SACD is VERY confusing

Seems there are thousands of folks out there buying and playing SACDs using coax or optical from a player to a DAC and thinking they are listening to the SACD layer and they are listening to the CD layer. I was assured the Denon DVD-2910,3910,5910 would play SACD through the digital outputs but on the back of the units they clearly state PMC from the digital outputs.....Seems the ONLY way to truly play a SACD is HDMI to HDMI.....Even stripping the audio off the HDMI signal returns it to PMC ..... And everything I've read states the analog outputs, stereo and 5.1 are PMC...


Oppo’s User Manual states: “Due to copyright restrictions, SACD audio cannot be sent through the coaxial or optical digital audio output. To listen to SACDs, please use the HDMI or analog audio connections.) IOW, with a DAC that is connected via coax or TOSLINK, you might be limited to playing the CD layer of a hybrid SACD.

I can't believe they would allow DSD files through analog outputs....Wouldn't this violate the whole copyright issue?

.....There are thousands of people out there buying SACDs and listening to them on their OPPO, Marantz or Denon ..."SACD" players, either through digital or analog and they are listening to the CD/44.1 layer.....This is nuts!


My above comment refers to DSD output. Output trough HDMI is of course possible, but DSD will be converted to PCM.

+1 on the PS Audio explanation.

I use the hdmi from a Sony BluRay player (x1000es)  into a Moon 390 and it decodes at DSD (when available) and sounds pretty swell. (You have to fiddle a bit with the x1000)

But... how many DACs, let alone preamps, have an hdmi board capable of DSD?

So, yes, it is confusing. I think the reason SACD players are so pricey is that you MUST use the internal dac to hear the SACD layer.


I’m not using the models discussed but I do have and play SACDs on a McIntosh MCD85 SACD/CD player. It was high priced considering other SACD/CD models available. I have it connected to a McIntosh MA352 IA via balanced cables (2 channel only).

  • The MCD85 has an disc layer selection button, but auto detects an SACD and displays an SACD indicator light on the display. 
  • There’s a noticeable difference audio between CD and SACD; a "good" SACD is equal to a premium vinyl recording in depth and details.
  • But like vinyl, not all SACDs are equal in recording and quality; some just sound like CDs. Good SACDs are outstanding.
  • SACD availability is very limited; mostly found online at stores like Music+, local record stores don’t carry them.
  • Given the costs of equipment, cables and SACDs its a luxury option for great sound.

Well, after following this thread thus far I have to agree that SACD is very confusing. 

Denon SACD players only play the SACD layer through the Sony S400 output which was inputted on the surround receiver