I am trying to figure out a good way to go from my computer DSD files via JRiver out to my XIAudio Formula S. The Formula 1 has the RCA inputs. Do I need a sound card? Or a USB digital to analog box?
I’m not that familiar with JRiver but, if it can read DSD (.dsf) files and transcode them to PCM, then you you could just point it to the computer’s ‘line out’ device. This would be utilizing the computer’s built-in DAC, assuming your computer has a ‘line out’ output. If this is the case, you wouldn’t need an additional sound card. You should, however, check the settings for the ‘line out’ device and make sure it’s set to maximum bit depth and sample rate. For example, the internal DAC on my gaming PC can handle up to 32 bits, 192KHz.
If you can tolerate another external box, I’d go for an external DAC with a USB input. Your Formula S would then simply use the DAC’s RCA outputs. Additionally, if you choose an appropriate DAC, you may be able to let JRiver output a ‘native’ DSD bit stream, most likely using the DSD over PCM (DoP) protocol. The other advantage of this approach is that you can bypass the computer OS’s audio engine.
Others may have some other options for you but, ultimately, it depends on the level of SQ with which you’re happy.
I use Jriver on a win11 laptop to a PSAudio DS mkII Dac using USB currently. Jriver will use whichever output connection the computer outputs audio through. If it doesn’t match the connector type on the Formula S you’ll need a conversion box to make the change.