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"Theta Digital - Casablanca III"

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Robin

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In my research lately, I've been reading many good things about Theta Digital's Casablanca III. I know it is even higher ended of a processor then the Anthem D1 or D2, but why is it better? Theta says their Casablanca III sounds the best. Unfortunately, I have not auditioned / heard a Casablanca III, where as I have auditioned the Anthem D1. Is Theta's Casablanca III mainly an audio processor or is it a full range A/V processor?

http://www.thetadigital.com/product/cb3/whats-new.htm

I was very interested in the interchange of posts between Joe and tsd2005 on the "Anthem D2 Processor" thread.
I need more subsantive reasons why the Casablanca III differs from the Anthem but is similar as well. Which is the better sound? Which is the more prudent audio choice?
 

LOGANLOVE

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Theta can not keep up with the technology of the Anthem, they are just too small of a company. Go with Anthem all the way!!! The statement D2 is da bomb!!!
 

Anthony A.

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if i had the funds, i would go for the theta. i think it matters most for 2 channel, but for ht, i believe the anthem is "good enough". having said that, if you have the funds for the theta, it is significantly better if you get the superior ii dacs.
 

Reverb

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“Better” Robin is all in the eyes of the beholder.

I take it you saw my comments with TSD2005 about the Theta Casablanca?

The Casablanca is not a feature loaded pre-pro, it does not have the kind of bells and whistles that the Anthem D1/D2 has and probably never will, but what the Casablanca does do it does very well.

The Casablanca is a true modular design that can easily be upgraded by Theta or your Dealer. What you buy to start with is basically a cage; you purchase your DAC cards and video/ audio boards separately. At this time the Casablanca III does not have HDMI but Theta may offer it later this year, according to TSD2005. To add HDMI to the CBIII all you would do is take your CB to your dealer, pay for the HDMI card and the dealer would install it in a mater of minuets, done. In the case of the Anthem D1/D2 I have to send my D1 back to Anthem, wait for them to overhaul it, by replacing and adding boards, and ship it back, over all probably a 30 day wait to have it done.

The Casablanca is probably the most musical of all HT pre-pro’s on the market, but is defiantly in the diminishing returns category. Thetas modular design means the CB can easily be upgraded and could live on for a very long time because upgrading is so easy, Theta can easily add features as the CB lives on.

The Casablanca and Lexicon MC-12B have been on my short list of pre-pros for many years, price is the only thing stopping me form picking one up, and this late in the game of course HDMI, Dolby +/DTS-HD support.
 

JonFo

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Meridian maybe

If looking at processors in this price range and performance level, you have to give serious consideration to Meridian gear.

The Meridian 861 is *the* reference modular processor, like the CB, it is totally card module based.
The current software features full room correction and the I/O options are staggering.

The Meridian G68 is a slightly less modular, yet still very flexible unit that has the same software, but slightly fewer I/O options. Although you can still order it with Balanced Outs and other true High-end options.

I’m still running on an older Meridian 568 and when I listen to friends Lexi MC-12B’s or Casablanca’s, I’m not tempted to switch. The only path forward for me is a G68.

The ‘Trifield’ Stereo to 7.1 channel surround mode is one of the Meridian unique features that makes them such a great processor.

With my new center, the complete surround impact of Trifield can now be fully realized, and I tell you, it’s nothing short of amazing. With certain recordings, you’d think you’re listening to a DVD-A disc.

Do yourself a favor and get to a Meridian dealer and audition a G68 or 861, you will be amazed.
Or better yet, buy a used G68 on Audiogon and try it at home. They resell very well, so it’s low risk.
 

Robin

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Anthem D1 and D2...

Zip3kx07 said:
“Better” Robin is all in the eyes of the beholder.

I take it you saw my comments with TSD2005 about the Theta Casablanca?

The Casablanca is not a feature loaded pre-pro, it does not have the kind of bells and whistles that the Anthem D1/D2 has and probably never will, but what the Casablanca does do it does very well.

The Casablanca is a true modular design that can easily be upgraded by Theta or your Dealer. What you buy to start with is basically a cage; you purchase your DAC cards and video/ audio boards separately. At this time the Casablanca III does not have HDMI but Theta may offer it later this year, according to TSD2005. To add HDMI to the CBIII all you would do is take your CB to your dealer, pay for the HDMI card and the dealer would install it in a mater of minuets, done. In the case of the Anthem D1/D2 I have to send my D1 back to Anthem, wait for them to overhaul it, by replacing and adding boards, and ship it back, over all probably a 30 day wait to have it done.

The Casablanca is probably the most musical of all HT pre-pro’s on the market, but is defiantly in the diminishing returns category. Thetas modular design means the CB can easily be upgraded and could live on for a very long time because upgrading is so easy, Theta can easily add features as the CB lives on.

The Casablanca and Lexicon MC-12B have been on my short list of pre-pros for many years, price is the only thing stopping me form picking one up, and this late in the game of course HDMI, Dolby +/DTS-HD support.
Joe and LOGANLOVE,

I think you are correct the Anthem D2 (D1 refurbished to a D2) is far and away the very best choice because of Anthem's Audio / Visual, technology and price. Nothing out their comes close. Anthem is and always has been on the cutting edge of the state-of-the-art in design and build quality and craftsmanship for the price. At this point, I'm going with Anthem... ;)
 
T

tsd2005

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Robin said:
Joe and LOGANLOVE,

I think you are correct the Anthem D2 (D1 refurbished to a D2) is far and away the very best choice because of Anthem's Audio / Visual, technology and price. Nothing out their comes close. Anthem is and always has been on the cutting edge of the state-of-the-art in design and build quality and craftsmanship for the price. At this point, I'm going with Anthem... ;)

That depends on:

1. If you like music.

Because if you do, nothing and I mean nothing touches what a Full Fledged Casablanca III can offer for sound. However as JonFo mentions the Meridian line is nearly as spectacular.

For the money, nothing touches the Meridian G68 in terms of sound quality for Stereo and Multichannel, except for Arcam's new unit. However the 861 fully loaded will cost close to $30,000. The fully loaded Casablanca III is a steal in comparison and blows the G68 out of the water.

In fact the new Arcam is easily the best Pre-Pro for less than $6,000. It has all the HDMI inputs, etc. It has true video broadcasting power switchers. Like the D2 you can choose between 480i, 480p, 540p, 720p, 1080i, or 1080p for your HDMI output, and it will convert everything to that. However it doesn't allow you to mess around anymore than that.

I haven't seen either unit though, but going on the sound from previous units, I'd say the Arcam is better.

Of course, its all according to your ear.

I'd give all 4 a listen:

Anthem, Arcam, Theta, and Meridian.

The purpose of a Casablanca III is to purchase what is important to you. You get to choose your DACs, inputs, outputs, etc. If you go with Superior DACs it will sound slightly better than a G68 for slightly more money. However the G68 will have more bells and whistles.

If you choose Extreme DACs, nothing less than $10k can touch your setup. It is the best Pre-Pro on the planet, add a 6 shooter and you have the best Pre-Pro for today's newer technologies.

The HDMI board will be out at the end of the summer.
 

Reverb

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tsd2005 said:
I'd give all 4 a listen:

Anthem, Arcam, Theta, and Meridian.
What...No love for Lexicon? They have there MC-12HD comming out.


P.S. Tsd2005, Happy Birthday. :D
 

Robin

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Theta Digital - Casablanca III

tsd2005,

If money were no object, I would consider the CB III more seriously, with all the super duper up-grades, but sadly I have to stay within the 5K range. :)
I really appreciate your in-put and insights on the CB III, as well as all things Theta. :D
 

Reverb

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Robin said:
tsd2005,

If money were no object, I would consider the CB III more seriously, with all the super duper up-grades, but sadly I have to stay within the 5K range. :)
I really appreciate your in-put and insights on the CB III, as well as all things Theta. :D
You can find CBIII's on audiogon in the 5.5K range. There was a CBII that just sold on Audiogon with two exstream DAC cards for $4700.00

I see Lexicon MC-12's that sell on Audiogon from $4000 and up, but they can not be upgraded to HDMI. :(
 

Robin

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Theta's Casablanca III or Anthem's D2...

Zip3kx07 said:
You can find CBIII's on audiogon in the 5.5K range. There was a CBII that just sold on Audiogon with two exstream DAC cards for $4700.00
Joe,

:D That's great news, I had no idea the CB III's were on Audiogon in the 5.5K range. But maybe that 5.5K CB III hasn't got all the super duper up-grades I would want... The last time I looked they were only 7K and above. However, I just saw a Anthem D2 on Audiogon for 5.6K, New in a sealed box... This is very encouraging to me. Maybe when I have finally have saved enough money I will truly have some excellent choices available, hopefully. ;)
Amthem just strikes me as a much better deal, I just would know what I'm getting with Anthem...
 

Reverb

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Robin said:
Joe,

:D That's great news, I had no idea the CB III's were on Audiogon in the 5.5K range. But maybe that 5.5K CB III hasn't got all the super duper up-grades I would want... The last time I looked they were only 7K and above. However, I just saw a Anthem D2 on Audiogon for 5.6K, New in a sealed box... This is very encouraging to me. Maybe when I have finally have saved enough money I will truly have some excellent choices available, hopefully. ;)
Amthem just strikes me as a much better deal, I just would know what I'm getting with Anthem...
Robin,

Anthem defiantly has more bang for the buck over most high end pre-pro’s, but I have always been a quality over quantity man. There is a Casablanca III on Audiogon for $5295.00; it has one superior II DAC and one standard balanced DAC card, with NO video switching board. This unit does not have the top of the line extreme DAC’s, but you could take it to a dealer and add them whenever you wanted. I like the fact that this unit does not have video switching because I would use the DVDO as the video switcher and have no video singles going into my pre-pro. That would change when the HDMI card came out, but I would only use it to get the audio from the DVDO to the pre-pro.

I am not sure what next Gen pre-pro I will go with? Maybe Theta, or Lexicon, or maybe I will stick with Anthem. For now I will hold off on the D2 upgrade and wait and see what id announced at CEDIA this September.
 

Robin

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Audiogon Good Deal...

Joe,

The CB III sound like a truly good deal... :) I only wish I had the cash. :eek:
I think your advise in waiting for the next CEDIA in September is very wise and good advise. Who knows what will actually be coming to the market until the show in September. ;)
 

Reverb

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Levesque is right; the Anthem is the best pre-pro out there right now for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray. Only problem is there are only a handful of pre-pro’s out that can handle HD DVD/Blu-Ray, but there will be more announced between now and CES’07.

My main concern with the D2 is DTS-HD, No players that I know of will have the decoder built in. DTS has said they do not want manufactures to put the chip in the player, they only want the decoding to happen in the pre-pro, so if you can’t buy a player with the chip that means no DTS-HD audio on the Anthems till they upgrade it again and add the Dolby +/DTS-HD decoders into the D2 with HDMI 1.3.

The Anthem D2 is a grate pre-pro, if you like it you should pick one up, don’t let me stop you. If your looking for a pre-pro with grate sound, lots of bells and whistles, from a company that wants to help keep there customers product up to date, then the D2 is for you.
 

Robin

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Anthem D2 vs CB III

Zip3kx07 said:
Levesque is right; the Anthem is the best pre-pro out there right now for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray. Only problem is there are only a handful of pre-pro’s out that can handle HD DVD/Blu-Ray, but there will be more announced between now and CES’07.

My main concern with the D2 is DTS-HD, No players that I know of will have the decoder built in. DTS has said they do not want manufactures to put the chip in the player, they only want the decoding to happen in the pre-pro, so if you can’t buy a player with the chip that means no DTS-HD audio on the Anthems till they upgrade it again and add the Dolby +/DTS-HD decoders into the D2 with HDMI 1.3.

The Anthem D2 is a grate pre-pro, if you like it you should pick one up, don’t let me stop you. If your looking for a pre-pro with grate sound, lots of bells and whistles, from a company that wants to help keep there customers product up to date, then the D2 is for you.
Joe,

I think, It this point in time I'm setting my sights on the Anthem D1 or possibly the D2, depending on the deals available, what I will find in the future on Audiogon... ;)
 
T

tsd2005

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Zip3kx07 said:
Levesque is right; the Anthem is the best pre-pro out there right now for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray. Only problem is there are only a handful of pre-pro’s out that can handle HD DVD/Blu-Ray, but there will be more announced between now and CES’07.

My main concern with the D2 is DTS-HD, No players that I know of will have the decoder built in. DTS has said they do not want manufactures to put the chip in the player, they only want the decoding to happen in the pre-pro, so if you can’t buy a player with the chip that means no DTS-HD audio on the Anthems till they upgrade it again and add the Dolby +/DTS-HD decoders into the D2 with HDMI 1.3.

The Anthem D2 is a grate pre-pro, if you like it you should pick one up, don’t let me stop you. If your looking for a pre-pro with grate sound, lots of bells and whistles, from a company that wants to help keep there customers product up to date, then the D2 is for you.

Sorry, but that is not even a close assumption.

A Theta CBIII with a 6 shooter is leagues better in sound quality than a D2. For sound the Theta with 6 shooter is far better than the D2 for Blu-Ray. However video depends on your application.
 

Reverb

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Robin, TSD2005,

Here is a link from the Avsforum. The question was asked which is better CBIII or D2.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=681683

In my opinion what ever makes the customer happy is the best one.



TSD2005,

You need to reread that post, because I was not referring to sound quality, I was referring to features. Something the Casablanca is lacking in by today’s standards.
 
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Robin

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Fascinating exchange on the AVS Forum on This Subject...

Zip3kx07 said:
Robin, TSD2005,

Here is a link from the Avsforum. The question was asked which is better CBIII or D2.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=681683

In my opinion what ever makes the customer happy is this best one.
Joe,

Thanks for sharing that particular thread. It was an interesting exchange. Hey I might post there and offer our insights we've been discussing here...

I also found this extremely interesting thread on the AVS Forum:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=636042&page=4

If you'll notice the two posts (#98 & #108) by (Advanced AVS Forum Member) - "Shumi_9" he does an in-home-comparison - between his newly purchased McIntosh MCD201 (by-it-self & directly connected) versus his CBIII (with extreme DAC's) controlling his MCD201.
Each was connected to the same amplifier and speakers, in succession, to see just which sounded better, as far as music goes...
"Shumi_9" found that hands down the McIntosh MCD (source) connected directly by-it-self - to the amps/speakers, "Won" - sounded far-and-away better, than with the CBIII added into the audio path... I found truly fascinating. ;)
"Shumi_9" plans on using his CBIII for his HT(movies only), not for his music listening. He uses his MCD201 directly connected to his amplifiers to enjoy unveiled music listening. Again, very interesting to me as well as giving me lots of food for thought... ;)
 
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Spike

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Robin said:
"Shumi_9" plans on using his CBIII for his HT(movies only), not for his music listening. He uses his MCD201 directly connected to his amplifiers to enjoy unveiled music listening. Again, very interesting to me as well as giving me lots of food for thought... ;)
Yes, his finding is similar to mine as well in that the pre-pro are great for HT, but it has a veiled (or processed) characteristic that is not suited for 2-channel music listening. A good pre-amp or direct-connect with a suitable source will always be more satisfying than going through a pre-pro. That's the main reason my Meridian 565 processor is assigned strictly to HT and my ModWright is handling 2-channel music duties :)

Spike
 

Robin

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This is amazing information I alway thought Pre-Pro's were Necessary for Music...

Spike said:
Yes, his finding is similar to mine as well in that the pre-pro are great for HT, but it has a veiled (or processed) characteristic that is not suited for 2-channel music listening. A good pre-amp or direct-connect with a suitable source will always be more satisfying than going through a pre-pro. That's the main reason my Meridian 565 processor is assigned strictly to HT and my ModWright is handling 2-channel music duties :)

Spike
Spike,

The direct method of connecting the source to the amplifiers is so wierd - in some ways, but I've listened to the sound of two - McIntosh MC275's connected directly to a SACD/CD McIntosh MCD201 - player and the tube sound was not only unvailed, but emotionally awe-inspirering as well. The natural richness and clarity of the music made me want more, to hear these same three components connected to some Summits or Ascent i's. I know the music would have sounded even better on a good pair of ML electrostatic speakers... I will never forget that sound I heard... ;) Someday, in the next couple of years, I will have a deticated 'music' - two channel tubed 'source - direct' sound system with ML speakers (Summits probably)... All in good time... All in good time... ;)
 
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