DVD-A and SACD bass management

Matt F

Established Member
There's been a good discussion going on in a thread entitled "Which SACD player?" within "General Hardware". Rather than leave it burried at the end of that thread I'm going to reproduce some of the things Nic Rhodes said (hope you don't mind Nic) as they make very interesting reading, will be news to many, and arguably belong here rather than in General Hardware.

Nic Rhodes wrote:

I think all DD / DTS decoding devices I know have the ability to set delay, levels, small or large speaker, and if you have a subwoofer etc etc. I think it part of the spec. This happens whether it is DVD player or receiver. The fact that LFE is ‘active’ does NOT mean bass management is in play.

DVD A and SACD are much different. DVD A does not give any of these ‘features’ hence the problems. This might change in the future but is the achilees heel of DVD A currently. Two Solutions to this are to digitise 5.1 inputs (expensive and on MC12) or use analogue bass management box, something like Outlaw ICBM or the M and K equivalent.

The reasons that so few DVD A players do bass management are

1. Huge MIPS required for MLP AND bass management. Even the current Tag doesn’t have the horsepower for this (though Tag have a solution!!!)
2. Bass management is done VERY poorly by most people and therefore it was thought better not to bother rather than do a poor job (distortion again).
3. Pannasonic made most of the original DVD A players and everyone cloned them. Therefore if one is missing a function they all are!!

SACD is almost as bad. Up until recently there was no bass management. Now a few players are being shipped with it but it is done by converting DSD to PCM! Destroying the whole reason for SACD in the first place.

Be VERY WARY of integrated players doing DVD / DVD A / SACD. They may list bass management in the specs but this MIGHT only apply to DD / DTS. Buyer beware. This is a confusing subject that is changing rapidly and probably the single biggest drive for a digital connection. Even if we manage a quality digital link in years to come (DVI?) a processor needs serious horsepower just to do bass management. Currently there are only a handful of top processors that have the mips to do this. Mid priced Sonys etc currently have no chance. Look to a £10k Theta Cassanova.

I would use a 5.1 input and turn all bass management off, given the choice.

Very interesting stuff don't you think - basically the bottom line seems to be that to do bass management on DVD-A or SACD you need an analogue bass management box (Outlaw/M&K) between your disc spinner and your amp/processor.


Yes, although Meridian now have their own digital connections between the 598/800 DVD players and 568/861 processors, leaving the processors to perform the usual functions on the lossless multi channels in the digital domain. I'm toying with this at the moment... it's not too cheap and the DVD-As are not where I would want them to be, but I'm sure it will improve. I'm also sure Tag & others will probably have a similar connection out soon.

The latest video from AVForums

🎬 The Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2024
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Top Bottom