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DSD - how are you taking advantage of it?


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I'm 100% into computer audio, meaning my only source is an optimized PC server. Yet I can only play up to 24/192 files through my Audiophilleo and Metrum Octave.

 

Clearly, there is a lot of talk about DSD. But how are you taking advantage of it? Are you upsampling all PCM bitrates to DSD? If so, is this best done at the computer or DAC? Or is DSD best suited for natively playing such files through appropriate hardware?

 

Would you say the jump from 24/192 to DSD is about the same (sound quality wise) as from 16/44 to 24/192?

 

Thanks!

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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In My Experience, aim to play digital audio natively in the format it was mastered in (without conversion). Transcoding to different formats is usually a negative and the only reason to do that is if you can't play it back natively, or if your DAC is engineered to favour one format over the other. (e.g. Chord Qute plays PCM back better than DSD, Mytek seems to play DSD better than PCM)

 

Personally I store PCM material on my server as FLAC and DSD as DSF files. The server knows which device supports what and will send DSD natively to my DSD DAC, and transcodes on the fly to PCM to my PCM-only DAC.

 

Again IMO - 24/192 is comparable to DSD, maybe better, maybe not. Converting is not the key, but playing back natively is the key.

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Would you say the jump from 24/192 to DSD is about the same (sound quality wise) as from 16/44 to 24/192===

 

It's very dependent on the type of music you listen to, and your personal objectives for listening.

 

Highly processed studio recorded pop music, regardless whether it's newly recorded or remastered oldies, contains few of the aural cues and details for which DSD excels in transmitting. Acoustic recorded music, mostly classical and jazz, is conveyed more naturally, and with greater low level instrument details and spaciousness cues with DSD.

 

As HM below states, its better to play files in the recorded, or delivery media format they're distributed, than format converting.

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I believe that DSD decoding is superior to PCM decoding and that DSD much more directly represents an analog waveform than multi-bit PCM does.

 

I store all of my music in its native form (FLAC & DSF), but I real-time upconvert it all to DSD128 using JRiver for playback to my DSD-only Lampizator DAC. I went in this direction after having tried several combinations of PCM/DSD DACs and native vs. converted playback.

 

The quality of conversion these days is extremely high. It operates at a level where any "loss" is more theoretical than audible and is far outweighed by the benefit of presenting a signal to your DAC that it will be able to decode in the most straightforward way. Besides, it is very rare to find a DAC that does not "convert" the signal you feed it anyway. Nearly all DAC chips upsample. The very popular ESS Sabre chips convert PCM into a form of DSD onboard.

 

It is my opinion that, while PCM is certainly excellent, DSD decoding, with the right DAC of course, offers the best possible sound.

Roon Server: Core i7-3770S, WS2012 + AO => HQP Server: Core, i7-9700K, HQPlayer OS => NAA: Celeron NUC, HQP NAA => ISO Regen with UltraCap LPS 1.2 => Mapleshade USB Cable => Lampizator L4 DSD-Only Balanced DAC Preamp => Blue Jeans Belden Balanced Cables => Mivera PurePower SE Amp => Magnepan 3.7i

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I take an opposite viewpoint to some of the other folks here. DSD is far easier for a DAC to work with, and often can and does sound far better - on the same DAC - than the original PCM file. That isn't *always* true of course, but it is true quite often in my experience.

 

There are DACs that upsample and transcode everything to DSD - the new PS DAC for instance, and DACs that do the exact opposite. They accept DSD and down convert it to PCM.

 

And PCM is usually oversampled in a DAC anyway, though I think your Metrum might be a real NOS DAC.

 

I take the point of view that feeding the DAC a fomat that it is has to do the least transforms to is almost always the best sounding format. A NOS DAC for example, usually sounds better to my ears when fed PCM that has been up sampled.

 

The trend of "it is best to keep music in it it's native format" is - since the advent of good reliable real-time DSD transcoding - over in my book. Keep the music in any format you want, but when you feed it to the DAC, feed it in as DSD. :)

 

-Paul

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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I take an opposite viewpoint to some of the other folks here. DSD is far easier for a DAC to work with, and often can and does sound far better - on the same DAC - than the original PCM file. That isn't *always* true of course, but it is true quite often in my experience.

 

-Paul

 

Yes, and in some cases - like the Lampizator line - we're now seeing a lower cost DAC for DSD only playback than for PCM only! Quite a change.

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Thanks guys.

 

Indeed, my Metrum is non-oversampling and I play everything natively. I'm coming to the point of upgrading my front end (except the server). It's been two years since I have the Metrum.

 

The challenge is my upgrade path this time includes digital room correction software (Acourate), which doesn't work with DSD. So I need to decide to go after DSD or DRC. Not easy choice, from what I can see. And further complicated by my interest in multi-channel stereo, for which Acourate is a critical piece. But the temptation to go after the latest shinny thing out there still remains. Being an audiophile imposes such sufferings! Ja!! ;-)

 

You guys have me thinking it through.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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Thanks guys.

 

Indeed, my Metrum is non-oversampling and I play everything natively. I'm coming to the point of upgrading my front end (except the server). It's been two years since I have the Metrum.

 

The challenge is my upgrade path this time includes digital room correction software (Acourate), which doesn't work with DSD. So I need to decide to go after DSD or DRC. Not easy choice, from what I can see. And further complicated by my interest in multi-channel stereo, for which Acourate is a critical piece. But the temptation to go after the latest shinny thing out there still remains. Being an audiophile imposes such sufferings! Ja!! ;-)

 

You guys have me thinking it through.

 

the last 3 months I have been playing around quite a lot with room correction with Dirac filters on a 24/96 miniDSP DDRC-22D on one system, and Redbook to DSD256 conversion using HQ Player. DSD is not very compatible with room correction but still do able with HQ Player.

 

For me, when the acoustics of the room are reasonable, DSD64 native up sampled to DSD256 has me saying repeatedly, this sounds so good, who needs room correction

 

The great majority PCM DAC's to over sampling / up sampling in firmware & hardware, but in today's software on high powered PC's it can be done with more sophisticated algorithms, and on revealing playback systems it can sound very good, better than any mid price DAC I have heard

Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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Sounds like a possible path would be getting HQPlayer, Acourate, and exaSound e28, and set the XO in Acourate, run the convolver, and have HQPlayer upsample everything to DSD, and send 8 DSD channels to the e28. This would be assuming the e28 performs better in 8-channel DSD than 8-channel PCM, per HumanMedia's comment above.

 

Another path would be to stick with JRiver, get Acourate and a multichannel DAC, and stay with PCM multichannel Maybe the e28, Lynx Hilo, etc. There are some, albeit limited, DAC options here.

 

Tough to decide without the chance to listen first. HQPlayer offers a 30-day trial, which would suffice. But I can't get a hold of the hardware around here. The safe option seems to be the e28, but also the most expensive one. Nothing's new! The Lynx Hilo does everything I need, but does DSD over DoP.

 

Will go do a little research about HQPlayer sound quality and user friendliness, options to use an iPad as remote, etc.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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I will not wade into the "is DSD better or not" question but I have a Sabre based DSD dac and to answer your question directly I only use DSD when that is how I had to get the music. In terms of quality, I cannot make a blanket statement of either being better. I experimented with 2x upsampling (limit of my dac) and decided not to run that way routinely (but obviously many others have.)

Roon ->UltraRendu + CI Audio 7v LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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