What’s the Best Blu-ray-to-Processor Connection for Listening to SACDs?
Q I just bought an Oppo BDP-103 universal player and am connecting it to a Marantz AV7005 pre/pro. How do I make sure the signal gets through when playing SACDs? Use the analog RCA outputs, or can HDMI handle it? —Mike Groft / via e-mail
A Yes, HDMI can handle it. To hear high-resolution sound from SACDs, all you need to do is select the PCM option in the BDP-103’s SACD output submenu (located in the Audio Format Setup menu). That will tell the player to convert the data on SACD discs to a multichannel PCM format that gets conveyed to your Marantz preamp over an HDMI connection. (The other option in the SACD output submenu, DSD, would be an even better choice since it would let the player send data directly to the preamp over HDMI, but only a few preamps offer built-in decoding for DSD, and the AV7005 isn’t one of them.)
Of course, universal players like the Oppo can also route decoded DSD through their built-in digital-to-analog converters, an option that would let you run RCA cables to your Marantz preamp’s 7.1-channel analog input to hear high-rez sound from SACDs. But seeing that the BDP-103’s feature set doesn’t include the same ESS Sabre Reference 32 DACs found in the company’s more expensive, audiophile-oriented Oppo BDP-105, I don’t imagine you’d hear much difference between that and an HDMI hookup. It might be worth comparing, though.