Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Converted DSD sounds threadbare

The Denon DVD-9000 will not play SACD.  So how do I play SACD on new living room system?

I tried using Oppo BDP-95, which is supposed to convert SACD's to PCM (if you select that option, which I did) and give you 88.2kHz PCM out both digital outputs and HDMI.  Playing Weather Report SACD, I only seemed to get 44.1kHz through the HDMI, and it had a very pure sound, I thought at first, but then later felt was threadbare, as if the whole thing were a synthesized realization.

Well, of course, Weather Report does use a lot of synths.  But then I played Weather Report on the Denon 5900 (re-sampled by the Lavry AD10) and it sounded much more real, I felt, as if missing information had been restored.

The magic is in the noise.  If you convert DSD to PCM, you eliminate much of the noise.  When you play an SACD, the noise is there, big time, but gets largely filtered out.  A tiny tiny bit of that noise remains.  Now this noise is not random, it is highly correlated with the recorded signal.  So that tiny bit of extra noise you get when listening to SACD or DSD when converted directly, not through PCM, is not just noise, it's information from the original event.

So SACD/DSD playback actually relies on its own high frequency "noise" to sound real.

Perhaps I could get some of that when I get the 88.2kHz conversion.  If I can't get that, I might have to keep the Denon 5900 in the living room for SACD's, or get another SACD player.

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