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Thread: SACD DSD vs PCM

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    Default SACD DSD vs PCM

    Hi. I am kindof just getting into SACD and discovering its goodness:tongue:
    My player has the option of DSD or PCM for SACD settings. Can someone explain to me the differences and benefits of one vs the other. OH and please... dumb it down for me. Lol. Thanks.
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    SACD FAQ:

    What is the difference between PCM and DSD?

    PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) is a very abstract way to describe an analog signal in a digital way but it's the best way that existed at the beginning of the eighties when CD was developed and introduced. In PCM, every sample consists of a combination of bits (typically between 14 and 24, depending on the carrier) describing the amplitude of the signal. The number of bits determines the resolution of how finely the signal can be described, where every added bit doubles the number of levels that can be distinguished.

    Converting from analog sound to PCM and back to analog sound involves a fair number of processing steps, such as quantization. Every step can cause further distortions such as quantization noise, which has to be filtered out, in turn again deteriorating the sound quality.

    DSD on the other hand is an extremely simple way of converting from analog to digital and back. The entire process is extremely transparent. In fact, the DSD bit stream is so closely related - perhaps analogous would be a proper term here - to the analog signal that if you were to feed it to a speaker (as a series of +1 and -1 values) you'd get back audible music.



    Ref: http://www.sa-cd.net/faq
    Last edited by newrival; 12-30-2010 at 07:34 PM. Reason: added reference
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    My player has the option of DSD or PCM for SACD settings.
    I don't know why they would even have that option. Use DSD for SACD playback, period.
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    They have the option because not all receivers can decode it. Likely legacy units
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    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    They have the option because not all receivers can decode it. Likely legacy units
    Ok well maybe i should have elaborated a little bit. My Oppo is running analog to my AV9 processor therefor the Oppo is doing all the decoding for SACD, and CD as well. I can switch back and forth between PCM and DSD on the Oppo menu.

    In this setup am i only utilizing PCM for SACD then?
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    Quote Originally Posted by newrival View Post
    They have the option because not all receivers can decode it. Likely legacy units
    A receiver shouldn't be decoding the signal to start with.

    My Oppo is running analog to my AV9 processor therefor the Oppo is doing all the decoding for SACD, and CD as well.
    Set the Oppo for DSD, then push play and enjoy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    A receiver shouldn't be decoding the signal to start with.



    Set the Oppo for DSD, then push play and enjoy.
    K cool. Thanks.
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    The other night I was listening to a Diana Krall SACD on my Sony SACD player in the HT and it occurred to me to try the Oppo BD83. The Oppo has been absolutely stellar with Bluray sound for both movies and BR music DVDS. I know the Oppo is set to output LPCM for Bluray, but I do not remember if this applies to SACD or not. Anyway, after taking the SACD out of the Sony and putting it into the Oppo, I almost barfed at how bad it sounded.

    Interestingly, both methods were digital. The Sony outputs DSD digital over iLink to the Sony AVR (pre/pro), and the Oppo is digital over HDMI.

    So much for that experiment.
    Last edited by BlueFox; 12-31-2010 at 12:17 AM.

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    Interestingly, both methods were digital. The Sony outputs DSD digital over iLink to the Sony AVR (pre/pro), and the Oppo is digital over HDMI.
    In that case, your Sony AVR is doing the decoding, right?
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    A receiver shouldn't be decoding the signal to start with.
    I can hear F1 hocking a loogey all the way from Kuwait.

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    LOL....you have no idea. I've been dealing with a sinus infection and bronchitis the last few days.....been hocking up some large, nasty ones. Ugh!
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    In that case, your Sony AVR is doing the decoding, right?
    Yes. It is the Sony DA7100ES, which appears to have been designed as a match for the Sony NS9100ES SACD player. The 7100 is the last Sony digital AVR, supposedly has the previous bugs fixed, and so far has been a great piece of gear. Being digital, I believe it converts all analog inputs into PCM, and then back into analog before going out the pre-amp ports. How this applies to the digital DSD part, other than being analog out, I have no idea.

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    Right, so that leads us to why the difference in sound quality since the DAC is the same? It could be that the HDMI cable sound quality isn't as good as the iLink. It could be that the transport and power supply really do matter. Is there any way to hook both up (not at the same time) using the same type of connection (maybe HDMI) to get a better understanding of what is what?

    One thing I know for sure, digital cables, like analog cables, are not all the same when it comes to sound quality.
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    My initial thought is it is a configuration issue with the Oppo. Iím not sure what is coming over the HDMI; DSD or PCM. However, now that you make me think about it, I realized it might be Sony itself that is the problem. One of Sonyís biggest faults was their trying to prevent copying of SACDs. Being an old AVR, I would not be surprised if Sony prevents DSD on the HDMI ports. Anyway, Iím not going to worry about playing SACDs on the Oppo until the Sony breaks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    Being an old AVR, I would not be surprised if Sony prevents DSD on the HDMI ports.
    Yeah, that sounds like something Sony would do.
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    Have you compared both players using analog only connections. This is how my Oppo BDP83 SE Nuforce is connected (mostly because my Pre/pro doesn't accept audio over hdmi). But it seems to be the general feeling that the Oppo really shines when doing it's own decoding. Give it a try. I would love to hear your findings.
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    Jayman,
    I'm pretty sure that DSD/PCM setting only affects the audio over HDMI.

    Analog outputs from SACD should be DSD straight from the decoder to the DAC and out through the analog section.

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    Isn't the data on an SACD encoded as DSD?

    I think players like the Oppo then give you the option of transcoding from DSD to PCM to be sent over HDMI.

    If I remember correctly, you can set the Oppo to either send SACD output over HDMI as DSD or PCM - depending if your AVR supports DSD inputs.

    The Oppo's DACs accept either DSD directly or PCM if you are connecting via analog outpus.

    So I guess its an issue of whether you believe transcoding from DSD to PCM (and the resultant need to low pass filter the PCM to analog) is 'detrimental'.

    Some say yes, some say no difference.

    If you are using the Oppo for bass management, I think you have to select PCM. I don't think that it works if you select DSD.

    Anyway...just stirring the pot.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    LOL....you have no idea. I've been dealing with a sinus infection and bronchitis the last few days.....been hocking up some large, nasty ones. Ugh!
    Sinus infection and Bronchitis...sorry to hear about that. Take care of yourself. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery and a better New Year!

    cnh

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Tracy View Post
    Isn't the data on an SACD encoded as DSD?
    Some recordings were done in PCM.
    From what I've read on this topic, some think that it is important to set the output stream the same as it was recorded.
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