Analog sounds better than digital?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by WayneO, Jan 1, 2004.

  1. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    I finally got around to buying and hooking up analog cables to listen to DVD-Audio from my Denon 1600 to my Onkyo TX-DS898 about 2 months ago. I bought Bueno Vista Social Club and Alanis Morrisette(for my wife)and calibrated the speakers, almost the same as my reciever's setup, on the Denon. Did some listening, sounded pretty good, but haven't seen too many disks I want for $20 since. I heard great things about Diana Krall Live In Paris DVD, so I figured I'd check that out. This prompted me to really test my ananlog and digital connections to compare sound quality since I can run DTS with both connectins, unlike DVD-A that only lets you get hi-rez through analog. I figured with a music DVD I could hear diffences easier than a movie.

    To make a long story short, the analog is definately cleaner sounding than the digital output in music and movies. Cymbals are crisper, the voices are less muddy, etc. This is in "Direct" mode with no tone controls for either. So the difference being that the Onkyo decodes digitally and the Denon does the analog stuff. I was kinda suprised, apparantly the DAC's in the Denon are superior to my Onkyo, which was pretty expensive($1500 retail), and one of their better A/V recievers. I use Radio Shack analog cables(I feel they are of good quality) and an RCA digital optical(Ok, I guess). Could it be the optical cable? Or the Denon's DAC's are just superior?

    I'd really like to have better sound through the Onkyo(digitally) since it has better speaker and bass management and the Denon is limited and has a 100hz crossover, instead of the 80hz on the Onkyo with the speakers set to small. Any thoughts on the matter? Thanks.
     
  2. BrianWoerndle

    BrianWoerndle Supporting Actor

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    The different crossover could be a big part. I have my Denon 3803 crossover at 60hz, and the Denon 2900 has an 80hz crossover. There are a few things I have listened to that sound completly different even though the DACS in both Denon's are very similar.
     
  3. John S

    John S Producer

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    DVD's should really be listened to in surround formats, encoded on the DVD itself.

    I can see, DD 5.1 possibly sounding a little worse even though this has not been my experience.

    I would be shocked if DTS sounded worse though, if it was available.

    So what was your actual test??

    What mode(s) -vs- what modes with the two different sources?

    If it was stereo on both analog and digital feed, were you able to make sure the DVD and player were producing PCM stereo?

    If it was analog stereo -vs- DD5.1 maybe I can see this.
    If it was anaolg stereo -vs- DTS, I can't see that.

    I had a stint where I was watching DVD concerts in stereo, but have since realized, the audio engineers usually know what they are doing, and your native DD 5.1 and/or DTS is usually superior. DD 5.1 sounds a tad compressed to a fair amount of audiophiles for music reproduction.
     
  4. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for replying. This is with the DVD player set to bitstream for both analog and digital. Analog is "Multi-Channel" and digital is an auto-sense DD or DTS. Both ways the reciever is in "Direct" mode which means no manipulation of the source. And actually the reciever will not let you choose a different sound output such as TVLogic or Stereo, etc. when it senses a DD or DTS signal. This might be changeable in the setup menu, but of course you would only want to listen to digital sources in their intended format.

    I thought about the cross-over part and agree it could make a difference, it's just the SQ overall is so better, not just tonal differences.
     
  5. John S

    John S Producer

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    I am still confused....

    Putting the receiver in Direct mode, forces downconversion of DD5.1 and DTS soyrces to stereo. It would not surprise me if analog sounded somewhat better than this.

    Unless the DVD has a specific PCM Stereo sound option, the extra downconversion is going to come into play, weather it be your player or your receiver doing it.

    Do you get the same perception comparing native DD/DTS to your analog stereo (RCA connections) or are you taking your analog multi channel outs from a DVD player to the receiver?
     
  6. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    I don't have analog connections except for the 5.1 Multi-Channel from the DVD to my receiver's 5.1 inputs. The "Direct" mode just basically disables the tone adjustments that could be made(bass, treble), that's it. And yes it will be "two-channel", IF I was listening to a non-5.1 source. In DD or DTS listening, you can use "Direct" or "Direct/Tone-on" or "Direct w/shutdown" of the receiver's video section. I can't force DD or DTS to a 2-channel option, since a signal is sent to all 5.1 channels, that's what is played. If I play a 2-channel CD through the 5.1 analog inputs, the receiver will not allow any different sound modes as well, just the 2-channels that it receives without manipulation. Of course in digital, I can set it to whaterver(PLII,TVLogic,Mono,etc.)

    Simply put, analog 5.1 is a "straight-through" connection with no source manipulation,except for tone control. Digital input allows you to do any manipulation of the signal that the receiver can do. But it stays in "Direct" mode with 5.1 listening which means no source manipulation as well. Which is how I'm comparing the two.
     
  7. John S

    John S Producer

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    Interesting... My direct mode, is 2 channel only.

    I think what your saying is that your DACs in your DVD player is better than the DACs in your reciever then.

    That is quite possibly so. Denon DACs are really great, that is one fo the reasons I own a Denon receiver.


    I have always asserted when given the choice of using two different DACs for the same source go with the better DACs....
     
  8. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    WHAT INTERCONNECTS? Interconnects are a factor in analog's sound. Analog will sound different than digital, but it also matters what type and quality of digital cable you are using as well. If you compare a $10 coaxial digital IC to a $100 analog IC, of course there will be a difference.

    It may also simply be that you prefer the sound of the Denon's DACs.
     
  9. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    And I double checked the optical, I use a RS optical cable as well, they are all 6ft. All are the gold series.
     
  10. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Sorry, missed that. IMO, I have found that less expensive cables tend to be somewhat less detailed and often bright or "tinny", which may or may not work well with a given setup. Meaning, with a softer speaker, a brighter cable might be the perfect match. I had to try out quite a few cables, including some more expensive ones that what I ended up with, before I found ones that I liked.

    With my 222ES, I preferred it's DACs to my Marantz 6200, but when I moved to an 8300, the 8300s DACs actually sound better via coaxial digital for redbook CDs.
     
  11. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    Thing is I think the RS analog cables are great. Whether or not an Optical cable upgrade would improve things, is the last thing for me to try. I tried some Tributary analog cables a while back and couldn't tell a difference in my system. I'm also trying to sort out the speaker settings(xover, distance, etc.) between the receiver and dvd player and whether they are both being applied in 5.1 analog mode. I wouldn't think so and emailed Onkyo ?'s about this. I would think the DVD's setting are the sole settings enforced in a 5.1 analog setup, but I'm gonna get an anwer from them. Either way though the analog is better so their answer really isn't going to change things. Digitally the DVD's settings are not used so that eliminates that possibility of two settings conflicting. Ahhhhh........what a pain.......
     
  12. WayneO

    WayneO Supporting Actor

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    So how many times have you seen people rack their brains to discover that missed one setup option. Turned out I had the Re: EQ setting to on, which is supposed to tame the treble out of movie soundtracks.........go figure. Once I set that to "off" I got my clarity back....:b
     
  13. Jonathan Dagmar

    Jonathan Dagmar Supporting Actor

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    I have to admit I get a kick out of your "for my wife" qualification, only because I myself like Alanis Morisette quite a lot.
     
  14. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    WayneO: Um, I'm confused about your test here. What exactly are you testing?

    * DTS tracks vs. the dvd-audio (MLP) tracks?

    * DTS from the Denon vs. DTS from your receiver?

    [​IMG]

    Even though I do like DTS' sound quality, to me it usually has a slightly grainy high end that the MLP tracks either have less of, or most of the time don't have at all.

    LJ
     
  15. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    The title of the thread is very misleading. BOTH results are analog. You're really comparing DACs (and possibly other things such as different output levels), not "analog vs. digital".
     

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