PCM, SACD and DVD-A intriguing facts

Dietmar from Trinity Audio explains some of the intriguing facts about the PCM, SACD and DVD-A...

The problems with PCM came up with the introduction of DVD-Audio. Even it was the better data format by default than DSD it was so bad implemented in consumer products.

I bought a Meridian DVD-A player (7500USD) and was surprised about the bad sound. Actually I was looking for a DVD-A drive, which I could “upgrade” with an own high speed digital output for my first TRINITY DAC.

So I had to measure a lot on at least a dozen DVD-A players from Denton, Meridian and so on.

Analyzing the Meridian player has shown, that the drive down- samples all original 192kHz tracks to 96kHz and feed this data stream to an Analog Devices DAC IC, which up-sampled the data stream again.

What a stupid implementation and that from a company, who was part of the standardization with its MLP ( Meridian Lossless Packaging). You got more and useless signal processing than in a CD player.

No wonder that people got disappointed playing DVD-A even using expansive playback devices. 

Another example, it took for me a few days working on the flag ship DVD-A player from Denton, before I found a setting where the 192kHz data stream was not down sampled. But for that you need the service manual and a logic analyzer to understand what they have implemented. The amazing thing was, that the key point in the setting was in the video menu and not in the audio menu. Means only with a dedicated video setting you could get the original 192kHz audio data stream. 

On the other hand to playback PCM data streams on Sigma-Delta converter, which are much cheaper then ladder network based PCM 1704, is in my eyes not a real good solution. With the TRINITY DAC you stay all the time in the PCM world.

By the way in the beginning of SACD the recording was done in DSD then transferred to PCM for the post processing and mixing and then it was transferred back to DSD before it was recorded on SACD. A lot of digital signal processing. 

The SACD was introduced by Sony and Philips for one important reason, their CD patents expired and they had to set a new standard to earn furthermore money with IPs. 

To give you a rough number a DVD drive had costs in the production 17USD and 4 USD came from license payments. I worked at that time for Thomson multi-media (RCA brand in the US) in the research lab and had to design the write electronic for all recording standards and my task was it, that the name Thomson stands on the front page of all standard beside Philips, Sony and Matsushita.

Thomson has earned every year 300.000.000Euro with IPs. 
You see in a standardization only the profit is in the focus and not the audiophile wishes from freaks like us.