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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.

16 comments

Daniel - May 10, 2017 Reply

Great news. I have a DSD DAC, but which board do you recommend to play DSD files?

voladmin - July 3, 2017 Reply

I recommend this:
https://volumio.org/product/volumio-mini86/

Because:
– Ready to play solution (comes to you with Volumio preinstalled, turn it on and it works)
– X86 USB Bus is better than PI and most single board computers
– It can handle DSD512 flawlessly
– For best results you can also add ipurifier2 (reclocking, galvanic isolation & USB power cleaning)
– It’s my main system configuration (the one I use to do critical listenings)

Guilherme Curcio - May 10, 2017 Reply

It will be possible to mount SACD .ISO files?

This is the final feature that I need to put a Volumio Device in my rack and put my cumputer out of there.

voladmin - July 3, 2017 Reply

We’re studying an option to make it available

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.

Daniel - May 16, 2017 Reply

Me too i’am waiting for this option too. Play my iso sacd directly on Volumio.
Convert all those iso sacd is too crazy.

Volumio2でDSD再生 « Sionの日記 - June 1, 2017 Reply

[…] 情報源: Direct DSD support on Volumio up to DSD512 · Volumio […]

Ken Ip - June 2, 2017 Reply

I am using SMSL M8A DAC. I have turned the DoP to off position in order to play in native DSD mode. But my DAC shows that a sampling rate of 352.0kHz instead of 2.82MHz during playback of a dsf file. Its seem Volumio has converted the native DSD to PCM. How can I check on the Volumio side if it is sending out signal in native DSD or has already converted to PCM ?

voladmin - June 5, 2017 Reply

Hi, if you see it, it means that your DAC is not capable (or compatible with the direct DSD implementation) with direct DSD

haha - June 5, 2017 Reply

Hey, the MPD website info is wrong, for native DSD to work, ALSA version has to be greater than 1.0.29 or later

So the although Volumio updates MPD to 0.20.6, native DSD still not working in Volumio, which still uses the 1.0.28 alsa, need to update ALSA and recompile.

voladmin - June 5, 2017 Reply

Hi, you’re wrong. Volumio uses alsa 1.1.3, we updated it in order to have directDSD enabled.

haha - June 8, 2017 Reply

On Oridod C2 distribution, seems still old alsa

haha - June 8, 2017 Reply

not on the Odroid C2 distribution. still plain old alsa

voladmin - June 8, 2017 Reply

we updated libasound2, which is the alsa core. If you check the alsa version by doing aplay -v you’ll see the old alsa version.
See here:
https://github.com/volumio/Build/commit/b7a2832af7a9557a1f557497824d9f4327b975d0

libasound version is 1.1.3

Frank Dellé - July 1, 2017 Reply

Great work first of all and thanks for the new software version. Just some feedback here. I am running a RPI 3/USB straight into Gustard X20u (XMOS). Initially, the DAC indicates DSD256. Upon playing DSD64 files, the DAC switches back to PCM 384kHz (presumably because of the soxr functions?). Tried DSD native and DSD over DoP settings. Sounds great with PCM/384, but I would prefer to play DSD natively.

voladmin - July 3, 2017 Reply

For some reasons your DAC does not recognize the DSD64 output sent by Volumio. Make sure your volume is always at 100 when you play DSD files. Let me know how it goes

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