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DAC's Which Convert PCM to DSD


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Hi

 

Does anyone have a list of DAC's which convert PCM to DSD?

 

I can think of the following:

 

PS Audio Direct Stream

dCS

 

That's about it. I believe there may be some at all price points but do not know them.

 

I looked at the Cary 200ts but while it plays most formats out there, I don't think it converts PCM to DSD.

 

Thanks

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Hi

 

Does anyone have a list of DAC's which convert PCM to DSD?

 

I can think of the following:

 

PS Audio Direct Stream

dCS

 

That's about it. I believe there may be some at all price points but do not know them.

 

I looked at the Cary 200ts but while it plays most formats out there, I don't think it converts PCM to DSD.

 

Thanks

 

Nearly every DAC made does so internally. Why are you asking?

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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Nearly every DAC made does so internally. Why are you asking?

 

 

Really? I didn't know that. I thought most DAC's can accept DSD and/or upsample PCM to higher bit rates before playback but few actually convert PCM to DSD.

 

Looking for a future proof (as much as can be) DAC for both higher res streaming and music server library as well as CD playback - my current one only does 24/96.

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Really? I didn't know that. I thought most DAC's can accept DSD and/or upsample PCM to higher bit rates before playback but few actually convert PCM to DSD.

 

Looking for a future proof (as much as can be) DAC for both higher res streaming and music server library as well as CD playback - my current one only does 24/96.

 

It's how a delta sigma d/a converter works. Most dacs nowadays, that are not explicitly stated to be r2r or ladder dacs, up/oversample incomming PCM 8 times, and then convert it to an even higher sample rate DSD signal that is between 1 bit and 6 bit word length. Then noise shaping and filtering is used to get to the analog signal.

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Hi Mikey,

 

I think you are interested in what DACs up-sample or up-convert PCM to DSD, not what is happening internally. If I understand correctly you want the output from PCM files to be up-sampled (up-converted) to DSD.

 

My Teac UD-501 DAC does 2.8 and 5.6MHz DSD but does not up-convert PCM to DSD. With the up-converter on PCM files lower than 192kHz PCM are up-converted to 192kHz PCM.

 

Also some player software offers up-sampling (up-converting) to DSD as long as your DAC can play DSD.

I have dementia. I save all my posts in a text file I call Forums.  I do a search in that file to find out what I said or did in the past.

 

I still love music.

 

Teresa

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Hi

 

Does anyone have a list of DAC's which convert PCM to DSD?

 

I can think of the following:

 

PS Audio Direct Stream

dCS

 

That's about it. I believe there may be some at all price points but do not know them.

 

I looked at the Cary 200ts but while it plays most formats out there, I don't think it converts PCM to DSD.

 

Thanks

EmmLabs & Meitner

mini+Roon > dCS Rossini DAC + Rossini Master Clock 

SME 20/3 + SME V + Dynavector XV-1s > vdH The Grail

Audio Note Kondo Ongaku > Avantgarde Duo Mezzo G2

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It's how a delta sigma d/a converter works. Most dacs nowadays, that are not explicitly stated to be r2r or ladder dacs, up/oversample incomming PCM 8 times, and then convert it to an even higher sample rate DSD signal that is between 1 bit and 6 bit word length. Then noise shaping and filtering is used to get to the analog signal.

 

Really? I didn't know that. I thought most DAC's can accept DSD and/or upsample PCM to higher bit rates before playback but few actually convert PCM to DSD.

 

Looking for a future proof (as much as can be) DAC for both higher res streaming and music server library as well as CD playback - my current one only does 24/96.

 

As misterspense says, this is how the vast majority of DACs work - they convert the signal they receive to a DSD-type format before the final conversion to analog (music).

 

So is it simply that you want (1) a DAC that can deal with higher PCM or DSD input resolutions, or do you want (2) something that will convert PCM to DSD in order to send DSD to a DAC?

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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Hi Mikey,

 

I think you are interested in what DACs up-sample or up-convert PCM to DSD, not what is happening internally. If I understand correctly you want the output from PCM files to be up-sampled (up-converted) to DSD.

 

My Teac UD-501 DAC does 2.8 and 5.6MHz DSD but does not up-convert PCM to DSD. With the up-converter on PCM files lower than 192kHz PCM are up-converted to 192kHz PCM.

 

Also some player software offers up-sampling (up-converting) to DSD as long as your DAC can play DSD.

 

Hi Teresa

 

Yes, you are right. I am not interested in what happens internally. I am only interested in output that gets up sampled (or upconverted) to DSD like PS Audio and dCS does insofar as that sounds better as opposed to the output being in native PCM. Perhaps I should also add that I am also interested in whether you guys have found that this is indeed the case. I realise that there may be no consensus on this and that the received wisdom is probably multi faceted. I understand Schiit doesn't believe in DSD and neither do Berkeley.

 

Ultimately, am I better off looking for something that plays hi res PCM (as PCM) and also plays DSD natively (without being converted into PCM - is that called DoP?) or something that converts PCM into DSD as well as plays DSD natively?

 

I would probably also stick with the DAC doing the converting as opposed to software conversion (again sonically what are the differences?) unless the latter is superior.

 

Hi Jud

 

Does the above clarify what I am looking for? Thanks for explaining the internal workings of delta sigma DAC's

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It's how a delta sigma d/a converter works. Most dacs nowadays, that are not explicitly stated to be r2r or ladder dacs, up/oversample incomming PCM 8 times, and then convert it to an even higher sample rate DSD signal that is between 1 bit and 6 bit word length. Then noise shaping and filtering is used to get to the analog signal.

 

Misterspense

 

Thanks for the explanation.

 

I have an Audio Nemesis DC 1 VLE (if you guys have heard of it) which is a non over sampling (what they call NOS I believe) DAC. I presume this is the same as a R2R DAC. I also have a Mark Levinson 36 DAC which is also I believe a R2R DAC (please correct me if I am wrong as all this jargon is confusing). The former only accepts up to 24/96 and the latter 20/48. Pretty happy with the sound quality insofar as the resolution of the material they are able to receive.

 

In sum, looking for a DAC that caters for higher res material for sound quality rather than technical underpinnings which doesn't enter obsolescence too quickly. Have heard both dCS and PS Audio and liked the tonal density which is why I asked about DSD as both convert PCM to DSD output.

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I am not interested in what happens internally. I am only interested in output that gets up sampled (or upconverted) to DSD like PS Audio and dCS does insofar as that sounds better as opposed to the output being in native PCM.

 

The output of a DAC is an analogue signal. Just about every DAC with PCM input resamples this to a high sample rate and low resolution with noise-shaping (sigma-delta modulation) which is then converted to analogue and lowpass-filtered. If the intermediate format has 1-bit resolution, you might call it DSD. Modern designs typically use up to 6-bit intermediate resolution since this gives lower noise/distortion in the output. If the DAC supports DSD input, this bypasses most of those intermediate steps. This allows software such as HQPlayer to effectively replace the DACs upsampling filters with its own superior ones.

 

Perhaps I should also add that I am also interested in whether you guys have found that this is indeed the case. I realise that there may be no consensus on this and that the received wisdom is probably multi faceted. I understand Schiit doesn't believe in DSD and neither do Berkeley.

 

Almost everybody agrees that internally upsampling to a low-resolution, noise-shaped format gives the most accurate analogue output. A few people insist that non-oversampled resistor ladder designs are superior, but this is something of a fringe position, and measurements do not support it. The debate is mainly about whether PCM is suitable as a distribution format or if keeping the entire chain from recording to playback as DSD is the better alternative.

 

Ultimately, am I better off looking for something that plays hi res PCM (as PCM) and also plays DSD natively (without being converted into PCM - is that called DoP?) or something that converts PCM into DSD as well as plays DSD natively?

 

Most high-end DACs accept both PCM and DSD input. A few specialised ones only accept DSD. Low-end gear tends to be PCM-only.

 

DoP is a method for sending DSD data to a compatible DAC over a link that doesn't support it natively, a typical case being MacOS audio drivers. It's always a nice feature to have in a DAC, just in case, but unless I knew upfront that I'd be needing it, I'd still consider DACs without it.

 

If you told us a bit about how you intend to use your new DAC, we'd be able to give you better advice.

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DoP is a method for sending DSD data to a compatible DAC over a link that doesn't support it natively, a typical case being MacOS audio drivers. It's always a nice feature to have in a DAC, just in case, but unless I knew upfront that I'd be needing it, I'd still consider DACs without it.

 

Within the realm of DACs that accept both PCM and DSD, are there some that don't accept DoP? I'm not aware of any (but admittedly, I haven't looked into this particular).

 

--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)

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Misterspense

 

Thanks for the explanation.

 

I have an Audio Nemesis DC 1 VLE (if you guys have heard of it) which is a non over sampling (what they call NOS I believe) DAC. I presume this is the same as a R2R DAC. I also have a Mark Levinson 36 DAC which is also I believe a R2R DAC (please correct me if I am wrong as all this jargon is confusing). The former only accepts up to 24/96 and the latter 20/48. Pretty happy with the sound quality insofar as the resolution of the material they are able to receive.

 

In sum, looking for a DAC that caters for higher res material for sound quality rather than technical underpinnings which doesn't enter obsolescence too quickly. Have heard both dCS and PS Audio and liked the tonal density which is why I asked about DSD as both convert PCM to DSD output.

 

Hi Mikey -

 

To try to condense mansr's thorough explanation into something a little shorter:

 

- If you had a DAC that output PCM or DSD, these are *digital* formats, *not* music, and you would need a second DAC to convert the digits to music!

 

- I think you only want one DAC, yes? And what you're really asking is not what goes on internally (most DACs internally convert to a DSD-like format, a small handful keep the input as PCM all the way through), but what's a good, musical DAC for your budget, right? One that preferably will accept as many resolutions as possible (up to 24/384 PCM, up to DSD128 or 256), and thus will hopefully be at least somewhat "future proof"?

 

- If so, please tell us what your approximate maximum budget is, and we can go from there.

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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Within the realm of DACs that accept both PCM and DSD, are there some that don't accept DoP? I'm not aware of any (but admittedly, I haven't looked into this particular).

 

I'd be surprised if there wasn't at least one, but I don't know for sure.

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This allows software such as HQPlayer to effectively replace the DACs upsampling filters with its own superior ones.

 

I gather from these boards that software upsampling via HQPlayer is the preferred route vs. DAC upsampling. I am streaming my library via an Auralic Aries and so have no recourse to software based upsampling unless the manufacturer adds that capability via a firmware update. If they do so and this is superior to DAC upsampling, then I presume that so long as I get a DAC that is capable of DSD and/or higher res PCM then it is the best way to go about it?

 

A few people insist that non-oversampled resistor ladder designs are superior, but this is something of a fringe position, and measurements do not support it. The debate is mainly about whether PCM is suitable as a distribution format or if keeping the entire chain from recording to playback as DSD is the better alternative.

 

OK I didn't realise ladder DACs being more musical was a fringe position - certainly the ones I have heard ie. Audio Note, Total DAC (can't afford), Lampizator (I think they fall into this category even though they do DSD but beyond my budget) and even my current Mark Levinson (don't know if it counts as a ladder DAC) have sounded more musical than many of the current crop DAC's using a Sabre ESS chip.

 

I guess with legacy material there isn't that much debatable about PCM vs DSD in the entire chain - most of it is already PCM to begin with

 

 

If you told us a bit about how you intend to use your new DAC, we'd be able to give you better advice.

 

As mentioned. I would like to use it to playback my collection of redbook CD's (if they sound better upsampled then good) and to stream higher res material via an Auralic Aries.

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- If you had a DAC that output PCM or DSD, these are *digital* formats, *not* music, and you would need a second DAC to convert the digits to music!

 

 

 

- I think you only want one DAC, yes? And what you're really asking is not what goes on internally (most DACs internally convert to a DSD-like format, a small handful keep the input as PCM all the way through), but what's a good, musical DAC for your budget, right? One that preferably will accept as many resolutions as possible (up to 24/384 PCM, up to DSD128 or 256), and thus will hopefully be at least somewhat "future proof"?

 

Yes, one good musical DAC and I get what you mean. Sorry about the confusion that may have arisen from the terminology I used. I'm not well versed in the jargon.

 

I started off the thread with the PCM to DSD question because the DAC's I heard which I liked ie. the PS Audio and dCS upsample everything to DSD before the "music" comes out in your (correct) terminology.

 

 

- If so, please tell us what your approximate maximum budget is, and we can go from there.

 

My budget is about 3.5k and I would prefer used for better value.

 

Thanks for your feedback.

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