Universal Players that do not convert DSD to PCM?

Is there way to definitively tell if a universal player converts DSD (SACD) to PCM before convertion to analog? I am talking about 2 ch Audio output from the player here.

When I talk to retailers about this I usually get a blank stare.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Why do you care? High Res PCM is as good (some say better) than DSD. Also most mixing consoles are PCM, and Sony's design for DSD recognizes this fact of life and makes conversion easy. Listen to the equipment, not to Sony's hype.
One can read the manufacturer's description. I know the Denon 2900 does not convert DSD to PCM.
I think DSD is only converted to PCM if bass management and speaker distance is used. And only in some machines. Two channel is not converted to PCM. That is my understanding, someone correct me if I am worng.
I think the Marantz DV8300 and up, does no such thing. Convert, that is.

But, if you really wanna get a pure answer - email the manufacturer or email the construction designer of a product you fancy. They are mostly happy to talk about, and help solving this kind of problems. And they will know, not guess.

Unfortunately, emailing the manufacturer does not always give you the correct info.

I emailed Integra with this very question about their DPS 10.5. Their response was that no DSD->PCM conversion occurs. Yet, when investigated further, I learned that the Wolfson DAC used in the DPS 10.5 (or any other DAC Wolfson makes for that matter) is not capable of processing DSD natively (that is...without converting to PCM first).

Again though...jury is out as to if it really makes a difference. Trust your ears...you'll be happier that way.
Pioneer DV-563A does not convert DSD to PCM when Bass Management is off.
As an owner of the Onkyo sp 1000..I can honestly say that the pcm conversion makes no difference as this player has the best sa-cd performance I have heard from a 2.5k or less player.
Don't believe the hype imo.

For what it's worth The best starting point is to identify the actual DAC used and to then check the data sheet to see if it supports DSD and PCM. There are cheap universals around such as the Pioneer 563 that use Burr Brown DSD 1791 DACs capable of PCM and DSD. I'm not sure if this offers any real benefits as there are equally very expensive universals that use PCM only DACs, such as the Esoteric DV-50 which use the BB PCM 1730 and an external DSD interface.
Thanks for all the responses. As to why care. At a logical level it seems that if you want to evaluate the difference between two formats and assess their quality, it doesn't make much sense to convert one format to the other prior to the comparison.

In my mind it all comes down to the detrimental affects that sampling has on live performance music. It is the same argument used for years on analog verses digital and, yes most folks can here the difference between the two. And most of what they are hearing is due to the sampling nature of digital. Now does DSD sound less sampled and more natural than high res PCM? That's the question but without hearing each without conversion, one never knows.

Thanks again to all.
Twclark...OK reason. But be sure you research how the disc was made. Most SACD programs were mastered on PCM equipment, and converted over to DSD to make the SACD.
It is interesting that nobody has thus far made mention of the Esoteric DV-50. I own this unit, and if I'm not wrong, it does not convert DSD to PCM. Whether this contributes to its excellent performance on SACD is still a point of controversy. Esoteric's more expensive players like the UX1, do convert to PCM. Do any other users of the DV-50 care to comment on this? The other thread concerning the DV-50's performance has gotten so far off into the deep waters of modifications of other players, that it is no longer relevant to the DV-50
TW- The newer Denon universal players, amongst the very few that can apply speaker distance setting for SACD, do NOT convert to PCM for speaker distance setting but DO convert to PCM when bass management is called for. Check out the very thourough reviews at Audioholics.com.

Aren't ALL digitally recorded SACDs originally recorded in PCM then converted to DSD during mastering ? Do any digital multitrack recorders and mixers run natively in DSD ? I thought they all ran 24/192 (or 96kHz) PCM.

The DVDA standard (PCM) is theoretically a higher resolution standard than SACD (DSD) so if a player converts DSD to PCM (DVD-A) then that should not be detrimental.

Plus if a player does convert to PCM then it only needs one DAC which could then be a more expensive and more capable DAC. If it has 2 DACs then the accounting department will have to make sure that they are less expensive DACs.

So I guess I'm saying that it probably shouldn't be a consideration ... have a listen and buy the one that sounds the best.
Marantz Dv9500 (has a switch).
Seandtaylor99, please do some more research.

Metralla, could you elaborate ? I don't mind being brought up to date if I'm incorrect, but your response is just plain rude.

Here's a mastering engineer describing exactly what I said above ....
Recorders and studio equipment for mastering is expensive, and no one is going to rush out and buy all new DSD technology when high resolution PCM is as good or better.
Seandtaylor99, I did say "please".

That reference is from 2001.

There are Super Audio CDs that are "pure" DSD. From recording, through mixing and to mastering.

You can do mixing in DSD - sure, there are nowhere near the number of channels as a PCM mixing desk.

Seantaylor99: "Aren't ALL digitally recorded SACDs originally recorded in PCM then converted to DSD during mastering? Do any digital multitrack recorders and mixers run natively in DSD? I thought they all ran 24/192 (or 96kHz) PCM.

The DVDA standard (PCM) is theoretically a higher resolution standard than SACD (DSD) so if a player converts DSD to PCM (DVD-A) then that should not be detrimental."

There are DSD recorders and they DO NOT start in PCM. I read somewhere that DSD's native sampling rate is something like 2.4MEGA Hertz! DSD is a delta- ( or 'difference'-)sensing system and records the difference between this and the last sample. PCM converts the entire sample into a digital representation and requires lots more digital resources than DSD's delta sampling.

Personally, I try to stay away from DVD-As or SACDs, both of which are highly listenable formats IMO, that were recorded in the other format. EVERY conversion has to remove some of the information or it wouldn't be called sampling.

You would be surprised to find out how many music (and mastering) studios did NOT rush out and by PCM gear! Analog is pretty ok.
Most music studios today will still mix on an analog desk, SSL or NEVE, and sourcre from PCM or analog.

There is no professional DSD mixing solution.
The only PURE DSD is the SONY Sonoma Workstation. (8 Ch).
There is only a few of those around.
This is a complex topic,I was personally involved with a high channel count DSD mixing solution, that found no market. Doing DSD is super expensive at this point since traditional DSP chips are illsuited for the task.

Now, there are still planty of people who record analog.
The best (pop) SACD's I have are all sourced from Analog. Tracked analog mixed analog and EVEN mastered analog, then turned to DSD at the last step.

For popular music where you need high channel count, you can use an analog desk and analog recorder. For classical and jazz you seldom need more then 8 tracks for a good recording. So there are ways to make DSD that has not touched PCM. And indeed these will sound the best.

I can't argue the Analog, PCM DSD thing anymore. I've been there and done it many times over. For those who want to argue the difference, please list your qualifications or experiences first.

If you are serious about your DSD, better get a player that does not convert.
Correction, to be fair. The sony worksation was never for sale. Sadie is realy the only true DSD workstation.
There is also DXD from Merging, but it is essentially 384khz PCM NOT dsd.
Jeff ... thanks, I understand that DSD is a delta-sigma modulation. Don't be fooled that its high sampling rate makes it superior to DVD-A because delta-sigma convertors require a MUCH higher sampling rate than PCM systems so that they can track a high slew rate in the signal with their single bit. DSD and PCM have different shortcomings, though both should be audibly superior to redbook CD.

Metralla ... you may have said "please", and "regards" but your post was still unnecessarily curt and condescending, and your followup post contained virtually no extra information, links etc. If you're going to denigrate others at least have the grace to educate us.

Iszak ... 2" 24 track onto 1" analog master is great for sound quality ... I agree. DSD direct off the analog master will be fine quality. I suspect that a DSD from a 24/96 or 24/192 PCM would also be pretty fantastic. Older ADCs are probably less good.

And you still need good mics, placement, a good room, and an engineer who doesn't feel the need to use every single piece of rack equipment to perform the mix. These things make more difference than the whole analog/PCM/DSD issue, but are often overloked by the audio crowd.
Izsakmixer...Thanks for reminding us that analog masters are still around. In fact very many brand new SACD (at least in the classical area) are reissues of historic performances from as far back as 1959 (Bruno Walter/Columbia Symphony/Mozart Symphonies 38 and 40 is one I just bought). However, in all cases that I know of the multitrack analog masters have been digitized, often "cleaned up" in ways that can only be done in the digital format, and mixed in digital format. Digital recording and mixing was with us for LPs, so I recon there must be a lot of digital studio equipment around.
Metralla ... you may have said "please", and "regards" but your post was still unnecessarily curt and condescending, and your followup post contained virtually no extra information, links etc.
I'm sorry we got off on the wrong foot. I did not mean to get your back up - but obviously I did. I answered your questions correctly. Peace.

http://www.superaudiocenter.com to read about the Sonoma workstation and native DSD, the high-quality analog tape shortage, and the new John Hiatt album, etc.

Check it out.

Listen to the new John Coltrane blue note reissue!
I mean a 40 years old recordin! It sounds insane good!

Eldartford! you are wrong on most being mixed digitally!
The matter of fact is the the process mostly involves a PCM workstation of some sort for edit and clean up, and then the outputs are going into an analog desk mixed (usually a Neve, SSL or euphonix) to analog 8 track and then DSD'd. Roxy Music, Franky Goes to hollywood, DOTM, all done like that.

DVD A crowd is a bit different, there are some studios like 5.1 entertainment who use PCM desks @96/24.
For PCM sourced DSD stuff, listen to Peter Gabriel So. Or Sting. None of them have the "emotinal" levels of analog sourced or pure DSD. They sound clean as any record can, but they don't make me purr.
Izsakmixer...I guess I used the wrong terminology, "mixed". I didn't know that you guys distinguish mixing from other kinds of processing. I am going by the markings that I see on CDs, for example "ADD" meaning a digital release, processed digitally, from an analog master. Most of my discs are classical, and mixing practices (pardon the term) may be different.

By the way, it seems to me that mixing would be the one process that would benefit most from digital, because the exact timing would make it possible to combine multiple tracks without the usual multitracking phase bluring problems.
Izsak ... most mixing desks may still be analog, but the huge success of Alesis ADAT and similar (and the high cost of analog tape) means a very large percentage of the music of the last 10-15 yrs was recorded in PCM. Much was then mastered onto DAT, or CD-rom, again due to tape and equipment costs.

I remember playing with a roland digital multitrack recorder about 10 years ago. It recorded 16 tracks onto hard disk. Ancient digital PCM technology. Should have sounded terrible. But using quality (Neumann) mikes and a good room we made some recordings that sounded absolutely stunning played direct through my hifi. Better than any of my LPs or CDs.

So I maintain that the quality of engineering and the shortness of the signal path is more important than PCM vs analog vs DSD.

You are so in in theaory, but it is exactly the timing that makes it so bad. Let me explain.
There are no PCM mixing solutions out there that have proper "delay managment", meaning that all inputs arrive at the output different times depending on processing used.
(Like EQ, Dynamics all will add a few samples of delay to the processed tracks.)
In other words, PCM MIX is never time coherent.

Many companies have tried to fix this, with no avail.
It is a complex issue. But this is exactly why PCM mixing is out of question when it comes to proper sound.

Mastering is different becouse your apply processing in the same manner to all tracks.
Oh boy. ADAT, Pro TOols all the evil tools for sound.
Yes I agree, unfortunatley this is the case, especially lately. Almost all pop records and even some jazz now are produced on ProTools, the worst sounding PCM gear, but also the tool that allows a not so popular artist to make a record cheep and easy.

All that told NOT ALL PCM created equal. Like some early PCM recording off of SONY and Mitsu DASH machines are actually really ok, thanks to the descrete converters they used a the time. ADAT (Black 16bit) was probably the worst in terms of sound quality ever. But then again if it wasnt for ADAT's Alanis Moriset would have not been able surface.

What really is bothersome, that we as consumers don't have anough to go on prior to purchase. Like I would really like to know ADAT and ProTools Recorded material so I would not buy it AGAIN on high res if I already own the CD anyway.
Izsakmixer...Sounds like the people who designed digital mixers did a lousy job. Obviously what you call "delay management" is required. I have not been involved with digital audio (except as a user) but the business of syncing up realtime digital data streams, including sampling frequency conversions, is not that big a deal.