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Do All SACD players convert DSD to PCM? Philips 963sa?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Timbo21, Aug 26, 2005.

  1. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    Dissapointing aspect of my 3910 - although I do find it's SACD playback a big improvement over CD - is that it converts DSD bitsream to 24/192.

    I was wondering if all SACD players did this?

    If not, does the Philips 963SA ouptpu DSD or is it converted to PCM? I've had a look at the manual on Philips website & it looks like it has a proper DSD D/A, but
    doesn't properly state whether this is output or converted.

    Anyone know?
     
  2. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    do you mean internal conversion and then to analogue or digital output to SPDIF?
     
  3. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    Hi Nic,

    I mean internal conversion & then output to analogue. I believe that the 3910
    converts internally from DSD to PCM, but definitely if it goes via dlink to 3805
    then it does.

    T.
     
  4. _Cal_

    _Cal_
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    Timbo21,

    I wouldn't lose my sleep over it because most chips downsample the DSD bitstream anyway and then upsample it again before converting to the analog domain.

    They do it for several reasons. Doing volume control on a bitstream is doable but not very cost/power efficient for large ranges with fine step (80dB range with 1dB step), and doing any other kind of signal processing on a bit stream is not a straight forward task.

    Maybe you have exceptionally good ears but 146dB of dynamic range at 80kHz bandwidth is good enough for mine!
     
  5. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    I don't know the full technicalities, but I had a demo of some DCS DSD converters & some stuff which had been recorded straight to DSD & then comparison to the same recording to 16bit/44.1khz, 24/96, 24/192 & the biggest improvement was from 24/192 to DSD. I don't know if the the PCM comparisons had been derived from the DSD source, but the DSD was way better than PCM & the closest to analogue yet.

    I have found rate converters which transfer 48khz to 44.1 to have a huge detrimental effect & that it was better to use good D/A & A/D's to do the conversion. So, I'm dubious of DSD to PCM conversions. I seem to remember reading in one of the mags that Sony was releasing a flagship player which didn't convert. It's just I've heard it unconverted & it was very very good.
    I realise though that it might be necessary to convert to PCM to be effectively handled by digital amps, but what about analogue amps?

    T.
     
  6. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    Don't feel I'm any the wiser from the posts on this thread.

    Can anyone give me a definite answer on this? :)
    T.
     
  7. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Tim Im pretty sure, the 2900/2200 was a pure DSD output machine, one reason that the “upgraded” 2910/3910s got it in the neck from some SACD users was because of this factor. Not sure about the 963, but Ive not heard many bad reports from 963 users of its CD or SACD use.

    As for the DSD-PCM Im also pretty sure this was the case with all SACD players that could use firewire links ie Pioneer/Denon – they were converted to PCM to route digitally, but using the plyers onboard DACs you got DSD to anlg. As Nic suggests PSDIF no DSD data was output at all PCM wise. Would have been the CD hybrid layer maybe, but not sure this would have been on if your listening to a SACD layer.
     
  8. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    G'day all,

    Some players do convert dsd > pcm, some don't. Previous Denons (2200/2900) were "pure" dsd, the later ones are not. AFAIK, pioneer players (565, 757 etc) convert dsd to pcm. I'm not sure if one method is superior over the other.

    Please note that this is not necessarily a negative thing - the £4000 Krell SACD standard, converts dsd to pcm for example, and that is a very highly regarded player.

    There are two major reasons for this practise:

    1) "Homogeniety of sound". The sonic characteristics of the dsd chip may cause the player to sound different, relative to cd or dvda material, which is processed through the pcm dac. It is not practical to have two or three OP amp sections that have been adjusted specifically to each format's sonic characteristics. Running DSD>PCM offers better all-round "cohesiveness" to a player's musical performance, because everything runs through the same pcm chip.

    2) High frequency distortion. SACD suffers from bad distortion from 20khz upwards (according to research) and SNR from 20khz to 100khz is a mere 30dB. Now, you can either apply a brick-wall digital filter at 20khz (like cd), at which point the argument for sacd sort of collapses, or you can run it through a pcm converter to remove the distortion before it reaches the OP amps. High frequency distortion can damage stereo amps and tweeters.

    It might also be worth mentioning that the vast majority of "dsd" recordings go through conversion to PCM at some point in the mastering/engineering/recording process. "Pure" dsd recordings are extremely rare, afaik.

    TBH, I really don't care how many times a recording has been changed from PCM to DSD, or whether the player is DSD>PCM. The important thing is that is offers a substantial improvement on the red-book version of the same material. IME, this is almost always the case.

    DT
     
  9. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    Thanks for that Dynamc Turtle
     
  10. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    The big 'PRAGMATIC' reason for DSD to PCM conversion is for post processing. Many native DSD chip could not do simple things like bass management, even if the signal was then converted back for a DSD aware DAC. Most players with some age, and bass management probably went down this route. DSD to PCM (bass management) then either to DAC as PCM or DSD. Still today only some DACs are NATIVE DSD and chipset to bass management are not common.

    Converting to PCM is cheaper. I for one am not too twitched about this but would recommend people listen to one of the discs that is available in DSD and PCM (DVD A) where the same performance was recorded in two parallel streams (DSD / PCM). Interesting stuff.

    Oh I can't remember on the 963 ;) Probably converts if I had to bet.
     
  11. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    Thanks for that Nic :)

    Due to the fact that most SACD players are converting DSD to PCM, it may be logical to believe that DVD-A would outdo SACD since it will not be going through another conversion process. I heard that the DVD-A of 'Gaucho' by Steely Dan outdid the SACD, although I have not heard either.

    However, from what I heard - as previously stated - I feel SACD could be the best, although very purist recordings straight to DSD without PCM post-production would be needed.

    Additionally, since most pop/rock music is recorded to the rather horrible pro-tools digital system using 44.1/48khz & 24 bit it really hampers the step
    up to high resolution music formats. The majority of people who use pro-tools use inferior A/D's compared to what you can get, & bounce the sound too many times internally using too many effect plug-ins e.g.. to get the sound of a Marshall 4 X 12 amp they use a plug-in rather than the real thing. I really think it is sad analogue recording to 2" multitrack is practically extinct & with this the true skill of proper audio engineering in the pop world. Many pop records are sounding worse & worse compared to 10 years+ ago. For good sounding audio you either have to look to specialist markets, where proper skill & care is still taken, or go back & do SACD/DVD-A's using original analogue multitracks.

    Rant over :)

    T.
     
  12. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Timbo

    a couple of comments really as I won't disagree with yur rant ;) Many of us have been here

    The theory is great but in practice it is ALL down to how things are done, ie the quality of the digital engineering used. My Tag DVD plays discs with DTS / DD better than many PCM CDs on other kit. Down to the engineering quality.

    Most of the original SACD / DVD A releases were old analogue tape :)

    If you want to borrow the discs I mentioned to help testing, please feel free to pm me, if you post your results here :)

    Unfortunately rarely do we achieve what is best and most of the time we get what we are given, NOT what it is capable of when at it's best. I am one for quality through and through, just have been tempered a little with age :)
     
  13. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    Cheers Nic, :)

    It seems such a pity that HD formats for TV & DVD are steaming forward
    & audio is, if anything, going backwards. The thing is of course is that for most people it is so much easier to literally 'see' the difference when it comes
    to images, but being able to hear differences in sound seems to take some
    conscious effort & learning.

    I fear for SACD. When you go into an HMV & ask if they have an SACD section & the reply is what's that? you wonder how on earth it's going to flourish.
     
  14. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    If that's the case, the Gaucho sacd must have been flippin' awful, because the DVDA was very average imo.

    Yep, good point, Nic - totally forgot about that :rolleyes:

    Sad, but an economic necessity. Storing, editing, re-mixing and transfering music is infinitely easier in the digital domain. Given the quality of most pop music, and the difficulty in storing/handling analogue tape, I can understand why record co's prefer to DDD to ADD.

    I've also heard that some record co's are optimising mixes for sound quality post-ATRAC/MP3 compression, such is the rise in popularity of these formats.

    I think the word I'm looking for is: :suicide:

    DT
     
  15. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    When I was 16 myself & a hifi enthusiast friend compared vinyl copies of a Steely Dan record. One was a digital remaster, which then had a vinyl cut of it, hence
    the 'Digital Remastering' sticker on the front of the album. The other was an older
    more original cut of the same album. We both agreed that the original sounded the best. To be fair this was at a time when CD's were in their infancy & digital
    remastering was pretty badly done, e.g. A/D conversions with leaving a good
    6 or more DB digital headroom, resulting in probably something like an 8 bit transfer rather than 16 bits.

    Anyway, point is I doubt that the youngsters who listen to music are into quality,
    hence the popularity of MP3 thingies. I guess it's accessibility & ease of use which
    is the driving force these days. However, I do hold out hope since one day I'm sure we can use an HD audio format with a compact player, & digital workstations will also be upgraded to HD formats that sound good.
     
  16. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    :rotfl:

    No interest in girls then??

    Just kidding dude, couldn't resist it! :D

    AFAIK, true 16-bit resolution is almost impossible to achieve anyway. I've read that 14-bit is just manageable.......

    DT
     
  17. Timbo21

    Timbo21
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    We did have, it's just they weren't interested in us :( lol

    Made up for it later tho ;)

    14 bits would have been nice. :)
     

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