Need some help understanding the ins and outs of DSD

OK, so I have a stellar gain cell dac/pre and have my music library connected via the PC and SGCD with an AQ USB, everything works ok as it should (I use Audirvana as my only player of audio files) I have noticed the SGCD has an i2S socket, is there anything I can connect it to, to take advantage of it, or am I best just leaving things as they are? I just use music files in FLAC etc from my PC, as its easier for my mobility issues, saves getting up and down changing CD’s .Sorry if this has been answered before

Hi Peter,

I2S can be connected to disc players and streamers that support I2S output. It supports native DSD. As a DAC, I used SGCD exactly the way you did / do becuase I have a few DSD files. Even today with DS DAC and BHK pre, I am not able to take full advantage of I2S, so I am sticking with Bridge II which plays FLAC to my liking!

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Some background reading (and watching), you might find interesting:


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IMHO, I2S is what PSA chooses for connection its gears for the best “digital” performance, such as between PSA’s SACD transport (PST) and DSDAC (or SGCD too)
Although, other type of digital connection, such as coax, might support DSD via DoP (DSD over PCM).

Different vendors might have same kind of I2S HDMI connection, but they might implement the I2S differently, and will not work with PSA’s I2S. There were discussion some where in this forum on the compatible gears.

Just in broad terms, you can insert a ‘box’ called a ‘protocol converter’ between your AQ USB and the SGCD. You’ll also need an HDMI cable to go between the protocol converter and the SGCD’s I2S plug. With this basic setup you need change nothing on the PC side. You’ll be able to play your FLAC files as before but instead you’ll be using the I2S input instead of the USB input.

To play DSD files from your PC you may need extra software. (I don’t know what file types Audirvana supports.)

This is basically my setup. I use a protocol converter called an ‘X-SPDIF 2’ made by Matrix Audio but there are other brands.