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In Reply to: RE: DSD Numbers. posted by PAR on February 22, 2017 at 05:36:49
The XA5400ES will output DSD (mch or stereo) via HDMI but it will also output PCM (mch or stereo) from the DSD layer of the disc depending on the handshaking with the connected target component.
I became familiar with this when I tested the XA5400ES and was surprised to find that it output mch PCM when I connected it to 2-3 preamp/processors which were supposed to be capable of handling DSD as can Disbeliever's Sony AVR. It turns out that the player demands a particular handshake code and, with a trivial firmware update to those pre/pros, they immediately elicited DSD output from the player.
It is unfortunate that Disbeliever has been listening to PCM rather than DSD but he was getting real multichannel and high resolution (24/192, most likely).
Kal, that is very interesting and I am, like you, surprised.
In fact I was walking home from the supermarket 30 or so minutes ago and used the time to ponder on what the OP had said. I started to wonder if the player had a D to D conversion capabilty. So when I returned I had a look at the XA 5400ES manual and there is no mention of any such thing.
It isn't however my first accidental discovery of this type of thing with a Sony transport. I was suprised to find with an early dCS transport which used a Sony 555ES mechanism, that even though the SACD layer was selected and DSD was therefore available on the Firewire outputs there was still output duplicated in PCM on the SP/dif ports. Speaking with dCS they advised that this was a factor caused by the Sony transport design rather than being the result of anything from dCS. It also was not mentioned in the user manual.
The really odd thing to me is the need for a handshake code when both of the OP's components are from Sony and are meant to be mated together.
This is not unique to Sony. For example, until a recent firmware update, all Oppo players would automatically output PCM from HDMI unless the handshake indicated that the target component was DSD-capable. The new firmware offers options of PCM only, DSD only (with silence if the target cannot handle it) and Auto (what it had before).
In addition, until the relatively recent appearance of DoP, it was not possible to output DSD over S/PDIF, so a default to PCM should be no surprise.
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