Theta Digital Casablanca A/V Preamplifier

Casablanca

User Reviews (12)

Showing 1-10 of 12  
LonghornsRule   AudioPhile [May 20, 2002]
Strength:

1) I asked this Ed if the current unit could do 24/96 and he said yes, then I bought it called back when it wouldn't work and he checked a manual and then said I needed 2100 worth of superior dacs. At this point, you owe me free dacs as I asked , you told, you even went to a manual and screwed up. All I got was a sorry. 2) I had also called the eastern regional manager just before purchasing and he said the upgrade to a 2 was 1675 and after I bought it and got the Dac answer change from Ed, he confirmed that and said now it was 1900 and again sorry. At this point, they owe me a free dac and an upgrade at original owner cost to save the 275 the error cost me, but even when asked nothing was offered. I am going to write the president, as I shouldn't pay for their errors.

Weakness:

Continued, did positive in main. When you upgrade the DACS aren't part of it, and they don't offer a basic 24.192 dac but a 24/384 dac that as of now is overkill at a serious price premium of 3999. Proceeed upgrades to 24/192 and and most of the other things for 600 more then Theta and with the DACS that is 3300 less for 24/192 then 24/384. That is simply insane but they don't get that. I say get a new advisor on their side if they can't get there needs to be an option in between. I am now selling my Theta because 2 major employees know their product enough for me to buy it then cost me 2100 and 275 on their errors and that is simply wrong and if I did that, I would have to write the check, period. I can sell me Theta buy a proceed used and upgrade and get in that for 1000 profit on the sale, so 1500 net on the upgrade and with Theta is would be 1900 plus 3999 for one extreme dac so I save 4500 by leaving them and in 4 years if they can't update I start 4500 plus interest ahead.

I bought this unit because I am going through the have enough money and dammit I will be happy mode. I am already rich and fat and argue with my wife all the time, so why not enjoy the after math of the fights with quality TV and music. I tried the Lexicon MC1 and the Sunfire and the Denon 5800 and this kills all of those and is 2 years older then all of them except the 5800 which it is 3 years older then. I really like the unit and upgrade was a big feature. They are solid on that in that they do it for 1900 and give the whole unit a new 3 year warranty. There are some reasons I am considering going other ways. I want these to be understood, so I will give positives then negatives. It comes with 18 bit dacs standard and now to pay 2100 for 20 bit dacs that won't do current 24/192 seems both expensive and stupid. The 18 bits do sound better the all of the forementioned in movies and music despite their 24 bit dacs? Me to, it seems to be DSP engine size that makes up for it. It is built to allow upgrade by design where as most seem to leave a possibility by the nature of design. Here is what I don't like and I just cut to the chase. I bought mine new and when I did I spoke to 2 people that are Techs there, one Ed was a true Tech and the other was a guy that I can't remember his name but he claimed to be the regional manager for the east coast

Similar Products Used: Great equipment, poor knowledge at my expense, horrible design and reaching of the market and priced a guy making over 150k out of the real market, unless I can admit I am just stupid to continue L
OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
2
meri5862   Audio Enthusiast [Mar 25, 2002]
Strength:

Superlative audiophile sound quality. Excellent performance in DD and DTS modes. Availability of audio and video options. Modular design makes it "future proof". Extensive user-configurability with menus. Upgradeable OS with RS-232 interface. Build quality.

Weakness:

Remote control. Menu ergonomics not as intuitive as I''d like.

Originally purchased the Casablanca in 1996. Recently had the unit upgraded to the Casablanca II with Extreme DACs. While the original was excellent, post-upgrade the unit is superlative. Extreme (4 ch.) DAC card and embedded Jitter Jail circuitry further improves the sound comprehensively. Impressive performance in either Stereo, DD and DTS surround modes. This is a true, no-compromise audiophile/videophile-quality surround sound processor. And is priced accordingly.

Similar Products Used: Listened to Meridian''s 861 and Madrigal''s 380S.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
drdoom   Audiophile [Sep 16, 2000]
Strength:

good sound

Weakness:

overpriced

well all my REVIEWS TAKEN OFF. ONLY FIVE STAR REVIEWS LEFT. NEVER HAD SO MANY PROBLEMS WITH ANY PRODUCT EVER!!!!!!! AT THIS PRICE THERE IS NO EXCUSE PERIOD!!!!! GOOD LUCK YOU WILL NEED IT.

OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
1
Michael   Audiophile [Aug 10, 2000]
Strength:

Dynamics, details, configuration flexibility, balanced outputs, input capabilities (digital, analog, video).

Weakness:

Price. Not for the timid. The user interface (particularly the modal, nested menus).

The Casablanca is solid, unflappable, stunning, cinematic. It works well as a bypass (analog-only) preamp or digital preamp (with common-sense modes to choose from); it absolutely comes to life in Dolby Digital or DTS modes, however. There are no phoney-baloney DSP simulation modes; this unit is about faithful digital-to-analog conversion and movie soundtracks. Theta offers "Circle Surround" for audio decoding, but I didn't order and haven't heard it. Configured with balanced DAC's (superior balanced DAC's recommended) and when used with balanced, differential amplifiers and high-quality interconnects, the Casablanca creates a palpable, dynamic, and detailed soundfield. Some audio products have rhythm and rock and some don't. The Casablanca does both. To get the most out of the unit, I recommend balanced (XLR) connections throughout and the highest-quality, most dynamic speakers you can afford. The Casablanca will reward the investment.

Similar Products Used: Lexicon CP-3, various old Yamaha, Denon receivers.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Eric Stieg   an Audiophile [May 03, 1999]

After having the Lexicon DC-1, Proceed line and other equipment, I must say there's room for the Casablanca to shine.
The lexicon is easier to use, has an RF remote (so you don't have to 'point it' at the lexicon) and the menus seem to work 'faster.' The lexicon even allows you to change the display screen to show off your friends - by saying "... home theater..."

Anyway, what it comes down to is sounds quality. I'm just now realizing I need to upgrade my speakers, but before I do that, I must tell you the Casablanca is a piece of work. It's a 'tour-de-force' that I haven't seen anything comparable to. Bottom line, if sounds quality is what you're looking for, this baby gets its cake, and your friends, and eats it to.

I have a so,so system other than the Theta, but this baby makes my DV-09 DVD player and A.Technology 450 system sign like the angels in heaven. Go check it out, it truly ROCKS!

email me for specific info...


OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
John Dooley   Audiophile [Sep 19, 2000]
Strength:

Does almost everything

Weakness:

Over Priced and there is a new model out: The Casbalanca II

First off, I don't understand why the Theta Casbalanca is under audioreview AVpreamp and the Theta Casa Nova is under audioreview preamp. They are both AVpreamp, the Casa Nova being the little brother of the Casbalanca. Plus Theta has just came out with the Casbalance II and there is no audioreview site as of yet. Anyway, the Theta Casbalanca was the top of the line for top dollar AVpreamp for a long time, now being surpass by the Casbalanca II because of the DVD Hz issue and a few other upgrades. I own the Theta Casa Nova because I already had an Audio Research LS-16 analog tubed preamp for my stereo (Martin Loagan SL-3), and I was adding a HT to it (Martin Logan Logos and Scripts) and I didn't want to have two sets of analog inputs and outputs. The Audio Research LS-16 has an Audio By-pass which makes ranning the Theta Casa Nova via 5.1 thru it to my main speakers rather easy. I have heard the Theta Casbalanca many times at my local high end audio store, and it makes even the smallest speakers sound great and clear. Therefore I wrote this review to say: The Casblanca was one of the best if one wanted but one preamp to do almost everything, but if one already had an analog preamp, adding a Casblanca to a system would be over-kill and therefore the Theta Casa Nova would be a better buy. Last comment, if one has the bunks check out the Casblanca II for better upgradibility

Similar Products Used: Own the Theta Casa Nova & had the Accurus ACT-3, & tested the Aragon Soundstage
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
Gord   Audiophile [Sep 18, 2000]
Strength:

Audio quality

Weakness:

None

Just to neutralize previous stupid remark of Dr.Doom.
It's not a review. It's just an attempt to bring down
Theta rating. Although I have just Casa Nova (not Casa Blanca)I can't imagine any owner to be so way disappointed to put just 1 star for it.

Similar Products Used: Casa Nova
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
kevin forsythe   an Audio Enthusiast [Apr 10, 1999]

like most people I have a mid-fi system but dream of the ultimate system..here's my line up for your comparison:

Adcom GDA-545 AMP (2channel 100watt)
Sony TAE-2000ESD (digital surround amp)
CAL Delta transport & sony KA1ESA Tape deck
sony DTC-75ES DAT & ja20es Minidisc
polk RTA-11T & KEF Q55 speakers
Audioquest midnight & interconnects

just replaced the Sony TAE-2000ESD surround processor with the Theta cassablanca with 3channel superior D/A DTS/AC3 card for around $6,000 even in this mid-fi system the differance is between Night & day..(it's probably unfair to compare a $2k sony to a $6k theta but who cares) the music has incredible detail, very smooth. my dealer was nice enough to let me also try the proceed avp preamp, but I found it to be weak in comparison. to the cassablanca.. the really cool thing about this unit is the upgradability by adding cards -vs- the proceed AVP is only software updatable (unless you go with the higher end PAV)

now I just need a pair of B&W 803's Proceed AMP5, Tascam 45R 24bit DAT, and I'll be in heaven :) I can't say enough good things about the cassablanca & theta's committment to supporting thier customers

5 stars from me

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Mike Barbuschak   an Audio Enthusiast [Aug 14, 1999]

WOW! I have been around the block buying , testing, and trying out demos of many different Pre/Proc gear. Lexicon, Proceed, Meridian, Theta, many of the Japanese brands too. I just recently traded in my Lexicon MC-1 unit to get the Theta Casablanca. There was know comparison between the two with the system that I have currently have set up. My system is geared towards 80% Home Theater, 20% Audio. My system currently consists of the following equipment:
Theta Casablanca - Pre/Proc
Cinepro 3k6SE - Amp
Pioneer Elite DV-09 - DVD/CD
Sony AD4 DSS
JVC SVHS
Sony AV-200 HI-8
Cinepro PowerPro 20 - Balanced power
Transparent Cables
B&W Nautlius 801 - Main
B&W Nautilus HTM1 - Center
B&W Matrix 805 - Rears
Velodyne FS-1500R - Sub
Pioneer Elite Pro-119 - RPTV

The Theta Casablanca is configured with the following options installed:
Base model Casablanca (Black)
Superior 3 Ch Bal D/A for fronts & Center
Standard 3 Ch Bal D/A for Rears & Sub
Combined Dolby Digital/DTS proc. board
Video switching board

With the Theta Casablanca, my system comes together both in music and Home Theater. The system is just plain SMOOTHER. With the others that I have tried, they were just too HARSH and too digital sounding. I'm not one for words, but all I can say is that the Theta made my system complete. I'm not saying that the Theta will do the same for everyone's system, but if you have a similar setup like mine, you owe it to yourself to give the Theta Casablanca a spin.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
Bob Aidun   Audiophile [Apr 30, 2001]
Strength:

Best sounding preamp I have ever heard, regardless of price.

Weakness:

Price.
Dealer Response & Attention to Detail after an upgrade.
Lack of Component Switching.
Very cheap-feeling remote.

The original Casablanca that I purchased was truly outstanding. Absolutely the best sound I've heard when connecting digital sources directly (CD, DVD, etc.) It even has an analog passthru mode to avoid the A/D/A roundtrip. Infinitely flexible configuration of speakers, crossover frequencies, number of channels, etc. Compared to the other products I have used, the Theta's sound is far more smooth and analog-like. No harshness or any characteristic that makes your ears feel tired after a period of listening. My casablanca had a problem where the unit would emit a shrill noise when auto-switching into Dolby Digital or DTS modes.
I recently upgraded to the Casablanca II. This sounds even better. I think their Jitter-Jail adds a tremendous benefit as does the 24-bit 96 KHz DACs. The casablanca II got rid of the shrill noise when the unit would switch into DD or DTS modes. During the upgrade from Casablanca to Casablanca II status, I received the unit back and Theta had just forgotten to install one of the upgrades (the display) even though I had paid the local dealer and the local dealer had ordered the specific upgrade from Theta. Also, when I received the unit back, all the screws on one side of the chassis were only half way screwed in. It doesn't leave me with a warm fuzzy at all (what else could they have forgotten to do?)
It is expensive, but I don't think there is anything better out there and the upgradability makes it very nice. I've decided not to penalize the product's overall rating due to Theta's lack of quality control during my upgrade procedure since that doesn't affect the units sound or performance.
I use my unit with a Theta Dreadnaught AMP (3x200W and 1 100Wx2 channel, leaves one free slot)and B&W Nautilus 801 speakers.

Similar Products Used: Denon 5800 Receiver
Onkyo 989 Receiver
Meridian 565
Lexicon MC-1
Proceed AVP
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
Showing 1-10 of 12  

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