Playing Blu-Ray audio discs on stereo hifi

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In my right mind...

I don't know the percentage of audiophile products that may fall in what Ted called as "marketing rubbish", but answering your general question, HT, allow me to undeline:

- In Classical Music, we are dealing with more than "a piece of music". A work like Beethoven's Op.132, Bruckner's Eighth, Wagner's Parsifal or Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe are much more than a mere piece of music and require greater attention, the clrearest and most analytical sound and more.

- In "live" performances, you may never get the "perfect" sound, but, still, one can notice the substantive differences of the produced sound, based on the venue and seat.

- For all the imperfections of our hearing, brain and the reproduction of a performance (in studio or from "live"), one still can tell when the sound is clean, clear, not distorted, close to natural timbre or tone and can appreciate the more realistic dynamics. If an equipment can provide all or some of the above, this may lead some people, who also can afford to go this extra mile in expenses, to spend thousands of pounds, dollars etc., in their right mind.

Parla

 

Let us try to keep this

Let us try to keep this analysis on track. Here we have someone who has bought a high resolution copy of a famous recording, and a BD player to play the disc. And he is disappointed - why could this be so? I am with Ted that it is unlikely that the BD player is the cause. So what remains are the two potential issues with the amplifier (level matching of input and insufficient power) and the simple fact that the original recording may not be that good. To test the latter, I would buy a BD of impeccable modern recording quality like the Gergiev recording of Le Sacre du Printemps and the Firebird. It is similarly dynamic music, and on my system (el cheapo BD player with analogue out, refurbished Quad 33 with level matched optical disc (was radio 2)  input, refurbished Quad 606 mk2 and Quad 2805's plus PV1d subwoofer with Antimode 8033 room equalization) the sound is breathtaking, as is the visual experience on my Panasonic plasma screen of the reconstructed original stage design and costumes. You are not wasting money buying this great disc, and if it also sounds bad, you know you have a hardware issue. If it sounds great, as I expect, you know high resolution re-issues of analogue tape recordings are pointless. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Willem

On re-reading your post I am

On re-reading your post I am not so sure what you are asking. The high resolution you refer to is a characteristic of the digital signal (e.g 24/96 as opposed to cd's 16/44). Once converted to analogue, the signal is analogue. What matters at that stage is frequency response and distortion. So I think you are asking the wrong question.

In the case of your Wagner set, the sonic limitations are principally determined by the limitation of the original analogue tape recording (and its degradation).

Willem

Not necessarily.

The intrinsic value of a score, once completed, should not change from the day before its premiere to the day after.

parla wrote:

parla wrote:

I don't know the percentage of audiophile products that may fall in what Ted called as "marketing rubbish", but answering your general question, HT, allow me to undeline:

- In Classical Music, we are dealing with more than "a piece of music". A work like Beethoven's Op.132, Bruckner's Eighth, Wagner's Parsifal or Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe are much more than a mere piece of music and require greater attention, the clrearest and most analytical sound and more.

- In "live" performances, you may never get the "perfect" sound, but, still, one can notice the substantive differences of the produced sound, based on the venue and seat.

- For all the imperfections of our hearing, brain and the reproduction of a performance (in studio or from "live"), one still can tell when the sound is clean, clear, not distorted, close to natural timbre or tone and can appreciate the more realistic dynamics. If an equipment can provide all or some of the above, this may lead some people, who also can afford to go this extra mile in expenses, to spend thousands of pounds, dollars etc., in their right mind.

Parla

 

 

I was only referring to the claims in the earlier quote about the need for an "improved output stage".

 

These kind of claims are addressed to people who don't understand how a DAC chip is configured. Audio DAC chips are totally self-contained units. They perform all the necessary audio functions including filtering and typically give out a 2V line level analogue audio signal at their output pins. To use a DAC chip all a hifi manufacturer has to do is implement the power supply to the DAC chip correctly (as specified by the DAC chip manufacturer) and choose a few optional component across some of the pins to control some of the DAC's functions (again as specified by the DAC chip manufacturer).

 

There is no need to do anything else to the signal, the analogue signal is good to go. When you see CD manufacturers specifications (or measurements in magazines) for frequency response,  signal to noise, channel separation, distortion etc you should be seeing exactly the performance of the DAC chip. The quality of the analogue output is set by the chip. It cannot be improved upon. It can only be degraded by bad engineering of the minor buffering circuitry between the chip and the back of the CD player.

 

Ted

Not for you...

Ht, I did not write my post to persuade anyone here, but rather to explain what may happen to some people who think otherwise...

- If you start defining any object/work of Classical Music (Art Music can go beyond that) as a "piece of" music, of course even Wagner's Ring might be...a mere piece of music...or maybe four. In the same way, Beethoven's Op.132 is a piece of music or...five (because of its five movements). In any case, at least, we may agree that these "pieces of music" are "very great thing nevertheless"!

- As Tjh already mentioned, even the "pieces of music" have their intrinsic value, based on their artistic/technical/formalistic features that do not need any audience to be "appreciated" but rather to discover them. As I was told by friends-musicians, (some) beholders need Art. It is there for those who believe/feel they need it and go for it. I became a "beholder" not because I wanted it but mainly because I was instructed by my professors and it took me years to start appreciating these "pieces of music".

- What I mention for the sound quality (clear, analytical, precise etc.) is of course relative. It is what some people identify to their satisfaction. I do not contest your satisfaction with your system as I do not with my wife's or elder son's mini systems either. However, if I, my friends and some other people identify any difference with any upgrade of their systems, that is their  relative truth.

- In the same vein, reviewers express what they heard in their (unfortunately never mentioned) listening audio and room conditions. It is a relative subjective statement and it is obvious that a listener, in different listening conditions, might have quite different verdicts about the recording quality (often I find some recordings better than the reviewer's outcome).

- With audio equipment, again things can be relative, based on the rest of the chain of the equipment used, the room features and the listening program chosen.

- If you admit that a recording can be "shabby", one may consider that there is a recording that is not, that can be good, better, of high quality... Likewise with audio equipment...By the way, my equipment has "rescued", in my relative listening experience, quite a few "shabby" recordings. They do not sound as good as the best ones, but, at least I can appreciate them more than before and in more realistic and precise terms.

Parla

Oppo blu-ray digital output

I concur ...I use an oppo 103 in my music stereo and only have a small monitor setting the appropriate digital audio output.   I output through coasxial digital output into the dac section of my Parasound P5 preamp. It sounds great and significantly improved over the analog outputs of the oppo.

 

Sleepless wrote:

 

The issue is, have the analogue outputs on recent blu ray players been deliberately designed to degrade audio quality ?

I directly compared analogue and Toslink sound quality, using Sennheiser

Hd800 headphones, on the Nad D320. Same volume, just switching inputs.

To my surprise, analogue won easily. I thought they would be the same.

I previously thought that analogue was inferior. However doubt came about

when simply changing headphone amplifiers connected to analogue, massively improved sq.

The Nad headamp section was threadbare through Hd800's and AKG 702's from previous comparisons to Project and Oxygen O2 head amps.

It was the toslink sourcing that was the problem. The Toslink passed through

the Smart TV. The Pioneer BDP 170 blu ray player does not have optical output, so direct optical link not possible. 

Will try same experiment with toslink equiped older model Pioneer bdp, when time allows. 

Quotes below from Essence and Oppo vs analogue output quality.

 

Oppo's Nathanial Plain. Q+A Interview Audioholics.

While many mass market Blu-ray Disc players are now built with an overly simplified stereo analog output in order to reduce cost, we still build the BDP-103 and BDP-105 with significant investment in the analog audio section. For the BDP-103, we hired the designer of one of the popular BDP-93 aftermarket modifications to help us improve its analog audio. The new design has a warmer, more open and lively sound comparing to the BDP-93. This is achieved by a novel configuration of the DAC chip and a new analog buffer and filter stage following the DAC output. The same designer also contributed to the BDP-105’s analog audio section. 

Bob Rapoport who markets the Essence  external DAC/headphone amp combination, comments from his " Essence " blog,

"There is something about the player DACs that even when using the best parts leaves a lot to be desired, perhaps a form of copy protection that down-rezzes the analog output so you wont want to copy it, the long sought dream of the record labels.  My point of view is why give them a chance?"

jim f

arl hts, il

methodology

There are two methodological issues here. The first is that for proper comparison levels should be adjusted to be perfectly identical (i.e. within 0.2 dB). If not, the louder signal will be interpreted as the better signal. That is how the human hearing works. The practical problem is that this is such a small level difference that you cannot achieve this by ear or other simple methods. You will need a volt meter, and insert it somewhere beyond the input stages (i.e. between the pre amp and the power amp stage). You also need to do it in such a way that the switch from the one to the other is more or less instantaneous.

 

The second issue is that of identification: how do you know that what you are hearing is the product of differences between the DAC's rather than of the analogue stages of the amplifier? Many amplifiers have analogue input stages that are too sensitive for the 2V analoge output of a player that conforms to the standard (to make them sound louder and hence more impressive in the demo room). The sonic consequence is potential clipping on louder passages in the music. For me, this compatibility issue would be the best reason to opt for the digital output of the disc player. But if you are using a separate DAC, you are only moving the problem to the analogue interface between the DAC and the amplifier.

 

As for differences beween the DAC stages, I honestly do not believe that with modern ones there are any audible sonic differences. As Ted said, it is all in the DAC chip, unless the DAC designer has really messed up.

Willem

Blu-ray player analogue quality.

Willem you align with Ted and honestly believe there is no audible difference between

DAC implementations in modern audio equipment.

Maybe. Consider that most Blu Ray players now have no analogue outputs.

Why is that ? Because the record industry has applied significant pressure to

Blu ray player manufacturers to omit the analogue output, or at least, many have said.

However some Bdps do still have analogue outputs. Again, why is that? Quite possibly for attachment to older CRT televisions which have no digital input

for hdmi or for toslink. If you have seen a frequency response plot for even a 

"good sounding" television, it is about as flat as a sine wave, but the amplitude variations being nearly random. The atrocious fidelity of the TV speaker would

conceal the effects of the cheapest and nastiest DAC implentation. So therefore

fitting a laptop quality level DAC to the few budget price BDPs that have analogue 

will keep the Record industry and the obsolete TV segments both happy. I suspect

but do not know, that in recent years, BDP's with analogue outputs, at the lower price points (at which most BDP's are retailed), have laptop quality DAC's. A few years ago that would not be the case. The suspicion is because several new BDPs 

have sounded awful through analogue outputted headphone amps. Whereas I could in past listen to DVD players from Pioneer for example, through a headphone amp, happily all night. There could of course be other reasons for the dissappointing experience with some newer BDP's  As you say, level matching and double blind implentation would be needed to validate the suspicion that it is the DAC implentation that has been degraded and is therefore the explanation for the bad experience. It could be some kind of insidious placebo effect, or some other problem. However the suspicion is plausible if not proven. Pioneer advertise

their reference level BDP as having "independent quartz" DACs for audio. One part is for 44.1 khz, the other for 48 khz. Most Blu ray opera disks are 48 khz for example. This proves there are different levels of attention to DAC quality on Pioneer BDP's for example. Oppo also claim to pay special attention to Dac implentation on BDP's. Is this pandering to the subjectivist audio hypochondriac segment ? Maybe over the top, however at least the consumer knows that

the Dac section on these, is beyond reproach.

 

 

 

 

Sleepless

 For an older pre hdmi TV, a

 For an older pre hdmi TV, a budget Blu ray player with analogue is still likely easier to source than a new Dvd player. Not sure if Dvd players are even made in 2017.

Many modern televisions sound awful, so an analogue output equiped Blu ray player does allow connection to an analogue amplifier and book shelf speakers.  

Sleepless

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