SACD digital out with Oppo 103?

I was looking on Amazon at the Oppo 103 and found this comment from someone who purchased a 103: “I am extremely impressed that it will output a pure DSD stream directly to my Yamaha receiver. There, the Yamaha processes the audio stream directly to it’s DAC’s.” This refers to the stock unit, not the one with the vanity board that is available as a 3rd party mod.

This is very surprising since I have always understood that Sony did not allow a digital output from an SACD player. I have kept my old SACD player to play my relatively small collection of SACDs, but its DAC is not in the same league as the PSA DS. I’d love to hear my SACDs through the DS. Can anyone confirm that the 103 can actually do this? I assume that if this guy used the DAC chip in his Yamaha I could do likewise with the DS.

Also, as long as we’re talking about Oppo – I have researched the differences between the 103 and the 105. The main difference, as far as I’ve learned, is that the latter has a better DAC chip. If I use a 103 basically as a transport and play through my DS, there probably is no reason to spend extra for the 105, correct?

It may not be regular digital out like Coax or Toslink. any chance he is playing using hdmi audio ?

103 and 105 are the same except for the analogue DACs. DSD is on HDMI out from OPPO but there is no HDMI “chip” in the DS. It would be nice but is just not there.

So in other words, the Oppo 103 outputs DSD over its HDMI outputs (which are not compatible with PSA’s specialized use of HDMI cables for i2s inputs) but not over coax or optical? If that’s right, then one can’t play DSD from a stock Oppo through the DS. I assume that the Yamaha received owned by the guy I quoted from Amazon can convert DSD into analog when fed through an HDMI input.

I strongly suspected that this was too good to be true. Oh well, I had to ask.

My understanding is i2s and hdmi are two different protocols (which might partly overlap). The hdmi physical interface used for i2s is merely as a convinence as one doesn’t have to invent another one. There is also i2s carried over RJ45 interface as well. In order to decode hdmi, you would need special decoders, like Dolby, DTS, etc. which often needs license. I bet all modern AVR receivers are equipped with all these decoding chips.

I have an Oppo 105 but it would not output pure sacd layer on digital coax but only the cd layer @44.1khz of a sacd in a dual layer sacd (which most sacds are). There is obviously a big difference in sq between the twolaugh

DSD material from an SACD must be encrypted when outside of a box - e.g. from an Oppo 103/105 to a receiver/DAC whatever. AES/EBU, etc. don’t provide any secure encryption so they can’t be used for DSD from an SACD (any signal sent over them while playing an SACD has been downsampled to something like 24/88.2k PCM.) HDMI does provide for digital rights management and hence (with proper licenses, etc.) can be used for DSD from an SACD player/transport.

And yep, PSA uses connectors and cables designed for HDMI, but they aren’t used in an electrically or protocol compatible way with HDMI. It’s just that HDMI cables and connectors are well speced, well constructed, and have 4 pairs of differential connections so they support I2S well.

We can’t afford the licenses for HDMI (they assume you are a big company and will sell many units.) We are and have been looking for legal solutions so we can use HDMI proper in future products.

Ted Smith said HDMI does provide for digital rights management and hence (with proper licenses, etc.) can be used for DSD from an SACD player/transport.
Ah, that's the piece I didn't understand. Thank you Ted. It's good to hear that you are looking at other HDMI possibilities for the future.
Ted Smith said

We can’t afford the licenses for HDMI (they assume you are a big company and will sell many units.) We are and have been looking for legal solutions so we can use HDMI proper in future products.

Just out of curiosity, how much would an HDMI license and (presumably separate) SACD license cost PS Audio? I see the generic statement “it costs too much” used frequently, but never an actual number. I’m sure it’s huge, otherwise I think it would be at least an option for us “no spending limit” audiophiles (this writer excluded).

On a related note, you would think Sony would back off on the requirements for SACD licensing since they are no longer actively pursuing, plus many of the new SACDs are also available as downloads. If I was going to bootleg material I’d just buy a download, or an I missing something?

On another related note, Ted, do you still recommend the Vanity Board for the Oppo 103 without reservation? I’m thinking of going that way rather than trying to rip all my SACDs and having to store them.

PS Audio can correct me but paying the upfront HDMI licensing costs (not counting the per unit costs) would have to be amortized across, say, three well selling higher end products before it wouldn’t make them all uneconomic. It’s not impossible, but planning and releasing three products without serious setbacks on any of them is a tall order. If it were just per unit costs instead of a big upfront hit it would be much more manageable. That was one of the things that XMOS did right that got their chips into many products: they took care of the upfront USB licensing costs and packaged the per unit costs into each unit - that way even small companies and low volume products can afford a good USB solution. No one is doing the same for HDMI - there are some good HDMI receiver chips out there but we can’t even build a prototype to try them without a big upfront cost.

Sony made a deal with the content providers with their original licensing terms, Sony would have to get permission from all of them before they could relax the DRM restrictions. The SACDs that are available for download both pay the content providers and have their permission for distribution. I’m sure that Pentatone (and others who release SACD downloads) are making what they feel are sound economic decisions and some other companies have decided differently.

I’m still quite happy with my Vanity HD card for the Oppo 103 - there are a few clicks when SACDs start or stop that I’d like to address or get them to address, but that’s a small price to pay to listen directly to my many SACDs. (There aren’t clicks while the music is playing or between tracks, etc.) It’s a well built card and AudioPraise knows their stuff.

Terms. Annual Fee. HDMI Adopters pay an annual fee of ten thousand dollars (US$10,000). The annual fee is due upon the execution of the Adopter Agreement, and must be paid on the anniversary of this date each year thereafter.


Yes, ouch! Thanks for the info Ted and Dennis. I know I’m banging my head on the wall over this, but I keep thinking whenever I decide to do the Oppo thing someone (or several someones) will release another option, perhaps cheaper. Right now it is a very small market.

But it’s worse than the $10K. It would be very difficult to extract the decoded signal out of the decoder in pure enough form for us then to feed DirectStream in perfect form to truly enjoy all the benefits of SACD. What would be amazing is if we could magically get the DSD signal into I2S without having to use the HDMI decoder chip with its built in DAC that everyone uses - that would be the holy grail. Alas, unless your using the Vanity board as Ted does, there isn’t a way to do this - at least not yet. devil_gif But if there ever were, I can assure you owning a DirectStream would be the way to go…4_gif And ignoring all the innuendo, there isn’t likely to be a way anytime in the foreseeable future, if ever.doh_gif

So after reading all this, I am still confused how is Audiopraise able to get the 2-channel digital signals out of a SACD without breaking the law ? I tried reading up the legal from the Audiopraise website but didn’t understand a thing confused Further it states that,

“Simply said, we merely take the signal going to player’s own DAC and send it to a higher quality outboard DAC, while performing advanced digital signal processing.”

which means they are able to somehow hijack the data-stream and convert DSD to PCM ?. Would that mean the Vanity card has a sacd decoding chip ?

The Vanity card grabs the DSD signal before it is encrypted and sent to the HDMI path. The encryption is only required when it leaves the player. What the Vanity board does is technically not allowed but we guess they are a small enough company they are under Sony’s radar.


Audiopraise is a Dutch company and will be subject to Dutch/EU copyright law. If am correct, SACD is a Philips/Sony product and is something incidentalthey stopped supporting about 10 years ago. As Philips are Dutch too and so would be probably be more appropriate for them to take any action against AudioPraise. Given Philips only distributed a €0.8 dividend per share, I doubt they’ll want to spend money on litigation against a small company for a breach in connection with a discontinued product. The Dutch legal system is also very slow too.

Audiopraise did also publish a legal statement and a Dutch Court could agree with it.

Think Philips would prefer to sell more kettles!

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