HDMI not good for critical listening?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by pdxway, May 16, 2019.

  1. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    This morning I listened to some WAV files via Oppo 203 with hdmi output to my Marantz AV8801 AV preamp. I was not that happy with the results. Pretty flat sounding.

    I was curious about why and searched online for possible reasons. Then I read this article: A Deep Dive into HDMI Audio Performance

    Basically the author did measurements and it seems generic modern commercial AVR do not handle HDMI well. I wonder if my Marantz is pretty much the same in handling HDMI.

    The author then suggested using SPDIF for critical listening.

    May be I should try SPDIF out of my Oppo? Any other suggestions?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Matt I

    Matt I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Alabama
    I prefer using optical out from my OPPO 203 to my Marantz SR 7012 vs HDMI. Just go into the Marantz settings and assign the digital inputs.
     
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  3. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    Thanks! I will check tomorrow morning. The article also mentioned simply by attaching HDMI without output also hurts audio quality. That is a bummer....
     
  4. TeleCaster

    TeleCaster Forum Resident

    Location:
    Québec, Canada
    I don't see why there would be any difference. I use a Sony X800 for CD, SACD, DVD-A playback to my Sony DN1080 AVR. The X800 is connected using HDMI and supports multi-channel surround sound (PCM, DSD and hires audio).
     
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  5. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    Yeah, the article did say certain expensive brands do HDMI better than mass market AVR. Just browse to the pictures in the article to see the comparison....But, for AVR, spdif is better measured.
     
  6. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    I got that the AVR doesn’t test as well as Levinson or Lexicon. Until they can test a high end DAC that also has HDMI, it really doesn’t say much.
     
  7. Tommythecat42

    Tommythecat42 Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Hmm, I use HDMI for all sources on my Denon X1500H - using a PS3 for blu ray audio and SACD. I've had no issues, and have compared the RCA out of the ps3 to HDMI and Digital optical. All sound the same. I prefer HDMI because it can handle uncompressed multichannel, where digital optical cannot.
     
  8. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    I thought Mark Levinson 502 is kind of a high end hdmi DAC? It was the best measured one among others being measured in that article.
     
  9. Kristofa

    Kristofa I dream of wires

    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    I only use HDMI out from my Oppo UDP-205 to Yamaha AVR for multichannel. It is the only way for me to do multichannel. I am certain it can sound better, as I am relying on the Yammy’s DAC, but I still listen critically to multichannel using that setup. There will always be something better that will make my rig sound better, so I won’t wait until the end of the rabbit hole to critically listen.
     
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  10. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    The Levinson didn’t have HDMI.
     
  11. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
  12. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    Yeah, but in my case the issue is about 2 channels WAV.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
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  13. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    I guess I missed that, however, I still would not take this artical as gospel. If you did, you would be ditching the Marantz for something better. I know that my DAC sounds fantastic via HDMI and I am able to process SACD which you can't do with SPDIF. I do, however, have a HDMI out that is audio only and I can defeat the video circuitry when playing audio. I imagine you will see a bigger difference defeating the video circuits on your Oppo than you will switching digital outputs. It doesn't hurt to spend $15-$30 and get a coax cable to have them both connected and switch inputs to decide.
     
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  14. Linger63

    Linger63 Forum Resident

    Location:
    AUSTRALIA
    Have you compared SQ using the OPPO's analog outs?
    If so, and you prefer the Marantz's DAC, ensure you have all the corrrect audio settings in OPPO Setup Menu.

    E.G.........I know for a fact (it was in the User Manual too) that you used to have to set Video output resolution to a minimum of 720P or hi rez Audio would be adversely affected!!!!!!
    .......This may still be the case with the 203.

    Also might be worth checking that the HDMI input you are using has been optimised for Stereo playback in Pre/Pro's Set up Menu.

    No harm in trying SPDIF but be aware of bandwidth limitations compared to HDMI.
     
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  15. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    Yup, will do the comparison soon. HDMI with pure audio vs coax with pure audio for 2 channels WAV files playback.

    Actually, YouTube via Roku box via HDMI can sound really good. So I wonder if this is related to WAV format or not....
     
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  16. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    Wow, good to know about using 720p. Would using pure audio help?
     
  17. Linger63

    Linger63 Forum Resident

    Location:
    AUSTRALIA
    Wouldn't hurt.......... but only made a miniscule difference IME.
    Have you listened to the OPPO's DAC for stereo yet?
     
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  18. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    I tried Oppo RCA out a long time ago, at that time I preferred my preamp's DAC. I will check with 720p. My setup is currently with 4K TV.
     
  19. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Yes, HDMI does tend to have more jitter by nature. You can actually also see this with the Oppo UDP-205 HDMI output measurements. But I agree with Amir that jitter is actually NOT likely audible by nature of the low-level distortion products. If you don't like the sound from the digital transport, I would look at the Marantz's DAC performance first and make sure the settings are correct on the Oppo and Marantz as suggested above, then consider jitter effects.

    Remember folks, listen to jitter for yourself, have a look at this post and the test files. IMO jitter has always been an overhyped phenomenon in audiophilia... These days with ubiquitous asynchronous USB and buffered network streaming, it's essentially a non-issue. Depending on the component's ability to reject S/PDIF jitter, it's typically worse than USB or ethernet.
     
  20. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I have an Oppo UDP-203.

    I use it strictly as a transport for CD's.

    Optical out or S/PDIF are both fine and better than HDMI for that purpose.

    I noted this back when I had my Oppo BDP-93.

    This is something that, even to this day, I can not seem to figure out.

    I can bring in a CD through the HDMI output to my surround sound processor's HDMI input and it sounds, like you say, lifeless and completely uninvolving.

    But, I can play music on a Blu-ray video disk through that same HDMI to processor connection and it sounds wonderful, big and dynamic.

    That makes no sense to me at all. One is digital coming from a CD and the other is digital coming from a Blu-ray disk and both are going through the same DAC and the CD sounds like garbage.

    I use the HDMI to processor for DVD's and Blue-ray movies and I take the CD audio off of the Transport to the internal DAC of the Peachtree iNova by S/PDIF or optical.
     
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  21. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    Yes, movie sounded fine with Oppo 203. It was fun watching Aquaman a couple weeks ago.

    I started a thread a while back saying that I don't like how SACD sound. At that time, I was using Oppo 203 with HDMI out to my Pioneer AV receiver. The sound was lifeless and all instruments seem all squeeze into the small space between speakers. I still didn't like it that much after I switched to using Marantz preamp.

    I tried comparing HDMI and spdif (via coaxial rca cable) this morning. It seems using spdif connection has slightly wider sound stage. Nothing really jump out that say spdif is significantly better than HDMI though....hmm...

    Anyway, my setup's sound is kind of different than I used to remember. It is not as bright and harsh like before. May be that is due to my newly acquired Parasound a21 is now driving my mains....

    Still need more time to do comparison and try other tweaks. Won't have time until next week....

    Thanks!
     
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  22. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    With my Oppo, only one HDMI out can transmit DSD...the (selectable) one for audio only signals. The other converts to PCM. Did you check this?
     
  23. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    Hmm, I don't think I have used the audio only HDMI out from Oppo. I know I did try to set DSD within Oppo's setting. However, I never did verified if my preamp actually got DSD. I will need to check. Thx!
     
  24. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    I see that your HDMI measurements chart only cover a limited range of Hz.

    The link that I included in my original post has measurements that cover much wider range of Hz. It starts from 0 Hz!

    [​IMG]

    Do you see similar issue below 5khz when measuring the Oppo HDMI to Yamaha AVR? Thanks!
     
  25. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    Location:
    New Mexico USA
    I don’t see much of a sturdy argument starting from an ASR writeup of non-audible HDMI-related distortion observed in tests of a random group of mass-market AVRs, and applying it to an assumption of audibly poor audio performance caused by the HDMI interface of a cracking good component like the Marantz AV8801, much less ending up drawing any sweeping conclusions about HDMI in general compromising digital audio fidelity in “critical listening.”

    The lesson, if any, seems that people should be skeptical about getting good HDMI hi-fi audio out of non-hi-fi components, and that optical may be a slightly better bet with such components. Typically AVRs are so crammed with a Swiss Army knife multitude of functions that mediocre audio inevitably seems more of a risk than with a device engineered to produce high-end audio as a priority. But to let the FUD ooze beyond that doesn’t seem valid to me.
     

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