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Excluding hi-res and HD, why use a DAC with processing capabilities greater than 16 / 44.1?


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I use an Oppo 980H as my source, and I play only redbook CDs. Since redbook CDs are recorded at 16 / 44.1, of what value is a DAC whose processing capability is greater than 16 / 44.1? Please exclude characteristics such as build quality, brand recognition, re-sale value, and future applications from the discussion. I'm only interested learning what the value add of the processing capability has on redbook CDs. Thanks,

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I use an Oppo 980H as my source, and I play only redbook CDs. Since redbook CDs are recorded at 16 / 44.1, of what value is a DAC whose processing capability is greater than 16 / 44.1? Please exclude characteristics such as build quality, brand recognition, re-sale value, and future applications from the discussion. I'm only interested learning what the value add of the processing capability has on redbook CDs. Thanks,

 

 

I am curious why you say besides Hi-res? Why wouldn't you want to upsample to hi-res? Doesn't that make the signal more accurate to the speakers and "open up" the sound stage and make it sound more natural? I thought that was the ultimate objective in the digital to analog conversion in the first place. I am new at all this stuff, so may be incorrect in my assumption?

 

It's really all about accuracy....and DSD allows more accuracy...

 

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I'm no expert either, but some things I can think of. If you wanted to use computer software to upsample from 44/16 to something higher, the DAC would support it. Some music sounds better to me when I upsample with software (Audirvana + for me). Does your OPPO support upsampling? I had an old Marantz disc spinner that did.

 

Also, if you used digital volume control, you have room to adjust with 24 bits before you have a noticeable decline in sound quality. At 16 bits you wouldn't. I barely know what I'm taking about on this part though so hopefully others can add in. My OPPO BDP95 has volume control in the player. Does the 980H?

 

Since you are using CDs and not a computer, I don't really know of any other reason.

 

BTW, what DACs are currently available that do not offer greater than 44/16 support? 96/24 is pretty common.

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Precision and accuracy have very distinct (and different) meanings in the world of engineering and science. Something can have excellent accuracy and still have poor precision. Likewise, another thing can have excellent precision and poor accuracy. Of the two, precision is generally the more difficult to achieve. Precision is the repeatability of a measurement. As an example, imagine a thrower throws three darts at a dart board. Say all three darts land together in a nice tight bunch grazing one another just outside the outer ring. Because they landed outside the outer ring, unfortunately no points are scored. However, focus on the tight bunching. This is an example of good precision with poor accuracy. Imagine the possibilities if the thrower could maintain form and adjust only aim. Perhaps all darts could land at bullseye if so desired. On the other hand, let's imagine a second thrower. This second thrower hits the dart board with all three darts just outside the outer ring. This time each dart is rather equidistant from bullseye and also each other such that they encircle bullseye. Again no points are scored. This is an example of good accuracy (since the center point of the cluster is indeed at bullseye) but poor precision since the darts are relatively far from one another. This would be difficult to correct by adjusting just aim if what is desired is to have all three darts hit a particular point on the board. Incidentally, this is the purpose of using multiple DACs for a single channel: that way the results can be averaged to arrive at a combination of more precision AND more accuracy statistically since the mass produced DACs used are typically guaranteed only to a tolerance.

 

Also, careful with upsampling: it is impossible to consistently add back lost information from a recording once it's lost. In the process of converting to digital something called an anti-alias filter is typically used. Its purpose is to remove spectral content (or at least sufficiently attenuate it to the point of essentially removing it) so that something called aliases aren't added to the recording. Once this information is removed it is for all intents and purposes gone. No amount of upsampling will bring it back. However, what upsampling can do is allow for more gentle reconstruction filters to be employed. Provided that a more gentle reconstruction filter is indeed employed (because there's no guarantee that it will be if not so specified) then some benefits can be realized from upsampling. One caveat: beware the ceteris paribus fallacy that exists in this case. That benefit assumes no other changes occur to the signal, which isn't true since filters change aspects of the signal based on the filter itself such that two different filters will change the signal differently.

Rob C

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I enjoy great sound from DVD's and Bluray films many in 24 / 96.

I run a surround system capable of 5.1 in 24 / 192.

Why wouldn't I?

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You can expand your library to include hi-res material, or you can upsample your rebook material, if doing so sounds better to you.

 

-Paul

 

 

I use an Oppo 980H as my source, and I play only redbook CDs. Since redbook CDs are recorded at 16 / 44.1, of what value is a DAC whose processing capability is greater than 16 / 44.1? Please exclude characteristics such as build quality, brand recognition, re-sale value, and future applications from the discussion. I'm only interested learning what the value add of the processing capability has on redbook CDs. Thanks,

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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FWIW, I owned an Oppo 981HD, but it doesn't even come close to the Analogue Out or Coax SPDIF Out, from the more recent Oppo 103, even when playing Redbook CD. The later model also has BluRay play and even USB inputs, as well as many other worthwhile features.

 

Regards

Alex

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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There are lots of reasons.

 

The NAD M51 DAC, for example, upsamples all input (even 24-192) to a much higher resolution so that it's internal digital volume control operates without any loss of resolution. From NAD's website:

"The extreme headroom afforded by the 35-bit architecture allows for a DSP-based volume control that does not reduce resolution. Even with 24-bit high definition signals, the output can be attenuated by 66dB (very, very quiet) before bit truncation begins."

 

Most DAC's that oversample, do so not because the upsampled file inherently sounds better, but because a higher resolution signal can be decoded more effectively by the circuitry in the DAC. For example, higher resolution files require less steep (less sonically harmful) digital filtering. On the other hand, true high resolution files genuinely contain more musical information, plus they benefit from less intrusive digital filtering.

 

Unfortunately, there are cases where an HD file may sound worse than its 16-44 counterpart, but that has everything to do with mastering and nothing to do with any lack in HD itself. A HD copy of an inferior master will still sound bad.

 

Finally, DAC's that decode HD have become downright cheap. There are several quality models available starting at under $200. Furthermore, JRiver on Windows & the Mac offers you the option to output any file in any format from 16-44 to double DSD. Or to play it in its native format if you like.

 

I don't see any reason to limit your options.

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Thanks for all the responses. I appreciate your input.

 

I think I assumed a few things and didn’t give enough details. Redbook CDs are my only source of music in a two-channel system. I use the Oppo 980H because of its video capability and the fact that it is a multi functional player (DVDs and CDs). I don’t stream music and I don’t have a blu ray player. From a music playback perspective, I think I’m pretty safe in saying that the source material is no more than 16 / 44.1. So, this is why I say excluding hi res and HD (meaning blu ray).

 

I understand that DVD, Bluray, and multichannel surround are different animals altogether. I also recognize (not understand) the complexity surrounding digital volume control and the need for as much detail as possible in the signal. However, I will use a DAC for the conversion only and not to drive the amp directly. Ironically, if I had the funds, the NAD M51 is the DAC I would most likely purchase.

 

Part of the reason I ask this question is because of the comparison of older DACs to newer ones. My hypothesis is that yesterday’s top of the line DACs will perform just as well for me (given my source material at a bit perfect rate) as today’s DACs. While this might not be true for everyone, I think it might be true for me. Years ago I had a Monarchy Audio DAC in my system. I sold it and I really regret it now. It was a factory upgraded M22 with balanced connections. The build quality was excellent, the design was good, the components were good, and the sound was great. If I don't need USB and 24/96, I think I'd rather purchase an older DAC at a lower price if sound quality isn't sacrificed.

 

 

Rob C’s illustration explaining the multiple DACs per channel really makes sense. I’ve been focused on the numbers (44, 96, 192, and etc) but it sounds like the real numbers that are important are the number of DACs per channel. Also, his comment regarding the upsampling seems logical.

 

Alex, I’m curious about your comments regarding the Oppo 103 and redbook CDs. I’m not surprised to hear the analogue section is better in the 103, but it seems to me that comparing the SPDIF between the two units would have many variables to consider. Assuming that the cables, DACs, amps and speakers were the same in your comparison… Is the 103 better because it changes the signal from a bit perfect 16/44.1 to something higher like 192? If so, it would make sense to get a DAC that can handle the 192. But then again, it would mean the 103 is not transmitting via SPDIF a bit perfect signal, right? Or is it because the 103 is better at reducing jitter than the 981? Were the settings regarding DSD and PCM the same for both units when compared? I don’t doubt your assessment, I’m just trying to understand why.

 

Thanks again,

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Redbook CDs are my only source of music in a two-channel system...

Part of the reason I ask this question is because of the comparison of older DACs to newer ones. My hypothesis is that yesterday’s top of the line DACs will perform just as well for me (given my source material at a bit perfect rate) as today’s DACs. While this might not be true for everyone, I think it might be true for me.

 

Thanks for the helpful clarification, but I strongly disagree with your hypothesis.

 

Your theory suggests that older DAC's were highly successful at extracting the musical information from 16-bit audio. That is definitely not the case. Not relative to modern DACs anyway.

 

I've switched DAC's every couple of years or so. The last 3 units I used were a Pioneer Elite SC-07 Receiver that I used as a preamp. It had nice Wolfson DAC chips. Then I went 2 channel only with the NAD M51 and now I've upgraded to a LampizatOr DSD DAC. I've also upgraded my computer from stock Windows 7 to Windows 2012 Server with AudioPhil's Audiophile Optimizer. Needless to say, each step was a big leap in sound quality.

 

I have to say that the one thing that has impressed me the most as I've progressed has been the improvement in the reproduction of 16-44 files. I expect greatness from well mastered HD files, but the sound I get now from SD is better than I used to think that HD was capable of. That's all because of recent innovation in the DAC chips and in the and the design around them.

 

I realize that some of my components are relatively pricey, but you're shopping at a great time, especially in the digital arena. Excellent sound has never been so affordable. The Schiit Loki DSD DAC (which I also own) is only $149. You can use JRiver to real-time convert your PCM to DSD with it. There's the AudioQuest Dragon V2. The iDSD. And those are just a few of the sub $300 models. Buying (relatively recent) used gear is also a great idea as these units generally have no moving parts and some command great resale value. With new DAC's coming out regularly, the used market is lively. I bought my NAD M51 new for the retail price of $2k and sold it a year and a half later in mint condition for $1500, so my ultimate cost was a pittance compared to how much enjoyment I got from it.

 

I'd strongly recommend choosing among the latest hardware, especially if you're focused on 16-44 performance.

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K6Davis, your comments are helpful, and thanks for sharing your observations. I guess for $300, I can afford to try a couple and pick the one I want to keep. Do you insert a re-clocking device before the DAC to reduce jitter? Or do some of the newer DACs include re-clocking before they even process the signal?

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Thanks for the helpful clarification, but I strongly disagree with your hypothesis.

 

Your theory suggests that older DAC's were highly successful at extracting the musical information from 16-bit audio. That is definitely not the case. Not relative to modern DACs anyway.

 

I've switched DAC's every couple of years or so. The last 3 units I used were a Pioneer Elite SC-07 Receiver that I used as a preamp. It had nice Wolfson DAC chips. Then I went 2 channel only with the NAD M51 and now I've upgraded to a LampizatOr DSD DAC. I've also upgraded my computer from stock Windows 7 to Windows 2012 Server with AudioPhil's Audiophile Optimizer. Needless to say, each step was a big leap in sound quality.

 

I have to say that the one thing that has impressed me the most as I've progressed has been the improvement in the reproduction of 16-44 files. I expect greatness from well mastered HD files, but the sound I get now from SD is better than I used to think that HD was capable of. That's all because of recent innovation in the DAC chips and in the and the design around them.

 

I realize that some of my components are relatively pricey, but you're shopping at a great time, especially in the digital arena. Excellent sound has never been so affordable. The Schiit Loki DSD DAC (which I also own) is only $149. You can use JRiver to real-time convert your PCM to DSD with it. There's the AudioQuest Dragon V2. The iDSD. And those are just a few of the sub $300 models. Buying (relatively recent) used gear is also a great idea as these units generally have no moving parts and some command great resale value. With new DAC's coming out regularly, the used market is lively. I bought my NAD M51 new for the retail price of $2k and sold it a year and a half later in mint condition for $1500, so my ultimate cost was a pittance compared to how much enjoyment I got from it.

 

I'd strongly recommend choosing among the latest hardware, especially if you're focused on 16-44 performance.

 

So do i understand correctly that you had the NAD M51 as your DAC, and you sold it and are just as happy (or happier) with your $150 Schiit Loki DSD DAC?? Is that all you are using now, with no feel to upgrade?

Does it make the same clicking noise that the bifrost has?

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So do i understand correctly that you had the NAD M51 as your DAC, and you sold it and are just as happy (or happier) with your $150 Schiit Loki DSD DAC?? Is that all you are using now, with no feel to upgrade?

Does it make the same clicking noise that the bifrost has?

I went 2 channel only with the NAD M51 and now I've upgraded to a LampizatOr DSD DAC.

I upgraded from the NAD M51 to the LampizatOr DSD DAC now and I'm gettting the best sound I've ever heard.

 

I mentioned the Schiit Loki because it is one of the new, low cost, extremely high value DAC's that is worthy of consideration, particularly if your budget is tight. It doesn't sound as good as the NAD, nor does it have the NAD's great feature set & connectivity, but the Loki offers far better sound than its low price would suggest. I'm sure that's true of several of the other new low cost DAC's as well.

 

What kind of clicking noise does the Bitfrost make?

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I upgraded from the NAD M51 to the LampizatOr DSD DAC now and I'm gettting the best sound I've ever heard.

 

I mentioned the Schiit Loki because it is one of the new, low cost, extremely high value DAC's that is worthy of consideration, particularly if your budget is tight. It doesn't sound as good as the NAD, nor does it have the NAD's great feature set & connectivity, but the Loki offers far better sound than its low price would suggest. I'm sure that's true of several of the other new low cost DAC's as well.

 

What kind of clicking noise does the Bitfrost make?

 

Did you ever own the Schiit, or are you just talking second hand? The bifrost has a relay in it that clicks when it changes formats or a couple other reasons causes it to click, i forget...but i called them directly and they said it is by design.

 

I just bought a DSD dac too, and i can tell the difference quite dramatically, but only when it is in the DSD mode...in regular DAC mode it doesn't sound much different than the dragonfly or internal dac of my bluray (via dlna)....Korg is coming out with a DSD dac for $350, and i will probably downgrade to it. I think it is more the DSD that makes the difference.

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K6Davis, your comments are helpful, and thanks for sharing your observations. I guess for $300, I can afford to try a couple and pick the one I want to keep. Do you insert a re-clocking device before the DAC to reduce jitter? Or do some of the newer DACs include re-clocking before they even process the signal?

 

Thanks and you're very welcome.

 

Minimizing jitter has a large, beneficial sonic impact. Ironically, low jitter improves a DAC's ability to make "no sound". When the DAC has the ability to be truly quiet in the spaces between the notes, the notes stand out more. It makes the music sound less like an electronic reproduction and more like the real thing.

 

I tried the Channel Islands Audio Transient MKII with my NAD M51 as a USB to SPDIF converter and jitter reducer. I got the benefits I just described and was glad I made that purchase.

 

But nothing that I've tried has made as much of a difference as Windows Server 2012 + Highend-AudioPC | AudiophileOptimizer. It doesn't make as much sense to take a signal that has already been compromised by a general purpose, heavily multi-tasking, "jack of all trades" computer operating system (Win7, Win8, MacOS, etc.) and try to clean it up afterwards. It's better and far more effective to eliminate that jitter at the source. That one upgrade took my sound to a level I didn't think was possible, especially from digital, and especially from my old 16-44 files.

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Did you ever own the Schiit, or are you just talking second hand? The bifrost has a relay in it that clicks when it changes formats or a couple other reasons causes it to click, i forget...but i called them directly and they said it is by design.

 

I just bought a DSD dac too, and i can tell the difference quite dramatically, but only when it is in the DSD mode...in regular DAC mode it doesn't sound much different than the dragonfly or internal dac of my bluray (via dlna)....Korg is coming out with a DSD dac for $350, and i will probably downgrade to it. I think it is more the DSD that makes the difference.

 

I own the Loki now and it's very nice for the money. I used it in a trial run to test JRiver's real-time DSD conversion before I went big with the LampizatOr DSD DAC. To say that I was highly impressed with the price/performance ratio is an understatement, but yes, it does have that clicking issue when you change sample rates. I wish it didn't but it's not a deal breaker IMO.

 

If you get the best results from your current DAC with DSD, try upsampling all of your music to DSD. That's the best reason to upsample - when your DAC "likes" DSD better. I don't know what media player software you're using, but JRiver will do that and has a free trial for Windows/Mac.

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you want to try something that will (at least it has for most people) make a truly *big* improvement in your sound, try Windows Server 2012 + the Highend-AudioPC | AudiophileOptimizer app. It makes a more fundamental difference than even changing DACs. Phil, the developer, is working a trial version of his software now, which will make it possible to try out the whole thing for free.

 

Not everyone is willing to dedicate/optimize a computer solely for music and try a different OS, but the rewards are tremendous if you really care about sound.

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I own the Loki now and it's very nice for the money. I used it in a trial run to test JRiver's real-time DSD conversion before I went big with the LampizatOr DSD DAC. To say that I was highly impressed with the price/performance ratio is an understatement, but yes, it does have that clicking issue when you change sample rates. I wish it didn't but it's not a deal breaker IMO.

 

 

Okay- I am a little bit confused here. The Loki I am playing with here does not have any such issue. Perhaps because it only eats DSD64 and never switches rates? No switch, no pop. I will endeavor to get it to click or pop today- that is a show stopper issue for me. I have also not heard of that issue with the Bifrost. Seems odd that those two would put such a device out.

 

I know the LampizatOr will click an pop, but the designers are open about that and have some reasoning behind it. It is why such a fine sounding DAC is not on my radar. :)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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If you get the best results from your current DAC with DSD, try upsampling all of your music to DSD. That's the best reason to upsample - when your DAC "likes" DSD better. I don't know what media player software you're using, but JRiver will do that and has a free trial for Windows/Mac.

 

Thanks. I actually bought Jriver a few days ago. How do you upsample using it? Does it do it on the fly, or do you convert your material to a new file? I am really interested in this information, as i agree, it sounds dramatically better. I am pretty sure the sony player that came with my UDA-1 does it on the fly, as everything played through it sounds a million times better, even mp3 files are enjoyable again.

 

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Okay- I am a little bit confused here. The Loki I am playing with here does not have any such issue. Perhaps because it only eats DSD64 and never switches rates? No switch, no pop. I will endeavor to get it to click or pop today- that is a show stopper issue for me. I have also not heard of that issue with the Bifrost. Seems odd that those two would put such a device out.

 

I know the LampizatOr will click an pop, but the designers are open about that and have some reasoning behind it. It is why such a fine sounding DAC is not on my radar. :)

 

I called and got an email back from them, saying it was by design and they had no plans to change the clicking. The fact that you run all the same file format through it must be the reason you don't hear it.

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Nick T.

 

 

Schiit Tech

[email protected]

 

 

 

 

On Feb 18, 2014, at 8:12 AM, mike wrote:

1. do you sell or can recommend a pc spdif card that works with the one without usb? I heard spdif is the preferable method anyway?

 

 

 

No, we’re not familiar with them, I’m afraid.

2. I read on some of the forums that the bifrost causes clicking noises by an internal relay...has this design flaw be re-engineered in current models? I mean i don't want to pay $500 to improve my sound just to hear clicking??

 

 

It is not a design flaw—it is the protection relay, doing its job.

-----------

and when i questioned them further voice, they said it does it when it changes file formats and some other time, i forget what it was, it just made me stop considering it.

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Thanks. I actually bought Jriver a few days ago. How do you upsample using it? Does it do it on the fly, or do you convert your material to a new file? I am really interested in this information, as i agree, it sounds dramatically better. I am pretty sure the sony player that came with my UDA-1 does it on the fly, as everything played through it sounds a million times better, even mp3 files are enjoyable again.

 

The upsampling is done on the fly. It's in what JRiver calls the DSP Studio. You can output any file at any sample rate from PCM 44.1 to DSD128. Even mp3's.

 

You can access it with the little button to the left of the search box with an icon that looks like an equalizer. Or you can access it in the menus with this path:

 

Tools | Options | Audio | Settings | DSP & Output Format.

 

I use DSD upsampling on my Loki and LampizatOr DACs. It works amazingly well.

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I'm very surprised not to have seen the best reason for purchasing a DAC that accepts hi res.

 

Virtually every DAC, with only a handful of exceptions, upsamples to 352.8/384kHz, then sends that upsampled output to a delta-sigma modulator, before converting that bitstream to analog. Software these days is capable of doing a better job of this than internal DAC chips. So the closer you can get to 352.8/384kHz or DSD at your DAC input, the more of this upsampling you can do in software, avoiding the inferior job done internally.

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I'm very surprised not to have seen the best reason for purchasing a DAC that accepts hi res.

 

Virtually every DAC, with only a handful of exceptions, upsamples to 352.8/384kHz, then sends that upsampled output to a delta-sigma modulator, before converting that bitstream to analog. Software these days is capable of doing a better job of this than internal DAC chips. So the closer you can get to 352.8/384kHz or DSD at your DAC input, the more of this upsampling you can do in software, avoiding the inferior job done internally.

 

using that logic and reasoning, wouldn't it also be beneficial to have a software/dac combo that upsamples to 5.6mhz? not being sarcastic, just wanting your opinion since i believe you were one that was adverse to the higher sampling?

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