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SACD playing to an external DAC (DSD via i2s hdmi input)

Hade

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Feb 5, 2021
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#1
Hi,
I now live in Paris, France.
I've been looking for a solution to play SACDs with a result at least as good as with a SACD dedicated player for a while.
I've been interested in all equipment and devices on that subject that I can summarize as follows.
Several alternatives to a specific SACD player with analog outputs are now available:
. a transport with a separate but dedicated DAC because the connection is specific to a brand (Denon, 3D labs...).
. a blu ray player compatible with SACD, able over hdmi to output in DSD or in pcm. More and more A/V amplifier do accept that DSD signal but I’m not really satisfied with the result in pure stereo sound. Some DACs such as the old NAD M51 have an hdmi input which can accept pcm signals but again I don’t find the final result as good as with a SACD player.
. there are DSD compatible DACs over audio-video hdmi such as the Bryston BDA3 which is very expensive.
>> https://bryston.com/digital-audio/bda3/
. SACDs can be ripped to ISO files but a PC/laptop is then required.
. most recently, a manufacturer has offered an extractor (at around USD 1,000) able to extract the DSD from the hdmi to convert it into "DSD on pcm" (dop), accepted by many DACs nowadays on SPDIF input (coax or optical).
>> See geerfab: https://geerfab.com/audio
More and more DACs are equipped with i2S input on an hdmi socket (which has nothing to do with the audio-video signal via hdmi).
The problem is that the hdmi connection for that use has not been standardized and there are various wiring possibilities which often make the devices incompatible with each other.
There is indeed a brand that offers DACs which i2s input is fully configurable but at a cost above USD 3,000.
>> That is Denafrips; see their video that explains that:
However, some DACs like Gustard, Smsl, Sabaj, Topping seem very similar and probably use almost the same hdmi wiring for the i2s, which can be adjusted in some ways if necessary.
>> See Smsl M400 manual (pages 21 and 22): https://www.smsl-audio.com/upload/portal/20200512/202005121751221069.pdf
In addition an extractor can be found now with conventional audio / video hdmi input and output, plus a second i2s hdmi output to extract the audio stream.
It was also available before on a card but was not ready to use to anyone: https://forum.psaudio.com/t/it-work...se-i2s-adapter-board-to-ds-sr-i2s-input/15630
A blu ray player compatible with sacd can now transfer DSD over hdmi to a DAC with i2S hdmi thanks to that kind of new extractor.
>> Sold here by audiophonics but can be found everywhere including ebay: https://www.audiophonics.fr/fr/interfaces-diy/interface-numerique-hdmi-mhl-vers-i2s-coaxial-optique-p-13419.html?search_query=extracteur i2s&fast_search=fs
And that works!
I’m really satisfied with the results indeed, superior to anything I’ve got till now.
In addition I have some SACDs that cannot be played by my Yamaha cds-s2000 anymore. I can play them again with a blu ray player with even better results.
During all my tests I’ve found the result with the i2s hdmi always better than any other input (also for red book CDs). In addition, I now rather use the XLR outputs of the DAC which further improve the sound with an additional smoothness.
Any other feedback is warmly welcome!
 
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suwey

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Mar 28, 2021
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#2
A blu ray player compatible with sacd can now transfer DSD over hdmi to a DAC with i2S hdmi thanks to that kind of new extractor.
>> Sold here by audiophonics but can be found everywhere including ebay: https://www.audiophonics.fr/fr/interfaces-diy/interface-numerique-hdmi-mhl-vers-i2s-coaxial-optique-p-13419.html?search_query=extracteur i2s&fast_search=fs
And that works!
I just bought one like this, and found it can not work well with my X-sabre pro when play dsd files.
 

muslhead

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#3
make sure you clarify whether you are speaking of 2 channel or mch. If mch, the its important to be clear, in case someone was interested, the information above on compatible dacs is incorrect.
 
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#4
A blu ray player compatible with sacd can now transfer DSD over hdmi
Well yes, but not all Blu-ray players ... only certain models which explicitly support DSD-over-HDMI. There is a list here -
https://www.avsforum.com/threads/dsd-over-hdmi-players.1155206/

SACDs can be ripped to ISO files but a PC/laptop is then required.
Well yes, a computer is required, but not necessarily a PC/laptop. Certain models of single board computer, such as the BeagleBone Black, can be configured to play DSD files (.dff or.dsf) and output I2S-DSD. Such devices can be cheaper than a Blu-ray player, and if run headless (no monitor/keyboard/mouse) will be small and compact.
 

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