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Two DACs with Dedicated Server?


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My friend is having a tough time deciding which way to go in setting up a digital front end, and I wanted, if I could, to get some feedback from the best minds of my generation.

 

Here's the situation: Said friend is inclined to go with a "turnkey"-style server, by which I mean something that would play back files (both PCM and DSD -- see below) from a NAS but that doesn't have a built-in DAC -- something along the lines of, but not limited to, the forthcoming Auralic Aries, or the Sonore Rendu, or one of the Auraliti's.

 

Here's the hard part: The friend has a Naim DAC of which he is fond, but he wants to dip a toe in the DSD waters, so he's planning to get a second DAC to use for DSD (specific DAC to be determined -- it may be one of the low-cost ones to start). Now I know it would be fairly easy to switch between DACs if using a Mac- or Windows-Based PC, but is it possible to do something like this with any of the dedicated servers available?

 

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide with this conundrum.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Hello,

 

I can't say I've ever tried to do this but in theory a dedicated music server that has at least two USB ports and runs an OS like Linux MPD (many do) I would like to think that if you plugged in a USB cable to each of the USB ports on the back of the media server and then ran them into two separate USB capable DAC's the OS on the media server would probably find both DAC's (assuming they are turned on) at boot-up and consider them two separate audio devices.

 

At this point it would just be a matter of telling/forcing the OS on the media server which audio device to use as its "active" device.

 

Something like this would require at least X 2 scripts located on the file system that could be called remotely from the comfort of your listening chair via a web browser. This sounds more complicated then it really is.

 

My thought would be that script#1 would be written in a way that would "unload/disable" audio device #1 while leaving audio device #2 active. The other script, script#2, would be written to do the same actions against audio device # 2.

 

So ultimately you would end up running a script prior to playback which would leave the audio device you want to hear enabled and also at the same time disable the one you don't want to hear. When the time comes to listen to audio device#1 which was first disabled you would need to run script #2 which would disable audio device #1 and enable audio device#2.

 

This may be more involved then you were thinking of going but I think it would be doable with enough motivation for a fairly inexpensive outlay in cash.

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Using multiple outputs in a MPD based system is fairly easy. Once you have configured the outputs, which has to be done manually, using a text editor, you can switch the different outputs on your remote.

 

I have removed all generic entries and left only one:

 

# Generic USB Audio 
audio_output {
       type            "alsa"
       name            "USB 2.0"
       device          "hw:0,0"
       use_mmap        "yes" 
       period_time     "8192"
       buffer_time     "131072"
       mixer_type      "none"
       auto_resample   "no"
       auto_channels   "no"
       auto_format     "no" 
       dsd_usb         "yes"
}

 

With the result that I can just enable or disable it.

 

L1030450-1.JPG

 

Multiple outputs in parallel are also possible. It should be possible to just let them run in parallel (and risk some warnings in the MPD log file because one output cannot be opened for DSD playback) and just switch the pre-amplifier input.

Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

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iago and cjf, what you're saying makes perfect sense, and I appreciate your taking the time to post.

 

However, it seems I didn't explain the context adequately: It's not about what one can do with MPD (or any other Linux variant) but whether the simplicity (i.e., "non-fiddly-ness") offered by a turnkey-type server can be brought to bear in a situation where the user wants to be able to switch between two DACs (one that's limited to PCM playback, and one that would be used for DSD playback).

 

By way of further background, my friend uses Macs in a fairly technical capacity at work (video post), so it's not that he's incapable of setting up a Mac- (or even a Linux-) based front end that would meet his needs — he just would like to avoid, if possible, bringing that level of tweakiness into his listening room. He wants to maintain his current level of sound quality but with the added convenience (in browsing, searching, etc.) offered by a server without the hassle of worrying about system optimization, OS and application updates, and the like.

 

Personally, I've been trying to convince the guy to go with a Mac mini since we first started talking about this, but he's resistant. So is doing what he wants possible, or just a pipe dream?

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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the forthcoming Auralic Aries, or the Sonore Rendu, or one of the Auraliti's

Well, the Auralic Aries no one has seen yet...

 

The Sonore Rendu only has one output (afaik)...

 

The Auraliti could be a possibility - perhaps if you get the PK100; ask it it could be configured to provide the SPDIF output to his Naim DAC and then the USB port configured for a DSD DAC.

 

An alternative route - perhaps if you got the iFi iDSD Nano; connect that to USB output and then connect it's SPDIF output to the Naim for PCM.

 

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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Thanks, Eloise. That helped us focus a little better.

 

I'll point out that Xuanqian Wang from Auralic has posted a video that provides at least a superficial look at the Aries, so we know that it has both a USB and a SPDIF output … but not exactly how those would work in this context. We've asked Mr Wang about the specific issue in question.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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I have similar issue. Was thinking about getting JCAT USB or PPA USB Card which has two USB ports. I can plug both DACs in. Using JRiver on Windows, I can switch between the dacs just by changing the output device. I use ipad or laptop using remote desktop to get the music server desktop up and for controlling music playback.

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Yes, the Loki is under consideration, as is the iFi nano iDSD. Reading the FAQ at schiit.com, it seems like the Loki would work fine in a "pass-through" setup, but the one (small) issue is that the Naim DAC does DXD, and it appears that the Loki doesn't (nor does it do more than DSD64), so that would be a (somewhat) limiting factor.

 

Nothing whatsoever against the Loki, but it seems that since the nano iDSD does the latest/greatest high-res formats and has a SPDIF output (perfect for the Naim DAC, which doesn't have a "normal" USB input, just SPDIF), it just might be the ideal "starter" DSD-capable DAC in this particular situation. How it will work with a turnkey server, however, we don't exactly know.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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