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Which is the better outboard DTS decoder?

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Q-Eight

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I've been told a few times to find myself a Millenium 2.4.6 decoder, and since I can't order one online (no credit card) and it'd be a cold day in h*ll if anybody locally knew what I was talking about. Anyway, I've found a Technics SH-AC500D on ebay for reasonable price and looking at the back pic, it has RCA outs!

Is it as good as the Millenium? Do decoders vary in ability or anything like that?
 

neil wilkes

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It sort of depends on when they were built.
Most are pretty much of a muchness, and I think the best one to get is the CAD5 if available, or a CAD4 if not.
However, any DTS Decoder has essentially the exact same firmware inside.

The individual amps may well differ in Bass Management options and crossover points though.
 

Cai Campbell

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All DTS decoders are not created equal. Earlier processors sometimes exhibit decoding anomalies. I would avoid anything manufactured before 1999. By 1999, the decoding chips matured enough to be pretty reliable across the board.

Assuming a newer, stable DTS processor, the differentiating factor among DTS decoders, regarding sound quality (not features) is the analog output stage. A quality analog output stage is really what sets the sound quality of decoders apart.

Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the various decoders to recommend any of them. However, don't assume there are not differences among them.
 

Quadwreck

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The Technics model you mention has a tendency to kick in late upon detecting the DTS signal, losing the first half-second or full-second on a DTS disc.
 

Kal Rubinson

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quadwreck said:
The Technics model you mention has a tendency to kick in late upon detecting the DTS signal, losing the first half-second or full-second on a DTS disc.
Not with the sample I have.

Kal
 

timbre4

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I used to have a couple of 1998 Millenium DTS units with the chip upgrades for DVD compatibility and they never hiccuped; sound was wonderful everytime. I liked that build quality and paid for on the first one! The 2nd was an eBay spare to use in another system.
 

neil wilkes

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Quite a lot of the decoders can take up to 2 seconds to lock onto the stream and start decoding. This happens with Dolby Digital decoders as well as DTS ones.
The best workaround is to do what most authors do, and ensure that there is at least 2 seconds of audio black at the start of a stream.
So far, every amp I have ever owned does this to a greater or a lesser degree. So now I simply add 2 seconds silence at the head of any DTS strea I create, be it for DVD or CD.

Re. the analogue stage, thanks Cai - I didn't think about that component. Of course that will make a difference. But to nitpick, is that actually part of the DTS decoder - or part of the amplifier design? I don't know enough about DTS decoders to know the answer there.
 

JonUrban

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It's funny, when I started doing conversions, I followed the spec of CD architect and added 2 seconds of silence at the beginning of all of the DTS CDs I created. I would make the DTS file, THEN add 2 seconds of silence before adding the track markers.

Well, I started to get emails from some people that those discs would not play on some players. I kept sending out replacements, but is wasn't until I bought my Sony SACD player that I could duplicate the problem, because these discs all played fine on all of my CD and DVD players. It turns out that some players did not have time to sense the DTS signal, so the signal never was picked up!

I went back and patched 2 seconds of ENCODED DTS silence onto these discs (removing the 2 seconds of real silence), and BINGO, they worked everytime.

Drove me crazy for a while!
 

Cai Campbell

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With an outboard DTS decoder, you are taking an encoded stereo digital signal and converting it to six mono analog signals. The quality of the analog output stage on the decoder will have a lot to do with the quality of the audio you hear (and yes, the analog stage is part of the decoder in an outboard unit).

However, you still have the quality of your pre-amp to contend with. Presumably, it has six analog inputs to accomodate the outboard decoder. If you're lucky (or not lucky, depending on your point of view) the pre-amp will pass-through these input analog signals to the analog outputs without additional processing. If you're not lucky (or maybe lucky, depending on your pont of view) the pre-amp will digitize the inputs for further DSP before converting them back to analog for output to the amplifier.

Whichever the case, the quality of the analog output stage on your pre-amp is also going to affect the quality of DTS performance. In sum, with an outboard decoder, you have two analog output stages that can potentially have an adverse effect on DTS performance.
 
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quadtrade

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Q-Eight said:
I've been told a few times to find myself a Millenium 2.4.6 decoder, and since I can't order one online (no credit card) and it'd be a cold day in h*ll if anybody locally knew what I was talking about. Anyway, I've found a Technics SH-AC500D on ebay for reasonable price and looking at the back pic, it has RCA outs!
Q-Eight said:
Is it as good as the Millenium? Do decoders vary in ability or anything like that?
I guess i should chime in on this. We used audiophile components when we built the Millennium 2.4.6. The first 100 were built in the south S.F.Bay area by the designers (the main engineer heads up Bob Carvers company now). These will not play DVDs as the firmware can not be changed, But they are built with a US built board and great converters(for the time). The rest came from Taiwan and have an exellent but slightly less robust build and converters, but we never had any problems minus a connector problem which was solved with another screw added to hold the connector in place better, after the first run in Taiwan. These boxes always sounded better than other early models of decoders despite which ever run was used. However a quality piece of equipment from 2004, which has excellent converters, should sound better as the converters have gotten better every year. The chip itself should have no play in this, in fact the chips now do so much, dsp functions ect.,they get hot like a computer chip, and in reality that is what it is. These may be a problem as these units age. WE even had a problem with heat and had to sink the chip to the box to get it not to overheat. The delay is a problem they solved with a change in chip design alowing for the delay. Mottorola and Cirrus Logic Crystal chips began emerging with the idea of doing many things on one chip, and solving all the problems of 2 chips or more and the switching nightmare. This link is an example of that period. http://www.cirrus.com/en/press/releases/P95.html
I have to say, this was an ingenious box, that could fit into all systems which was a nightmare at that time, when closed architecture was all that prevaled. There were no 5.1 inputs on any receivers, and we had to work many solutions to get around that problem. I seemed to answer connection solutions for several years. Right after we came out with the Mill, the guys at Denon told us they saw the light, and open architecture was the future. Next year they started with the inputs.

......Brad Miller was many things, but most of all in his last efforts in the recording biz, he drove the whole system to become quad friendly again, his DTS push, and with us doing this box, and his drive to get into the Record Company back catalogs again to give us something to play with this box! We deliberatly did this box just to jumpstart the quad era again.This would have been a much slower start without him. We owe him a bit of gratitude, even if posthumous, and he deserves a tribute at the top of the Quadraphonicquad header, perhaps a Mystic Moods quad CD-4 showing for us all to see. He had an incredible drive, was one of a kind, and i miss him.:)
 
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Q-Eight

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Quick Question:

Does the Technics SH-AC500D have the capability to downmix to 4.0 like the Millenium 2.4.6 does?
 

Kal Rubinson

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Q-Eight said:
Quick Question:
Does the Technics SH-AC500D have the capability to downmix to 4.0 like the Millenium 2.4.6 does?
IIRC, you set it up as you would a modern pre/pro, telling it which speakers of the 5.1 you have and how big they are. So, the answer is yes (probably). (I have not set it up in about 2 years.)

Oh, and it does DD, too, as well as a pseudo-surround mode.

Kal
 

Q-Eight

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Been using my Technics unit for a few months now, I rather like it! Although it does have a tendancy to cut out on the beginning of the first 2 seconds of some songs.... but only on the commercial DTS discs I have.
 

cupboy

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quadtrade said:
I guess i should chime in on this. We used audiophile components when we built the Millennium 2.4.6. The first 100 were built in the south S.F.Bay area by the designers (the main engineer heads up Bob Carvers company now). These will not play DVDs as the firmware can not be changed, But they are built with a US built board and great converters(for the time). The rest came from Taiwan and have an exellent but slightly less robust build and converters, but we never had any problems minus a connector problem which was solved with another screw added to hold the connector in place better, after the first run in Taiwan.
So what you're saying is that my USA built unit cannot be updated ? I bought the upgrade components for $20 several years ago but still have not installed the upgrade. According to what you're saying I can't anyway ? What serial numbers are you talking about ?
 

quadtrade

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narcopolo said:
So what you're saying is that my USA built unit cannot be updated ? I bought the upgrade components for $20 several years ago but still have not installed the upgrade. According to what you're saying I can't anyway ? What serial numbers are you talking about ?
The 100 units we sold at the first CES were made in the south bay area near san jose. At the time DVD was still a unknown technology and these did not have an eprom that could be swapped. It will play any pcm signal that is DTS, but does not see the flag in a dvd. Only after we said yes to manufacture did we have the specs that allowed us to proceed in that manner. Up to that point, we were geared for DTS laserdiscs. If it says Crystal Bay instead of Incline Village on the left back and if it says Manufactured and Designed in the USA on the right back, it is one of these models. I think they have a written serial # also. The only early unit i possess is one with Tad as the serial, and i watched the fellow who designed it write it on, but i believe they all were serials in marker.
 
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cupboy

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My serial number was done with a marker. I seem to think it says Incline Village on the back but I'd have to look. It also says Manufactured and Designed in the USA. No big deal. I just use it for LDs and CDs anyway. Movies I play using the built-in dts in the Technics which sounds good enough for movies.
 

Dolby CP-200

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Hello I also own the “Millennium 2 4 6 dts” decoder which I paid around £300.00 pounds for around 1998. The reason was because was newer stand alone dts decoder arrived on the UK shores and was priced much lower so I twisted the salesman’s arm to the point of breaking if he didn’t lower the price on the “Millennium” I’d go for the other make, can’t remember the other make or model.


The picture above is my own “Millennium 2 4 6 dts” taken 2005

Anyway there it is, I also found this picture of another dts decoder which looks kinder neat.
 

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The Quadfather

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With the exception of the 2 sec delay, the Technics SHAC500D is a fine decoder. It was my first DTS decoder, I now use a Pioneer DV45A player, so I have less use for the Technics, but I have found that I still need the SHAC500 when watching movies. Since the Pioneer will not decode 5.1 and stereo at the same time, I use the Pioneer to decode the stereo track while the SHAC500D decodes the surround track coming from the Pioneer. The surround signal gets sent to the living room where I like to watch, and the stereo signal gets sent to the bedroom where my wife likes to watch at the same time.

Before I got set up for 5.1 amplification, I ran the SHAC500D with four channels and it did fine. Of course all there was at the time was DTS recordings with quadraphonic recordings on them, But I do believe there was one or two with center channel info and they worked well as I recall.

The Quadfather
 

Quadzilla

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If you use an HDTV receiver, the Technics will decode Dolby Digital surround sound programs. The Millennium is DTS-only. Also, with all of the Dolby Digital music stuff becoming "standard" so to speak, it won't hurt to have both decoders.
 
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Q-Eight

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If you use an HDTV receiver, the Technics will decode Dolby Digital surround sound programs. The Millennium is DTS-only. Also, with all of the Dolby Digital music stuff becoming "standard" so to speak, it won't hurt to have both decoders.
I use it to decode DD signals on my satellite receiver. Optical out from the satellite box to one of the three optical ins on the Technics and it works great!
 
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