Saturday Deluxe / 3 December 2016

Kate Bush / Before The Dawn 4LP vinyl

An Endless Sky of Hype…

So after all the column inches (or should I say ‘pixel real estate’) telling us that Kate Bush was ‘on course’ for a number one album with Before The Dawn, it didn’t happen…

All the media folks were excitedly telling everyone that the ‘midweek chart’ (something not available to ‘normal’ people) had Kate ‘neck and neck’ with Little Mix, but not only did Kate’s first live album not reach number one, it didn’t reach number two or three either! Yes, Before The Dawn was a new entry on the UK charts at number four, behind Michael Ball (with Alfie Boe) and Elvis Presley. In 2016, can anyone predict ANYTHING with any accuracy, anymore!?

On the assumption that the album will climb no higher (a reasonable one, I think) this is Kate’s third worst charting album after 2011’s 50 Words For Snow (peaked at no. 5) and 1978’s Lionheart (no. 6). But for a triple live album it’s (quadruple on the vinyl) it’s not a bad effort at all.

kick_insideThe fact is, only two of Kate’s ten studio albums have gone to number one (Never For Ever and Hounds Of Love) and if The Kick Inside couldn’t make it to the top spot with the fearsome promotional tool that was Wuthering Heights, it’s not too surprising that Before The Dawn didn’t achieve the feat.

It seems unlikely that Kate is bothered. She gave up a golden opportunity for a more or less guaranteed number one album back in 2014, by not putting out an updated greatest hits package. 1986’s The Whole Story (which also reached no. 1) is now thirty years old and is woefully in need of updating, delivering as it does HALF ‘the story’, since it summarises the first five records in a ten album career.

Before The Dawn is out now. Read Kate’s message thanking fans for the ‘extraordinary’ achievement of sending her album to number four.

Read the SDE interview with David Rhodes on performing with Kate


Jarre signed print delivers

My Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene Trilogy box set turned up yesterday and while I haven’t had a chance to open it up and have a proper look (too busy shipping T-shirts!) I did get to Jean-Michel Jarre / Electronica deluxe box setadmire the signed Oxygene print. It’s beautiful and I’m off to the picture framers at the earliest opportunity to get this iconic image preserved and hung on the wall.

I have to say that this is a big improvement on the signed Electronica ‘fanbox’, because that signature was on a ‘certificate of authenticity’ which was stuck to the back of the lid. Yes, it was signed (and limited to 1000 units) but what they have delivered with this Oxygene set is far better (and cheaper).

Read more about Oxygene 3 and the Oxygene Trilogy box set here.


Alison Moyet broke my CD player

I’ve had the Alison Moyet deluxe reissues for a while now, but I was sure there was something wrong with Alf, because when I put it into my CD player the machine made a horrible scraping sound as the disc spun and nothing played at all. Then what came out sounded like a really bad MP3 played on a digital radio station with lots of digital artefacts and dropouts.

I tried another CD and the same thing happened, so can only conclude that my CD player (it’s actually a Pioneer DVD-656A CD/DVD-A player) is buggered. For someone who runs a music blog, this is bad news. I have a Yamaha S1700 (which also plays SACD and DVD-As) in another room, but that’s all wired up to the surround sound system, so I didn’t really want to move that. So in short, I need to buy a new player.

The requirement is the ability to play the following formats: CD, SACDs, DVD-A and blu-ray audio, but I do want the machine to be an excellent CD player and not just an average ‘jack of all trades’. I should stress that this machine won’t be linked up to a TV so how good it performs as a DVD/Blu-ray player is largely irrelevant to me. So is any networking capability, since I’ve now got a few Sonos speakers (yes, I know they don’t do hi-res).

Does such a player exist? I’m thinking of the OPPO BDP-103 which you can get in the UK for about £500. Even though it ticks all the boxes, will it be good for what I need it to do most of the time, which is playing CDs? Someone said the BDP-105 is the better model for audiophile-style playback, but this is £1000 which is really more than I want to pay.

Would I be better off spending £300 on something like a Marantz CD6006 CD player for excellent CD playback and perhaps sourcing something in the used market that plays SACDs, DVD-As and blu-ray audio? So have two separate machines?

I need to sort this out sooner, rather than later, so I’d love to hear your views and if you have any of the kit mentioned, then please let me know what you think. Thanks!

111 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 3 December 2016

  1. Pingback:Saturday Deluxe / 17 Dec 2016 | superdeluxeedition

  2. Derek says:

    +1 on Oppo. After many years of using Yamaha and Denon players, and a Sony SACD/CD carousel player(yup, this one is old but still works) – I switched to Oppo a few years ago and haven’t looked back.Anything you throw at it (CD, VCD, DVD-A, SACD, CD with DTS, DVD, Bluray, Bluray Audio) will work. I can only think of one exception; my Massive Attack “Collected” CD1 isn’t recognized, but I’m guessing because of region issues; planning a fix to that soon. Great support, with software updates easily found on the web.

  3. Mad earwig says:

    The Marantz is a brilliant player at its price but would recommend looking at their SA8005 too as this plays Super Audio discs.

    DVD- Audio has not been around for some time now so the players that will still play these tend to be Universal DVD players.

    Check out the spec of either Marantz UD7007 -bday Denon DBT3313 which will play the formats you want but the downside is that with a player playing all formats, there is usually a slight delay when you load a disc and it has to ‘think’ about what format it’s playing.

    I’m also in the trade, feel free to email me.

  4. vinyllistener says:

    good though the pioneer 656 was yopu really need something better.
    for music playback in a universal disc player you can’t go past the old cambridge audio 752bd.
    it does a better job than the oppo 103/105 and is not far off the latest £1000 cxu.
    richer sounds were selling these on runout.
    btw – the cambridge and oppo use the same basic mediatek chipset/transport but the audio processing differs.
    oppo prefers using ess dacs.
    cambridge likes combining over-sampling with wolfson dacs.
    performance is close but oppo does better with movie sound, camnbridge with music.

  5. Joachim says:

    Absolutely agree to the Blackbird, the Kate Bush vinyls are brilliant, great sound, great percussion works. Got it for 50 Euros thanks to a black friday clone in Germany (something Amazon “invented” in Germany and every retailer is jumping on) .
    My recommodation for a universal player is the Denon DBT-3313UD. I use this for my “Dads private room” surround gear and it’s very much value for money (around 600 Euros).

  6. Ian Hartley says:

    ….but will LM be making music that gets everyone talking in 30 years time ?

  7. alan hansen says:

    for what of my artistically aural lifelong experience affords me, this set provides to many who were unavailable see the show; a second chance to enjoy the show. many more thanks, and again from your smiling warmth, paul.

    ~ alan

  8. Blackbird Braille says:

    The Kate Bush BTD Vinyl box set is AMAZING! (And selling out everywhere fast.) The CDs are good too.

    It was NO. 1 on the most important chart – the Vinyl Chart: http://www.officialcharts.com/charts/vinyl-albums-chart/

    Also NO. 1 on the UK Record Store Chart: http://www.officialcharts.com/charts/record-store-chart/

    And due to KTs album, and your site of course – it was also the first week in a looong time that vinyl outsold digital downloads in the UK: http://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/more-money-was-spent-on-vinyl-albums-in-the-uk-last-week-than-digital-downloads__17391/

    FYI, the Midweek Charts are available for all to view.

  9. Friso Pas says:

    I’m not going through all the comments, Paul.
    I see a lot of shout-out to Oppo.
    I have only one player, an Oppo BDP-93 (yes, an older model, but I’m not ready yet to adopt to 4K) in my living room, also in use a lot of the time as my home cinema player, and also all the other audio formats.
    The thing is, my Pioneer THX- and AIR Studio-certified receiver can turn off all signal functions and switch to Pure Audio, without any enhancement or tweaking whatsoever. So this works for plain left-right stereo cd’s perfectly.
    The video and audio hardware inside is superb, and way better than most machines.
    For me it’s one of the best pieces of hardware I ever bought.
    So if you’re looking for a multiple format audio player, Oppo is the way to go. And yes, if you are audiophile on a grander scale than I am, then you can opt for the more expensive one, that has dedicated analog XLR-outputs, which is something I do not have, or need, but worth looking into for the true analog freak (even though the signal is always digital first).
    In any case, there are a few options with this brand, but they’re all good. Highly recommended.

  10. Steve F says:

    First shipment of Oppo UDP-203 (4k) drops this week and next shipment due before Christmas. £599.

  11. Regarding the Kate Bush live album. Never has such an album cried out to be a visual document. The reaction of the audience at certain points and the dialogue really need to be seen to fully appreciate what is going on. The show seems to have been such a multimedia event a DVD/blu-ray release is essential.

  12. HS says:

    Not surprised Kate didn’t get to number one. Without including a BR/DVD of the show it just falls flat as a release. I did buy it though (both CD and LP) but it is really only for the collection – doubt I will play it much (if at all).

  13. Guy says:

    Paul, on the Cambridge Audio, depending on the age, it might need a service or at least a new volume pot – not sure on the cost of those, but given things today, buying new might be cheaper/quicker.

    Option 1) Marantz PM6005 can also be yours for GBP200, paired with a Marantz CD6005 and you are back in business pronto. I’m impressed with the on board DAC in mine. No need to break the bank or you could spring a bit more for the newer 6006 series. So 400 or 600 spent.

    Option 2) A case of moving the Yamaha across and getting a 103 Oppo (but knowing the 203 is just round the corner) for the home theatre, making use of the surround. So 500, but you’ll still need to have the amp looked at – cost unknown.

    Option 3) Out of left field, music matters most, you could get a Naim Uniti Star, it will play your CD’s and let you stream music and have your foot tapping to music again, but then how good are your speakers… you mentioned budget was no issue right ? :-)

    The decision is all yours…

  14. Will says:

    I would say your idea of the Marantz is a good one. You can worry about hi-rez a little later but something that will do justice to a normal CD is probably the right goal to shoot for (I reckon).


  15. Gisabun says:

    Have Alison Moyet pay for a new one. :-)

  16. Dean says:

    Blimey Paul, why are you constantly making excuses for Kate Bush? LOL

    The new album just isn’t very good. The hype is on blogs such as this. In a day and age where some artists are saying they’re no longer going to make albums at all because the business model has changed, a long-ish live album was always going to struggle. And when it sounds like this one, it’s not surprising.

    The bigger issue, imo, are the Kate sycophants. She’s critic proof, which sadly for her, doesn’t make the actual music any better.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Please direct me to where I’ve “hyped” the new album :) I haven’t even listened to it yet, so I have no real opinion. I’m a big Kate fan so I enjoy covering releases, seeing what’s going on in the world of Kate etc. But as far as I can tell SDE is the LEAST fawning news outlet when it comes to Kate Bush. I think the coverage on SDE is incredibly balanced re KB, although I’ll acknowledge there’s quite a few posts.

    • David M says:

      Given what she played at the shows what did you expect from the live album? Have you even heard it? I think parts of it improves on the studio versions and while it isn’t perfect I think it is a brilliant summation.

    • Chris Squires says:

      Really? Replace the term “sycophants” with the word “fans” and you have…. fans. The reason Kate has so many “sycophants” (to use your word) is because she is and has been one of the best and most singular artists this country has ever produced, as good if not better than any other female artist from these shores and right up there with some of the best male artists. In terms of quality of output, artistic integrity and longevity. She isn’t to everyone’s taste but by any yardstick you would care to mention she is one of the best we have ever had. But “I don’t like her and I don’t like this album” is not a very convincing yardstick to rate an artist with, except for maybe you. I’ll stick with my own impressions of her and if that is sycophancy, then if anyone has earned it, Kate has.

  17. Jason Brown says:

    Re Before The Dawn ‘only’ making No.4 – in 2016, a triple live album of a few hits and whole song suites isn’t too bad. The midweeks are always biased due to the fans buying / pre-ordering ASAP. Look at the Stones – Blue & Lonesome ‘takes an early lead’ (via the Official Charts website). Probably end up around no. 3, but at this time of year, will sell decently enough. By today’s terms, anyway.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Don’t disagree. I did say “But for a triple live album it’s (quadruple on the vinyl) it’s not a bad effort at all”

  18. Brian Scott says:

    Just bought the Cambridge CXU from Richer Sounds and really impressed. Replaced Denon 1611 universal player and far superior. Was originallly £900 but now reduced to £500. I’m a real fan of Cambridge gear, have their CX60 amp and CXN streamer and they sound superb.

  19. don cooper says:

    I’m thinking of re-imagining myself as a new one-man-band called Disposable Income.
    Can’t play any instrument to save my life, but I’m sure there are numerous SDE readers able to Kickstart my dream…
    I of course jest.
    Or do I?

  20. Guy says:

    Paul, based on your comments, I would get the Oppo and put that in your Home Theatre setup and move the Yamaha into the Music setup.

    I had a Pioneer BDP-51FD Blu-ray die on me – it will only play the first 60 mins of a Blu disc – so now it’s on CD player duty. I also have a Yamaha S1800, which does the SACD and DVD A well. I have a Marantz CD6005 in another system and that handles the music just fine. As this is now the ‘last gen’ you can get a good price from Richer Sounds on these.

    You don’t mention what Amp you are pairing it with though…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I like your thinking in terms of moving Yamaha into the music set-up. Could probably do with a new amp too, if I’m honest. Got a Cambridge Audio one which is only okay and makes a horrible static noise when you turn the volume knob…

  21. Nimo says:

    I must say I really enjoy ‘Before The Dawn’ cd.
    Fascinating to hear something that I heard live two
    years ago. I think I was so overwhelmed with the show
    that I could not take all the music in and now it is possible.
    I love it and full of admiration.
    But I do hope/dream that Kate will release BTD in high res
    like she did with ’50 Words Of Snow’ and therefore it has been my most
    listened to Kate Bush album. Stunning sound. I keep my fingers crossed.
    There is so many layers of sound in BTD that high res would
    be an even bigger treat.

    Paul regarding your CD player meltdown I will recommend Oppo Bdp-105.
    Even though it is a Blu ray player I have never been more impressed with the sound
    of a player. When I made the purchased I investigated the difference between the bdp-103 and bdp-105. 105 was several miles ahead of the little brother.

    Regarding ‘Alf’ I was so uplifted that we finally……..finally would get a remastered version.
    We waited so long!
    I got the high res version. But the treble is unfortunatly out of balance and is wayyyy overpronounced. Sad.

    Thank you so much Paul for all your work. I really look forward to check your blog everyday
    To be kept up to date with all re-releases.

  22. adam shaw says:

    My Jarre box was delivered on the day it came out which was nice.
    Also went to HMV in Oxford Street to meet the man himself who was doing a album signing for 400 fans , a really cool guy who had time to personalise whatever you had signed ( I bought another vinyl for my son) and also a quick chat .

  23. tom says:

    Any OPPO player will do – firmware updates will never make this obsolete and go to the website to read the product reviews and you will be hooked – your best option at any price

  24. elliott buckingham says:

    the alf reissue sounds awful on everything ive tried playing it on it is a poor remaster with the bonus tracks sounding even worse. my 12″ singles from the album shine more than this reissue. as fo a good cd player I have a sony sacd xe80 and it great but only 2 channel super audio

  25. Tyrone says:


    Did you have a wager on Kate reaching number 1?

    I never read such a diatribe following a record reaching ‘number 4’.

    Please delete me from your site – this website was of neutral use in the past.
    Now it appears Paul is slowly disappearing up his own arse

    T shirts! Reviews! Opinions! Failures! Travelogues! Paul!

    I personally couldnt give a monkeys what Paul thinks.

    This is embarrassing and turning rather creepy
    Delete my account

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Charming. “Please delete me from your website”?! Hate to state the obvious, but feel free NOT to visit, if you don’t like it.

    • Neil says:

      Strange post indeed. Did somebody get out of the wrong side of the bed this morning and it begs the question why did they come here in the first place if they couldn’t give a monkeys what Paul thinks ?

    • Daran says:

      And the prize for stupidest post of the year goes to…..

  26. Matthew McKinnon says:

    I bought the OPPO BD-105 earlier this year (with a sharp intake of breath, paying £100 extra for a multi-region BD mod) and its fantastic.
    Having way too many CDs to keep in the house, I’ve recently ripped them all to AIFF and listen to them in USB sticks, and the OPPO actually makes the playback sound better than CD. But: doesn’t do hapless playback, which is annoying.

    Plays all disc formats without any problems. Built like a tank. Highly recommended overall.

  27. Bulldog says:

    So wait, DID “Alf” break your player? a friend stopped me last night to say he had the digital files, and that “Alf” was the weakest of the four…

  28. Greg says:

    The Oppo 105 is the best bang for buck (pound.) Very high quality audio at a reasonable price. But I just read that the 205 is “on the way” a few weeks behind the 203 which will be available any day now. If you want save some money, you can check eBay for those who will be selling their 105’s in anticipation of the new model. Most people that own items like that take very good care of them so buying used probably will be safe.

  29. Justin Isbell says:

    I keep getting squashed Kate Bush CDs from amazon and sending them back… I’m on my 3rd copy and it’s getting silly now. The spine has creases from the inadequate flat card packaging they’ve been using. I’d cancel the whole order and buy elsewhere but my wife listened to about 10 minutes of the ripped mp3 so I know we’ll be charged for it. Have I been unlucky…?

    • andy says:

      No, I’ve complained to Amazon specifically about their poor envelopes, which by there design squash anything put in them, especially digipack style CD or DVD cases. Most of my orders suffer crushing damage and creased spines. I’ve started using other retailers and don’t mind paying a bit more to ensure I get products in perfect condition.

      I only use Amazon now as a last resort for music if I know it’s a digipack/cardboard sleeve.

      • EW99 says:

        I’m now expecting my 5th copy from amazon. I’ve tried speaking, live chatting and emailing them but they don’t seem to be able to grasp that they need to use a stronger package for albums like this where the spines get crushed in transit. Fingers crossed that they will have been able to do something this time.

        • Alan says:

          My third is on its way, but I’m not hopeful if EW99 is on their 5th. I thought I was the only one who was bothered about the spine, good to hear I’m not. I’m fed up with complaining to Amazon. My local That’s Entertainment has the CD for the price I paid for it from Amazon, but I already downloaded the MP3 so I’m tied into it now.

          • EW99 says:

            The first time this happened to me was The Cure’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me deluxe back in 2006. I didn’t send it back that time but the big crease in the spine grew to annoy me so since then I’ve always made amazon send me replacements until they get it right and I always leave bad feedback on the packaging. 10 years and still no change so there can’t be enough of us moaners around to make it worth their while upgrading their packaging.

            I’ve never had to go more than three copies of a CD before so Before The Dawn seems particularly crushable.

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            The first Suede reissues in 2011 were particularly bad in this regard…

          • EW99 says:

            Sixth copy exactly the same :( Another stroppy email sent – to absolutely no effect I bet.

          • EW99 says:

            Oops, *fifth* copy

          • EW99 says:

            Full refund + more and I can keep my damaged copy. Well thanks, but a) obviously I don’t want to keep it or I wouldn’t have made such a fuss and b) why is it so difficult for amazon to take effective action on a specific customer complaint? Hopefully HMV can provide a crease free one.

        • Alan says:

          After receiving a third damaged one, I’ve had an online chat (is it a real person on the other end?!) and secured a refund. I have to return the item but I explained I’d downloaded the MP3 files and they say I won’t be charged. I got a transcript of the chat emailed to me in case there’s any issue. I can now go and buy it from That’s Entertainment for the same price. I was dubious about going with Amazon anyway, as they’re no longer competitive on price, but this will put me off ever buying newly released CDs from them again. Even ones in the boring plastic cases can arrive with cracks in them.

          Kate’s last two albums were in that hardback book style, which is robust enough to absorb pressure, but presumably she’s had to cut costs with this one. It really is an awful design.

  30. Paul Trotman says:

    I have an Oppo, it’s OK. Best CD player I ever heard was the Linn Ikemi, they are still available refurbished on eBay for almost sensible prices.

  31. Tim says:

    Let’s start a ‘kick starter’ for Paul’s new CD player!
    I’m sure amongst all the regular readers here if those that are able to chip in a little we’ll get over the line in time for Christmas. I’ve seen other specialist blogs where the blogger puts a call out and the response is always very heartwarming and a resounding thank you for all the hours put in. Who’s in? And Paul if you’re happy to take donations would you like to share a PayPal address? My recommendation is the Oppo bd105 but have also heard great things about Cambridge gear.

    • colm47 says:

      Hi Tim

      I presume you’re being a tad sarcastic?

      Or do you not know how these links to amazon etc work for Paul’s wallet?

      Since when has the blog become Hi Fi Corner!?!

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        One post hardly makes SDE ‘hi-fi’ corner. Also ‘kit talk’ is not exactly unrelated to enjoying physical music.. I’m loving all the suggestions everyone, so thanks for that.

        • Normand Tremblay says:

          Please, Paul, don’t forget to tell us what you will have chosen once you have bought your new CD player and listened to it… Good shopping!

  32. Stevo says:

    I love my Cambridge Audio multi-player. However, after buying it I read a Cambridge – Oppo comparison review on an audio website, and Oppo just pipped it in the review. Apparently the Cambridge is Oppo tech inside? So Cambridge is fab, but maybe Oppo is the way to go. That’s what I would be recommending to any friends who sought my advice. Good luck.

  33. DaveM says:

    On Before the Dawn, I am absolutely enjoying it, especially the third disc which contains to me her masterpiece. The only criticism I have is the volume level required, especially on Disc 1 as this must be one of the quietest CDs I have ever owned. Okay, glad its not compressed, but thought there was something wrong with my ears.

    • David M says:

      That’s what volume knobs are for my near namesake

      • Dogfacedboy says:

        I think it’s quieter than other CDs because , and here comes the science bit, it isn’t brickwalled to fuck.

      • DaveM says:

        @David M, Ha Ha, it’s just remembering to put the volume back down a full 15 increments on my Audiolab gear prior to putting anything else on, especially after a skinful LOL!

  34. Alan Jones says:

    Paul, I’d certainly endorse what’s been said above about the Cambridge Audio multi-players I got the Azur 650BD a few years ago just to play SACD and it’s excellent. In fact I’m sure I read Cambridge and Oppo are connected in someway? Anyway the Cambridge sounds nice through my Naim Uniti / Naim NAP200 / B&W PM1 set up. Buy the best you can afford mate.

  35. Bruce nicholson says:

    I believe KB sold about 40k units while Little Mix 57k. Its only a few weeks since the lowest sales for a 21st century album (7k – Blossoms i think) so maybe its not a bad figure after all.

  36. Paul says:

    I really love my Oppo. I’ve had it for theee years now and it has never failed me. Superb quality. Works for every format I’ve thrown at it. You might want to hook it up to your television to see all the setup options.

  37. Alan says:

    I didn’t expect it to be number one either. With over a month’s worth of pre-orders added on the first day of release, and therefore most of her audience accounted for, it was inevitable she’d do well in the mid-weeks but then slip. The media doesn’t really understand what mid-weeks indicate. Sadly Kate isn’t an act that can sustain sales. Director’s Cut also topped the midweeks, and I think 50 Words looked to be better in the midweeks than its eventual top 5. Predicting Before The Dawn to be out the top 10 next week. It would be amazing but unbelievable if it could manage a second week inside it. Might even be out the top 20!

    The number four placing means that all of her albums have peaked in all six of the top 6, with three number ones, three number twos, three number threes and one each for four, five and six.

  38. Peter says:

    I have the Marantz UD7007, just superb. Part of my surround sound set up, so good that when I replaced my Unico Italian valve CD, I opted for the Marantz SA8005.

    • Neil Hunt says:

      I’d recommend Marantz as well. I have the earlier UD5007 and it is superb. I also have a Marantz AV receiver which is also excellent. The reviews for the UD7007 on Amazon are very favourable. I did post a recommendation for Marantz yesterday but my comment is still awaiting moderation!

  39. Tim says:

    Hmmm, a 3-4 disc product of old material, I’d say that where it placed is exceptional.
    I’m pretty confident she could easily have a number one for a single disk of exclusively new material. I understand that the snow album didn’t do that but it’s also closer on the spectrum to “Kate Bush tries to make a Christmas album that isn’t a Christmas album” rather then HOT DAMN THERE’S A NEW KATE BUSH ALBUM COMING OUT! so even the chart placing for that one is pretty respectable.

  40. mike says:

    You cant knock the Ball…. random comment but fiercely talented singer who has never ever been given decent material. Kate was always going to be no1 midweek due to the hardcore fans, beyond 3 days it was never going to have legs. So Paul, whats the chart strategy for Sam Brown?

  41. Stu says:

    I have a Sony UHP-H1, and that plays everything you listed. Via HDMI, you get full surround options; it only has classic stereo analogue outputs. I believe it retails in the UK for about 300-350 pounds. One thing I love about this player – it will play the ‘fussiest’ of discs. I have several blu-rays which my other player refuses to load … not the Sony. So far (touch wood …), it’s happy with it all.

  42. Daan says:

    The Oppo 103 is a real treat, excellent machine, also for dvd and blu-ray.

  43. Mister Stick says:

    Wayne is 100% right.

    I have two Oppos, one the NuForce Special Edition, and they, as we said back in the day, ‘rule’. While designed as Blu-Ray players, they are the best CD transports I have ever had. Great tech support, too. Just get one, stop thinking, and get back to listening.

  44. HiDefBear says:

    It’s a shame about the timing. Oppo is set to release their newest player, a universal 4K UHD model that would fulfill all your requirements and give you 4K playback to boot. The UDP-203 is supposed to arrive any day now, but that’s probably not going to work for you.

  45. Normand Tremblay says:

    Hello, Paul. I am sensitive to your misfortune, and I believe you will be most happy with this device: Sony UHP-H1 . See this link:
    Good reflection! ;-)

  46. unique says:

    i have the same pioneer but haven’t used it in years as i upgraded to a denon universal player that does dvda/sacd and multi region dvd and bluray. plus netflix

    theres a 696 on ebay for £50 inc delivery buy it now and make an offer. if the old 696 was fine for you then unless you want to spend a lot more, getting a replacement may be an idea

    i’ve got an old 596 or whatever the old model was somewhere plus i phillips hdmi sacd/dvda multi region player that was hardly used as i never liked the menus and then got the 696

  47. Marshall says:

    Paul, I have an Oppo BDP-93 and can speak to what a great CD player it is, and it is a “universal” audio player (sacd, etc.). I would assume that the newer models are just as good.

  48. Phil Morris says:

    Still assert that BTD is not Bush’s first live album.

    • Alan says:

      It isn’t, but the 1994 CD release of the 1979 Hammersmith doesn’t really count as it wasn’t available separately from the VHS and was therefore ineligible to chart.

      • Phil Morris says:

        Maybe. But that still doesn’t mean it wasn’t a live album. There are plenty of DVD (BD)/CD combos around these days which would legitimately be called live albums.

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          It wasn’t a live album. There was a live EP. That was the official release. Just because they bundled a CD with a VHS 15 years later doesn’t mean ‘Kate Bush released a live album’ of her first tour in the way that she did with Before The Dawn. Most people would surely agree that a live album has to be issue relatively close to the concerts and you should be able to buy it on its own and across a number of formats.

          • Mic Smith says:

            Neil Young’s Massey Hall was issued over 35 years after it had been planned. It’s one of the greatest live albums ever released by him certainly and I would suggest by any major recording artist. Time lag is certainly not a criteria when defining a live album. I think the Hammersmith 79 CD is a live album since it was an official release, it’s a live recording and its album length. The fact it came with a companion video is neither here nor there. It exists, therefore it is.

          • Alan says:

            Regarding the 1979 tour, all 24 tracks performed are or were on YouTube. The 11 that weren’t released commercially on CD sound just as good as the others, they’re not tape recordings by an audience member. I’m intrigued as to how they got leaked. The 12 tracks not on the VHS do exist as visuals, as I’ve seen plenty of reports from people saying they have seen them.

  49. StevieB says:

    Kate sold 40,478 copies (and is the only album in the top 100 not available for streaming), which is pretty good for a live album in 2016. I never bought into the hullabaloo that she’d make No. 1 but with album sales inevitably rising for the next three weeks she’ll likely end the year pushing 150,00 copies sold, which ain’t too shabby really.

  50. Dogfacedboy says:

    No surprise that she lost out to Michael Ball, who as Lloyd Webber ‘s enforcer has more blood in his body that any other living person

  51. daveid76 says:

    I watched an old interview with her once from the Seventies. This is no criticism of her music which I think is great, but she came across like the lovechild of a village idiot and whacked out hippy. For the most part I never look to musicians or actors for social or political commentary as many are clueless and too self-absorbed. Obviously there are notable exceptions and, by and large, actors are far worse… Anyway, rant over.

  52. Denis Woods says:

    Hi Paul,

    I use the Denon Ceol N9. Very happy with it.Great CD playback.

  53. Andrew Mogford says:

    That 656-A was a stunning player. I can’t make any promises but I MIGHT still have one lying around somewhere which if I do you could have for free. I retired mine ages ago when I upgraded my amp for 3D and didn’t have analogue 5.1 inputs any more. I miss DVD-A. Still have so many discs.

    I’m actually on the lookout for a CD player that will play SACD at the moment too, but due to job situation won’t be able to afford for ages. I personally would always recommend Richer Sounds as well. Can get great priced gear from there.

    Would be really interested in what you get and what the performance is like. Any chance you could do a follow up piece?

    I didn’t know you could still get gear that played DVD-A though. Would be interested in comments on that. Thought you needed analogue 5.1 inputs and couldn’t get any amps with them any more………

  54. Wayne says:

    If you choose to go with Oppo you will never have anything else in the future. Audiophile level playback on all formats and the best blu ray player available – IMHO.

    • Mark Carroll says:

      HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND OPPO… BRILLIANT PLAYERS !! used Arcam for years, but OPPO beats them for quality…

    • Erick Haight says:

      Ditto. The OPPO is my most recent purchase, and I’ve never had a better CD player in my three decades of ownership (let alone everything else it does). I can’t recommend it enough.

  55. Brian says:

    I found the Bush album extremely dull. I’m sure it was better with the visuals but the third disc is excruciatingly tedious. Songs stretched out to eight and nine minutes, weedy production and a plodding band.

    • Tony Gubba says:

      Yes agree, plodding band that doesn’t really feel part of Kate’s delivery. There’s a separation to myou ears, lacking her heart and soul…session bandesque

  56. Edward says:

    To be honest I follow the mid-week charts and I could have told you there was no way it would have got to no.1. These sorts of stories are always inaccurate as all they do is focus on the first set of data which includes all pre-orders. Kate was initially no.1 with a 5k lead which wasn’t huge and after that she sold around 3k a day and the other albums sold much more so she fell a few places as the week went on. To be fair I doubt she’s bothered and no.4 for a live album is a great achievement especially in the busy festive season !

  57. Mike the Fish says:

    Only bought two Cambridge audio players. Was disappointed with both of them. Didn’t rate the Oppo 103 massively either. If you’re connecting via HDMI I’d recommend you just get a cheaper Pioneer as a transport.

  58. Chris Hanington says:

    Hey Paul
    I have the same Pioneer DVD player as you…a great machine but please don’t die on me!!! I recently discovered that some Sony Blu Ray players accept the SACD format. Check it out as they are not too expensive and they sound great!!
    Best of luck.

  59. Paul says:

    Hi you may find Cambridge Audio could answer your prayers with there universal audio players which will play Blu-ray audio DVD audio SACD and HDCD I use one in a second system and it sound rather fine on all formats too my ears. The older players if you can find one at richer sounds are not that expensive:



  60. Neil says:

    Before The Dawns failure to get to number one probably had something to do with her silly comments during the week which obviously backfired on her. Not that she will be caring no doubt.

    • Mark Carroll says:

      Silly comments, WHAT silly comments ?

      • Alan says:

        Endorsing Theresa May in a Canadian interview. It was done from a personal and slightly feminist stance, not a political one, but it’s been interpreted as the latter. In the 6 Music interview, she flatly refused to be drawn on a political question. In non-UK interviews she seems to open up more, presumably as she has to try harder to sell her product, but the comments on Theresa May were perhaps a little ill-judged. Presumably she thought it wouldn’t get back to the UK!

        • Mark Carroll says:

          OH MY GOD !!!!!!!!!!!! THAT REMINDS ME..I MUST BURN ALL MY BEATLES ALBUMS…after all, Johnny Lennon was THE SUPREME CHAMPAGNE SOCIALIST….was he not ????

          • Neil says:

            Nobody mentioned John Lennon here although if you do some research he made stupid comments as well saying The Beatles were more popular than Jesus which resulted in them being banned on the radio in the United States and people burning their albums. As for Bush loving Theresa May obviously that was some kind of publicity stunt to try and get her album to number 1 which failed which is no surprise considering we have a prime minister nobody voted for and all the backlash following those remarks and her thinking those comments wouldn’t get back to the UK was extremely niave.

          • Mark Carroll says:

            Quite correct.. but I’m using Lennon as another example. I don’t agree with Socialism but I’m not about to destroy or stop playing his records/CDs whatever just because I disagree with his/her political opinions.. SOME PEOPLE REALLY OUGHT TO GET OUT MORE…

          • Chris Squires says:

            It would be interesting to know how many people who are jumping on the Kate bashing bandwagon have actually read the interview in context and how many have read a headline in the Daily Mail or any other self-serving newspaper.

            It does seem that the group in society who claim to be the most caring, open and humane (Socialists and Liberals) are usually the very first not to allow free speech or to come down hard on anyone with differing views.

            What’s wrong with admiring a female Prime Minister? All else is just a bunch of social media no-marks trying desperately to be noticed. Which is why Kate gives an interview once every 5 years because of the idiots who are looking for controversy where none exists.

            After this I doubt we will see or hear from her for a number of years. It’s not worth dealing with the moronic press and social media dead heads.

            Anyway good luck with your CD player hunting Paul, I have just bought my first CD player since 1990, not because I have fallen out of love with vinyl but because I am missing out on so much bonus material, so I bit the bullet and got a Naim CD5si…. I still think CD sounds cold compared to a Rega RP10, but demo versions and b-sides have to be listened to…

          • Daran says:

            Re Neil. We didn’t vote for Gordon Brown either. Just to balance up the argument.

  61. Mr X says:

    Perhaps a backlash to her supporting our psychotic pm? :)

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