DSD playback options

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
I've launched this thread to direct DSD playback options and software configuration discussion out of the SACD ripping thread, where it is slightly off-topic.

In this thread I'd like to invite comments, impressions, and questions on the various means of playing back DSD files, either software or hardware related.

In my case I primarily use JRiver, but I also have an older copy of Audirvana (v1.5) that I'll probably upgrade soon, as well as the iTunes plug-in BitPerfect+DSD Master as my software players.

On the DSD compatible DAC side of things, I have more than I care to admit, though none of my DSD capable DACs reside in the "expensive" category.
 
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MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
All shows perfectly as DSD64 being .dff files. When they play through Audirvana they indicated 24/88.2khz Stereo
Check your Audirvana settings, if your DAC is indeed DSD capable then A+ should not be transcoding to 24/88.2 PCM.

I just downloaded the trial version of A+ and used the following configuration with the Oppo HA-2 as the connected DAC:

Audirvana+.png
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Check your Audirvana settings, if your DAC is indeed DSD capable then A+ should not be transcoding to 24/88.2 PCM.

I just downloaded the trial version of A+ and used the following configuration with the Oppo HA-2 as the connected DAC:

View attachment 8582
We will have to compare notes on 'Yes' someday. :)

I'm pretty boring when it comes to this stuff. I play SACDs on my OPPO BDP93.

If I ever get a "RoundTUIT", I have the wonderful Concero HD I got from @billfort being driven currently by the MacBook via two AQ Jitterbugs. That should work pretty good with ROON. :)

Still don't have the patience or inclination to rip stuff to a hard drive. ;)
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
We will have to compare notes on 'Yes' someday. :)

I'm pretty boring when it comes to this stuff. I play SACDs on my OPPO BDP93.

If I ever get a "RoundTUIT", I have the wonderful Concero HD I got from @billfort being driven currently by the MacBook via two AQ Jitterbugs. That should work pretty good with ROON. :)

Still don't have the patience or inclination to rip stuff to a hard drive. ;)
YES lets compare notes, I have the CDs, SACDs, and the Steven Wilson remixed DVD-Audios which might just be the most interesting of them all.

Well if you have to be boring then a BDP-93 isn't a bad way to go, that's a very nice sounding machine. ;)

That said, the Concero HD is a fine sounding unit and will certainly pair nicely with Roon, I hope that you do get around to it.

The rips do take time and inclination on the upfront side of things, but there is significant payoff on the backend when you no longer need to hunt down and load a disc to play it, just a quick lazy click or touch and you have instant gratification!
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
YES lets compare notes, I have the CDs, SACDs, and the Steven Wilson remixed DVD-Audios which might just be the most interesting of them all.

Well if you have to be boring then a BDP-93 isn't a bad way to go, that's a very nice sounding machine. ;)

That said, the Concero HD is a fine sounding unit and will certainly pair nicely with Roon, I hope you do get around to it.

The rips do take time and inclination on the upfront side of things, but there is significant payoff on the backend when you no longer need to hunt down and load a disc to play it, just a quick lazy click or touch and you have instant gratification!
Ahem..... ;)

My Steven Wilson remixes are on vinyl. ;)

So....first time I saw Yes was 1970 at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium when they were touring 'The Yes Album'. This was prior to Rick Wakeman - Tony Kaye was on keyboards.

Did I mention that Yes was the warm-up band that night - Jethro Tull headlined.

IIRC, tickets were ~8th row. :)

Tull was great but Yes was PHENOMENAL. Saw every Yes tour after that up to and including 'Going for the One'. :)

Sorry to sidetrack the thread.....
 
Curious as to how everyone is playing multi channel dff files? Or SACD? I store my DSF and DFF files on my PC and play via network to my Yamaha RX-A3070. Unfortunately it only decodes 2 channel DSD.
 
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@fslec
My favoured way of feeding DSD-signals to my audio receiver (an old mid range Onkyo, but capable of accepting raw DSD input signals via HDMI) is either through SACD-Rs (full rips) via my Pioneer Blu-ray player or as .dsf files on USB memory stick connected to my Panasonic UltraHD Blu-ray player.

If the PC's 5.1 setup is used, PCM conversion is unavoidable and the playback candidates are:

Windows: foobar2000 (with SACD plugin)
Linux: DeaDBeeF, Kodi (with SACD ISO addon)
macOS: DeaDBeeF, Pine Player

My personal winners in the mobile categories are:

Raspberry Pi: DeaDBeeF (Raspbian), Kodi (LibreELEC)
Android: several SW apps for stereo (smartphone, tablet), for multichannel only Kodi makes it into the finals (set-top box)

@all
For those of you, who try to avoid signal conversions and use Android not just on their phones, please consider joining this petition, convincing Google to add a DSD passthrough mode for Android devices with a HDMI output.
 
Olson, I am now very happy that I have my DSF 2 ch Stereo rips on an SSD drive inside my Popcorn PCH A-500 PRO, which has the Sabre ESS SABRE32 audio DAC ES9018K2M , a very fine sounding DAC, which when I compared with the DirectStream in my local HiFi shop was good enough for me to stay with the PCH, I no longer chase perfection in this hobby of ours :-)

PCH A-500 Pro into AVI Active Speakers
https://www.cloudmedia.com/?product=a-500-pro
https://avihifi.com/products.html

AVI are a very small British speaker company, the designer is very competent, Mr Martin Grindrod

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/avi-dm10-active-standmount-loudspeaker-and-subwoofer/

My SACD's (now on SSD drives) has never sounded better, thank you Mikey (using Sony S5100 that I bought cheap for £20 in the UK), what a thrill to rip 100 or more SACD's for back up and now stored away in the attic!
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
PCH A-500 Pro into AVI Active Speakers
Very cool little server/DAC in a box, and AVI active monitors, I'd love to hear them.

My SACD's (now on SSD drives) has never sounded better, thank you Mikey (using Sony S5100 that I bought cheap for £20 in the UK), what a thrill to rip 100 or more SACD's for back up and now stored away in the attic!
My pleasure, congrats on the successful rips!
 
Almost all of my DSD audio is from ripped SACD, stored in ISO format. I have three ways I play DSD audio:

1. On the go - I currently use a Sony NW-WM1A portable audio player (with JHAudio IEMs). I've tried other portable players (see below), but I love the sound, UI, solidity, stability, and battery life of the 'WM1A. A key feature for me is the built-in 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced audio jack - I've converted my IEMs to Pentaconn with Moon Audio Dragon cables.

I use the sacd_extract command line to convert SACD ISO's to DSF for playback on the Sony. I originally tried using JRiver to convert from ISO to DSFs but it was an ugly mess. I haven't tried JRiver for this task since 2016, it's possible they've fixed it by now. I just started testing the TraX SACD Extractor from Bytewizard.

2. At my desk - I use JRiver on my desktop PC as a "client" to play from the ISO files stored on my JRiver "server", out to a Fiio Q5 USB DAC with the FiiO AM3B (Pentaconn 4.4mm) amp module and my JHAudio IEMs. I found this is the best solution for both listening to DSD music (great ASIO driver and DSD support) and PC gaming (low latency) with Pentaconn-cabled IEMs.

3. In my "theater" - I use JRiver on my music server, playing direct from ISO files out to an exaSound e38 multi-channel USB DAC. (This is the only "expensive" DAC I own, everything else is less than $500.) The exaSound has 8 channel output via Mini-XLR balanced audio jacks, which goes to two Anthem P5 amps and a 5.2 Paradigm speaker setup. I put theater in quotes because this room was primarily designed for multi-channel SACD listening with movies being the second priority.

Many thanks to Nyal Mellor from Acoustic Frontiers for turning me on to exaSound after years of working to get a great multi-channel SACD playback solution; and for the acoustic optimization of this room.

Other things I've tried:

4. Sony NW-ZX2 portable audio player - worked well for its time. No complaints.

5. Fiio X7 Mark II portable audio player with the AM3B amp module for Pentaconn support - Loved that it could use two MicroSD cards. Hated the UI and the battery life. In theory, this player is ideal because it can play straight from ISO files without conversion to DSF. In reality, it won't play any ISO with DST compression and it was more work to go through all my ISOs and figure out where DST was used or not than it was to just convert everything to DSF.

6. Using the NW-WM1a as a USB DAC at my desk - Works pretty well for DSD. The Sony ASIO driver can be a bit flakey though, and even when it works it has too much latency (about 600ms) for gaming use.

7. Using a SMSL iDEA USB DAC at my desk - Worked great for both DSD and gaming, especially for the $85 cost. But the micro-USB jack on the first one stopped working after a few weeks, and ultimately I really wanted to standardize on Pentaconn balanced audio.

8. Using an iFi iDSD Nano Black Label USB DAC at my desk. Also worked great - with the occasional need to power cycle the DAC to get Windows to recognize it. I would have stuck with this if Fiio hadn't released the Pentaconn option for the Q5.

9. Using an Oppo 105D to playback DSD audio in the theater - also worked great, but I had to convert everything to DSF. I followed a few theories about Oppo playing from .ISO files years ago but never could get it to work.

10. Many pre-exaSound experiments into multi-channel playback that I'd prefer to forget :-)

PS: Another big Yes fan here. Fragile is one of my favorite multi-channel SACD's.
 
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airdronian

Junior Member
In case one doesn't have ripped SACD's for material, you can get a sampler for free at NativeDSD.com which includes about 40 mins of excerpts from various classical, jazz and pop selections. They specialize in DSD and DxD recordings, as well as transfers of analogue recordings direct to DSD from a variety of labels.

Why We Sell Albums in Multiple DSD Bit Rates and DXD | NativeDSD Blog

It does require a registration. They also provide a 15% off coupon for a purchase, which I received after downloading the sampler.
 
Now, here's a thing - probably, not news to the knowledgeable people here.

I had assumed that, in order to play my SACD rips, I'd have to convert them to 24/96 Flac using dbPoweramp. Apparently, not so. It turns out Roon can see and play a DSF file - it does the conversion on the fly from DSD64 to 352.8 kHz PCM and then down samples to 176.4 kHz.

That gives me an interesting dilemma; which should I use 96 kHz Flac or the DSF file? I'll try making a direct comparison of the same track in both forms. Maybe, I won't be able to hear any difference. dbPoweramp say that there is no useful information beyond 96kHz and my ears don't go much further than 10 kHz or so, anyway.
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
This is an interesting topic and probably one that has no single "right" answer, it can depend on a number of variables including:

1) the actual playback software in use (Roon in this case)
2) the DAC in use and whether or not it sounds "better" to any one set of ears at a particular native sample rate
3) whether the DAC does any kind of native non-defeatable hardware based re-sampling

I'm not a Roon user and so I don't know what Roon uses for re-sampling however it is likely something very high quality such as SoX, which is what Audirvana+ uses.

Software based re-sampling and DSD to PCM conversion of a high quality is nearly imperceptible. Conventional wisdom says to re-sample to a perfect even integer of the source sample rate, i.e. the DSD64 sample rate of 2.8 MHz is 64x that of CD's 44.1 kHz, so the even order multiples of 176.4, or 352.8 kHz are logically the best as they are the cleanest math (they leave no remainder).

That said, some DAC designers feel their DAC sounds best at a certain sample rate, in some cases a sample rate that is not an even integer of 44.1kHz. So it is entirely possible that despite the less than clean math that occurs with a source sample rate of 2.8 Mhz re-sampled to say, 96 kHz, or 192 kHz, that can still sound great or even "best" to any given set of ears.

Lastly, those DAC designers that feel so strongly about a particular sample rate sounding best on their unit sometimes employ non-defeatable hardware based sample rate conversion (SRC), such that it does not matter what the source sample rate is nor what the software player sends to the unit, it does the actual D/A conversion at for instance 96 or 192 kHz regardless. That is less in vogue these days, but not unheard of.
 
Thanks, Mike, that's very enlighening. I understand what's going on a little more now.

Just compared for Mark Knopfler's Shangri-la: DSF converted on the fly by Roon to 24 bit 176.4 kHz PCM with Flac converted from DSF by dbPoweramp to 24 bit 96 kHz.

I expected to hear no difference, but the result surprised me. The DSF converted on the fly by Roon wins hands down. At first, I thought it was because the Flac was quieter, but even if I turn up the volume to compensate it still sounds less musical and less alive than the DSF.

Whatever the reason may be, it appears that DSF and avoiding FLAC is the way for me to go.

Edit. I have subsequently learned that, if I use Volume Normalise in DSP Effects/Actions Options of dBpoweramp Music Convertor to add a few dBs, I get a different result. Not only does this match the output volume of the Flac to that of the DSF file, but also I find it hard to discern between them sound quality wise.
 
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