Originally Posted by dbphd
I wish to thank Bob, Nick @ Anthem, and thestewman for their advice in using an Anthem D2 with my Oppo 105 and Sony XA5400ES.
Oppo to D2
I think that advice leads me to take analog DSD from the Oppo to the D2 and use the analog-DSP provision of the D2. DSD output from the Oppo eliminates any speaker management by the Oppo, so the D2 will provide that. I would expect to continue to use the stereo output of the Oppo for front LR. I assume the Oppo can process the lossless codecs and send the result as DSD to the D2, is that correct?
Sony to D2
Given the Sony outputs surround only as HDMI, it will be connected to the D2 via HDMI. Analog stereo DSD from the Sony will go to the JC-2 BP. (Multi/2 channel and HDMI are button selections at the Sony.)
Ayre & JC-3
The C-5xeMP and JC-3 phono stage will continue to go only through the JC-2 BP.
Thanks for all your help,
DSD is a digital audio format used for SACD discs (and some media files you might play off a hard drive). Unless you play media files, the only place you will encounter DSD is on SACD discs.
The normal digital audio formats on the HDMI cable are Bitstreams (like DTS-HD MA) and LPCM. LPCM is the "simplest" audio format, and it's what you get from a Bitstream when the Bitstream is decoded. The OPPO can decode Bitstreams to LPCM -- which is good for you because the D2 does not handle the newer, lossless Bitstreams (TrueHD and DTS-HD MA).
The OPPO can ALSO convert DSD digital audio to LPCM digital audio. The resulting LPCM can be sent out over HDMI to the D2 or it can be sent to the DACs in the OPPO for conversion to Analog -- including all of the processing the OPPO offers for its Analog outputs. Things like down-mixing, speaker distance adjustment, and crossover processing.
The OPPO also has the special DACs needed to convert DSD digital Audio *DIRECTLY* to Analog for output. However if you use that path, no audio processing is available in the OPPO. I.e., the only thing the OPPO can do for you in that usage is Volume control.
The D2 has the ability to play Analog input unprocessed -- it stays as Analog and you get, basically, just Volume control. Or the D2 can re-digitize the Analog input and then process the resulting digital audio -- as with ARC. The results after processing then get converted BACK to Analog for output to your amps.
So when playing an SACD in the OPPO, using a D2, your choices are as follows:
1) HDMI LPCM from the OPPO to the D2.
The OPPO will convert the DSD from the SACD discs into multi-channel LPCM 2.0 or LPCM 5.1, at 88.2KHz 24-bit. The D2 can play that unprocessed or processed through ARC. Note that no re-digitization is needed prior to applying ARC because the audio has remained digital (from DSD off disc to LPCM over HDMI to the D2). No speaker configuration processing happens in the OPPO when using HDMI audio output. The D2 is responsible for all that.
2) Multi-channel Analog from the OPPO to the D2 with SACD Output PCM set in the OPPO.
The OPPO will convert the DSD from the SACD discs into LPCM as above, process the LPCM according to your settings in the OPPO (e.g., Crossover or down-mix), and send the resulting LPCM to its DACs for conversion to Analog for output. The D2 can play that Analog input unprocessed, or it can re-digitize the Analog input and then do any processing you have specified -- such as ARC. Note that in this PROCESSED case you have a conversion to Analog in the OPPO, followed by a conversion back to Digital in the D2, followed by a conversion back to Analog for output from the D2. You also have the conversion of DSD to LPCM in the OPPO. You can bypass any additional processing in the OPPO (even when using LPCM to its DACs) if you prefer to let the D2 re-digitize and process the audio as through ARC.
3) Multi-channel Analog from the OPPO to the D2 with SACD Output DSD set in the OPPO.
The OPPO will pass the DSD from the SACD discs *DIRECTLY* to its DACS for conversion to Analog for output. No processing (other than Volume control) is available in the OPPO when DSD-Direct-to-Analog Conversion is in effect. That means no down-mixing, no crossover processing, no speaker distance adjustments, no DTS Neo:6 Surround Sound -- nothing. The D2 can handle that incoming Analog audio just as in (2) above, either with or without ARC. To use ARC the D2 has to re-digitize the Analog audio input just as in (2) above.
If you are going to use SACD Output PCM (OPPO converts DSD from SACD discs to LPCM), I recommend you use (1) above -- HDMI LPCM to the D2 -- instead of (2).
If you want to compare DSD-Direct-to-Analog Conversion, i.e., (3) above), I recommend you START by having the D2 re-digitize that Analog input so that you can apply ARC. Compare that against ARC processed LPCM input from the OPPO. My guess is you will find the LPCM sounds *IDENTICAL*. So you might as well stick with HDMI LPCM and keep things simple.
After doing THAT comparison, next switch to ANALOG-DIRECT in the D2 -- which disables ARC among other things. And compare DSD-Direct-to-Analog Conversion in the OPPO, with the D2 acting as an Analog pre-amp (i.e., NO PROCESSING AT ALL in the D2), against the HDMI LPCM case (1) above processed by ARC.
Keep in mind that since neither the OPPO nor the D2 is doing any audio processing, you will not have Crossover processing (bass directed from the main speakers to the Sub) or down-mix processing (if you have less than 5.1 speakers configured), or speaker distance adjustment (if your speakers are not all equidistant from your seating position).
My guess is you will discover that the advantages of ARC far outweigh any minor difference that exists from having the OPPO convert DSD directly to Analog instead of going the LPCM route. And again, if THAT'S the case then you should stick to HDMI LPCM from the OPPO as it avoids two steps of the audio path -- conversion to Analog in the OPPO and re-digitization back into Digital in the D2 prior to ARC.