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First multi-channel DSD playback solution with Mytek!

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How about sitting in your listening position, browsing jremote, and pulling up a pure native 5.1 DSD rip of Beck-Sea Change, for playback in native DSD. And no, I don't have a Sonoma workstation sitting here! YES!!

 

Well, I mentioned in a few threads that I was getting ready to prototype a possible 5.1 pure DSD playback setup. The thought of using J River and jremote to browse a multichannel catalog that includes native DSD 5.1 (and 3.0, etc) is a 2013 goal of mine.

 

Well..today marks the first huge step in that goal!

 

Mytek delivered my third Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC yesterday, along with a simple 4-port USB hub. My goal for this weekend coming up was to simply get something working, and I assumed it would be a lot of trial and error..even though Michal and Chebon (Mytek) had given me pretty good instructions going in.

 

Matt at J River had just released a beta version of JRMC that fixed a couple idiosyncrasies in 5.0 vs 5.1 playback, so i downloaded 18.0131, made sure Mytek's 133.1 Windows ASIO driver was loaded on my CAPS V2+ and hooked up the USB hub. I used some decent (and awful generic) USB cables to cobble together a three-port setup, and used the SOtM card to drive it (directly powered by the iFi). I thought the hub would need power but it didn't. The USBPAL driver screen indicates what goes where (hint: the oldest serial number gets main lf/rf, the next gets c/sw and the newest DAC gets ls/rs). I guessed right the first time! Go figure.

 

I use a tried-and-true analog multichannel preamp (Sony TAP-9000ES) for volume and analog channel trimming (so far done via ear only; I will drag out the Rat Shack digital SPL meter tonight). I created a MCh DSF parent folder, moved a few 5.1 DSF albums into it and had J Remote add the parent in auto-import. Voila. (My next step is to create a multichannel view and use it in jremote; the view rule will be simple..."channels greater than 2"). One of the DSF folders is the Pentatone sampler that includes test tones and channel id tracks.

 

First up, after confirming channels and doing simple trims, was Beck-Sea Change, a tremendous surround sound album. The clarity, tone, dynamics and deep bass of this thing, heard 1000 times before, was startling. The Mytek trio blew away (yes blew away) the Oppo 83SE in this first test. And channel trims weren't even done yet. Wow!

 

Stay tuned for more updates.

 

Here's what the setup looks like (stacked Myteks next to my CAPS V2+. The other thing is simply a gigabit ethernet switch, so my 2 channel setup would still have ethernet).

 

dsd51v1.JPG

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Update:

Myteks are all stock. They were set for bypass volume. J River was setup for ASIO and bitstream "DSD" (not "DoP"). Rebooted initially as one of the DACS wasn't seeing the CAPS, and J River was having issues. Reboot took care of everything. I do not have Fidelizer running currently. Win 8 is un-tweaked currently (I've used Fidelizer to do that so far, short of a good list of changes). ISO's were extracted using "extract DST DSF multichannel.bat" and I appended each DSF multichannel album name with "(DSD MCH)" to intially differentiate from its DSD stereo counterpart.. As i said earlier, I will simply make a mch view that jremote will also use.

 

Oh, the DSF 5.1 folders are freaking huge. :(

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This is simply Awesome. Just Awesome. :)


New simplified setup: STEREO- Primary listening Area: Cullen Circuits Mod ZP90> Benchmark DAC1>RotelRKB250 Power amp>KEF Q Series. Secondary listening areas: 1/ QNAP 119P II(running MinimServer)>UPnP>Linn Majik DSI>Linn Majik 140's. 2/ (Source awaiting)>Invicta DAC>RotelRKB2100 Power amp>Rega's. Tertiary multiroom areas: Same QNAP>SMB>Sonos>Various. MULTICHANNEL- MacMini>A+(Standalone mode)>Exasound e28 >5.1 analog out>Yamaha Avantage Receiver>Pre-outs>Linn Chakra power amps>Linn Katan front and sides. Linn Trikan Centre. Velodyne SPL1000 Ultra

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Could never see myself going that way with a strictly audio setup, would get very pricey for speakers and amplifications for the other channels. None the less it's very awesome, glad to see DSD taking such big leaps over the last couple years.


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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Hello, looks like a very cool project but I must ask....Why the need for X 3 Myteks? Probably a dumb questions but couldn't figure it out at first glance.
One Mytek does two channels.............................................

Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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Hello, looks like a very cool project but I must ask....Why the need for X 3 Myteks? Probably a dumb questions but couldn't figure it out at first glance.

 

Yes, these DACS are the stock 2 channel Stereo 192 DACS, so to do 5.1 (i.e 6 channels of surround) one needs 3 DACS. :)

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Ted-

 

Not even interested in 5.1 (don't have the room or the cash), but I love your enthusiasm and readiness to share.

 

That stack of 3 black Myteks looks totally cool.

 

BTW, Michal isn't willing to make you a 5.1 ch prototype DSD DAC as reward for all your help? :)


Main listening (small home office):

Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Kii Control>Audiolense DRC>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.
 

Secondary Listening: CAPS Pipeline>IFi iOne DAC>Schiit Freya>Kii Three . Also an SBT and a RB Pi 3B+ running piCorePlayer as an SBT emulator. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Yes, these DACS are the stock 2 channel Stereo 192 DACS, so to do 5.1 (i.e 6 channels of surround) one needs 3 DACS. :)

 

Can you describe as best you can, the difference between this Comp-audio DSD MCH playback and the same disc played back thru a MCH HT amp?

 

What different dimensionality comes into play?

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Thanks for your heads-up, Ted!

 

Seems that surround DSD playback isn't a "paper tiger" (couldn't resist ...) anymore.

 

I also have alot of surround albums that I would like to be able to play back in the near future, so this is indeed good news.


Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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Ted, sounds cool for multi-channel DSD.

 

A question if I may; is this not more <b>First multi-channel DSD playback solution with <i>J.River</i></b>. You say the Mytek's are stock so is there any reason this wouldn't work with alternative DSD DACs?

 

Eloise


Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Ted, you sir are the saviour of Quad. You've got to tell and post the link on Quadraphonicquad. Ted. You totally rock. The simple beauty of this solution is breathtaking. As a starter it should put a price limit of an all in one multichannel solution. Ted. It's just brilliant. But As Eloise says, this could give life to recycling some older DAC's...not that DSD DAC's are old, but you know what I mean. So is the solution dependant on Mytek's? And or JRiver? That's a great q/. Could we use a better DAC for the stereo fronts, then cheaper ones like the TEAC for the less important channels? I guess balancing would be a problem...? But we have the receiver for that...

 

Congrats Ted. Never before has multichannel DSD moved as far forward as last night when you hooked all this up. One small step for man. One giant leap for ..... Quad! Was it really as easy as you say? Beautiful stuff Ted. Just beautiful.


New simplified setup: STEREO- Primary listening Area: Cullen Circuits Mod ZP90> Benchmark DAC1>RotelRKB250 Power amp>KEF Q Series. Secondary listening areas: 1/ QNAP 119P II(running MinimServer)>UPnP>Linn Majik DSI>Linn Majik 140's. 2/ (Source awaiting)>Invicta DAC>RotelRKB2100 Power amp>Rega's. Tertiary multiroom areas: Same QNAP>SMB>Sonos>Various. MULTICHANNEL- MacMini>A+(Standalone mode)>Exasound e28 >5.1 analog out>Yamaha Avantage Receiver>Pre-outs>Linn Chakra power amps>Linn Katan front and sides. Linn Trikan Centre. Velodyne SPL1000 Ultra

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The driver has to manage the channel mapping/forwarding between the software(-player) and the DACs used, so this will not work with other hardware.

 

But maybe this will force other manufacturers to include something alike into their drivers ...., someday ;-)


Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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Ted, sounds cool for multi-channel DSD.

 

A question if I may; is this not more <b>First multi-channel DSD playback solution with <i>J.River</i></b>. You say the Mytek's are stock so is there any reason this wouldn't work with alternative DSD DACs?

 

Eloise

 

Eloise, good question. I assume the magic is the ASIO driver coordinating channel mapping and the clock synch stuff. No other under $5k DSD-capable DAC mfg has stepped up to this idea though (Playback Designs has always touted stacked PDs but with a sort of proprietary link maybe?, at different $$ of course). Funny, the driver is the one they've had on the their site since almost 12 months ago (v1.33.10).

 

Are there problems with clock shifting among the 3 units?

 

I'm not aware of any...so far. :) We are getting a little intermittent light clicks in the rear channel DAC on only certain occasions, esp in pause mode, but working through it. I don't even have all 3 on the same firmware yet.

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How about sitting in your listening position, browsing jremote, and pulling up a pure native 5.1 DSD rip of Beck-Sea Change, for playback in native DSD. And no, I don't have a Sonoma workstation sitting here! YES!!

 

Well, I mentioned in a few threads that I was getting ready to prototype a possible 5.1 pure DSD playback setup. The thought of using J River and jremote to browse a multichannel catalog that includes native DSD 5.1 (and 3.0, etc) is a 2013 goal of mine.

 

Well..today marks the first huge step in that goal!

 

Mytek delivered my third Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC yesterday, along with a simple 4-port USB hub. My goal for this weekend coming up was to simply get something working, and I assumed it would be a lot of trial and error..even though Michal and Chebon (Mytek) had given me pretty good instructions going in.

 

Matt at J River had just released a beta version of JRMC that fixed a couple idiosyncrasies in 5.0 vs 5.1 playback, so i downloaded 18.0131, made sure Mytek's 133.1 Windows ASIO driver was loaded on my CAPS V2+ and hooked up the USB hub. I used some decent (and awful generic) USB cables to cobble together a three-port setup, and used the SOtM card to drive it (directly powered by the iFi). I thought the hub would need power but it didn't. The USBPAL driver screen indicates what goes where (hint: the oldest serial number gets main lf/rf, the next gets c/sw and the newest DAC gets ls/rs). I guessed right the first time! Go figure.

 

I use a tried-and-true analog multichannel preamp (Sony TAP-9000ES) for volume and analog channel trimming (so far done via ear only; I will drag out the Rat Shack digital SPL meter tonight). I created a MCh DSF parent folder, moved a few 5.1 DSF albums into it and had J Remote add the parent in auto-import. Voila. (My next step is to create a multichannel view and use it in jremote; the view rule will be simple..."channels greater than 2"). One of the DSF folders is the Pentatone sampler that includes test tones and channel id tracks.

 

First up, after confirming channels and doing simple trims, was Beck-Sea Change, a tremendous surround sound album. The clarity, tone, dynamics and deep bass of this thing, heard 1000 times before, was startling. The Mytek trio blew away (yes blew away) the Oppo 83SE in this first test. And channel trims weren't even done yet. Wow!

 

Stay tuned for more updates.

 

Here's what the setup looks like (stacked Myteks next to my CAPS V2+. The other thing is simply a gigabit ethernet switch, so my 2 channel setup would still have ethernet).

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]4092[/ATTACH]

 

Ted, congratulations. I have spend a lot of time fiddling with non conventional, all digital, multi channel signal paths myself and this is hard work, but very rewarding. Few questions / comments.

 

First, how exactly does it work? Specifically, how does the 5.1 DSD bitstream get split in 3 x 2 channel? Does it? Or do all three Myteks receive the exact same signal from the USB hub? If so, how does each Mytek know which two channels to play? What is happening in Mytek firmware, JRiver, and Mytek Jriver drivers respectively to make this work over USB. Would it work with a PCM signal as well? Right now MCH PCM on a server requires MCH (usually Lynx) AES/EBU output card. Could this now be done over USB as well (at least for 6 channels)?

 

Second, my experience suggest that format (i.e. being able to play native DSD) makes a substantial difference and all else being equal native DSD will beat PCM conversion any day of the week. However, in audio, all else is never equal, and format is just one of many factors determining sound quality in the chain. For example, by playing in DSD, you cannot use the digital volume control in Jriver. In my experience, having to insert the Sony MCH analog preamp at the end of the chain to do volume control will totally wipe out the benefits of being able to play DSD. This is not a theory of mine, this is based on using both MCH analog preamps (i.e have used EMM Labs Swithchman, Theta Six Shooter and McCormack MAP1) and well implemented digital volume controls. If instead of a CAPS 2.0 you had a very powerfull processor(the CAPS 2.0 would choke on this), converted your DSD to PCM at 196/24 in JRiver, and used the JRiver volume control, this would in my estimation sound better than what you are doing now. There is one interesting alternative you could try. Take out the Sony, and calibrate the Front / Surrounds and Center volume levels with the Mytek volume setting. Then calibrate the Sub with the Volume control on the Sub. Next control all three myteks with the Mytek remote control. As long as all three myteks consistently pick up the IR signal this should work and will beat the crap out of using the Sony preamp (again based on my experience).

 

Third, using native DSD means you cannot use any other of the extensive DSP capabilities in JRiver (in addition to volume control), including EQ, Bass Management and Delay. For many, the benefits of having access to this would trump the benefits of staying in the DSD domain. Again, CAPS 2.0 need not apply because the server is way short of processing power to do this.

 

I will be able to weigh in this shortly based on my own expiriments. While I will continue to run all MCH on my modded Oppo (3 x S/PDIF digital out), for two channel I will be moving to running Dirac Live on a server, USB into the DAC (away from AES/EBU into a Trinnov processor). This will allow me to compare native DSD streaming, with PCM conversion and applying DRC. Will be interesting. While my conclusions will not necessarily be valid for other systems / rooms (in particular, the benefits of DRC will vary by room, and the SQ gap between DSD streaming and PCM conversions will vary by DAC), this will add another datapoint to the intersting debate. I know many purist dismiss the notion of applying DRC right of the bat (I used to be among them), but my ears tell me otherwise now. Again, I also hear clear benefits of DSD streaming over PCM conversion, so this will be a trade-off.

 

Keep up the good work and keep us posted.

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Erik,

Thanks for the nice comments.

 

First, I am not technical enough to say what the ASIO driver is truly doing behind the scenes but it is obvious that it is the traffic cop for the channel mapping. Looking at the ASIO in and out, the channels are mapped there (and I knew ahead of time that it maps based on DAC serial number, so I ran my cables as such, and guessed right). Each DAC only deals with its channel pair. For 3.0 RCA Living Stereo extractions I'm not sure if the third DAC even sees a signal...dunno. will try later.

 

Second, PCM works perfectly (listened to Donald Fagen-Kamakiriad 24/96 DVD-A 5.1 rip..WOW). And I repeat, I have not tweaked this thing at all yet (two generic USB cables, etc).

 

Third, yes native DSD64 cannot be DSP'd so it is very advantageous that I have an almost perfect room acoustically (thanks Jeff Hedback, Ethan Winer, etc), have my identical transducers spaced in a ITU setup (i.e i don't need bass management or channel delays, just trims done in the analog world, and LFE DSP'd for the room via SMS-1). Maybe Miska or others will chime in on what DSD128 could do to remedy this non-DSP issue for others.

 

Finally, there is no way on Gods green earth that I am going to convert this wonderous native DSD sound to PCM (I hate DSD-to-PCM conversions). I have no need to do any DSP, and I believe my lowly TAP-9000ES is as transparent as I need for this application. No, I don't use it for 2 channel...but I do use a two channel preamp for that setup (I've posted ad nauseum about Mytek's bypass vs remote volume, and about my Concert Fidelity CF-080). Do I have the best cables and power cords in this cobbled together setup so far? No. But once all the bugs are worked out I will begin to assess what i need.

 

Yes, it is not yet ready for those with non-serious surround setups, or that love to fiddle with DSP...but as I said, PCM works fine so go for it.

 

Edit: you are exactly right on the CAPS V2+ horsepower; it wasn't meant for DSP or maybe even multichannel. My plans are to build a very simple more powerful CAPS for multichannel..not sure what is though. But I don't think I want my 2 channel setup always going through a USB hub, and yet I want my multichannel setup to use the SOtM if possible. So that means a second mch CAPS.

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Can you describe as best you can, the difference between this Comp-audio DSD MCH playback and the same disc played back thru a MCH HT amp?

 

What different dimensionality comes into play?

 

Norman, there is just more of everything going on. The details are especially improved, but then that leads to better air and separation, more extended harmonics, better imaging (especially front to back) and the lower frequencies feel like they are tighter, hence more musical and, if available, go to 20hz rather than 30 or 40 with disc playback (i.e the last example is less what is heard and more what is felt, and I don't mean bombastic or boomy).

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First, I am not technical enough to say what the ASIO driver is truly doing behind the scenes but it is obvious that it is the traffic cop for the channel mapping. Looking at the ASIO in and out, the channels are mapped there (and I knew ahead of time that it maps based on DAC serial number, so I ran my cables as such, and guessed right). Each DAC only deals with its channel pair. For 3.0 RCA Living Stereo extractions I'm not sure if the third DAC even sees a signal...dunno. will try later.

 

I see. So this is Mytek proprietary driver software. I believe this also answers the question asked in a previous post; It will not work with non Mytek DSD dacs.

 

I have no need to do any DSP, and I believe my lowly TAP-9000ES is as transparent as I need for this application. No, I don't use it for 2 channel...but I do use a two channel preamp for that setup (I've posted ad nauseum about Mytek's bypass vs remote volume, and about my Concert Fidelity CF-080). Do I have the best cables and power cords in this cobbled together setup so far? No. But once all the bugs are worked out I will begin to assess what i need.

 

I have not read on your Mytek bypass versus remote control experience. Unless you think the Mytek volume control sucks, I would give the Mytek direct signal path as I suggested a whirl. You can also get a MCH preamp build using the TAP modules. I believe you have a TAP passive - try it on two channel against the Sony, if it is a lot better, get a MCH version build. I looked into this myself at some point. My bigger point is you are losing a tremendous amount of information running through a set of analog cables and the Sony analog preamp. I have used much better preamps than the Sony (EMM Labs Switchman) and they compromised SQ significantly.

 

Edit: you are exactly right on the CAPS V2+ horsepower; it wasn't meant for DSP or maybe even multichannel. My plans are to build a very simple more powerful CAPS for multichannel..not sure what is though. But I don't think I want my 2 channel setup always going through a USB hub, and yet I want my multichannel setup to use the SOtM if possible. So that means a second mch CAPS.

 

I'll probably end up needing a CAPS 3.0 Zuma for my applications.

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Can you describe as best you can, the difference between this Comp-audio DSD MCH playback and the same disc played back thru a MCH HT amp?

 

What different dimensionality comes into play?

 

Norman,

One more aspect of this setup that rocks it over the disc/HT amp setup:

convenience! Sitting in my listening chair, browsing my mutlichannel view in jremote and picking an SACD or DVD-A, or just tracks, at my leisure. Sound familiar? :)

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Erik,

I found the volume control in the Mytek (and in most, not all, remote volume DACs) to be quite compromised (vs bypass mode) even compared to something like the Sony analog preamp. Also, the Sony gives me 5.1 HT bypass (i.e sending fronts, center and sub from the AVR that processes 7.1 HDMi movie soundtracks using separate amps and speakers for sides and surrounds) and multi-5.1 source selection (probably not long term as I won't use the Oppo analogs anymore). BUT, I hear ya when you say that a mch Bent TAP would be nice....it's tough enough to find another one, though, let alone two more. And John is doing less and less with parts lately i think (and I'm not DIY). I am floored that an EMM Switchman was compromised.

 

Ain't it fun. ;)

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Erik,

I found the volume control in the Mytek (and in most, not all, remote volume DACs) to be quite compromised (vs bypass mode) even compared to something like the Sony analog preamp. Also, the Sony gives me 5.1 HT bypass (i.e sending fronts, center and sub from the AVR that processes 7.1 HDMi movie soundtracks using separate amps and speakers for sides and surrounds) and multi-5.1 source selection (probably not long term as I won't use the Oppo analogs anymore). BUT, I hear ya when you say that a mch Bent TAP would be nice....it's tough enough to find another one, though, let alone two more. And John is doing less and less with parts lately i think (and I'm not DIY). I am floored that an EMM Switchman was compromised.

 

Ain't it fun. ;)

 

Fun indeed. May be the Myteks don't drive your poweramps directly very well. I compared the Switchman behind my EMM Labs DAC2X for analog volume control against using the Trinnov processor before my DAC2X doing digital volume control. It was no comparison. Switchman was sold within 24 hours. The Switchman is a fine preamp, but in my experience there is no preamp like no preamp.

 

You can still buy all the components from bent audio to build a multi channel stagleformer based volume control. Not cheap in components alone, and then you need to find a technician to put it together for you.

 

BentAudio.com :: TAP

 

For single ended operations, another option for very transparent MCH volume control is daisy chaining three placette audio units.

 

Anyway, you're probably focused on getting the digital side of things sorted out and worry about volume control later. All I am saying is with the Sony preamp you have a lot of SQ upside if you do find something better.

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I found the volume control in the Mytek (and in most, not all, remote volume DACs) to be quite compromised (vs bypass mode) even compared to something like the Sony analog preamp.
Are you referring to the analog VC or the digital VC or both?

Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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