Connecting CD Digitally


Standard Member
Hi All,

Daft question time again ..... :0)

OK, so you connect your CD player up to the Amp via analogue phono leads and you get stereo. This uses the DACs in the CD Player.

If you connect your CD Player to your Amp digitally (via coax/optical) then you don't use the DACs in the player, but the ones in the Amp ... right ?

So if you buy a CD player and connect via digital coax, whats the point in having ANY DACs in the player ?

I assume this is a quality issue, as the DACs in the CD Player are (usually) better than those in the Amp ?

I also found out the other day that SACD and DVD-Audio have to be connected via analogue interconnects when digital would be much more sensible, but thats apparently all due to copyright issues ?

Suprises me that someone hasn't hacked a player to stream DVD-A/SACD into an amp ... seems very sensible to me ?

Really I'm asking why pay a lot for a CD player, when it all it does (digitally) is sent 'digit' to the Amp ?


Novice Member
The old, old problem I find with DVD players too .. all I want is a digital transport, I don't need SACD or DVD-A, I don't need deinterlacers or scalers, just a drive and an MPEG decoder, yet to get high quality in those areas I need to spend £100s on audio and video processing I don't need. :(

SACD can now be output digitally from a very few players, but again those self-same players come equipped with high-end (aka. expensive) DACs.

As for hacking these, my guess is that it's just not worth anyone's while, the market for multi-channel audio is miniscule in the great scheme of things and producing such equipment would be suicide for an manufacturer. Look at Sigma, they got caned in the courts when their decoder/scaler chips allowed access to un-protected scaled output in direct breach of the license for HDCP, they survived but at some cost, it'd just not be worth it for these audio formats.


Standard Member
Yes I agree.

Seems a bit silly to me as most SACD/DVD-A titles are a bit 'obscure' it has to be said.

You can buy a Sony DVD/SACD player for about £240. Six 'decent' phono cables will cost 6x£40 = price of player :0(

Since I have an Arcam Amp with decent DACs in it, why do I want spend another £1000 or so buying a CD/DVD with even more DACs in it :0(



Active Member
There are pure CD transports that don't have internal DACs, but they're found in the four-figure price range. Most CD and DVD players must sell also to those without amps/receivers with internal digital processing, so they need internal DACs even if a lot of people will not use them.

Even when using the digital output, some people feel that the quality of the player matters, assuming the digital output of a higher quality player will be cleaner and less jittery. It's difficult to know whom to trust on this, and whether cheaper players really do output a signal jittery to the point where it audibly impairs decoding behavior. I'm a bit skeptical but would prefer a more expensive player if only for higher build quality.

Using the DACs in the CD player doesn't necessarily mean using them alone though, it depends on how the amp/receiver works. Many convert incoming analog signals to digital form for processing, in which case using the DACs in the CD player only leads to an additional conversion to analog and back to digital again. If the CD player has better DACs, they'll only be useful if the amp/receiver has a mode for letting analog signals bypass its digital processing.

The problem with DVD Audio and SACD in turn is that they do support digital connection, but only via i.Link/Firewire/IEEE1394 (and HDMI?), and i.Link is sure taking its sweet time getting established on more affordable products. I don't know if this has to do with manufacturing costs or simply that the mass audience isn't really embracing the new generation audio discs yet, meaning i.Link outputs/inputs isn't considered a worthwhile selling point.


Standard Member
I guess at the end of the day its a bit like CD vs Vinyl ... the analogue outputs should be better than the digital, because the manufacturer has spent time getting the analogue right, whilst simply sending out the digital unprocessed ?

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