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HDMI vs. USB - From a Frustrated Multi-channel Audio Fan


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I love multi-channel audio and my files come from ripping DVD-A, SACD, Blu-Ray, and digital downloads.  My SACD files are mainly ISO, although some are DSF.  While there are lots of different 2-channel DAC's, the choices are very limited for the multi-channel fan.  Here is my experience and frustration with trying both HDMI and USB DACs:

 

HDMI - I have used the Oppo BDP 95 and 105 in the past.  Computer's HDMI output to the Oppo's HDMI input.  Then the analog outputs of the Oppo directly into a multichannel amp.  I strictly use Foobar as my main music software (WASAPI).  I'm very happy with the sound quality.  And most of the time, everything works fine.  But there were some bugs and limitations to this set-up using HDMI.  First, the Oppo doesn't handle DSD through HDMI.  My computer has to convert DSD to FLAC.  While it bugs me, I can live with that.  But I just couldn't take this next bug:  Once in a while, mainly when listening to self-created playlists which combine FLAC/DSD along with stereo/multichannel audio, the audio would get choppy and the computer would slow down to almost a halt which required a reboot.  I tried three different computers and got the same results.  Sought help and tried many different things, but nothing helped.  There were also HDMI handshake issues which sometimes resulted in the rebooting of the computer, the Oppo, or both.  

 

So I finally purchased the eXasound E38.  I thought USB would solve all my problems.  Although I'm extremely happy with the sound quality, I'm still frustrated by some other issues:

 

USB - Making Foobar work with the eXasound was quite a challenge.  I would never have accomplished this without George's tremendous help at eXasound.  The problem is that the latest versions of Foobar and it's related DSD plug-in's have bugs and don't work well with the eXasound drivers.  You have to use specific older versions to make it work.  Still the set-up can be a bit complex having to do channel mapping, etc.  Later I found a problem is that these older versions didn't support DSD tagging (SACD ISO tags written to a separate .xml file).  Later versions of the plug-ins which don't work with Exasound supported this.  All the time I had spent in properly tagging my files in the past are now wasted.  Not a deal breaker, but a bummer!  Next issue is that I sometimes hear what sounds like white noise at the end and beginning of some tracks.  Only a couple of seconds.  No idea what's causing this.  Doesn't happen all the time and when it does, it disappears once the music starts playing.  My last problem is the biggie:  Channel assignments in some albums are wrong.  For example, while Foobar is showing audio is present in 4-channels, only two channels output from the DAC.  The other two are lost  somewhere.  This only happens to a few albums (e.g. Chicago's Quadio - then entire collection).  The vast majority of multi-channel albums play fine and without any issues.  It's only a very few that are giving me this trouble.

 

Maybe this is just a Foobar thing.  I hate to learn new software, but I do have Jriver installed, so I tried to play Chicago's Quadio and the two rear channels come out in the center and sub channel!  Arrgghh!  I'm just really frustrated.

 

What do other multi-channel audio fans do?  What combination of products do you use and what are your headaches?  Does everything work ok for you?  Does anyone recognize an easy fix for any of the above symptoms I've posted?  Any feedback/advice is appreciated.

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Are you sure that Jriver is configured in the right way? As I understand it, you are playing 4.1 channel audio.

As far as I understand (no personal experience) it can be necessarry to set the numbers of channels to 4 - see attached picture. Unfortunately jriver has not provided a 4.1 channel option - only 4.0.

You could try to see what happens if you configure 4 channels.

 

You could also post a request to Jriver to add a 4.1 option.  Don't know how responsive they would be, but taking into account the already provided options, it should be rather easy to add 4.1 capabilities.

 

Dirk

jriver-channels.jpg

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17 hours ago, HamDog said:

Maybe this is just a Foobar thing.  I hate to learn new software, but I do have Jriver installed, so I tried to play Chicago's Quadio and the two rear channels come out in the center and sub channel!  Arrgghh!  I'm just really frustrated.

I suggest you set the output in JRiver to 5.1 and let it map the channels to a standard format.  Then, connect the outputs of the e38 to suit.  

 

17 hours ago, HamDog said:

First, the Oppo doesn't handle DSD through HDMI. 

???  I do not use the Oppo as a DAC normally but I was able to send DSD to the Oppo via HDMI and ethernet in the past.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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2 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:
20 hours ago, HamDog said:

First, the Oppo doesn't handle DSD through HDMI. 

???  I do not use the Oppo as a DAC normally but I was able to send DSD to the Oppo via HDMI and ethernet in the past.

 

The OPPO does handle DSD using HDMI , my 105 and 205 do it. But never tried ethernet.

 

From the OPPO 205 manual page 61

"

DSD

– SACD

Direct Stream Digital (DSD)data is output over HDMI without any conversion.

For the analog audio outputs, DSD data is converted into an analog signal directly by the

internal DAC. If you use a receiver that supports HDMI v1.2a with DSD over HDMI, or you

prefer the sound quality of straight DSD to analog, please select this option

The Truth Is Out There

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7 hours ago, ddetaey said:

Are you sure that Jriver is configured in the right way? As I understand it, you are playing 4.1 channel audio.

As far as I understand (no personal experience) it can be necessarry to set the numbers of channels to 4 - see attached picture. Unfortunately jriver has not provided a 4.1 channel option - only 4.0.

You could try to see what happens if you configure 4 channels.

 

You could also post a request to Jriver to add a 4.1 option.  Don't know how responsive they would be, but taking into account the already provided options, it should be rather easy to add 4.1 capabilities.

 

Dirk

 

 

Hi Dirk, Most of my multichannel audio files play perfectly, it's just a few where channel assignments are incorrect in Jriver, so I'm assuming it's set-up correctly.  Chicago Quadio is 4.0, not 4.1.  My current setting is "Source Number of Channels" in Jriver Audio settings, but I just tried 4.0 and got the same results (rear channels routed to center/sub).

 

3 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

I suggest you set the output in JRiver to 5.1 and let it map the channels to a standard format.  Then, connect the outputs of the e38 to suit.  

 

???  I do not use the Oppo as a DAC normally but I was able to send DSD to the Oppo via HDMI and ethernet in the past.

 

I didn't do any channel mapping in Jriver, this was only necessary in Foobar to set-up the e-38.  And Oppo's HDMI input doesn't handle DSD.  PCM only.  Ethernet handles DSD.  USB input also handles DSD.  Asynch USB handles DSD, but only stereo.  

 

30 minutes ago, mav52 said:

 

The OPPO does handle DSD using HDMI , my 105 and 205 do it. But never tried ethernet.

 

From the OPPO 205 manual page 61

"

DSD

– SACD

Direct Stream Digital (DSD)data is output over HDMI without any conversion.

For the analog audio outputs, DSD data is converted into an analog signal directly by the

internal DAC. If you use a receiver that supports HDMI v1.2a with DSD over HDMI, or you

prefer the sound quality of straight DSD to analog, please select this option

 

That's HDMI output.  We're talking about the HDMI input on the Oppo.  

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Hi Hamdog

 

I would like you to suggest to contact Jriver via the forum and refer to your specific record you have issues with.

If you would have available in an uploadble format, I would propose to provide them with one song of your album.

I am convinced they will take a serious look at it.

Dirk

 

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On December 11, 2017 at 11:50 AM, HamDog said:

 

Hi Dirk, Most of my multichannel audio files play perfectly, it's just a few where channel assignments are incorrect in Jriver, so I'm assuming it's set-up correctly.  Chicago Quadio is 4.0, not 4.1.  My current setting is "Source Number of Channels" in Jriver Audio settings, but I just tried 4.0 and got the same results (rear channels routed to center/sub).

 

 

I didn't do any channel mapping in Jriver, this was only necessary in Foobar to set-up the e-38.  And Oppo's HDMI input doesn't handle DSD.  PCM only.  Ethernet handles DSD.  USB input also handles DSD.  Asynch USB handles DSD, but only stereo.  

 

 

That's HDMI output.  We're talking about the HDMI input on the Oppo.  

In JRiver, don't use Source Number of Channels.  It has been problematic, especially with the difference between 5.0 and 5.1 sources. Just set it to 5.1, if you have a 5.1 system.

 

 If you have a 7.1 system, as I do, create a 5.1 and a 7.1 zone, and use Zoneswitch to toggle between them based on source number of channels metadata.  That is if you prefer 5.0/.1 rendered at 5.1, as I do. 

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7 hours ago, Fitzcaraldo215 said:

In JRiver, don't use Source Number of Channels.  It has been problematic, especially with the difference between 5.0 and 5.1 sources. Just set it to 5.1, if you have a 5.1 system.  If you have a 7.1 system, as I do, create a 5.1 and a 7.1 zone, and use Zoneswitch to toggle between them.  That is if you prefer 5.0/.1 rendered at 5.1, as I do. 

 

Thank you!  That fixed the problem!  Before, most files played fine using "Source Number of Channels".  It was some of the quad files that had the problem.  As Dirk had suggested, I then set it to 4 channels.  That didn't fix the problem either.  But setting it to 5.1 did the trick!  

 

I actually have 5 floor standing speakers without a sub, so I'm running 5.0.  Just moved into a condo where less bass is better due to neighbors.  I may be losing part of the music in the .1 sub, but I'm fine with that.  

 

I'm now in the process of importing my library in Jriver and learning the software.

 

Thanks again!

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  • 2 months later...

Good evening,

 

for those who are still interested in the subject and who DO NOT shun Android devices, take a look onto the following android feature request . You are welcome to upvote (star) and comment!


Apparently a few exotic HW implementations (DSD over HDMI) like the Popcorn Hour A-500 exist, but with android set-top boxes "on the loose" it would be rather like having Ford Model-Ts on the streets.

 

Regards,

 

Nexus3

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use Roon and Jriver in a 5.1 config. Dirac Live is the audio output zone (room EQ). I went through many of the same steps you did, except for Foobar.

 

My E38 findings are on the Hi-Res Digital Audio Discovery forum on FB (there's conclusions in the comments) - I could recreate the post here if that's more productive.

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/hrdad/permalink/380065759110560/

 

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Hi Frans, I don't have Facebook either, so I can't view it.

 

Personally, I would never consider Roon since it doesn't support SACD ISO files.  Also, I'm meticulous about tagging my own music files, so I really don't need Roon.  Not sure how you use both Roon and Jriver together and/or it's benefits.  Would love to see your article.

 

I've been using Foobar for decades.  I have almost stopped using my system as my transition to Jriver has been pathetic.  I just don't have the time or inclination to learn this very un-intuitive piece of software.  Their library system is just confusing, and bringing over my playlists (which took years to build) from Foobar to Jriver have not been successful.  

 

I just need to set aside a few days and dedicate to learning this new software.  Not from the standpoint of a newbie (which there's a lot of help), but from the standpoint of migrating from Foobar (which there isn't a lot of help).  With all the resources of the Internet, research to find the right answer can be excruciatingly slow.  I have about 10TB of files, but most of my music is now played through a simple Internet radio (Squeezebox) just due to it's simplicity!  I'd actually be willing to pay a Jriver expert to come over and help me set things up and answer my questions (I'm in the W. Los Angeles area if anyone is listening!).  

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A question for the thread re: DSD over HDMI:

 

I have used Oppo players (going all the way back to the DV-980H) as a DSD source streaming over HDMI to a capable AV receiver and that just works.

 

But in the context of this thread, isn't an Oppo spinner being used as a target?  Is this perhaps where the confusion lies?

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2 hours ago, Samuel T Cogley said:

A question for the thread re: DSD over HDMI:

 

I have used Oppo players (going all the way back to the DV-980H) as a DSD source streaming over HDMI to a capable AV receiver and that just works.

 

But in the context of this thread, isn't an Oppo spinner being used as a target?  Is this perhaps where the confusion lies?

Oppo can work at either end of the process or in the middle.  I have streamed to it from JRMC while using its HDMI output to an preamp/processor.  Done that with HDMI in to the Oppo as well.

 

However, it is not sufficient for me as it is picky about DSD and multichannel.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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4 hours ago, HamDog said:

Hi Frans, I don't have Facebook either, so I can't view it.

 

I will write out my findings and will post them soon

 

4 hours ago, HamDog said:

 

Personally, I would never consider Roon since it doesn't support SACD ISO files.  Also, I'm meticulous about tagging my own music files, so I really don't need Roon.  Not sure how you use both Roon and Jriver together and/or it's benefits.  Would love to see your article.

 

I have converted all my SACD ISOs to DSF files, it's easy to batch convert all of them in one go. I never looked back. I deleted all the original ISOs and with the OPPO 105 I rip straight to DSF. Individual files are much easy to tag, search, and categorize in my library. Roon actually does not need all this to function, it can sit on top of it all and sort it out on its own, but old habits of meticulous tagging and folder management die hard. Roon doesn't care. It works regardless.

 

4 hours ago, HamDog said:

I've been using Foobar for decades.  I have almost stopped using my system as my transition to Jriver has been pathetic.  I just don't have the time or inclination to learn this very un-intuitive piece of software.  Their library system is just confusing, and bringing over my playlists (which took years to build) from Foobar to Jriver have not been successful.  

 

I rarely use playlists as Roon's "radio" feature is very enjoyable. It's really what the playlists are trying to achieve (e.g. genres, a specific play order, specific file types, etc.

 

JRiver's support for playlists and importing playlists is quite extensive. Roon support it too, but I rarely use these due to the other discoverability tools. 

 

4 hours ago, HamDog said:

 

I just need to set aside a few days and dedicate to learning this new software.  Not from the standpoint of a newbie (which there's a lot of help), but from the standpoint of migrating from Foobar (which there isn't a lot of help).  With all the resources of the Internet, research to find the right answer can be excruciatingly slow.  I have about 10TB of files, but most of my music is now played through a simple Internet radio (Squeezebox) just due to it's simplicity!  I'd actually be willing to pay a Jriver expert to come over and help me set things up and answer my questions (I'm in the W. Los Angeles area if anyone is listening!).  

 

I'm in Seattle, but that sounds pretty easy to do. Perhaps I can help with a quick call to get a better handle on your requirements. Sounds quite fun actually. 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Frans Keylard said:

I have converted all my SACD ISOs to DSF files, it's easy to batch convert all of them in one go. I never looked back. I deleted all the original ISOs and with the OPPO 105 I rip straight to DSF. Individual files are much easy to tag, search, and categorize in my library. Roon actually does not need all this to function, it can sit on top of it all and sort it out on its own, but old habits of meticulous tagging and folder management die hard. Roon doesn't care. It works regardless.

 

Frans, do you have an ISO extract process/tool pipeline that is reversible?  Having ripped 200+ SACDs, I'm really leary of tossing the ISOs without full confidence that I'm not irrecoverably tossing something that was missed or dropped or changed in the extract process

ATT Fiber -> EdgeRouter X SFP -> Sonore opticalModule -> Taiko Audio Extreme -> Chord DAVE -> Voxativ 9.87 speakers w/ 4D drivers

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IMHO it is a huge mistake to delete your ISOs.  We all work hard to rip these images (many OOP) so they should be kept as backup. They contain both 2 channel and multichannel (if available) content and can also be burnt to SACD-R if a disc backup is needed. My $.02

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6 hours ago, Samuel T Cogley said:

A question for the thread re: DSD over HDMI:

 

I have used Oppo players (going all the way back to the DV-980H) as a DSD source streaming over HDMI to a capable AV receiver and that just works.

 

But in the context of this thread, isn't an Oppo spinner being used as a target?  Is this perhaps where the confusion lies?

 

I used to use HDMI to connect my PC to my Oppo's input.  HDMI had it's issues with the computer (I attributed most of the problems to the HDMI handshake).  This is why I wanted to try a USB DAC.  And playing files through a computer is a whole different beast than playing a disc through a dedicated disc player.  

 

1 hour ago, Frans Keylard said:

 

I will write out my findings and will post them soon

 

 

I have converted all my SACD ISOs to DSF files, it's easy to batch convert all of them in one go. I never looked back. I deleted all the original ISOs and with the OPPO 105 I rip straight to DSF. Individual files are much easy to tag, search, and categorize in my library. Roon actually does not need all this to function, it can sit on top of it all and sort it out on its own, but old habits of meticulous tagging and folder management die hard. Roon doesn't care. It works regardless.

 

 

I rarely use playlists as Roon's "radio" feature is very enjoyable. It's really what the playlists are trying to achieve (e.g. genres, a specific play order, specific file types, etc.

 

JRiver's support for playlists and importing playlists is quite extensive. Roon support it too, but I rarely use these due to the other discoverability tools. 

 

 

I'm in Seattle, but that sounds pretty easy to do. Perhaps I can help with a quick call to get a better handle on your requirements. Sounds quite fun actually. 

 

 

 

Having been around the block for a long time, I've seen lots of errors in conversions get discovered and patched over time.  I don't want to convert my ISO to DSF and then find a report that no one had noticed the first .4 seconds of every 3rd track had an error in timing (hypothetically speaking)!  I've seen stranger things in the past.  Then you have to go back and reconvert again with the new patched up software.  And that's IF you kept your ISO files!  These are huge files and I don't want to have two copies.  I don't see any reason why Roon can't make ISO files readable like Jriver and Foobar.  

 

And I'm not sure I need all those other capabilities by Roon.  I have actually played every single track on all my albums (not in it's entirety) to create my own playlists.  This took YEARS for a 10TB library!  I want to preserve this as I cherish it.  I don't need a piece of software randomly playing tracks.  I do listen to Internet Radio to discover new materials as background music.  However, I do understand that Roon's feature can be very valuable to others.  We all have our preferences and get used to our own methods.  Change is hard! :-) 

 

And I truly appreciate your offer of telephone support.  I may take you up on that soon!  I know that I just need to spend time and tinker around Jriver.  

 

6 hours ago, ted_b said:

Hamdog, have you viewed my two part JRIver tutorial videos?  I am also a multichannel (and DSD) user.

 

Ted, I'm watching your videos now.  Thanks for the links!  The first part has already answered some of my questions.  I still need to spend a significant amount of time fine-tuning Jriver to display things the way I want.  I'm getting a good understanding of the big picture, but having problems with the small details.  

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1 hour ago, ted_b said:

IMHO it is a huge mistake to delete your ISOs.  We all work hard to rip these images (many OOP) so they should be kept as backup. They contain both 2 channel and multichannel (if available) content and can also be burnt to SACD-R if a disc backup is needed. My $.02

 

That's how I do it as well.  Rip to ISO images first.  And then generate Stereo and Multichannel .DSF files with ISO2DSD. 

 

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Can someone point me to the ISO2DSD tutorial?  My computer crashed big time and the Backup files for ISO2DSD don't seem to be complete.  I still keep all my ISO files that I have ripped over the years as a backup also.  I've been having a great time playing my mch files using Roon/HQP upconverting to DSD256 and playing through my mch NADAC.  No problems with either poly-sinc-2s or closed form filters.

 

Thanks,  Larry

Analog-VPIClas3,3DArm,LyraSkala+MiyajimaZeromono,Herron VTPH2APhono,2AmpexATR-102+MerrillTridentMaster TapePreamp  Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,MykerinosCard,PacificMicrosonicsModel2; Dig Play-Lampi Pacific, mch NADAC, Roon-HQPlayer,Oppo105  Electronics-DoshiPre,CJ MET1mchPre,Cary2A3monoamps Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR

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13 hours ago, HamDog said:

 

I used to use HDMI to connect my PC to my Oppo's input.  HDMI had it's issues with the computer (I attributed most of the problems to the HDMI handshake).  This is why I wanted to try a USB DAC.  And playing files through a computer is a whole different beast than playing a disc through a dedicated disc player.  

 

 

Having been around the block for a long time, I've seen lots of errors in conversions get discovered and patched over time.  I don't want to convert my ISO to DSF and then find a report that no one had noticed the first .4 seconds of every 3rd track had an error in timing (hypothetically speaking)!  I've seen stranger things in the past.  Then you have to go back and reconvert again with the new patched up software.  And that's IF you kept your ISO files!  These are huge files and I don't want to have two copies.  I don't see any reason why Roon can't make ISO files readable like Jriver and Foobar.  

 

And I'm not sure I need all those other capabilities by Roon.  I have actually played every single track on all my albums (not in it's entirety) to create my own playlists.  This took YEARS for a 10TB library!  I want to preserve this as I cherish it.  I don't need a piece of software randomly playing tracks.  I do listen to Internet Radio to discover new materials as background music.  However, I do understand that Roon's feature can be very valuable to others.  We all have our preferences and get used to our own methods.  Change is hard! :-) 

 

And I truly appreciate your offer of telephone support.  I may take you up on that soon!  I know that I just need to spend time and tinker around Jriver.  

 

 

Ted, I'm watching your videos now.  Thanks for the links!  The first part has already answered some of my questions.  I still need to spend a significant amount of time fine-tuning Jriver to display things the way I want.  I'm getting a good understanding of the big picture, but having problems with the small details.  

ISO files are trickier than DSFs.  For one thing, they may contain both the stereo and the Mch versions.  So, the tracks double up and you need a mechanism to select whether to play the stereo or the Mch version.  That, plus ISOs are not taggable within the media file as DSFs are.

 

JRiver is what I use.  It was a pain to get started with it.  It is so monstrously laden with features and options that it can be confusing at first.  You need to find the subset of features you need and ignore the rest, like a lot of other technological inventions. For technical issues, their Forum can be very helpful.   Actually, I have the same problem every time I pick up a new cell phone.  Windows 10 was a pain for me at first too.

 

But, with persistence and some trial and error, you will get the hang of JRiver. The world needs a good JRiver for Dummies, but we likely will never see it, because it is forever changing and adapting.   

 

I now have thousands of SACD rips, downloads, and videos in JRiver and I even use it to watch TV.  It has eliminated the need for a Mch prepro, a disc player and a cable box in my system.  The beginning basics were difficult, but now I cannot part with it.

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