Player audio options - bitstream or PCM?

Theo Maxtible

Well-known Member
I'm now playing the DVD stereo LPCM version of Yes Relayer album. My player is registering it as 96khz over coax.
If I apply remaster, it registers as 192, and it clearly has a different sound.
Prior to that I played the new Jethro Tull A remaster album DVD - also 96khz - also stereo lpcm, and it will not play as anything other than 48Khz over coax, remaster at the player or not.
Anybody have any ideas why?

Not sure if my input might assist - I hope it does - but as you're mentioning both the Yes "Relayer" album (which I'm assuming is the DVD-A/CD release, which I also own), and DVDs, when referring to 96kHz and 48kHz, I thought I'd pass on an interesting bit of information which appears in the user manual of my Arcam DV137 player.

I find it interesting that physical user manuals appear to be becoming less common nowadays, but in recent years, I've found both my Arcam kit manuals useful and informative - and a Quad manual. The Arcam manual is not perfect, eg it doesn't actual mention that it is not possible to pass the audio from SACDs over conventional digital connections (ie digi coax or optical), but I hope the following bit of text copied verbatim from my DV137 manual might be of use to you, although I appreciate it doesn't give the whole story.

=======================================================
"Listening to DVD-audio or SACD discs

The high quality of DVD-audio and SACD discs can be realised only by using either the multi-channel analogue or the HDMI outputs. Using a conventional digital connection between your DVD player and surround-sound receiver will not allow you to hear these discs at their best, since the audio carried across the digital link when these discs are played is compromised (i.e. limited to a sample rate of 48K). This is true for all DVD players and is not a limitation of your DV137.

If you wish to use a surround-sound receiver for decoding your movie sound-track, but want also to enjoy DVDA/SACD, we recommend either the following the connection advice given above for 'multi-channel amplifier' in addition to using the digital audio connection, or using an HDMI connection to your receiver."
=========================================================

The only extra bits I can add to the above, is bear in mind the vintage of my DV137 (2006, ie before BD became dominant), and that my Arcam AVR350 does not accept audio over HDMI. I have therefore always used the analogue outputs for music or movie soundtracks.
 

IvanFraser

Member
Not sure if my input might assist - I hope it does - but as you're mentioning both the Yes "Relayer" album (which I'm assuming is the DVD-A/CD release, which I also own), and DVDs, when referring to 96kHz and 48kHz, I thought I'd pass on an interesting bit of information which appears in the user manual of my Arcam DV137 player.

I find it interesting that physical user manuals appear to be becoming less common nowadays, but in recent years, I've found both my Arcam kit manuals useful and informative - and a Quad manual. The Arcam manual is not perfect, eg it doesn't actual mention that it is not possible to pass the audio from SACDs over conventional digital connections (ie digi coax or optical), but I hope the following bit of text copied verbatim from my DV137 manual might be of use to you, although I appreciate it doesn't give the whole story.

=======================================================
"Listening to DVD-audio or SACD discs

The high quality of DVD-audio and SACD discs can be realised only by using either the multi-channel analogue or the HDMI outputs. Using a conventional digital connection between your DVD player and surround-sound receiver will not allow you to hear these discs at their best, since the audio carried across the digital link when these discs are played is compromised (i.e. limited to a sample rate of 48K). This is true for all DVD players and is not a limitation of your DV137.

If you wish to use a surround-sound receiver for decoding your movie sound-track, but want also to enjoy DVDA/SACD, we recommend either the following the connection advice given above for 'multi-channel amplifier' in addition to using the digital audio connection, or using an HDMI connection to your receiver."
=========================================================

The only extra bits I can add to the above, is bear in mind the vintage of my DV137 (2006, ie before BD became dominant), and that my Arcam AVR350 does not accept audio over HDMI. I have therefore always used the analogue outputs for music or movie soundtracks.
Thanks for that. You're right, it is interesting.
A couple of issues I have with it regarding more modern kit though.
1. It is only 'better' if your avr is at a high level for stereo. My avr sounds great, but for stereo it doesn't hold a candle to my stereo setup.
2. It will sound better - probably - through the analogue outs of my ub900 - if I had analogue stereo inputs at my dac/preamp stage.
Unless I reinstate my old analogue preamp I can't use the stereo analogue out to my stereo kit except to the headphone amp, which is my current setup. And I prefer the direct digital volume control direct to my power amps for several reasons: finer vol control using the handset, fewer cables/more direct/ and more expensive, as I would need to invest in yet another pair of high quality cables :0)
The fact that the coax link is high quality - and the cable is a really good one - and it can take 192khz - and the Relayer disc at least proves that the limitation is not due to hardware limitations, the only conclusion I have is that it's a software limitation imposed on the consumer.
I did rip the audio from one track off the latest mix of Tull's A and played it at native resolution via Foobar to my dac, and I don't think there's really much, if any, difference between the 96 and the 48.
That has, at least, reassured me that the lpcm tracks are worth playing, even at the reduced frequency over coax. At least for the A album.
Having said all that, these releases do come with the CD versions also. Although I do have a few discs just on dvd or blu that I bought in preference to the cds in the expectation that I was getting the full higher res audio. Such as the complete Beethoven Symphonies (Karajan) at 96khz purely on bluray, which I am forced to listen to at 48khz.
Whether there's any difference, I don't know, but the audiophile in me still resents the imposition :0)
 

Theo Maxtible

Well-known Member
Thanks for that. You're right, it is interesting.
A couple of issues I have with it regarding more modern kit though.
1. It is only 'better' if your avr is at a high level for stereo. My avr sounds great, but for stereo it doesn't hold a candle to my stereo setup.
2. It will sound better - probably - through the analogue outs of my ub900 - if I had analogue stereo inputs at my dac/preamp stage.
Unless I reinstate my old analogue preamp I can't use the stereo analogue out to my stereo kit except to the headphone amp, which is my current setup. And I prefer the direct digital volume control direct to my power amps for several reasons: finer vol control using the handset, fewer cables/more direct/ and more expensive, as I would need to invest in yet another pair of high quality cables :0)
The fact that the coax link is high quality - and the cable is a really good one - and it can take 192khz - and the Relayer disc at least proves that the limitation is not due to hardware limitations, the only conclusion I have is that it's a software limitation imposed on the consumer.
I did rip the audio from one track off the latest mix of Tull's A and played it at native resolution via Foobar to my dac, and I don't think there's really much, if any, difference between the 96 and the 48.
That has, at least, reassured me that the lpcm tracks are worth playing, even at the reduced frequency over coax. At least for the A album.
Having said all that, these releases do come with the CD versions also. Although I do have a few discs just on dvd or blu that I bought in preference to the cds in the expectation that I was getting the full higher res audio. Such as the complete Beethoven Symphonies (Karajan) at 96khz purely on bluray, which I am forced to listen to at 48khz.
Whether there's any difference, I don't know, but the audiophile in me still resents the imposition :0)

Thanks. As long as my input was of some use.

It can be very difficult making side-by-side (or even otherwise) comparisons. I have never been able to do a side-by-side 2-channel comparison between my Arcam AVR30 and another amplifier. I've lived with the receiver for about 14 and a half years now, so I've grown so accustomed to it, that I sort-of just accept it. I was blown away by its performance years ago when it was new - whether in MCH-mode or 2-channel - and have found the reproduction of audio quite profound at times.

I have three stereo-only DVD-As, all double-sided, with MLP PCM 24/192kHz on the DVD-A side, and LPCM 24/96kHz on the DVD-V side. Some years back, I sat down with my wife and we did a side-by-side comparison of each side of the disc. Her ears are 12 years younger than mine, but we both struggled to say which side sounded superior - both sounding really extremely impressive. In the end, we thought perhaps the MLP side was perhaps mildly preferable. Was that just our minds playing tricks?
 

IvanFraser

Member
Thanks. As long as my input was of some use.

It can be very difficult making side-by-side (or even otherwise) comparisons. I have never been able to do a side-by-side 2-channel comparison between my Arcam AVR30 and another amplifier. I've lived with the receiver for about 14 and a half years now, so I've grown so accustomed to it, that I sort-of just accept it. I was blown away by its performance years ago when it was new - whether in MCH-mode or 2-channel - and have found the reproduction of audio quite profound at times.

I have three stereo-only DVD-As, all double-sided, with MLP PCM 24/192kHz on the DVD-A side, and LPCM 24/96kHz on the DVD-V side. Some years back, I sat down with my wife and we did a side-by-side comparison of each side of the disc. Her ears are 12 years younger than mine, but we both struggled to say which side sounded superior - both sounding really extremely impressive. In the end, we thought perhaps the MLP side was perhaps mildly preferable. Was that just our minds playing tricks?
I tend to use the missus to rule out psychoacoustic effects too :0)
All things being equal, I would be happy to trust the original lossless format, whether 48, 96 or 192, if they were playable. I know my kit and I know if I feed it a high res signal it will perform superbly. If the original signal is higher res, it performs better than cd spec. I've seen several tests showing the dac creating good oversampling of cds, but with inherent pre and post ringing and distortions, which greatly reduce as the res input is increased.
However, I wouldn't want to send a preadjusted signal to the dac, say remastering at player first to a higher res.
As long as I know the signal is unmolested prior to getting to the dac, I'm happy.
I chose to invest a lot of dough on cables for all coax because it supports up to 192khz, only now to find that even if I had a 192 master file, it wouldn't play at anything other than 48.
Bummer. But there you go.
Having said that, I have my tv to the dac via optical and have watched a fair few older 2ch and mono movies through the stereo kit (including converting bitstream Dolby or DTS to pcm at the tv). They sounded fine; and again, better than through the avr as bitstream over hdmi.
I would imagine that my desire for technical accuracy and faithfulness to the original is a mental rather than audible one :0)
 

IvanFraser

Member
Does anyone know of an hdmi audio extractor which will retain the higher res audio format to coax output?
I've been looking at loads but the specs don't state if this will be the case. At least one says 192Khz is supported, but that does not ensure that that's what we will get. If they have also to be compliant with these meddlesome specs, I imagine that they will also be told to carry the downsampled audio.
It seems like the ideal solution to me, if it exists.
 

MRJOE

Active Member
Does anyone know of an hdmi audio extractor which will retain the higher res audio format to coax output?
I've been looking at loads but the specs don't state if this will be the case. At least one says 192Khz is supported, but that does not ensure that that's what we will get. If they have also to be compliant with these meddlesome specs, I imagine that they will also be told to carry the downsampled audio.
It seems like the ideal solution to me, if it exists.
Found this in the Vertex' manual:
If your AVR is capable of accepting 192khz Audio via its optical input, you
can use Vertex to extract DD+ and Atmos for TV embedded streaming APPS and forward it to your AVR
via the Vertex optical output. Only a very few AVR on the market can support 192khz via optical.
I assume the newer devices from HDFURY are able to do this as well.
 

IvanFraser

Member
Found this in the Vertex' manual:

I assume the newer devices from HDFURY are able to do this as well.
I think I've settled on a solution. Having trawled the net for a device and come up with nothing - as it seems the downsample is unavoidable via player through spdif coax or whatever, as it's encoded into the source material and players.
I've taken the full res audio to flac and unadjusted pcm, to the hard drive using DVD Audio Extractor software.
This allowed me direct comparisons of the lossless over the network, via:
1. Foobar2000 to dac over usb (technically the most accurate).
2. Panasonic player to dac over coax.
3. 48 downsampled from disc in player to dac
and
4. CD version played on the dac.

The differences are so small between each that I would be happy to play any of them.
That surprised me. But has made me a less concerned about the downsampling situation.
The difference between cd and hi res was the most obvious, but again very small. Mainly depth and soundstage was better on the hi res.
The Panasonic over coax sounds different to the usb to dac. Again, small. The Panasonic sounds great, but has a very slight warmth, that is like changing filter settings on a dac (slow rolloff type). Not bad in any way, just different.
The different resolutions were of such a minute difference - if any - that I'm no longer concerned.
So in order of what I would class the 'best' to 'worst' would be.

1. 96khz24b ripped to wav or flac played over usb direct to dac (IUSB Foobar2000 to the Audiolab 8300CD).
2. Same file over ethernet network to Panasonic over coax to dac.
3. Direct from dvd as downsampled 48Khz over coax to dac.
4. CD played on player dac.

Couldn't call the preference in 2 and 3 though. But would still be happy to pop in the CD and listen that way too.

(When it comes to dsd very high res files - say 5.6Mhz - the Foobar over usb to dac in native DSD wins hands down over playing via the Panasonic which uses Dop to take the dsd to pcm. The Panny stifles the dsd compared to direct dsd. The 11.2 Mhz dsd sounds even better, but the codec Foobar uses dropped support for the highest of dsd resolution 256 and 512, so I'm stuck with dsd64 and dsd128 for now.)

Edit: not really relevant, but have now enabled 256 DSD with a different asio plugin - foo-asio+dsd. Happy to get the full fat res now :0)
 
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IvanFraser

Member
Hit a snag though.
Having copied all my Tull albums in 96khz, started on Yes, only to find it has BD+ protection and DVD Audio Extractor won't run.
However, remembered an old prog I used many moons ago called AnyDVD. Fortunately, that does the job :0)
 

IvanFraser

Member
Thanks. As long as my input was of some use.

It can be very difficult making side-by-side (or even otherwise) comparisons. I have never been able to do a side-by-side 2-channel comparison between my Arcam AVR30 and another amplifier. I've lived with the receiver for about 14 and a half years now, so I've grown so accustomed to it, that I sort-of just accept it. I was blown away by its performance years ago when it was new - whether in MCH-mode or 2-channel - and have found the reproduction of audio quite profound at times.

I have three stereo-only DVD-As, all double-sided, with MLP PCM 24/192kHz on the DVD-A side, and LPCM 24/96kHz on the DVD-V side. Some years back, I sat down with my wife and we did a side-by-side comparison of each side of the disc. Her ears are 12 years younger than mine, but we both struggled to say which side sounded superior - both sounding really extremely impressive. In the end, we thought perhaps the MLP side was perhaps mildly preferable. Was that just our minds playing tricks?
I've just ripped Relayer to the pc and found it's not using lpcm encoding like the other discs, but MLP.
That is interesting.
So MLP doesn't have the restrictions to downsample material above 48Khz.
Finally, I have the answer as to why Relayer was such an anomaly :0)
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
Edit: not really relevant, but have now enabled 256 DSD with a different asio plugin - foo-asio+dsd. Happy to get the full fat res now :0)
I used this option when the Teac UD-501 was released and the software you are using is also something I have experience of which was used at What Hi-Fi after I'd set it up for the rep. He was also using Blu-ray audio files which at that time were a nightmare to archive (a lot easier with DVD Audio Extractor)

As a player, I've stuck with jRiver as I enjoy the remote control app feature. But listen to everything upsampled to DSD. Since those days I've reverted back to the original source and now play the file without any up or down conversion and to my ears it has far more spirit and soul

It took me a while to realise, but I found that I'd lost a little bit of dynamics in the upconversion and when I stripping jRiver so it didn't add anything and using the Teac ASIO driver in Kernel mode, the sound just became more alive and raw which to my ears is a vast improvement over the foo-asio-dsd driver

I did used to also clock my CPU to 33 as this was deemed idea for music, but dropping it back down didn't make any difference to the sound. The biggest software change was using fidelizer pro and this really did alter things as it stops some of processor and thread which are running in the background. I also found that running my system in real-time one on one CPU also added some difference which since me mentioned this, the fidelizer programmer added that option

Do be careful using fidelizer if its your main PC, but for the other bits, do give it a go and try and set everything so that there is no filtration as possible. I won't say it was a revelation, but reverting back just sounded as though someone had taken spirit and soul away even though it sounded good
 
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IvanFraser

Member
I used this option when the Teac UD-501 was released and the software you are using is also something I have experience of which was used at What Hi-Fi after I'd set it up for the rep. He was also using Blu-ray audio files which at that time were a nightmare to archive (a lot easier with DVD Audio Extractor)

As a player, I've stuck with jRiver as I enjoy the remote control app feature. But listen to everything upsampled to DSD. Since those days I've reverted back to the original source and now play the file without any up or down conversion and to my ears it has far more spirit and soul

It took me a while to realise, but I found that I'd lost a little bit of dynamics in the upconversion and when I stripping jRiver so it didn't add anything and using the Teac ASIO driver, the sound just became more alive and raw which to my ears is a vast improvement over the foo-asio-dsd driver

I did used to also clock my CPU to 33 as this was deemed idea for music, but dropping it back down didn't make any difference to the sound. The biggest software change was using fidelizer pro and this really did alter things as it stops some of processor and thread which are running in the background. I also found that running the my system in real-time one on one CPU also added some difference which since me mentioned this, the fidelizer programmer added that option

Do be careful using fidelizer a go if its your main PC for other things, but for the other bits, do give it a go and try and set everything so that there is no filtration as possible. I won't say it was a revelation, but reverting back just sounded as though someone had taken spirit and soul away even though it sounded good
Very interesting, thanks.
I never upconvert to dsd, always use the native dsd res or the original flac res.
The Audiolab's asio plugin is designed to give bit-perfect response and Foobar2000 is recommended as it outputs original spec audio, despite the pc's settings.
I've got the PC set on 96khz 24 bit - and this is what Neutron player uses for its output, so it responds to the Windows settings, unlike Foobar.
I use Neutron for audio on my 5.1 dsds via avr, which is unable to do dsd, so uses dsd to pcm. Or I will use the ub900, which does the same over hdmi.
This programme you've introduced me to looks like it may give even better fidelity to the Windows audio, which I use frequently over the 5.1 avr, but may reproduce more faithfully to the Audiolab when not using the dedicated audio, over, say neutron or inherent online audio etc.
For critical stereo listening - such as dsd or flac etc. - I will use Foobar direct to dac.
John Westlake, who designed the players, recommends the original source material rather than any prior upsampling, to allow the ESS dac to do its thing for best quality.
I also have the deadphone dac installed with its own driver for direct over-usb audio: Project Headbox Ds headphone amp/dac.
 
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IvanFraser

Member
I've looked at the Fidelizer and don't think it would be suitable for my needs. My pc is usually in use when playing through Neutron, more as background to what I'm doing.
I tend to use the pc also when using Foobar, so wouldn't want anything interfering with that.
Certainly, if I had a pc to devote to audio, it would be installed.
 

IvanFraser

Member
I gave the free Fidelizer a go. I had it enabled on the 'consumer' and the 'purist' level. They didn't impact too much on my use.
And there is definitely an improvement worth investing in there.
So thank you ShanePJ!
 

IvanFraser

Member
The biggest uptick in sound however, has been swapping the rca to balanced xlr on the Audiolab. Profound improvement to soundstage and separation, clarity, naturalness etc. Van Damme XLR cables are cheap as chips compared to the phonos I've been using :0)
I wish I'd done it years ago, but I'd just invested £400 on some excellent Chord Shawline phonos then I then decided to upgrade the Roksan powers to XLR enabled ones :0)
Never thought the difference would be so noticeable. Could have saved nearly £350 for better sound quality.
That's even cheaper than getting the Fidelizer Pro, for less of a sound upgrade :0)
However, my perfection-seeking disease is saying 'get the Shawline XLRs' for assured best quality. And on it goes down the money pit.
 

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