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Will i lose the benefit of SACD...

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Keir H, Oct 17, 2003.

  1. Keir H

    Keir H Second Unit

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    when using a preamp that convert all signals to digital? I often hear than any preamp that redigitizes audio signals coming in then converts them back to analog will do SACD no justice. Is this true for all prepros like Lexicon DC-1 MC-1, EAD, Meridian? ANyone have the experience with any preamps that do this conversion and has a SACD player. I am looking to get a Sony NS900V dvd/SACD player. Will I need a analog preamp to hear SACD correctly? thanks for any insight given.
     
  2. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Correct me if I am wrong, since SACD signals are output in analog, if they go through a pre-amp doing an analog>>digital>>analog process, it will just be unnecessary processing.
     
  3. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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    Does the player do bass management and time alignment on SACD?

    Pre-pros are doing it for proper BM and TA - which are proving somewhat contentious issues for owners of universal or SACD/DVD-A players.

    I guess it would be a matter of necessity depending on the overall resolution of your system - can you live without BM and TA, versus can you discern the effects of the processing. Given the fact that pre-pros do proper BM and TA it might shound better than straight analog from SACD, but this is moot if the player itself performs these functions adequately.
     
  4. John Kotches

    John Kotches Screenwriter

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    Danny,

    Given how utterly transparent A/D can be these days, I would have to disagree with you. Of course if A/D i spoorly executed that's another story altogether.

    The added benefits of digital processing for
    • Bass Management
    • Time Alignment
    • Room Correction
    will far outweigh the very slight theoretical, and zero practical degradation that A/D incurs.

    Being the very lucky owner of a Meridian Processor, I can tell Keir it's worth whatever slight degradation that might happen.

    Regards,
     
  5. Cliff Olson

    Cliff Olson Stunt Coordinator

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    John, as far as the two Lexicon Processors that Keir listed, it is very unnecessary to convert from analog to digital and then back to analog again. It just kills the resolution! Your Meridian Processor might be newer, which is why you see very little "degradation". The Lexicons he listed, are simply out-dated for today's Hi-rez Music Formats. I added a Sony TA-P9000ES, and haven't looked back. I still keep the Lex for Satellite, Xbox, etc. But for Hi-rez Music, you need a receiver/preamp with analog bypass inputs, IMHO.
     
  6. John Kotches

    John Kotches Screenwriter

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    Cliff,

    It's still a question of whether the benefits of the A/D conversion going to outweigh the tradeoffs.

    I have my doubts over whether anyone could reliably detect the difference between the straight analog signal and the A/D conversion even on the outdated Lexicons if the levels were matched. I've tried it and been very hard pressed to do so, even when it was a sighted comparison on older gear.

    Regards,
     
  7. Daryl Furkalo

    Daryl Furkalo Second Unit

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    If you want to listen to multi-channel SACD, then only a TAP9000 in combination with any of those listed processors will work as you won't have the analog 5.1 inputs necessary.
     
  8. Walt O

    Walt O Agent

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    The question is not whether an extra A/D D/A stage will hurt the sound. The question is whether going from SACD analog out, and then A/D into PCM will hurt the sound, and the answer is yes. SACDs do not use PCM, they use something called Direct Stream Digital (DSD). It is this different type of digital encoding that results in "analog-like" playback, or in other words, it sounds real. Putting a PCM stage in there will remove any benefit of using SACD in the first place. Pioneer has a cheap player out now that changes the DSD into PCM before going to analog; it does the same thing. There are tons of reviews between players that convert the stream correctly, and the cheap Pioneer that doesnt. Most notice a huge difference. DVD Audio uses PCM, SACD uses DSD. Now of course, if the particular title you buy on SACD was not mastered in the DSD process directly from analog tape, then you are probably not losing much anyways, as PCM has already been introduced into the chain before you got it, and has taken its toll on the sound already. Some of the stuff that comes directly from old analog tape however, sounds amazing on SACD.

    Walt O
     
  9. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    The current fav the Denon 5900 also converts DSD to PCM when the BM is engaged.Denon claims it's "inaudible",and they cite similar advantages as John K. has done.I haven't heard this player so I can't comment,maybe some of the 5900 owners can.
    Also keep in mind that many current SACDs come from old analog or even PCM masters,so they weren't a pure DSD from a get go.
     
  10. Brian L

    Brian L Screenwriter

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  11. John Kotches

    John Kotches Screenwriter

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    Walt,

    Spare me the near verbatim regurgitation of the Sony/Philips marketing hype in the future. I'm well aware of the differences between PCM and DSD. Contrary to this hype, DSD is no more analog than PCM.

    Once the signal is analog out from the player, it's no different than any other analog source! If you weren't aware of this, welcome to reality.

    Sampling at 20 bits or higher creates a linear space which exceeds DSD performance (@64fs) for noise, therefore no additional noise enters the system. Depending on sampling frequency (newer receivers/processors are sampling at 24/96K) it will be transparent for anyone that tests carefully. One wonders, have you ever actually done this test for yourself? It is enlightening and a bit humbling as well.

    All the items I listed (Bass Management, Time Alignment and Room Correction) in my experience bring greater improvements than whatever slight degradation the A/D might have in theory.

    Regards,
     
  12. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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    Good stuff John. My neighbor and I have been playing around with the new Denon 5900. From what I understand in "Source Direct" the DSD signal is converted to analog. If you turn this feature off and use any of the BM or TA features a DSD-PCM conversion occurs. (I could be wrong here).

    When placed in my 2 channel system, the difference with source direct on and off is audible. Just to be fair the BM was set to off and the time alignment set to zero. Am I hearing a simple DSD-PCM conversion? Who knows but you would hear the difference as well, I guarantee it. I didn't try it in my mid-fi HT system. It's not as revealing and it's not set up for MC music. I haven't made that leap yet$$$$$$$$$, im still enjoying vinyl to much. [​IMG]

    $0.02
     
  13. Tom Grooms

    Tom Grooms Second Unit

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    I see others have came to the same conclusions......
     
  14. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Screenwriter

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  15. Keir H

    Keir H Second Unit

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    Thanks guys for contributing with great insight. Looks like I have to experiment and if its audible to me, then I guess I'll be looking at a Sony TAP9000 to go along with my prepro(EAD). I thought it was the AD/DA conversion DAC's (in the receiver)that would lead to the sound quality one would hear...true?
     
  16. John Kotches

    John Kotches Screenwriter

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    Keir,

    That's been the suggestion all along, to listen for yourself.

    It's the entire package that gives you the sound quality you hear, A/D on input + quality of internal processing + D/A on output + Analog stages that follow.

    Regards,
     
  17. Walt O

    Walt O Agent

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    I still think corrupting an anolog or dsd source with PCM stages hurts the sound, and yes, that is based on personal experience.

    Walt O
     
  18. John Kotches

    John Kotches Screenwriter

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    Walt,

    I have my doubts, but I can't speak for your personal experience.

    It is time to dispel that myth that DSD is more like analog than PCM.

    Let's see:
    Analog: Stores the voltage level continuously.

    PCM: Stores the value of the voltage level at specific points in time. Point in time value of the sample is equal to the point in time value of the analog voltage, within the quantization limits of the sampling depth.

    DSD: Stores the change versus the value of the accumulator (Up or down). Point in time value of the accumulator should approach the point in time value of the wave. Point in time change is limited to full+ or full- value.

    Sorry, DSD is not more analog than PCM -- although it does make for good marketing sheets.

    Regards,
     
  19. Walt O

    Walt O Agent

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    John,

    If what you have said is correct, if converting into PCM for processing does nothing to hurt the DSD "sound," then there should be no real difference in the way DVD Audio and SACD sound. However, lots of people auditioning the Pioneer 563A, which does not decode directly from DSD, but instead goes to PCM first, have noticed that it does not sound as good as the Sony players when playing SACD. And I am talking about the cheap stuff here, the $200 Sony dvd players that also play SACD. Are you suggesting that everyone who hears a difference is imagining it?

    Walt
     
  20. John Kotches

    John Kotches Screenwriter

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    Walt,

    Let's be clear that there is a difference between DSD --> PCM conversion which is one topic, and sampling analog output from an SACD player which is another difference. We were talking about sampling analog output in this thread.

    Sony/Philips have claimed that DSD --> PCM is transparent so if that's truly the case this shouldn't matter. Still, many people claim it does. Obviously these aren't consistent with one another.

    Not having enough personal experience with players using DSD-> PCM methods for output I'm not prepared to discuss it with any particular experience. All of my discussion has been in the context of A/D of the analog output in certain components.

    Regards,
     

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