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Denon DCD-A110 CD/SACD player

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 4xoddic, Nov 30, 2020.

  1. 4xoddic

    4xoddic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've been giving some thought to upgrading my Yamaha BDA-1040 cd/SACD player. Denon released its 110th anniversary components in October. The $3K DCD-A110 player has no digital inputs, is that a deal-killer in 2020? I have no experience with Denon

    I'd been considering Yamaha's 2014 CD-S2100, @ $2595, which has XLR outputs & USB input; but the DAC is the same as in my BDA-1040.

    Your thoughts would be welcome . . . . Google has found no discussion on the new Denon player.


    Celebrate 110 years of defining audio excellence with the masterfully crafted Denon limited edition Anniversary Series silver graphite SACD player, the DCD-A110. Offering a Quad DAC configuration and new Ultra AL32 Processing, upgrade your expectations and enjoy your music in perfect detail.

    4x PCM1795 DACs

    5 year warranty

    inherits its customized audio Denon capacitor from the “DCD-SX1 Limited”, our premium SACD player only sold in Japan. AMRS and MELF resistors have been largely adopted in the audio and power sections. MELF resistors offer higher performance with low current noise.

    Scratcha likes this.
  2. bruce2

    bruce2 Forum Resident

    Connecticut, USA
    Its up to you whether no digital inputs is a deal killer or not. It is not for me because I only listen to SACDs and CDs from my physical collection.
    Scratcha, soundboy and 4xoddic like this.
  3. redchiro

    redchiro Forum Resident

    Boston, MA
    Might want to check out the Marantz sacd 30n. It is 2500, has all inputs to use as a dac, plus it is an excellent streamer. Probably has the same drive as the Denon.
  4. soundboy

    soundboy Senior Member

    Or Technics' SL-G700 at $2,995....a competitor to Marantz' 30N
  5. DavidR

    DavidR Forum Resident

    Why should it need digital inputs, if people need to stream they need a proper streamer.

    I'm very happy with my A110, it is a fabulous CD/SACD player.
    RS2099, 4xoddic and Scratcha like this.
  6. 4xoddic

    4xoddic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Appreciate the input!

    With no open/close button on the remote, I believe this ergonomic aspect rules out the Denon for me:

    Insert a disc.
    0 Press 5 on the main unit to open/close the disc tray.
  7. DavidR

    DavidR Forum Resident

    Is pressing eject just before you insert a cd a big issue? It is not an ergonomic issue it's a laziness issue...
  8. 4xoddic

    4xoddic Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have a visual cognitive impairment which complicates my abilities.
  9. ether-bored

    ether-bored bored of the....

    I’ve just received an A110 today. I have to say that it sounds rather *stunning* right out of the box. Shames my Primare CD31 and Cambridge Audio 851C, that’s for sure. The first thing that strikes me, beyond the soundstage and spatial qualities, is the low end articulation. It’s spellbinding.

    I’m very curious how the would A100 contrast.
  10. ether-bored

    ether-bored bored of the....

    Do I understand your P7000S to be 700 watts? I think the A110 should make your short list. It would be a distinct step up from your current Yamaha combo player.
  11. No Worries

    No Worries Well-Known Member

    Western New York
    I have owned and used a Denon DCD1600NE since last July, and have a DCD-A100 stored as backup. I recently bought the new DCD-A110 and have been putting it through its paces. I want to listen some more before commenting in detail, but overall I like the A110. I was also very happy with the 1600NE.

    Following is some information excerpted from Denon's brochure and some selected specs I compiled from the user manuals:


    (Selected features)

    Ultra AL32 Processing with 384-kHz/32-bit Support

    The DCD-A110 is equipped with Ultra AL32 Processing, the latest analog waveform reproduction technology from Denon. Ultra AL32 Processing utilizes data interpolation algorithms and supports Hi-Res 192-kHz/24-bit PCM signal input. These algorithms interpolate points that should exist before and after the points in large quantities of data to achieve a smooth waveform that is close to that of the original signal.

    These algorithms up-sample the bandwidth from the original content, smoothing out the waveform and improving the sound reproduction. Ultra AL32 Processing doubles the processing bandwidth from the previous generation up-sampling 384-kHz/32-bit content to 1.536-MHZ. By carefully restoring data that was lost during digital recording, the resulting playback sound is highly detailed, free of interference, accurately localized, richly expressive in the lower range, and beautifully faithful to the original sound.

    Intel Inside - Ultra AL32 Processing

    Intel’s latest Field Programmable Gate Array, the Cyclone 10, is on board to support the massive data computation required to support Ultra AL32 processing. This processor realizes half the EMI and heat generation of the Cyclone IV previously used in AL32 processing.

    Quad DAC Configuration

    The DCD-A110 introduces a new Quad DAC configuration for a more powerful and better spatial expression of the sound stage. Each DAC converts the large amount of data coming from the Ultra AL32 processing for both left and right signal dispatch. This allows the current output bundling to achieve the best sound, and also surpass the operating frequency limit of the DACs, for an outstanding audio performance. This improves the low noise level, improving S/N ratio by 4 to 6dB depending on the sampling frequency of the content (6dB for PCM and 4dB for DSD), as well as the Total Harmonic Distortion accordingly. Lastly, the DCD-A110 does not use a traditional OP-Amp’s Post Filter Circuit. It is equipped with full discrete filter stage with carefully selected custom tuned audio parts selected by the Denon sound master to achieve outstanding audio performance and an expansive sound stage.

    DAC Master Clock Design

    Because accuracy is the key to performance, the DCD-A110 is equipped with two clock oscillators, one for each sampling frequency (44.1-kHz and 48-kHz), that can be switched between the frequencies to thoroughly suppress jitter. The high-quality clock is the reference for the four-audio DAC operation and ensures that the digital audio circuitry performs at its maximum potential. To supply a cleaner master clock directly to the DACs, the DCD-A110 is equipped with tri-state buffer type multiplexers. The Master clock signal supplied from the crystal oscillator passes through the buffer
    circuit only once to the DAC, impacting the jitter of only 18 fs (femto second = 1015 second).

    Independent Digital and Analog Power Supply

    To eliminate mutual interference and noise, the power supply units for the digital and analog circuits are fully independent even though the signals have different characteristics.

    Dedicated Fully Discrete Power Supply for Analog Audio Circuitry

    The DCD-A110 analog power supply circuit features a fully discrete design that is optimized for audio with the original Denon large-capacity (3300 μF) block capacitor used for the power unit of the analog audio circuitry after the D/A converter. The DCD-A110 boasts custom parts, such as High-Power Bipolar Junction Transistor, Fully Discrete Voltage Regulator Circuit, high-sound-quality electrolytic capacitors and polyphenylene sulfide capacitors. These specially designed parts have been co-developed with select manufacturers through an extensive regimen of repeated listening
    tests. These parts enable a clean, yet robust, stable supply of power, resulting in a sound that is delightfully balanced between a strong foundation and delicate details.

    Advanced S.V.H. Mechanism, Denon’s Original Disc Drive Design

    The DCD-A110’s disc drive is equipped with the Advanced S.V.H. (Suppress Vibration Hybrid) Mechanism inherited from Denon’s high-end models. Signal paths have been shortened to an absolute minimum and circuits have been miniaturized to ensure that excess current and noise will not occur. The various parts are made with different materials such as a copper plate for the top panel to strengthen rigidity, diecast aluminum for the disc tray, and 2mm thick steel for the mechanism brackets. Improvements in high-mass, vibration-resistant properties and the dispersal of resonation points
    contribute to a high level of vibration resistance. In addition, the mechanism’s low center of gravity suppresses any vibration occurring inside the mechanism due to disc rotation, and the mechanism structure also effectively suppresses external vibration. By eliminating unwanted vibration, servo-related operations are minimized, and by also minimizing unnecessary controls and current consumption, digital signals can be read from the disc with optimum accuracy under stable conditions.

    High-Grade Audio Components

    All audio components have been carefully selected and optimized for the best sound quality. The DCD-A110 inherits its customized audio Denon capacitor from the “DCD-SX1 Limited”, our premium SACD player only sold in Japan. AMRS and MELF resistors have been largely adopted in the audio and power sections. MELF resistors offer higher performance with low current noise.

    Circuitry with Minimized Signal Paths

    DCD-A110 circuits have been thoroughly redesigned to adhere closely to the “simple & straight” design philosophy. Circuit patterns have been reworked from the ground up to make the signal paths as short as possible and ensure that the original sound is faithfully reproduced across the sonic spectrum. As a result, interference between circuits and between left and right channels as well as adverse influences on audio signals are minimized, producing clean, highly transparent sound.

    Direct Mechanical Ground Construction

    The integrity of musical signals deteriorates when they are subject to internal vibration caused by disc rotation or the power transformer
    or to airborne vibration caused by sound pressure from the speakers. To guard against such influences, Denon engineers designed a vibration suppression structure called “Direct Mechanical Ground Construction”. In this design, the power transformers – themselves a source of vibration – have been placed close to the feet of the DCD-A110 where unwanted vibration is funneled directly to the ground and prevented from affecting nearby circuitry. Also, by placing the drive mechanism – the part with the greatest mass – low in the center of the chassis, the low center of gravity effectively
    absorbs internal vibration caused by disc rotation and also protects the mechanism from external vibration. To further shut out external vibration, the 1.2mm thick main chassis has been reinforced with two 1.6mm thick steel plates to produce a highly rigid three-layer structure with sufficient vibration-resistant mass.

    (Where there are separate specs for SACD and redbook, I have listed only the SACD specs.)

    DCD-A100 / DCD-1600NE / DCD-A110

    Year introduced: 2010 / 2016 / 2020

    Price: $2599 (2010) / $1299 (2/21*) / $3199 (2/21**)
    *Was $1,199 in mid-2020. **Was $2,999 in fall 2020.

    Frequency range: 2 Hz-100 kHz / same / same

    Frequency response: 2 Hz-50 kHz (-3dB) / same / same

    Dynamic range: 114dB / 112dB / 118dB

    Signal to noise ratio: 119dB / 119dB / 122dB

    Total harmonic distortion: 0.0008% / <0.001% / 0.0005%

    Width: 17.1” / 17.1” / 17.1”
    Height: 5.4” / 5.3” / 5.4”
    Depth: 13.2” / 13.0” / 15.9”

    Weight: 32 lbs. / 18 lbs. / 36 lbs.

    AL32 Processing: Advanced / Advanced Plus / Ultra

    DAC: 32-bit, 192 kHz / 32-bit, 192 kHz / 32-bit, 384 kHz
    AKM AK4399 x 2 / PCM 1795 x 2 / PCM 1795 x 4

    Warranty: No longer sold new / 1 year / 5 years

    Remote: Brushed aluminum / Plastic / Like A100
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
    Carlox, ether-bored and George P like this.
  12. No Worries

    No Worries Well-Known Member

    Western New York
    The following is intended to comment on the material I posted above, and not on my initial hours with the new DCD-A110.

    When I replaced the DCD-A100 with the DCD-1600NE last summer, the improvement (to my ears) was unequivocal and surprising. Mainly it was in the area of clarity. I noted improvement in SACDs but even moreso in redbook CDs. The key specs listed above actually show a slight decline in dynamic range and everything else about the same, except in two areas: an upgrade from "Advanced AL32 Processing" to "Advanced AL32 Processing Plus," and a change in the DAC chip used. AL32 Processing is apparently used only on redbook CD's, and not relevant to SACD/DSD. If that is the case, then I would chalk up the perceived improvement in SACD sound quality to the choice of chip and/or its implementation, or some other factor; and the additional improvement in redbook CD's to whatever changes were made in AL32 Processing between 2010 and 2016.

    As I said above, I am very happy with the DCD-1600NE. I bought the A110 because the material I posted above intrigued me and I wanted to hear what had changed. It's evident that over the last decade Denon has exploited a large opportunity to improve the sound of redbook CD's through digital processing--to smooth the jaggies, as I said in another post, and try to achieve a more analogue-like sound. The latest iteration appears to use the horsepower of the Intel Cyclone 10 to tackle the "massive data computation" required. Other changes, like the redesign of circuitry to shorten signal paths, also play a role, no doubt.
    Carlox, ether-bored and George P like this.
  13. No Worries

    No Worries Well-Known Member

    Western New York
    I have listened to 25 albums using the DCD-A110. Following are my initial impressions. Bear in mind that I have accumulated only about 25 hours vs. a burn-in period that some have said may be as much as 500 hours.

    Since last July, I have owned and used the DCD-1600NE almost every day. I have not attempted an A/B comparison, but simply listened to the DCD-A110 to see what if anything was different.

    The following albums were chosen because I am very familiar with them:

    Sarah McLachlan Afterglow SACD (DR13)
    Sarah McLachlan Wintersong CD (DR9)
    Norah Jones Feels Like Home SACD (DR13)
    Tina Turner Greatest Hits CD (DR10)
    Sarah McLachlan Shine On CD (DR8)
    Peter Gabriel So CD (DR12)
    Sarah McLachlan Fumbling Towards Ecstacy CD (DR10)
    Mark Knopfler Sailing to Philadelphia HDCD (DR8)
    Bruce Hornsby Spirit Trail CD (DR8)
    Joni Mitchell Both Sides Now CD (DR10)
    Sting Brand New Day SACD (DR10)
    Lyle Lovett Joshua Judges Ruth CD (DR15)

    Diana Krall Wallflower SACD (DR7)
    Count Basie and the Kansas City 7 SACD (DR13)
    Luciana Souza The New Bossa Nova CD (DR9)
    Bill Evans Trio Sunday at the Village Vanguard SACD (DR14)
    Count Basie April in Paris CD (DR12)
    Pat Metheny Group Imaginary Day CD (DR9)
    Diana Krall The Girl in the Other Room SACD (DR11)
    Herbie Hancock River: The Joni Letters CD (DR12)
    Lyle Mays S/T CD (DR13)

    Ravel Pavane pour une Infante Defunte (Boston S.O., Abbado) CD (DR14)
    Ravel Piano Concerto in G (Michelangeli, Philharmonia O.) CD (DR14)
    Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 (Janis, Mpls S.O.) SACD (DR13)
    Chopin Etudes (Sokolov) CD (DR12)

    As I listened, I kept recalling the line from Denon's brochure about "sound that is delightfully balanced between a strong foundation and delicate details." Improvements mainly are in more detail and subtlety. There is a persistent impression that I am hearing the orchestration and backing instruments more clearly, while the voice has been pushed forward. But it depends on the album.

    I notice that I tend to want to play the music at, say, -2.0 dBfs rather than -1.5 dBfs. Bass seems to be a little heavier but at the same time more nuanced.

    Improvements seem to be greater with CD’s than SACD’s. Since Ultra AL32 Processing is not engaged while playing SACD’s, the improvements there must come from other factors, mainly the DAC. The gains are greater with CD’s that can benefit—i.e., the music is sufficiently layered and complex, and the recording and mastering are sufficiently sophisticated.

    There does not appear to be any straightforward relationship to dynamic range. The Tina Turner and Peter Gabriel CD’s sound about the same as with the DCD-1600NE. Sarah MacLachlan’s Afterglow SACD and Wintersong CD improve only a little, while Shine On and Fumbling Towards Ecstasy were noticeably more detailed and engaging. Mark Knopfler’s Sailing to Philadelphia became more vivid and interesting, as did Bruce Hornsby’s Spirit Trail. Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now CD was elevated to SACD quality. An exception to the rule: Sting’s Brand New Day SACD became noticeably more subtle. Lyle Lovett’s Joshua Judges Ruth CD was already so well recorded and mastered that is difficult to identify improvements, apart from a bit more nuance to the bass.

    Diana Krall’s Wallflower SACD did not seem to change much. The Girl in The Other Room improved a bit more, mainly in detail. Sunday at the Village Vanguard by the Bill Evans Trio is delicate, and yet the bottom end, including rumbles, is heard distinctly. At times the audience sounded like it was in the room. The Count Basie and the Kansas City 7 SACD did not improve much. On Count Basie’s April in Paris CD, instruments were very distinct. The DCD-A110 is made for Pat Metheny Group’s Imaginary Day, with its extensive layering and Lyle Mays’ synth music. Improvements in Luciana Souza’s The New Bossa Nova CD were mostly limited to clarifying Edward Simon’s restrained piano backup. Herbie Hancocks’ River: The Joni Letters is a major advance, perhaps the best of any CD tried. It sounds like sitting before a small band and a singer, not a stereo system. The piano sings, the bass is supple, the percussion is heard even at its softest. Lyle Mays' self-titled debut swoops and soars. That's one of the things I like about the A110: It allows the music to go where it wants.

    Ravel’s Pavane, which is on a well-recorded CD, sounded very good but the improvement was not significant, apart from a more distinct orchestration. Ravel’s Concerto in G CD shows the same distinctiveness, along with better channel separation. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 SACD is quite wonderful—the piano sounds more like it is in a concert hall—but it was excellent already. Sokolov’s performance of the Chopin Etudes is even more powerful than before and benefits from the slight increase in bass timbre. The DCD-A110 brings out the wild fury of his playing. In general, it renders piano beautifully. And guitar. And percussion. And voice.

    As for changes in the first 25 hours, they are not significant. The A110 was good out of the box. Just in the last few hours, I think I am hearing the sound "consolidate," if that means anything. I am listening using speakers, by the way, not headphones.

    The only downside is the additional cost versus the DCD-1600NE. As my notes show, the upside depends on the recording. I was happy with the 1600NE and will keep it for backup. As for the A110, I'm hooked.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
  14. brushwg

    brushwg Forum Resident

    how are you getting on with your DCD-A110? What are your reflections compared with the DCD-1600NE?
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
  15. No Worries

    No Worries Well-Known Member

    Western New York
    I cannot add much to my previous comments. The DCD-A110 sees use practically every day and seems to have settled in nicely. Best SACD player I have owned.
  16. brushwg

    brushwg Forum Resident

    Did you compare with Marantz models and what we’re your thoughts on the sonic flavour/presentation between Denon a110 and Marantz please?
    George P likes this.
  17. hoffmanuser2020

    hoffmanuser2020 Forum Resident

    Los Angeles, CA
    That's a key difference between Denon and Marantz.

    Denon usually puts its DAC (with digital inputs) in its integrated amps, not its CD players.

    Marantz usually puts its DAC (with digital inputs) in its CD players, not its integrated amps.
  18. hoffmanuser2020

    hoffmanuser2020 Forum Resident

    Los Angeles, CA
    A streamer box does not necessarily have a DAC. For example: Auralic Aries, Pro-ject Streambox DS2 T.
  19. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Senior Member

    Pleasantville, NY
    George P likes this.
  20. Lt.

    Lt. Well-Known Member

    I know I am late to the party on this and I found this as I am researching for a possible purchase of a Denon DCD-A110. As to the above comment as to the possible stretch to the Marantz Ruby, or anything Marantz, I would caution on this: I have found Marantz to be lacking in support of their products once those products are a few years old. I once owned a Marantz SA-15s2 that needed some work done to it as the player was having difficulty with some discs skipping and soon it was every disc. Marantz was not very helpful with their ability to have the parts needed to correct the issue and suggested that perhaps it was time for a new player. At the price I paid I expected Marantz to have all the parts they needed on hand, especially since I believe that the laser assembly is a proprietory item of their own design.
    That said, I once owned a Denon CI 3930 that functioned perfectly from Day 1 and did so for several years after my purchase to the day I sold it. Hence, I am more inclined to give the nod for a purchase to Denon. I also found it odd that Denon was so much better in performance considering that the two are owned by the same parent company.
    While we all think of the immediate performance benefits when we purchase something audio, it is only when something goes wrong that we think about customer support. Having been down that road a few times with several audio products, one learns who is worthy of being a repeat customer and who is to avoided like a plague...
    bruce2 likes this.
  21. Lt.

    Lt. Well-Known Member

    To No Worries:
    If you check back here occasionally to read your posts, can you answer this:

    You stated the Denon is the best SACD player you have owned. Can you tell me what others you have owned? Anything from Esoteric?

  22. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    This is a beautiful looking SACD player. Though outside of the colour, it’s almost a total replica of the DCD-2500NE I bought a couple of years ago.

    The 2500 is a stunning player so I’m guessing the DCD-A110 must be out of this world!
    Carlox likes this.
  23. No Worries

    No Worries Well-Known Member

    Western New York
    Marantz SA-8004
    Denon DCD-A100
    Denon DCD-1600NE
    Denon DCD-A110
  24. norliss

    norliss Forum Resident

    Cardiff, Wales
    Surprising given that Denon and Marantz merged nearly 20 years ago and are owned the same parent company, as you pointed out.
  25. No Worries

    No Worries Well-Known Member

    Western New York
    The Marantz SA-8004 that I owned is now three players in the past, but what I recall is that it had a more plummy and less detailed sound than the Denon DCD-A100 that followed. The 1600NE was more detailed than the A100. The A100 used a different DAC chip--an AK model I would need to look up--than the PCM 1795 chip now used in both the 1600NE and A110, so the differences arise from more than just advances in AL32 processing.

    I wouldn't describe the A110 as another step in this progression, exactly. As I discussed above, with redbook CD's it seems to be digging more nuance out of what's there. It's wonderful with SACD's as well, but the step up from the 1600NE is smaller. I'm aware of the risk of becoming too enamored of detail and/or brightness, to the point where I have going back and listening to see whether my comparisons of certain albums come to the same conclusion as before. So far, they do.

    All this is a bit too much like trying to describe the flavor of wine.
    Blair G. and George P like this.

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