Stereo SACD vs. digital

I use a Sony 9000ES CD/SACD/DVD player that feeds into a Proceed PAV (preamp) and PDSD (surround processor). Amps are 2 and 3 channel Proceeds, driving a pair of KEF 104/2s that are supplemented with a Velodyne HGS-15. Only 2 of the 3 channels are used for stereo; surround processing is turned off to prevent derivation of a center channel through a KEF 200C.

I can select analog pass-through or digital processing from the remote. Although the 9000ES enjoys an excellent reputation as a CD/DVD player, it seems to me that the sound is more open and transparent if I defeat SACD, and thus the Sony DAC process, and let the Proceed DACs do the conversion. Both sound very good, one just sounds better. I'm curious if others have similar observations.


I'm not an expert, but everything I've read leads me to believe that you are not listening to the SACD layer if you are bypassing the Sony's internal SACD processor.

Other than a couple of "hyper-expensive" transport/DAC setups that I've read about, no transports transfer SACD information via a digital connection. All SACD information is processed within the player and is only available via the analog outputs of the SACD player.

So, if you are letting the Proceed process the digital to analog conversion, you are likely listen to the CD layer of a hybrid SACD/CD.

Of course, if you are just listening to a redbook CD, I would guess that the Proceed just has a superior DAC to the Sony.

BTW, I have owned a Sony DVP-S9000ES and it's reputation as "an excellent CD player" is not well deserved. It may be a decent transport, but as a CD player it was easily bested by every dedicated CD player I've owned.



Reubent is correct, the digital out is only for the CD layer so you are not hearing the SACD layer using this connection. I have the next gen Sony 999ES and I also have to set it for SACD stereo if you have an SACD with a multichannel layer, not sure if this is necessary with the 9000. On my machine, the sound is dramatically better with an SACD over CD. I would be very surprised if an outboard DAC could bring the sound up to the level of the SACD processed onboard. But if it does, please post your findings. I would be shopping for an outboard DAC tomorrow.

Gee, guys, that was the point of my post. CD sounds better than SACD because the Proceed does the digital to analog conversion for CD whereas the Sony does it for SACD, so any added value of the SACD layer seems mitigated by the Sony's inferior DACs. The theoretical advantage of higher quantization may not be realized nor perceived. As I said, both are very good, one seems better.

Are you sure your listening to the SACD layer? If the SACD layer is selected, you will not get any output from the digital out on the Sony, therefore, no sound from the digital in on the Proceed.
I read this post differntly.

"I can select analog pass-through or digital processing from the remote."

This seems to me to be only an option on an analog input. Witch would of course mean that the Sony could be playing the DSD layer.

Most good pre/pro's have the ability to do an analog pass thru (read as an all analog path) or a analog path that runs thru dsp's.

Older units refer to the analog pass thru as "stereo direct or tone defeat.

The reason for this is there is no bass management for DSD. If you want to implicate bass management you most convert to pcm and run the dsp's, hence the option for digital processing. This is also true for bass management inside of the player. (if you use base management on sacd, somewher ds has to become pcm)

The problem you have here is the proceed. You are used to the sound of the dsp proceed. When you switch to the analog pass thru you are now relying on the anlog pre-amp in the proceed only. Something they were never very good at.
The bottom line is that only digital data is on the disk, and it needs to go through digital to analog conversion at some point. SACD predisposes that conversion be at the SACD player. Except for very high-end players, I suspect the DACs in a good processor are superior.