• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

SACD with ESS chips. DSD or PCM?


Jun 8, 2022
A buddy of mine believes that an SACD player like the Accuphase DP570 converts DSD to PCM. He believes this to be a consequence of them using ESS 9028pro chips. That doesn’t make sense to me. What is the point in SACD if the player converts DSD to PCM anyway? I read on the ESS spec sheet that the 9028pro can play DSD natively at 1024. Or might the ESS chip upsample in PCM and reconstruct the signal back to DSD following the digital filter?

Thank you!

PS to the usual peanut gallery: “SACD is dead”, “DSD is stupid”, “buy this instead”, “you’re wasting money” and similar comments need not apply.
I don't know about this specific SACD player, but I suspect something similar for the Denon DRA-800H 2ch AVR which has a AKM4458 Dac chip (confirmed by visual inspection). Despite it having this DSD capable DAC chip, the DRA-800H won't accept DSD over HDMI. One can play DSD files using HEOS via network or USB, however the machine states that it's running a DSD source at 88.2 khz, which indicates DSD to PCM transcoding. Some DSD-capable Denon AVRs have DSD-capable DAC chips and display "Direct DSD" to indicate DSD-to-analog, but not the DRA-800H. I wouldn't be able to distinguish PCM vs DSD sound wise anyway. Nevertheless its slightly unfortunate the implementation in this device does not take advantage of the DSD capability of AKM4458.
Thanks for the reply. I know that AKM dac can do native DSD but ESS are questionable.
If I tell JRiver to bitstream DSD without usint DoP to my Topping D70 Pro Sabre (9039Pro), it does report an unaltered data stream and the DAC reports it as 2.8Mz DSD. The DAC does report DoP bitstream the same way but JRiver does indicate that it is altering the data stream to DoP for output. Disabling bitstreaming results in both JRiver and the DAC seeing the data as converted to 24b/384.4kHz at output and input.

I'm not sure if this is conclusive enough for your question, but all indications from status is that this ESS DAC is handling DSD in its native format.

The only time I've been able to get one of my Anthems to report a DSD stream as input over HDMI was from my Oppo 203 set to bitstream. I haven't had any luck getting it to recognize an actual DSD stream via HDMI, coax or toslink from PC or even through an intermediate SMSL P0100 Pro (which supports DoP over coax). I'm relatively sure the Anthems are converting them to PCM internally anyways so they can do room correction etc. So the only time I really worry about it is if I'm running a pure/direct analog path through the rest of the chain from something like the Topping and eschewing any sort of EQ.
That doesn’t make sense to me. What is the point in SACD if the player converts DSD to PCM anyway?

I have players that can convert, depends on where your dac is I suppose. I only bother with multich sacd and that's just for content, not particularly anything magical about the container.
The documentation for the ES9028pro indicates that it accepts DSD, so maybe the question is whether this chip transcodes the DSD to PCM? I don't have a reason to think it would do that, although I don't know how these chips work.

Perhaps OP can ask buddy the rationale for believing that the SACD player would convert DSD to PCM. The question might need to be posed more precisely. Are we talking about the implementation in the SACD player (disc player engineering) or inside the DAC chip (ESS engineering)?
I agree with SoundsGood64.

JRR, I suggest your friend or yourself ask directly Accuphase, if this particular topic about the detail of the inner engineering of this particular player does matter for one of you : https://www.accuphase.com/contact/contact_us.html
Top Bottom