Should I Use the Coax or HDMI Output On My BD Player for Hi-Res Audio?

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Q I have a new Sony UBP-X1100ES Ultra HD Blu-ray player and Denon receiver. I know I can use a coaxial digital connection between the player and receiver for playback of regular CDs. Can I use the same connection to pass high-res audio formats like SACD and DVD-Audio to the receiver, or do I need an HDMI cable for that? —John Huxhold, Manchester, MO

A You will need to use either an HDMI or an analog stereo connection between the Ultra HD Blu-ray player and your receiver. The Sony’s coaxial digital connection only supports output of standard Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams, along with the two-channel PCM digital audio found on CDs, while its HDMI output will pass the multichannel high-resolution digital audio contained on SACD and DVD-Audio discs.

Depending on the capabilities of your external gear, you can configure the player to pass the SACD data in bitstream format (for decoding by the receiver). The other option is to configure the player to first convert the DSD on SACDs to a multichannel PCM format, which is also used by DVD-Audio discs.

If HDMI isn’t an option for you, you can still listen to high-res audio on SACD and DVD-Audio discs using the Sony’s RCA analog stereo connection. In this case, however, any multichannel mixes on disc will be downconverted to a two-channel format for output.

Puffer Belly's picture

You don't state which model AVR you have, so here are some general guidelines:

- DSD is not allowed through S/PDIF connections because of Sony's license restrictions (Sony owns SACD and DSD). PCM from CDs, DVD-A/V, BD-A/V is allowed although your AVR may limit the sampling rate to 48 or 96 kHz and not allow higher rates (have the player convert higher sampling rates to the AVR's maximum sampling rate).
- If your AVR doesn't decode DSD, then have the player convert it to PCM and then it can be passed through S/PDIF, although some players may still block it because the PCM came from DSD.
- DSD can be passed through HDMI if your AVR decodes DSD, otherwise, convert it to PCM and have the AVR play the PCM.
- The last option is the analog stereo-only connections; if your player has a DAC that is better than the AVR's, this option may sound the best.

navr's picture

I have a blu-ray player as the source playing CD. It is connected to AVR via HDMI (it has analog outs, but I think the quality is better if HDMI is used from the player to AVR (Pioneer VSX-1325, which is VSX-33)and DAC on AVR is probably better than BR player's (Panasonic BD55)
Can I use AVR to convert HDMI sent to AVR from my blu-ray into RCA audio output without going through AVR's preamp? I want to connect the converted RCA analog audio output to RCA input on the external hifi preamplifier of higher quality (which does not have digital inputs) than the one in AVR and need AVR to just convert from HDMI to RCA without amplification.
Somebody suggested that Zone 2 pre-outs could be used and configured to be fixed line level, but I am not sure whether this would still be output from AVR's preamp going to yet another (hifi) external preamp? Probably this could work if the gain is 1 (if that is what fixed line level means?)

Dealzguy18's picture

That’s right and ironically Sony / Philips own SPDIF also...Sony - Philip Digital Interface,,, but guess there are inherent limitations of SPDIF for Hi Res audio... not the number of Channels, so SACD / DVD Audio still works well on SPDIF but limited to resolution.

Puffer Belly's picture

Why would you want audio straight off your AVR's DAC? It has to have some amplification or buffer (i.e., preamp). Some AVRs have RCA outputs from the preamp taken before the power amp. One of my AVRs from 2000 has this feature, but none of my other, more modern, AVRs have this feature. I think what you want is an external DAC that is between the BD player and your high-quality preamp, but any DAC is going to have its own preamp already unless you can find an expensive one that does something unique. Many BD players have two HDMI outputs, one usually for audio only.