Halcro EC800 Universal Disc Player Reviewed

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Halcro is best known for their reference series amplifiers, which start at $20,000 and are regarded by many reviewers to be among the finest amplifiers in the world. Halcro then branched out into multi-channel audio with their SSP line of processors and MC line of multi-channel amplifiers. Now they have brought forth the EC800 DVD player as a source component. AT $3,990, the EC800 is not cheap, but it is substantially less expensive than some high-end DVD players, such as those from Meridian, Classe' and Krell.

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The EC800's industrial styling clearly compliments that of the SSP surround sound processors and MC amplifiers, with vertical column protruding from the left side of the front panel and capped with an oval reminiscent of the vertical legs of Halcro's reference amplifiers. The EC800 can play DVDs, CDs, SACDs and a variety of other discs. Outputs include HDMI 1.1, S-video, composite video, 5.1 unbalanced analog audio, stereo unbalanced, coaxial and optical digital audio inputs. The unit also features RS-232c, IR inputs, trigger input and an Ethernet connection for firmware updates. The large display window shows the usual track and time information, as well as titles. The EC800 can output video in 480i, 480p, 576p, 720p and 1080i. The DACs are high-quality 12-bit/108MHv for video and 24-bit/192kHz for audio. The analog audio circuits feature Halcro's Super-Definition circuitry.

The EC800's video performance with a 480i HDMI signal equaled or exceeded that of any other DVD player I can recall. The Halcro never hiccupped on any disc, even those scratched and dirty Netflix discs that caused problems in many of my other likewise pricey audiophile disc players. When listening to compact discs, I used the unbalanced stereo outputs, preferring them to the digital audio conversion (D to A) found inside most processors. As a CD player, the EC800 was extremely good, even when compared to players made with the sole goal of reproducing music from a CD without any worry about video or HDMI. With SACDs and the 5.1 analog outputs, the sound quality was likewise excellent. While SACD might be a truly dead audio format, there are still some important discs at the highest level of resolution on SACD and, if you want to hear your system at its best, you need a player like the Halcro EC800.

Read more about the high points and low points of the EC800 on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for Halcro EC800 Universal Disc Player

Criteria Rating

Performance

4

Value

3

Overall

3.5

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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halcro_ec800_universal_disc_player.gifHigh Points
• The Halcro is built like a tank and looks like an Aston Martin. It has all of the bells and whistles that you would expect from an audiophile player with the additional functionality of a DVD player.
• The Halcro EC800 will play less-than-perfect discs, even from rental houses, without a complaint in ways other players will without question gripe about.
• The overall performance of the player for both music playback and video image is very strong and can be safely compared to other players in the market that cost nearly twice the price.

Low Points
• Audiophiles looking to use the Halcro EC800 as a two-channel source will be disappointed not to see balanced outputs. The lack of this analog feature seems to be a matter of Halcro bringing in such a feature-packed player at under $4,000 retail.
• No DVD-Audio playback is a head-scratcher. At $4,000, how can you tell a music enthusiast or a videophile that he can access only half of the highest-resolution audio discs commercially available? At this price, you can expect to have it all.
• The remote control is one of the worst we've seen in a while, because it is missing a display button and is not backlit. A universal remote is almost a must with the Halcro EC800.

Conclusion
The Halcro EC800 DVD player is competing in a tough market, as cheapie Blu-ray players vie to overtake the audiophile source for front-end system supremacy. The Halcro EC800 is an excellent CD/DVD/SACD player and is consistent in its performance across all supported formats in ways that will please the audiophile and movie enthusiast alike. The EC800 is an easy answer for those who have large legacy CD/SACD collections and whose systems would benefit from a player with high-quality analog outputs and easy system integration via RS-232c or the IR input jack. If you are willing to spend $4,000 for an audiophile-grade Halcro player, you are likely to also want to invest in one (or more than one, as the format changes) Blu-ray player to play back movies in HD, leaving the Halcro for your music and legacy DVD collections. Considering how many more discs there are on CD and DVD at this point and how unstable cheapie Blu-ray players are at this stage, the Halcro EC800 is likely a good investment for tens of thousands of true enthusiast AV systems worldwide.

Additional Resources
• Read more source component reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore receivers to connect to in our AV Receiver Review section.

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