Thread: Onkyo XX6 / XXX7 and Integra DHC-X.X and -XX.X DSD Processing

Posts: 34
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Post by Bobpaule January 20, 2010 (1 of 34)
Hi guys, i am sure this has been touched upon but the manuals
in these series Onkyos, Onkyo Pros, and Integras mention that
one may be better off feeding PCM from the player as the DSD
signal is converted to PCM.

At the same time the Pure Audio buttons on the Onkyo and Onkyo
Pros remain.

My understanding is that the DACs in these units allow one step.

I am torn as i have the old PR-SC885P and love HT and SACD, that
one does it in one step. I will not upgrade just for the better
Reon implementation if one step conversion has been eliminated.

Gurus please comment, thank you!

Post by Fitzcaraldo215 January 20, 2010 (2 of 34)
The Integra 80.1 processor will convert DSD directly to analog. There is a special menu option to do so. I suspect the Onkyo clone will do the same. However, in so doing, there is no bass management, no speaker distance correction and no Audyssey EQ applied, same as on earlier models. I am not aware of any player that can apply these corrections in DSD mode via HDMI. Players can apply bass and speaker distance management only to analog output, usually in much more limited fashion than a prepro. Speaker distance is not necessary for stereo, but it is usually essential for Mch, unless your speakers are equidistant from the sweet spot. Onkyo/Integra processors are all by consensus considered to be weak sonically via the analog inputs, while they are quite good via digital input.

Personally, as a Mch listener almost exclusively, my own system sounds much, much worse, terrible in fact, in pure DSD with these corrections nullified. I find the corrections essential - all of them, notably Audyssey. What experimentation I have done listening to pure DSD vs. PCM on other analog line stages has convinced me that the sonic advantages of pure DSD are largely mythical. DSD to PCM transcoding is quite benign, in my view. It is also my view that the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) inside the units that perform these corrections is transparent. So, for me the optimal setup is feeding DSD from the player, converting to PCM and doing the full DSP processing, which is the heart and soul of the processor. Some find there is no difference having the player do the conversion to PCM, with PCM going over the HDMI connection. YMMV.

Also, I believe the only difference between Integra's Direct and Onkyo's Pure Direct is that the latter also turns off the front panel display. Personally, I consider that difference more theoretical than real.

More important, I think, is the question of whether the Onkyo will support Audyssey Pro. The new Onkyo does not currently, but the Integra does. Audyssey Pro is a definite upgrade over stock MultEQ XT for music listening, because, among other things, it allows the tailoring of the target curve to be flatter, rather than having some movie-oriented dips. Would that Onkyo/Integra had the Audyssey Flat feature that most Denon units have. Unfortunately, their prepro is several times more expensive.

If pure DSD in Mch is your Holy Grail, then perhaps you would be happier with a Mch analog preamp, such as the Parasound.

Post by rosenkavalier817 January 20, 2010 (3 of 34)
I have the Onkyo 707 and Oppo 980H setup to output DSD via HDMI. The manual notes that setting the player output to PCM may result in better sound, but I have not found that to be the case. I definitely prefer the Oppo sound coming out as DSD. I've gone back and forth between the Pure Audio/Direct mode and Audyssy DSPs, and haven't come to a definitive preference. By using Audyssey or any of the DSPs, isn't the receiver still converting the DSD to analog?

Post by Bobpaule January 20, 2010 (4 of 34)
Thank you guys, this allays my fears of getting a new Onkyo Pro
processor for my SACD system.

I will definitely go for the xx6 series, because the Reon
implementation (also an avid movie fan) seems to historically
suck in new architecture Onkyos, such as the xx5 and now the
xxx7, with improved versions later. People on AVS even started
the video complaint thread on the 3007/5007 before the "official"
threads.

Regardless, i am hooked on Onkyo, just set up a TX-NR906 upstairs
(no SACD there, not in the hands of 3 kids under 6, no way!)and
love it.

Post by Disbeliever January 20, 2010 (5 of 34)
rosenkavalier817 said:

I have the Onkyo 707 and Oppo 980H setup to output DSD via HDMI. The manual notes that setting the player output to PCM may result in better sound, but I have not found that to be the case. I definitely prefer the Oppo sound coming out as DSD. I've gone back and forth between the Pure Audio/Direct mode and Audyssy DSPs, and haven't come to a definitive preference. By using Audyssey or any of the DSPs, isn't the receiver still converting the DSD to analog?

I found the same with the Onkyo 706, now sold on for the far better Sony DA5400ES / XA5400ES but still find the auto setup useless as stated in the Home Cinema Choice review. ( I do sit equidistant between the speakers)The Sony converts DSD to PCM and sounds better than the Onkyo.

Sony says the STR-DA5400ES uses the full resolution of the DSD signal (32 bit) from input filtering through to processing the signal, then and only then does the amplifier at the final stage convert to PCM. This way you can ensure the full resolution of the DSD signal can be fully utilised. However Tim Vine Lott of Air Studios (Pioneer voicing) disagrees and says Sony's statement is blatantly incorrect. However he goes on to say that DSD performance is a tricky business as it's a bitstream running at 2.8224 MHz not a parallel PCM word of any bit depth or sampling frequency. At the end of the day it,s all down to what sounds best to the individual.

Post by Fitzcaraldo215 January 21, 2010 (6 of 34)
rosenkavalier817 said:

I have the Onkyo 707 and Oppo 980H setup to output DSD via HDMI. The manual notes that setting the player output to PCM may result in better sound, but I have not found that to be the case. I definitely prefer the Oppo sound coming out as DSD. I've gone back and forth between the Pure Audio/Direct mode and Audyssy DSPs, and haven't come to a definitive preference. By using Audyssey or any of the DSPs, isn't the receiver still converting the DSD to analog?

I also prefer DSD via HDMI, but Kal Rubinson in Stereophile prefers PCM. I do not think the differences are huge, and they are a matter of personal preference.

When a DSD-capable AVR or AVP receives a DSD signal via HDMI, it must convert it internally to PCM to utilize the functions of the DSP. The DACs then convert the PCM signal to analog.

If DSP processing is bypassed via a "Direct" mode, the DSD signal goes to the DACs directly for conversion to analog. The DACs can accept either PCM or DSD.

As I said, the loss of DSP bass management, distance compensation and EQ sounds woefully inferior in my system, but you may reach a different conclusion on yours. As I said, I have yet to hear evidence on my system or any other that pure DSD > analog offers significant sonic advantages over conversion to hi rez PCM, though many others claim (overstating it a bit) that DSD = Good, PCM = Bad.

Many of these claims go back to the format war between DVD-A and SACD. DVD-A seems to have been a rather poor implementation of PCM for the most part. Today's implementations are much better. In fact, the very finest recorded music I have ever heard comes from the lossess hi rez PCM codecs on Blu-ray. I just watched and listened to an Arthaus BR last night of Verdi's Rigoletto, which provided a superior sonic experience to any SACD I have ever heard. I have witnessed a similar phenomenon at a friend's house. His expensive, prestigeous SACD player/analog controller combo with pure DSD > analog conversion was not the equal of Blu-ray via his inexpensive player. We both agreed that was so.

Post by rosenkavalier817 January 21, 2010 (7 of 34)
Fitzcaraldo215 said:


When a DSD-capable AVR or AVP receives a DSD signal via HDMI, it must convert it internally to PCM to utilize the functions of the DSP. The DACs then convert the PCM signal to analog.

If DSP processing is bypassed via a "Direct" mode, the DSD signal goes to the DACs directly for conversion to analog. The DACs can accept either PCM or DSD.

Thanks so much for the explanation, Fitz. That's exactly what I was looking for :)

Post by Kal Rubinson January 21, 2010 (8 of 34)
Fitzcaraldo215 said:

I also prefer DSD via HDMI, but Kal Rubinson in Stereophile prefers PCM. I do not think the differences are huge, and they are a matter of personal preference.

That preference, which seems to live a public life, was expressed in the context of ONLY ONE setup: Oppo DV-980H + Integra 9.8. I would not generalize it and do not want anyone else to do so.

Kal

Post by Paul Clark January 21, 2010 (9 of 34)
So, which AV receiver(s) support DSD via HDMI and both Pure Direct and Audyssey?

Post by Kal Rubinson January 21, 2010 (10 of 34)
Paul Clark said:

So, which AV receiver(s) support DSD via HDMI and both Pure Direct and Audyssey?

I don't see how one can have all this at the same time. If you get DSD and use "Pure Direct," Audyssey ain't possible because Audyssey works on PCM signals and "Pure Direct" precludes it.

Kal

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