There’s room for a lot of confusion. In general you don’t want take a huge step in sample rate ratios when upsampling: the bigger the step the more resources it takes to do the filter well. But taking multiple steps to get there isn’t good for other reasons. Everything is a compromise.
When using external upsamplers you are limited to a maximum top rate and hence you’ll need a two step process in aggregate to use one with the DS. On the other hand since Huron all PCM first goes to 352.8k or 384k then to 20 x (64 x 44100). (Before that PCM went to 176.4k or 192k and then to 10 x (64 x 44100).)
So doing an external step to 352.8k is not evil from the too-many-steps perspective.
As to quality - HQPlayer and the DS (and some others) do quality processing that is better than DAC chips or even most SRC chips just because software upsamplers can have a lot more resources at the ready and don’t have to save multiplies (or whatever) by hook or by crook like hardware often does.
I use more resources that most external upsamplers and I use more precision than most (my internal registers are > 64 bits long when needed compared to 64 bit floating point which only supports 52 bits of precision of the form that’s needed for upsampling.) That doesn’t mean that no one else is taking care when upsampling, but many just presume that 64bit floating point is enough…
Most upsamplers out there (NOT HQPlayer) choose less than optimal filters, at least if you want to preserve the waveform shape. I think preserving waveform shape is important, but not everyone agrees. With HQPlayer and some others you can make your own choices of what filter design you like best.