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Quality difference between digital and analog outputs

 

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 31
Registered: Nov-04
I have a Pioneer DV-578A-S player, a good Yamaha 5.1 receiver, and nice Boston Acoustics speakers. I've been really impressed with the sound of SACD and DVD-Audio discs on my system.

This weekend I was playing an ordinary CD using the analog out from the player, then switched over to the digital out. I expected them to be relatively the same, but the digital was much different, having dramatically increased highs and lows.

I didn't spent a mint on my 3 ft. cables, but I bought them from a pro-audio (music industry) supplier, thinking they'd be fairly good.

I know no one is going ot have a difinitive answer -- I'm more fishing for theories. Is this more likely an issue of cable quality, or more likely an issue of digital-to-analog converter quality in the player as compared to the receiver?

(I plan to post to the cable forum also.)
 

Silver Member
Username: Sem

New York USA

Post Number: 407
Registered: Mar-04
Unless the 3 ft cables are radically inferior, (doesn't sound like they are), my money would be on the difference in the DACs.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 33
Registered: Nov-04
Yeah, after doing a little research, I think you're probably right.

One great link regarding audio equipment myths is:

http://2eyespy.tripod.com/myaudioandhometheaterhomepage/id3.html

It's amazing to me the DACs would produce such different results. To my ears, the player's output is far inferior.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 248
Registered: Oct-04
I have recently bought a Denon DVD2910 and have set up the analog connection for it.

I have noticed a lack of bass in some recordings, but this is due to the subwoofer only being used if the track uses the lfe analog output.

While the 2910 has an option for a "Bass Enhancer" which will send audio through the sub during 2 channel playback, most music will still only go low enough to go through the front speakers.

I have my receiver set to a 40Hz crossover on the front and the sub playing l/r/lfe. If I want bass heavy, the analog connections won't compare, but if I want high fidelity and separation, analog is the only way to go.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 34
Registered: Nov-04
I think this has been a false alarm, because tonight I tried it all again, but this time turning off the bass amp, and both DACs sound pretty much the same.

With bass in the equasion, the receiver's DAC puts out a much louder LFE, and the bass is a little less "mushy" (more punch). That could have to do with the cross over freq in the receiver being 90Hz, and I think it's 100Hz in the player.

I was already aware of the difference in volume issue. For some reason the player's LFE channel is about 10 decibles lower than the receiver's.

Anyway, it's good to know my palyer is decoding okay, and know that my $5/pair cables are fine. I'm not sure what I was hearing this weekend. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm thinking a bass management unit may make it into my system someday... 8)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Sulfur

Post Number: 65
Registered: Dec-03
Sandman,

I also have the 578A-S. In my setup I found its DAC to be far *inferior* to my receiver's, and it's not a false alarm.

I have a Marantz 7300ose with B&W 603 towers. Like you, I tried to hook up 2ch stereo both ways using an OEM 8-cut double shielded gold plated RCAs (same stuff I'm using for my 5.1 out) vs a custom made digital coax cable.

On my Marantz I selected SOURCE DIRECT, meaning in theory the reciever should NOT alter the original signal in any way for 2ch analog in, and only go thru the DAC in the case of a digital in and no more.

I found there is a night & day difference (dynamic range & soundstage, etc, etc). I had high hopes for the Pioneer after reading *user* reviews on how it's DAC is supposedly Redbook quality. Boy was I wrong. It wasn't even funny. I was also disappointed by the rave about its 12bit 108MHz video D/A (may be unfair, since I don't have component out & on s-video it is no better than my other $50 noname DVD player).

Trust me I know what I was doing. I had done similar comparisons before. Once on a nice Marantz dedicated CD player. The analog outs on it was better than my receiver's DAC in this case, but the difference was not enough for me to fork out $1k+ for a CD player.

I also want to point out my test is done on a pair of full size towers (with no LFE). You did not mention what model Yamaha & whether your BAs are satellites or bookshelves or towers (I suspect they are small?)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Aurora_sandman

Post Number: 35
Registered: Nov-04
I have VR950 Boston Acoustics, which, while tall, aren't full range speakers.

Your report is intersting. Maybe I'll have to do more of a high volume test (the kids were sleeping). But it sounded like the 100Hz and above output was pretty close to the same. Like I said, when I turned on the sub amp, the difference was dramatic, and not fully compensated for by just turning up the sub volume (still sounded mushy coming from the player's DAC).
 

New member
Username: Laurencekarl

Post Number: 9
Registered: Feb-04
I do not care for the analog output for either the cd or DVD-Audio/SACD. The digital optical output was miles better for cd. I think that cd played through the optical output is incredible.
 

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 1247
Registered: Aug-04
That's funny - DVD-A and SACD can only be acceessed through the analogue outputs (unless both player and receiver have firewire or HDMI connections). Any signal accessed through a digital connection when in DVD-A mode would be Dolby Digital or DTS - not MLP (DVD-A).
 

New member
Username: Laurencekarl

Post Number: 10
Registered: Feb-04
What I meant was that I preferred the audio from a cd passed to and modified by the receiver via optical output to either DVD-A/SACD/CD from the analogue outs. My receiver only plays in pure direct mode with the analogue inputs but it doesn't sound very good. The cd from the optical inputs sounds great! I fiddled with everything that I could and do agree that the range and power of the hi rez formats is better. Now if only I could get it in digital form ...
 

Silver Member
Username: Larry_r

Naples, FL

Post Number: 449
Registered: Oct-04
Many people report the sound level difference between 7.1 analog and digital inputs. In my case, I went through the setup menu on my Yamaha 5770 and increased volume in each channel by 3 db. That helped a lot.

As to the Pioneer in question - many have written that it has been "dumbed down" from the previous model. DAC especially. With that in mind, you probably will NOT get the sonic experience you hope for with that player.

I run a NAD 763, and had to balance out the analog and digital inputs - which, on the NAD, at least - was relatively easy.

Good luck - and better sound!
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 266
Registered: Oct-04
The Denon DVD2910 I recently purchased default is all speakers set to LARGE.

Playing CDs, the clarity and lack of white noise is amazing, I agree with a review that I read that CDs and DVD-A/SACD sound the same on this player. However, I wish there was more bass management options, the sub is barely used at all in 6 channel direct mode. If it were, I would probably play movies in direct mode, I noticed while flipping back and forth in Kill Bill 2 that the clarity and seperation in strings using 6 CH DIRECT, was unmatched using the optical connection to my HK 430. On the other hand, the brightness can be overpowering in other scenes.

Definitely don't regret the purchase, being able to choose between the two sets of DACs is a luxry.
 

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 1253
Registered: Aug-04
"I agree with a review that I read that CDs and DVD-A/SACD sound the same on this player."

I find this very hard to believe. I have a DVD-2900 and the difference between CD and the hi-res formats are chalk and cheese, the latter being far superior in clarity and resolution - even when playing cd's through the analogue outs. I have speakers set to small and while it took a while to get the bass management set correctly, the 2900 does a wondeful job. I cannot see why the 2910 would be different. I use the decoders in my Marantz receiver for DVD movies and music DVD's as the bass set up for the hi-res formats is quite different - a good reason why Denon added a paper to the manual suggesting this as a better option.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 267
Registered: Oct-04
I meant in terms of clarity and the lack of white noise, CDs and DVD-As were the same. Considering I stepped up from a cheap DVD-V player the difference is quite apparent. I read in another post of yours that the 2910 has a fixed crossover at 80Hz. I couldn't believe it and searched the manual, and didn't find a reference. I then checked their Canadian website and found nothing there. The US website has it listed though. I guess you can only set the speakers to large through the HDMI output, which is a shame because my receiver doesn't have an HDMI in.

Why would the 2900 have a selectable crossover filter and the 2910 has nothing except for the HDMI output?
 

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 1255
Registered: Aug-04
The 2900 has a fixed crossover of 80 hz when speakers are set to small. It has a special filter that will increase the sw output by 5db for dvd's and 15dbs for sacds. It recommends setting speakers to small unless using speakers with 'built in sub-woofers'. Go to the US Denon website and see if there is a white paper to download for the 2910 as I'm sure it has a similar set type set up as the 2900.
 

Silver Member
Username: Smitty

Canada

Post Number: 166
Registered: Dec-03
From what I've read the 2910 is actually the replacement for the 2200, not the 2900. This may account for some of the differences.
 

New member
Username: Canuckinapickle

TorontoCanada

Post Number: 6
Registered: Jan-05
Sandman,

I know most people have already answered with the same answer -- that it's probably the DACs that are different. I recently noticed this -- granted not with SACD/DVD-A but with my regular cd player and my surround reciever. If i feed the digital signal off the player the sound quality is not a good I find as if I run off the analog. I'm using a NAD C541i player and a NAD T753 Receiver. While the 753 DAC, the 541i is one hell of a CD player.

Anyway... the lesson for everone else -- try both see which sounds better to your ear because they are often quite different.
 

Silver Member
Username: Arnold_layne

MadridSpain

Post Number: 304
Registered: Jun-04
My Rantz made a very good point here: use player and receiver setup for movie and hi-rez, respectively. Possible differences could be for example:

- Increased center channel volume to emphasize dialogue.
- Increaded subwoofer volume for SACD to compensate conservative mixing.
- For music in general, send bass to subwoofer to decrease workload for main speakers.

One very good thing with hi-res is, IMO, that these and other experiments with the sound stage really pays off.

Hasta pronto
AL
 

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 1279
Registered: Aug-04
Arnold

Well put - that hits the nails on their respective heads. Cheers.
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