Integra Combi Is Major Player in Reference System
Recent ruminations over the contents of my rack have given short shrift to a major player. A disc player, in fact--the Integra DPS-10.5. It has long served as the main signal source in my reference system. Occasionally I make a note to that effect in reviews but I've never really done justice to the Integra. Let's remedy that now.
Though first introduced at CES 2004, the model remains an active member of Integra's product line. (See Integra website and press release.) It serves as my main DVD and CD player. It also gets frequent use as a Super Audio CD player and occasional use as a DVD-Audio player.
Since I've never properly reviewed it, let's note in passing that it measures 3.6 x 17.1 x 12.3 inches and weighs 26.7 pounds. Yup, this disc player outweighs many surround receivers! Tremendous build quality one of several ways in which it earns its $2500 pricetag. Whenever I use virtually any other disc player, including my Blu-ray and HD DVD reference pieces, they seem cheap and flimsy in comparison. There really are good reasons to pay a lot of money for a disc player--you end up with something that's well-made and a pleasure to use.
The DPS-10.5 is THX Ultra-certified and was Integra's first player to include HDMI output. That's why I upgraded to the 10.5 from the DPS-8.3 (which otherwise I loved). I use the HDMI out to directly feed my LCD-HDTV. And when reviewing receivers with HDMI switching, I plug it into the receiver of the week. However, the supported version of HDMI is not up to 1.2, which would allow the player to pass SACD to a receiver, so I use the 5.1-channel analog outputs--which are backed up with excellent DACs. But the player does have i.Link outputs which pass SACD to receivers with i.Link inputs.
Video processing is performed by an O-Plus FlexScale circuit which upscales standard-def DVDs to various high-def resolutions. While it may not be as good as the latest bleeding-edge Silicon Optix processors, it looks fine on my 768p panel and 720p front-projector. In fact, for plain old DVD use, I still prefer the Integra to both the Pioneer BDP-HD1 Blu-ray player and the Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD player in my rack. Their DVD output looks softish compared to the Integra. Their transport mechanisms are not nearly as speedy or responsive. And the Integra remote is by far the best-designed and easiest to use.
In short, the Integra DPS-10.5 is a fabulous product and an indispensable mainstay of my reference system.