Playing raw DSD (no PCM conversion) to a Denon AVR 4520

Hi all

I got a sonicTransporter i5 and HiFiberry Digi+ for my dad to use Roon with his Denon AVR 4520. It’s been working so well.

His Denon plays DSD only via it’s HDMI inputs (not it’s Coax or Toslink inputs unfortunately).

He has an Oppo 103 and we’ve played SACD’s to the Denon and it plays the pure DSD layer no issues - both the Oppo and Denon display tell us that. The Oppo only outputs DSD via it’s HDMI #2 port as all Oppo owners will know already.

I just wanted some advice on how he can play DSD downloads via Roon to the Denon, without any downsampling to PCM 176kHz, which is what Roon is obviously doing now.

Current chain is: sonicTransport i5 > HiFiBerry Digi+ coax output > Denon 4520 Coax Input

The sonicTransporter has a HDMI port but that port doesn’t support Audio output. It has USB ports which support audio out but the Denon 4520 doesn’t have USB inputs.

I was thinking about the Oppo 105 (Darbee edition) which I read does play DSD over it’s USB audio input:

So we could connect the sonicTransporter to an Oppo 105 but looking for options that don’t involve getting an Oppo 105 and don’t involve replacing the Denon 4520. I don’t think new AVR’s from Denon or even Marantz solve these issues anyway but I could easily be wrong. A new separate DSD Dac won’t solve this either because the Dac’s output will just get converted to PCM once it hits the Denon 4520.

Many thanks in advance :slight_smile:

Hello ? :cry:

Any advice doesn’t need to be specific to the Denon 4520.

I feel it’s the same issue with even the new Denon and Yamaha AVR’s.

You already covered most of the bases. You have a good grasp of the situation concerning the HDMI limitations of the current components in question. Not much that you can do – unless you add/replace equipment.

My suggestion is not to worry about outputting DSD to the AVR. Stick with DSD to PCM conversion. In many cases, the AVR will perform its own DSD to PCM conversion, regardless.


Thanks AJ, all understood.

In the case of the Denon 4520 it doesn’t do DSD to PCM conversion over HDMI when in DIRECT mode (Audessy is bypassed). It will do conversion to PCM in all other modes though.

Just something for me and others to consider only, I was asking what are the cheapest devices that could be added? It would have to be something with HDMI (not I2S) output so I am thinking it’s only upgrading to the Oppo 105D with it’s USB input and DSD output over HDMI.

I don’t know of any HDMI audio output Roon Ready endpoints out there? I might ask this question in a separate thread. - something completely separate to this thread about the Denon 4520, and more general.

Hi. Old news I know, but my reading of the 4520 manual on p43 says:

“When playing back Super Audio CD, DSD signals are converted into PCM signals which are then converted into analog signals.”

I think that’s regardless of the Pure/Direct mode.

So it may be that you can’t avoid PCM in the 4520.

Hopefully I’m wrong about this. Although I’m not sure if I could tell the difference.

This question keeps coming up. The short answer, unfortunately, is that there’s no cost effective way to do it. The problem is that there’s no known way to get a “computer” (including a Nucleus) to output DSD over HDMI — the necessary audio drivers do not exist for Windows, macOS, nor Linux — and the only way to get DSD into most AV receivers or pre-pros is HDMI (yes, I know the Bryston SP3 offers a stereo DSD capable USB input, and possibly there’s support on some Emotiva pre-pros).

The only solution I know of, and it’s restricted to stereo only (no multichannel!) is the Bryston BDP-3. Last I checked, a while ago, that was a $3500 unit — so you understand why I don’t consider it cost effective to pair with an AV receiver. One older Lumin model might also work, but I don’t have details.

BTW, I own an Oppo 105D, and while I can’t easily test it at the moment, if memory serves, DSD fed in via USB goes only to the analog outputs, and not the HDMI output.

Good luck!