Multichannel FLAC on Sony STR-DN850 receiver?

McFly1985

Standard Member
Hi folks.

I can't find a clear answer anywhere online. Has anyone here successfully played a multichannel FLAC file on a Sony STR-DN850 (or DN1050?) and if so, what settings worked?

I've tried converting several SACD ISO multichannel tracks into FLAC and the receiver always says "can not play". I tried downmixing the same track to stereo and the file immediately worked. So I'm assuming this means this receiver CAN NOT play multichannel FLACs. Which sucks.

Unless someone knows otherwise?
 

fxv300

Active Member
I have a DN860 and can play FLAC audio but they are 2 Channel only via itunes and other media player on my PC. Just tested using a USB stick on the fron socket and that plays 2 Ch FLAC at 971kbs
 

fxv300

Active Member
Just downloaded a test file from
Download our testfiles
and that plays correctly from the USB port on the DN860 all 5 channela and LFE. Using itunes via the PC (SPDIF optical), it screws up. No LFE and rear l+r are played at lower volume on the front.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
No AV receiver supports multichannel FLAC. AV receiver's only support stereo FLAC files if they support FLAC at all. In fact, no AV receiver fascilitates the playback of multichannel files if accessed via their network or media player capabilities. These abilities are restricted to stereo formatted audio.

I have a DN860 and can play FLAC audio but they are 2 Channel only via itunes and other media player on my PC. Just tested using a USB stick on the fron socket and that plays 2 Ch FLAC at 971kbs

You're not playing FLAC via iTunes because iTunes doesn't support FLAC audio files irrespective of whether they are stereo or multichannel in nature.

If playback of multichannel audio formats such as FLAC or DSD (SACD) is of importance to you then you'd need to use an external media player to render the audio as opposed to using the receiver to do this.
 
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fxv300

Active Member
Yes I must have used Windows Media player, my mistake.
As far as the DN860 playing the multichannel file, I copied the FLAC file "surround88.flac" to a USB stick and it played when loaded from the USB stick connected to the front of the panel. The test file just repeats the channel names a few times for the 5 speakers and also emits a bass sound for the LFE, now I am not sure if that is what is meant by multi-channel but it did play. the file extension is .flac. All the 5 speakers + sub all emitted the test in turn.

Why should an AV Amp that can decode so many things via the HDMI or optical inputs not be capable of decoding the same thing directly from a file ?
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Why should an AV Amp that can decode so many things via the HDMI or optical inputs not be capable of decoding the same thing directly from a file ?

Who knows, but then again, there's not actually that much of a demand to play audio only files encoded with anything more than 2ch audio. It was only just recently that DSD direct file playback was authorised by the parties who'd governed its copyright control so there was only really FLAC that could carry multichannel audio on its own and without an associated video stream. If you had multichannel audio files then they were more than likely ripped illegally so there's no real reason for offering consumers support for them via a receiver's inbuilt media player capabilities. Some outlets do sell multichannel FLAC files as a way of offering SACD content as a downloadable format, but such content isn't mainstream and would require additional decoding capabilities on any device used to play such files.

I'd put it down to politics as opposed to it being for technical reasons? Where exactly would someone be getting audio only files encoded with multichannel TrueHD, DTS-HD etc if not ripping them from other media they'd no right to rip them from?

Its a twofold issue involving the lack of demand for such abilities plus the fact it may attract the scrutiny of certain bodies adamant on controlling copyright and the people who own the rights of the material in question.

If you've a large collection of multichannel FLAC files then there are plenty of options available when it comes to external media players able to play those files, but if you are someone with such a collection then you are in a a minority.

The fact AV receivers include an integrated audio media player able to play anything is a fringe bonus anyway and not the primary role of any AV receiver.
 
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fxv300

Active Member
I was just following up on someone's question re flac multi channel playback.
The files are on linnrecords.com
Linn — Music Systems, Network Music Players also make hardware devices.
We're only talking about a 5.1 FLAC test file as I said earlier.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Yeah, but you also asked:

Why should an AV Amp that can decode so many things via the HDMI or optical inputs not be capable of decoding the same thing directly from a file ?
 

fxv300

Active Member
Surely the job of a modern AV AMP is to process the data presented to it whether it is via USB, LAN, HDMI, Bluetooth etc. Also as Apple lossless supports 16 bit and 24 bit audio , as well as multi channel audio, such as 5.1 (same as FLAC) would you expect an AV AMP to be able to play this correctly?
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
ALAC does not support discrete multichannel audio and it is restricted to 2 channel stereo. Besides which, how many studios use Apple Lossess in place of Dolby or DTS formats? ALAC frame headers do offer support for up to 8 channels, but there's no practical means by which to exploit this that would prove practical or convenient so ALAC is for all intense purposes a stereo only format. Apple do not sell anything encoded with multichannel ALAC, they do not use Apple Lossless for anything other than stereo content and offer no playback of multichannel ALAC files via either iTunes, the Apple TV or via Airplay. Apple don't use any multichannel HD format in relation to content accessed via iTunes although you can buy film content from Apple that is encoded with Dolby Digital multichannel audio. The Apple TV can't handle DTS or any of the commonly used HD formats associated with movies and the ATV's capabilities sort of mirror the formats Apple support. The only multichannel capability associated with the Apple TV is the ability to passthrough Dolby Digital encoded audio.

Why would you expect an AV receiver to play multichannel ALAC files if no such files format technically exists? Where are you getting multichannel Apple Lossless audio files from?

Multichannel FLAC is an anomaly born out of a need to have a downloadable format that allows multichannel audio otherwise only available via SACD discs. Up until recently DSD files were not officially sanctioned for the distribution of such audio so FLAC was predominantly used by legitimate online vendors to allow them to sell file versions of content only otherwise available via SACD discs. There's no great demand for AV receivers to support such formats as part of their audio media playing capabilities. I suppose it would be nice for those with a large collection of SACD sourced/downloaded content, but this would be a very small minority given the overall popularity of SACD based content.
 
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fxv300

Active Member
So let's assume I want to buy a piece of music which has been recorded in the studio using many channels. My only option at present is HI-RES audio or SACD. Would it not make sense to make this availble to whoever wants it in 5.1 ? It would probably be via download Blu-Ray or DVD but space is not an issue nowadays. The music industry should be encouraged to provide the best experience possible to the listener if it is possible.
 

McFly1985

Standard Member
Just downloaded a test file from
Download our testfiles
and that plays correctly from the USB port on the DN860 all 5 channela and LFE. Using itunes via the PC (SPDIF optical), it screws up. No LFE and rear l+r are played at lower volume on the front.

Hi fxv300. Sorry for the slow reply and THANKS for pointing out that test file, very handy indeed. After various tests I have found a way to get surround sound files playing back perfectly, but not how I expected to.

I converted that 5.1 test file (you linked to) into the ALAC format (.M4A) using JRIVER and it retains the multichannel playback on my Xbox One! This is very exciting. It's not the solution I expected; I was hoping to go directly through my Sony Receiver, not Xbox One > Receiver, but if it works, it works. I simply set the receiver to AFD Auto and I'm getting complete channel separation.

I'll be trying converting some multichannel SACD ISOs into .M4As next and will report back on how that goes. If they can play back without transcoding over my PLEX server, that'll be the icing on the cake.

UPDATE: Okay. Righto. After trawling through crappy Xbox forums I've now discovered that FLACs (as of quite recently) play natively on the Xbox One anyway ... what threw me was that they would NOT play off a USB stick, but are playing over the network, with full multichannel support. It's getting downgraded to 48kHz, but still sounds very good.
 
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fxv300

Active Member
Hi there....yes I was interested in this from the Windows operating system's point of view. When I played5.1 FLAC via all my media utilities the sound did not work as it should. I was getting front middle OK but no LFE and rear was coming half volume from front. However I found a way of making it work.
WASAPI !!! .... WASAPI by itself did not do the trick....the only app I had to install the WASAPI plugin was FOOBAR but that also produced the same result.....heyho KOKI to the rescue.....within KODI you can define the audio transport to be streamed via WASAPI and that played 5.1 correctly. Windows10 has a lot to answer for in terms of the audio support, it sucks big time.
 

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