SACD Multi-channel Extraction with Pioneer BDP

 

Abstract

The 70+ pages of tedium at that lunatic computer audio forum is useful in providing links to the required files, but it’s the typical rabble with dopey interjections, ambiguities and sundry misguidance along the way to achieving something that’s really pretty basic.  And in true audiophile fashion, the whole thread is based on a false notion –  in this case that DSD is somehow superior for home stereo listening.  IT IS NOT!  It’s a stupid consumer format as it includes broadband ultrasonic noise that’s completely dissociated from the music anyway.  Here I will summarise concisely what is required to achieve the only sensible thing that can be done with it – namely the extraction of multi-channel surround sound content and its conversion to standard resolution PCM, with the addition of meta tags.  Once a Pioneer BDP arrives, you could be up and running within 15 minutes – especially if familiar with the PS/3 process.

Not a plug for Pioneer!

This is not an endorsement of the Pioneer brand.  Indeed I have no respect whatsoever for their products.  Their plasma TVs for example ran like hot plates and were IMO ultra-unreliable.  Fujitsu plasmas were at least 100 times better!  And their network audio players are IMO a sh:tty pile of poo.  It’s just the cheapest option here.

Legalities

This is for personal use and only for SACDs that were paid for and retained by the person doing it.

AFAIK, it is legal in Australia for the owner of a ligitimately purchased non-encrypted optical disc (like a CD) to “format-shift” its audio content to a hard drive for personal use.  It is illegal to do it for someone else!  I also understand that it’s legal to use that archive, but only for as long as the original optical disk is retained.  To sell the optical disk after ripping it to a retained archive is illegal.

It is illegal in Australia (since the 2006 Copyright Act amendments) to circumvent any copy-protection (encryption) of an SACD even for personal archiving.  Although I personally see that as a ridiculous deprivation of “fair use” where the original SACD was paid for and retained, it is nonetheless illegal.

I have boxes and boxes containing each and every CD that I ever ripped to my own archive.  I have not sold one.

Aside

  • Audiophiles will no doubt disagree, but there is absolutely and obviously no point whatsoever in ripping/extracting stereo DSD from a hybrid SACD unless it is known to be from a superior master to that of the Red book layer – which is very unlikely.  There are a few exceptions, like the Mercury Living Presence series where the Red book layer is generally from an earlier CD mastering, and the DSD layer has remastered stereo and 3-track content (with a centre channel).  If the stereo mastering is the same, then there is no audible difference!  For that matter, there is no point even keeping the bloated DFF files after they have served their intermediate purpose in creating the standard compressed FLAC files.  For stereo, just rip the Red book layer.  For surround sound, discard the DFF files once they’re done with.  The very existence of consumer DSD-capable DACs is beyond ridiculous.  Not only that, but a “pure” DSD stream is completely stupid because: (a) – it sounds the same, and (b) – it eliminates any opportunity to apply digital filtering such as might be applied for bass EQ, active cross-overs and even simple baffle-step compensation or digital delay for say a misaligned tweeter, all of which cannot be achieved without converting to PCM!  DSD in any home listening situation is just a placebo pill for golden-eared stupids.

Scope

  • This applies to compatible Pioneer Bluray players, which AFAIK are limited to models BDP-160, BDP-170 and BDP-80FD.  At the time of writing, only the BDP-80FD is available new.  I always assume any player on the used market to be faulty or worn out no matter what they say.
  • The idea is to use an inexpensive BDP as a dedicated SACD ripper.  I sourced a new BDP-80FD from the States.  It will run on anything from 110 to 240V, 50 or 60Hz, but I have a step-down right there, so just plug the supplied NEMA 1-15-P/IEC 320 C7 cable into a 110V US outlet.  Many say that the Pioneer players are junky.  While mine is certainly lightweight and came in a crappy box, it seems good enough, works well and is very smooth in operation.  Anyway it’s not intended for general playback use.  Mine just sits there in the study with the USB thumb drive inserted, and its power cord disconnected until required:

Software required

  • Windows 10.  I wouldn’t touch an Apple computer with a barge pole – sorry.
  • The barge pole wouldn’t go anywhere near fancy-pants (and priced) Oppo or Cambridge products either, so I can’t help with any of their models that allegedly work for SACD ripping.
  • the three ripping files for the USB stick (use at your own legal risk)
  • sacd_extract.exe for the PC
  • dBpoweramp Music Converter with the DSD codec add-on, and CD Ripper
  • JRMC (only for its hidden bulk meta tag transfer feature)

Do not bother with the GUI, Telnet or PuTTY

All are completely unnecessary.

If you’ve been using a dedicated PS/3 and it finally stopped recognising SACDs

Disconnect it from the network and use your existing batch files and configure the BDP with the same static IP address that you had on the PS/3.  Turn off Disc Auto Playback and Last Memory (Resume) on the BDP (via the Initial set-up menu) and insert the thumb drive.

Aside

  • People say that the ripping process is slower with the Pioneer BDP than with the older PS/3 hardware.  This is not correct.  On the PS/3 a constant 2.6 Mbps is reported.  With the Pioneer the transfer rate is variable, typically starting at around 2 Mbps, but accelerating to over 3 Mbps by the end of a rip.  Anyway who cares?

Use ethernet cable from BDP to router/switch

The BDP’s inbuilt wi-fi is only 2.4Ghz capable, and the above speeds are up around typical throughput limits.  It might work, but I haven’t bothered trying.  I do know that it works perfectly with the “fast” ethernet connection.

BDP set-up

In the BDP Initial Setup menu, configure a static IP address.  Mine is configured as 192.168.0.3.  To ensure that it cannot communicate with the Internet for firmware updates, put wrong numbers like zeros in the three fields for Default Gateway, DSN1 and DSN2.  Keep the Subnet Mask as-is:

(click for a bigger view)

Turn off Autoplay and Resume.

The thumb drive

The USB thumb drive should be formatted FAT32.  “Bootice” software is not required!  What are they on about?  Just quick format it in Windows.  A SanDisk “Cruzer Facet 8GB” thumb drive works fine.  All it needs is a folder called AutoScript and three files in that folder.  Those three files are:

  1. AutoScript
  2. AutoScript.TSS, and
  3. sacd_extract_160

You know where to get them.  For reasons of legal paranoia, I’m not publishing the link here.

These files must be in the AutoScript folder – not in the root of the thumb drive.

With the BDP turned off, stick the thumb drive into one of the USB sockets (front or back) and just leave it there.  It works the same in either socket.  I’d leave mine in the back where it is less likely to be bumped.  Also keep a back-up of the USB contents somewhere.

C: drive on the PC

Path C:\S

A folder in the root of the C drive called say “S” (as short as possible to minimise the risk of a hang on long filenames created by silly disc mastering) needs just three files in it:

  1. sacd_extract.exe (this is the latest version 0.3.8 available here).  It is not the same “sacd_extract_160” file that goes on the USB thumb drive.
  2. a first batch file called say “1-Rip ISO from BDP.bat” to rip the ISO from the BDP, and
  3. a second batch file called say “2-Extract Multi-Channel DFF from SACD dot iso.bat” to extract the multi-channel DFF files from sacd.iso created by the first batch file.

The first batch file contains the following single line of text (including the quotes):

“C:\S\sacd_extract.exe” -I -i192.168.0.3:2002

The second batch file contains the following single line of text (including the quotes):

“C:\S\sacd_extract.exe” -m -p -c -i”sacd.iso”

Procedure

  • A monitor for the BDP is no longer required.
  • Power on the BDP with the thumb drive in one of the USB sockets.  The drawer will open after a short delay.
  • Stick in the SACD and press the close button on the remote or front panel. “SACD” will appear in the front panel display.  It should not start to play.
  • Double click the first batch file.  Wait for the rip to finish.  The command prompt window will vanish when it finishes.
  • Copy the ISO image file that now appears in the C:\S folder to a DVD+R (formatted as a thumb drive) as an archive – note however that if this DVD+R archive is retained along with other format-shifted files as produced by the steps below, that would be breaking the law since only a single copy is allowed.
  • Rename the ISO file to sacd.iso
  • Double click the second batch file.  This will create a folder with a DFF file for each track.  It does not matter that there are crappy or missing meta tags.  Use DFF and not DSF for multi-channel extraction.  This process will max-out CPU usage so don’t try doing anything else with the PC until it finishes.  A four core i7 processor will do it in about half the time as a two core i5 as the process uses all available CPU threads.
  • If extracting a multi-disc set, append a “1” to the DFF folder name before extracting the next disc, then 2 etc.  Otherwise all the tracks will be mixed up in the one folder 01-, 01-, 02-, 02-, 03-, 03-, etc…
  • Send sacd.iso to the Recycle Bin
  • Inside that new DFF folder, highlight all of the DFF files and right click, then select dBpoweramp’s “convert to” from the context menu.  You must have dBpoweramp’s DSD codec installed and pre-set to just 44.1kHz and 16 bit, or if you really want high frequency content for the cat to enjoy then try a higher bit rate.  If you want more dynamic range (that you cannot perceive) then increase the bit depth.  It will just waste HDD space.  Wait for the conversion to complete.  Set dBpoweramp to send the FLACs to an album-titled sub-folder (say “Album (surround)”) in a folder called say “Temporary rip”.
  • Do not use any of dBpoweramp’s volume level adjustment settings!  This is very important.  They are applied on an unsophisticated track-by-track basis and will result in level jumps on gapless transition between tracks.  Korg Audiogate (useful for the stereo content of non-hybrid SACD albums) does it properly, but dBpoweramp seems pretty pathetic in this area.
  • Assuming there are 8 or more tracks, this process will also max-out an i7 CPU usage and uses all available CPU threads, so don’t try doing anything else with the PC until it finishes.  Again a four core i7 processor is much faster than a two core i5 here.
  • Send the DFF folder to the Recycle Bin then empty it.  The DFF files serve no further purpose and are huge! If you want to play them, that’s you’re problem.  DSP cannot be applied without converting to PCM anyway!

Meta tags

  • Use dBpoweramp CD Ripper to rip the standard Red book layer of the same SACD to FLAC and that might give you a nice set of meta tags.  Put that in a sub-folder alongside “Album (surround)” called say “Album (stereo)”.  In my opinion this does not constitute making a second (illegal) archive as it is taken from a different section of the optical disc – not the SACD section.  It’s like copying two chapters of the same book.  Still just one copy of each chapter.
  • If dBpoweramp didn’t find decent cover art, get it from somewhere like Amazon.  I often scan it myself to Folder.jpg
  • Now to paste the tags:
  • Use JRiver’s Drives and Devices → Explorer navigator to find and highlight the files for the Red book rip in the “Album (stereo)” folder.  Make sure they are listed in proper track order (by clicking on the Track No. column heading).  Do not accidentally highlight Folder.jpg.  Press Ctrl + C
  • Navigate within Drives and Devices → Explorer to the multi-channel FLACs made in dBpoweramp’s conversion step (in the “Album (surround)” folder), make sure they are in the same track order, highlight the same number of tracks and press Ctrl + Shift + V
  • Staying in Drives and Devices → Explorer and with all of the tracks of the multi-channel album still highlighted, go to Library Tools and click “Update tags from library”.  Be careful as there is also an option “Update library from tags” which you don’t want!
  • Close JRMC, go to the multi-channel folder and put the cover art there as Folder.jpg, highlight all the track files, right click then select “Edit ID-tag” and load the cover art from Folder.jpg.
  • If you’re keeping the Red book rip for stereo playback, you’ll need to give the multi-channel version a different “Album” tag.  Just append “(surround)” to the album name tag.  In the tag for Genre, also add “; Surround” after whatever genre is there already
  • Once you’re happy with the albums then move them to your music folder for importation by your player software.
  • That’s it.

 

Comments are open just so anyone can tell me if I missed something – not for general discussion.

8 thoughts on “SACD Multi-channel Extraction with Pioneer BDP

  1. Just bought a Pioneer BDP-160.
    Followed each step of your article and it worked like a charm.
    Thanx a lot!

  2. Dear Ian;
    excellent write up. You made my day. It includes IMHO a very minor typo:
    “C:\S\sacd_extract.exe” -I -i192.168.0.3:2002 should read “C:\S\sacd_extract.exe” -I -i 192.168.0.3:2002 (space after the -i).

    Some SACDs are not hybrid and have a Stereo and Multichannel Layer. In such a case I’d like to rip the DSD Stereo layer only, because I have stereo equipment only. I hope sometime in the future to have a MultiChannel Audio System. The second (MultiChannel) batch file is as follows: “C:\S\sacd_extract.exe” -m -p -c -i”sacd.iso”

    How would the “third” batch file look like for DSD Stereo mode?

    I appreciate your feedback.

    A great many thanks,

    Switch

  3. Thanks Switch. As I recall, the lack of a space there was deliberate. I checked my batch file which worked just last week and copied the command line. I’ll paste it here:
    “C:\S\sacd_extract.exe” -m -p -c -i”SACD.iso”
    No space and it works, so maybe the space is optional.
    Yeah I have just a couple of those non-hybrid SACDs an they’re a tagging pain for sure. To extract stereo, the command line would be:
    “C:\S\sacd_extract.exe” -2 -s -c -i”SACD.iso”
    Note a 2 (for stereo) replaces the m (for multi-channel), and an s (for “Sony” DSF file extraction) replaces the p (for “Philips” DFF). This will get you a few more tags. Then use Audiogate to convert to stereo FLAC. Audiagate will normalise the whole album properly (without level jumps between tracks) for optimised dynamic range whereas dbPoweramp will not AFAIK.

  4. Hi IAN,

    After frying the Pioneer BDP 450, I guess the universe decided to favor me with the BDP 170! I read somewhere tha BDP 450 has the same chip Mediateck 8555 like OPPO 103 hence my effort with BDP 450 which fried the mediateck chip and now only CDs and BDMV files play. No more Hi res SACD or DVD Audio including originals or ISO.

    The setup was done in about 3 minutes!

    The BDP side files on USB remained as you have specified.
    However I used the ISO2DSD interface on the PC side.

    It works… quite well. The ISO2DSD folder is on my desktop of windows 10
    Data transfer/Ripping speed was noted as ~ 3 mb/sec for 2 channel and ~2 mb/sec for 5.1 channel. RAW ISO speed of ripping was ~ 2.5mb/sec.
    Meta tags and cue sheets were generated automatically
    This eliminated all the prefix and suffix in command line nuances!

    This finding was in case of i3 7100 PC with windows 10 pro and BDP 170

    Brilliant work by Geniuses like You!

    Thanks and regards

  5. WiFi vs Ethernet:

    There is very little difference. I’m using a couple of Sony players, BDP-S390 and S490. The S390 is wifi and ethernet capable while the S490 has an ethernet port but does not have built in wifi (but accepts a Sony branded wifi USB adapter). The ethernet adapter on Pioneer and Sony (and I guess all) Blu-Ray/SACD devices is 100 Mbps, not the Gigabit commonly found on the more modern domestic routers. 100 Mbps is more than enough for BD and SACD transmission.

    Anyway, if you have a wifi capable device and it is more convenient for you to not have yet another ethernet cable attached, then the wifi is just fine. No difference.

    btw the difference between the SACD 2 channel layer and the CD spec 2 channel layer is not mere audiophoolery. It’s not essentially about sample rate or the human ability to notice frequencies above 22050 Hz, it’s that the 24-bit version has a much lower noise floor and accordingly greater dynamic range than the 16-bit/44100 Hz version. Yes, probably DSD is overkill and all we really need for audio heaven is 24-bit 48000 Hz or even 24-bit 44100 Hz. But the main thing is the bit depth, so if the recording companies offer us a choice between 2 channel 16-bit and 2 channel 24-bit it’s best to ignore the sample rate and just grab the 24-bit version and suck up the difference in disk space.

  6. I’m sure wi-fi works. It’s just that ISO extraction throughput is close to typical 2.4GHz wi-fi limits (even before someone else in the house switches on their tablet), so I suggested the fast ethernet option. As to the other, well it is audiofoolery – a lot of silly people bandy that one about, but they all assume wrongly that the size of the container somehow equates to what’s actually in it. They also assume that their blessed super-human hearing can resolve detail that isn’t even there via uncalibrated sound systems they paid far too much for. I suggest reading the Audible Difference Test page.

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