through on-screen menus on both the disc player and your receiver.
Properly configured, the Ultra-THX-certified DPS-8.3 lets you drop a disc in any disc hit Play, and enjoy. It determines what kind of disc, the number of channels used, and which output (analog or digital) to use. Of course, youll need a solid receiver, too, and the Denon AVR-1082 I used with the DPS-8.3 more than lived up to the task accurately handling whatever information the DPS-8.3 threw at it.
Hook-up of the DPS-8.3 is about what you would expect analog outs to analog ins (for DVD-A and SACD) and the optical out to optical in (for everything else). Once done, you are pretty much ready to roll, with the exception of changing the SACD preferences through the on-screen menu system. SACD playbacks default setting is 2-channel, but a few thumb clicks that can be accomplished through either the remote or the front-panel controls can get you to the Audio menu, where you can change the default to 5.1-channel. You can also use the Audio setup menu to adjust the size and distance of the speakers, the gain settings, and whether or not the subwoofer output is used.
This seems like a good time to bring up bass management. The DPS-8.3 does provide bass managment for all discs except DVD-Audio. SACD software will benefit from bass management.
Getting back to my emotional conflict, it doesnt help that the DPS-8.3 is also a good communicator. Through its narrow, front-panel display, it tells you what kind of disc is playing, what codec it is using, what channels are playing (with individual indicators for L, C, R, LS, S (monaural surround channel), RS, and LFE), and whether or not you are listening to a downmixed version of the disc. And the DPS-8.3 is not only nice to high-res formats pop in an MP3 disc and hit the Menu button to get to the units MP3 Navigator, which lets you see and select folders and track names from easily accessed lists.
I played DVD-Audio discs, DVD-Video discs, SACDs both stereo and multichannel MP3 CD-Rs, DTS-encoded CDs, and standard CDs in the DPS-8.3, and all were handled just as they were meant to. The reproduction sounded good compared to my dedicated DVD-A player and SACD machine, although I had to rely on memory as I dont have the necessary equipment or space to do a direct A/B comparison. My only complaint with the DPS-8.3 is with the remote control. The center of the remote has an Enter wheel, where you push along the edges to scroll across the on-screen options (whether on a DVD menu or the units own set up) and push the center of the wheel to actually activate the selection. Too often, I wound up either selecting the wrong thing or shooting past what I actually wanted because of the wheels sensitivity. Admittedly, I did get better at it the longer I used the unit.
And one quick caveat for those using the DPS-8.3 in a professional installation: you are going to have to deal with unbalanced, hi-fi level signals.
So there you have it. The DPS-8.3 certainly makes living in this multi-format age easier to do, and takes a lot of the guesswork out of high-resolution audio listening, which is something everybody could use. Additionally, it sounds good, and provides most of the features you need.
So whats not to love…er…like.
CONTACT: Integra, Division of Onkyo U.S.A. Corporation, Tel: 201-785-2600,