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Direct DSD support on Volumio up to DSD512

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DSD64, DSD128 AND DSD256 are now natively supported in direct DSD mode on Volumio!

Yes, finally DSD Direct is available on Volumio, your favourite audiophile music Player. The formats supported in the new Direct DSD mode are:

  • DSD64 (Single-rate DSD)
  • DSD128 (Double-rate DSD)
  • DSD256 (Quad-rate DSD)
  • DSD512 (Octuple-rate DSD)

Previously, DSD Playback in Volumio was only possible via DoP (DSD over PCM) mode, which was encapsulating DSD Audio into PCM samples. You can see DoP as a “compatibility mode” for non direct DSD capable DACs: files would still play, but losing the supposed advantages of DSD. Instead, direct DSD mode allows DSD Playback the way its meant to be played, on compatible DACs.

DSD What?

As you may know, DSD is considered the new de-facto standard for Hi-Resolution music playback, although its improvements over Hi-Resolution PCM audio are highly debated. We will cover the technical aspects of DSD Audio and its differences between PCM in a future article, but those articles represent a great introduction to the matter:

Test DSD Files

And as always, what really matters in the end is how Music sounds. So your best bet to understand how DSD Audio fits into your listening sessions is to try for yourself.
And the best way to start is to get some free DSD audio samples:

  • Get the same tracks encoded in different formats (both hi res PCM and DSD) here
  • Same as above, but native DSD encodings here
  • Free samples from Blue Coast Music Group

What’s needed to enter the DSD Direct Club

As previously mentioned, DSD Direct requires a DSD Capable DAC. As of now unfortunately no I2S DAC has this capability (mainly due to a combination of hardware and driver’s idiosyncrasies). Therefore the only way to go DSD Direct is to use a USB DAC. Specifically, USB DACs equipped with XMOS receivers are your best bet (also the Amanero Combo384 USB receiver).

If you don’t have a direct DSD capable DAC, and you’re thinking on getting one, the iFi iMicro DSD BL  and IFI Nano iDSD LE are just a very convenient way to get an outstanding quality DSD direct DAC. If instead you already have a direct DSD capable DAC a truly suggested accessory is the The iFi – iPurifier2 USB Reclocker

How direct DSD and DoP work in Volumio

This great addition comes thanks to the awesome work that Max Kellerman has done with MPD 0.26, and this is basically what you need to know:

  • Direct DSD playback is available from version 2.163
  • If you have a direct DSD DAC, just select DoP off and Volumio will play your DSD files natively up to the resolution supported by your DAC
  • If your DAC does not support Direct DSD (or the resolution at which you’re playing them) it will automatically convert DSD to PCM
  • This conversion is done with a multi-threaded Ultra Hi quality resampler: SOXR . On slower devices (like PI 1 and 2) this might result in stuttering. Try then to enable Resampling and choose a lower quality algorythm or a lower target samplerate or bithdepth
  • Alternatively, if your DAC does not support Direct DSD but supports DoP (DSD over PCM), turn DoP on.
  • Since no I2S DAC is capable of playing direct DSD, DSD files will be sampled up to the max I2S DAC resolution supported (usually 24\192), in this mode DoP should be set to off

That’s all folks! Enjoy your DSD Music with Volumio!

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Michelangelo Guarise

Passionate. Heretical. Deeply in love with Technology and Music. I live in Florence, Italy where I teach Interaction Design and Marketing. I'm Volumio's founder and CEO, and I love every second of this great adventure. My audio gear is some strange mix of valve and digital amplifiers, all self built in some cold winter sleepless nights. And I just can't turn that volume knob down.

1 comment

Guilherme Curcio - May 11, 2017 Reply

Hy

A VERY nice feature.

How about the feature to use DSD file direct from SACD ISO files, instead of DSF file.

I have a lot off SACD ISO Files that is used with a HTPC in my rack and I’m waiting just this feature to put HTPC out of my rack.

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