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RE: well Charles...

>> By transmitting a pair of differential signals, the balanced output provides better common-mode noise rejection and improves signal quality." <<

Yes that is true for specific situations, that are mostly found in recording studios and not home playback systems. My experience is that the common-mode noise rejection of the signal input is not nearly as important as the fact that *differential* balanced circuitry will also provide the same type of rejection to imperfections in the power supplies. The importance of power supply quality becomes apparent when one realizes that the audio circuitry (indeed *all* electronic circuits) are various types of ways to modulate the power supply. Just as with computers, garbage in = garbage out (GIGO). Hence the importance of power supply quality. Differential balanced circuits add an entire extra level of rejecting imperfections in the power supplies.

>> The dedicated L,R RCA outputs sound better than the L,R front 5.1 <<

For the Oppo players this is certainly true of the measured performance. They normally use an 8-channel DAC chip for the 7.1 analog output, whereas the dedicated stereo outputs typically parallel 4 DAC chip channels for each stereo channel. This improves the S/N ratio by 6dB, assuming all else is held constant. Oppo may also use better parts and or power supplies on the dedicated stereo channels (they may be too expensive to use for all 8 channels, just as most customers use higher quality main speakers than surround speakers).

>> I use the xlr outs to defeat bass management in the player without having to dive into the menu. <<

That's fine for all CDs, but it turns out that there are some DVDs that were authored improperly with regards to bass-management. The normal 2-channel mixdown will *not* recover the bass on these discs if you have an HT-2.0 or HT-2.1 system. Ayre added a feature on the DX-5 to correct for this, as described in the owner's manual. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only Blu-ray/DVD player in the world with that feature. Hope this helps.

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