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    At Long Last! Listen To Your (Physical) SACDs Through an Outboard DAC

     

    At Long Last! Listen To Your SACDs Through an Outboard DAC
    George Graves

     

     

    When Sony/Phillips Announced their new Super Audio CD format (SACD) in 1999/2000, Sony opened a marketing office in NYC to advertise and promote the new format. They reached out to a number of  audio writers (including, yours truly) with the “gift” of a new Sony SCD-777ES player (listing for $3500) and a “subscription” to all SACD releases as they came out – regardless of label! As a result of that, and the many SACDs that I received from companies such as Telarc and Reference Recordings, etc, after Sony shut that office down (not to mention the ones that I bought myself), I have hundreds of SACDs!

     

    For years, I used my SCD-777ES player to play them and enjoyed what I thought was great SACD playback. After all, the Sony turned out to be, at the time, the best regular CD player that I had heard. Why wouldn’t the SACD portion of the player be just as exemplary? Then, about five years ago, the 777 stopped being able to play SACDs. It still played regular CDs but it wouldn’t even “recognize” the SACD layer in the dual layer discs and the early Sony SACDs, which were single layer (and culled mostly from the Columbia Records catalogue) wouldn’t play at all. I was devastated. I had recently bought a really cheap Sony BDP-BX37 Blu-Ray player on E-Bay and when I subsequently discovered that it would also play SACDs, I was ecstatic! Sadly the euphoria didn’t last long as this Blu-Ray player’s SACD playback was terrible and certainly not satisfying to anyone who was used to the SCD-777ES.

     

    In the meantime I had taken the 777 ES to the Sony warranty repair shop in my area, and was told that the problem was that the laser LED for the SACD portion of the player had failed and there were no more spares (an old story with Sony) as they made only a certain number of spare laser assemblies and this turned out to be a weak spot in the player’s design. In other words, almost all of the 777s either had failed or will fail in this manner! So the player could not be fixed (anyone interested in buying that brick from me?).

     

    The Blu-Ray player sounded so mediocre playing SACDs, that I essentially stopped listening to them. My SACD copies of Miles Davis’ “Kinda Blue” and “Sketches of Spain,” Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out,” Bernstein’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and all the other Columbia SACDs that I own couldn’t even be ripped to iTunes or JRiver’s Media Player because these were single-layer discs with no Red Book CD layer.

     

    When I obtained an Oppo UDP-205 media player, I was heartened because the player used a state-of-the-art DAC section built around the top-of-the-line ESS “SaberDAC” ES9038PRO DAC chip and it supported SACD. Again, I was disappointed. The SaberDACs are of the Delta-Sigma variety and are (in my humble opinion) far inferior to many of the modern R2R (ladder DAC) designs for PCM, but due to their single-bit architecture should be perfect for SACD. So, I don’t understand why the SaberDAC Pro sounds so mediocre in this regard.  Both the Schiit Yggdrasil and the super-cheap Schiit Modi Multi-bit DACs performed rings around the ES9038PRO chips in the Oppo on PCM, but alas, none of the Schiit DACs support SACD. The Oppo, while it does support SACD, it really doesn’t sound all that much better than my cheap Sony Blu-Ray player. 

     

     

    Out of the Box Thinking


    I was contemplating writing-off my entire SACD collection because, let’s face it, who wants to listen to SACDs that sound, essentially no better (albeit somewhat different) than their Red Book versions? I was pretty much at a loss. When I received the Denafrips Pontus DAC, I was interested to note that all of the company’s DACs support the I2S digital interconnect protocol via HDMI. I also noted that the Oppo had two HDMI outputs. ‘VIDEO’ was, of course, for connection to one’s TV for playing Blu-Ray discs and DVDs. But I found the second one was labeled ‘AUDIO’ and that intrigued me. I also knew that even though no SACD player (to my knowledge) ever broke-out the DSD signal (the actual SACD digital format) from any player, that DSD signal was available as part of the HDMI digital video protocol.

     

    That got me thinking. I wondered if I could just connect an HDMI cable from the AUDIO  output of the Oppo directly to the HDMI input of the Pontus DAC. Even though I really didn’t expect it to work, I figured that it was worth a try. It couldn’t harm anything, and who knew? I might “get lucky”. Well I wasn’t disappointed when it didn’t work, after all that’s what I suspected would be the outcome.


    But, I was still intrigued with the possibility. The fact remained that the DSD signal from an SACD was available on the HDMI interface. But further reading of the Pontus manual told me that the HDMI input was dedicated solely to I2S digital signals. Was there any way to convert the HDMI from a Blu-Ray player to I2S? I went on E-Bay and searched for “HDMI to I2S”. My ad hoc search yielded a series of circuit boards and complete units that took an HDMI output from video sources and output I2S over HDMI as well as coaxial and optical SPDIF! All of the units and boards seemed to be the same thing from different vendors. The bare circuit boards were around US$45, and the complete, packaged units (same circuit) seemed to be US$55-$60. I ordered one of the complete units from China (naturally) and waited for it to arrive.

     

    Here’s the URL for the E-Bay page containing all of the converters from different vendors: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2499334.m570.l1312&_nkw=i2s&_sacat=0

     

     

    Connecting the Oppo Through the I2S Converter Box to the Denafrips DAC

     

    The I2S converter arrived from China during Christmas week. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer Christmas gift to myself. My friend Ted and I busied ourselves hooking it up.

     

    Let’s take a look at the converter unit. The box is about four-inches by four-inches by about two inches. Normally, this unit does not require an external DC power supply as most players will provide the needed 5 Volt DC via the HDMI cable. But, in case it does require external power. It's connected by the kind of barrel connector that often comes with wall-wart type supplies. The converter, however, comes with no power supply, wall-wart or otherwise, and the buyer must supply his own if his player does not supply the needed voltage or if the current from one’s HDMI source is insufficient. I felt that a better supply, than that available from my Oppo player, might be worth it, so I employed an ifi brand ‘iUSB’ box that I wasn’t using and a cable that had a USB Type A connector on one end and a suitable barrel connector on the other (BTW, about the unit’s power supply polarity; the unit comes with no documentation, and I had to test the polarity myself with a multimeter. So, to save any readers who want to try this project, the trouble of checking this themselves, the barrel is negative and the “tip” is positive.).

     

     

    image1.jpg image2.jpg

     


    The box has three HDMI female connectors, one is located on the audio output interface side of the unit. This is the output that goes to one’s DAC. The “output” side also sports a coax and a Toslink SPDIF connector and an I2S connector that I don’t recognize (and isn’t used in this application). The ‘HDMI side’ of the unit has the HDMI input from one’s player, and an HDMI output to one’s TV. Also provided is a three-position slide switch that enables the user switch the HDMI output between one’s TV, an amplifier that takes HDMI in, or ostensibly both (it’s labeled DUO, so I suspect that’s what it means – No manual, remember?). Then of course there is the 5 volt external power supply jack and a red LED indicating that an outboard power supply is connected and is turned on. 

     

    With the Oppo UDP-205, one connects the “Audio” HDMI output of the player to the input of the I2S converter box (if your player doesn’t have an audio-only HDMI output, use the video HDMI output) and the output of the HDMI side of the converter box goes to the HDMI input on one’s DAC.  That’s pretty straightforward.  

     

    Unfortunately, unless one is lucky (and depending on the brand of I2S connected DAC), that’s not all one must do. Apparently, there is no standard for connecting I2S over HDMI. The manufacturers can use any pins not used by the HDMI standard in the connector for the I2S interface. In many cases the user would have to find which pins on the converter box have the I2S signal on them and then perhaps rewire the DAC’s HDMI (or other I2S connector) to match. It is possible that your DSD-capable DAC doesn’t have an HDMI connector for I2S. The converter box also outputs I2S over both coax and Toslink. Denafrips has thoughtfully provided their DACs with a method for using the front panel switch buttons to allow the user to try all the different possible combinations. When the correct one is found, the I2S light on the front panel illuminates. Rather than go through the procedure here, I invite interested readers to go to the YouTube video listed below:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The video says that it's for the Venus II model, but it also applies to the Pontus, and both the Terminator and the Terminator+ models. The only Denafrips DAC that doesn’t support I2S is the entry level Ares II.


    As luck would have it, if you are using one of the Denafrips DACs that support I2S, The correct pinout to interface with the Chinese converter bought from E-Bay is the default Denafrips’ configuration!

     

     

    Operation

     

    Once the I2S light on the front panel is lit, you’re all set. Just insert an SACD into the player’s transport and hit play. The DSD light will come on and 44.1 KHz sampling light will illuminate, and the 1X light will also light-up. Ignore the sampling rate light, but the 1X light will indicate that a DSD 64 source is playing. DSD 64 is the default for SACD, and 1X is probably the only light that one will ever see. 2X would mean DSD128, and 3X would indicate DSD256. DSD512 is not supported, but that’s OK because there are no SACDs (to my knowledge) in either DSD 128 or DSD 512.

     

     

    Sound

     

    Be prepared for the best SACD playback that you have ever heard! I wish that my SCD-777ES was still functioning, to compare, but I do have the Oppo UDP-205 with the highly touted ESS ES9038PRO DAC chip and I have an inexpensive Sony Blu-Ray player that also plays SACD. Neither of them are even in the same galaxy with the Denafrips Pontus I2S configuration! The bass is deeper than the ESS DAC, the highs are cleaner and much less grainy. The soundstage is both wider and deeper and the image specificity (in recordings where such exists) is simply more holographic. Of course, all of this is contingent on what brand of I2S-capable DAC you end up using. In short, I noticed similar sonic characteristics with the Pontus that I experienced listening to 24/96, or 24/192 LPCM sources on the unit. 

     

    In conclusion, just for fun, I tried the setup with my cheap Sony BDP-BX37 Blu-Ray player (for which I paid less than $50). I turned on the DSD over HDMI option in the audio settings and connected it to the I2S converter box via the video HDMI out on the Sony. It worked perfectly as I suspected it would, but unexpectedly, the output from the Sony, though, supposedly merely a digital DSD data stream (after all, we are only using the players as transports), sounded much worse than the same SACDs with the Oppo as the transport!

     

    If you choose to go this route, I suspect that any Blu-Ray player that advertises that it will play SACD discs via HDMI will play them without hassle, but be aware that the end result will depend on the quality of the transport player every bit as much as it will depend on the quality of the I2S compatible DSD capable DAC. 


         

     



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    5 hours ago, rando said:

    @gmgraves

     

    The Sony BDP-BX37 was unique SKU US/CA model, only available in a set of retail stores owned by a very rich Southern family 🤠, designed to hit what was at that time the lowest available price point for those desiring to try Blu-Ray.  For comparison on a supposed audiophile site you picked a highly amusing device.  Certainly amusing to me since I bought one used a year or two ago to do basically the same test(s).  Admittedly I didn't get CC to monetize purchase of a dongle and moved directly on to watching a 99¢ BD after determining this device was not an unrecognized jewel missing some key hardware mod/firmware adjustment.    

     

    Absolved of provenance.  I think your article missed a key element by failing to mention the Burr-Brown (Texas Instruments) PCM1738 DAC chip in the Sony which ultimately provoked you to explore the OPPO's capabilities further.  Some mention of why one/both of us chose this exact model wouldn't have gone astray either.  Though probably beyond the scope of this article.  I'd also liked to have seen a few lines, or HINT HINT get the boss to clean up and promote his previous article, on mShuttle file transfer as a second reference point to depict how broadly it and the OPPO varied in function as transports.      

     

    As always, you prove a very interesting character under any pen name.   

     

    Edit: While digging up that pdf I came across this Audio Circle link which delves fairly deeply into the questions at hand.

    I must be missing something because I fail to get your point. Irrespective of the provenance of the BDP-BX37, or its price point (bought mine used on E-bay incredibly cheap - less than 50 bucks), I included it to show that the HDMI to I2S converter will work with any Blu-ray player that will play SACDs and has an HDMI output and that the extent to which the playback quality through the Denefrips DACs is more than a little influenced by the quality of the transport used to read the SACD and parse the DSD from the disc.

    I also fail to see the relevance of mentioning the Burr-Brown DAC which is, ostensibly, not even used when employing the BDP-BX37 as an SACD transport only.

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    3 hours ago, soundboy said:

     However, Oppo 205's audio setting menu allows it to convert DSD directly to analog.  

    Yes, that’s already been pointed out by someone else. But, thank you for reiterating it.
    The fact remains, however that the ESS PRO’s decoding of the DSD file on an SACD is sonically inferior of the same SACD played via I2S through the Denefrips DAC.

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    4 hours ago, blue2 said:

    however it only accepts DSD over USB - probably a very common problem.

     

    Kal rightly arrived at using a passive preamplifier-processor many years ago. 

     

    14 minutes ago, gmgraves said:

    I must be missing something because I fail to get your point.

     

    Establishing said BDP actually has capability to playback DSD and, based on the level of technical awareness being exhibited in the comments, making clear what you are comparing.  Let me remind you that DAC used in the Oppo was mentioned and listening tests through both DAC chips were performed.  In brief you skipped right over the rather large potential issue of whether the Sony device actually passes on untouched data.

     

    Provenance in this case would've elicited a few sharp intakes of breath.  Since you were remiss in providing any clue why or how the Sony was chosen.  I promoted some background information.  

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    6 hours ago, rando said:

     

    Kal rightly arrived at using a passive preamplifier-processor many years ago. 

     

     

    Establishing said BDP actually has capability to playback DSD and, based on the level of technical awareness being exhibited in the comments, making clear what you are comparing.  Let me remind you that DAC used in the Oppo was mentioned and listening tests through both DAC chips were performed.  In brief you skipped right over the rather large potential issue of whether the Sony device actually passes on untouched data.

     

    Provenance in this case would've elicited a few sharp intakes of breath.  Since you were remiss in providing any clue why or how the Sony was chosen.  I promoted some background information.  

    Can’t you just read an article for what it is instead of comment cryptically on all possibilities a writer didn’t cover to your liking?

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    46 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Can’t you just read an article for what it is instead of comment cryptically on all possibilities a writer didn’t cover to your liking?

     

    Have you lost all cognitive memory of participating in the comments section of every single article he's written?  Beyond pointing out you are dropping the bar impossibly low here.  Should not articles provoke conversation and further expansion upon the ideas portrayed.   You've all but managed to avoid angry rhetoric in the comments by some stroke.  Why seed them.

     

    What I saw was a string of responses highlighting nearly every corner of research indirectly touched on.  Forgive me for the sin of asking "Why was none of this included?"

     

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    14 minutes ago, rando said:

     

    Have you lost all cognitive memory of participating in the comments section of every single article he's written?  Beyond pointing out you are dropping the bar impossibly low here.  Should not articles provoke conversation and further expansion upon the ideas portrayed.   You've all but managed to avoid angry rhetoric in the comments by some stroke.  Why seed them.

     

    What I saw was a string of responses highlighting nearly every corner of research indirectly touched on.  Forgive me for the sin of asking "Why was none of this included?"

     

    That’s quite a high horse your on. 

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    19 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

    I do not understand this or why it is relevant.

     

    I'm attempting to eat dinner which limits ability to dive into the full archive "Music in the Round" and forum posts.  Would it be incorrect to say in the 5 year period surrounding this Sony device's release you never used a preamp-processor to feed a dac from HDMI source?  I believed otherwise.
     

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    12 minutes ago, barrows said:

    I would suggest that this is not quite accurate, at least not IMO, but some of this depends on what one calls PCM and DSD.  Typically, most DACs which one would say covert DSD to PCM, would end up converting a DSD data stream to a known PCM format, like 176.4 24 bit, or 352.8 24 bit, or perhaps 32 bit.  The ESS chips do not do this, indeed they do not reduce the sample rate at all for DSD 64 input.  The ESS chip does create a multi bit format out of DSD, at 5, 6, or 7 bits according to the settings of the chip: this is the bit rate the actual chip conversion stage runs at: this process is a re-modulation and does pass through the ESS SDM, but in the 9038 Pro, the SDM is actually very good and should not be of much concern, if at all.  On the other hand, if the manufacturer configures the ESS chip with a non synchronous clocking approach (which is the common way the chip is implemented) the sample rate will be entirely asynchronously re-sampled, and IMO, this really messes with the sound.  If the DAC manufacturer configures the ESS 9038 with a synchronous clock though, all is good and any oversampling is at integer values and sounds very good indeed with DSD 64 input.  DACs such as Ayre use the ESS chip this way, and it can be accomplished with DIY ESS 9038Pro based DACs as well.

    Thanks for the clarification. As I wrote, that was from memory. If I understand you correctly, in actuality most implementations do resample the DSD stream. So if you are concerned about this it would be something to clarify before buying an ESS based DAC.

    I personally have zero problem with "multi-bit DSD", others might want a DAC that does conversion to analog directly from the one bit stream.

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    :)

     

    The 2000s called. They want their SACD players back.

     

    I realize this article is geared towards people who still like to play physical discs (how quaint!), but just in case this is being read by someone who didn't know that an easy ripping option existed... it does! We have all the expertise right here on AS:

    https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/28569-sacd-ripping-using-an-oppo-or-pioneer-yes-its-true/

     

     

    Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled DSDs yearning to breathe free...

     

    :)

     

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    7 hours ago, austinpop said:

    :)

     

    The 2000s called. They want their SACD players back.

     

    I realize this article is geared towards people who still like to play physical discs (how quaint!), but just in case this is being read by someone who didn't know that an easy ripping option existed... it does! We have all the expertise right here on AS:

    https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/28569-sacd-ripping-using-an-oppo-or-pioneer-yes-its-true/

     

     

    Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled DSDs yearning to breathe free...

     

    :)

     

    If you happen to have (or can find) an Oppo 103 or 105. Don’t try it with a 203 or a 205. It won’t work...

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    @gmgraves wow what a great article! It peaked my interest to go back and re-listen to some of my SACDs and DVD-As. I have a Yamaha c750 combo changer and IT still works but I now only have a 2 channel system(Legacy Audio Studio HD monitors) and have the Yamaha connected only via RCAs to my Schiit Ragnarok amp(no way to connect multiple speakers nor does it have any digital inputs). So I really don't know if I am truly getting a multi channel sound BUT on the changer SACD and MultiChannel signals lights up as well as Progressive and Downmix light up. Am listening to ABKCO's the Rolling Stones remastered series sampler that came with the changer (4-243-687-01)/ Time Out-Dave Brubeck(CS 65122)/ More Hot Rocks(made in Germany 18771-9626-2) and Dylan's Another Side...( CH 90327). They all sound awesome(as do my DVD-As especially American Beauty and Working Mans's Dead and just plain old Red Book CDs)-better as I have said elsewhere than anything I stream via TIDAL/Qobuz or through ROON or Audirvana +3.5. BUT who wants to dig discs out and have to put them away anymore as alluded to above ("how quaint..."- I would add "how quaint and a quaint PIA").

    So @gmgravesFWIW/FYI I took the liberty  of looking up my changer(2005 version) for sale and it is for sale well under 100$ in some cases as a substitute for your dead SONY if you are interested.

    Thanks again for the article and for making a mess of my listening area(LOL).

    bobbmd

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    1 hour ago, bobbmd said:

    @gmgraves wow what a great article! It peaked my interest to go back and re-listen to some of my SACDs and DVD-As. I have a Yamaha c750 combo changer and IT still works but I now only have a 2 channel system(Legacy Audio Studio HD monitors) and have the Yamaha connected only via RCAs to my Schiit Ragnarok amp(no way to connect multiple speakers nor does it have any digital inputs). So I really don't know if I am truly getting a multi channel sound BUT on the changer SACD and MultiChannel signals lights up as well as Progressive and Downmix light up. Am listening to ABKCO's the Rolling Stones remastered series sampler that came with the changer (4-243-687-01)/ Time Out-Dave Brubeck(CS 65122)/ More Hot Rocks(made in Germany 18771-9626-2) and Dylan's Another Side...( CH 90327). They all sound awesome(as do my DVD-As especially American Beauty and Working Mans's Dead and just plain old Red Book CDs)-better as I have said elsewhere than anything I stream via TIDAL/Qobuz or through ROON or Audirvana +3.5. BUT who wants to dig discs out and have to put them away anymore as alluded to above ("how quaint..."- I would add "how quaint and a quaint PIA").

    So @gmgravesFWIW/FYI I took the liberty  of looking up my changer(2005 version) for sale and it is for sale well under 100$ in some cases as a substitute for your dead SONY if you are interested.

    Thanks again for the article and for making a mess of my listening area(LOL).

    bobbmd

    Thanks for offering, but I can’t imagine a stand-alone SACD player sounding as good as my Oppo UDP-205 through the Denafrips Pontus. I’ve been listening, almost non-stop, since just before Christmas to all of my . I can’t imagine the many of the best ones sound any thing but almost identical to the capture tapes from which said albums were originally derived. I have several streaming MQA versions on Tidal, of titles of which I also have SACDs. Through the Denafrips the SACDs always sound head and shoulders above the streaming MQA versions from Tidal (through the same Denafrips DAC).

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    @gmgraves You are welcome and I have no way to compare what you are listening to and what I am using but I don't disagree that regardless of the device all physical hard discs sound better -I do notice though that all Stones recordings ie remastered/sacd/red book/vinyl going back to the '60s have always sounded harsh brittle to me on many songs but not on ballads blues songs ie sweet virginia/far away eyes etc what you/others think? At the same time listening to More Hot Rocks disc 2 (above) Mick's voice is clear/centered with Keith's bass coming from right speaker and Charlie's drums clear and distinct from the left( just as it was when I had 5.1/7.1 system) so I guess I am getting DSD/Multichannel with my new downsized system. Again thanks for getting me interested in my discs again and I am glad my original SACD/DVD-A changer still functions, BTW I also have a Harman/Kardon HDCD changer that still recognizes my DEAD HDCD discs and I play it through same amp as above via a Schiit YGGY GS(which probably cancels the HDCD DAC in the HK, eh)?

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    On 1/6/2021 at 8:22 AM, botrytis said:

    There are other Universal players that have this I2S type of format, one is a Pioneer Elite DV-79AVi/AVi-s which calls it i.link connector. There are more out there also.

     

    Ouch. I sold my DV-79AVi-s because I thought i.Link was somehow encrypted for just Pioneer's use -- and the internet had scant details on it at the time. (And seemingly still does). Do you know of a way to convert i.Link data to something less specialized like SPDIF or USB audio?

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    i'Link is basically the same as IBM's Thunderport.

     

    Not sure. One would have to have to deal with the encryption on the port for the data stream.

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    26 minutes ago, bobbmd said:

    @gmgraves You are welcome and I have no way to compare what you are listening to and what I am using but I don't disagree that regardless of the device all physical hard discs sound better -I do notice though that all Stones recordings ie remastered/sacd/red book/vinyl going back to the '60s have always sounded harsh brittle to me on many songs but not on ballads blues songs ie sweet virginia/far away eyes etc what you/others think? At the same time listening to More Hot Rocks disc 2 (above) Mick's voice is clear/centered with Keith's bass coming from right speaker and Charlie's drums clear and distinct from the left( just as it was when I had 5.1/7.1 system) so I guess I am getting DSD/Multichannel with my new downsized system. Again thanks for getting me interested in my discs again and I am glad my original SACD/DVD-A changer still functions, BTW I also have a Harman/Kardon HDCD changer that still recognizes my DEAD HDCD discs and I play it through same amp as above via a Schiit YGGY GS(which probably cancels the HDCD DAC in the HK, eh)?

    You are, unfortunately, barking up the wrong tree, here. I wouldn’t know the “Stones” from Adam. I certainly wouldn’t know them (or mostly any other rock or pop group, for that matter) when I heard them as I neither listen to nor generally appreciate this genre of music. Not knocking it, understand, it’s simply not my cup of tea. My musical tastes run mostly to classical, movie scores and jazz. Light listening will extend to folk, big band from the 30’s and 40’s, and from my misspent youth, the likes of Sinatra and even the Beach Boys!

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    1 hour ago, bobbmd said:

    @gmgraves You are welcome and I have no way to compare what you are listening to and what I am using but I don't disagree that regardless of the device all physical hard discs sound better -I do notice though that all Stones recordings ie remastered/sacd/red book/vinyl going back to the '60s have always sounded harsh brittle to me on many songs but not on ballads blues songs ie sweet virginia/far away eyes etc what you/others think? At the same time listening to More Hot Rocks disc 2 (above) Mick's voice is clear/centered with Keith's bass coming from right speaker and Charlie's drums clear and distinct from the left( just as it was when I had 5.1/7.1 system) so I guess I am getting DSD/Multichannel with my new downsized system. Again thanks for getting me interested in my discs again and I am glad my original SACD/DVD-A changer still functions, BTW I also have a Harman/Kardon HDCD changer that still recognizes my DEAD HDCD discs and I play it through same amp as above via a Schiit YGGY GS(which probably cancels the HDCD DAC in the HK, eh)?

     

    Stones' recordings can be good test disks for easy appraisal of where a system is at. The very first album they did is very roughly recorded, and the slightest misbehaviour of the playback is obvious; but sonically something like Let It Bleed should be a piece of cake, 🤣 - some tracks on Exile on Main Street are heavy going on a sub-par setup; Ventilator Blues I found to be an excellent means of checking replay status, because of the 'sludgy' mix.

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    @gmgraves I also like Sinatra and big bands etc am just now listening to DVD-A I have of Sinatra (at the Sands)- got a kick out of your reply.

    @fas42 thanks- your term 'sludgy' better describes Stone's mixes going all the way back to my vinyl but these recordings don't check my replay status as my system which I think is pretty pristine but I always felt it was how their recordings were made/mixed some of their albums are 'edgy' but that may be the way they intended them to sound because the 3 times I heard them in person Syracuse fall of 1965 Carrier Dome 1989 and then again at Carrier Dome early/mid 2000s they sounded sludgy edgy(and at the last one very old like I have become!) Thanks again

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