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guilherme.j

Confused about DSD and DAC's

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I'm new to digital audio and especially hi res audio, since I've spent most of the time in this hobby playing analog music.(vinyl, tapes).

 

But recently I was drawn to digital reproduction, since I heard DSD in a friend's house and it blew my mind.

 

I've purchased several DSD recordings and I've been studying a lot about the subject. However I don't currently own a DAC and I read that you need a DAC that is capable of either handling DSD natively or DoP. 

 

That being said, when I play a .dsf file on jriver from my notebook straight to my speakers, I am using my computer's DAC chip, right? So jriver will output the sound as DoP? Is that correct?

 

So, if I purchase a DAC that only handles DoP, would that be the same as playing the files from my computer without a DAC? (Not taking into account the differences in terms of sound quality).

 

In the other hand if I get a DAC that handles DSD, would I benefit from native DSD or it's just as good as DoP?

 

Thanks!

 

 

 

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On 11/26/2018 at 8:33 PM, guilherme.j said:

I'm new to digital audio and especially hi res audio, since I've spent most of the time in this hobby playing analog music.(vinyl, tapes).

 

But recently I was drawn to digital reproduction, since I heard DSD in a friend's house and it blew my mind.

 

I've purchased several DSD recordings and I've been studying a lot about the subject. However I don't currently own a DAC and I read that you need a DAC that is capable of either handling DSD natively or DoP. 

 

That being said, when I play a .dsf file on jriver from my notebook straight to my speakers, I am using my computer's DAC chip, right? So jriver will output the sound as DoP? Is that correct?

 

So, if I purchase a DAC that only handles DoP, would that be the same as playing the files from my computer without a DAC? (Not taking into account the differences in terms of sound quality).

 

In the other hand if I get a DAC that handles DSD, would I benefit from native DSD or it's just as good as DoP?

 

Thanks!

 

 

 

I am a fan of DSD, but it is not the end all, be all. PCM sounds wonderful too. FWIW, native DSD vs DoP is merely a USB transfer method, and not applicable if you are using the analog computer out.

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1 hour ago, guilherme.j said:

 

 

But recently I was drawn to digital reproduction, since I heard DSD in a friend's house and it blew my mind.

 

 

 

 

Just out of curiosity, what DAC does your friend have that you liked so much?

Also, what is your budget?

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After having lived with a DSD DAC since 2011 (just last week failed) and listening to DSD to PCM conversions for a few months now, you may not necessarily need a DSD capable DAC.

 

DSD requires high bandwidth, especially higher than DSD64 (DSD128+), that means USB. USB receivers in DACs, IMHO have still a long way to go and the science is not perfect, so those imperfections can lead to SQ problems, that roughness or smearing of the soundstage are give aways that it's not working. The classic AES3 or coax/optical S/PDIF have slower rise times than USB and are less prone to noise coupling (comme si, comme sa), although the topic of jitter and re-clocking dust has yet to settle.

 

DSD can be converted to PCM in a computer quite well, although Jriver's implementation can be bettered by Roon or HQPlayer (for the adventurous) by quite a margin.  There's a bit of choice on how to attach the computer to the DAC, the least noise resistant path is now via Ethernet, the job of a renderer, such as DCS network bridge, Bricasti M5, Lumin U1, Lumin U1 mini, Raspberry Pi (plus add on cards) does the rest of the work as an easier task.

 

The choice of DAC then is only limited by price, and personal preferences, rather than restricting to  conform to a certain format, which design approach can be compromised by commercial realities.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

 

Just out of curiosity, what DAC does your friend have that you liked so much?

Also, what is your budget?

 

I think it was a MyTek Brooklyn Dac.  My budget would be around 350$

 

 

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8 minutes ago, guilherme.j said:

 

I think it was a MyTek Brooklyn Dac.  My budget would be around 350$

 

 

if you can stretch...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/TEAC-NT-503-B-Network-Player-DSD-11-2MHz-Dual-Monaural-USB-DAC-Hi-Res-Black/352526070113?epid=19011386063&hash=item521430f161:g:WqIAAOSwVcZb-eiw:rk:9:pf:0
 

Miska (highly regarded here) says hard to beat for price Pro-ject PRE DAC s2.

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_252PBS2DB/Pro-Ject-PreBox-S2-Digital-Black.html?awkw=426935457728&awat=pla&awnw=g&awcr=258704679247&awdv=c&awug=9061197&gclid=CjwKCAiA0O7fBRASEiwAYI9QAs_7a-Jz3npQGjVhpykc9uHgZAXOF-UZXySE2Ai2QYYtmlH9TKZRVRoCmikQAvD_BwE

 

many will also suggest ifi for smaller budget...

 

either way, you can get something that supports native dsd...others can answer your specific questions about DOP, but i would go with native dsd support.

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1 minute ago, beerandmusic said:

if you can stretch...

https://www.ebay.com/itm/TEAC-NT-503-B-Network-Player-DSD-11-2MHz-Dual-Monaural-USB-DAC-Hi-Res-Black/352526070113?epid=19011386063&hash=item521430f161:g:WqIAAOSwVcZb-eiw:rk:9:pf:0
 

Miska (highly regarded here) says hard to beat for price Pro-ject PRE DAC s2.

 

many will also suggest ifi for smaller budget...

 

either way, you can get something that supports native dsd.

 

 I really appreciate your help! Thanks a lot for the suggestions, @beerandmusic.  I think Pro-Ject PRE DAC s2 is really the best bang for the buck within my buget.

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You are confused for sure, a DAC is a Digital Analog Converter.  Then DSD is Direct Stream Digital, a format of digital file.

 

Here is what I have learned, and I am still not an expert in it.

 

the differences is that the DAC will process a raw Digital input from bit and timing of 0/1...etc...and convert it into a processed signals by modulations then goes into become Analog signals by low/high pass filters.  The DSD is a signal that is processed further than just timing and 0/1.  It has algorithm and modulation calculated in already by the programs (which could be a software or a hard coded chip), and so, in order for it to becomes Analog, it will go down the same road VIA low/high pass filters 

 

this is the reason why your PCM is generally taking much less spaces than the DSD.  With this being said, there are 2 things that can happen here

 

1/ If you have a DSD files, all you need is just a simple circuitry to route it toward Low/High pass filters and become music.  This can be done by Offline conversion

 

2/ If you have a PCM, with a Sigma-Delta DAC Chips, your PCM will be processed and comes out to be DSD anyways, before it goes into Low/High pass filters and become music.

 

from #1, your Music quality is heavily influences by your Program (software or hardware coded), and less influenced by your other stuff.  But #2, you are virtually processing DSD into a very time demanding on the fly system, so it not only relying on your DAC chip, but also depending on plethora of other stuff.

 

‘But still, within either #1 or #2, there are still ways to beef up your stuff and make it perform better.  Just simply, a real sin wave is infinite.

 

Now, to answer your question:  do you need a DAC that is capable of processing DSD to enjoy DSD ? Yes, and no

 

1/ Not necessarily, you can draw up and design a simple circuitry to take in DSD over USB or whatever going into I2S to a processor and to a low/high pass filter and become music

 

2/ However, the new generation of DAC chips are all ready for processing DSD natively as in a single package that does all the #1 needs, with only requirements of Low/high pass filters.

 

So, your answer is that, yes....you will need a DAC with the Chip that is capable of handling Native DSD, or you can find a DAC that is customized and able to handle DSD, such as T+A.  Otherwise, you can engineer it your own 

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I'd be surprised if you can find a DAC that outperforms or even matches the Korg DS-DAC-10 at the price. Just read the Amazon reviews: 

https://www.amazon.com/Korg-DSDAC100-Channel-Portable-Playback/dp/B00GGHHG8A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1544149480&sr=8-2&keywords=korg+ds-dac-10

 

Up to 192/24 and native 2X DSD conversion too. Don't stress about being tied to the Audiogate software, it works with most others as well (foobar2000, Kazoo, etc.).

 

The freebie headphone amp is no joke either. It drives my Grado SR 60 and Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones beautifully.

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On 11/26/2018 at 10:18 PM, guilherme.j said:

 

I think it was a MyTek Brooklyn Dac.  My budget would be around 350$

 

 

 

I would suggest getting something that measures well. Here is a site that shows measurements of audio great, including DACs:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/master-index-for-audio-hardware-reviews.2079/

 

If you don’t mind gear from China, the Topping D50 received very good marks:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-topping-d50-dac.2403/

 

It does DSD, and was selling on MassDrop for $199:

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/topping-d50-dac

 

Most audio chips in regular PC computers do not support native DSD. So the software converts your DSD file into PCM and then plays it on your PC.

 

The signal from your DAC must be fed into an amplifier, then to your speakers. 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, 4est said:

I am a fan of DSD, but it is not the end all, be all. PCM sounds wonderful too. FWIW, native DSD vs DoP is merely a USB transfer method, and not applicable if you are using the analog computer out.

 

PCM defintely sounds wonderful if you have a good system catering toward it.  But I don’t think this is the op question 

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17 hours ago, Jud said:

There are software players available that will allow you to convert PCM to DSD before sending it to the DAC.  This allows you to use higher DSD resolutions than purchasing SACDs or most downloads, DSD256 on MAC or DSD512 on Windows or Linux (SACDs are DSD64; most downloads are DSD64 or DSD128, with a few available at DSD256).  The advantage of DSD256 or DSD512 is lower noise levels than DSD64 or DSD128.

Does DSD256 or 512 really have lower noise in practice when your CPU will be under 4-8 times more load making the conversion?

based on experience with HQ player the higher DSD rates sounded worse to me, possibly better resolution but harsher, unnatural... its been a while and could have been related to the DAC (topping D50)

With offline conversion I could see the benefits, that is really impractical though.

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14 hours ago, numlog said:

Does DSD256 or 512 really have lower noise in practice when your CPU will be under 4-8 times more load making the conversion?

based on experience with HQ player the higher DSD rates sounded worse to me, possibly better resolution but harsher, unnatural... its been a while and could have been related to the DAC (topping D50)

With offline conversion I could see the benefits, that is really impractical though.

 

There are actual measurements showing lower noise, yes.

 

There are very inexpensive mini-computers that can be used to receive streamed audio from either Audirvana+ or HQPlayer, in which case you wouldn't have to worry at all about noise from the computer doing the conversion to DSD256 or 512.  I'm supposing the OP wouldn't want to add the cost of one of those to his budget, though.

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7 hours ago, Jud said:

 

There are actual measurements showing lower noise, yes.

 

There are very inexpensive mini-computers that can be used to receive streamed audio from either Audirvana+ or HQPlayer, in which case you wouldn't have to worry at all about noise from the computer doing the conversion to DSD256 or 512.  I'm supposing the OP wouldn't want to add the cost of one of those to his budget, though.

could you link them to see what kind of noise were dealing with?

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On 12/7/2018 at 9:53 PM, Jud said:

It will play either native DSD with Windows or Linux, or DoP with MacOS.

 

Jud,

do you have the restriction of DoP via USB output only with MacOS or via Audirvana streaming to devices like Microrendu as well?

Thanks

 

Matt

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8 hours ago, matthias said:

 

Jud,

do you have the restriction of DoP via USB output only with MacOS or via Audirvana streaming to devices like Microrendu as well?

Thanks

 

Matt

 

It's only MacOS (and not just A+, it will be true for any player and DAC unless there is a driver for the DAC that will allow it to do native DSD with MacOS).  DSD512 with A+ on Windows and microRendu.

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