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Impact of processor on analog sound

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
What is the impact of the pre/pro on sound that has already been converted into analog? Am I correct that when I listen to music that uses the DAC of the source component that the processor is simply feeding the signal to the amplifier? At that point does the pre/pro really have any significant impact on the quality of sound? I understand that when the pre/pro is responsible for decoding the signal that it plays a substantial and significant role in sound quality, but it is the work that they do or don't do for already decoded signal that I am interested in.

Thanks!
post #2 of 14
There's no simple answer without know which pre-pro we're talking about. So much of what goes on inside a pre-pro involves digital processing, and there are many "modes" of operation, some of which most certainly involve modifying the audio as it passes through. And some 'modes" are deliberately as non-invasive as possible.

Sorry, no simple answer.
post #3 of 14
Some processors will feed all signals into the digital domain (DAC) regardless of origin. My Integra DHC 40.1 does this - I assume (I know!) that most Onkyo products also do this. A processor with 5.1/7.1 analog inputs should provide an all analog path to the amplifier. My Integra does not have them.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have the Oppo BDP-95 so I think that it's DAC's are as good as any pre/pro or receiver in the every-man price range. So If my priority is 2 channel music and some 5.1 analog high-res formats, how important is the pre/pro? See what I mean? If the processor has little influence on those formats, then I don't need to spend big bucks on a dedicated pre/pro. But if spending more on an Integra or marantz or emotiva processor will have a meaningful impact then I'd do it.

My current hodgepodge system:

H/K AVR 635 Receiver
Adcom GFA-5503
Oppo BDP-95
Dynaudio Focus 110's mains
Dynaudio Excite center
NHT SB2 surrounds
Onyx rocket sub

So I guess a simple way to ask my question is if I replace my dated receiver with something current, will I notice an improvement in sound quality from cd's or high res sources.

Thanks
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
As a follow up, I can't believe that your Integra processor doesn't have the 5/7.1 direct inputs, although I don't know the vintage of it. My 8 year old H/K receiver has them.
post #6 of 14
You're not going to get any definitive answers on AVS, just have to make up your own mind based on different opinions.

Many here believe all DACs sound the same (obvious not including the Oppo 95 owners), all amps sound the same, all CD players sound the same, etc.

Some, particularly in the 2CH and Audio Theory Forums, firmly believe the above too, plus all digital processing is transparent, and A to D conversion too.

If you insist on using MCH analogue route from Oppo, then you must decide if you need or want any digital processing, esp. room correction. The vast majority here firmly believe in RC, and to use that going digital is preferable thereby avoiding A-D step.

Replacing an old AVR with a newer is for more digital processing and other newer options, esp. room correction, not because the DAC or analogue amplification stage is better. Unless you're going to higher models or non-mass market brand you aren't going to find MCH analogue inputs any more.
post #7 of 14
Some people even feel the loss of doing a extra adc and dac step are less of a loss since they can use a eq system to 'upgrade' the signal by removing problems created by the room or other components.

Daniel.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
[quote name="Kilian.ca" url="/t/1431658/impact-of-processor-on-analog-sound#post_22447660"Replacing an old AVR with a newer is for more digital processing and other newer options, esp. room correction, not because the DAC or analogue amplification stage is better. Unless you're going to higher models or non-mass market brand you aren't going to find MCH analogue inputs any more.[/quote]

This was kind of what I expected, thanks Killian (and for the other info). I do want to upgrade the digital side of my system, but need to wait until some construction is done. Question about RC: do those settings apply for 2CH or analog sources?
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aja1 View Post

As a follow up, I can't believe that your Integra processor doesn't have the 5/7.1 direct inputs, although I don't know the vintage of it. My 8 year old H/K receiver has them.

My Integra DHC 40.1 does not have the 5.1/7.1 direct inputs. Vintage is 2009. My Oppo 80 player has 7.1 analog outs.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by danielo View Post

Some people even feel the loss of doing a extra adc and dac step are less of a loss since they can use a eq system to 'upgrade' the signal by removing problems created by the room or other components. Daniel.

And I expect we'll be reexamining the pros-and-cons of that issue again (contextually) when we get more 'technical details' about Neil Young's forthcoming Pono Digital-to-Analog Music Service...
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post

RollingStone's 9/27/2012 article "Neil Young Expands Pono Digital-to-Analog Music Service" (link) says that: "Beginning next year, Pono will release a line of portable players, a music-download service and digital-to-analog conversion technology intended to present songs as they first sound during studio recording sessions."

This novel digital-to-analog conversion technology will presumably have implications for future playback of Pono sourced music downloads within a Home Theater environment, as inappropriate digital domain post-processing (including room correction, bass redirection and volume management) might well destroy the 'enhanced quality' of the downloaded material...?!

Time to dig out my old all-analog/unpowered/manual pre-amp! eek.gifcool.gifbiggrin.gif
________________
"This is what recording companies were born to give you and in 2012 2013 they will deliver." - Neil Young
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post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post

And I expect we'll be reexamining the pros-and-cons of that issue again (contextually) when we get more 'technical details' about Neil Young's forthcoming Pono Digital-to-Analog Music Service...
_

All we know is that its 192khz/24bits so far, the claims seem very vague so maybe its also some 'magical' dac who knows i have my doubts. But whatever it is that doesn't have any effect on your speakers, room and if it makes sense to use eq or not. My guess its just 192khz/24bits combined with a better dacs compared to whats in the ipod that he loves to compare it with. But lets not forget he also claims apple sells mp3's something that as far as i know apple never did so his technical info seems off from the start.

Daniel.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aja1 View Post


This was kind of what I expected, thanks Killian (and for the other info). I do want to upgrade the digital side of my system, but need to wait until some construction is done. Question about RC: do those settings apply for 2CH or analog sources?

You're welcome. RC works in digital domain: my general understanding is some AVRs only apply RC to digital inputs, some will have the option to digitize analogue inputs (2CH and MCH) for digital processing, some always digitize analogue inputs. Of course 2CH digital inputs (SPDIF or HDMI from a CD player for ex.) will be processed just like MCH via HDMI.

I upgraded from a non-HDMI NAD AVR to an Arcam AVR600 a few months ago and just now I'm trying out a Denon 3312 and Onkyo 818 as a processor using the Arcam as power amp essentially, just to find out how different configurations works, esp. Audyssey which Arcam doesn't have.

I can say even with Arcam's rudimentary RC going digital for MCH music (SACD) and movies is an improvement. I'm surprised that 2CH (CD) is also improved and now generally I prefer this over the traditional RCA analogue route, but the difference isn't night and day, as I'm using an Arcam DV139 universal player with Wolfson DACs for SACD. I put it down to mainly two things: 1. I can use the sub and the AVR generally does bass management better and 2. RC. The Arcam AVR doesn't use Wolfson DAC but a lesser CS DAC. So there are different factors involved which means YMMV on your system.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

I can say even with Arcam's rudimentary RC going digital for MCH music (SACD) and movies is an improvement. I'm surprised that 2CH (CD) is also improved and now generally I prefer this over the traditional RCA analogue route, but the difference isn't night and day, as I'm using an Arcam DV139 universal player with Wolfson DACs for SACD. I put it down to mainly two things: 1. I can use the sub and the AVR generally does bass management better and 2. RC. The Arcam AVR doesn't use Wolfson DAC but a lesser CS DAC. So there are different factors involved which means YMMV on your system.

Interesting. Prior to the Oppo player, I had a Pioneer Elite DV-45 player and chose to listen to all my audio 2CH or MCH via digital connections, and thought it was great...until I heard the Oppo play via the analog connections, which I still find astounding how much better it is. So it would be interesting to hear what the digital connections would sound like if I improved the processor.

Did I understand you correctly that the Arcam is indeed superior to the Denon and Onkyo in terms of sound quality? It is a beautiful piece of equipment!

Thanks!
post #14 of 14
I tried connecting the Arcam DV139 R and L output using RCA to the Arcam and Onkyo AVRs directly to their CD inputs since the DV139 has two pairs of R/L outputs and I just switched input on the Arcam AVR600. Only brief listening (10min. track repeated) and the sound appears just a bit more spacious on the Arcam but the Onkyo isn't far off at all and very good indeed on its own. The difficulty is the Onkyo has a large gain difference (-20) from the Arcam so matching level isn't easy and conclusion isn't firm. Also I think the Onkyo re-digitizes the analogue outputs even in Direct mode. I have to admit nowadays mass market brands (except the lowest budget models) come pretty close to 'audiophile' brands.

Audyssey should be more accurate than Arcam's version of RC but initial impression is it isn't night and day, certainly no WOW. The soundstage seems further back with Audyssey.

The Oppo 95 has decent BM options and MCH analogue out so you can get pretty good results using MCH analogue out if you want to use a sub (I tried this on the Arcam 139 and it can work). I'd imagine the digital route would be a close contest.
Edited by Kilian.ca - 10/2/12 at 1:12am
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