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What am I doing to my DSD audio stream?


Cantilope
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What am I doing to my DSD audio stream?

 

Music is in the DSD format located on a windows based PC.  I use Foobar2000 with a plug in for DSD.  Using UnPn I am currently using a Raspberry Pi running XBMC to either capture stream or I can pick them from the menu and play them on the Pi through the network.  The Pi is hooked via Ethernet through a hub, to the PC.  The Raspberry PI is hooked to a TV via HDMI with the audio pass-through selected and I have an optical cable running to my Sunfire Processor.

 

I am interested in a Schiit Loki that is a dedicated DSD DAC.  Can you explain to me what the difference would be in using this unit as opposed to the circuitous route that the audio takes now?  I am pretty sure Foobar is the DAC in my equation, but it is still carried over the optical line.  FWIW, my sunfire and my rotel will only take sampling rates up to 96 kHz.

 

There are a lot of settings within Foobar and the DSD plugin, I am not sure I have those set up correctly, but I think foobar is outputting a 24/48 signal which means it might be down sampling them.  I believe I may have gone through a tutorial in setting that up and that was the recommended output for my scenario, but I know not if that is sound advice…

 

Would there be any benefit to me to going to a DSD DAC?  I can say that from my experience these DSDs either play or they don’t, and they work in this scenario.  I am just not sure if I am hurting the signal and should get a Schiit or be happy I have DSD without an outboard DAC.

 

I might be incorrect, but I believe the Burr Brown DACs in my processor are actually pretty good, and that Foobar itself is a pretty good DAC.  I am not sure I need to upgrade those, but I will take any advice or criticism.

 

FWIW, I am not necessarily a believer in benefits of the 24/196.  But I do know these DSDs sound fantastic even if it is down sampled 24/48, but then again maybe they could even be better.

 

Thanks for your time.

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it sounds like foobar is downsampling the DSD files to PCM ..so you're not really getting any benefit from the DSD files. You want to go from DSD player > native DSD DAC > Pre/amp

 

Even with this, IMHO the SQ will not drastically change.  If I am wrong, please elaborate.

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it sounds like foobar is downsampling the DSD files to PCM ..so you're not really getting any benefit from the DSD files. You want to go from DSD player > native DSD DAC > Pre/amp

 

Even with this, IMHO the SQ will not drastically change.  If I am wrong, please elaborate.

 

This was my thinking too...  Not sure its worth the cash and the work to add this into the mix.  Sounds like I should keep the cash and just go buy some more music instead.  Thank you, Thaddeus and Derrickdj1.

Edited by Cantilope
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Even the pros don't seem to agree on this stuff!  I'd like to hear a conversation between John Stronczer of Bel Canto ("No such thing as pure DSD playback") and Paul McGowan of PS Audio (DSD proponent).  

 

Bel Canto's statements on DSD: http://www.belcantodesign.com/pdfs/Optimal_DSD_Playback.pdf

 

Paul of PS Audio's comments on converting everything to DSD prior to output: http://www.psaudio.com/pauls-posts/chocolate-or-vanilla/

 

I don't claim to have a deep understanding of digital playback but it seems some of the confusion comes from whether it was originally recorded DSD or PCM vs. discussion about playback.  

 

I haven't done a whole lot of testing myself yet but I have yet to hear any improvement at a resolution higher than 24bit 96khz.  I down converted some 24bit 192khz files (from HDtracks) using Dbpoweramp so I could use my garage DAC that was limited to 24/96khz.  Checking them out on the same main system I simply could not hear a difference between the two versions.  My listening was not a long session or especially critical so I should probably repeat the test and pay more attention but if I could not hear a difference in the time I spent then I am talking about a really SMALL difference and I should be spending more time on fixing my room more. I have heard incredible music from good recordings from 16bit/44.1khz flac files created from CD's.  It has WAY more to do with the recording and the setup in the room than it has to do with the resolution of your playback.  This will continue to true even if I later find that I can hear a difference between DSD and lower resolutions.  

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I've played several DSD files through foobar 2000 and it does use PCM out, but sounds great to me.  Since you're using optical out, you may want to consider using HDMI for more bandwidth so that you can enjoy DSD multi-channel files too (via multi-channel PCM at 96khz or 192khz).

 

If you want a good USB DAC, some of the Oppo players such as the 105D can accept DSD directly (via USB) but only for stereo.  However, if you're going to buy the Oppo why not just let it play the DSD/DSF files directly over the network...I believe then you could enjoy multi-channel DSF files too...

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Loki is an add on it is not a dac, copied and pasted direct from schiit, be sure to figure in the cost of a dac and loki, (unless of course you already have a dac  :D )

 

Now, you can add DSD to any DAC for only $149. Yes. You read that right: pure DSD playback capability. $149. Meet Loki. Loki is a complete DSD DAC and switching system. Just connect the output of your current DAC to Loki, connect Loki via USB to your computer, and you’ve added DSD to your system.

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Even the pros don't seem to agree on this stuff!  I'd like to hear a conversation between John Stronczer of Bel Canto ("No such thing as pure DSD playback") and Paul McGowan of PS Audio (DSD proponent).  

 

Bel Canto's statements on DSD: http://www.belcantodesign.com/pdfs/Optimal_DSD_Playback.pdf

 

Paul of PS Audio's comments on converting everything to DSD prior to output: http://www.psaudio.com/pauls-posts/chocolate-or-vanilla/

 

I don't claim to have a deep understanding of digital playback but it seems some of the confusion comes from whether it was originally recorded DSD or PCM vs. discussion about playback.  

 

I haven't done a whole lot of testing myself yet but I have yet to hear any improvement at a resolution higher than 24bit 96khz.  I down converted some 24bit 192khz files (from HDtracks) using Dbpoweramp so I could use my garage DAC that was limited to 24/96khz.  Checking them out on the same main system I simply could not hear a difference between the two versions.  My listening was not a long session or especially critical so I should probably repeat the test and pay more attention but if I could not hear a difference in the time I spent then I am talking about a really SMALL difference and I should be spending more time on fixing my room more. I have heard incredible music from good recordings from 16bit/44.1khz flac files created from CD's.  It has WAY more to do with the recording and the setup in the room than it has to do with the resolution of your playback.  This will continue to true even if I later find that I can hear a difference between DSD and lower resolutions.  

 

I still purchase CDs (used if I can get them) for my typical music purchase and then rip them lossless.  I will continue to do this as long as they sell the CD (even though they just go in a box).  I would not purchase DSD, they don't sound that much better to me over my lossless CD collection.  I already have a 4500 song DSD collection that was taken off SACD (about 750 gig) using a special playstion.  Just looking for the best way to play them. 

 

I've played several DSD files through foobar 2000 and it does use PCM out, but sounds great to me.  Since you're using optical out, you may want to consider using HDMI for more bandwidth so that you can enjoy DSD multi-channel files too (via multi-channel PCM at 96khz or 192khz).

 

If you want a good USB DAC, some of the Oppo players such as the 105D can accept DSD directly (via USB) but only for stereo.  However, if you're going to buy the Oppo why not just let it play the DSD/DSF files directly over the network...I believe then you could enjoy multi-channel DSF files too...

 

I have not gotten the mutichannel thing figured out, I'd love to get that working.  I'll have to experiment.  I unfortinatly can't go HDMI, none of my audio gear has HDMI, it's a bit long in the tooth.

 

Loki is an add on it is not a dac, copied and pasted direct from schiit, be sure to figure in the cost of a dac and loki, (unless of course you already have a dac  :D )

 

Now, you can add DSD to any DAC for only $149. Yes. You read that right: pure DSD playback capability. $149. Meet Loki. Loki is a complete DSD DAC and switching system. Just connect the output of your current DAC to Loki, connect Loki via USB to your computer, and you’ve added DSD to your system.

 

I was under the impression this was a standalone unit that it could be added to a DAC but that it would still do it's thing.  I figured 2 coax cables and a USB cable and I would be all set.  I do not have an outboard DAC, I use my pre/pro... That might seal the deal here... I am happy with the rest of my front end and do not want/need to add a DAC.  I have other places like room treatment, that I could more out of.

 

Thanks for your comments, they really helped save some cash.  Not a typical situation when I come here...

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I won't offer suggestions as the DSD playback situation is rather a mess.  I'll just say that both in theory and in my own experience there is no PCM substitute for DSD.  They are sonically indistinguishable at their bests, but PCM has a lot of problems in downsampling that DSD doesn't.  Any PCM transcode from a DSD will sound as good as that PCM level is possible.  The reverse is not true. 

 

My experience is with pure DSD to analog and I've yet to find any PC player or card that handles DSD without a bunch of unnecessary this and that.  I am still looking and would simply finalize on DSD as my standard format if I could find what I need at prices less than those of a Korg, which still provides only 2 channels.  

 

Dave

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The Oppo 105D would let you play multi-channel DSD files via a USB stick/hard drive/network, and output via 2 or 7.1 analog outs.

 

I tried the Oppo briefly and really liked it.  As a stand alone preamp, the sound was incredible too (as are the specs).

 

The only reasons I didn't keep it was:

 

I have all of my movies on my PC so I don't have to get up to put a disc in.  The Darbee video looked awesome though.  I was very impressed with how it made blurays look on my system and want to add a Darbee add-on controller now.

 

To really use the 105D's preamp and DAC features meant bypassing Audyssey room correction, and this was the real deal killer for me.

 

Cost.  The darn thing is expensive, but a great deal if you want a preamp + disc player + DAC.

 

I have not gotten the mutichannel thing figured out, I'd love to get that working.  I'll have to experiment.  I unfortinatly can't go HDMI, none of my audio gear has HDMI, it's a bit long in the tooth.

 

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The Oppo 105D would let you play multi-channel DSD files via a USB stick/hard drive/network, and output via 2 or 7.1 analog outs.

 

I tried the Oppo briefly and really liked it.  As a stand alone preamp, the sound was incredible too (as are the specs).

 

The only reasons I didn't keep it was:

 

I have all of my movies on my PC so I don't have to get up to put a disc in.  The Darbee video looked awesome though.  I was very impressed with how it made blurays look on my system and want to add a Darbee add-on controller now.

 

To really use the 105D's preamp and DAC features meant bypassing Audyssey room correction, and this was the real deal killer for me.

 

Cost.  The darn thing is expensive, but a great deal if you want a preamp + disc player + DAC.

 

Probably time to upgrade the pre/pro get HDMI and what do you guys call it "room correction" I have none of that here.  However, that is not saving me money.  I have had the Oppo in my amazon cart for about 2 years, but it has yet to drop even $1 in price.  I too am disk free and same story here have a PS3 for the occasional redbox but not worth getting a additional player for but...

 

One more comment about the DSD, I just played Beck's Sea Change, and there is nothing that has ever sounded so good on my system.  The best sounding stuff I have is in the DSD collection.  Cafe Blue by Patricia Barber is another outstanding DSD albumn and I am not into jazz.  Nardis is Outstanding. I said it twice its so good. 

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I think you would definetely notice a more pure, less granulated, sound by going with a more direct link/set up.

One issue with optical is it introduces jitter and is slightly less error free than coax is. Anytime you are adding elements and additional paths to the equation you are possibly introducing jitter, error and such.

Manufacturers are spending good money to minimize and attempt to eliminate such elements by going to femto timing, multiple dac chips to individual channels (my wyred has eight chips for 2 channel), galvanic isolation, and by adding pre amp functionality to the dac cicuit.

We're talking about the top hand full of percentages in improvement in sound quality though as it pertains to critical listening... a very small but none the less noticable improvement.

Edited by Schu
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For my setup and lack of room treatments, an Audyssey Pro kit and license had a much better improvement in sound than what the Oppo 105d provided.

 

However, if you're disk free too and end up owning the Oppo, I would definitely check out this guy on ebay.  This is the firmware I wanted to try when I auditioned the 105d, but it did not yet support iso files and cinavia removal (it does now, but I haven't personally tested it).  I have no affiliation with the ebay guy (and don't speak mandarin), so buy at your own risk :)

 

PS: if you want to try the Oppo and not pay shipping, give Crutchfield a try instead of amazon.  They have a no risk 60 day return policy.  I normally don't buy anything from them due to price, but the Oppo price doesn't change much.  I tried the Oppo 105d out for a while and had no problem returning it.  The player has amazing build quality, and was very impressive, but bypassing room correction didn't make sense for me.

 

Probably time to upgrade the pre/pro get HDMI and what do you guys call it "room correction" I have none of that here.  However, that is not saving me money.  I have had the Oppo in my amazon cart for about 2 years, but it has yet to drop even $1 in price.  I too am disk free and same story here have a PS3 for the occasional redbox but not worth getting a additional player for but...

 

One more comment about the DSD, I just played Beck's Sea Change, and there is nothing that has ever sounded so good on my system.  The best sounding stuff I have is in the DSD collection.  Cafe Blue by Patricia Barber is another outstanding DSD albumn and I am not into jazz.  Nardis is Outstanding. I said it twice its so good. 

 

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  • 1 month later...

 

For my setup and lack of room treatments, an Audyssey Pro kit and license had a much better improvement in sound than what the Oppo 105d provided.

 

 

etc6849 - can you go into some detail about this and what is does?  Is this room correction that I can add to an older pre-amp that lacks this technology?  I'd love keep my old pre-amp if I can add Audyssey to it.  I'll do some reading on the site, but I know very little about audyssey.  This is great advice, thank you.

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  • 2 months later...

Yesterday I received a Schitt Loki, and after getting it hooked up I learned a few things about foobar and what it is I am doing to my streams (which you should never cross).

 

The information given here was correct, I was in fact converting the DSD stream to PCM using a component inside Foobar.  The component “DSDIFF Decoder 1.4” actually worked very well and allowed me to select the PCM bitrate it was converted to.  I used 24/96 as that is what my internal DAC in the Rotel and Sunfire take.

 

So obviously with the new Loki I no longer needed or wanted to convert to PCM and installed the SACD Decoder plugin for Foobar.  I struggled for a while before I realized I had to delete the other component to make it work.  Foobar kept defaulting to the old component and would not output DSD.  The other thing to note DSD and the Loki are not plug and play.  I have been using Foobar for at least 2 years and feel pretty good about how it works, but I still spent a few hours getting this up and running.  Once I got this going I was also able to set up the PCM to DSD conversion allowing me to play all my music on the Loki.  I know this is the exact opposite of what I had before, but I’ll get to why...

 

I recently entered into the analog world with a McIntosh Pre/amp C32/MC2205.  I have been completely digital most of my adult life.  So this is new territory for me.  I needed a DAC to play analog to the C32, my Raspberry pi analog didn’t sound good, and the Airport express didn’t either.  So I spent about 3 weeks going back and forth between buying a Bitfrost and a Loki.  Knowing that I would have better PCM playback through the Bitfrost but not the best DSD playback.  I figured the Loki was cheaper and in the end may provide a better experience with the DSD.  Plus it seems easier to get unconverted PCM than unconverted DSD from other devices.  So Loki it is…

 

Now for my impressions, I have a decent DSD collection ripped to my PC.  It’s about 150 SACDs.  I didn’t get the Loki up and running and hooked up the McIntosh till about 9 last night and only got to hear about 5 songs.  I listened to 3 Doors Down – When I am gone and Changes, Michael Jackson's – Beat it, and Billie Jean, and Patricia Barbers – Nardis.  I won’t say I was blown away as I have heard these a 100 times using the PCM to DSD conversions, and I think that is about 90% of what DSD is, but that last 10% came through loud and clear last night.  I have not heard anything sound as good as it did last night.  DSD is clearly above PCM.  What I heard to try and put it into words is when the hi-hats and cymbals crash on Nardis, not only do they sound like a cymbal, but you can hear the ringing of the cymbal as they float on the stem.  The sound decay changes ever so slightly as the cymbals rock on the stem after being struck, a bit louder a bit quieter as they oscillate until they come to rest.  I absolutely could hear this.  It was amazing, and is not something I have heard before.  There were many other details like this, but they are much harder to put into words.

 

I still want to do some listening to the PCM converted to DSD, although due to my really cheap sources, I think the Loki is much quieter than the analog section in both the Raspberry Pi and the Airport.  Pretty sure I have made a step up in that regard, even with the conversion.  I may still look at a Bitfrost with the uber analog upgrade to better the PCM source, but for now, I think I am one happy Schiit owner.

 

Equipment:  Windows PC (Foobar2000), Schiit Loki via USB, McIntosh C32, McIntosh MC2205, Crown XLS1000 subwoofer amp, 24” BFM Tuba Home Theater Subwoofer.  Monster Interlink 400 MKII interconnects, Kimber Cable Speaker Wire to the Klipsch Belles using a Cornscalla-wall network.

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There's a professional standalone Audyssey kit you could add, but it's cheaper to pick up a used preamp.  The Marantz AV8801 is dirt cheap now (below half price) on ebay since it doesn't have HDMI 2.0 and Dolby Atmos.

 

Then you can purchase the Audyssey pro kit and license if you want.  Only preamps and AVRs that are "Audyssey pro compatible" work with the pro kit.  Otherwise, you have to use the small microphone and are restricted on what you can do with Audyssey.

 

Maybe start reading here:  http://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-receivers-amps-processors/1346723-audyssey-pro-installer-kit-thread-faq-post-1-a.html

 

 

 

For my setup and lack of room treatments, an Audyssey Pro kit and license had a much better improvement in sound than what the Oppo 105d provided.

 

 

etc6849 - can you go into some detail about this and what is does?  Is this room correction that I can add to an older pre-amp that lacks this technology?  I'd love keep my old pre-amp if I can add Audyssey to it.  I'll do some reading on the site, but I know very little about audyssey.  This is great advice, thank you.

 

Edited by etc6849
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Everybody.

I joined the forum today and I am happy to read the discussions in the forum.

As several of the members have mentioned about DSD files and the possible merits of this formation, I would like to raise an issue on playing DSD files in a modest system.

I am using a raspberry pi 'B' with the wilson audio card as the upstream end of my audio system comprising an Audio Research Preamplifier, Audio Research Tube Power amplifier and Gallo speakers as the downstream end.

It being the Easter season, I managed to download the JS Bach Easter Orotario DSD file from a blogger and tried to play this through the raspberry pi.

Although the system is able to play the music, however there is staggering in the audio output, presumably due to buffering in raspberry/wilson/openelec combination. However this is only my guess.

I would greatly appreciate any views and advice of members who may have faced a similar situation.

Thank you.

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