why do analog outs sound better than digital???

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ben Hanrahan, Mar 12, 2002.

  1. Ben Hanrahan

    Ben Hanrahan Stunt Coordinator

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    I recently bought a HK AVR520 and was really disappointed with stereo sound...I mean REALLY disappointed. The stereo sound was annoying and harsh, I was quite mad. I talked to my retailer and he said to be sure to use the analog outs from my dvd player when playing stereo music. I went home and switched and the difference was like night and day, I had a nice smooth, warm sound. Why is this???? The AVR claims to have top quality dac's and that digital connections will offer the best sound quality, but it's simply not the case. My retailer did not seem the least bit surprised by this, he said "Trust me, always use the analog outs for cd's". I was wondering if anyone can explain this finding...And please don't tell me that the dac's in my dvd player (panasonic rp56) are better than the dacs in the HK 520, because that isn't the case.

    Ben
     
  2. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Ben:
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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  4. Ben Hanrahan

    Ben Hanrahan Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't want to flame anybody, but the reasons you suggest are wrong. Suggesting the quality of a digital cable is an absolute joke. I'm just trying to let people know that analog connections can still be a good thing and in the case of stereo, I think they're the best thing.

    Ben
     
  5. Ben Hanrahan

    Ben Hanrahan Stunt Coordinator

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    I want someone to explain to me why this is the case. And my receivers dac's aren't defective! I'm probably talking about something that the average person wouldn't even notice, unless they were very in tune with their gear and home theater in general. But I feel that this is something that people should know because everyone out there should be getting the best performance possible out of their gear. I'm looking for a real technical explanation, not "check your connections" or "try using a Monster Cable" etc etc, I'm tired of seeing that obvious response to serious questions.

    Ben
     
  6. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Ben:

    Two points:

    1.

     
  7. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Ben,

    I think your retailer is full of shit and I suspect that something's wrong. Though it is possible (however unlikely) that the Panasonic DACs could sound better, the difference should be subtle, not "night and day" as you describe. When listening to the H/K DACs make sure that all tone controls and DSPs are bypassed. When listening to the DVD player DACs make sure that in stereo mode your receiver is in some kind of "analog bypass" mode. If not, the signal is being digitized and run through the H/K DACs anyway. Try the stereo outs from your DVD player into the L/R of the 5.1 channel inputs on the receiver and see what that sounds like. Most of the time the bass management (redirection of low frequency sounds to the sub) does not work on the 5.1 ins or in "direct mode".
     
  8. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    for what its worth...

    I don't like the sound of my denon3802 dacs when using a PCM source. I have tested, calibrated, tested, had GF switch on me when I'm out of the room and immediately tell her which DAC is being used.

    I prefer using the analog connection out of my CD player (adcom). you could also try another cable for the digital connection and rule that out.

    As to why? well the way I see it a PCM 2-channel DAC has a very specific purpose and as such could excel at that purpose (constant clock, oversampling, one format/framing).

    the DACs in receivers have a myriad of format/timing/encoding options and hence are more complex. I'm just guessing. But I still from time to time switch to CD digital --- yep...still sounds the same...back to analog.

    I have a pannyRP56 as well. Maybe I'll do the digital/analog comparison tonight and let you know if I'm seeing the same thing as well. I would be surprised if the rp56 has decent DACs.
     
  9. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

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  10. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Phil:

     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Ben,

    IMO, The only way you should have a night and day difference is if something is configured differently between the two or incorrectly. I know, you SAID you know how to configure your system, and I don't doubt that, but the difference you are talking about should not be. BOTH the Panny and HK should have good DACs that should both produce quality sound. What is your setting for digital out on the Panny? Are you sending bitstream/DD/downmix/etc...? I am not familiar with the 56s congig, but the HKs DACs may not like whatever setting you are using currently.

    I had a similar problem with DD vs DTS - my DTS sounded spectacular, but DD sounded "flat". I KNOW there is not that much difference between the two, so I checked out my setup and after switching it, the two are difficult to tell apart. (was set to PCM and should have been bitstream or vice versa, I don't remember)

    You also did not state what mode(s) you are listening in. ANY DSP could skew the results. Processing on either method could very easily give you a noticable difference in sound.

    FWIW, I recently purchased a Marantz CC-4000 CDP, and used it in both analog and coax dig. They sounded nearly identical to me, with a slightly smoother sound via analog, so I stuck with it.
     
  12. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

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    John Garcia,

     
  13. Ben Hanrahan

    Ben Hanrahan Stunt Coordinator

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    I was listening to both in "stereo", yah, that's right, good old fashioned stereo. I don't like any dsp's when listening to a stereo recording, I think they're all gimmicky and really only on there to market to people who think it'll sound like a "hall" or a "stadium".

    Speakers set to large, no subwoofer, on both tests. The digital connection must create jitter which cause a slight harshness to the higher frequencies and a slight loss in detail....at least that's the type of info that I've been able to surmise thus far.

    I 100% know that my retailer is not full of shit, he's a little eccentric but he absolutely knows his shit. We're not talking about circuit city here folks....Furthermore, he knew it would sound better with the analog outs, but I think he said that the digital connection with a cd player would sound fine, must be something to do with jitter in dvd players.
     
  14. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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  15. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Ted:

     
  16. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    thanks larry!

    would you say the pass-through is more of a feature or a norm for todays receivers/pre-pros?
     
  17. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Most receivers I've seen in the last few years that have multi-channel analog input have a bypass or direct feature. Even older DD "ready" receivers had this, as DVD players with built in decoding would handle all the effects, speaker timing and sound levels, which meant the receiver didn't need to do anything but amplify and control overall volume.
     
  18. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Definitely a feature. Unfortunately there are still companies whose receivers simply digitize everything that they receive through analog connections.
    One of the favorite aspects of my pre/pro is its handling of analog stereo sources.
     
  19. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    thanks guys! this is something i've never really considered...glad to learn about it!
     
  20. John Tompkins

    John Tompkins Supporting Actor

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    Well, I had an experience that was just the opposite of Bens.
    I had the sony 555es sacd player which is highly renowned for its dacs for Redbook play back. I was using a denon 4802 as my pre. I slightly preferred the digital connection using the 4802s dacs over the sony dacs via analog out. I know this isnt a popular statement but thats the way it was.
    The denons dacs were warmer then the sony 555es dacs. The sonys dacs made the music a little to sharp to my ears {and my sons and a co-worker}
    sacd was another story[​IMG]
     

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