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Using DSD music files. Player or DAC dependent?


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I am new to computer audio, but am starting to build my collection of hi-res music files. I have been using mainly AIF as my principal content format, mainly from HDTracks.com. Recently I have run into Acoustic Sounds' new superhirez.com that offers a lot of files in a different format, DSD. They have a lot of the jazz titles I have been looking for, but there appears to be a catch.

 

My software, JRiver Media Center 18, says they support DSD files. But, my Preamp/DAC (Classe CP-800) does not support that format. Furthermore, Classe has actually announced they will not support DSD on the soon-to-be-released Rev 2 of the CP-800 either.

 

The question I have is whether I can use this format on my system. Does the software drive the file? Or does this simply feed the DAC which then converts the file to usable audio content for the preamp to use?

 

Sorry if this is a basic question, but I am a bit confused on this subject. Hoping someone could help me.

 

Thanks,

Grayson

 

---------------------------

Software: JRiver Media Center 18 (Win 7)

Turntable: Rega RP3

Preamp/DAC: Classe CP-800

Amp: Carver M200

Speakers: Vandersteen IIc

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To playback a DSD file in DSD format, you need a DSD capable DAC. You could play DSD files with your setup if you have JRiver convert the files to PCM 176 or 88k for playback. I believe JR18 will do this. I suggest you downsample a free test DSD file from one of the sites and see how it sounds/works.

 

This will probably only really be worth it to you if you find albums you like that are only available in DSD and not in PCM.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I am new to computer audio, but am starting to build my collection of hi-res music files. I have been using mainly AIF as my principal content format, mainly from HDTracks.com. Recently I have run into Acoustic Sounds' new superhirez.com that offers a lot of files in a different format, DSD. They have a lot of the jazz titles I have been looking for, but there appears to be a catch. [/size]

 

Classe seem to be firmly in the PCM camp (Their surround processor seems to deny DSD exists also). There is however a fair amount of new high resolution jazz and also transfers from the analogue tape era specifically transferred in PCM (i.e. Blue Note). Some of these overlap with the acoustic sounds DSD material which was originally prepared for SACD releasing format.

 

On the other hand you could acquire an inexpensive but competent DSD capable DAC like the Geek Out or similar and feed the unconverted DSD to that device, with the resultant signal into the Classe preamp even perhaps just to make format comparisons. DSD is ideally suited to live, improvised or direct to disk acoustic recordings or archiving analogue tapes hence its usage.

 

Converting DSD to PCM is a lossy process and it is best to avoid this if possible.

Music Interests: http://www.onebitaudio.com

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A bit of an update. I upgraded my JRiver to MC19 (as suggested by wisnon above). Then downloaded the free DSD content from Blue Coast. (http://bluecoastrecords.com/free-downloads). MC19 played it immediately through my Classe. It was an acoustic piece with just female vocal and cello. Frankly, it sounded pretty good. Very clear. Good "timbre". It turns out that some of the superhirez.com albums are available in both 24-bit (96 or higher) FLAC and DSD. Where available, I will do FLAC, but MC19 at least makes it possible to use the DSD content where it is not available anywhere else.

 

I have always been a big fan of Nat King Cole. Many of his albums are apparently only available on DSD! :(

 

I will avoid DSD where another format is available, but my system now at least works for the music I need and still seems to sound better than standard CD recordings (most of my CD's are recorded in Apple lossless).

 

Thanks for your help.

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BTW, here is the entry from JRiver's wiki site that discusses the DSD conversion process.

 

"By default, DSD will be converted to PCM for playback.The DSD to PCM conversion process converts from 1-bit DSD to 64-bit PCM at 1/8th of the sample rate. The total amount of data from this conversion grows by 8x, so the process is effectively lossless / perfect.

Once you have PCM, it will be 64bit @ 352.8 kHz for DSD, and 64bit @ 705.6 kHz for DSD 2x.

It is rare for hardware to support these high sample rates, so downsampling is required. The option 'Greater than 192kHz' in DSP Studio > Output Format is what is used. There is no way to configure DSD 1x and DSD 2x independently.

DSD contains high frequency noise that could damage ears or equipment. Therefore, a low pass filter is used to remove this ultrasonic noise at playback time. The default low pass is at 24kHz using a 48dB/octave slope. The low pass is configurable in Options > Audio > Advanced > Configure input plug-in > JRiver DSD Plugin. There's a little more detail on our default low pass here."

 

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