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Digital or Analogue for CD playback

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by john-boro, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. john-boro

    john-boro
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    At the moment the system is:
    Pioneer DVD 656A
    Denon 3802 Amp
    Castle durham 900 front, panasonic rears (dont laugh :p)
    rel quake

    The DVD is connected to the AMP by a QED Qunex Coaxial. but i see that it is often recommended to use digital for DTS and Dolby DVDs, and analogue for CD/SACD/DVDA. I can see the logic in this, ie the Dvd player has "Burr-brown 24 bit 192khz DACs", whereas the amp has 24 bit 96khz. So am I better off using the amp as the DAC for CD playback, or spending more outrageous cable fees and using the onboard burr-brown dacs?
    regards
    john
     
  2. 7ThGuest

    7ThGuest
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    Hi john-boro

    I would not profess to be as knowledgeable as some of the folk on this site but for my two penneth worth:

    I use a good quality coax, Ixos something or other, cable for the digital side of things ie playing dvd's through my amp (onkyo 575 -Marantz SR4300 tomorrow, not setup yet) but then also have a set of bog standard analogue leads which I run from the dvd outputs to the cd inputs on the amp.

    So, when playing a film I make sure the amp input is from the DVD normal DD/DTS etc. But when listening to 2Ch I select CD as the input and this then plays through the analogue leads, even though they are cheapies the quality sounds much better IMHO.

    I personally found this much better for music but like everything it is down to personal taste. :)

    Hope this helps

    Regards

    7ThGuest :)
     
  3. paiger

    paiger
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    Switch between the two and see which is best, no hard and fast rule. Remember you can use different EQ settings on the CD channel if you wish.

    S
     
  4. sounddog

    sounddog
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    I not sure what you consider "outrageous" price for analogue interconnects ... but I would say that £20 for a pair of QED Quinex 1 or Cambridge Audio would be sufficient. At the most go for the QED Quinex 2 with is around £30.

    Oh and I assume you arn't using DVD-A or SACD as you know you need the 5.1 output connected to your amp for that to work don't you?


    Victoria
     
  5. john-boro

    john-boro
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    Cheers :). Yes I will be using SACD at some time in the future but for now it is not a concern. BTW the coax is a QED Qunex SR75 which I understand is very good :).
    The only analogue cables I have been able to use a £4 JVC ones from Dixons and are really bad, but even with them the analogue sound quality rivals the digital, thanks I suspect to the "noisy" environment inside the amp itself. Therfore would you think getting a decent pair like the ones already mentioned would provide much better performance? The Burr-brown DACS in the DVD player seem to be very well thought of :)
    thanks
    john
     
  6. Branxx

    Branxx
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    john-boro,

    You should definitelly go for digital interconnects. Why:
    • your are using a set of 'satellite' speakers for the fronts (and the rest) that are supplemented by the rel subwoofer.
    • There is no bass management on the analogue outputs of the DVD player. In your case whenever music material contains frequences of less than 70Hz on any of the main channels, they will be lost unless Denon 3802 performs the bass management and reroute low frequency information to the subwoofer channel.
    • If Denon can perform bass management on the 6 analogue inputs, it will (a) first re-digitalise the signal; (b) do bass management in digital domain (c) convert digital to analogue before sending it to amplification section.
    • So what ever you end up listening would either have low frequencies missing due to speaker limitations or will be Digital-to-Analogue converted by Denons DACs.
    • Single digital interconnect is cheaper than 6 analogs.
    This is where the irony and doom of SACD and DVD-A becomes fully visable. Unless you have a set of 5 full range speakers plus a sub, your cannot extract the intended benefit from these formats. If you connect analogue out from the DVD player, but have satellite speaker configuration, you'll miss some of the low frequency information; if you connect via SPDIF the signal is downconverted for 48KHz as licensing prevents higher rate digital interface.
     
  7. wilber

    wilber
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    I have the 656 + yammy 630 & have connected digitially for movies and through 6 channel connections for audio, since the audio DAC on the dvd player is much better than the amp. I didn't blow a fortune on connections - about £30 for all six channels and it sounds very nice thank you. Doing an A/B test with a CD (by toggling 6 Ch input on/off) proves the analogue method to be noticably better. So my advice is to get some reasonable phono leads and give it a go.

    BTW SACD & DVD-A Sound most impressive to my cloth ears.
     
  8. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Branxx ... there is no digital internconnect possible for SACD/DVD-A ... well no standard anyway yet. Only the very high end Amps/DVD players even attempt to do any digital transfer (highend Denon / Pioneer and Meridian that I know of). If you use the SPDIF connector then you only get DD or DTS conversion within the amp.

    Using sub/sat speakers does alter the use of Analogue or Digital interconnect for CDs (not DVD-A / SACD) and best thing is to buy a £20-30 cable from somewhere that you can return it if it makes no difference - Richer Sounds will do this I believe and so will many other HiFi shops. Try both using 2ch mode and source direct and see which you prefer.


    Victoria
     
  9. paiger

    paiger
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    I agree and disagree with Branxx. Firstly, I can't understand why the 656 should sound better through the analogue outs. I'm not saying you are wrong as I have not tried either amp or player but I know the 3802 is highly thought of and the Dacs must be at least as good as those in the 656. I stand to be corrected on that one. Are you sure you have the settings right on amp and player when using digital cables? At the end of the day, go with your ears.

    A set of basic QED's will give a noticable improvement over £5 cables but after £20 you get seriously diminishing returns so don't go mad.

    On the subject of SACD and DVD-A, it looks like i-Link will become the industry standard for digital transmition. This is good and bad. Good because it should help these formats to succeed. Bad because there are far better alternatives like HDMI etc.

    As far as I know, nearly all SACD and DVD-A disks have a 2 channel layer as well, so 5.1 set up not necessary. Also, both should be produced with a standard CD layer in future so you will just buy a disk and play it depending on your equipment. With the amount of universal players coming out, there is a chance that both formats may survive.

    Steve
     
  10. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Go with your ears is very good advice. I think though from looking at the specs that the 656 does have better DACs, however if you are also using any processing (i.e. for "small" speakers plus sub) rather and a "source direct" input then the digital connection will probably sound better becuase it will cut out the AMP doing additional ADC (Analogue to Digital) and the DAC again.
    I will say that comparing a £20 Cambridge Audio cable to a £30 Quinex II I did notice a slight difference ... that was between a Arcam DV88 and a Rotel RA1060 (for CD)
    i-Link / IEEE1934 / Firewire are only part of the solution to a "standard" digital transmission for High Res formats. Everyone also needs to agree on an encoding method for the information sent using i-Link.


    Victoria
     
  11. wilber

    wilber
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    To work with SACDs higher audio quality you need the 24 bit 192khz DACs. Whilst these aren't necessarily "better" than 24 bit 96khz DACs, the ones that are in the pioneer appear to be much better than the ones that they put in my Yamaha and better than my old Sony CD player.

    DVD-A includes data to be read by a standard DVD player (usually DD5.1). On the handful of disks I have, they sound awful in comparrison to the Multi Channel output.

    Some SACD disks have a layer to play in standard cd players - I haven't come across one yet though.

    I really hope both formats survive, some music really benefits from the treatment that these superior formats offer.
     
  12. john-boro

    john-boro
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    Right it seems the general consensus is that while the DVDplayer's DACs are better, to gain a benefit the amp needs to be setup not to change the signal back to digital again. So how would I do this? At the moment it is set to "source direct" for CD playback, and while the front speakers are set to large (I understand the durham 900s are reasonably good), the sub is set to LFE+Main and thus reproduces bass even when the amp is on "direct". Does this mean that the amp is still converting back to Digital so that it can apply the bass management?
    cheers
    john
     
  13. wilber

    wilber
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    Connect the 6 channel outputs on your dvd player to the 6 channel inputs on your amp (You can just connect front left and front right to get stereo). switch your amp to 6 channel input (can't tell you how as I don't have the amp but usually there's an obvious button on the remote), this bypasses its internal processing.

    Come to think of it the Pioneer has 2 channel output so you should be able to connect the left & right to front left and front right on your amp.

    From memory you may have to make some menu setting changes on the Pioneer (at work so I can't check the manual).

    Doing this means that you sub is out of the equation (assuming that you have it connected via phono to the amp not wired to your fronts)
     
  14. paiger

    paiger
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    A few points. It seems the consensus that the 656 is capable of putting out a superior analogue signal than the D/A section of the 3802. Only listening will confirm this and there is no 'right' way to go.

    I have QED Quenex 2's and they are great. I paid £20 a pair but it seems they are now £30. A good choice at that price point though.

    Victoria, I have heard some rustlings that various players are going to push i-Link as a standard and it's looking like it might go that way. I wasn't saying that it was there yet, you are correct in saying that there is not yet a firm agreement in place.

    Wilbur, I think most US SACD's have a CD layer, I believe it's Sony who are mucking about with their own disks but they will soon all include a CD layer. Also, the DVD Forum have ratified a CD layer for DVD-A so in future all DVD-A disks will have a CD layer.

    Which disks have you got? I bought Hotel California and the DTS soundtrack is pretty damn good for DTS. It's the only DVD-A disk I have as I only have SACD player at present and was curious. I'll be getting a DVD-A player soon. I'm thinking of getting the Natalie Merchant and Steely Dan DVD-A's. Any idea what the DD layers on those are like?

    Steve
     
  15. john-boro

    john-boro
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    So what you're saying is that to gain an advantage from using the DACs on the pioneer, I would have to bypass the amp's DACs and therefore lose the bass management. But do DVD-A and SACDs have a subwoofer channel on them? Becuase of course then I would get bass from the sub whilst still using the pioneer DACs and getting 5.1 sound
    thanks fo all your help guys :)
    john
     
  16. paiger

    paiger
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    OK, if you use a digital connection, you are using the DVD as a transport and sending a raw signal to the amp to be decoded. You can then use all EQ and bass management. If you were to plug the stereo outs from the DVD into the CD input on the amp then I assume you could still use EQ/BM but you making the DVD player convert the signal to analogue before it gets to the amp.

    Now the tricky bit. Anything you plug into the 5.1's on your amp will not be EQ'd, just amplified and sent out. So you need the player to handle EQ/BM. This varies from player to player. Multi channel SACD and DVD-A music does have a sub channel and this will work fine. The problem is 2 channel music. On my Sony SACD player you can set the speakers to small and specify a sub but the Xover is set at 120 which is rubbish. I don't have a sub anyway so don't use this. I'm not sure if you specify a sub on your player and set speakers to small, what it will do with 2 channel SACD's. Hopefully it will treat it the same as CD's and send anything under the Xover to the sub. Try it and see.

    S
     
  17. paiger

    paiger
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    A few points. It seems the consensus that the 656 is capable of putting out a superior analogue signal than the D/A section of the 3802. Only listening will confirm this and there is no 'right' way to go.

    I have QED Quenex 2's and they are great. I paid £20 a pair but it seems they are now £30. A good choice at that price point though.

    Victoria, I have heard some rustlings that various players are going to push i-Link as a standard and it's looking like it might go that way. I wasn't saying that it was there yet, you are correct in saying that there is not yet a firm agreement in place.

    Wilbur, I think most US SACD's have a CD layer, I believe it's Sony who are mucking about with their own disks but they will soon all include a CD layer. Also, the DVD Forum have ratified a CD layer for DVD-A so in future all DVD-A disks will have a CD layer.

    Which disks have you got? I bought Hotel California and the DTS soundtrack is pretty damn good for DTS. It's the only DVD-A disk I have as I only have SACD player at present and was curious. I'll be getting a DVD-A player soon. I'm thinking of getting the Natalie Merchant and Steely Dan DVD-A's. Any idea what the DD layers on those are like?

    Steve
     
  18. Jase

    Jase
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    John

    If you want to use the DAC´s of the Pioneer yet still have the sub in use then use the Rel´s High Level connection as well. You will be able to have the Pioneer connected to the Denon via the External Decoder Inputs yet still get some bass output as the Rel will be wired in line with the Front Left & Right speakers.

    This will work well for CD playback, DVD Audio & SACD via the External Decoder Inputs and will also help for the Denons DIRECT mode for normal CD playback (you will be able to switch OFF the SW channel at low level giving you an even cleaner signal).

    Just remember you will still not have any form of bass management for DVD Audio/SACD as I don´t think the Pioneer has this and Denon certainly doesn´t have Bass Management on the External Decoder Inputs. Most DVD Audio/SACD players pass full range signals for ALL channels, not very handy for those of us with sub/sat systems!

    Using the Rel High Level connection gives you a possibility of regaining some of the lost bass if you are using a Sub/Sat system or have any speakers that are classed as "SMALL" i.e no low bass output.
     
  19. john-boro

    john-boro
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    Right so in that case, with the sub Hi-Level wired would I still use the low level input? I assume so because of course DD and DTS have a dedicated .1 channel. But that would also mean that when using DPLII on TV etc, the sub would be recieving hi level and low level inputs at the same time, and to prevent this I would need to set the amp's crossover and the sub's at the same level, yes? :confused: :D.
    lastly could you recommend a hi-level cable, haven't seen them anywhere :confused:
    thanks all :)
    john
     
  20. Jase

    Jase
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    Rel´s can be connected via both the High & Low level connections at the same time, very handy! It enables you to get the best performance for both Music & Movies.

    Assuming you have all speakers set to small and all bass to sub with the amp crossover set to 80hz. Set the sub to Mode 2 or 4 as this ignores the subs crossover at low level. This leaves you free to set the crossover and volume for the High Level connection so that it blends well with your main left & right speakers.

    For the DIRECT mode of the Denon you then need to go into the individual channel level settings and lower the SW channel to -12 then OFF. This stops any bass doubling.

    The High Level connector should be included with the REL. Its a blue Neutrik Connector at one end with three cables on the other, RED, BLACK & Yellow.
     
  21. john-boro

    john-boro
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    no it doen't come with one because its a quake :( . I had a quick search but all I can find are connectors and plugs, no ready made cables. Any ideas?
     
  22. Jase

    Jase
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    Drop Rel a line, here´s their website link www.rel.net
    I assumed the Quake came with one as standard.:confused:
     
  23. iwatkins

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    Read this thead with interest and have just been for a fidde about.

    I have a 656 and a Sony STR-VA555ES.

    I tested using the digital coax link (using a IXOS digital coax specific interconnect) and also using the analogue stereo pair output on the 656 to the CD input on the Sony amp, linked with a pair of the expensive Monster interconnects.

    I have to totally agree that the sound quality using the stereo pair rather than the digital link is superior.

    My only real finding is that I need to turn the volume up with the analogue stereo pair, and that is maybe where the improvement is coming. I always find that music sounds better if the amp is cranked up a bit, regardless of what the actual sound level is, so maybe that is where some perceived gains are coming from ?

    Needless to say, I will be using the 656 to use as a transport for normal CDs as well as DVD-A and SACD. I'm still happy with the 656 as a purchase :)

    Yes, you do need to chnage a setting on the "Initial Settings" menu on the 656 to get output on the analogue stereo pair. Don't remember the full names, but it is on the Audio menu and you need to switch "CD" from "DTS" to "PCM" or something along those lines (it's a bit hazy, I did do it over an housr ago :D )

    Cheers

    Ian
     
  24. john-boro

    john-boro
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    thanks a lot mate, found a speakon cable, just buying a stero phono pair now :)
    thanks a lot all who contributed
    john
     
  25. paiger

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    That's very interesting that two people, both with good mid-range recievers think the analogue outs of the 656 is superior to the Dacs in their amps. It must be some piece of kit. I am looking towards the Lexicon DVD-A/SACD player but want something to tide me over. £700 for a 757i seemed a lot for a temporary measure but £300 less what I can get for my Sony 700 is not very much at all.

    I'll have to book a serious demo of this player.

    S
     
  26. john-boro

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    yeah the 656A is a very good player, £350 for me from sevenoaks, the RGB scart picture is very good, and it comes highly recommended by all mags etc. Give it a try!
    john
     
  27. wilber

    wilber
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    Paiger:

    The guy in Sevenoaks who demo'd the 757 to me talked me out of buying it - he said the the audio DACs in both machines were the same & proceeded to convince my ears that he was right (it may be BS mind so I'm just warning you before you invest a large wad). The 757 is superior in the video department though - prog scan is included (NTSC not PAL).

    WRT to DVD-A & SACD disks all of the stuff I have is jazz (Miles Davis mostly) + one Roger Waters disk so I don't think I can help you too much
     
  28. petrolhead

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    Further to 7th Post we actually tried this on my 3802 and could not notice any difference
     
  29. john-boro

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    just a quick Q: how would I connect the hi level on the sub to the amp? It says connect to speaker level outpus, but then how do I connect the front speakers?
    Cheers
    john :)
     
  30. Jase

    Jase
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    They all go into the same speaker terminals. Using Banana Plugs for the main speaker cables makes it easier, leaving you free to attach the sub wires to the binding post. Just make sure you follow the Rel wiring quide for the High Level connection!!
     

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