Sound improvement XE1 HDMI vs. analog

Donkey99

Banned
Hi,

Currently got my new XE1 connected to my amp by 5.1 analog.

Am I getting the same True HD audio performance as if it were connected by HDMI instead?

I currently don't have such an amp but would consider if the above were true - how is the signal processed via the 2 different choices?

Thanks
:confused:
 

Sejour

Standard Member
The True HD bitstream is unpacked to PCM by the XE1 in either case. The only difference in the initial signal processing is whether you use the audio DACs in the XE1 rather than those in the amp.

But you'd need to be using an expensive amp to get any tangible improvement over the XE1's DACs.

Both Arcam and Meridian have voiced concerns over the high level of jitter created by the HDMI interface. You will avoid this jitter issue by continuing to use the analog connections. Don't forget, the primary reason for HDMI was to enable HDCP, not to improve signal quality.

So True HD via the XE1's analog outputs is likely to give you the highest quality audio. How discernible this is will come down to the usual suspects, i.e. how good the rest of the equipment is, the room, the source material, etc.

Reasons to use HDMI come down to system configuration and convenience. Obviously, if you have a 7.1 speaker requirement, then you have to use HDMI, with a suitable amp, of which many aren't. Further, if you want to do any form of post processing, eg lip sync or digital EQ, then you need HDMI. In some systems, room EQ can make a substantial difference to audio quality that would subordinate any differences between True HD via analog or HDMI.

Hope this helps.
 

TrevorS

Active Member
Hi,

Currently got my new XE1 connected to my amp by 5.1 analog.

Am I getting the same True HD audio performance as if it were connected by HDMI instead?

I currently don't have such an amp but would consider if the above were true - how is the signal processed via the 2 different choices?

Thanks
:confused:

I was suspicious of HDMI audio for the very reason mentioned in the above post. However, I needed to support 5.1 audio input from multiple sources, so it was logical for me to move to an HDMI capable receiver. My experience with digital audio is that I'm very much subject to listening fatigue given untidy sources, and my fear was more of the same with HDMI.

I've been very happy to discover that it's actually FAR better than I expected, in fact the HDMI and Toslink inputs on my receiver have noticeably superior sonic quality to the 5.1 analog inputs. (Not quite the result I was expecting).

In any case, my suggestion is to try it both ways and decide which sounds best to you.
 

Donkey99

Banned
Thanks for the replies,

I have the Denon AVC-A1SE (obviously connected using the Ext in analog inputs). I've been happy with the amp sonically in the past for AV with DVD but thought that it may be necessary to upgrade now. I would have probably remortgaged (joke) and gone for the AVC-A1XVA as a replacement, though waiting for the dealer to open to confirm LPCM compatability via HDMI inputs.

Having seen these comments it seems like I'm already getting the best sound (other than generic sonic improvements the XVA may have over my SE). As the XE1 only outputs 5.1 and my amp has 7.1 capability, I've used rca splitters on the surround outputs of the XE1 to feed the signal into the surround back effects inputs of the Ext in analog section on the amp. This therefore at least sends the rear effects signal to the surround back speakers too.

Normally I could do this via the menu in the amp to matrix the rear signal, but such processing isn't available on the ext in inputs. I thought my idea was quite nifty!:clap:
 

Sejour

Standard Member
I am unaware of any HD-DVD material that has been released with True HD 7.1, although it will turn up one day I'm sure :rolleyes:

You might get slightly better results matrixing to 7.1 via PLIIx than cloning the rear channels to the surround backs, but I'd bet any difference would be small.

As for Trevor's comment that Toslink sounds better than analog outs, True HD can't be output over optical, so I'm not quite sure what he's listening to:D
 

kingfats

Distinguished Member
The True HD bitstream is unpacked to PCM by the XE1 in either case. The only difference in the initial signal processing is whether you use the audio DACs in the XE1 rather than those in the amp.

But you'd need to be using an expensive amp to get any tangible improvement over the XE1's DACs.

Both Arcam and Meridian have voiced concerns over the high level of jitter created by the HDMI interface. You will avoid this jitter issue by continuing to use the analog connections. Don't forget, the primary reason for HDMI was to enable HDCP, not to improve signal quality.

So True HD via the XE1's analog outputs is likely to give you the highest quality audio. How discernible this is will come down to the usual suspects, i.e. how good the rest of the equipment is, the room, the source material, etc.

Reasons to use HDMI come down to system configuration and convenience. Obviously, if you have a 7.1 speaker requirement, then you have to use HDMI, with a suitable amp, of which many aren't. Further, if you want to do any form of post processing, eg lip sync or digital EQ, then you need HDMI. In some systems, room EQ can make a substantial difference to audio quality that would subordinate any differences between True HD via analog or HDMI.

Hope this helps.

Well put!
I use the HDMI connection myself.Firstly it's more convenient having everything travel down one cable and i want my Denon to do some post processing.Using the Denons room EQ feature has made a big difference in my set up.Cheers.
 

TrevorS

Active Member
As for Trevor's comment that Toslink sounds better than analog outs, True HD can't be output over optical, so I'm not quite sure what he's listening to:D

Simple, I'm talking about hardware sonics and I'm referencing the first two posts in this thread.

TrevorS said:
I've been very happy to discover that it's actually FAR better than I expected, in fact the HDMI and Toslink inputs on my receiver have noticeably superior sonic quality to the 5.1 analog inputs. (Not quite the result I was expecting).

The OP was asking about HDMI Vs Analog. Ergo, he was not asking about how a sound track sounds, he was asking about the sound impact of the hardware. -- ie the sonics. The first respondent (YOU) raised the issue of a contributor to sonic problems which I also reference in my own post.

Within the combined contexts, it should be very clear what I'm referring to. Perhaps you need to go back to the start and read more slowly. (When it comes to digital audio hardware sonics, the soundtrack CODEC has NOTHING to do with it. :D)

PS. By the way -- thanks very much for taking my observation regarding the digital Vs multichannel analog inputs of my receiver completely out of context. If you are going to try to quote someone, at least go to the trouble of doing so accurately, not producing a bastardization of it. What you turned it into reads as nonsense -- again, thanks very much! :D
 

Sejour

Standard Member
Simple, I'm talking about hardware sonics and I'm referencing the first two posts in this thread.



The OP was asking about HDMI Vs Analog. Ergo, he was not asking about how a sound track sounds, he was asking about the sound impact of the hardware. -- ie the sonics. The first respondent (YOU) raised the issue of a contributor to sonic problems which I also reference in my own post.

Within the combined contexts, it should be very clear what I'm referring to. Perhaps you need to go back to the start and read more slowly. (When it comes to digital audio hardware sonics, the soundtrack CODEC has NOTHING to do with it. :D)

PS. By the way -- thanks very much for taking my observation regarding the digital Vs multichannel analog inputs of my receiver completely out of context. If you are going to try to quote someone, at least go to the trouble of doing so accurately, not producing a bastardization of it. What you turned it into reads as nonsense -- again, thanks very much! :D


You're welcome. :hiya:

The OP was asking specifically about Dolby TrueHD performance. Reading comprehension is not one of my weaknesses, although I do have others. Perhaps you only read the message header and not the body of the OP??

To your point that you were discussing the sonic merits of components rather than the codec mentioned by the OP, any empirical comparison of such sonic merits would still need to be made using the same codec. Toslink cannot pass the unpacked TrueHD digital stream. Therefore my light hearted comment that you were not listening to TrueHD, but to something else. Whether judged offensive or not, my comment (which was not a quote) is correct.

I was careful in my reply to the OP, who I thought posed a good question, to suggest that the benefits of various types of post processing in the amp can outweigh any difference in the performance of the DACs.

I confess to being an obsessive audiophile - the audio side of my AV system is just as important to me as is the video, even though I rarely use it for music. I spent some time comparing a TrueHD signal via the analog outputs from the XE1 against the LPCM digital output via HDMI, into a Yamaha RX-V2700 as the pre-pro, then through Parasound Halo power amps into Sonus Faber Domus Grand Pianos. I found that the XE1's analog outputs provided a better sense of depth, provided very low level information that was missing via HDMI, and was sweeter sounding in the upper mid range. That comparison was made with all the post-processing on the Yamaha disabled, and the XE1 carefully calibrated using optical media test discs, not the appalling signal generator in the XE1. I use a Velodyne DD15 subwoofer, so am able to equalise the bass performance between the analog and digital outputs of the XE1, which can otherwise be difficult to achieve.

Despite these findings, for many soundtracks I will use HDMI for TrueHD playback, as the post processing for room EQ and matrixing 7.1 channel audio outweigh the benefits of the XE1's analog audio. And for lossy audio, such as DD, I will always use HDMI as these soundtracks lack sufficient resolution to hear the audio benefits I have referred to.

But ultimately, I agree with you in principle, if I may quote::rotfl:
In any case, my suggestion is to try it both ways and decide which sounds best to you.

However, if you go back to the start and read a little more slowly, you will note that the OP does not have HDMI inputs on his amp...:oops:
 

rooster-x

Active Member
Seyjour, how do you get on with the LFE issues on the XE1 when you did your testing of the analogue outs? As I understand it you need to have +10dB boost and the players bass management switched off (speakers set to large on player) to get the LFE to work over the analogue out. Did you find this the case?

Cheers

Rooster-X :)
 

TrevorS

Active Member
You're welcome. :hiya:

The OP was asking specifically about Dolby TrueHD performance. Reading comprehension is not one of my weaknesses, although I do have others. Perhaps you only read the message header and not the body of the OP??

To your point that you were discussing the sonic merits of components rather than the codec mentioned by the OP, any empirical comparison of such sonic merits would still need to be made using the same codec. Toslink cannot pass the unpacked TrueHD digital stream. Therefore my light hearted comment that you were not listening to TrueHD, but to something else. Whether judged offensive or not, my comment (which was not a quote) is correct.

I was careful in my reply to the OP, who I thought posed a good question, to suggest that the benefits of various types of post processing in the amp can outweigh any difference in the performance of the DACs.

I confess to being an obsessive audiophile - the audio side of my AV system is just as important to me as is the video, even though I rarely use it for music. I spent some time comparing a TrueHD signal via the analog outputs from the XE1 against the LPCM digital output via HDMI, into a Yamaha RX-V2700 as the pre-pro, then through Parasound Halo power amps into Sonus Faber Domus Grand Pianos. I found that the XE1's analog outputs provided a better sense of depth, provided very low level information that was missing via HDMI, and was sweeter sounding in the upper mid range. That comparison was made with all the post-processing on the Yamaha disabled, and the XE1 carefully calibrated using optical media test discs, not the appalling signal generator in the XE1. I use a Velodyne DD15 subwoofer, so am able to equalise the bass performance between the analog and digital outputs of the XE1, which can otherwise be difficult to achieve.

Despite these findings, for many soundtracks I will use HDMI for TrueHD playback, as the post processing for room EQ and matrixing 7.1 channel audio outweigh the benefits of the XE1's analog audio. And for lossy audio, such as DD, I will always use HDMI as these soundtracks lack sufficient resolution to hear the audio benefits I have referred to.

But ultimately, I agree with you in principle, if I may quote::rotfl:


However, if you go back to the start and read a little more slowly, you will note that the OP does not have HDMI inputs on his amp...:oops:

The OP ws asking specifically about Hardware performance -- wheher he would be losing anyhing going analog Vs HDMI. His example was DD-THD, but as you yourself pointed out with Meridian -- there are concerns regarding jitter.

My entire (brief) response was couched on the issue of the performance of the hardware -- just as initiated by the OP (analog Vs HDMI) and furthered by you (Meridian's jitter concerns).

My response was clearly written and in no way justified the nature of your reference to it.

Ergo, you either have a serious reading comprehension problem, or else you have a considerable ego problem, as demonstrated by your need to misrepresent what I actually said for the purpose of playing king-of-the-hill games. Also, your response provides further evidence of same.


The Codec was never the issue -- the sound of the hardware in different configurations was the issue. And my post very clearly addressed exactly that!
 

Sejour

Standard Member
Seyjour, how do you get on with the LFE issues on the XE1 when you did your testing of the analogue outs? As I understand it you need to have +10dB boost and the players bass management switched off (speakers set to large on player) to get the LFE to work over the analogue out. Did you find this the case?

Cheers

Rooster-X :)

Rooster,

Bass management is a pain on the XE1.:mad:

As you know, speaker levels can only be reduced on the XE1, not increased. In principle, a good idea to prevent overloading pre-amp inputs. Except the XE1 is too low to start with - I can't believe it's anywhere near the 2VRMS standard. I need to use 4dB of adjustment for my speakers, so have no ability to set these 10dB below the LFE output. And in my case, the Yamaha V2700 I use a pre has poor pre-amp output drive, so I need to keep my input signals as high as possible.

I then add the 10dB at my sub, which has separate memories available via remote. I could do this at my amp, but it isn't as convenient. And yes, I have set speakers to Large to circumvent the XE1 attempting bass management.

I think it's essential to use a sound level meter to set up the XE1, not just for bass management but because its output levels vary dramatically on each of its outputs. In my system, analog is down almost 4dB on HDMI, which is down a similar amount on SPDIF.
Cheers
 

rooster-x

Active Member
Cheers Sejour, still can't make my mind up. Will sit on the fence until they fix this or bring out an XE2 :devil: Still tempted by an E1 but I know I'll miss the TruHD and then spend more money upgrading my amp, which I am happy with at the moment.

So in a nutshell, I'm happy with SD-DVD PQ but would upgrade for extra sound quality! Just don't want to change the amp! :D
 

Sejour

Standard Member
Rooster, if you are happy with SD PQ, then I would wait for the next generation of player. The studios have been pretty slow getting lossless audio onto many of the HD releases. If audio quality is important, then the discs without TrueHD are only giving you half the HD experience.:mad:

By the time the studios have their new mixing desks set up, the next gen of HD-DVD player should be out.
 

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