What am I listening to, it can't be Digital?

Just recently bought a Diana Krall, The Look Of Love, DVD-Audio Disc. Playing it on a Pioneer DV-58AV. The Content is listed as:

Advanced Resolution Surround Sound (96kHz/24-bit)DVD-Audio
Advanced Resolution Stereo (96kHz/24-bit)DVD-Audio
Dolby Digital Surround Sound DVD-Video
Artist Bio/Photo Gallery/Catalog DVD-Audio/Video

What I hear doesn't sound anything like Surround Sound Digital anything. It sounds almost exactly like an Analog Recording. The images are fleshed out in an extreme on an enlarged Soundstage. The ambience and Harmonic content seems to expand and go on forever. There is no Surround Sound Channel separation what so ever. I can't figure out if I am listening to Advanced Resolution Surround Sound, Advanced Resolution Stereo, or is the Pioneer giving me a 2-Channel downmix of both? If more Higher Resolution Disks sounded like this, there would be no way that DVD-Audio and SACD would be going out of business! The 2-Channel Stuff isn't that much of an improvement over CD, but damn it if some Recording Studio's aren't putting out some multi-channel Stuff that blows everything else away (except for maybe Records, but this Stuff is damn close)! That is, if what I am listening to is Multi-Channel or even a downmix. Can anyone out there tell me what's up with this particular DVD-Audio Disc? Can anyone tell me what I am listening to? Should I just shut-up because I am over-reacting?
Just shut up! Just kidding of course...what does your system consist of and are you multichannel?
Dear Dave_b,
I am strictly 2-Channel with a Pioneer Universal Player (DV-58AV) that claims to be able to take multi-channel SACD and DVD-Audio, and downmix them to 2-Channel Output. I just don't know if this DVD-Audio Disc provides for this. If I am picking up just two Channels off of this Disc, that can't be right. This sounds way better than any Stereo 96kHz/24-bit source has a right to. The only thing I can think of is if the Recording Studio Mastered the Original Recording to take advantage of the benefit that a Multi-Channel downmix to 2-Channel might provide. They also might have provided for the advantage in 4-Channel Surround Mode as well. I am just saying that it doesn't sound like 2-Main Channels mixed with 2-Surround Channels. The forward images are more fleshed out than I have heard from any Digital Source. The Soundstage is huge, the background Instruments have harmonic content that seems to stretch off into infinity. It sounds exactly like a Record, or pretty damn close.
I am currently using the AUDIO OUT (2ch) from the Pioneer to a Space Tech Lab A-102 Vacuum Tube Integrated/Headphone Amp. This is driving a pair of Grado RS-1 Headphones. I have a whole different set-up for CD Digital Co-axial Out from the Pioneer to a separate DAC.
Ah yes, headphones...that would be part of the magic. Enjoy your fortunes:O)
I've only got two Music DVD's so I'm not real smart about this stuff but my James Taylor "One Man Band", and Cowboy Junkies "Trinity Revisited" DVD's have set up menus to change modes from 5.1 surround to 2 channel stereo. Is it possible that the "set up" menu on your DVD is set to 2 ch stereo verses 5.1 surround? By the way, the "Trinity Revisited" DVD IMHO is amazing.
The effect you are hearing is the 24 bit high resolution content of DVD Audio. You are still hearing the stereo mix unless your headphone has separate five ear buds.
Dear Dave_b
Utilizing same Pioneer with Digital Co-axial out to Space Tech Lab DAC. Balanced Output from DAC to same said Space Tech Lab A-102 Vacuum Tube Integrated/Headphone Amp. Same set of Headphones with CD, sounds very-very-good. Still can't touch the sound of this DVD-Audio. Switch to this DVD-Audio puts at least a foot more Soundstage around the ears. Don't believe its the Headphones alone.
Dear Raks,
I'm not real smart about this stuff either, that is why I am trying to find out what it is that I am listening to. The Pioneer DV-58AV has two groups of Analog Out on the back. One group is AUDIO OUT (5.1ch) and includes all of the Channels for Surround Sound including the two front Channels. The other group is AUDIO OUT (2ch) which is utilized for two Channel Stereo. I am utilizing this last Output to my Stereo. To utilize 5.1 surround, my RCA Connectors would have to at least be hooked up to the 5.1 Audio Outputs. The AUDIO OUT (2ch) is separate from the 5.1 Channel Outputs. The Pioneer Menu allows one to select activation of either the AUDIO OUT (2ch) or the AUDIO OUT (5.1ch). Switching the Mode only activates the AUDIO OUT (5.1ch), 5.1 Surround can only be accessed from these Outlets, at least that is what the Manual says. The Manual does mention Downmixing of Multi-Channel DVD-Audio Discs to 2 Channel Stereo. I am still trying to figure out if this is accessed from the AUDIO OUT (2ch)-or- from the AUDIO OUT (5.1ch) Front Two Channels. The DVD-Audio Multi-Channel Disc also has to provide access for this 2 Channel downmix as well. The whole point is that what I am hearing sounds absolutely NOT like a Stereo Channels/Surround Channels Downmix. There is nothing Surroundish about it, the envelope of the Soundstage has tons of harmonic content, not delayed Surround Processing. Forward images have twice the intensity of presence, nothing like what I have ever heard on Surround Sound Systems. It may be a Downmix of Surround Channels, but the Surround Channels are loaded with musical harmonic content, not special effects. The Recording Studio might have decided to load the Surround Channels with harmonic musical content instead of the usual Surround Sound processed stuff. No matter what the cause, it sounds about as close to an Analog Record than any silver disc has a right to be.
My experience has been that DVD-A stereo sounds exceptionally good
(dynamic, resolving, etc), but I'm not going to get into comparisons with
analog because it's too subjective.

Have you listened to other DVD-A discs other than Diana Krall's? Just
interested to know your basis of comparison.

My hunch is that there's no down mixing going on, and that you're listening
to DVD-A stereo. If the DVD-A has both multi channel and stereo mixes, you
will have the menu option on the Pioneer DVD player of selecting the mix you
want to hear. That's the first step.

When you play the Krall DVD-A, your Pioneer player's display should indicate
which channels are being reproduced (L&R, or Multi Channel). All my DVD-A
or SACD players have done this (Denon 2900, Denon 3910, Sony DVP999ES,
Esoteric UX-3Pi).
Dear Jylee,
Already know that it isn't 5.1 Surround Sound, I am incapable of utilizing any of the AUDIO OUT (5.1ch) Outputs on the Pioneer. It might be possible that what I am hearing is two Channel 96kHz/24-bit, but double the presence, double the harmonic content, a foot wider Soundstage with Headphones? Do you have any two Channel 96kHz/24-bit recordings that do this? I have listened to 2-Channel SACD, and this blows it away. The problem is a Perfect Storm, three causes whose total is greater than the sum of their parts. Let me explain:
1. A Pioneer Manual that talks about a Players ability to
to take 4-Channel DVD-Audio and Downmix it to 2-Channel
2. A Player that doesn't indicate the presence of a 4-
Channel DVD-Audio or a Surround DVD-Audio. A Player that
further doesn't indicate when it is Downmixing or not.
3. A Disc Jacket for a DVD-Audio Disc that doesn't explain
that access to the Surround Channels is only available
through the use of external Surround Processing. A
simple disclaimer such as, "Downmixing of Surround
Channels to 2-Channel Stereo is not accessable on this

Mental note to self: if a DVD-Audio Disc offers 4 Channels of Audio, but if two of these Channels are Surround Sound, then these Channels CANNOT be downmixed to 2-Channel Stereo. These Channels can only be accessed through external Surround Sound Processing. I think I got it! Well this should help avoid any further mistakes, and help me save some money!
The Pioneer's on-screen Audio menu should provide the options, e.g. multi-channel, two channel, or down mix, and allow you to select the option you want, yes?
Dear Tvad,
I wasn't trying to compare what I was hearing to Analog to try to determine which one was superior. I'm not saying either one was the best. All that I was trying to say is what I was hearing shared some of the same characteristics as Analog. I do have a Turntable, but the mix in quality of various Records, CD's, DVD-Audio, and SACD in my opinion makes comparison impossible. I try for the highest quality Recording instead of the highest quality Format. I try for a System that can play many Formats. My latest foray was into DVD-Audio and SACD. I was overtaken by the confusion in DVD-Audio and SACD/2-Channel and Multi-Channel. My operating Manual doesn't help and only adds more confusion. I am using my player as an Audio only instrument, the problem is that most of the Audio functions of this player can only be accessed through a T.V. Video Menu. I already have a DVD-Player that is already set up with my T.V.. Disconnecting, reconnecting, disconnecting again, reconnecting again, and I am supposed to presume that the Pioneer will remember its settings after I reconnect it back to my Stereo System. I will muddle through it. Sorry if I confused anyone out there.
Pettyofficer, my DVD-A/SACD players have also all been used in a dedicated audio-only two channel system. As you said, it's a pain to access menus when a video monitor is required, and almost all of the consumer universal players require this.
Best you buy the vinyl release and really 'see' what you are hearing. Better yet, go to one of her concerts and hear the real thing.
I have two dozen or so DVD Audio disks, and the quality has been either hit or miss. The best sound I've heard is DAD version of Somethin' Else by Cannonball Adderley. It's not MLP encoded DVD Audio, but straight 24 bit PCM recording. Maybe that's why it sounds better? Also the disk player had a lot to do with the sound quality in my experience. On my Unidisk SACD sounds gorgeous, but DVD Audio is just good.
As is usually the case, recording quality shines through regardless of the
playback equipment. The DVD-A of "Somethin' Else" is indeed
outstanding, Jylee.

Diana Krall recordings are usually of excellent quality. It's possible that
Pettyofficer's observation has more to do with the specific recording than with
the playback machine.
Dear Jylee,
I have several SACD Disc's, even one from Mobil Fidelity. My impression is that SACD only sounds slightly better than CD, my impression alone. Decided to try a DVD-Audio Disc, and the Diana Krall Disc just blew me away! Not Music wise, sounds pretty good, but the Recording Quality sounds like it was from another Planet. Tvad is correct that it is my first DVD-Audio Disc. If it is 2-Channel I am hearing, and I think it is, it is the closest that I have ever heard a Silver Disc come to an Analog Recording. Buconerol17 is correct, I do have a Turntable, and I have listened to many Analog Recordings. The LP version probably does sound allot better, it is just that this particular DVD-Audio Disc sounds so unusually close to Analog that it stands head, and shoulders above CD/SACD! It is like a night and day comparison! I am rather new to the DVD-Audio/SACD Formats, not even sure what DAD or MLP encoded DVD Audio is.
If the same Recording, and Mastering Process could be applied to other DVD-Audio Discs as this one, then you would have an Alternate Format that wouldn't be just slightly better than CD. I think that you would have something that really stands out as a high quality Format. The impression that I am getting from everyone here, is that not all DVD-Audio/SACD Disc's sound the same, in fact there is night and day difference from one Disc to another! That is a damn shame, because most of my freinds are unimpressed by what they call, the mediocre sound quality of DVD-Audio/SACD. They are the one's who decided not to buy into either one of these Formats, now I am finding out that the ability to make DVD-Audio sound miles ahead of CD has always existed! It was just not implemented with a majority of DVD-Audio/SACD Disc's, an attempt to skimp out on sound quality and scam the Public into buying into the name of a New Format! The American Public was wiser, and the backlash was brutal! It just seems to me that someone has cut off their nose to spite their face, when it comes to manufacturing DVD-Audio/SACD! Because of this, DVD-Audio, and SACD are on their way out! Greed wins, (or loses in this case) over Sound Quality! What a waste! This will probably be the last Silver Disk that sounds so well, that will be available for me to purchase! What a waste!