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marty

how does a pc sound card convert dsd??

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There are lots of articles out there (mags/websites etc) debating the virtues of dsd vs pcm 'High-Res' quality etc.

 

I'm trying to understand how it is that my eight year old (Win XP) laptop can play DSD files when a

'DSD' compatible DAC is 'required' to decode/playback DSD files.

 

The laptop doesn't have an 'audiophile' soundcard, and I'm not claiming the sound is better than

an external DAC, but I can clearly hear the difference between various formats (.mp3 Vs FLAC vs DSD etc).

 

Why are DSD DAC's required when any pc (or Mac with the right software) can already play these files?

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There are lots of articles out there (mags/websites etc) debating the virtues of dsd vs pcm 'High-Res' quality etc.

 

I'm trying to understand how it is that my eight year old (Win XP) laptop can play DSD files when a

'DSD' compatible DAC is 'required' to decode/playback DSD files.

 

The laptop doesn't have an 'audiophile' soundcard, and I'm not claiming the sound is better than

an external DAC, but I can clearly hear the difference between various formats (.mp3 Vs FLAC vs DSD etc).

 

Why are DSD DAC's required when any pc (or Mac with the right software) can already play these files?

How are you playing these files and how do you know you are listening to DSD?


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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I've downloaded the 'DSD' files (.dsf format) and playing them with 'JRiver'.

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I've downloaded the 'DSD' files (.dsf format) and playing them with 'JRiver'.

 

 

Ok so basically what you are listening to in that case is viciously, horrendously downsampled DSD via PCM. Your soundcard is incapable of DSD. I was able to listen to DSD files with my old Arcam rPAC which I believe is only a 24 bit 192Khz DAC, but I wasn't listening to them at full resolution. You need a proper native DSD (not DOP) DAC to hear DSD in its native format.

 

What you are hearing, rather than 2.8 or 5.6MHZ sample rates is likely to be somewhere between 44.1 and 96Khz with an older soundcard. You might even have your soundcard's settings locked at 48KHZ.

 

In any case, you're not getting the full effect. With no soundcard can you really get the full effect because internal soundcards are at the mercy of a hellish environment with so much interference it's ridiculous. The inside of a PC is a baaaad place to process sound. That's one of the many reasons why you want your sound processing done away from the PC.

 

I can tell you that, if you have decent speakers or headphones, you're really missing out by not enjoying DSD natively. Sure, you can play the file back, but at only a fraction of it's actual sample rate.

 

You don't have to spend a fortune on a DSD DAC. There are some cheap gems out there. It's well worth it

 

Also, don't knock high grade PCM. A good 24/192 PCM rip of an SACD or Vinyl, when done right, can sound spectacular. I'm listening to a 24/192 Diana Krall album right now which is something like 8500kbps and it sounds very niec.

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mister sprinkles, thank-you for your reply,

 

I haven't played with any settings in jRiver, so where is the conversion taking place - does that mean jRiver

is converting the 'DSD' file to PCM before it sends data to the soundcard?

if so, what are the PCM data properties (bit depth/rate?) and how does the software

determine the 'PCM' bit-rate sent to the soundcard?

 

Is it possible to 'monitor' the digital data that gets converted to analog?

 

what hardware/software do you use to rip your sacd's? is there any audible difference

ripping them to PCM Vs .dsf format?

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Jriver automatically converts DSD to PCM. Place your cursor on the top right corner, next to the end of the slider and to the left of the search bar over the "DSP" icon. Jriver will auto open a small window which shows the "Audio Path" with internal sample rates.

 

 

audio-path-button-hover-display-perfect.png

Edited by Nikhil

Win10 Transport + Fidelizer 8 + JRMC 25 & HQPlayer | TotalDAC D1 USB Filter | Job INT | Western Electric 12GA | Green Mountain Audio Eos HX

 

 

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The laptop doesn't have an 'audiophile' soundcard, and I'm not claiming the sound is better than

an external DAC, but I can clearly hear the difference between various formats (.mp3 Vs FLAC vs DSD etc).

 

Why are DSD DAC's required when any pc (or Mac with the right software) can already play these files?

 

Impossibly consider any format (WAV, FLAC, DSD) and DAC without considering full system: "audio player software / driver / audio interface / DAC».

 

For getting full potential DSD better use DSD DAC.

 

If you use PCM DAC - better result, as rule, give PCM formats (WAV, FLAC, AIFF, …).

 

Also many depend on quality that DAC and other elements of the system provide. Even for «no-native» format.


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ISO, DSF, DFF (1-bit/D64/128/256/512/1024), wav, flac, aiff, alac,  safe CD ripper to PCM/DSF,

Seamless Album Conversion, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, DSF metadata editor, Mac & Windows
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... You need a proper native DSD (not DOP) DAC to hear DSD in its native format...

 

From JRiverWiki:

 

DoP "DSD over PCM packs DSD into a PCM-like signal for bitstreaming. This is not a conversion to PCM, but a native DSD signal packed into a PCM container. JRiver was part of the formation of the DoP standard. DSD over PCM requires Media Center 17.0.106 or newer."

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Thanks for the clarifications about the soundcard.

 

if the DSD signal is 'packed' into a PCM container and 'decoded' as a PCM signal by the DAC,

is there an audible difference between that and the output from a 'native' DSD DAC?

ie; does the DoP process degrade/alter the signal?

 

Isn't the benefit of digital audio (in theory) that it's a series of binary numbers that

(should) remain unchanged until the conversion to analogue.

i know that's a simplistic interpretation but it would be interesting to know why (if any)

there is an audible difference between DSD and PCM??

am i correct to say that some manufacturers/vendors are 'promoting' DSD and others are sticking to PCM

equipment- is this just about selling hardware/software or is there more to it?

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