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Is a USB audio DAC interface needed just for DSD streams?


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In other words, if I'm only playing upsampled 44.1K audio at 192k over optical SPDIF, is there anything to be gained if I upgrade to an Amenero or something similar, to output at a higher sample rate?

Do they upsample?

I know converting PCM audio to DSD is practically useless or desirable, regardless of the bitrate...

Is USB DAC interface only good if I have a library of 24 bit/96Khz+ files?

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To obtain best sound, do the followings;

1. Set sampling rate to your song track's sampling rate. If your song's sample rate is 44.1k, set 44.1k, etc.

2. Set bit width to your DAC's bit width. If your DAC is 32 bits, then set as 32 bits, etc.

3. Do not use resampling(up/down) and do not convert to DSD. It will lose sound quality.

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4 minutes ago, hdo said:

To obtain best sound, do the followings;

1. Set sampling rate to your song track's sampling rate. If your song's sample rate is 44.1k, set 44.1k, etc.

2. Set bit width to your DAC's bit width. If your DAC is 32 bits, then set as 32 bits, etc.

3. Do not use resampling(up/down) and do not convert to DSD. It will lose sound quality.

I find that not to be true with a good upsampler, such as SoX or SRC...

Sounds much more "natural" at 192Khz....you can easily A/B test it on the fly as well and the difference is striking. Which is why I wonder if I got to an even higher sampler rate, if it would improve even more.

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There's 2 benefits to USB: high bandwidth and asynchronous communication, which just means the DAC's better clock can take control of the USB communication resulting in reduced jitter. The choice between USB and SPDIF comes down to 2 factors:

 

1. Are you going to do high-rate DSD up-sampling and your DAC/interface's SPDIF interface can't support the required DoP bandwidth?

If YES than you have to use USB. If NO, move on to...

2. Do you have a high quality modern DAC that can clean up SPDIF jitter?

If YES than you can use SPDIF. If NO you should use USB -- although, chances are if it's not a modern high quality DAC its USB quality is probably going to suck anyway!

 

Additionally, there is a HUGE caveat when it comes to USB -- you must make some effort to feed your DAC a clean USB signal. There will be a large sonic degradation if you feed a DAC dirty USB lines from an unconditioned / high-noise source.

 

 

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48 minutes ago, GUTB said:

There's 2 benefits to USB: high bandwidth and asynchronous communication, which just means the DAC's better clock can take control of the USB communication resulting in reduced jitter. The choice between USB and SPDIF comes down to 2 factors:

 

1. Are you going to do high-rate DSD up-sampling and your DAC/interface's SPDIF interface can't support the required DoP bandwidth?

If YES than you have to use USB. If NO, move on to...

2. Do you have a high quality modern DAC that can clean up SPDIF jitter?

If YES than you can use SPDIF. If NO you should use USB -- although, chances are if it's not a modern high quality DAC its USB quality is probably going to suck anyway!

 

Additionally, there is a HUGE caveat when it comes to USB -- you must make some effort to feed your DAC a clean USB signal. There will be a large sonic degradation if you feed a DAC dirty USB lines from an unconditioned / high-noise source.

 

 

The dac is a DIY unit using a ES9028 Pro processor and quality components, plus my modifications... 

Asynchronous sounds like it's worth going USB just for that feature... Especially with upgraded/discrete clock. Jriver player also can output in high bandwidth samples, which is what I use. 

 

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1 hour ago, GUTB said:

Additionally, there is a HUGE caveat when it comes to USB -- you must make some effort to feed your DAC a clean USB signal. There will be a large sonic degradation if you feed a DAC dirty USB lines from an unconditioned / high-noise source.

 

 

So an audio Grade, USB adapter with a high grade clock and external power is basically a must...? And a boutique USB cable, of course.... 

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1 hour ago, WuNgUn said:

So an audio Grade, USB adapter with a high grade clock and external power is basically a must...? And a boutique USB cable, of course.... 

 

Not a must. An audiophile-grade USB controller does help, but the improvement is relatively minor. But you do have to provide a clean 5V line to the DAC. A motherboard featuring audio-quality USB ports (older MSI and current Gigabyte gaming motherboards offer this feature), an iGalvanic works, other conditioners / re-clockers work at varying degrees of quality.

 

I haven't tested high end USB cables yet so I can't comment on their effectiveness on SQ.

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On 12/28/2017 at 7:05 PM, GUTB said:

 

Not a must. An audiophile-grade USB controller does help, but the improvement is relatively minor.

So from 192/16 to DSD256 or 512 is just a minor improvement? Im not sure my PC has the horsepower to do DSD256 or 512 anyway...

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16 minutes ago, WuNgUn said:

So from 192/16 to DSD256 or 512 is just a minor improvement? Im not sure my PC has the horsepower to do DSD256 or 512 anyway...

DSD has inferior sound to PCM, especially bass sound. Why do you think converting PCM tracks to DSD will improve sound? DSD bass sound is blurred. I don't like it.

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10 minutes ago, hdo said:

DSD has inferior sound to PCM, especially bass sound. Why do you think converting PCM tracks to DSD will improve sound? DSD bass sound is blurred. I don't like it.

simply from a sample rate comparison, my DAC only supports up to 192Khz using spdif

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5 minutes ago, WuNgUn said:

simply from a sample rate comparison, my DAC only supports up to 192Khz using spdif

That's max spdif supports. Commercial HD definition downloads are max 192khz. That's good enough. No need higher definition.

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3 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

There's no evidence for this statement.

I can clearly hear this. As you know, DSD is represented in a single bit. It cannot change volume level quickly. It has to change bit by bit, where as PCM can go from zero to maximum. Although you hear from loud speakers, you may not notice the difference.

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50 minutes ago, hdo said:

I can clearly hear this. As you know, DSD is represented in a single bit. It cannot change volume level quickly. It has to change bit by bit, where as PCM can go from zero to maximum. Although you hear from loud speakers, you may not notice the difference.

I don't use digital volume control on my setup... Not ideal for hifi systems. 

 

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native dsd is best!  Anyone that suggests differently is just wrong.

 

As far as upsampling to DSD, most people that have done so with HQPLAYER (and I agree) will argue that it sounds better than PCM.

 

As far as hardware upsampling to DSD, most people (besides owners of PSAUDIO gear) will agree that software upsampling sounds better than hardware upsampling.

 

Most people that have schiit will suggest PCM sounds better than DSD, even if they haven't tried playing native dsd tracks on on a dsd dac and then comparing same source to their PCM only DAC.

 

I personally would "think" that upsampling everything offline to DSD would probably sound better, but again, and finally, nothing bests native DSD.

 

 

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13 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

native dsd is best!  Anyone that suggests differently is just wrong.

You cannot compare SACD/DSD to CD/PCM. DSDs are high definition. So it naturally sounds better than CD PCM tracks. If you try the same recordings from DXD converted to DSD vs PCM, you will hear the difference.

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3 minutes ago, hdo said:

You cannot compare SACD/DSD to CD/PCM. DSDs are high definition. So it naturally sounds better than CD PCM tracks.

 

Agreed, but you won't believe how many people will argue with you about this factual statement.

 

That said, If you don't have a lot of DSD material....if you agree it sounds better, invest there....in having more dsd tracks.

 

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5 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

^^^  as for topic, invest in hqplayer and set your settings to upsample all to DSD....you will find a lot more people that believe that, than that don't....at least for those that have spent $50 for the program and have tried it, even with a very modest priced dac.

 

This I agree with....assuming my cpu has the horsepower to upsample to a high DSD output.

30 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

native dsd is best!  Anyone that suggests differently is just wrong.

 

 

 

 

of course it is...because natively, youre starting out with higher quality data! My library consists mostly 16/44.1K material...

15 minutes ago, hdo said:

You cannot compare SACD/DSD to CD/PCM. DSDs are high definition. So it naturally sounds better than CD PCM tracks. If you try the same recordings from DXD converted to DSD vs PCM, you will hear the difference.

I agree...

5 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

^^^  as for topic, invest in hqplayer and set your settings to upsample all to DSD....you will find a lot more people that believe that, than that don't....at least for those that have spent $50 for the program and have tried it, even with a very modest priced dac.

 

Again, cpu dependant....

 

But a different note (pun intentional), USB/DSD allows asynchronous clocking from dac to source, which PCM over spdif can not...major benefit I think....?

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1 hour ago, hdo said:

I can clearly hear this. As you know, DSD is represented in a single bit. It cannot change volume level quickly. It has to change bit by bit, where as PCM can go from zero to maximum. 

Perhaps you do not understand it but DSD runs at a much higher bit-rate and can change as quickly.  Of course, that is nearly irrelevant at low frequencies.

Quote

Although you hear from loud speakers, you may not notice the difference.

What does that mean?

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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6 minutes ago, WuNgUn said:

This I agree with....assuming my cpu has the horsepower to upsample to a high DSD output.

 

Try it, ask for help in settings....you can always lower the DSD sample rate if you get dropouts..that or buy a faster computer.

 

Also if you are used to using spdif, and switch to usb, some of the advantages of DSD may be lost if using a noisy usb as compared to your spdif.

 

spdif 192 may sound better than higher dsd from usb depending on your source.

 

 

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Just now, beerandmusic said:

 

Try it, ask for help in settings....you can always lower the DSD sample rate if you get dropouts..that or buy a faster computer.

 

 

the thing of it is, I cant just try it...

Id be spending hundreds on a USB interface, external PSU and might be just throwing that money away if I dont get a big enough kick out of it. but my DAC is certainly up to it....

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15 minutes ago, WuNgUn said:

the thing of it is, I cant just try it...

Id be spending hundreds on a USB interface, external PSU and might be just throwing that money away if I dont get a big enough kick out of it. but my DAC is certainly up to it....

 

I edited above statment adding:

Also if you are used to using spdif, and switch to usb, some of the advantages of DSD may be lost if using a noisy usb as compared to your spdif. Spdif 192 may sound better than higher dsd from usb depending on your source.

 

To be honest, if you can't easily budget an i5 computer,  i would just keep what you got and be happy, if you don't have a lot to invest.  I have spent tons of hours and money only to get marginal improvements.  I have tried everything under the sun...(including schiit multibits, network streaming, and a plethora of different hardware and software).... Really depends on how much money and time you have to spend.

 

I would recommend to make sure you have speakers and amp you are happy with first...all the other stuff is just "hoopla".  I have heard good things (on the order or night and day) about CHORD DAVE or SOTM trifecta or DIY stuff, but don't have money or time for that stuff....and nothing short of those has made a big impact imho...

 

Buy a mcintosh and good speakers first.

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