HQ Player and Direct Stream DACs


#1

Hello, I am new to the forum. I recently purchased M700 amplifiers and so far I am enjoying them. I have been considering a Direct Stream Junior DAC, but I have some questions.

Currently I own a Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2v2SE. Recently I started using HQ Player and up-sampling everything to DSD256. I use Roon and it hands off to HQ Player perfectly. From what I understand the maximum input to the DSJ is DSD128, I assume this is because DoP drivers are being used. Are there DSD Native drivers available? I prefer Native drivers over DoP drivers.

So far I really like what HQ Player is doing for me, but I am concerned about how this would work if I do purchase the DSJ. Can I use HQ Player to up-sample all files so that the DAC always has DSD128 coming in, or is this redundant? Even more so, can this cause an issue with the PS Audio DAC?

I am really curious with anyone’s experience using HQ Player in conjunction with the Direct Stream DACs. Is it an improvement or does it actually interfere with the process going on inside of the DAC.

One final question, I believe at this point I can not afford the difference going to the DSD over the DSJ. Is there that big of a difference? Should I wait until I can afford to go all the way to the DS or is the DSJ very close in performance to the Sr.?

Thank you for any input.


#2

Because of the unique architecture of the DirectStream and DirectStream Jr some of the things that worked better on other DACs just don’t matter with the DS. There’s no advantage of Native vs. DoP - in the DAC everything becomes DoP right at the receiver code in the FPGA (so that it can use the same path thru the rest of the signal processing chain as PCM. Adding a separate path for Native mode would add more code and noise to the output) FWIW we are sticking with the DoP only version of the PC USB drivers for the DS DACs because they have the least “farts” between tracks or when changing formats or sample rates. Using a version that supported Native mode caused more noises on track transitions, transitions between DoP and PCM, sample rate changes, etc.

There’s not necessarily any advantage to upsampling - the DS has way more horsepower than the CPU you might be using to upsample and since everything is always running in an FPGA there’s no concept of saving cycles, using less hardware, having less noise, etc. by off loading work from the FPGA. Still where you upsample depends on your own preferences and tho I recommend you are least try sending everything to the DS in it’s original format, what you choose to do is, of course, up to you. For example some have preferred HQ Player with one release of the DS and found that things they preferred upsampling with the DS on another release. Or they’ve found that toeing their speakers in or out a little will change their upsampling preferences.

There are no issues with sending any format that you want to the DS, at worst you won’t hear any sound if you use, say 50k or other non-standard sample rates.

The search function here isn’t bad, searching for HQ Player will net you a bunch of (perhaps conflicting) advice.


#3

Thank you Ted. What would you say about the differences in the DS versus the DSJ? Would I notice an improvement or would it be better to wait until I can afford a Sr.?


#4

They both have the same qualities that I value: engaging, dynamic, … If I walked into a room with one or the other playing I wouldn’t immediately say “Bletch it’s the Jr” or “Great is the DS.” After you know them you could listen for a bit and know which was playing. When hearing them side by side the differences are reasonably clear - the DS is a little more open on the top, perhaps a little more solid presentation, etc. They both share a similar soundstage and those type of characteristics. At the technical level the Jr has only 1 I2S input, it had the knob (which I like) and the DS Sr is about 6dB more quiet (by using 4 times as much hardware) which doesn’t matter much if you use a preamp, but could matter for very efficient speakers or high gain amps if you don’t use a preamp.


#5

I’ve owned both and I prefer the Junior. It’s cheaper, it comes with a network bridge, and I like the rotary knob functions. You aren’t losing much sonically (if anything) with the Junior.


#6

Thank you Ted and Brodric. I do use an Audio Research Hybrid Pre-amp (basic model, about one year old) and my sources are a Oppo BDP-105 (rarely spin disks) and a custom built Music Server running Roon and HQ Player. I use USB, no I2S on it. I have KEF speakers which are semi-low efficiency.

As you know already, I have a set of M700’s which have a medium to higher gain. I would run the DAC in low gain mode so as to afford me more control over the volume at lower levels. I really don’t often listen very loud.

It really sounds like the DSJ would probably do the trick for me. Now I just have to decide if the DSJ is going to be an improvement for me over my Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2v2SE. I think I would continue to use HQ Player, since I just purchased it, and I like what it does in my current setup.


#7

I evaluated a Jr. for 2 weeks before swapping it for the Sr. I had them both for a week, Jr. with some hours, Sr. fresh out of the box. The 25% more I paid for the Sr. was worth the 10-15% improvement I heard in my system, room, ears. I also like the better heat dissipation (larger cast surround) or lack of heat generating parts in the Sr. Jr. ran pretty dang hot. Mine is in a back room closet so I really don’t care about the knob or screen but I can see many would.

I would bet you don’t find HQ Player affects the sound, good or bad, coming out of either DS.

If you can afford the credit hold, get both on eval.