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Multi-channel DSD playback

somy

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Hi guys, in my collection I have a few multi-channel DSD albums, when I play from Audirvana looks like it’s been down sampled to 2 channels.
My question is how to play multi-channel DSD in bit-perfect way (I have 5.1 setup)? Most DACs seem to only support 2 channels. Maybe an AV receiver is needed? But how to bitstream DSD to AV receiver then? Is there any streamer/DAC out there support multi-channel playback? If not common what’s the purpose of multi-channel recording?
 

Kal Rubinson

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Almost too much to answer.
I have a few multi-channel DSD albums, when I play from Audirvana looks like it’s been down sampled to 2 channels.
One can play multichannel files in Audirvana if set up correctly and connected to a suitable endpoint/DAC.
Most DACs seem to only support 2 channels.
There are multichannel DACs.
But how to bitstream DSD to AV receiver then?
Not likely since the HDMI output of PCs cannot handshake with the HDMI input of AVRs.
But how to bitstream DSD to AV receiver then? Is there any streamer/DAC out there support multi-channel playback?
1. DSD is tough. See above. 2. Many but rarely DSD.
Let me suggest that you search around here for this topic which is not unique. Also, take a look at my last MITR column where I offer reflections on these matters. It is not significantly outdated. ;)
https://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round
 
OP
S

somy

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Almost too much to answer.

One can play multichannel files in Audirvana if set up correctly and connected to a suitable endpoint/DAC.

There are multichannel DACs.

Not likely since the HDMI output of PCs cannot handshake with the HDMI input of AVRs.

1. DSD is tough. See above. 2. Many but rarely DSD.
Let me suggest that you search around here for this topic which is not unique. Also, take a look at my last MITR column where I offer reflections on these matters. It is not significantly outdated. ;)
https://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round
Thanks will read through.
I compared the 2ch version vs the 5.1ch (downmix to 2ch) in Audirvana, they do sound different.
Notice wider and deeper stage with 5.1ch.
 

HighImpactAV

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But how to bitstream DSD to AV receiver then?
You can stream DSD to many AV receivers (that support DSD) by using the network and DLNA. I have done it with JRiver Media Center.

I personally decode my 5.1 DSD files to PCM and send directly to my multi-channel DAC. I could also send the PCM over HDMI to my audio processor. I have over $50,000 of gear and pursuing "bit-perfect DSD" doesn't even make my priority list.
 
OP
S

somy

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You can stream DSD to many AV receivers (that support DSD) by using the network and DLNA. I have done it with JRiver Media Center.

I personally decode my 5.1 DSD files to PCM and send directly to my multi-channel DAC. I could also send the PCM over HDMI to my audio processor. I have over $50,000 of gear and pursuing "bit-perfect DSD" doesn't even make my priority list.
Ok, I didn't know you can stream DSD to DLNA renderer, assume it's bit-perfect? Can you elaborate a litter more on your setup? Which software player, DAC and audio processor do you use? Thank you!
 

HighImpactAV

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Any time that volume control is being used by the DAC, then it is no longer bit-perfect. All DSD DAC's that offer volume control are converting to PCM internally. Streaming DSD to DLNA renderer is bit-perfect, but then the receiver still converts to PCM for volume control. I'm not aware of any receiver that doesn't convert DSD to PCM. I tested via DLNA with a Yamaha CX-5100 and RX-A3060.

I have a StormAudio ISP MK2 processor with AVB audio output connected to a MOTU 1248. I use JRiver Media Center as my source and can send directly to the MOTU 1248 via USB or to the StormAudio ISP via HDMI which then sends to the MOTU 1248 via AVB. These outputs are setup as two separate zones in JRiver.
 

horiken

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Hello,
I have been wondering about the same stuff for long time and have been listening Mch SACD only on direct disk playback. But I recently discovered streaming multichannel DSD using DLNA is possible by accident. The universal disk player that I own is pioneer UDP-LX800 (out of production) supports Mch SACD playback. I didn't realize until recently that this device's manual says supporting multichannel DSD over DLNA. I also own Yamaha RX-A3080 which supports receiving DSD bitstreaming over HDMI(out of production but successors came out recently without having much change). And I own QNAP NAS TS-659 as DLNA streaming server(very old NAS). The connectivity is basically

TS-659 (server) <--- ethernet ----> UDP-LX800(renderer) <---- HDMI ----> RX-A3080 ---> speakers.

The built in DLNA server function on my QNAP didn't seem to support streaming DSD over DLNA(potentially because it is an old QNAP) so I downloaded the trial version of Asset UPnP server app for QNAP. Also, for some reason UDP-LX800's internal DLNA browser menu doesn't pickup the DSD files (but FLAC is OK) on Asset UPnP's music directories. But both Asset UPnP + UDP-LX800 supports DLNA 1.5, so I can use DLNA controller. I used Bubble UPnP app on smartphone to control the playback. Bubble UPnP app displays playing back 24bit +96khz FLAC but UDP-LX800 and RX-A3080 says it's receiving DSD so i think it's just a bug on the Bubble UPnP. Couple of downsides, though. Mch DSD tends to become large and UDP-LX800 only has 100Mbps ethernet port, so downloading the file to start playing back takes longer than FLAC file. And it must be coming from the way Bubble UPnP controls the renderer and the way RX-A3080 turns on it's Pure Direct mode, when playing the entire Mch DSD album with Pure Direct mode on RX-A3080, it generates the gap and clicking sound from the relay device from the Amplifier inbetween music titles. Strangely i don't have this when plaing back 2ch DSD with Pure Direct mode. And on rare occasion, it disrupts the playback in the middle. This could be coming from the quality of the home LAN that I use or my old QNAP jittering the streaming. But i was able to hear the Mch DSD sould coming out of speaker with very good quality using some Mch DSD files I purchased.
I feel the difficulty to achieve Mch DSD on DLNA is the scarcity of capable renderer device, though we know what AV amplifier to use. UDP-LX800, Oppo UDP-205 would do becuase it's manual did say it. (But they are out of production) Recently released Reavon UBR-X200 could be also a good one but it's manual doesn't say anyting on supported file format. Only if AV amplifier could just directly decode the Mch DSD over DLNA.. Many of them can play back 2ch DSD over DLNA already...
 
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dadregga

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I use Roon and convert the MCH DSD to 176.4khz PCM - that will work with any DAC/AVR and is not going to be an audible difference.
 

horiken

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Definitely it's hard to tell the difference. But I hope someone can tell the difference. And the appreciation being able to listen in purer sound form utilizing the available current technology and struggling to make it work by tuning your equipments is worth the effort. That's basically the point of Audio as a hobby. And technically speaking When the DSD converted PCM data goes into any DAC, it will convert to DSD again and converts it to analog signal for the output anyway. How many conversion do we need to go through before the music reeaches your ear? I don't say you would lose the data but you lose the appreciation of all the effort of those involved in making this DSD formatted musics available ( the artists who agreed to publish DSD recordings, those recording engineers in the studio or live venue, and audio equipment manufacturers) and try to make you feel something different beyond the CD. And once in a while, not so frequently, you will stumble upon great Mch DSD recordings.
 
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dadregga

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Definitely it's hard to tell the difference. But I hope someone can tell the difference. And the appreciation being able to listen in purer sound form utilizing the available current technology and struggling to make it work by tuning your equipments is worth the effort. That's basically the point of Audio as a hobby. And technically speaking When the DSD converted PCM data goes into any DAC, it will convert to DSD again and converts it to analog signal for the output anyway. How many conversion do we need to go through before the music reeaches your ear? I don't say you would lose the data but you lose the appreciation of all the effort of those involved in making this DSD formatted musics available ( the artists who agreed to publish DSD recordings, those recording engineers in the studio or live venue, and audio equipment manufacturers) and try to make you feel something different beyond the CD. And once in a while, not so frequently, you will stumble upon great Mch DSD recordings.

I mean I agree, the SACDs I have I love because they have nice masterings and/or unique multichannel mixes.

However, none of that will be audibly affected by a decent on-the-fly PCM conversion.
 

Tom C

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Really, the only advantage of DSD is that it is the format that many multichannel recordings are available in. Converting to PCM at the PC level is simpler and more flexible than sending DSD from the PC to the hardware, and no additional conversions are required. I do not believe anyone can hear the difference. I know I can’t. I might feel better about straight DSD to hardware with no conversion, but I don’t think any audible differences are present.
Some recordings are available in vinyl LP, DSD, hi-res PCM download, and blu-ray. Which is thought best by the original recording artist? My guess is, they are offering the consumer to choose for himself. Except for the LP, I don’t think you can hear the difference between any of them.
 

Kal Rubinson

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I have a StormAudio ISP MK2 processor with AVB audio output connected to a MOTU 1248. I use JRiver Media Center as my source and can send directly to the MOTU 1248 via USB or to the StormAudio ISP via HDMI which then sends to the MOTU 1248 via AVB. These outputs are setup as two separate zones in JRiver.
I've done this with a Trinnov prepro, as well.
 

Kal Rubinson

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I've done this with a Trinnov prepro, as well.
Correction: I have sent multichannel from JRiver to the Trinnov via ethernet as well as HDMI.
 

SoundsGood64

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To do multichannel playback, I have .flac (PCM) and .dsf (DSD) files--on a network music server using MinimServer 2--in 2.0, 5.0, and 5.1 channel formats. To play those files over the network in gapless way, I’ve been using LibreELEC (Kodi) on an intel i5 laptop, which transcodes the DSD to PCM and sends to Denon AVR-3808 via a mini-displayport to HDMI connection. The advantage of using Kodi is for gapless playback with a user-interface that allows easy browsing of many hundreds of albums, via a remote app on a tablet. One potential disadvantage of using Kodi is that it converts DSD64 to 352.8 khz PCM before sending over HDMI. (Denon AVR-3808 shows 192khz PCM from that stream and plays fine perhaps because PCM is converted from 352.8 to 192 khz for HDMI.) However, I don’t see the DSD-to-PCM conversion as a true disadvantage in my use case because when listening to 5.0 and 5.1 music, I use the Audyssey room correction in the Denon AVR, which cannot be done with DSD.



For DSD playback, one can also use certain Blu-ray players such as Oppo 103 or Sony UBP-x800m2. Both players can access files over network (and play SACD) and send DSD over HDMI to Denon AVR, some of which can play “DSD Direct” and “DSD Multi Direct” respectively with 2ch and Mch (I noticed for 5.0 or 5.1ch files, DSD Multi Direct on AVR-3808 requires 5.1 speakers including the 0.1 subwoofer. Without the sub, no direct DSD even if you’re playing 5.0ch file.) However playback by this method is NOT gapless for network files (regardless of whether HDMI carries PCM or DSD), and the user interface is cumbersome for browsing hundreds of albums (dozens is ok). The Oppo 103 has a more lengthy gap between tracks than does the Sony UBP-x800m2. The advantage of these Blu-ray players over Kodi is they are capable of sending DSD over HDMI. To play DSD files using the Sony Blu-ray player from Minimserver 2, one has to define the mime types in MinimServer 2. This is done in AdvancedProperties/Advanced/serverOptions with “mimeType.dsf=audio/dsd, mimeType.dff=audio/dsd”. This setting in MinimServer 2 allows playing 2ch and multichannel DSD over the network for the Sony UBP-x800m2.



As far as I know, DSD over HDMI can only be done with certain disc players such as the Oppo 103 and Sony UBP-x800m2 (and Pioneer UDP-LX800, Post 7)above, but not computer hardware such as laptops and raspberry pi. For computers, the DSD has to be converted to PCM for HDMI transport. I tried Volumio 3, using HDMI out to Denon AVR. With 5.0ch and 5.1ch, but not 2.0ch DSD files, there was a huge problem of music stuttering using Volumio 3 on a raspberry pi 4 making this not a viable option. Running ‘top’ at the linux command line showed that 5 channel DSD music was requiring 124% CPU (while the music stuttered) whereas 2ch music required 49% CPU and no stuttering. RAM use was minimal in all cases. I think the high CPU use might be the on-the-fly DSD-to-PCM transcoding, because 5.1ch flac files had 15% CPU usage. Because the CPU was getting maxed out on the RPi4, I next tried Volumio 3 on an intel i5 laptop. In this case 5.0 DSD only used 28% CPU and 5.1 DSD used 34% CPU, and with intel i5 there was no stuttering of audio sound. 2.0 and 5.1 DSD channels mapped to the speakers correctly, but 5.0 DSD did not map to the speakers correctly. [ for 5.0ch file channel→speaker: FL→FL, FR→FR, FCenter→RL, RL→RR, RR->FCenter] Volumio 3 sent 5.1ch 192khz PCM to the Denon AVR, for both 5.0 and 5.1 .dsf files (via Mini DisplayPort to HDMI). So the problem might have to do with Volumio 3 forcing 5.1 channels on a 5.0 DSD file and getting the channel mapping messed up in the process. For 2ch .dsf and .flac, Volumio 3 on RPi4 is just fine, providing gapless playback with a nice user interface on a tablet, and also capable of outputting DSD to a DSD-capable DAC by USB.



Two questions I’m wondering about.

First, are there any known problems or disadvantages of using Kodi in terms of proper treatment of the digital stream? Without measurements or further digital audio knowledge, it seems to me that the Kodi developers have done an excellent job on multichannel music, including support for DSD files.



Second, what are some other ways to obtain gapless playback of DSD multichannel files not yet mentioned on this thread, perhaps a method that has worked for you? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of your method?
 

wjp007

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I've been using the mConnect app on an iPad to play multichannel DSF files on my network drive. I point mConnect via UPnP to Foobar2000 running on a laptop connected to my AVR via HDMI. Works great for me and are gapless. You do need to download some plugins for Foorbar2000 for UPnP and ability to play DSF files.

BTW. I highly recommend any of the Elton John MCH SACD albums. By far the best sounding multichannel albums I've heard.
 

Tom C

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@Kal Rubinson and @HighImpactAV, or others:
Using JRiver, is your playback of multichannel DSD files gapless?


@horiken or others : Using Pioneer UDP-LX800, is your playback of multichannel DSD files gapless?


@dadregga or others:
Using Roon, is your playback of multichannel DSD files gapless?
Using JRiver, my playback of multichannel DSD files is gapless.
 

SoundsGood64

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Using JRiver, my playback of multichannel DSD files is gapless.
Thanks Tom C, and agree with your post 11 above that the key opportunity DSD and SACD provide for is the wider availability of multichannel (Mch) recordings.

Just a guess but I suspect Roon playback of Mch DSD files would be gapless and require DSD->PCM transcoding (like LibreELEC/Kodi).
 

mkt

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Thanks Tom C, and agree with your post 11 above that the key opportunity DSD and SACD provide for is the wider availability of multichannel (Mch) recordings.

Just a guess but I suspect Roon playback of Mch DSD files would be gapless and require DSD->PCM transcoding (like LibreELEC/Kodi).
The Roon options for DSD playback (which is gapless) on Mac are
1674176455510.png

and on windows there is also DSD-Direct (DSD-Native) using ASIO drivers.

 

SoundsGood64

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The Roon options for DSD playback (which is gapless) on Mac are
View attachment 258406
and on windows there is also DSD-Direct (DSD-Native) using ASIO drivers.

That's neat and thanks mkt for confirming the gapless aspect of Roon. The Okto dac8 pro in mkt's signature can accept DSD, DoP, or PCM. So the Roon DoP might be one of the few ways to get multichannel DSD out of a computer to a device (Okto dac8 pro) that can handle. Have you tried this mkt (wasn't sure from your post)? For multichannel, are you doing any room correction (I think would require DSD->PCM)?
 
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