Playing SACDs


Howdy,

A few months ago I changed my DAC from a Bryston BDP-3 to a CE Hugo TT2. My source of digital music is an Aurender N100H using USB to the Hugo. The change from BDP-3 to the Hugo was significant to my ears so I am as happy as I can be in that respect but... and there is always a but, isn't? I have a collection of ~150 SACDs which I enjoyed playing from my Oppo, through HDMI, to the BDP-3. Since the BDP-3 is gone and the Oppo can not pass SACD/DSD/PCM in its other digital outputs, I now have to use the onboard DAC of the Oppo and use its analog outputs. It does not sound bad... but it is not as good as it used to sound.

I am have been reading multiple posts here and in other forums but from what I can gather, there isn't a SACD transport that will output SACD (DSD/DoP/PCM), am I correct? I don't have that many movies anymore so I could get rid of the Oppo and get me a SACD transport if it would be possible to play SACDs without HDMI.

Any ideas or should I just suck it up and move on?

Thanks!

Ivan
smdb01us
Ivan,

No need to give up on SACD’s. Keep your Oppo and add a D.BOX between your Oppo and Hugo and you’re in business. I heard the demo at AXPONA earlier this year and came away pretty impressed. 

https://geerfab.com/geerfab-audio
@lalitk, very interesting! Will check it out, thank you for the suggestion.
There are other SACD players that will output DSD, but afaik they do it over HDMI.
I wonder what the price of that D.BOB will be.
@mahler123, I emailed GeerFab this morning asking about its price. We will see :-)
Ivan,

Please post the price and availability once you know. I am planning to get one as well. I have lot of great sounding concert Blu-ray’s that I would like to spin in my 2ch system. 
I suggest you rip your SACDs. Makes them easy and convenient to play, and with the highest possible SQ.

You haven’t said which Oppo you have, but if you have either the 105 or 103, you’re all set to do it. If you don’t have one of those, you might buy a used 103. There are other hardware options as well. You can do a search.

Ripping SACDs is very easy to do, and you will have the rips to play no matter what your future set-up looks like.  And it can go it directly and without any conversion through USB.
@melm I have thought about doing that several times... I am technology included (SW engineer) but for some reason I have never gone that route. Perhaps I need time to justify buying the HW just for that. Anyways, I have a UDP-203. I will check how expensive the used Oppos go for. Thank you for reminding me that.
@melm, well I am officially an idiot. I just remembered that I never sold the old 103 the 203 replaced, LOL. I am now reading the posts on how to rip SACDs. Good weekend project!
@smdb01us

Bravo!  Now it's a no-brainer.  You will be very happy with the results.  

You might begin by having a look here: https://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-93-minidsp-ripping-sacds-page-2

Let the folks here know how it worked out.
Tell me if I'm reading into this incorrectly but:  If you want to run your Oppo into the Hugo this is for 2 channel listening, correct?  My 105 outputs digital 2 channel to my Hugo.  Most SACDs are hybrid 2 channel discs.  Yes, if you have pure SACDs this won't work.  Is your desire to downmix 5.1 down to 2 channel?
@elevick, yes, I can play the CD stereo component of the hybrid SACD through the DAC but after testing and doing multiple A/B comparisons, I find that I ripped red book CD sounds better when ripped and then played through my Aurender—Hugo. My interest with this post was to explore playing SACDs, DSD64/128, from the Oppo without using its onboard DAC, which is the only way possible when you don’t use its HDMI port, it seems.

Ahh, now I get it.  That is a problem with SACD.  The format is proprietary and they are not allowed to pass the digital signal.  So, you are very limited with 2 channel SACDs.

Without a doubt the Hugo sounds better.

My 105 does have toslink and coax digital out.  This will pass the digital on hybrid SACDs or redbook and doesn't seem to affect the quality at all.  I find it easier than using my laptop to Hugo. 

I know there are hdmi to coax converters.  Not sure on the quality.  Just for fun, have you tried running the hdmi to a tv that has digital out?  That might pass through 2 channel.  I'm just not sure how clean and musical it would end up being.
@melm Well, it is going to take me some time to rip through my SACD collection but I am making progress, 10 done, 100 plus to go... :) thank you again for reminding me of the process!
SACD has two-channel and 5.0 channel. I dont know if any outboard DAC can do 5.0. Also DSD can only pass through HDMI encrypted. Does your DAC have HDMI port or just co-axial, optical., PCM will lose the purpuse of DSD. I would still use Oppo out for SACD.
Most SACD's only have 2 channels.  I have a combined 2 channel / home theater system. 

I use an Oppo UDP-203 to play movies and the few multi-channel SACD's I have through a Marantz AV 7704 pre-pro. 

For 2 channel, I have a Marantz KI-Pearl SACD player and use its built in DAC to play 2 channel SACD's through my Modwright LS 100 preamp.  Playing SACD's with the Marantz / Modwright combo sounds much better than the Oppo / Marantz combo.

In general, I prefer the 2 channel mixes of the SACDs I have.  While it's fun to listen to Dark Side of the Moon in 5.1, it's also kind of disconcerting to hear things swirling all around you that you're used to hearing in 2 channels.   
Historically, recording start from mono to stereo (actually 3 front channels) to multi-channel. Vinyl limited to stereo (2 channel) the sound image is hard to image with just 2 channel (you need to toe in and sit the at the best spot to get good image) with 3 channel, it will become much easier. So you could ignore surroud channel if you are not used to that. But with three full-range front speakers, there is no match with only 2 channel stereo.
Ripping the DSD portion of SACDs seems complicated, but apparently can be done with the right equipment.  You might instead use analog from a high-quality disc player you might find in the used market.  I use an Ayre C-5xeMP for that purpose, although I now have a DX-5 DSD as well.  The sound of SACDs played using either is superb,                        

Another +vote for AYRE DX-5. Honorable mention for Marantz KI- Pearl and Marantz SA-10.  Big fan of the SACD which now is 20 years old as a format.


Happy Listening!

" Ripping the DSD portion of SACDs seems complicated" It is not!

Once set up you simply put each disk into the player, one after another, click on a program once, and they download to your computer. Thousands of audiophiles have done it. The designer of Ayre products has done it. To suggest that the OP buy a multi kilo-buck player when he already has an outstanding DAC is a bit silly IMO. He already has the USB set-up and the rips will provide a very high level of SQ, likely higher than from any disk player.