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Why is SACD/DVD-Audio only available via Analogue connections ?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by dompotter, May 5, 2003.

  1. dompotter

    dompotter
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    Anyone here know why there is this limitation ?

    Can it be overridden to allow you to force SACD/DVD-Audio thru the digital outputs ?

    Regards,
    Dom
     
  2. Family Guy

    Family Guy
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    That is actually a very good question - one I'm afraid I don't have the answer to I'm afraid...but would be very interested to hear it. I believe though that it probably has something to do with the audio needing deocding before it hits the amp....:confused:
     
  3. alexs2

    alexs2
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    On players with encrypted digital outputs(Pioneer 757/Meridian 800 and Denon's top model) a digital output is available for transfer to a suitably equipped decoder with an input capable of accepting encrypted data.

    The idea behind this is to prevent piracy of high resolution digital music,and thus ensures that only analogue audio is output on most players,with the decoding being done on board,with results varying according to the quality of the conversion and the analogue output circuitry
     
  4. ncpl

    ncpl
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    Meridian 598 also outputs hi-res digital and is a wee bit less expensive than the 800. As with all the current models that can output digital, you have to stay within brand to receive and decode it. If you do this, the results are quite spectacular
     
  5. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Good point ncpl,but as you rightly point out,it commits you to using the MHR link to output encrypted digital data,and thus requires Meridian equipment with MHR link inputs.
    Roll on the day when most transports can output data via Firewire,to decoders using the same,and then maybe we,the consumers,and the industry,can all be reasonably happy.
     
  6. Sunday Ironfoot

    Sunday Ironfoot
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    I think it's done this way to allow the DVD-Audio/SACD player to act as the DAC (Digital Analogue Converter), dedicated CD players generally have far superior DAC's than AV amps, and I would assume this is especially true of the hi-res audio formats where they need a high quality DAC to get the most out of the format.

    There's that and for piracy reasons as alexs2 suggested.
     
  7. MikeK

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    Plus the practical matter of there being

    a) no (or very few, and certainly no mainstream) AV receivers which can decode MLP

    b) no standard digital interface (currently implemented that is - there's plenty capable of it) which can do stereo 192kHz/24bit (AFAIK, not even the non-standard Meridian Link can do this). If I recall correctly, SPDIF was designed with 48kHz as the highest frequency of interest - they've pushed it to 96kHz, but that may be the limit for this interface in it's current form. In fact many players which can do 96kHz, often downsample the output to 48kHz anyway.
    Then there's the encryption/piracy issue.

    There may be companies (eg Meridian, Denon etc) implementing proprietary solutions, but generally speaking, consumers are not keen on this approach as it locks you into one manufacturer for both source and decoder/receiver, as well as other non technical issues - the debacle with DenonLink has left more than a few customers grinding their teeth.

    It will come eventually, but not I suspect for several years yet!
    Consumers are still to be convinced of the actual formats themselves, let alone digital links for them. No doubt we'll also be treated to another format war when they try to establish a standard for such an interface (there are several "off-the-shelf" solutions which could easily be adapted already, but I think only Pioneer have gone for one of them, the others preferring the proprietary approach). Lucky us :) :)
     
  8. ncpl

    ncpl
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    Mike,

    I think you are correct with the SPDIF rates. Meridian down sample 192/24 to 96/24 when passing to a SSP or DSP speaker. I read somewhere that you would get all sorts of jitter problems running at 192.

    I'd be interested to do a comparison of a 192/24 track via a 192/24 DAC analogue output straight from a player and a down sampled to 96/24 of the same via a digital out.

    If I couldn't tell the difference I'd be happy. You can imagine that we (the AV world) will trudge our way to properly handle 192 material, then, someone will start telling us about the benefits of 384....and off we go again. At the moment, the limited amount of discs I can hear at full 96/24 sound very nice indeed.

    And I'm not so sure that allowing access to higher res digital o/p without proprietry encryption is really going to equate to much more piracy. I don't think people will spend so much time chasing 'sound quality' when they can rip millions of MP3's already. I'm sure that the Tiger Pirates can already rip MLP if they wanted to. Therefore, stopping you from sending a 96/24 from a Pioneer player to a Denon SSP/amp doesn't really stop anything else.
     
  9. dompotter

    dompotter
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    Suppose I could buy the top end Pioneer Amp that takes the Firewire out from the 757ai..... but I don't really want to spend £2500 on a new amp...... just yet..

    So I have to contend with a high res SACD/DVD Audio, passing thru the analogues ?

    It is a little frustrating to have to connect up the analogue outputs on the DVD to my poor little amp, when I have a perfectly fine digital coaxial output hooked up....

    Is there no 'hacks' that will force the SACD etc thru my digital coax?

    Regards,
    Dom
     
  10. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Sadly,dom,there are no such hacks short of major internal surgery with no real chance of success.
    Have to put up with whatever DACs and analogue circuitry your SACD player already has....if you have the 757,it actually has quite a reasonable output stage for it's price range.
     
  11. sounddog

    sounddog
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    dom ... even if you could "force" the output from an SACD out through the SPDIF connector, your amp wouldn't be able to decode it ... DSD format is completely different to DD and DTS. Same goes for DVD-A too.

    As for the reason why (so far) we don't have a standard digital connection for SACD & DVD-A ... its the same reason (IMO) as why for a long time you couldn't get a DVD player which did Progressive Scan on PAL - political decisions between hardware and software manufacturers trying to stop piracy (which none of this stops anyway!!)

    Vikki
     
  12. MikeK

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    Suppose I could buy the top end Pioneer Amp that takes the Firewire out from the 757ai..... but I don't really want to spend £2500 on a new amp...... just yet..

    So I have to contend with a high res SACD/DVD Audio, passing thru the analogues ?


    Yep, that's about the size of it for now.
    There's no guarantee of course, if you connected the 757 to an AX10 with a firewire connection, that the resultant sound would be any better than connecting it via the analogue circuits anyway - that would depend on several other things as well, not just the interface used!



    It is a little frustrating to have to connect up the analogue outputs on the DVD to my poor little amp, when I have a perfectly fine digital coaxial output hooked up....


    True enough, but there's little you can do about it.
    Large vested interests are at work behind the scenes (I agree with sounddog about them not seeming to grasp the issues - their current thinking seems to be to disable those features which might lead to piracy, whilst not seeming to grasp that it's those very features which make the format most interesting to it's likely buyers)
    True, it might stop casual hi-res digital copying, but that's about it!
    (although what equipment they think the casual copier is going to have in order to perform this copy, escapes me).
    Serious pirating? - this will cause them nothing more than a minor inconvenience if they really wanted to do hi res copying, but do they? Are the buyers of pirated music really that bothered about the absolute quality?

    On a static medium like a disc, there's no way to stop piracy.
    If the data exists, it can be copied!
    There are ways they could make it very difficult, but by then they'd have made the format so cumbersome and difficult to use, they'd have effectively destroyed the market they were trying to create in the first place.


    Is there no 'hacks' that will force the SACD etc thru my digital coax?


    SACD - no, as sounddog already pointed out.
    DVD-A (5.1 (or whatever) MLP) - no, for the same reason.
    DVD-A (192/24 stereo PCM) - no, AFAIK, there are no currently available SPDIF transmitter or receiver chips capable of operating at that frequency. Even if there were, the bitstream would most likely be encrypted, so again you're stuffed.
     
  13. ncpl

    ncpl
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    There are a few hopeful murmurs on the Meridian Forum that one one day we might see a DSD-PCM converter. My guess is that it would be either a standalone unit, or built into a player or as an extra facility on the 568/861 SSP's. If it's not in the player it pre-supposes that you can get the DSD directly off a SACD player.

    Maybe some folks will be offering after market mods like we see for re-clocking, DVI out etc etc

    One things for sure, it will not be cheap.
     
  14. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Well Sony's new top end amp and DVD will pass DSD via Firewire (I believe)

    Vikki
     
  15. alexs2

    alexs2
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    You can all see the trend though.....only on top end receivers or high end separates,and encrypted also.
    Firewire will no doubt end up becoming the standard for communication,but it may take some time to filter down into mid/low price gear and will not be retrofittable except to upgradeable high end gear.
     
  16. ncpl

    ncpl
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    I heard that Firewire was actually starting to lose ground on some of the other connections...can't remember where I read that though..will check
     
  17. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Firewire a.k.a. iLink a.k.a. IEE1394 (incase you'd heard of these other designations)
     
  18. dompotter

    dompotter
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    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for all the responses on my original question.. I am starting to understand the technical reasons for no SACD via the standard digital outs....

    Shame that so many of these technical 'limitations' are given momentum by anti-piracy movements :-( -- pal progressive anyone....

    Whatever the restrictions, these limitations will always be bypassed by someone, somewhere..

    Regards,
    Dom
     
  19. ncpl

    ncpl
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    Sounddog, yep I know them all as the same. I'll see if I can see who was saying that 1394 was slowing down.
     
  20. Branxx

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    “Is there no 'hacks' that will force the SACD etc thru my digital coax?”

    There is a hack.

    I was in the same boat as you. I didn’t like the idea of 5/6 analogue cables so I decided not to buy SACD player at all. However, some of my favourite music is released on SACD, e.g. Dark Side of the Moon, which I bought and wanted to listen in surround.

    Approach the problem from a different angle. I looked into Converting SACD to DTS CD. This you can play on your existing system without any additional cables and with all benefits of the surround. I was worried about the sound quality of Pink Floyd DTS CD Transfers, but it proved to be a non-issue even with (very) high-end equipment.

    The cost of this hack is approx $10 per SACD/DVD-A. Considering that there is not that many SACD/DVD-A worth having this is very reasonable.
     
  21. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Branxx ... yes you can do the conversion on a per disk basis (oh and yes adding fuel to Music companies piracy "concerns") ... but why are 6 analogue interconnects so bad in your opinion.

    Cost maybe ... you don't need to go OTT ... £10 or £20 a pair cables are fine.

    Space / Appearance / Spaggetti city ... put your SACD (or DVD-A) play on your rack above or below and use 75cm cables ... you can't even see the cables (well you can't on my rack anyway).

    Lack of Bass management facilities in players ... yes this is legitimate concern ... but who says that bass managment in an AV amp with a digital connection for SACD or DVD-A would be any better.

    It seams to me your "Coverting SACD to DTS CD" is more about being anti SACD as a format quote: I wish the industry make much fuller use of DTS CD before jumping into new formats that require new hardware with reduced usability. than about the fact that it requires 6 interconnects. IIRC ... SACD was actually designed as a high quality 2ch replacement for CD, rather than as a multi-channel format. If you are going to get your disks converted, then you're loosing the high quality argument.

    Vikki

    PS. yes I know there are arguments that say that SACD isn't as high quality as DVD-A ... I'm just saying that that was the design brief.
     
  22. Branxx

    Branxx
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    In a context of this thread, the solution I suggested above is the only alternative to 'spaghetti of cables'.

    On the OT subjects you are raising, I do firmly believe that SACD and DVD-Audio are primarily about playback control. As this is hard to swallow, it is sweetened with potential for higher audio quality, which is primary marketing message.

    Higher audio quality can be achieved with DTS CD (a compatible technology) without any need for new players and incompatible media.

    Apart from not having digital output, bass management, I want and demand my right to copy and compile my music software I bought in the way I find most pleasing to me, and not in the way that is most convenient for a copyright owner. If he/she insist on restricting me, than it is natural that the product should be avoided.
     

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