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Converting MCH discs 101: Overview

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HomerJAU

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The First Post in a new series!

Intro:
Let's start with an overview/intro to converting your multi-channel music discs to MCH FLAC files.

(this is work in progress and this post will not be static for long as I add/edit info based on ongoing expansion, links to other posts and feedback from you all)

I'm going to discuss software programs/methods that I've successfully used to get my various disc formats into lossless files for playback on media players and by PC in general. There may be other methods/software and I'm sure other QQ members have their own preferences on how to do the same. So as usual, I encourage you to post your experiences too. Also, there are many posts scattered around threads in this forum on this subject and I plan to eventually reference some of those in this Conversion series too.

We'll probably end up with separate threads dealing with each of the programs and maybe even something needs to be separated regarding disc format, so lets see we this ends up...

Many of you are probably aware of much, if not all, of this content - I'm not sure if there's anything new here for the 'experts' but at least we may end up with a central resource on QQ for newbies and/or a refresher for those that have not looked at this subject for a while. I also intend this be as non technical as possible for the non-tech heads.


What Computer Hardware is Required?
Disclaimer: I have a Windows desktop PC I use and so all details/examples in this 'Converting MCH discs' series of threads will show Windows programs and screen shots. Some of these conversion programs/tools will also run on Apple Macs too, but I won't post any specifics as I don't use Macs.

For Windows just about any PC hardware released over the last 10 yrs will do the job, I don't know of any specific requirements, except, of course, that your PC will need at least a CD/DVD drive (for DTS-CDs), a DVD drive (for DVD discs - DVD-Audio, DVD-V and Audio DVDs) or Blu-ray drive (for BDAs and BDVs).

I suspect you'll need Windows 7 at a minimum, I have used Windows 7, 8 and 10, at least one of the programs I use also needs the Microsoft .NET Runtime (a free download, I think its included in very recent Windows versions?). I think you'll probably need around 2GB memory minimum but 4GB would be heaps. You'll need enough hard disc space to install your conversion programs (not much) and the FLAC files - as you go you can move the FLACS off to a separate drive (e.g external USB hard drive etc) you want need to much - but remember high resolution MCH files are quite big, a typical 5.1 24 bit 96kHz album from a DVDA will need around 2GB+ of disc space.

There's no doubt that faster multicore processors, more memory and faster hard discs will allow you to convert your discs faster. If I was to start on a fairly large music collection I'd definitely buy an SSD drive (this is a solid-state drive that is typically 10 times faster than a conventional hard disc). But that is certainly not critical.

Anyway, if you've already got a PC running Win 7 to 10 you can probably use it if it has a CD/DVD or BD drive already. It will do the job (maybe not as fast as others that all).

I would strongly recommend using USB 3.0 external USB hard drives (if your PC has USB 3.0 ports) since the transfer speed (copying files) will be much faster (and you will spend a lot of time waiting for files to be copied regardless, but USB 3.0 is about 3 times faster on my PC)

Here's my PC's specs: Windows 10 Pro, Quad Core i7 at 3.4GHz, 16GB memory (overkill) 2 x SSD drives (my fast 'working' drives), another couple of 3TB drives for data (one dedicated to Music Files only - my 'master' collection), I use a SATA bluray drive (no reason why you couldn't use a USB BD drive - but maybe a bit slower if its USB 2.0), The graphic card is not important.


MCH Disc Formats:
There are methods/tools to convert all the current commercial multi-channel disc formats to MCH FLAC for your media player:

DTS-CD
DVD-Audio (DVDA)
DVD-Video (DVDV)
Blu-ray Audio (BDA)
Blu-ray Video (BDV)
SACD

Our goal here will be for us to take the highest resolution, lossless audio track (if any) and convert to FLAC and the original sample rate and bitrate (preserve its original music data)

NOTE: Many of the conversion tools will also convert from other music file formats to FLAC too (e.g. DSD to FLAC) and convert to other codecs not just FLAC.

Lets look at the complications to overcome in choosing a conversion program:
  • The Conversion tool may not support any copy protection or encryption.
  • Each conversion tool will support different disc formats only (no 'one size fits all')
  • Each conversion tool will support different audio codecs
  • Some won't convert a codec at all or will convert only the 'lossy' (non-high res) audio track not the high res (e.g DTS core and not DTS-HDMA).
So if you own all the disc formats listed above you'll end up with a bunch of programs/tools to do your conversions

(We may end up with a table/matrix of Tools vs. Codec - lets see where we end up - it's not too complicated though!!)


The Conversion Process:
The idea behind disc encryption/protection was obviously to foil pirating of copyright material. This was implemented a fair while back when most of us had no idea about any centralized media storage or even comprehend capability to jukebox our music collections (we probably didn't realise the shear quantity of releases coming either). So now we'd like to copy our own stuff for easier and a richer playback experience and to back it up too (it cant be replaced if damaged or lost).

Since most conversion software will not circumvent encryption/protection in many instances its going to be a two step process:
1. Decrypt/Unprotect your disc
2. Convert the desired/selected audio track to MCH FLAC

Some disc formats can be converted to FLAC in a single step using a single Conversion program because that program can do its own decryption (DTS-CD, DVDA and DVDV)


Removing Encryption/Protection:
There seems to be two types programs to deal with decryption/removing protection:
Type 1: Programs that read the entire disc and make a copy using one of these methods:
- Writing the disc contents to an decrypted ISO file (a disc image file)
- Writing the disc contents to an decrypted folder/file structure (e.g all the files to a hard disc)
- Converting the disc to a media file format directly (e.g. Writing a 'track' to a FLAC or MKV file)
Type 2: Programs that run in memory that intercept calls to the disc and decrypt the stream to any program requesting disc data

I use the first type because it also give me a complete backup of my valuable disc (I'd recommend you do this too, especially for your older out of print discs that are irreplaceable at any cost!)


Decryption Programs:
I've used most of these successfully and they've all been mentioned on QQ previously:

MakeMKV: (Rcommended)
(A low cost Paid program but runs in a renewable free fully functional trial mode)
Link: https://www.makemkv.com/

This is a Type 1 (above) decryption program that supports all three modes listed above

Supported Disc Formats:
DVDV
BDA
BDV

Can also create an MKV file which is playable directly on just about every media player (incl. Kodi players). I use this for my Music Video discs. An MKV file is a container file that can hold video and audio in its original codec including 4K HEVC, 1080p AVC video and multichannel DTS, DTS-HDMA, Dolby Ditital, Dolby TrueHD, Atmos etc audio and all standard bit and sample rates. It can also hold chapter data.

MakeMKV cannot convert to FLAC directly.

DVDFab:
(Paid program, I think it has a free trial mode)

This is a Type 1 decryption program that supports the three modes listed above

Supported Disc Formats:
DVDV
BDA
BDV

A few more options than MakeMKV and works much faster too. Comes in modules, one for BD one for DVD etc. And comes with their Passkey decryption program

Can also create an MKV file which is playable directly on just about every media player (incl. Kodi players). I use this for my Music Video discs. An MKV file is a container file that can hold video and audio in its original codec including MCH DTS, DTS-HDMA, Dolby True HD etc. It can also hold chapter data.

Passkey Bluray/PassKey DVD:
(paid programs only - DVD PassKey is Free I think) Made by the DVDFab crew in China

A type 2 decryption program

This allows any Conversion programs below that can't deal with encrypted/protected discs to read the disc as if it was not protected

DVD Anywhere:
(paid programs only) - now defunct and cloded down I heard (I've never used it)

A type 2 decryption program


Decryption Hardware for SACD:
For SACD the only known option is decryption by hardware. And this hurts: Only with an Sony Playstation 3 - only specific early models that support SACD playback - AND (its gets worse) only those models with very early firmware - and firmware cannot be upgraded backwards (cannot be downgraded). So that means they are as rare as hen's teeth and almost impossible to find.

If you can find one its a process of loading a patched firmware version, loading a program, inserting a SACD and converting to an ISO disc image and writing in a USB stick.

UPDATE: First reports of SACD decryption can now also be done on an Oppo 103 or 105 and certain Pioneerr Bluray players. This uses a modified version of the original PS3 method which decrypts the SACD contents to an ISO file. More info here: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/sacd-ripping-using-oppo-or-pioneer-yes-its-true-29251/

UPDATE 2: Here’s an excellent thread on using Sony SACD players to rip SACDs:


Conversion Programs/Tools:
For now I will start by listing by Conversion Program (I will move some of what follows to individual threads at some stage where I will add screen grabs and specific info to help users, please be patient...) - Fellow QQ'ers please help by correcting me where required!)

DVD Audio Extractor:
(cost $38 - but has a free fully functional 30 days evaluation version)
Link: http://www.dvdae.com/

Easy to use. My choice for DVDA and Audio DVDs. Edit: From May 2019 DTS-CDs are Supported

Supported Disc Formats (directly off disc):
DVDA (encrypted/protected)
DVDV (encrypted/protected)
BDA (decrypted/unprotected only)
BDV (decrypted/unprotected only)

NOTE: In addition DVDAE can convert directly from decrypted/protected discs copied to a folder/file format. It will also convert from an decrypted/unprotected ISO file if the ISO is opened in Windows Explorer first (then it opens the folder/file format)

Supported Audio Codecs (to FLAC):
LPCM
MLP
DTS
Dolby Digital
DTS-HD/MA
Dolby TrueHD

EDIT: As of May 2017 Version 7.4 Can now decode DTS 96/24 and DTS-HDMA lossless (Previous version could onle decode DTS 'Core' - lossy 48/24)

Other Features: Can download album metadata and auto Tag files, split into FLAC file per track, auto name files and supports manual tagging of metadata (Artist, Album Name, Song titles, Genre etc)

Foobar2000:
(free Open Source)

Requires some additional (free) plug-ins to support some disc formats/codecs (details in the Foobar upcoming Foobar2K thread)

Supported Disc Formats (directly off disc):
DTS-CD

Supported Disc Formats (ISO files):
DVDA
SACD

Supported Audio Codecs (to FLAC):
LPCM
MLP
DTS
Dolby Digital
DTS-HD/MA
Dolby TrueHD
DTSWav

Other Features: Can download album metadata and auto Tag files, split into FLAC file per track, auto name files and supports manual tagging of metadata (Artist, Album Name, Song titles, Genre etc)

AudioMuxer:
(free for now - Donationware)

This is a Swiss Army Knife tool to help cut through some multi-step conversions needed for certain disc/codecs (you'll probably need this). A great tool to Convert decrypted/unprotected discs and media files to FLAC from most codecs including lossless DTS-HD.

There's an Audiomuxer thread on QQ here. (It now comes with a DTS decoder so you don't need to install the one mentioned on that thread)

Supported Disc Formats (directly off disc):
None

Supported Disc Formats (ISO files):
None

Supported Audio Files:
DVDV (From decrypted/unprotected discs copied to a folder/file format)
Blu-ray (From decrypted/unprotected discs copied to a folder/file format)
MKV files (DVD and BDs converted to MKV format)
MKA files (DVD and BDs converted to MKA format)

Supported Audio Codecs (to FLAC):
DTS
DTSWav
DTS-HD/MA
Dolby Digital
Dolby TrueHD
AC3
WAV
WAVpac

Other Features: Can split into FLAC file per track, auto name files from tag data and supports manual tagging of metadata only (Artist, Album Name, Song titles, Genre etc)

UPDATE (January 2017):
The Music Media Helper app just added a new tool to Split MKV files (created from BDV, BDA and DVDV) into chapters and convert to FLAC files with automatic renaming and tagging based on a MusicBrainz internet database lookup LINK


MKV Format for Video (4K, HD, NTSC and PAL) and high res lossless Audio
If you are into Music Videos/Music Concerts then this is a reminder the MKV format is a container for Video and MCH Audio and can be played back in Kodi or with other media players and on PCs with appropriate programs. The MKA audio only lossless format can contain Dolby Atmos for playback via HDMI Passthrough to an AVR for decoding.

There is a software tool named MKVToolnix that allows users to split MKVs into separate MKV files by Chapters. So what? I use this to break up my Music Video Concerts to individual songs files, copy them to my server and I can now play individual Video Concert Songs from any concert from my Ipad. I can also add these to any Kodi playlist and play all my favourite videos (hands free)

I guess I'll write more on this at some stage...
 
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HomerJAU

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My Recommended Process/Methods for Conversion to FLAC follows:

DTS-CD
Just use Foobar2000 - This will read the DTS-CD disc and allow decoding and conversion to FLAC. You will need the Foobar DTS decoder add-in. See this thread:

DVD-Audio

Just use DVD Audio Extractor - This will read the DVDA disc and allow decoding and conversion to FLAC

DVD-Video

Just use DVD Audio Extractor (needs to be unprotected first) - This will read the DVDV disc and allow decoding and conversion to FLAC
or
if you want the Video and Audio (Music Concert) the use MakeMKV to create an MKV file (Kodi plays MKV).
or

Use MakeMKV to create a MKV file
Then use Music Media Helper to split into FLAC and tag the files (automated) LINK

Blu-ray Audio (BDA)
Use MakeMKV to create a MKV file (select the Title and Audio track you want)
Then use AudioMuxer to convert split MKV into FLAC files (slower than MMH below)
or
Use MakeMKV to create a MKV file
Then use Music Media Helper to split into FLAC and tag the files (automated) LINK
or
Use MakeMKV to backup decrypt and backup the disc to a folder/file format on your hard disc
Use DVD Audio Extractor to Convert to audio FLAC

Blu-Ray Video (BDV)
Use MakeMKV to create a MKV file if you want audio and video (Kodi plays MKV)
if you want just the Audio as FLAC then do same as BDA above
Use Music Media Helper to split MKV files into chapters (songs) for Concerts and to rename chapter files to song titles (and to create Playlists for music videos and audio too)

SACD
Create an ISO image file using an appropriate hacked PS3 (hardware) - Update: Or with a specific Oppo, Sony or Pioneer BD player
Then use Foobar2000 to convert the SACD ISO to FLAC
 
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salsdali

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For DVD-A

DVDfab can clone DVD-A discs into .iso format.

Foobar (with the DVD-A plugin) then plays the .iso as if it were the original DVD-A disc

OPPO's with old firmware (with an attached external hard drive or usb stick) can also play the .iso as if it were the original disc inserted into the OPPO disc drive.

Imgburn (free) can also burn the .iso to a blank disc and the disc is then an exact duplicate of the original DVD-A, playable in ANY OPPO, etc.

when you have a lot of discs to store on a hard drive, .iso files are VERY convenient because they contain ALL the original data (not one bit is lost) and they are just a single file

For example, 100 discs would be stored as 100 .iso files. Very easy to read and sort thru in Windows explorer

If one DVD-A disc was 7.5 GB's originally, the single .iso file would be 7.5 GB. It's an exact 1:1 copy


For Blu-ray (both BDV and BDA)

DVDFab can clone to .iso also.

Foobar won't open those .iso's so you need a free program (DVDfab Virtual Drive) to "mount" the .iso

"Mounting" tricks windows into thinking there is a physical disc in the drive

Once mounted the BDA or BDV can be played in PowerDVD (paid program) as if it were the original disc inserted into the blu-ray drive.

Imgburn can also burn those iso's to a blank BD disc to be played in any blu-ray player
 

himey

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DVDfab can clone DVD-A discs into .iso format.

Foobar (with the DVD-A plugin) then plays the .iso as if it were the original DVD-A disc

OPPO's with old firmware (with an attached external hard drive or usb stick) can also play the .iso as if it were the original disc inserted into the OPPO disc drive.

Imgburn (free) can also burn the .iso to a blank disc and the disc is then an exact duplicate of the original DVD-A, playable in ANY OPPO, etc.

when you have a lot of discs to store on a hard drive, .iso files are VERY convenient because they contain ALL the original data (not one bit is lost) and they are just a single file

For example, 100 discs would be stored as 100 .iso files. Very easy to read and sort thru in Windows explorer

If one DVD-A disc was 7.5 GB's originally, the single .iso file would be 7.5 GB. It's an exact 1:1 copy


For Blu-ray (both BDV and BDA) DVDFab can clone to .iso also.

Foobar won't open those .iso's so you need a free program (DVDfab Virtual Drive).

Once mounted the BDA or BDV can be played in PowerDVD as if it were the original disc inserted into the blu-ray drive.
A DVDA disc like Pet Sounds has tons of stuff that makes no sense to have stored on a pc server. Most want to keep their stereo and multichannel music separate. Most don't need the video extras in the same area as their music stuff. Hard drives are cheap but wasting multiple gigs of space for no reason is counterproductive. Pet Sounds has the exact uncompressed multichannel audio on the disc twice.

You can't tag iso's and iso's limit your playback options. Foobar works great for DVDA images, but if I took a bunch of time to rip my collection, I wouldn't want to limit my options to ONLY Foobar2000.
 

salsdali

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iso's don't limit your playback options

you could just mount the iso's and then they would be playable in any software you current use.

mounting is free and easy, it takes two-clicks of the mouse.

It's just convenient that Foobar and older OPPO's have the ability to play iso's directly.

You do realize that some older OPPO's fetch as much as $1000 on ebay for one reason, they can play iso's from attached external hard drives. Imagine 100's of blu-ray discs stored on one single hard drive attached to the OPPO.

The music industry was so afraid of iso's that it made OPPO remove this capability. If the music industry was that afraid then iso's must be pretty powerful.

Also, today you can buy a 3TB hard drive for $100. I wouldn't worry to much about disc space at this point, that was all in the past.

You're also missing the point that anytime your original disc becomes damaged or destroyed (lets say by fire) you can then burn those iso's back to a blank disc and you then have a brand new copy of that disc.

This is why the music industry has always been so afraid of iso's, because you would never have to buy another copy of the original disc.

You can't do that with any other methods mentioned in this thread.
 

himey

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iso's don't limit your playback options

you could just mount the iso's and then they would be playable in any software you current use.

It's just convenient that Foobar and older OPPO's have the ability to play iso's directly.

You do realize that some older OPPO's fetch as much as $1000 on ebay for one reason, they can play iso's from attached external hard drives. Imagine 100's of blu-ray discs stored on one single hard drive attached to the OPPO.

The music industry was so afraid of iso's that it made OPPO remove this capability. If the music industry was that afraid then iso's must be pretty powerful.

Also, today you can buy a 3TB hard drive for $100. I wouldn't worry to much about disc space at this point, that was all in the past.

You're also missing the point that anytime your original disc becomes damaged or destroyed (lets say by fire) you can then burn those iso's back to a blank disc and you then have a brand new copy of that disc.

This is why the music industry has always been so afraid of iso's, because you would never have to buy another copy of the original disc.

You can't do that with any other methods mentioned in this thread.
I have an Oppo. The software for the 93/95 is horrible compared to pc based stuff. Mounting an image doesn't mean it will work with any other player like Musicbee, Kodi, jRiver ect. I have my discs backed up using image files but that is for storage in case something happened to my discs. I want all my music nicely tagged and available for any music program I choose. I am not missing any point. Been doing this a long time. The Oppo is limited compared to a pc, been there, done that, and have moved way beyond that, as has the original poster. Glad it works for you but no one can get by with just an Oppo, no matter how expensive it is, it just doesn't handle enough formats compared to a pc. I recommend separate tagged files, not image files, ymmv.

Image file of Pet Sounds is nearly 8 gigs. Multichannel flac files are a bit over 3 gigs...My guess is many would not want to store the extra 5 gigs.
 

salsdali

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There's no doubt that faster multicore processors, more memory and faster hard discs will allow you to convert your discs faster.
Actually, I think the single most important factor is the read speed of the drive. All drives are not created equal. Some even have "rip-lock" which throttles the speed to a certain predefined speed. I've literally tried at least 30 drives over the last 15 years in all my builds and they are not equal. Especially true with Blu-rays.
 

HomerJAU

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I wouldn't disagree about the usefulness of an ISO file, particularly as a backup, but I'd agree with himey's' post that it's not that user friendly compared to having separate files. How do you have a headless (not requiring a screen) media player if you have to mount an ISO before you can select a track to play?

I wouldn't want to go back to playing music without Playlist functionality and that does yet exist if my media is stored in a bunch of ISO file.

So Kodi, for example, has a database of all you tracks, you can select any mix and off it goes and plays them (from a smart phone, no TV). That's a much nicer user experience IMO.
 

himey

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Actually, I think the single most important factor is the ripping speed of the drive. All drives are not created equal. Some even have "rip-lock" which throttles the speed to a certain predefined speed. I've literally tried at least 30 drives over the last ten years in all my builds and they are not equal. Especially true with Blu-rays.
My bluray burner rips DVD Audio discs nearly as fast as mounted image files usind DVD Audio Explorer. PCs are fast enough where the latest and greatest are not going to make much of a difference with music files. Encoding video files to mkv's is another story however...
 

HomerJAU

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Actually, I think the single most important factor is the read speed of the drive. All drives are not created equal. Some even have "rip-lock" which throttles the speed to a certain predefined speed. I've literally tried at least 30 drives over the last ten years in all my builds and they are not equal. Especially true with Blu-rays.
Can you please post a list of the better BD drives you've found? I'm due to replace mine, it's done a lot of work and is quite old now.
 

himey

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I wouldn't disagree about the usefulness of an ISO file, particularly as a backup, but I'd agree with himey's' post that it's not that user friendly compared to having separate files. How do you have a headless (not requiring a screen) media player if you have to mount an ISO before you can select a track to play?

I wouldn't want to go back to playing music without Playlist functionality and that does yet exist if my media is stored in a bunch of ISO file.

So Kodi, for example, has a database of all you tracks, you can select any mix and off it goes and plays them (from a smart phone, no TV). That's a much nicer user experience IMO.
Yes. Taking the time to rip your stuff, you want to have compatibility down the line. Being stuck with the Oppo and Foobar software is a major disadvantage...
 

himey

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Can you please post a list of the better BD drives you've found? I'm due to replace mine, it's done a lot of work and is quite old now.
I paid $33 for my LG on sale, and it works great. It is a couple years old however. I use it externally through usb with no problems other than I have to unplug the power when I listen to AM radio because of interference, even when my pc is off, very strange. LG WH14NS40 is the model #...
 

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Can you please post a list of the better BD drives you've found? I'm due to replace mine, it's done a lot of work and is quite old now.
my current and favorite is ASUS BW-12B1ST

handles everything very quickly and quietly

Pioneer makes very good drives also but can be louder

Oh, "quiet" should have been another factor to mention also. Nothing more annoying then converting your discs and having your room sound like a jet is taking off.
 
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DuncanS

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I have an external LG BD R/W BE14NU40 connected via USB to my PC which I've had for about a year and a half, works well, Read back speed is good with USB 2.0 (it is a USB 3.0 device). However I mainly use it to burn BD-As or DVD-As (using mainly IMGBurn along with HD-Audio Solo Ultra). The only issue is Windows 10, and driver compatibility, on power-up the PC doesn't always see it and I have to turn the BD on/off for Windows to accept its there.

http://www.lg.com/us/burners-drives/lg-BE14NU40-external-blu-ray-dvd-drive

Can you please post a list of the better BD drives you've found? I'm due to replace mine, it's done a lot of work and is quite old now.
 

Kal Rubinson

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Thanks to a post by Kal on the opening Media Player sub forum thread it seems you can now copy SACD to an ISO file (using the PS3 program) by running a modified version of in it on an Oppo 103/105 or certain limited Pioneer BD players!!

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/sacd-ripping-using-oppo-or-pioneer-yes-its-true-29251/
The change is not the program on the PC. The program that runs on the MediaTek players is not the same as the one for the PS3.
 

GOS

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Oh man - well, I have Oppo 103. Since I am totally challenged in understanding all the information, I will have to see if the instructions are detailed enough for me. If the instructions assume that I know what certain things mean, or where they are located...then I'm probably out of luck. As an example, I have no clue what "root" login means. That's how novice I am. :violin
 

HomerJAU

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I agree Gene. I'll eventually do a thread with info at a 'monkey see, monkey do level'. Screen shots with simple steps.

EDIT: I added 'root' to the Glossary thread
 

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Apr 23, 2013
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13,208
Location
Central Illinois
I agree Gene. I'll eventually do a thread with info at a 'monkey see, monkey do level'. Screen shots with simple steps.
Garry - you are a freaking life saver. I assume there are zillions like me who simply do not understand the computer lingo. I love computers, but I'm a sort of scroll, click, download sort of guy.... :) I cannot wait. This will be a life changer for me as I have dozens and dozens of SACD's.
 
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