DSD DACS: Why SUBLIME with DSD recordigs but MEDIOCRE with PCM; Too Smooth & No Jump?

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
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#1
I am not a format warrior. I like it all. DSD recordings by Chad Dawson are amazing, but most are mediocre. Yet playing PCM recordings on DSD Dacs, such as Playback and Directsream, doesn't sound quite right when compared to top PCM dacs. The music sounds too smoothed over, like a cheap vinyl setup and lacks dynamics and jump factor.

Anyone know why that is or if there is a DSD Dac that have overcome these hurdles?
 

wisnon

Active Member
Dec 12, 2011
2,488
6
38
#2
All depends on the sigma-delta modulation engine. Hence HQ Player with the software approach assumes you use a powerful PC and crunches the math properly. When you use a hardware approach like with PBD and DStream, you use limited computing power compared to a modern i7 platform, and so you get an inferior result. Much better to use an outboard modulator compared to the relatively feeble FPGAs those Dacs use.

Not all DSD Dacs are made the same either. The Lampi DSD only plays back a DSD signal and uses no Dac chip, just an elaborate filtration scheme. Furthermore, its PCM engine is nearly totally separate from the DSD engine, so you have 2 Dacs in one box with the respective pathways optimised for the format.

In summary, for DSD, you have the FPGA guys like the PBD/EMM/DSTREAM converting all input to DSD often via multibit DSD which has similarities to PCM, you have the Chords converting DSD input to high rate PCM, you have the Chip Dacs doing DSD - some converting to PCM, some doing DSP/Multi-bit and some doing DSD low filter bypass, and finally you have the elaborate filter box approach for "pure DSD' with no extra processing (so called chip less).
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,569
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Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#3
All depends on the sigma-delta modulation engine. Hence HQ Player with the software approach assumes you use a powerful PC and crunches the math properly. When you use a hardware approach like with PBD and DStream, you use limited computing power compared to a modern i7 platform, and so you get an inferior result. Much better to use an outboard modulator compared to the relatively feeble FPGAs those Dacs use.

Not all DSD Dacs are made the same either. The Lampi DSD only plays back a DSD signal and uses no Dac chip, just an elaborate filtration scheme. Furthermore, its PCM engine is nearly totally separate from the DSD engine, so you have 2 Dacs in one box with the respective pathways optimised for the format.

In summary, for DSD, you have the FPGA guys like the PBD/EMM/DSTREAM converting all input to DSD often via multibit DSD which has similarities to PCM, you have the Chords converting DSD input to high rate PCM, you have the Chip Dacs doing DSD - some converting to PCM, some doing DSP/Multi-bit and some doing DSD low filter bypass, and finally you have the elaborate filter box approach for "pure DSD' with no extra processing (so called chip less).

+1.... great answer!
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
8,857
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London
#4
I am not a format warrior. I like it all. DSD recordings by Chad Dawson are amazing, but most are mediocre. Yet playing PCM recordings on DSD Dacs, such as Playback and Directsream, doesn't sound quite right when compared to top PCM dacs. The music sounds too smoothed over, like a cheap vinyl setup and lacks dynamics and jump factor.

Anyone know why that is or if there is a DSD Dac that have overcome these hurdles?
Just get the Lampi B7
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
10,994
8
38
Manila, Philippines
#5
My Da Vinci Dual uses separate PCM and DSD. My CH C1 AFAIK does not. That said, I do not have many of the same titles on both HR-PCM and DSD just RB and others. As such I haven't made any serious comparisons. Both play DSD and PCM satisfactorily for me. Do I have a general preference? Yes and it would be DSD in general if I have it. If I don't I'll play what I have happily in the hopes that I can secure a DSD sometime in the future.

LH has just announced an upgrade. I might send my Dual in for it but have to decide on the Femto clock options first.
 

Joe Whip

New Member
Feb 8, 2014
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Wayne, PA
#6
I know of a couple designers like Mike Moffat and the guys at DaVinci believe that having the same DAC share circuitry for both PCM and DSD compromises both. So perhaps a two box solution or completely separate circuitry in the same box is the way to go as is the case with the DaVinci. Perhaps that would solve the issue noted by the OP.
 

wisnon

Active Member
Dec 12, 2011
2,488
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#8
I know of a couple designers like Mike Moffat and the guys at DaVinci believe that having the same DAC share circuitry for both PCM and DSD compromises both. So perhaps a two box solution or completely separate circuitry in the same box is the way to go as is the case with the DaVinci. Perhaps that would solve the issue noted by the OP.
Joe, when you hear the Lam[pi B7 playing DSD, it will hit you like a tone of bricks. DSD done right.
 

marslo

Member Sponsor
May 2, 2014
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#9
Joe, when you hear the Lam[pi B7 playing DSD, it will hit you like a tone of bricks. DSD done right.
Agreed but when I want a real slam then I switch to pcm and La Fontaine, try "Keep the Faith" of Michael Jackson and tell me if your can sit still:). Pcm in Big 7 does no have this punch imho.
 
Last edited:

marslo

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May 2, 2014
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#11
Could be , for time being I use lampi big 7 mainly as brilliant dsd dac.
 

Orb

New Member
Sep 8, 2010
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#13
I know of a couple designers like Mike Moffat and the guys at DaVinci believe that having the same DAC share circuitry for both PCM and DSD compromises both. So perhaps a two box solution or completely separate circuitry in the same box is the way to go as is the case with the DaVinci. Perhaps that would solve the issue noted by the OP.
That was also one reason T+A designed separate circuity for PCM and DSD along with separating the associated internal function-process, for their reference product.
Cheers
Orb
 

Joe Whip

New Member
Feb 8, 2014
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#14
The only way to go.I am keeping my eye out for an "affordable" DAC that does DSD only to go with my PCM DAC. Hopefully they will become more available. I want one that does double DSD. Don't see the point in anything higher.
 

wisnon

Active Member
Dec 12, 2011
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#15
The only way to go.I am keeping my eye out for an "affordable" DAC that does DSD only to go with my PCM DAC. Hopefully they will become more available. I want one that does double DSD. Don't see the point in anything higher.
Joe, that is not the BIG key to ToTL DSD only sound in my opinion. Its the way the DSD signal is handled that is premium. Otherwise go get a Schiit Loki for $149-

This is why I hate how they use the terms "native" and "raw" for DSD. It would be better if they were reversed. Nartive should mean NO conversion of the DSD signal at all. Raw should mean not DoP.
 

wisnon

Active Member
Dec 12, 2011
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#16
Agreed but when I want a real slam then I switch to pcm and La Fontaine, try "Keep the Faith" of Michael Jackson and tell me if your can sit still:). Pcm in Big 7 does no have this punch imho.
Well the British guy with the GG demo was agreeing with you until the unit broke in after 2 weeks and then said the GG beat the LaFontaine on PCM! Of course the GG comes standard with WE replica 101ds…worth a shot Marslo.
 

marslo

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May 2, 2014
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#17
Well the British guy with the GG demo was agreeing with you until the unit broke in after 2 weeks and then said the GG beat the LaFontaine on PCM! Of course the GG comes standard with WE replica 101ds…worth a shot Marslo.
I ordered my big 7 with those 101 ds WE replicas and duelund caps transfered from my previous dsd only dac so fully burned in. I rolled also the rectifier and now that is NOS mullard GZ34. I am very happy with dsd sound but still consider pcm from La Fontaine to be better than pcm from lampi. I am aware of the opinion of Blue58 , maybe GG is a different animal or we have a bit different preferences.
Only a bit because still a lot in common: duo omega, SET amp, la fontaine and lampi. He is born in 58 , me - in 59.
Very curious to meet him one day:)
 

Joe Whip

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Feb 8, 2014
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#18
Joe, that is not the BIG key to ToTL DSD only sound in my opinion. Its the way the DSD signal is handled that is premium. Otherwise go get a Schiit Loki for $149-

This is why I hate how they use the terms "native" and "raw" for DSD. It would be better if they were reversed. Nartive should mean NO conversion of the DSD signal at all. Raw should mean not DoP.

The Loki only does single DSD. It is otherwise a fine little piece. I am not going to spend big bucks on a DSD DAC sorry. While there are more and more DSD titles coming, as per the nativedsd website, too many are classical. As much as I LOVE classical music, with Mozart being my fav, they are all touching on the same territory for my taste. There is much more new stuff and jazz coming out in PCM. It is therefore there where I will spend the bigger bucks. Just my taste. Your mileage of course may vary.
 

asiufy

Member Sponsor
Jul 8, 2011
2,700
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San Diego, CA
almaaudio.com
#20
The Loki only does single DSD. It is otherwise a fine little piece. I am not going to spend big bucks on a DSD DAC sorry. While there are more and more DSD titles coming, as per the nativedsd website, too many are classical. As much as I LOVE classical music, with Mozart being my fav, they are all touching on the same territory for my taste. There is much more new stuff and jazz coming out in PCM. It is therefore there where I will spend the bigger bucks. Just my taste. Your mileage of course may vary.
Joe, how affordable are you thinking?
The iFi Micro iDSD certainly does DSD512 and PCM 768, and it's only $500.
Also, if your current (PCM) DAC doesn't have an USB port, the iFi can act as a USB-SDPIF bridge as well.


alex
 

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