nothing like starting a little controversy
it depends...how's that for an answer
I had always thought that it could, having owned 3 generations of Pioneer receivers with I-Link / PQLS & Pio universal players with it.
But until a few months ago, I had never tested that belief. Someone had PM'd me about it asking in the context of the SC-09's I-link and whether it made a difference. So I decided to check for myself. I set up a test that weekend...
I played several well recorded SACD's & DVD-A's on my Pioneer SC-09, comparing using the former flagship 59AVi player Ilinked & PQLS with an Oppo 93 with HDMI and no PQLS. Both players were now transports only, sending 96khz PCM from multichannel DVD-A to the SC-09. I quickly decided it was too hard to compare with multichannel so I ended up going to several 2 ch SACD's.
Both players were sending straight DSD to the SC-09, letting the SC-09 decode it directly to analog, Pure Direct mode, turning off all MCACC EQ, no sub, so phase control & standing wave filter, so there would be no in-between conversion to PCM.
I specifically used a SACD on the bright side, the import Genesis with Mama on it and also a well-recorded jazz disc. The Genesis comparison especially it was a surprise to me that I could EASILY tell the difference.
From the 59AVi, instruments, percussion was nicely layered, with excellent lateral imaging, and Phil Collin's vocals were crisp (some might say sibilant but still smooth, bright but not harsh per se) & out in front of the instruments kind of floating in between the speakers so there was depth to the soundstage.
From the Oppo, the 1st thing I noticed (it was not subtle) was the vocals and synth all became denser & duller, not nearly as much layered sounding and his vocals were recessed back in the mix, not nearly as crisp, as if the details (like the "ss" in "hiss" ) were removed.
I was expecting only subtle difference, if any. And here I was presented with 2 players, acting as transports only, same volume level, no changes other than the connection and PQLS - and they sounded completely different.
Which one was "better"? Without hesitation, I would pick the 59Avi with PQLS over the Oppo & no PQLS - more transparent, more depth, more differentiation between the instruments & vocals.
I've proven it to myself that on music, reducing jitter can make an audible difference, depending on the recording. Will it make a difference on standard issue hip hop - your guess is as good as mine!
As compressed and monophonic as rap is, it probably won't
Will it be a difference with movies? I don't know but my gut tells me it not as much. I still believe that with sound effects in a rapidly changing soundtrack with large variances in dynamics, differences may be there but not audible. But I don't know for sure, since I can't compare BD's yet with & w/o PQLS. After all, noise is noise & how much can more jitter detract from sounds based on "noise"
From what I've read, minimizing jitter preserves phasing & other acoustic cues so that details & imaging are not smeared. And that's kind of how I would describe what I actually heard.
Some may disagree with me, say it's placebo & expectation bias. And that's OK by me. I came into my "test" with no expectations, thinking it would be subtle at best. And was pretty surprised that the difference was like listening to 2 different mixes.
I think I could take any of you who is serious about music (not my wife who is hearing impaired
), and I really believe most of you would hear the same difference as I, if you paid attention and not used the music as background filler. Probably also depends on how good the rest of your system is, particularly the speakers
. Mediocre or limited capability satellites may obscure or blur the imaging more than any jitter could do.
BTW- there is a "Can Denon-Link make a difference" thread and from what I've read, most who've tried it on and off, think it does.
Soon, I may be able to test my Pio BDP-09 that has PQLS over HDMI for CD's with HDMI-PQLS and will know for sure, since that would eliminate the I-Link vs HDMI connection as a variable. I'm looking forward to it. I may have a chance to do a listening test on one of the new SC models.Edited by ss9001 - 7/19/12 at 11:47am