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FAQ: Where Did My Multi-Channel Analog Inputs Go?

by June 12, 2016
Ask Dr. A

Ask Dr. A

Q: You had convinced me to wait for the new RX-A3060 until I discovered that it does not have 7.1 analog inputs for my Oppo BDP-105.  Though I can connect its L/R front outputs to the Yamaha, I will not be able to hear multi-channel DSD files.  Did Yamaha pay Sony a license fee for its DACs to play DSD files natively, or do the DACs in the Yamaha convert DSD files to PCM first?  Thanks

A: Let’s face it, the back panels of high-end A/V receivers are pretty cramped places these days. In addition to offering 9 or more channels worth of amplification (and their corresponding binding posts), today’s AVR’s boast numerous HDMI inputs and outputs, legacy video connections, multiple digital and analog audio inputs, network inputs, preamplifier outputs for main/secondary/tertiary zones, etc. With all that on board, there’s not a lot of spare real estate left over for multi-channel analog inputs.

 RX-A3060 rear

Rear view of the Yamaha RX-A3060

Fortunately, all is not lost for DSD lovers who want to enjoy their music in all its multi-channel glory. We double checked with Yamaha, and confirmed that while the RX-A3060 does not offer multi-channel analog inputs, all models from the RX-A1060 on up can decode DSD natively through and HDMI connection to your Blu-ray player. We also note that Yamaha uses ESS SABRE DACs in its top flight receivers, just like the OPPO BDP-105. As such, we are confident that the RX-A3060’s D/A conversion is up to snuff.


The dirty little secret: want room correction or bass management? You’re converting to PCM.

For those whose receivers can’t decode DSD natively, don’t fret! Regardless of whether you feed your receiver analog, DSD, or have your player convert to PCM, there’s very little (if any) qualitative difference in the end result. Part of this has to do with what happens inside your receiver. If you’re applying bass management or room correction ala Audyssey or YPAO, your AVR has to convert the incoming audio stream into PCM anyways. While purists may claim this degrades the signal, in the real world where we don’t have perfect full range speakers inside perfect listening rooms, the benefits vastly outweigh the costs. In the case of the Yamaha RX-A3060, we’re told that this conversion takes place with a sample rate of 88.2kHz versus the usual 48kHz, keeping the signal as pristine as possible out to the limits of human hearing.

Do you listen to a lot of DSD files /SACDs and want to share your experience? Make sure to chime in on our forums. If you have other A/V questions keeping you up at night, make sure to ask the Audioholics.


About the author:
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Steve Munz is a “different” addition to Audioholics’ stable of contributors in that he is neither an engineer like Gene, nor has he worked in the industry like Cliff. In fact, Steve’s day job is network administration and accounting.

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