Analog versus Digital Output on SACD player

dbaldus
dbaldus Posts: 730
edited May 2008 in 2 Channel Audio
I just picked up a Denon 2200 SACD player used here on the forum (thanks AndyGwis!) and currently have both the 6 analog outputs from the 2200 going to the analog inputs on my H/K 247 and an optical cable going between the two as well. In the manual, it recommends that I use the digital output for listening to "regular " DVDs or "regular" CDs (ie not DVD-Audio discs or SACDs), but I tried using both just to compare.

Guess what? Switching to the 6-channel input on my receiver while listening to 2-channel audio sounds MUCH better than listening to the same CD using the digital input on my receiver. When I say much better, I mean that the music sounds like it is much closer to me. The voice, the instruments, the strange little background noises - EVERYTHING sounds MUCH more detailed. In fact, when I read about people getting an external amp to power their speakers, this is the type of difference that I imagine they are having.

So what's the problem? Well, nothing really - I'm just curious what is going on here. When my player sends the audio from a 2 channel CD to my receiver through the analog inputs, what is different from sending the receiver the same information along a digital cable? Has anyone else had this experience? If you haven't, I suggest you give it a try, because at least for me it sounds great!

2-channel
Squeezebox Touch| MSB Analog DAC | Audio Research Ref 40 Anniversary Edition| Pass Labs X350.8 | Wilson Audio Sasha 2

Home Theater
Arcam AVR 550 | GoldenEar Triton One | GoldenEar SuperCenter XXL | GoldenEar Aon 3 | JL Audio Fathom F113v2
Post edited by dbaldus on

Comments

  • Systems
    Systems Posts: 14,872
    edited May 2008
    dbaldus wrote: »
    So what's the problem? Well, nothing really - I'm just curious what is going on here.
    What you are hearing is the Denon's superior Dto A converters and better analog output stages than what is built into the reciever.When you use the digital out on the DVD player you are bypassing these sections of the player.
    Testing
    Testing
    Testing
  • dbaldus
    dbaldus Posts: 730
    edited May 2008
    GV#27 wrote: »
    What you are hearing is the Denon's superior Dto A converters and better analog output stages than what is built into the reciever.When you use the digital out on the DVD player you are bypassing these sections of the player.

    Interesting. So the Denon converts it to analog and outputs it to the receiver, which then simply amplifies the signal? So my H/K (when using the analog inputs) is just acting as an amp?

    Thats strange... I always considered H/K and Denon to be in the same league as far as sound quality goes. I don't want to start a war here, but any thoughts on this?

    2-channel
    Squeezebox Touch| MSB Analog DAC | Audio Research Ref 40 Anniversary Edition| Pass Labs X350.8 | Wilson Audio Sasha 2

    Home Theater
    Arcam AVR 550 | GoldenEar Triton One | GoldenEar SuperCenter XXL | GoldenEar Aon 3 | JL Audio Fathom F113v2
  • Gaara
    Gaara Posts: 2,415
    edited May 2008
    The H/K is still acting as a pre, you still have control over the volume don't you?

    As for the difference I would expect any decent dvd player to have a better DAC then a entry level receiver. I bet if you had a entry level Denon receiver your findings would be similar.
  • Systems
    Systems Posts: 14,872
    edited May 2008
    dbaldus wrote: »
    Interesting. So the Denon converts it to analog and outputs it to the receiver, which then simply amplifies the signal? So my H/K (when using the analog inputs) is just acting as an amp?
    Yes when using the analog inputs.
    Thats strange... I always considered H/K and Denon to be in the same league as far as sound quality goes.
    Being that the Denon is a good universal player they would put a lot of the design's budget towards the critical DAC and analog stages so as to get maximum performance from SACD and DVD A discs.These sections are the heart of such players.The reciever on the other hand will have much of its design budget put towards the multi channel amp section and its power supply etc,so in all likelihood HK for cost reasons could not incorporate the same quality of DAC and analog stages as the Denon.
    Testing
    Testing
    Testing
  • dbaldus
    dbaldus Posts: 730
    edited May 2008
    Whenever I hear the term "pre", I always assume that it means pre-processor, meaning that it does some sort of processing (DAC) to the sound first. What do you mean by "pre"? And yes, I do still have volume control by the way.

    And speaking of volume, it is considerably louder using the analog inputs as opposed to the digital as well. Why is that?

    2-channel
    Squeezebox Touch| MSB Analog DAC | Audio Research Ref 40 Anniversary Edition| Pass Labs X350.8 | Wilson Audio Sasha 2

    Home Theater
    Arcam AVR 550 | GoldenEar Triton One | GoldenEar SuperCenter XXL | GoldenEar Aon 3 | JL Audio Fathom F113v2
  • dbaldus
    dbaldus Posts: 730
    edited May 2008
    This is cool - I love how my CDs sound now that I'm using the Denon's DAC instead.

    But now I have another question... can I use the Denon's DAC for movies and then output through analogs as well? Basically, I'm wondering if it is possible to transmit Dolby Digital or DTS through the analog outputs (and hope for the same improvement). It seems like a stretch, but it would be awesome if I could do that!

    2-channel
    Squeezebox Touch| MSB Analog DAC | Audio Research Ref 40 Anniversary Edition| Pass Labs X350.8 | Wilson Audio Sasha 2

    Home Theater
    Arcam AVR 550 | GoldenEar Triton One | GoldenEar SuperCenter XXL | GoldenEar Aon 3 | JL Audio Fathom F113v2
  • Gaara
    Gaara Posts: 2,415
    edited May 2008
    dbaldus wrote: »
    Whenever I hear the term "pre", I always assume that it means pre-processor, meaning that it does some sort of processing (DAC) to the sound first. What do you mean by "pre"? And yes, I do still have volume control by the way.

    And speaking of volume, it is considerably louder using the analog inputs as opposed to the digital as well. Why is that?

    Pre is generally used as a a abbreviation for pre-amp. If you remove the pre-amp and just use your receiver as a "amp" as you put it then you would have no volume control.

    The difference in volume is caused by one of two things, output level of the source or input sensitivity of your receiver. Either the Denon has a higher output then the output stage of your H/Ks DAC, or the H/K is more sensitive on the multi-channel inputs.

    Yes you should be able to decode DTS and DD with your Denon via the analog outs. If it will sound better is up for you to decide.
  • steveinaz
    steveinaz Posts: 19,371
    edited May 2008
    When you're listening to an SACD via digital, are you sure you're not hearing the redbook layer? I thought SACD was only available thru analog connections?
    Source: Bluesound Node 2i - Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2 DX - Amplifier: Parasound Halo A21 - Speakers: MartinLogan Motion 60XTi
  • dbaldus
    dbaldus Posts: 730
    edited May 2008
    steveinaz wrote: »
    When you're listening to an SACD via digital, are you sure you're not hearing the redbook layer? I thought SACD was only available thru analog connections?

    You are correct - analog is the only way to go for SACD (unless you're using a PS3, in which case you can transmit over HDMI). I have been talking about listening to 2 channel redbook CDs through digital connections.

    2-channel
    Squeezebox Touch| MSB Analog DAC | Audio Research Ref 40 Anniversary Edition| Pass Labs X350.8 | Wilson Audio Sasha 2

    Home Theater
    Arcam AVR 550 | GoldenEar Triton One | GoldenEar SuperCenter XXL | GoldenEar Aon 3 | JL Audio Fathom F113v2
  • steveinaz
    steveinaz Posts: 19,371
    edited May 2008
    OOhhh..sorry I'm little slow today.
    Source: Bluesound Node 2i - Preamp/DAC: Benchmark DAC2 DX - Amplifier: Parasound Halo A21 - Speakers: MartinLogan Motion 60XTi
  • WilliamM2
    WilliamM2 Posts: 4,703
    edited May 2008
    steveinaz wrote: »
    When you're listening to an SACD via digital, are you sure you're not hearing the redbook layer? I thought SACD was only available thru analog connections?


    You are correct. On older models, if you use the optical it will output the redbook CD layer. That's the difference he is hearing.

    edit: Guess I should have read all the posts.:)
  • pietro944
    pietro944 Posts: 720
    edited May 2008
    some info for you:i bought a used Toshiba HD-XA1 on ebay for $92.00 for exactly the same
    reason.I use 2ch and 6ch outputs into a pioneer elite VSX-74TXVI-S.
    Even though the DACS in the ELITE are pretty good,The HD-XA1 has the best DACS I've ever heard.

    I also use a Zhalou 2.5 Dac for my pc listening,as well as Headphone amp.

    Fantastic analog listening.
  • dbaldus
    dbaldus Posts: 730
    edited May 2008
    pietro944 wrote: »
    some info for you:i bought a used Toshiba HD-XA1 on ebay for $92.00 for exactly the same
    reason.I use 2ch and 6ch outputs into a pioneer elite VSX-74TXVI-S.
    Even though the DACS in the ELITE are pretty good,The HD-XA1 has the best DACS I've ever heard.

    I also use a Zhalou 2.5 Dac for my pc listening,as well as Headphone amp.

    Fantastic analog listening.

    Have you also noticed an increase in volume or just detail?

    I'm wondering if the volume increase is just due to the higher S/N ratio on the Denon versus my receiver or if it just has to do with the DAC.

    Also, do you let the Toshiba decode Dolby Digital/DTS and then output it via analog outs or do you let your receiver take care of that?

    2-channel
    Squeezebox Touch| MSB Analog DAC | Audio Research Ref 40 Anniversary Edition| Pass Labs X350.8 | Wilson Audio Sasha 2

    Home Theater
    Arcam AVR 550 | GoldenEar Triton One | GoldenEar SuperCenter XXL | GoldenEar Aon 3 | JL Audio Fathom F113v2
  • pietro944
    pietro944 Posts: 720
    edited May 2008
    dbaldus wrote: »
    Have you also noticed an increase in volume or just detail?

    I'm wondering if the volume increase is just due to the higher S/N ratio on the Denon versus my receiver or if it just has to do with the DAC.



    Also, do you let the Toshiba decode Dolby Digital/DTS and then output it via analog outs or do you let your receiver take care of that?

    I'd say it was the S/N.On my Toshiba,Ithink it's over 115db.

    On DD/DTS,I use both 6ch analog and
    digital outputs,depending on the movie.

    To me,it's all about "detail".Sometimes,
    the "digital" sound of cd's and dvd's,starts to "fry" my neurons.

    I listen to a piece like Debussy's Clair de Lune and thru the analog DACS,
    and I can hear the hammers hitting the strings on the piano.

    Listen to the way a final piano note degrades thru a good DAC and you'll never listen any other way.

    I also listen to music with AKG 701 headphones thru a Zhalou 2.5 DAC and amp...........

    Heavenly....
  • vonnie123
    vonnie123 Posts: 326
    edited May 2008
    I have my Denon DVD3910 set up for analog and digital on separate preamp input selctions. I tend to prefer analog listening using some of Ben's silver ICs over digital coax.
    [
  • F1nut
    F1nut Posts: 45,647
    edited May 2008
    Digital outputs? Pffft, I don't own anything with those.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • janmike
    janmike Posts: 6,146
    edited May 2008
    F1nut wrote: »
    Digital outputs? Pffft, I don't own anything with those.

    Agreed. Analog all the way for music. Then again, I do have a HT as well.
    Michael ;)
    In the beginning, all knowledge was new!

    NORTH of 60°
  • mule
    mule Posts: 282
    edited May 2008
    I've noticed that sometimes (and allways with mp3) cymbals sound like they were recorded and played backwards, sounding like ssssssstt instead of ttssssss, if thats a proper description.

    I have also noticed that the audio levels on the dual layer cd's are not the same, the sacd level seems a good bit lower than the regular cd layer and it is very interesting to compare the two side by side.

    When I bought the ps3 I had no idea it played sacd, actually before I joined this forum I didn'y know what sacd was. When I was hooking the unit up and reading the manual I saw it played them and I started wondering if any cd's I had were dual layer. The last cd I bought was "Let it Bleed" luck would have it that it was dual layer. I thought hell the recording is as old as me, how good could it sound? Amazing, but it is funny how those old recordings don't really have any low frequency like a modern recording. Makes me wonder if the old gear just could produce bass like modern gear or if they thought a lot of bass just didn't sound good.

    On a side note, I hadn'y bought a cd in years beside "let it bleed' and I bought that on a whim. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was in the record shop every week looking for new and different music, I had hundreds of cd's. Then I got tired of spending the money for 2 good songs and a bunch of filler crap music, also the inconvenience of cd's and the convenience of mp3's led me down the path of exploring music via the internet. My gf will get on me sometimes about the hours spent checking out music on the internet.

    My point is this, internet and mp3 is a great vehicle for an artist to get their work to an intendid audience, the problem is the sound of a regular cd is not enough better than the mp3 to motivate people to buy the cd over downloading a mp3 or pirating a mp3. However if sacd was properly marketed people would search and find mp3's they like and discover artists they like and want the better quality of the sacd and justify the cost, as opposed to spending 20 to 30 bucks on a sacd that is crap and sits in a pile of other crap in the closet.

    I know it sounds crazy but I really believe that sacd could save the record industry.
  • WilliamM2
    WilliamM2 Posts: 4,703
    edited May 2008
    My point is this, internet and mp3 is a great vehicle for an artist to get their work to an intendid audience, the problem is the sound of a regular cd is not enough better than the mp3 to motivate people to buy the cd over downloading a mp3 or pirating a mp3.

    I don't know what type of system you have, but if you don't notice a huge difference betweem CD's and MP3's, especially the pirated ones, something is wrong.
    I know it sounds crazy but I really believe that sacd could save the record industry.

    I don't see how, almost no pop music is released on SACD, and that's where the record industry makes it's money.

    I just got into SACD myself, after seeing all the various rock titles released on SACD at http://www.sa-cd.net/titles . What I didn't realise, is that probably 60% of the titles on that list are no longer in production, and I can't find them anywhere, or I can find them used for $60 to $100 each. Not much ouit there for the rock fan on SACD.
  • vonnie123
    vonnie123 Posts: 326
    edited May 2008
    SACD is a beautiful thing, however, the lack of titles has limited the format significantly. I feel fortunate to have as many of the titles I have, many of which were picked up in the used market. DVD-Audio is nice too, however, the competing formats added to the confusion and probably stalled both to some extent.
    [
  • dbaldus
    dbaldus Posts: 730
    edited May 2008
    WilliamM2 wrote: »
    Not much ouit there for the rock fan on SACD.

    I've noticed that as well :(

    2-channel
    Squeezebox Touch| MSB Analog DAC | Audio Research Ref 40 Anniversary Edition| Pass Labs X350.8 | Wilson Audio Sasha 2

    Home Theater
    Arcam AVR 550 | GoldenEar Triton One | GoldenEar SuperCenter XXL | GoldenEar Aon 3 | JL Audio Fathom F113v2
  • mule
    mule Posts: 282
    edited May 2008
    Thats part of my point, you can't sell something that people don't know of.

    Because of very poor marketing I'm sure there is very poor demand for sacd so therefore it would be cost prohibitive to release every title on sacd.

    So at this point with all the ps3's being sold and most of those handling sacd you have more households than ever with a sacd player, but how many even realize the advantage and how many could find a title on sacd they would even want to buy?

    The way I see it is the record industry has sites like napster and pandora where people can be exposed to music that they would never hear on commercial radio, they could basically track demand through hits on napster and youtube or thumbs up on pandora and offer titles based on demand. If you marketed the benefits or sacd over mp3 people would be willing to spend the $.


    I guess I'm just bummed I got a ps3 that can play these things but can't find anything I really want on sacd.
  • Adrenaline
    Adrenaline Posts: 2
    edited May 2008
    janmike wrote: »
    Agreed. Analog all the way for music. Then again, I do have a HT as well.


    go analog !!! I own a home theater installation business and deal with digital all day long...but to relax in the evening, I listen to a Denon turntable and a pair of speakers hung off of a Class A amp (Pioneer M-22)....you should see the faces on the 17 year olds (daughters freinds) when they hear things in Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here"....that they never heard before on their MP3s or CDs.....long live Analog And vinyl
Sign In or Register to comment.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!