Simaudio Orbiter Universal Player Reviewed

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Sim_audio_orbiter_universal_player.gifSimaudio is one of those great companies that inevitably focuses on excellent audio quality and cool design. When they announced a universal player, I jumped on the chance to actually review one, and they were generous enough to send one out to me.

The Orbiter is styled to resemble the rest of their home theater line, with a red LED and front "nose" that makes the player look vaguely like Darth Vader. This unit's build quality is not only excellent, but the uniqueness of the Simaudio look is attractive to many buyers.

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Unique Features - Although SACD and DVD-Audio have lost some momentum, there are still many great high resolution discs coming out, making a good universal player very desirable. The amazing, detailed resolution of these recordings, combined with the lack of a digital link (making the need for a good analog audio stage acute), makes a player such as the $7150 Orbiter something every audiophile with a serious system should consider.

The video section of the Orbiter can output a 480p signal via either a component output or a DVI output. This player is based on the Pioneer transport, but the deinterlacing duties are handled by the Silicon Image Si1504, a well acclaimed chipset. Although SDI is an available option for $1000, a DVI output is standard.
The one thing that is becoming commonplace on many higher-end players is upscaling to 720p and 1080i but, unfortunately, this is not available with the Silicon Image chipset. Still, this setup is an excellent start for a video subsystem. Where Simaudio's true specialty comes into play is the audio section. Burr Brown
PCM1738 24 bit/192 kHz DAC's are used to decode audio for both two-channel and 5.1 output. One of the nice things about the Orbiter is that it does not convert DSD to PSM, so it handles both streams natively.

One of the reasons that the Orbiter is so expensive is that it has eight power supplies: two each for analog video, analog audio, digital audio and video, and the transport. It is rare to find such construction detail in a universal player, but this makes a significant contribution to the Orbiter's excellent performance.

Connectivity is full-featured, with three different choices for digital output, component, composite, S-Video, and DVI outputs, RS-232 port, and 5.1 single-ended audio outputs.

Installation/Setup/Ease of Use - The Orbiter was set up in my system which consists of a 50" Fujitsu plasma, the Anthem Statement D1 processor, the Halo A51 amplifier, Krell DVD Standard, Monster HTS7000 balanced power unit, and KEF Reference 207/204c/201 speakers. Subwoofer duties were handled by my REL Strata III. Interconnects used were by Wireworld and AudioQuest, and speaker cables were the Wireworld Silver Eclipse 5.

The back panel is, thankfully, clean and uncluttered, with lots of room for connections. I would love to have seen balanced outputs, but I have yet to review a universal player that has such.

Read more on Page 2.

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