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Your recipe for state of the art RBCD playback?


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As someone long convinced of the total superiority of vinyl over CD, with current digital equipment (Bryston BDP or HQP PC, coupled with Hugo) I'm now hearing RBCD SQ I didn't imagine possible and interested in how much further still this can be taken. Some points made in the DSD Upsampling thread also got my interest, but rather than going off topic there, I've started a new thread.

 

What I'd like forum members' advice on is whether there is a theoretical recipe (rather than specific product recommendations) most likely to achieve SOTA RBCD playback, by which I mean as close as possible to the original recording, with maximum detail retrieval being an essential element. I'm willing to accept that this isn't necessarily the same as playback which is the nicest to listen to.

 

Borrowing from the analogue recipe book, I'd instinctively go with something that involves the simplest approach, shorn of unnecessary features and complications, shortest signal paths, and highest quality components. From experience to date, I would tend to lean way from anything involving DSD conversion, but am more open minded as to whether PCM upsampling might be involved at some stage.

 

What I'm wondering in particular is whether a high quality NOS DAC might be be part of the recipe? Possibly coupled with a sophisticated software player like HQP so that we can be sure that filtering etc is being done once only and at the optimum stage?

 

Thoughts? Alternatives? Thanks.

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1. Rip then play as PCM with audiophile software to NOS multi-bit or R2R DAC, or up-sample as PCM before sending to DAC sweet-spot.

 

or

 

2. Rip and up-convert to DSD and send to native DSD DAC.

 

or

 

3. Try an excellent CD transport like the Esoteric VRDS and run the outputs to tube pre-amp and tube amp.

 

Chipless DSD with analogue filtering and tubes are preferable. A client-server system like Miska does it with HQ Player and an NAA (preferably through optical Fibre) is best. DSD128 and above are preferred.

 

All in my opinion and some things I heard in my system (2) in an audiophile friend's system (3) and from others' reports (1).

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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Additional thoughts:

 

I have been convinced by my own system setup and optimisations that DSD128 and above (especially Quad now) are much better than vinyl, at least for me: I do get the advantages of good vinyl reproduction, i.e. 'liquidity' or analogue feel, great dynamics and soundstage, but without its disadvantages, i.e. no clicks, pops, no additional vinyl distortions/wow/flutter and no degradation of material with each playback, no need to clean up before playback, no need to fetch the vinyl.

 

Lots of advantages with DSD and generally digital, like easy storage and backup, easy streaming with default systems (I stream internally with my own computers and have no need for additional streamer devices).

 

It can take some effort to reduce the 'digititis' in DSD playback in a computer environment, but it's well worth it.

 

On playback, you can try various filters and modulators and up-sampling / up-converting schemes.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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Thanks.

 

It would be great to see a listing or comparative reviews of NOS Dacs.

 

From what I've picked up so far there's almost as much marketing hype surrounding NOS DACS as there is about the upsampling variety.

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They're relatively rare, one of them is PeterSt's Phasure NOS1a.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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Thanks.

 

It would be great to see a listing or comparative reviews of NOS Dacs.

 

From what I've picked up so far there's almost as much marketing hype surrounding NOS DACS as there is about the upsampling variety.

 

Not sure about "marketing hype" but there is most certainly a vocal minority in the NOS DAC camp. As you already know, there aren't many around but those who own them speak of "organic" and "natural" sound qualities, "analog-like" comes to mind as well. Yet there will be many who will chime in telling you not to bother with such ancient and inferior technology as it couldn't possibly sound good. Hear for yourself. DACs from Metrum & Phasure are amongst brands you should look into.

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3. Try an excellent CD transport like the Esoteric VRDS and run the outputs to tube pre-amp and tube amp.

Better still, take a PerfectWaveTransport, further upgrade it's PSU, and export via coax SPDIF to a good DAC , Solid State Class A Preamp and Solid State Class A Power Amplifier.

I wish I could afford the huge Nelson Pass 100W Class A monoblocks that I have heard several times recently though.

 

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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As someone long convinced of the total superiority of vinyl over CD, with current digital equipment (Bryston BDP or HQP PC, coupled with Hugo) I'm now hearing RBCD SQ I didn't imagine possible and interested in how much further still this can be taken. Some points made in the DSD Upsampling thread also got my interest, but rather than going off topic there, I've started a new thread.

 

What I'd like forum members' advice on is whether there is a theoretical recipe (rather than specific product recommendations) most likely to achieve SOTA RBCD playback, by which I mean as close as possible to the original recording, with maximum detail retrieval being an essential element. I'm willing to accept that this isn't necessarily the same as playback which is the nicest to listen to.

 

Borrowing from the analogue recipe book, I'd instinctively go with something that involves the simplest approach, shorn of unnecessary features and complications, shortest signal paths, and highest quality components. From experience to date, I would tend to lean way from anything involving DSD conversion, but am more open minded as to whether PCM upsampling might be involved at some stage.

 

What I'm wondering in particular is whether a high quality NOS DAC might be be part of the recipe? Possibly coupled with a sophisticated software player like HQP so that we can be sure that filtering etc is being done once only and at the optimum stage?

 

Thoughts? Alternatives? Thanks.

 

I would keep working with that Hugo, which is what I use, 99 percent PCM. I too, think the upsampling or converting to/with DSD is just the latest fad that works for DSD DACs and HPQ. But not the chord products like Hugo. I have not tried this DSD methodology and have my doubts about it's legacy. But I am also interested in going further down the rabbits hole for better SQ PC playback. Really there is plenty to do with optimizing the PC itself in combo with the Hugo at this point for as is PCM playback. I think moving away from change of DAC and sticking with the Hugo is the smart move at this point. Concentrate on further PC optimization, see what it can do. So far I am impressed with my chain that I'm not interested in going the DSD route. Much much more to do.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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Thanks.

 

It would be great to see a listing or comparative reviews of NOS Dacs.

 

From what I've picked up so far there's almost as much marketing hype surrounding NOS DACS as there is about the upsampling variety.

 

 

Metrum Acoustics: Metrum Acoustics

 

The Metrum Non Oversampling designs very good. Definitely not hype. One of the best value propositions out there if you can pick up an old Metrum DAC just to get a flavor of their sound.

 

The older Metrum DACs do not have USB input. A Gustard USB/SPDIF converters can be used for not a lot of money.

Custom Win10 Transport | Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB | Lampizator Amber | Acoustic Portrait Thiyaga | ATC SCM20 PSL

 

 

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Norton said...

It would be great to see a listing or comparative reviews of NOS Dacs.

 

And in reply it was commented...

They're relatively rare, one of them is PeterSt's Phasure NOS1a.

and

Metrum Acoustics: Metrum Acoustics

 

The Metrum Non Oversampling designs very good. Definitely not hype. One of the best value propositions out there if you can pick up an old Metrum DAC just to get a flavor of their sound.

The "problem" is though ... with both these designs, while the hardware is NOS, both work best (from my reading/experience) when fed an up-sampled signal it seams. So looking at the whole system they are typically utilised in an up-sampling system just the up/over sampling is being moved from the hardware to the software.

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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The "problem" is though ... with both these designs, while the hardware is NOS, both work best (from my reading/experience) when fed an up-sampled signal it seams. So looking at the whole system they are typically utilised in an up-sampling system just the up/over sampling is being moved from the hardware to the software.

 

Not so. My comment was in line with playback of RBCD content.

I only brought up USB to cover computer playback.

 

In my opinion it takes a "serious" system to fully exploit 16/44.1. The flaws are not so much in the format as it is/was in the physical media and transport mechanism. Use a good transport together with a DAC like the Metrum and the sound can be special.

Custom Win10 Transport | Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB | Lampizator Amber | Acoustic Portrait Thiyaga | ATC SCM20 PSL

 

 

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I too, think the upsampling or converting to/with DSD is just the latest fad that works for DSD DACs and HPQ.

 

Your Hugo performs "the latest fad" internally (which BTW the vast majority of DACs have been doing internally for decades, so "latest" is kinda relative). :)

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Yep... I think people need to distinguish old school 44.1k NOS (TDA1543/1545 type DACs) with Peter's XXHighend style upsampled in the computer then run non over sampled through the DAC.

Your Hugo performs "the latest fad" internally (which BTW the vast majority of DACs have been doing internally for decades, so "latest" is kinda relative). :)

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Yep... I think people need to distinguish old school 44.1k NOS (TDA1543/1545 type DACs) with Peter's XXHighend style upsampled in the computer then run non over sampled through the DAC.

 

I thought this was pretty well known by now? No?

 

BTW, I've gotten the impression from some hi-res capable NOS DAC owners that there is a preference to play everything at the native rate, including 16/44.1.

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Yes, well the best recipie I know of is to upsample/transcode in software with the upsampler/transcoder of your choice, then feed it to your DAC as close to your DAC's "native" input as possible. Very high rate PCM or DSD.

 

Doing so effectively makes your DAC "non oversampling" because you are bypassing the filters in your DAC that will upsample/thranscode the input anyway. Often, but not always, the DAC sounds better that way. Almost certainly, it will sound different. :)

 

With DACs designed to accept DSD, feeding them DSD gets closer to a magic wire that eats a digital signal on one side, and emits music out the other end.

 

Note that the above is not a technical treatise, but an English explanation of how I feel about the subject. YMMV!!

 

-Paul

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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I would have hoped so... Are you saying you know of individuals that prefer 44.1k content going into a Phasure DAC?

I thought this was pretty well known by now? No?

 

BTW, I've gotten the impression from some hi-res capable NOS DAC owners that there is a preference to play everything at the native rate, including 16/44.1.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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I would keep working with that Hugo, which is what I use, 99 percent PCM. I too, think the upsampling or converting to/with DSD is just the latest fad that works for DSD DACs and HPQ. But not the chord products like Hugo. I have not tried this DSD methodology and have my doubts about it's legacy. But I am also interested in going further down the rabbits hole for better SQ PC playback. Really there is plenty to do with optimizing the PC itself in combo with the Hugo at this point for as is PCM playback. I think moving away from change of DAC and sticking with the Hugo is the smart move at this point. Concentrate on further PC optimization, see what it can do. So far I am impressed with my chain that I'm not interested in going the DSD route. Much much more to do.

 

The Hugo does not play raw (native) DSD. It converts everything to high-rate PCM. As you have the Hugo, you will not be able to understand the upconversion "fad".

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If I may ask, what DACs do you recall others preferring RB on?

No, in fact I don't know anyone with the Phasure and have never had the pleasure of hearing one.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Not so. My comment was in line with playback of RBCD content.

I only brought up USB to cover computer playback.

 

In my opinion it takes a "serious" system to fully exploit 16/44.1. The flaws are not so much in the format as it is/was in the physical media and transport mechanism. Use a good transport together with a DAC like the Metrum and the sound can be special.

 

Maybe I'm just in the process of changing my allegiances to obsolete music formats, but something about trying to get the very best from native 16/44 is very appealing. (and if successful practical too, given the price and continued ubiquity of RBCD).

 

I'm thinking maybe true high end SD card transport/NOS DAC combo (if the former actually existed that is)

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The Hugo does not play raw (native) DSD. It converts everything to high-rate PCM. As you have the Hugo, you will not be able to understand the upconversion "fad".

 

At least it converts everything to high rates (first 90.3MHz, then 104MHz), so I was incorrect about 8x interpolation followed by conversion to DSD-type format internally like most DACs.

 

One thing that puzzles me a little is that it uses noise shaping, which is usually done to combat quantization noise of one-bit or low-bit streams from sigma-delta modulators. If the 90 and 104MHz bitstreams are multi-bit PCM, why the noise shaping?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Maybe I'm just in the process of changing my allegiances to obsolete music formats, but something about trying to get the very best from native 16/44 is very appealing. (and if successful practical too, given the price and continued ubiquity of RBCD).

 

I'm thinking maybe true high end SD card transport/NOS DAC combo (if the former actually existed that is)

 

The closest thing would probably be XXHighEnd and the Phasure NOS DAC, though you would need another DAC to play DSD. The transport as currently configured should be quieter than an SD card.

 

Another possibility, going almost completely in the other direction, would be converting RB to DSD with HQPlayer and a suitable computer, and using the DSC1, or DSC2 when it comes out (both DIY unless you want to hire a builder) as the DAC.

 

Note that both of these options require some work on the part of the listener.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Yeah, I new I was going to get some grief from my post, lol. I don't disagree that dacs that upsample within the dac could benefit from upsampling within the PC to the native rate in which the dac upsamples internally, has some benefit. Where I disagree is converting PCM to DSD and upsample to a DSD dac. Although I've never heard this sound, I can tell you it doesn't go well for the Hugo from DSD to PCM internally. Also it is known that Hugo's filtering of PCM redbook is superior to any upsampling being performed within the PC before sending to the Hugo. But according to Rob Watts this same filtering does not apply to hi resolution PCM, so there may be some benefit to upsampling and filtering of non redbook PCM to the Hugo. How is HPQ on filtering of PCM? I'll have to give it a try.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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