Beware of SACD Transports -- they probably will not work with your favorite DAC

Hello, I just learned a painful lesson. I'm guessing that not many people will know this so I'm going to put it in here.

The audio on a SACD is encrypted.
If I were to purchase a SACD / CD player I have nothing to worry about. The Audio is un-encrypted inside the player.
However if I were to purchase a SACD / CD Transport made my brand Z, I would have to purchase a brand Z DAC???
Apparently Sony who owns the SACD format mandated that the audio on the SACD itself is encrypted and
the digital output from a SACD transport is ALSO encrypted. It looks like the actual un-encryption is done in the DAC.
There is no standard for doing the un-encryption so every manufacturer has their own proprietary way of doing this.
So I cant use a Esoteric SACD transport and an Auralic DAC which is what I tried to do?
The transport and the DAC have to do a handshake to output the DSD off a SACD. I believe DCS can do it using a pair of AES/EBU XLR cables. PS Audio does it by using a highly modified Oppo transport that paid for the license. The DSD is only available through the I2S output using an HDMI cable.So you would need a Directstream Memory Player and one of their two Directstream DACs. The fact that they use a HDMI cable, does not mean it is outputting HDMI.

As said, some HT Receiver, like Denon could play DSD through an HDMI cable, because they bought the licensing from Sony, and you still usually have to use their universal Blu-ray, DVD, SACD player.

If you go over to the Computer Audio forum, there is a script that you can use with some Oppo players, I believe the 103 105, and a few others. You load it on to a flash drive, and it will give you the data off a SACD disc, which would then be loaded to a PC or a dedicated player like an Aurender, using it through the USB output to a DAC that will decode DSD.
Usually you need both the transport and DAC from the same company. Mix and match seldom works.
If a company makes a SACD transport with no DAC, they will have a DAC that can play the SACD.


Thank you.  Happy Listening!

I've been griping about this for years. All of these so called high resolution DACSs are nearly worthless because you can't get high resolution audio into them without HDMI. Bryston has the right idea. PS Audio uses their proprietary HDMI input that only works with their transport. Bluray audio fixes most of the problems with SACD if you have a good processor.
Usually you need both the transport and DAC from the same company. Mix and match seldom works.
Would agree for the most part but it has been proved by Mahler here and Stereophile that you can output the sacd dsd via hdmi from Oppo 103/105 (possibly 93/95 too ) into a Bryston BDA3 quite successfully.

And by all accounts it sounds pretty darn good.
PS Audio has delivered an INCREDIBLE solution to resolve this issue. The company uses a proprietary protocol with their new DMP Player and the amazing DS DAC. Use of an HDMI cable delivers a digital handshake using a high speed data transfer between transport and the DAC. Based on what I understand the manufacturer of the DAC must pay licensing fees to Sony in order to be granted permission to decode and play music.  Some chose to pay others did not.  I2S is the technology innovated by PS Audio but any maker can use it, from what I understand. I’m pasting some information I copied directly from the website below, and let me tell you, the overall experience of this player is simply unbelievable for both CD and SACD. See below: 

“Now, with the introduction of PS Audio’s revolutionary new memory player, DMP, owners of our DirectStream series of DACs can uncover all that they have been missing. Based on a proprietary handshake protocol between DMP and PS Audio DACs, through our advanced I²S interface, pure DSD is streamed to, and processed in, the same reference quality DAC used by mastering engineers.”