Cd Player - Digital Optical vs Analog RCA

Do you recommend Digital or Analog connections?


  • Total voters
    16
caseyh

caseyh

Audiophyte
I am trying to decide whether to hook up my Sony SCE-CD595 CD player (please note that though this is an SACD player, I am no longer using it to play SACDs) to my Harmon Kardon AVR 520 receiver with a Monter Cable Lightspeed digital fiber-optic toslink line or with a pair of MC Interlink 400mkII analog RCAs.

I imagine the CD player is reading the digital data off the disc turning it into an analog signal, then converting it back to a digital signal before sending it down the fiber-optic line after which the receiver converts it back to analog. By the same line of thinking, I imagine that the digital signal from the CD is converted to analog only one time and stays that way all the way through the RCAs and into my receiver.

To avoid all that DAC work, I'm thinking that the analog RCA hookup might be better. But to avoid EM interference, I'm thinking digital optical might be better.

If anyone out there can shed some light on my thoughts and/or make a recommendation, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks for your time and help.
 
M

MDS

Audioholic Spartan
caseyh said:
I imagine the CD player is reading the digital data off the disc turning it into an analog signal, then converting it back to a digital signal before sending it down the fiber-optic line after which the receiver converts it back to analog. By the same line of thinking, I imagine that the digital signal from the CD is converted to analog only one time and stays that way all the way through the RCAs and into my receiver.

To avoid all that DAC work, I'm thinking that the analog RCA hookup might be better. But to avoid EM interference, I'm thinking digital optical might be better.
This decision comes down to whether the cd player or the receiver has the better DACS.

- If you use the optical connection from the cd player to receiver, the digital data (CDs are 16 bit, 44.1 kHz linear PCM) is read off the CD and STAYS digital all the way to the receiver. The receivers DACS then do the D/A conversion and then the receiver amplifies that signal and sends it to the speakers.

- If you use the analog connections, the digital data read off the CD is converted to analog (thus using the DACS of the CD player) and the analog signal is sent to the receiver. The receiver amplifies that analog signal and sends it to the speakers.

Because you are not going to play SACD (which would require 5.1 analog inputs on the receiver) I would choose the optical connection. There is a good chance that the receiver will have the better DACS.

You can always try it both ways and see which way you prefer.
 
krabapple

krabapple

Banned
caseyh said:
I am trying to decide whether to hook up my Sony SCE-CD595 CD player (please note that though this is an SACD player, I am no longer using it to play SACDs) to my Harmon Kardon AVR 520 receiver with a Monter Cable Lightspeed digital fiber-optic toslink line or with a pair of MC Interlink 400mkII analog RCAs.

I imagine the CD player is reading the digital data off the disc turning it into an analog signal, then converting it back to a digital signal before sending it down the fiber-optic line after which the receiver converts it back to analog.
No, if you use the Toslink (or other digital connection), the CD player is merely grabbing the digital data off the disc and piping it to the AVR's DAC, which then does the conversion to analog (also applying whatever DSP you may have enabled first -- e.g. Dolby Pro Logic II). In this sort of setup, your CD player is merely a 'transport'. Its DAC and related circuitry isn't used at all. The receiver does all the heavy conversion work.

By the same line of thinking, I imagine that the digital signal from the CD is converted to analog only one time and stays that way all the way through the RCAs and into my receiver.
That's true only if you don't apply any digital sound processing in the receiver.

If you *do* apply DSP in your receiver, then an analog signal output from the CD player is re-digitized, processed in the digital domain, then re-converted to analog.

In any case, you could connect both the Toslink and the 2-channel analog, and simply switch back and forth between the inputs, to decide which sounds better to you.
 
W

wormgrass

Enthusiast
This decision comes down to whether the cd player or the receiver has the better DACS.

- If you use the optical connection from the cd player to receiver, the digital data (CDs are 16 bit, 44.1 kHz linear PCM) is read off the CD and STAYS digital all the way to the receiver. The receivers DACS then do the D/A conversion and then the receiver amplifies that signal and sends it to the speakers.

- If you use the analog connections, the digital data read off the CD is converted to analog (thus using the DACS of the CD player) and the analog signal is sent to the receiver. The receiver amplifies that analog signal and sends it to the speakers.

Because you are not going to play SACD (which would require 5.1 analog inputs on the receiver) I would choose the optical connection. There is a good chance that the receiver will have the better DACS.

You can always try it both ways and see which way you prefer.
Does this mean if the CD player has a HDCD decoder then if you send the signal straight to the DAC or amplifier via dig out coaxial then it won't be decoded by the CD player's HDCD chip and you won't get any benefits of playing HDCD's unless the amplifier or DAC has it's own HDCD chip?
 
WineOfTheVeins

WineOfTheVeins

Audioholic
This decision comes down to whether the cd player or the receiver has the better DACS.

- If you use the optical connection from the cd player to receiver, the digital data (CDs are 16 bit, 44.1 kHz linear PCM) is read off the CD and STAYS digital all the way to the receiver. The receivers DACS then do the D/A conversion and then the receiver amplifies that signal and sends it to the speakers.

- If you use the analog connections, the digital data read off the CD is converted to analog (thus using the DACS of the CD player) and the analog signal is sent to the receiver. The receiver amplifies that analog signal and sends it to the speakers.

Because you are not going to play SACD (which would require 5.1 analog inputs on the receiver) I would choose the optical connection. There is a good chance that the receiver will have the better DACS.

You can always try it both ways and see which way you prefer.
^ This.

My Marantz 6006 has a nice DAC, but the Anthem has a nicer Mark Levinson DAC, so I use digital coaxial. I haven't compared with optical yet tbh. I use optical on my 5.1 and it is pretty good.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Does this mean if the CD player has a HDCD decoder then if you send the signal straight to the DAC or amplifier via dig out coaxial then it won't be decoded by the CD player's HDCD chip and you won't get any benefits of playing HDCD's unless the amplifier or DAC has it's own HDCD chip?
If the destination gear doesn't have the ability to use the HDCD's info, then no benefits. Not even many players do HDCD. Not that it's worth chasing much either...
 
W

wormgrass

Enthusiast
Interesting that because I sent an email to the dude who made the Pacific Microsonics Model 2 (apparently the best DAC ever) and I think he said all the stuff had to be done in the transport. Or was that a different guy? Doesn't matter anyway. But then again it makes sense that the destination has to be able to do it as well. Like sending a HD signal to a SD TV. My new DAC came in yesterday but it looks like I'll have to send it back now :eek:(.
 
W

wormgrass

Enthusiast
That's just what I read and who's the benchmark media anyway?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Benchmark is well respected and their products measure extremely well. Where did you read about the Pacific Microsonics being the best? Best for HDCD since they invented it? HDCD has been long dead. Pacific Microsonics that was swallowed up by Microsoft in 2000? I'd not even heard of them before a little search....

That's just what I read and who's the benchmark media anyway?
 
W

wormgrass

Enthusiast
"For those top recording and mastering engineers who are fortunate enough to be using them, they know that the Model Two was, and still is, the best A-D converter ever made."
Thinking about what needs the HDCD decoder (source, DAC or both) I suddenly had a thought...... What about the amplifier?
 
W

wormgrass

Enthusiast
I will now send the link to the website that said the Model Two is the best....
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
You read the wiki on HDCD as to alternates to cd players with the appropriate tech? Have you tried any of the other ways to read the data on HDCD? Does your current cd player have the ability to decode HDCD? While recently cataloguing my cds I realized I had several HDCD discs but have never tried to play them with a player with the decoding (at least I don't think I've had such a player).
 
W

wormgrass

Enthusiast
I have a few HDCD's (I think I've got at least 40 of them) and I have the Linn Genki CD player (it has a HDCD decoder in it). HDCD's do sound better than normal CD's but that's just my opinion. Not all HDCD's sound good but that's expected just as not all Blu Ray movies look good. The ones I have that don't sound that good are from really old albums, 60's or 70's. I do however have other HDCD's from around the same time that sound good like a Doors one I bought from HMV in Japan about 2 years ago. I didn't read the wiki on HDCD. I did go to this site though:
http://www.goodwinshighend.com/music/hdcd/hdcd_faq.htm#ques9
and there it says I don't need a HDCD amplifier if the CD player can decode HDCD's. However it also said this:
"You do not need an HDCD amplifier if you have an HDCD CD player. Just connect the analog outputs from an HDCD CD player to any amplifier or receiver. To decode an HDCD recording, an HDCD amplifier needs a digital signal from a CD player, which it decodes and then converts to analog."
That's a problem for me because my new DAC can't decode HDCD's and the only inputs it has are all digital (AES, COAX1, COAX2, 12S, USB and OPT). Oh well either if find someone who can modify it or it goes back.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
So you just want to see if the sound would be better by not using the Linn's dac and use an external one instead? I doubt it would be possible to modify your dac to accommodate hdcd....
 
W

wormgrass

Enthusiast
I sent an email to the guy who made the DAC to see what can be done. If it can't then it'll have to go back because there are other DAC's that do the HDCD stuff for around the same price.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
I sent an email to the guy who made the DAC to see what can be done. If it can't then it'll have to go back because there are other DAC's that do the HDCD stuff for around the same price.
What DACs currently decode HDCD?
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Ninja
If your Linn CD player decodes HDCDs, you won't get any improvement with a external DAC. Linn is a respectable company and I'm sure that what they put in their CD players is of high quality.
 

newsletter
  • RBHsound.com
  • BlueJeansCable.com
  • SVS Sound Subwoofers
  • Experience the Martin Logan Montis
Top