For the two-channel mode, I selected the 2CH+SW setting, which provides high-pass-filtered signals for the front left/right speakers and a mono low-pass-filtered signal for a subwoofer. The alternative 2CH Direct setting provides stereo signals only, with no subwoofer signal. These two-channel settings, however, operate only with two-channel SACDs, not CDs, which means that you might be better off using the digital output for CDs and having your receiver do the CD decoding and bass redirection.
Next, for the multichannel mode, I selected 5-Large+SW so the player would provide full-range signals for my five main speakers and a low-pass-filtered bass signal for my subwoofer. Other choices will accommodate a number of different speaker configurations, including one (MCH Direct) for those rare systems with six full-range speakers. Like DVD-Audio, and unlike DVD-Video's Dolby Digital system, the SACD format doesn't require producers to reserve one of the potentially six channels for bass frequencies.
Using the remote's Level Adjust button, I optimized the relative output levels of the front L/R and center channels, the front and surround channels, and the front speakers and the sub. In each case, the fluorescent display showed relative levels with a bar graph and a moving indicator. Conveniently, you can make these adjustments either with a test signal generated by the player or with music.
Setup accomplished, I loaded in my entire collection of multichannel SACDs - all four of them (see page 108 for reviews of three of the four). I started my audition with James Taylor's Hourglass (Columbia), originally released as a stereo CD in 1997. The rhythm, guitar, keyboard, and vocal tracks were recorded in a cottage on Martha's Vineyard using a budget Yamaha 02R digital console and a Tascam DA-88 digital multitrack recorder. But don't let the humble origins fool you - Hourglass won recording engineer Frank Filipetti a Grammy for engineering and Taylor the Best Pop Album Grammy.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.