New to SACD/DVD-A

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Nathan Eddy, May 14, 2005.

  1. Nathan Eddy

    Nathan Eddy Second Unit

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    Okay, I've finally jumped on the hi-rez bandwagon with a used 563a (purchased from this site, thanks Curtis!). I have only one DVD-A (Yes, Fragile) and one SACD (DSOTM) so far. Both of these sound amazing, with plenty of bass. So after reading through old posts here, I'm confused about the bass management issues. Am I missing something? I've actually had to turn my powered subwoofer down from what I'm used to, there's so much bass.

    Apparently, the cross-over is not ideal (did a consensus ever develop on what the crossover is? 200? 120? 100?), but I've got three settings on my subwoofer to manually adjust for different frequency outputs (60, 90, 120). So if the internal crossover in the 563a is 200, and I've got my subwoofer manually set for 90, am I losing part of the frequency spectrum? Or is it redirected to my mains? Obviously, I'm a newbie on the whole BM thing. I've never worried about it before. On both the receiver and the player, I've got my mains set to Large and the surrounds/center set to Small. On the receiver, I've got "subwoofer remix" setting set to "on"--which splits the bass between mains/sub during 2 channel playback, but I'm not sure if this has an affect with hi rez since it's going through the analog connects.

    I very happy with the sound I'm getting, so I'm not complaining. I just wonder if I missing a tweak or two that could make it even better. Any advice?

    p.s. I'm NOT going to spend $200 on an ICBM--that would be over twice what I paid for the player itself. That just seems silly given how pleased I am with the sound now.
     
  2. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    S&V measured the crossover of the 563 at 200 for DVD-A. I think it was lower (120???) for SACD and DD/DTS. 200Hz is rediculously too high for all but the smallest of main speakers. And most subs have trouble going up that high (and you would not want them to if they did). Makes you wonder what Pio was thinking about.

    If you are happy with the sound, then I would stop right there, and not read any further!

    But, unless your sub has a means of bypassing the crossover completely, you are losing some content between 120 and 200, worst case, assuming DVD-A.

    Crossovers are not brick walls, so there is still some content between those frequencies getting out into the room, but its likely that you FR would look a bit funky if you ran some plots with an SPL meter and some test tones.

    A basic setup would normally call for all mains to be small, sub on. With your mains large, no bass from the mains are being sent to the sub.

    That might be why you are not perceiving any loss of bass. You are getting whatever the mains are capable of.

    Many uni players do need a bit of boost on the .1 channel (don't recall the 563). But in your case, you are not redirecting the main L/R bass to the sub, so you are avoiding that issue to a degree, or at least it is not so acute.

    Here is a link to a FAQ that was done a while back regarding uni players and BM. There are some new technologies that were not really out at that time (Firewire, DenonLINK), but the fundamentals are still solid.

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...22#post1800722

    It is possible that you might get around part of the issue by setting your Mains to Large, Center/Surrounds to small, and sub to Off. Then run the output of your L/R's through the sub crossover. However, then you would face the issue that many uni-players have with NOT re-directing the .1 channel to the mains.

    I know you have ruled out an ICBM. Fair enough, but I would not suggest listening to a uni-player that does have a correct BM set-up. It will spoil you for your own rig.

    A lot of members started out 3 years back with whatever BM came with our players, and it was not until either getting an ICBM or a player with proper BM that we really were able to hear all that these players had to offer.

    BGL
     
  3. Nathan Eddy

    Nathan Eddy Second Unit

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    Ok, you lost me there. How do I run the output of L/R through the sub crossover? Is this a setting I make, or a connection I change?

    BTW, am I damaging my subwoofer by making it play these higher frequencies (200Hz)? If I manually set the 60Hz or 90Hz buttons on the subwoofer, aren't I avoiding this? What exactly is the connection between the player's crossover and the subwoofers manual frequency buttons?

    Thanks for the help!
     
  4. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    No damage will be done by trying to have the sub play high frequencies...it just can't do them well, if at all.

    I don't know what sub you have, so what I am going to suggest may or may not be doable, but what you could do is take the speaker level outputs, and connect them to the sub, then on to the main L/R speakers.

    I have two subs and both permit that sort of connection, although I do not use it. You might want to take a look at the manual that came with your sub and see if it can be wired that way.

    Depending on your receiver, it is possible to do the same thing but with a line level connection (not likely unless the receiver has a set of power amp in/pre amp outputs).

    As you can pretty much tell, the concept of bass management can be a bit daunting under the BEST conditions; through hi-rez into the mic and its enough to make one long for the days of mono.

    The bottom line is that I would set the sub to the highest possible crossover (or bypass it if possible).

    You might also try a setting of all small/sub on, versus what you have now, but I bet you will perceive a loss of bass on DVD-A content.

    Lastly, it would be a good idea to mention the model of receiver and sub you have, that way others with those products can offer better advice.

    BGL
     
  5. Nathan Eddy

    Nathan Eddy Second Unit

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    My receiver manual says that using the 6 channel analog inputs can produce much better sound. It doesn't specifically mention SACD or DVD-A, but instead makes it sound like any DVD will have improved sound using these inputs, due to "increased spatial separation" by having each channel input separately.

    So, am I supposed to be listening to Dolby Digital and DTS recordings through the analog inputs? I tried to do A/B comparisons, but the volume level drops dramatically when switching to these inputs, so it's hard to do an accurate comparison to the digital coax input. When I turn it up to compensate, some things do sound better, but not all.

    In addition, I'm confused by a DD or DTS recording would pass ANYTHING through these connections, and in what form it is passed. Is the player decoding the surround info into analog and passing the correct info to the correct channel? How is that done? Considering that it's still not hi-rez (I assume), is this really better than hearing it the way the DD/DTS engineers intended? Is my receiver manual full of crap in this "increased spatial separation," or is there some truth to it?
     
  6. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    The 563 has built in DD and DTS decoders. So, if you had an older receiver w/o DD/DTS (my first AVR, Marantz SR-96 is such a beast), you could connect the 6CH analog outs and hear DD and/or DTS.

    But, if your AVR does have an onboard DD/DTS decoder (very likely if it was built in the last 7 years of so!), you would connect the 563 via a digital connection (optical or coax) and let the AVR do the DD/DTS decoding.

    You would only use the 6CH analogs for SACD and DVD-A. As you probably know, unless you have a newer rig with Firewire, iLINK, or DenonLINK, you MUST use the analog connections from the player to hear DVD-A or SACD at its full resolution.

    Back to your comparison of DD/DTS analog vs. digital, which would sound better would be a function of which device(the 563 or your AVR) has better D/A converters.

    Why there is a level drop when connecting through the 6CH analog ins is likely due to the level of the 563 being a bit low.

    One more think to make sure about is that your 563 is setup so that it is not downconverting DD/DTS to PCM. There is a setting in the menu for DD and DTS; the choices are (IIRC) Bitstream or PCM. Make sure you have it set to Bitstream.

    BGL
     
  7. Nathan Eddy

    Nathan Eddy Second Unit

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    Brian, thanks for all the help! You seem to be the only one with the patience to deal with my newbie questions.

    So, if I understand you correctly, the ONLY difference in sound quality is the difference between my receiver's decoders and the player's decoders? Passing the signals separately through 6 different channels offers no benefits whatsoever over passing them via one coax? I kind of liked the idea (though I didn't really buy it) of having the channels on separate cables somehow increasing the sound quality by decreasing any "interference" between channels, or something like that. It seemed intuitively natural that greater channel separation on the listening end could be achieved by starting out with a hardware separation on the source end.
     
  8. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Well, again we are talking about non-HiRez stuff here (DD/DTS, and even CD). Just to be 100% clear, you have no option for hi-rez other than the 6CH analogs.

    Now, back to the difference between DD/DTS/CD over digital vs. analog.

    First, as for where the separation is done, its again a matter of the quality of the decoders. The only way to know is to play the same content both ways and give it a listen. Of course, nothing in HT is ever quite that simple!

    Yes, the decoders will be a contributor to the difference, but bass management will also make a difference.

    It is possible that your receiver has different crossover settings than the 563. We know that the 563 has some quirky settings hi-rez, but even its settings for DD/DTS may be different from the receivers, and because the crossovers are different, one or the other may work better in your room with your loudspeakers/sub.

    Another possible difference that you alluded to before is the levels are not the same digital vs. analog.

    To take that out of the equation, you would need to run test tones (for example, using the Avia Guide to Home Theater DVD) through both types of connections. Using an SPL meter, you would want to dial in both sides so that they produce the same SPL reading in every channel. Then it will be a comparison of the decoders, and the BM capability of the player vs. the AVR.

    Brian
     
  9. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Just to put an even finer point on this... the hi-res audio tracks cannot be passed via coax. Only the analog outputs will carry this (on your setup). All you're hearing otherwise is lossy DD-5.1/DTS or CD-quality PCM. In other words, unless you use the analog outputs, you have no need for SACDs or DVD-As because all you're hearing is CD and DVD-V quality audio.

    The onboard bass management implementation has not been good on most players. I cannot speak to yours precisely, but I don't think the 563 is considered to be very good in this regard. Hell, even my Sony C555ES does a sorry job (an obvious downgrade in sound quality when I engage the onboard bass management). I recommend an Outlaw ICBM-1, which can be purchased for $199 (b-stock), to be placed in the chain between your player and receiver/pre-pro. It will give you all the bass management flexibility you need, and won't come at the expense of reduced sound quality (but it will come at the expense of the $199 purchase price, and an extra set of cables).
     
  10. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    Rich, I am with you 100% on the ICBM, but from Nathan's 1st post....



    BGL
     
  11. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Did not see that!

    I'd like to add that this may not be as big of a deal as we're making it. So long as your main speakers have some low-frequency gumption and your non-main speakers aren't of the utterly itty-bitty variety, the simplest option may be best: just don't use any bass management!

    Before I got the ICBM, I found that my system sounded better without applying the onboard bass management of the Sony C555ES. My mains are towers, though not "full range" (down to about 48Hz), and my center and rear speakers only get down to about 65Hz with any authority. Perhaps surprisingly, this is adequate for many m/c mixes, of which there are a good many that only use the center for fill and the rears for ambience. These will likely sound good on many a non bass-managed system (so long as you don't have little mosquito speakers), and you can employ bass mgmt whenever you come across a disc that would benefit, on balance, given the trade-off between overall sound quality and bass reproduction.
     
  12. Nathan Eddy

    Nathan Eddy Second Unit

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    Yes, I am aware of that. I may be new to hi-rez, but I've at least learned that basic point.

    I think my towers go down to about 30Hz if I remember correctly, and I'm upgrading my surrounds to Atoms or even Titans (I've been watching Ebay for a good deal), so they should have some pretty good bass soon. My center is pathetic, but that will probably be the last one I upgrade. Movies aren't as important to me as music, so I haven't put much emphasis on the center.

    Thanks for all the help, guys.
     
  13. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    Nice little thread you've got going here Nathan. But after reading this, I just had to jump in feet first. Don't downplay the importance of the center center channel while listening to 5.1 music, be it hi-res or DD/DTS. While a solid center is critical for movies it's also very important for music. Most of the vocals and allot of the other stuff goes thru the center speaker. The more I play around with this stuff the more I hear even the slightest change in detail from one speaker to another. Even the same series from the same manufacturer. When the time comes to up-grade the center, give as much thought as you have with the rest of you're set-up. I'm not implying you weren't going to, but thought I'd mention it (just in case). [​IMG] .
     
  14. Greg Bright

    Greg Bright Second Unit

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    It's truly amazing how many hi-res discs have no center channel output. It's as though the engineers didn't feel it necessary or even desirable to include a center channel at all. So all is not lost even without a center. Knowing which recordings are sans center...
     
  15. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    This is one of those dated audiophile myths that a "phantom center" is better then a real one.We had an interesting thread here a few years ago about which speaker is the most important in an HT set up. You would be surprised how many members declared the center speaker "disposable".
     
  16. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    For HT, the center channel enables listeners off to the side to hear sounds localized around the screen area. For someone sitting in the middle, it can, depending on the set-up (e.g. having 3 identical speakers or not, etc.), give one more of a high end system imagining experience. I guess the idea for hi-rez music is to recreate the high end imaging experience with some added ambience. There is so much to the mixing mastering quality of a particular disc, whether it is regular CD, DVD-A or SACD that I find I prefer a good recording regardless of format. I'm not a big fan of aggressive use of surrounds but I have recording where the center is used and where it is not used and from what I have I can't say I have a preference for music. For movies, I've tried both the phantom and real center and prefer the real one.
     

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