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Universal players and SACD-PCM conversion


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#1 of 48 Stephen Dodds

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Posted April 20 2003 - 06:15 PM

There's was an interesting aside from Michael Bishop of Telarc recently at Audio Asylum in which he states that all universal players with bass management or level controls, and in fact all SACD players with digital bass management, convert the signal to PCM.

http://www.audioasyl....es/133505.html

Anyone have any thoughts as to the truth of this, or the audibility?


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#2 of 48 Kevin C Brown

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Posted April 20 2003 - 07:31 PM

Pioneer has said that the 47ai and 45a do *not* do this. The signal stays in the DSD domain until it gets converted to analog. The new (cheaper) 656 or something, which will go for $250 or so, *will* convert the signal to PCM to do bass management.

Logically, *if* these 2 players did convert from DSD to PCM, then why not do time alignment too? But they don't, that's why there's no time alignment for SACD yet for DVD-A there is.

I presume then, that the players based on the 47a: the Onkyo 800, Integra 8.3, Lexicon RT-10, and Marantz 8300, also are this way as well.


Very important note, the Yamaha player is *not* based on the 47a. (That's why it kicked ass on the video tests in the latest Secrets shootout. Posted Image But I personally don't know about the BM. I would seriously doubt it anyway, and if you actually read what that dude said, he said, "I wouldn't be surprised if it was." In other words, he doesn't know.)
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#3 of 48 KeithH

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Posted April 20 2003 - 10:41 PM

Stephen,

I have read this too, but I don't know how each universal player on the market breaks down. I don't use bass management on my 'C555ES just because I like to avoid extraneous processing.


Kevin said:

Quote:
The new (cheaper) 656 or something, which will go for $250 or so, *will* convert the signal to PCM to do bass management.


That will be the DV-563A. I've read the same about bass management on this player. As I recall, the conversion is typically to 24/384 PCM. I'd be curious as to how well this player would perform without bass management applied.


Kevin also said:

Quote:
Logically, *if* these 2 players did convert from DSD to PCM, then why not do time alignment too?


I thought I read that the upcoming Denon DVD-2900 would offer time alignment adjustment for SACD, but I don't recall reading anything about DSD-to-PCM conversion.
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#4 of 48 Michael St. Clair

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Posted April 21 2003 - 03:00 AM

Someone mentioned on AVS that the head of Linn claimed PCM conversion could not be transparent...but failed a blind test comparing it.

And of course not all PCM conversion will be equal.

I know the S2300 sounds great for SACD, whether you engage BM or not. I honestly don't know whether it uses any PCM on the SACD side. The SACD side of the player won't even play CDs, I know that.

Regardless, I suggest you let your ears, not specs and schematics, do the deciding.

#5 of 48 Kevin C Brown

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Posted April 21 2003 - 10:33 AM

Some more thoughts: in the Audio Asylum link, the one dude says how the sound quality of the 777ES deteriorated when he engaged BM, so he assumed it was doing a DSD-to-PCM conversion. I'd humbly suggest that he check the phase to his sub. Posted Image Doing the crossing over in the player could result in a different phase variance to his sub vs doing it in his pre pro/receiver. *That* might be why he thought he heard worse sound. Plus the fact, that most DVD-A/SACD players don't have the 10 dB boost that DD/DTS decoders have for the LFE channel, so that might also have been a problem.
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#6 of 48 Don Bingaman

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Posted April 21 2003 - 12:56 PM

Question on setting .1 channel levels.....I've got an SCD-C555ES running into P9000ES and then into a Hafler 9505 (FL & FR), a 9303 (RL & RR) and a second bridged 9303 (CC) with the subwoofer pugged into a Vandersteen V2W. I can balance all the full-range channels with my sound meter on my listening chair, no sweat, but I'm at loss as to how to properly set the subwoofer level. Micheal Bishop seems to indicate that Telarc records the subwoofer channel 10 dB down. Is this universal and if I know the relative sensitivities between the Vandy 3A Sig.s and the V2W, do I add 10 db to make everything flat, or do I forget it and turn the sub off for SACD ?

Also, has anyone looked at analog HF filtering, (say a single pole at 50-100 Khz), on these players to clean up the signal prior to going into the power amps, (these Transnova's are flat to 300 Khz) ?

#7 of 48 Stephen Dodds

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Posted April 21 2003 - 05:16 PM

I have the overseas version of the Pioneer 47i, and read all the confusion about previous players and LFE. In the end it wasn't a problem for me. I have full range speakers alla round, and I used the AIX signals, and checked them with the signals on another DVD-A I had, plus DD and DTS via the 5.1 outs.

Once set this way, they are are right for all my DVD-A and SACD discs.

Interestingly, the one disc that did screw things up was the Telarc 1812 which also has test tones at the end. With that, the LFE does come out 10dB down, but only with the tones. When listening to the music the levels are correct.


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#8 of 48 KeithH

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Posted April 22 2003 - 12:00 AM

Michael said:

Quote:
Someone mentioned on AVS that the head of Linn claimed PCM conversion could not be transparent...but failed a blind test comparing it.


Posted Image
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#9 of 48 LanceJ

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Posted April 22 2003 - 02:01 PM

I honestly would like to know what people fear from a DSD-to-PCM conversion.

And........

Quote:
That will be the DV-563A. I've read the same about bass management on this player. As I recall, the conversion is typically to 24/384 PCM.


Yikes! A 384kHz sampling rate?? That's twice the resolution of dvd-audio and as far as I know, DSD (remember: DSD uses a ONE bit data word). I personally sure wouldn't worry about conversion degradation!

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#10 of 48 Lewis Besze

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Posted April 22 2003 - 09:47 PM

Quote:
I thought I read that the upcoming Denon DVD-2900 would offer time alignment adjustment for SACD, but I don't recall reading anything about DSD-to-PCM conversion.
No it won't,or at least Denon is not specifically states it will,like they state with DVD-A.Here is the relevant info from Denon's website:
Quote:
Burr-Brown 24-bit, 192-kHz DSD 1790 Audio DACs that decode PCM and DSD signals discretely with no down-conversion of DSD *•*Full Digital Bass Management for DVD-Audio, featuring Analog Devices Melody 32-bit processor; 80Hz crossover with 12dB high and 24dB low pass slopes; Adjustable delay time(0-15ms)and Channel Levels*•*Full Digital Bass Management for SACD; 80Hz crossover with 12/24dB slopes on all channels; Adjustable channel levels
No mention of TA for SACD.
Quote:
in the Audio Asylum link, the one dude says how the sound quality of the 777ES deteriorated when he engaged BM, so he assumed it was doing a DSD-to-PCM conversion.
Yeah I also wonder if this guy was just the "devil's advocate",but I could be wrong!Posted Image
Quote:
Micheal Bishop seems to indicate that Telarc records the subwoofer channel 10 dB down. Is this universal and if I know the relative sensitivities between the Vandy 3A Sig.s and the V2W, do I add 10 db to make everything flat, or do I forget it and turn the sub off for SACD ?
No it isn't universal,as a matter of fact Telarc sometimes uses the .1 channel as the "height" channel.
Also many labels don't utilize the .1 channel at all,or treat it as "fullrange".
This is why the need of a complete bass managment solution,the end user should decide where the bass is allocated,not the engenieer who won't be listening to your system.
Also the advocation of "fullrange" speakers all around,is unrealistic for many people,not to mention just how many of them out there to begin with.I'm talking abot 20-20khz at any loudness!

#11 of 48 KeithH

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Posted April 22 2003 - 11:13 PM

Lewis, thanks. I hadn't seen any mention of time alignment on Denon's web site, but I thought I had read some talk about it here. Perhaps it was just speculation or wishful thinking.
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#12 of 48 marc

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Posted April 22 2003 - 11:49 PM

What is a better format, DVD-Audio or SACD? Or is there even a comparison? I am looking at some of the newer DVD players and would like to know if it is worth buying one that will play DVD-Audio. Is there any good, reasonable ones that play both DVD-Audio and SACD. What about my receiver, will I need anything other the DD 5.1 (Denon 3200)? Thanks

#13 of 48 Rich Malloy

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Posted April 23 2003 - 04:20 AM

Can of worms, Marc, enormous can of worms...

Which is better? Depends on who you ask. IMO, both are substantial steps up from CD, and your preference would likely fall to the side of which format has more titles that appeal to you. A good place to look is the ever-reliable Music Direct website:

SACD Titles: http://www.amusicdir....tegory&srch=30

DVD-A Titles: http://www.amusicdir....tegory&srch=70

As for your Denon 3200, so long as it has six-channel analog inputs (which I believe it does), you're all set! You will need a few more cables, of course...
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#14 of 48 jason willder

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Posted April 23 2003 - 03:30 PM

On my s2300 when playing a dvd-a a pcm light comes on on the face. When playing sacd it doesn't. I don't know if that really means anything. The pcm conversion rate is adjustable but this is only on the dvd "side" of the player. I am assuming the sacd "side" is dsd.I am begining to join the sacd school. I find them easier to use. Changing tracks on some dvds is a pain. You have to have the moniter on to easily find your way between stereo and multichannel. Shave and a haircut...

#15 of 48 Tom Foley

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Posted April 24 2003 - 04:10 AM

I don't want to open any other cans of worms, but this newbie to the world of DVDA/SACD would like some input on this point. Yamaha and Denon have universal players that, according to their manufacturers, do not "down-convert" DSD to PCM, and they retail for $1000. Meanwhile, Pioneer is about to release a universal player that does convert DSD to PCM, and will retail it for $250, ONE QUARTER OF THE PRICE! For somebody who wants to enjoy the best in sound, but does not have the time or patience to debate whether there is a true significant difference between the two different decoding methods, can anybody in good conscience recommend somebody the $1000 model? Would this be a case that you truly get what you pay for (chroma bug notwithstanding)?

In terms of real discernible sound, is there any difference with how a SACD would sound being converted to PCM before analog conversion as opposed to staying in DSD? Does anyone here think that players that don't convert like Yamaha/Denon will be squeezed out of the market by much cheaper models that do convert? Even this early in the universal player game, the numbers tells me that converting DSD to PCM will become the standard.

I would also appreciate any input on what I was considering for purchase once it becomes available: the Pioneer HTiB HTD-630DV, which has everything I've been looking for: DD-EX, DTS-ES, SACD, DVDA, progressive scan, and five-disc changer (I've have not seen any standalone five-disc changers with DVDA/SACD). At this point, with everything I want only being available in a home-theater-in-a-box package, and considering I need to overhaul everything in my entertainment center, is it worth the investment now or should I wait for the standalone player and shop for better receiver, speakers?

#16 of 48 Rich Malloy

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Posted April 24 2003 - 07:02 AM

As of now, there is not a single universal player on the market that I'd recommend. Yes, it's true that a big nest of cables and ersatz switchboxes are not everyone's notion of a "clean" system -- certainly not mine either -- but I simply cannot justify paying more money (or even about the same money) for a jack of all trades that does none particularly well. And that's the current state of things.

And forget anything that converts DSD to PCM. Why bother "upgrading" when it's not really an upgrade after all?

I don't know if there will ever be a universal player that does all things well, and for about the same money (certainly no more!) than separate components. When you try to cram everything into a single box, you have to make compromises. But if you care to have uncompromised high-resolution sound in all formats, and uncompromised video performance for DVDs, then you don't want any of the universal players currently on the market.

And don't kid yourself: a $200 SACD player or DVD-A player definitely has compromised sound quality. Don't let anyone tell you they sound every bit as good as an XA777ES, etc. In fact, they don't come very close at all.
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#17 of 48 Kevin C Brown

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Posted April 24 2003 - 08:25 AM

I think you have to pick what you're interested in and go from there. If it's video quality? Get the Yamaha. If it's audio, get a Pioneer (-based) player.

And the funny thing is, just to give you an idea of how much "reviewing" is more subjective than objective, I've seen the Yamaha reviewed well for audio, and I've also seen Pioneer (-based) players reviewed really well for video.

The Denon is a really big unknown at this point, but obviously there are a lot of hopes that if will come closer to the performance of separate SACD/DVD-A players. But I have seen comments in the past, that Denon players in general don't do redbook CD that well. fwiw.

Don't forget that Marantz also has the 8400 coming, and the 8300 rocked for audio quality. But it had the chroma bug.

If it's just *access* to SACD and DVD-A that you're looking for, then wait for the $250 version. But if it's good quality sound and video, there are choices out there now that will probably work for you.

Cruise this forum. Read the reviews in the trade mags. Go to audioreview.com. Go to ecoustics.com. Lots of info out there to help you make the decision for yourself... Posted Image
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#18 of 48 Eric_Strickl

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Posted April 25 2003 - 04:17 AM

Quote:
SACD players with digital bass management, convert the signal to PCM.


Not true what about the ns999es? It even converts pcm to dsd.

#19 of 48 Stephen Dodds

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Posted April 25 2003 - 05:19 AM

The trouble with reviews is that they are often completely contradictory. Take the Pioneer 47a.

It was praised for its sound quality on both DVD-A and SACD by Widescreen Review and HiFi News (UK).

The same model was lambasted for its SACD performance by The Absolute Sound.

Such diametrically opposed opinions tend to make me question all reviews, and wonder whether they are just making it all up.

If the differences are as big as they say, they should be audible to anyone.

I've just bought a Sony SACD player to compare to my Pioneer universal player, so I guess I can see for myself.

Steve

#20 of 48 Steve_AS

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Posted May 03 2003 - 07:22 PM

Quote:
As of now, there is not a single universal player on the market that I'd recommend. Yes, it's true that a big nest of cables and ersatz switchboxes are not everyone's notion of a "clean" system -- certainly not mine either -- but I simply cannot justify paying more money (or even about the same money) for a jack of all trades that does none particularly well. And that's the current state of things.

Pioneer's Elite combo connects via 1 wire, and reportedly (Dave Ranada in Sound & Vision) does full BM and time alignment on all formats. That sounds recommendable to me. Wish I could afford one!

Quote:
And don't kid yourself: a $200 SACD player or DVD-A player definitely has compromised sound quality. Don't let anyone tell you they sound every bit as good as an XA777ES, etc. In fact, they don't come very close at all.

But that's not really a fact, it's an opinion (some might think they sound closer than you do, for example) -- and , actually, unless you've done well-controlled comparisons, it's conjectural whether they even sound *different at all*.


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