I expected more sound quality improvement than we’ve gotten thus far, but at the time I didn’t know InMusic was working on the Prime 4 or WiFi support. That’s a lot they’ve been doing behind the scenes. I found out about those like everyone else did on the forum. They’ve had a big work load, so I understand audio processing quality might not be top on the list.
I also made it clear to those on the forum that the high-frequency roll-off was causing less of the sonic attributes people were complaining about on the players than the limiting, 100X the intermodulation distortion of the industry standard, or the (apparently) nonlinear distortion harmonics at just -30dB down. I wish users had done more to emphasize the rest of the sound other than just the roll-off, but they didn’t. I anticipated the risk of getting just a little less treble roll-off and then an unjustified contentment. We have more high frequencies, but everything else remains and probably we have some aliasing echo and/or quantization distortion that’s gotten worse… that’s sort of the point of an early, aggressive roll-off to prevent that stuff. You don’t do a big roll-off in audio DSP for your health or as an accident. If you don’t totally revamp the processing and instead just increase the highs, you get more of that other stuff. But as I said, InMusic’s been focusing on other things, so the delay in more sonic improvements is completely understandable.
I believe this is all just sound processing software and not some defect of hardware. The industry standard does not resample everything in their players, rather, each file is processed at its own native sample rate. Even the SPDIF rate changes depending on the loaded track on models that support over 48khz sampling rate. In contrast, the SC5000 outputs always at 96khz and yet still rolls off 44.1khz files a little bit even in v1.3.1, which is strange. The current SC5000 processing we have is substantially lossy and degraded compared to the original file. I can imagine a variety of methods InMusic can use to improve the SC5000’s sound further and, in my opinion, it is necessary to achieve even the potential of hesitation-free widespread high-end club adoption, let alone actual.
At the present time with less-revealing mixers and with less demanding material (less-busy, less compressed, more dynamic, more minimalist music) it’s good enough to any ears on any system taken by itself without A-B comparison. However, on large, very expensive sound systems, with more demanding content, and/or compared back-to-back with the industry standard, then it becomes readily apparent, in my opinion, that it’s currently trailing behind sonically unless you’re doing something like key lock ON with -20% pitch… where such an extreme use-case puts Prime in the lead.
If you plan on always using key lock, having no regard for extreme negative pitch fader use, and changing keys any way you want, even if you’re using the SC5000’s on the best sound systems and with the most “busy” and dense of music, I don’t think it’s worth dropping Prime just because it’s not the ultimate fidelity yet. Moving key and pitch around willy nilly makes you the perfect user of Prime. If you’re not quite in that category and in more of a gray area, that’s a judgement call you’ll have to make whether to wait and see.
Though InMusic has not given any assurances this will be addressed in the future, I presume it will be, especially when they just expanded into New Zealand with the express purpose of working on the Prime coding, both on the players and Engine Prime.
I also expect many users to come on here and tell you it does not need to be improved further. So you will get a variety of perspectives with which to make your decision.