Thread: SACD Player and AV Options

Posts: 41
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Post by ClassicalDJ May 8, 2012 (1 of 41)
Hello Everyone.

I have been a lover of classical music for quite some time but am just now beginning to explore the world of SACDs. Currently I am researching the ideal SACD/DSD playback setup. I would like the setup to double as a home theater system, so an AV receiver is a must. My overall budget for player, receiver, and surround speakers is around $1500 (though I might be convinced to go a little higher).

I have already begun assembling a group of speakers for the surround setup (so far only Klipsch RF-15 Towers), so my primary questions are regarding the SACD player and receiver options, but any speaker tips are also welcome.

Regarding the SACD Player:
Is it correct that a current Sony Blu-Ray/SACD hybrid player will output pure multichannel DSD via HDMI if configured properly? What other considerations should be made when choosing a player?

Regarding the AV Receiver:
How important is the option for pure DSD to anolog output? There seem to be many conflicting statements online about which receivers will convert DSD to PCM rather than transferring a pure DSD signal to analog. Are there any receivers within my budget (>$500) that are reliably known to transfer DSD to analog without first converting to PCM? What other considerations should be made when choosing a receiver?


David W.

Post by MattMan657 May 8, 2012 (2 of 41)
Oh yea, there are a lot of receivers that can do this, especially in your price range. Onkyo makes a whole bunch. You can find their 708 receivers for relatively cheap these days. They will do everything you need them to. They won a whole bunch of awards when they were new.

Take a look at the Oppo players. With your price range you have some great options. I personally would go for an Oppo or Marantz before a Sony. What is great about the Oppo BDP93 and BDP95 is that they satisfy the definition of a universal player to the term's fullest extent. They can convert DSD right to analog if you want to use its analog outs, and they can bitstream DSD over HDMI without the PCM conversion. However you can chose to have it converted to PCM if you wish.

I try to keep things in DSD as long as possible.

Post by robstl May 8, 2012 (3 of 41)
Congratulations -- I think you'll really enjoy listening to classical SA-CDs. This website is a great resource of people and information.

You'll probably get a number of different answers to your questions, but here's my take. First, yes, the last couple of crops of Sony BD players output DSD over HDMI, including multichannel DSD. I haven't had any issues with mine so far (I've got two of them, now), and I think it is a reasonably priced way to get both Blu-Ray audio/video and SA-CD audio output for an AV system. I'm sure there are other good choices too.

The second question is thornier. Although I _marginally_ prefer pure DSD->analog sound (one of my setups allows this, with an old Onkyo 805), for me the marginal benefit is outweighed in most circumstances by the bass management, time alignment and equalization/room correction features of my receiver that cannot be used with the pure DSD->analog option. (If I have a stereo only SA-CD with, say, acoustic guitar or solo violin, I might go the DSD to analog route; otherwise, I don't.)

If your set-up isn't going to allow 5 full range (e.g. tower) speakers, I wouldn't worry much about the DSD direct to analog feature. It comes at a premium cost, and I personally just don't use it as much as I thought I would. I'd get a receiver that can take in DSD multichannel by HDMI, has an automatic calibration microphone (that sets up equalization, bass management, room correction, etc), and would suggest that you put more money into the speakers/subwoofer otherwise.

If your set-up _is_ going to allow 5 full range speakers, in a room that's going to allow you to sit equidistant from each, well... ...I'm jealous!


Post by MattMan657 May 8, 2012 (4 of 41)
robstl said:

If your set-up isn't going to allow 5 full range (e.g. tower) speakers, I wouldn't worry much about the DSD direct to analog feature. It comes at a premium cost, and I personally just don't use it as much as I thought I would.

There are tons of receivers that go for very reasonable prices that provide DSD direct to analog. It is not really a costly feature at all.

Post by Yoropiko1 May 8, 2012 (5 of 41)
I would be inclined to put most of your budget into the receiver, as one poster has already mentioned Sonys excellently priced budget Blu ray players will bitstream DSD via HDMI which is good ( assuming you do purchase a receiver that can convert the received DSD direct to analog ) but even if you dont purchase a receiver capable of Direct DSD >>> Analog the Sonys are capable of converting the DSD to High Rez PCM 176.4Khz 24Bit internally and sending the signal to your amp. That would be the preffered option and of course the Sony would double up as a fine Home theatre source as well.
Do look into the second hand universal DVD player market as well, specifically models like the Oppo DV 980H and Cambridge Audio DVD 99. These can be picked up very cheaply from the likes of Ebay and are able to send DSD via HDMI/ convert to PCM at 88.2Khz 24Bit and the savings made here will be able to go towards a better reciever. They are great machines but obviously the downside is they wont do Blu Ray of course.
The DSD aspect will be moot anyway if you do decide to apply any correction ( ie EQ, Bass management, etc ) because even a reciever capable of handling DSD will convert it internally to PCM as soon as you do it.

Anyway, best of luck and do let us know how you get on and what you decide to go for ^ _ ^

Post by Fitzcaraldo215 May 8, 2012 (6 of 41)
MattMan657 said:

There are tons of receivers that go for very reasonable prices that provide DSD direct to analog. It is not really a costly feature at all.

I actually do not think that is true. It is a feature that tends to be reserved only toward the top of a maker's line, if they support it at all. Some lines do not. Everything will still play fine, because the HDMI handshake will inform the player to switch to PCM output if the AVR cannot handle DSD, which it will do automatically.

I doubt that there are many, if any, budget constrained AVRs that can do it.

My prepro can do it, and I have a definite sonic preference for bitstreamed DSD. That is in spite of the fact that I use it via its internal conversion to PCM in order to get bass management, speaker distance correction and, quite importantly, DSP EQ.

Post by yakman May 9, 2012 (7 of 41)
Even though my setup has the capability of DSD to analog, I seldom use it.
The reason is, you need to have a large and well treated room for that.
My current listening room is 15 m^2 and has some basic treatment. Yet, there are two modes at around 70Hz and 110Hz annoying bad when you use DSD mode. Without room EQ, the bass drum is emphasized too much and masking the other frequencies.

Try the first track of this Rameau: Une symphonie imaginaire - Minkowski

Before getting a big house in the future (I wish that would happen), i'll not use DSD, pure direct mode, what ever you call it..

Post by hanser May 9, 2012 (8 of 41)
I use the Oppo 93 connected via HDMI to Anthem mrx 300 and use it for all my music sources: CD, DVD Audio, SACD, BD, Flac etc. I have long searched for a system that offeres this kind of sound quality with too much hassle and without breaking the bank, and can happily announce that I found it with this combination.

SACD has to be converted to PCM this way, but IMO the excellent room correction of the Anthem has much more influence on overall sound than any potential degradation due to the conversion.

Post by stejo May 9, 2012 (9 of 41)
I Use a Cambridge Azur 751 to my Denon AV. I ue the analouge output for the stereo listening, sounds great, but, The Denon (AVR 2312) doesnt have inputs for 5 channel analoug so I have to use the HDMI when I go for surround.
The most important for me with next AV-upgrade will be 5 channel analouge inputs.

Post by ClassicalDJ May 9, 2012 (10 of 41)
There certainly seems to be disagreement over which receivers will transfer pure DSD to analog, but it doesn't sound like it matters much especially with my current budget and room setup. My plan was to put more of my budget into the speakers right now and perhaps upgrade the receiver a few years down the road. One I have had my eye on is the Onkyo TX-NR609. It seems like a good bargain, and it received a positive review from Grammaphone (see below). I am a little worried though that it will not provide enough power for the two towers I have begun my surround setup with (Klipsch RF-15s, 100W RMS/400W max). Anyone have any experience with it or a similar Onkyo model?

I don't think I am convinced that spending $500 on a universal player like the Oppo BPD-93 is the best choice when a Sony BDP-S590 can be obtained for less than $150. What besides the DSD multichannel analog-out feature is the advantage?

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