How is SACD with a sat/sub speaker system?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Kevin Robinson, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. Kevin Robinson

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    I've been interested in the Denon DVD-955S. I would primarily be getting this for my DVD collection, but have heard that it really performs well as an audio universal player as well. I have several hybrid SACDs (Dylan, Stones) and have always wanted to hear them at their hi-res best, but have been talked out of getting a SACD player in the past. As my local audio shop put it, the benefit of SACD would be lost on my system since I have a Mirage satellite/ subwoofer setup instead of full-range speakers. As I understood it (and forgive me if I misunderstood) the only way to really benefit from DSD encoding would be to connect the SACD output to the analog inputs on my Arcam AVR100, not use a digital connection. With this connection, I might have an issue with my system's bass management, i.e. not having the Arcam automatically send the lower bass to the sub, etc. In the same conversation, I was told that I COULD connect the SACD player with a digital connection, but that the multiple conversions of digital to analog to digital again might overshadow the benefit of the SACD format itself. Anyway, I noticed that the Denon has a bass management control. Can someone knowledgable better explain what my audio salesperson was trying to tell me? Has SACD/DVD-A technology advanced in the past few years to where a digital connection might not make such a difference? And what about the bass management on the Denon? Would that make a difference in my system? Sorry for my ignorance, but there's no point in purchasing a universal player if I won't hear any benefits from the new formats.
    Thanks.
     
  2. Greg.R

    Greg.R Extra

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    First, the difference you're going to hear on low end spearkers is going to be negligable at best, unfortunately.

    Second, SACD and DVD-A will only output the Redbook CD layer of a Hybrid SACD through the Digital Output of any player. For copyright reasons, manufacturers are prohibited from allowing high-resolution signals to be output digitally. The only way to avoid using 6ch analog outputs with SACD/DVD-A is to use a proprietary single-cable interface such as is available on higher end Denon players and Recievers - some other maufacurers are starting make these interfaces available as well I believe.
     
  3. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    If the player has bass management, set all speakers to SMALL and sub ON in the player, plug into the six channel analogue input on your Arcam and find a MCH SACD. While you may not get full "hi-res" benefits from your speakers, I think you'll notice some improvement (even on a well recorded two channel SACD). Put any of the early Elton John re-releases in MCH into your player and I promise you'll want more. Don't let salesmen (particularly someone who doesn't seem to know what he's talking about) talk you out of trying hi-res audio--as long as you're interested and it doesn't break your bank.
     
  4. Adam.Heckman

    Adam.Heckman Second Unit

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    I'll second that.

    Bass management is key. I'm using the Pio 563a, and while it has bass management, it still leaves something to be desired. Anyways, I'm using a sub/sat setup. I believe that, like you, I'm using an API subsidiary company: Athena Tech. It's used with a DIY tempest sub.

    While I'm sure that we won't reap the full benefits of hi-res, I can testify to the fact that you WILL hear a difference in the music. It's a whole 'experience' with hi-res multi channel. Go for it. Just remember to do the research and take the time to set it up right.

    Enjoy.
     
  5. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Your Denon's bass management may be adequate, but my Sony C555ES's is most certainly not. Engaging it notably reduces sound quality. But bear in mind that although this is a very highly rated player ("A" in Stereophile for SACD playback), it was an early generation one... bass management may have improved since then.

    But, if not, there's always the Outlaw ICBM, which I suspect is still available for $199 (for B-stock). It'll solve your bass management issues entirely.

    Of course, if two-channel stereo is your primary focus, then you can incorporate your sub very easily without any additional equipment (well, speaker wire if you don't have some extra sets). FWIW, I love the multichannel experience, and there is a cool "wow" factor, at least at first. But now that I have nearly 200 SACDs and a good many DVD-As, I've found that the added resolution is far more important to me than the surround capabilities. And while there are certain discs that I adore in surround, there are just as many that I prefer in stereo and these are not limited to older recordings never intended for surround. For example, I prefer the stereo mix of the Flaming Lips "Yoshimi" DVD-A to the multichannel, and this is a disc that many consider to have a "reference" surround mix and one that was recorded with at least the possibility of a surround remix in mind.

    If I had it do to all over again, I'd have to seriously question the expense I put into a multichannel music system. Had I invested all that into two channels only, I think I'd have on-balance a better system for music.
     
  6. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    Rich,

    Your point about two channel echoes many others I've read. My own feelings about MCH music are overwhelmingly positive, however. My regret (not a big one as I like my speakers just fine) is not having been able to buy 5 identical speakers for MCH music playback--though I feel I have a decent real world/wallet compromise.

    Not only do I like MCH mixes, but I even like the subset that's most criticized--the "in the band" mix. Ambient mixes are fine, but the "in the band" mixes I own allow for a separation and clarity of individual voice/instrument playback that takes the listening experience to a whole new level, IMO. And it doesn't require a 17 piece band to make that valid.

    Case in point: On Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection, there is a simple ballad called Love Song (written by Lesley Duncan). It consists of acoustic guitar, vocals and some slight background recording of children playing in the surf. One of my favourite songs (I've even recorded/performed it with a friend of mine), I know it by heart. The MCH mix just blew me away. The harmonies are much more articulate than is possible in two channel, while the higher resolution speaks for itself. I have six of the re-releases and I've yet to be disappointed. There are no 360 degree pans of sound meant to draw your attention (like many action movies have), just a separation and greater articulation of each part within the song.

    Sorry if I come off as preachy. My intent is to convey my enthusiasm for the rich potential of hi-res MCH playback. I agree it's not always successful, but when it is, WOW.

    However, a good two channel recording is nothing to sneer at and I listen to my two channel discs in two channel mode. I've tried matrix surrounds on my two channel stuff and have rarely been impressed. A discrete surround mix, though (with the exception of one track on one disc) has yet to disappoint me.

    Ultimately, though, it's about enjoying the tunes--whichever way you want, right?[​IMG]
     
  7. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Absolutely!

    And I'm also a fan of some of the crazier mixes, even some of the wild ones for earlier catalog titles. I mean, the oddly dry, all-around-the-room "Tommy" remix will never ever replace the drenched-in-reverb two channel one for me, but it's a fantastic alternate version, so utterly different as to nearly be another album altogether! Like getting two for the price of one... [​IMG]
     

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