DSD listening impressions

When listening to SACDs I was not really happy with the sound they delivered. To explain this, here's my configuration:
  • Yamaha BD-A1020 Multiplayer, connected to a ...
  • Rotel RC 1570 PreAmp via analog RCA (the only connection accepted for SACD signals)
  • Quad 303 Power Amp (properly revised by myself a few months ago)
  • Tannoy D500 speakers connected via Kimber Cable
  • Finally a GigaByte Brix MiniPC running Daphile Audio Server is connected to the Rotel via USB for convenient access to the music
So I extracted the Standard CD layer from some of my SACDs into FLAC files and placed them on the server. That way I was able to switch back and forth between the SACD layer and the redbook layer coming from Daphile easily when starting both playbacks simultaneously.

The issue was that for all discs tested the SACD layer sounded a bit dull as compared to the 44.1/16 signal from the server. I consider this not acceptable ... 😉

First I changed the RCA cables between Yamaha and Rotel: WireWorld, Oehlbach, and several more. Hardly any audible difference between them. The server delivering plain 44.1/16 PCM was still ahead.

In my opinion, what's the most probable reason for the issue should be the two DACs involved: when listening to SACDs the DAC of the Yamaha comes into play, when listening to the standard CD rips from Daphile the DAC in the Rotel is used.

Now I'll process several SACDs using SACDextractGUI, place the result on the Daphile, and then listen ...

We'll see ... I'll keep you informed!
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
In my opinion, what's the most probable reason for the issue should be the two DACs involved: when listening to SACDs the DAC of the Yamaha comes into play, when listening to the standard CD rips from Daphile the DAC in the Rotel is used.

Yes and I'd add it's not just the DAC chip itself that is different, but the entire analog output stage, and perhaps most critically, a totally different power supply design too.

The job of a disc player's power supply is far tougher than that of most other components, because it has to physically spin the disc at constantly varying speeds, and power the DC servo for the laser. That requires quite a bit of current, the only thing comparable in a MiniPC Daphile server is the fan (if it has one), or a moving parts HDD (if it has one).

All of those things and more will affect sound quality to one degree or another.
 
Yes and I'd add it's not just the DAC chip itself that is different, but the entire analog output stage, and perhaps most critically, a totally different power supply design too.
You're most probably right about this. I will continue my tests over the weekend.
 
Have you done level matching?
Ahh, actually not! Well, I'm performing my first steps in ripping SACDs, being open for any advice! Thanks for this!

Yesterday I started ripping several SACDs directly into dsf files. Noticing then that my Rotel PreAmp isn't capable of handling DSD input I converted these into PCM / FLAC format using a DeaDBeaF player under Linux, the only one I found so far doing this conveniently in batch mode. Only problem: DeaDBeaF wouldn't let me choose a proper sampling rate, it always wrote 352.8 kHz to disc, resulting in output files being much larger than necessary.

I would consider 88k / 24b or 176k / 24b sufficient for standard SACD input, right?

Today I want to try another approach by ripping to ISO first and then converting to PCM / FLAC afterwards. Any ideas for an appropriate software to perform this task under Windows 10 (preferred) or Linux? Doesn't have to be a player, I'm focused on the conversion process.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
My first exposure to SACD was via a DVD/SACD universal player, which I believe converted DSD to PCM. I was underwhelmed, it just sounded like a CD to me. It was a fairly cheap Denon player, lightweight, not much going on as far as power supply or output stage. My next exposure to it was a really nice and stupidly expensive EMM Labs CDSA 2-channel SACD player. So a $200 universal player vs an $11,500 SACD player. It was a nice difference, unsurprisingly. The difference in player was much more of the equation than just switching between formats. I wouldn't say that SACD blew my mind or anything but it's my preferred digital format, and I've liked the few times I dabbled in DSD files through my old BMC dac which handled DSD without converting it to PCM.
 
Ok, here an additional resampler component for foobar can be found. It seems to be a little more flexible. Don't know whether the rest of this evening will be enough to test it. Possibly tomorrow.
 
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