Contribution of processor in bypass mode

What contribution to the sound of a system does a processor make in bypass mode? My Oppo BDP-95 is doing the processing and sending analog to my Cary Cinema 11a, the inputs of which are set to bypass mode. Is the Cary affecting the sound or merely acting as a conduit between the sources and the amps?

Ag insider logo xs@2xdbphd
It does whatever you believe it does.

When people don't know what they're listening to there are all sorts of things with effects below the threshold of hearing that are inaudible, even 16 bit analog to digital then digital to analog converison.

Knowing what you're listening to has all sorts of audible effects, just like knowing what drug you think you're taking does.
Drew, what drug were you on when you wrote such a snarky post? Hey, buddy, my doctorate and post doc were in binaural auditory processing, so don't try to snow me with pyschobabble.

I thought my post posed a reasonable question that might receive an analytical or at least reasoned answer. Apparently not.

In the case of the two pre/pros I use, they do convert unbalanced input to differentially balanced output to the amps, and that's of value because of long runs to amps that sit near the speakers to keep speaker leads short.

Dbphd, your question is reasonable.

All devices with "Pass Through" feature degrade the sound merely by their presence. As you well know, you will not find a cleaner signal emerging than went in. You may find a more processed signal that to your ear is more pleasing, but it will have been absolutely degraded by the presence of the non-necessary device.

Never consider a signal going through a device's Pass Through as if it were not degraded. Recently I heard the QOL "signal completion stage" device in my system. I comapred the Bypass/Pass Through mode vs. the sound of the system without the QOL inserted. I felt it degraded the sound to a degree I could not accept, even if it does some interesting things when not in bypass.

In any attempt to attain the most premium sound for stereo available I strongly advise avoiding all Pass Through features in favor of a more direct route. Often a strikingly better sound quality is attained simply by the removal of the non-necessary component and extra set of interconnects.

One exception I have found to this are 32 bit processing DACs, which seem to holistically elevate the sound quality through interpolation of the data. What they can bring to the sound imo far outweighs the electronic overburden they add to most CD players and Net-based sources.

At first I dismissed your idea of eliminating the processor as theoretically interesting yet impractical for my setup, because the Oppo BDP-95 also provides video and the amps are near the speakers rather than the rack. I do have a Sony XA5400ES I've been planning to list on Audiogon that I could place near the amps and connect directly to them. It's worth a try. Thanks.

I would call Cary and ask what the signal path is.

On my Cary SLP-05 2 channel preamp the Cinema Bypass just shuts a relay that bypasses everything. You can even turn off the preamp and the signal goes through. The only residual effect is whatever you get from the input and output connectors and the closed relay, which should be pretty small. My guess is the 11a does a similar thing, but Cary can tell you. When I asked them about the SLP-05 the tech looked up the schematic to check. Once you know the signal path, you can decide if you can hear a difference with it in or out.
Once again, it simply must be tested to know the effect. The effect of the Pass Through may be small or great and no company is going to tell you, "Yeah, it degrades the signal significantly..."

Dbphd, one rule is paramount; try every conceivable permutation of system development with the gear on hand. Very surprising, good things can happen when juggling gear. You may find a very pleasing combination yet! Some of the best systems I have built have been the result of inspiration to try something unconventional. Just don't do such things late at night when tired; bad things happen when half asleep and hooking up gear. :)
Douglas - I suggested that he ask Cary about the signal path, so he knows just what it happening in the unit. It is the simplest way to answer the question of just what the unit is doing internally. It could be a straight bypass with a relay, like in my SLP-05, or it could bypass part but not all the processing. A call to Cary can tell him that. I did not suggest that he ask if it will degrade the signal. I suggested he ask them about the signal path and then try it both ways and see.
Dtc, yes, I think we're agreed there is an informational component and experiential component to Dbphd's question.