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What's the Skinny These Days on Multi-Channel SACD Playback?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Shane Come Back, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. Shane Come Back

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    I know. SACD never got any traction in the mainstream and is all but gone except among audiophiles. Been coasting along with my old HT and audio setup for quite a few years, however, and I'm now out of touch about how the format is supported on today's universal players, specifically Pioneer. I had an old Pioneer DVD player that supported SACD playback, but it had six discreet channel outputs for playback of multi-channel SACDs and the decoding had to be done onboard the player. This I read, quite a few years ago, was a requirement by Sony as one of many levels of copy protection. Since then, the multi-channel outputs on my player quit working and I am considering a new universal player such as the Pioneer BDP-180 (I'm kind of a Pioneer fanboy because picture reproduction is amazing even at lower end of the price point spectrum), but very few universal players now, even the hi-end ones by Pioneer have the multi-channel outputs. My newer updated receiver doesn't have them either. So what I'm wondering is, did Sony relent so I can now stream multi-channel SACD playback via optical/coax output to be decoded on the receiver? OR do I still need six discreet outputs on the player to listen to 5.1 channel SACDs (such as my Pink Floyd DSOTM SACD), because Pioneer and other mainstream manufacturers are making a token gesture at 2-channel only support and just no longer care to install the multi-channel outputs because there is no longer a market for multi-channel SACDs? Can I get discreet multi-channel with a single digital out or do I need to go to a legacy product or to a more expensive dedicated SACD player for this? Hate to go dedicated since I own very few SACDs, but would like multi-channel support if I can get it in a universal player. Don't want to spend a lot on a player, either, since most of my content is now either streamed or downloaded then played back.

    Tried Googling and searching out the answer to this but couldn't find one.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    SACD has never worked via digital optical or coaxial connections, and it never will. However, you can get multi channel output via a single HDMI connection. There are not a lot of players that still support the format, though. Sony's current and newly announced UHD disc players do support SACD via HDMI, as does the Oppo UHD player and all their older BD and DVD players. You also need to make sure your receiver supports DSD via its HDMI inputs -- most of the lower end models do not have this feature.

    I do not think Pioneer even makes disc players anymore, so you'll have to look elsewhere unless you want to buy a used player.

    I am currently using a Sony X-800 UHD player and an old Oppo 980H DVD player for both SACD and DVD-Audio playback via my Denon X3300W receiver -- which was the lowest 2016 model from Denon that supports DSD processing via its HDMI inputs. I'm not sure what Denon did with DSD on its 2017 models.
     
  3. Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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    As noted, most players and AVRs these days can do DACD via the HDMI connections. Check the product’s web page before you buy to make it handles SACD.

    Regards,
    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
     
  4. 4 Jan 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
    Shane Come Back

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    Thanks for the replies!
    Yes, I remember, now. It was only analog outs you could go out from the player to the receiver with, even for SACD 2.0 channel. Now it goes over HDMI and the receiver needs to be able to decode DSD. Got it! About what year did this come about?

    Anyway looks like I’m SOL on SACD listening until I upgrade my receiver again. Most of my SACD titles I have duplicates of on either vinyl or CD, so I’m not terribly bummed out about it. Who sits around these days listening to music in surround sound anyway?? LOL.

    Thanks again!

    EDIT:
    Pioneer does still make players, but maybe no longer for the US market (I’m in Japan)? Perhaps that explains why I could only find reviews in English going up to the BDP-160 player and not the current BDP-180.
     
  5. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    The real advantage to SACD was for classical music listeners. Unfortunately this is a tiny slice of the population. I have a SACD of Mahler's 1st that is breathtaking in audio quality. I'm always worried that my Philips 963SA will crap out someday, since I just can't justify the price of an OPPO for the handful of SACDs I own.

    One of the problems with SACD was that the players had at best only rudimentary bass management. I run my player through an Outlaw ICBM but that's a pretty fancy method of bass management.
     
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    No, you have options. Your receiver or Pre/Pro doesn't necessarily need to handle DSD. With the Oppos, and maybe others, you can set it to output DSD as LPCM, which almost anything can process. There are arguments regarding whether or not this has an effect on the sound.

    I have quite a few SACD discs, but my priority was high quality, two channel, not surround, which I almost always despise in music. So, I have a Marantz two channel SACD player just for that. If you want more HD audio options, an Oppo can make sense. I use one for the occasion I do want to play an SACD in surround, in LPCM. I also use it to play HD music bought from HDTracks, which are stored on a HD connected to the Oppo with USB. Of course, I also play movies with it. So, the cost of a base model Oppo is a decent investment, considering how many different ways I use it.
     
  7. Shane Come Back

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    Well hallelujah! It works!

    I went ahead and bought the Pioneer player, unboxed it, connected it up to my receiver with a single HDMI cable, popped in my DSOTM SACD for giggles & grins, and yet lo and behold my Denon AVR-X2200 is decoding it into multi-channel. The first hint was that the front panel read "Multi in". Then I went back to the rear speakers. Nothing - the quickest way to confirm it's playing in discreet multi-channel 5.1 only. It could be exactly as John said above, that my receiver is decoding it as LPCM, but whatever. I'm happy that I have the option to play my SACDs now, in either mode they offer...with only cable, too. Sweet!
     
  8. Shane Come Back

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    Understood. I only have exactly 1 dozen SACDs. One of my very favorites of which is Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor by Murray Perhia in 2-channel only. Never tire of it...
     
  9. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    If the display says “Multi In” or “Multi Ch” then the player is outputting LPCM.
     

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