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I’m a newbie to digital audio, so I need some advice here about where to start with streaming dsd files.

 

I have a pc with the software (Korg Audiogate, Roon etc), compatible with high-res files,

but how do I stream them into my ‘analog’ system?

 

my pc doesn't have a high-res audio card so obviously i need to transfer the 'dsd' file content

and complete the conversion to analog - are there any 'single box' products that will do this?

 

i've read a lot about dacs, media servers etc, and the range of products is out there is enormous

but I’m on a limited budget so I want to get started with a minimal outlay for new hardware.

Should I stream via Ethernet cable/USB cable or wireless?

Is there a limit to USB cable distance (pc is 4-5 metres from audio equipment)?

Does playback quality suffer with wireless streaming?

I want to use the pc software as the 'front-end', so i can manage content/playlists etc..

 

any suggestions appreciated.

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I'm assuming you have some form of HiFi already - that is amplifier with analogue inputs and a set of speakers?

 

If that is the case then you need a DAC with USB interface to start with a minimal outlay.

 

Budget DACs worthy of consideration which support DSD include iFi Nano iDSD, Korg DS-DAC-100, Oppo HA-2, Denon DA300USB and various others but thats a short list to start with.

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I’m a newbie to digital audio, so I need some advice here about where to start with streaming dsd files.

 

I have a pc with the software (Korg Audiogate, Roon etc), compatible with high-res files,

but how do I stream them into my ‘analog’ system?

 

my pc doesn't have a high-res audio card so obviously i need to transfer the 'dsd' file content

and complete the conversion to analog - are there any 'single box' products that will do this?

 

i've read a lot about dacs, media servers etc, and the range of products is out there is enormous

but I’m on a limited budget so I want to get started with a minimal outlay for new hardware.

Should I stream via Ethernet cable/USB cable or wireless?

Is there a limit to USB cable distance (pc is 4-5 metres from audio equipment)?

Does playback quality suffer with wireless streaming?

I want to use the pc software as the 'front-end', so i can manage content/playlists etc..

 

any suggestions appreciated.

 

1. The easiest way to playback digital and hi-res digital today is over USB. Every computer has USB ports and most DACs are made with USB inputs nowadays. To turn your digital stream into audio you need some kind of DAC. The DAC makes the analog output and the outputs of the DAC connect to your hi-fi.

 

Wireless will work fine if your home network is robust. Otherwise you may experience skips/dropouts.

 

There is debate over whether wireless sounds as good/worse/better than either USB or ethernet. Not worth arguing over for you at this point. Go with what seems easiest/most fitting for you. I'd suggest USB for convenience and the multitude of low priced DACs that are USB based.

 

Most say USB distance shouldn't be over 5 meters, and shorter is better.

 

In addition to the DACs mentioned by Eloise, I'd add the Resonessence Herus and the Dragonfly.

 

How important to you is DSD playback? If you don't need DSD playback, there are some quite good "USB Stick" style DACs starting at under $100. If you also want DSD playback, your starting point will be about double that, but the less expensive DSD DACs will probably be better sounding overall than the very inexpensive PCM only DACs.

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Thank-you for all your replies and suggestions; the DACs listed

are within my price range so I will have a closer look at them.

 

A couple of other questions;

 

Is there any reason why some DACs have a USB 'b' connection socket and others have

the 'A' type - isn't USB non-directional?

 

Is there a minimum wireless transfer speed acceptable for audio streaming?

 

Is 'DLNA' suitable for high-res audio streaming?

 

I’ve also been advised to get a ‘hi-fi’ sound card for my pc with RCA outputs - this would bypass the need for an external DAC (any opinions about this?)?

 

A lot of DACs also have coaxial inputs and ‘SPIDIF’ inputs – i will look for some further info about these, but is there a general consensus about the pros/cons of the various connection types/interfaces ie; ethernet Vs USB Vs wireless etc?

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USB connections: IME, most dacs have a B connection for the input, coming from a source with type A. To quote wikipedia "The standard connectors were deliberately intended to enforce the directed topology of a USB network: type A receptacles on host devices that supply power and type B receptacles on target devices that draw power. " Most DACs draw power. Some don't.

 

Wireless is more than fast enough in theory for music transfer. The problem is that for many reasons other than raw speed, wireless can be problematic. No one can tell you what will work in your setup, you just have to try and see what works for you. That's why even if I wanted wireless, I'd leave myself the option of using either USB, ethernet, or some other wired setup.

 

A hi-fi sound card will mean you don't need a DAC. I've owned a couple of the well respected ones on the market over the years, and they sound "good", but not nearly as good as a $200 USB DAC like the ifi Nano. The small USB DACs are essentially external USB sound cards that replace an internal sound card.

 

The above doesn't include some of the pro-studio level Sound cards that cost $750 and way more than that, but it does include some $200-$350 dollar ones that are considered leading "consumer/audiophile" audio cards.

 

The only reason I would consider using an internal audiophile card instead of a DAC is that some of the better ones have multi-connection/multi-channel breakout boxes. If you are into recording, surround sound, or multi--channel these can be very userful. But again, if you are just into listening to 2 channel, then you will get better sound for less money with one of the better inexpensive DACs. If you really want a good internal card, I will sell you one cheap. :)

 

DLNA will work fine for hi-res. If you get into DSP correction of your digital stream, DLNA is not the interface you want. There are also some implementations that have a problem with gapless playback, but generally it works fine.

 

DAC inputs: like most things in audio, there is no consensus. Each one can have scenarios where it is "best". Most people here will tell you not to use SPDIF/Coax, etc. Others will disagree. Today's USB is ubiquitous, sounds good, and gives you more flexibility (especially with 4X and up high res) than the other interfaces, which is why most of us use it.

 

Thank-you for all your replies and suggestions; the DACs listed

are within my price range so I will have a closer look at them.

 

A couple of other questions;

 

Is there any reason why some DACs have a USB 'b' connection socket and others have

the 'A' type - isn't USB non-directional?

 

Is there a minimum wireless transfer speed acceptable for audio streaming?

 

Is 'DLNA' suitable for high-res audio streaming?

 

I’ve also been advised to get a ‘hi-fi’ sound card for my pc with RCA outputs - this would bypass the need for an external DAC (any opinions about this?)?

 

A lot of DACs also have coaxial inputs and ‘SPIDIF’ inputs – i will look for some further info about these, but is there a general consensus about the pros/cons of the various connection types/interfaces ie; ethernet Vs USB Vs wireless etc?

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I’m a newbie to digital audio, so I need some advice here about where to start with streaming dsd files.

 

I have a pc with the software (Korg Audiogate, Roon etc), compatible with high-res files,

but how do I stream them into my ‘analog’ system?

 

my pc doesn't have a high-res audio card so obviously i need to transfer the 'dsd' file content

and complete the conversion to analog - are there any 'single box' products that will do this?

 

i've read a lot about dacs, media servers etc, and the range of products is out there is enormous

but I’m on a limited budget so I want to get started with a minimal outlay for new hardware.

Should I stream via Ethernet cable/USB cable or wireless?

Is there a limit to USB cable distance (pc is 4-5 metres from audio equipment)?

Does playback quality suffer with wireless streaming?

I want to use the pc software as the 'front-end', so i can manage content/playlists etc..

 

any suggestions appreciated.

Hi Marty and welcome.

 

Maybe just a quick clarification on terms: what you're trying to achieve is usually referred to simply as "playback", if you're listening to files that are located on your computer. "Streaming" is commonly used for listening to songs that are not physically located on your computer but are sourced from the internet, e.g. with Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or Qobuz.

 

Otherwise, you already got some great input here.

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Thank-you for the all the helpful input and suggestions - i'm now looking at a range of affordable DAC's and will report back once I get the hardware up and running ;)

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Maybe just a quick clarification on terms: what you're trying to achieve is usually referred to simply as "playback", if you're listening to files that are located on your computer. "Streaming" is commonly used for listening to songs that are not physically located on your computer but are sourced from the internet, e.g. with Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or Qobuz.
The OP's confusion with the term may be due to the existance of network audio players/renderers, aka streamers. Hence "Streaming" is also commonly used to describe the action of a streamer when playing back music file data over the network, from a networked device that the music files are stored in (eg computer, NAS, etc). UPnP/DLNA and Airplay are examples of the network file streaming mechanisms used by these devices.

 

A streamer is usually a dedicated standalone device, but it can also be a normal computer running specialised music file network streaming and playback software.

Edited by Cebolla

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If you get into DSP correction of your digital stream, DLNA is not the interface you want.
While it is true that DSP correction is not in the DLNA spec, it doesn't stop UPnP/DLNA supporting streamers themselves from implementing it. For example the latest network audio players from Linn can perform room correction via its SPACE optimisation mechanism. DSP can also be applied by the UPnP/DLNA media server on the music file data itself when transcoding, ie, on the fly while the file data is being streamed, so the streamer merely plays the music file 'altered' by the UPnP media server's transcoder:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f23-dsp-room-correction-and-multi-channel-audio/digital-signal-processing-used-optimizing-or-changing-sound-digital-domain-can-correct-imperfections-gear-speakers-and-room-and-replace-analogue-equalizing-analogue-or-digital-change-frequency-response-often-be-more-linear-and-x-overs-digital-living-network-alliance-21291/

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Thanks Cebolla,

 

What is your opinion on the general sound quality of 'DSD' (Vs 'High-Res' PCM)?

 

i've read many differing views about DSD files and good DSD DACs

are expensive - many of the articles i've read claim the extra expense is not justified?

 

i've also read that ripping SACD's is possible but only with a PS3 - is this still the only option?

if so, can someone post the link/s on how this is done?

thanks again!

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If I have a DSD capable Streaming Source & a DSD capable DAC what exactly is Korg Audiogate (iAudioGate now for Apple) or other SW options doing as far as sound?

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Sorry for the clumsy re-mount into both the CA Forum & the world of audio specific computing. I am a longtime audiophile with a lot of catching up to do.

 

I am intrigued by DSD & toward that end have started down the road w some hardware purchases.

 

Purchased & waiting on:

CEntrance DacPort HD

CEntrance Hi-Fi Skyn (these are both portable devices & incapable by license of emitting in the digital domain)

 

LH Labs Vi DAC Infinity Tube

 

Who knows, some of these items may arrive before years end. Thanks

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