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Sega Saturn S/PDIF Mod


S/PDIF is a digital audio format that is becoming more common. You'll find digital audio connections on most modern amplifiers as either coax connections or fiber optic toslink ports. Some video game sound chips output digital audio and then use a separate digital to analog converter to produce the final analog output. By picking off the audio in digital form you can pass it to your amplifier with no noise and no signal degredation.

The Saturn uses separate D/A converter so a digital audio output is possible. The model one I have has a TDA1386T D/A converter, while the model 2 has a PCM1710. Looking at the datasheets, I worked out where to get the necessary signals for a Cirrus CS8406 transmitter IC. Credit goes to the author of the SNES spdif mod for inspiration and technical info.

Here's a schematic showing what pins to hookup on the CS8406.

Signal CS8406 TDA1386T PCM1710 YMF292 (SCSP)
EMPH: emphasis - See notes! 3 13 27 - C62
RST: Reset 9 15 25 - see pic
ILRCK: Word Clock 12 5 1 - TP112 63
ISCLK: Bit Clock 13 4 3 - TP111 62
SDIN: Audio Data 14 6 2 - TP110 61
OMCK: Master Clock 21 12 5 - TP113 64
GND 9 7
+5v 10 8 - TP212
TXP: S/Pdif output 26


The TDA1386T de-emphasis line being low indicates no de-emphasis. The EMPH line on the CS8406 low indicates signal pre-emphasis. This meens the emph line has to be inverted. (Or you could just assume no pre-emphasis and tie the EMPH line high)

pin 15 on the TDA1386 and pin 25 on the PCM1710 are mute lines. I'm guessing that the system mutes the chip briefly on startup so I can use them as reset lines.

On the model 2 boards with the PCM1710 all the necessary signals have corresponding test points on the bottom of the board! These are listed above. The mute line I'm using for reset doesn't have a test pint only a small via hole to hook up to. It may make sense to just tie the reset line high. I need to look at my model 2 board and see if the test points are the same.

You can hook up a toslink transmitter directly or wire up a coax connector with the same circuit as in the SNES mod.

av/saturn_sp_dif.txt · Last modified: 2019/08/27 20:45 by