Playing DSD file downloads with the SGC

Forgive the ignorance I’m sure to display with this question, but I was hoping someone could tell me how (or if) I can play downloaded DSD files through my system. I have two DACs in the system at this time - one in my Marantz SA8005 SACD player, and one in the Stellar Gain Cell. The Marantz will only do DSD if it’s fed from a computer connected to its rear-panel USB-B port, and my computer is in another part of the house, and I don’t have a laptop. It has a front-panel USB-A port, but it only supports MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV (linear PCM).

So that leaves the Stellar. Is there a way to send DSD files to it for playback through its DAC? Or should I give up on the idea?

Wait a second - I just realized I have a third DAC - the one built into the Bluesound Node 2i. Anyone know if it will read DSD from an external source?

Your Stellar Gain Cell DAC will play up to DSD 128 (DoP) through USB and up to DSD 128 direct through a compatible I2S device, the only compatible I2S devices I know of play DSD 64. Perhaps the MATRIX USB to I2S does support DSD 128.

Works great from my iMac with BitPerfect and DSD Master converted hybrid ALAC / DSD 128 files in Apple Music, but there are plenty codecs fo PC as well. I use the USB connection.

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I’m an iMac guy, but the computer and the stereo are in two different parts of the house, and unfortunately I can’t swing the cost of a second computer to use as a source component in the listening room. I was hoping I could use some portable storage medium like a thumb drive or an external USB hard drive.

You will need a streaming device for that. It‘s most likely more expensive than a Mac mini, but there are attractive units, but not all, actually few transport DSD over Ethernet.

Try Project, they have reasonable priced streamers.

I already have a streamer - a Bluesound Node 2i. I’d say I’d check its manual to see if it has that feature, but the apparently don’t believe in packaging written documentation with their products. :wink: I’ll send a note to their support people.


You could also consider a used Mac Mini (lots are available on eBay). I use 2012, 2011 and 2014 models as my servers and backups. It wasn’t long ago that I was using a 2009 model. They can be run headless (no monitor, keyboarders, or mouse) quite easily. Dedicated streaming devices would likely sound better.

The Matrix does support DSD128, from my Mac Mini (running JRiver MC) or Auralic Aries Femto.

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See my Post :

It Works ! - Sony UBP-X1000ES HDMI “Audio” output to Chinese I2S Adapter Board to DS Sr. I2S Input

Thank you, I did not know that, saves a lot of research.

The AURALiC new Aries G1 supports DSD Ethernet streaming up to DSD 512. But it’s more expensive than the Stellar Gain Cell DAC and it has a DAC built in, it makes the DAC part of the Stellar obsolete.

So back to the MacMini option and USB, it is really not a bad option, of course people who invested in dedicated streamers or are very handy with electronics to funnel the I2S signal in the right way out of standard digital Audio equipment can enjoy an improvement in sound quality, but it’s not like I hear any noise, any noise at all out of my SGCD system connected to mi iMac, in fact I love that system in my home office where my iMac is relatively close to the SGCD (5m USB cable).

For my living room I currently use my Apple TV to stream the DSD master converted ALAC / DSD 128 hybrid files. Apple TV is connected via HDMI to the Yamaha receiver in Music direct bi-amping stereo mode. It works perfect. I realize that it plays the converted Apple ALAC lossless files, but it does it well.

As the audio virus struck me I also look forward upgrading that system, but is has to be a synergistic system like my current Yamaha combo. So I wait to see if PS Audio decides to bring Octave to the Stellar range or if that will be a music system exclusively to Direct Stream or BHK budget customers. Let’s wait and see, my systems play music good enough in the current infrastructure and I am in no rush.

In case Octave will remain exclusively for Direct Stream BHK (high budget systems) I will have a hard time considering Stellar as full synergistic system. AURALiC Aries G1 seems the best streamer DAC Combo available. Their Lightning OS streaming software is the best with non subscription fee. It is dedicated to the AURALiC high end electronics.

I appreciate the thoughtful input everyone, but I’m a PnP kind of guy, and this is all well beyond either my tech abilities, or my non-existent budget for additional equipment, whether that be a used Mini or another disc player that I’d still need to modify via hardware or firmware. I was hoping that there would be a way to simply copy purchased files onto a thumb drive or small external SSD drive or something like that, and plug it into either the SGC or the Node and be done with it. I can’t believe that with online retailers selling DSD downloads that it’s so complicated or expensive (or both) to be able to listen to them.


Exchange your SGCD for a Stellar Strata, the SGCD features no streamer, the Strata does. PnP. Standard solution.

Call PS Audio and be surprised about the attractive offers.

A DAC is simply not a streamer, I recommend that you talk to PS Audio to exchange the SGCD at its full retail price for a Stellar Strata, that one has a streamer built in and can stream PCM and DSD via your network from your iMac. Perfect solution. You can also ask if you can get anything for your current power amps and the investment might be rather slim for a smart solution.

Stellar Strata streaming is limited to 192 kHz consequently I expect it will stream DSD 64, but not DSD 128 or higher. Which is not bad if you have DSD 64 music only.

I understand that a DAC is not a steamer. I’m not expecting the SGC to stream. That’s why I have the Node.

And while I appreciate the heads-up on the Strata, if I don’t have the budget for a used Mac Mini or an old Oppo or PlayStation, I certainly won’t have the budget for one of those when they’re available, even with PSA’s trade policy.

It’s clear after all of this that there’s simply no simple way to do this with the equipment I have, and that’s fine, though, to me, unexpected. It’s not like I’m trying to get around copy protection, as with the various disc player hacks out there. I was looking for a way to play legitimately purchased content. The answer appears to be in not purchasing them.


I don’t think the Aries G1 has a DAC, perhaps you mean the Altair G1?

You are right, I meant the Altair G1.

In order to pull music off a memory stick you need a streamer too, which is why I mentioned streamers. A DAC is being purely fed digital signal, for pulling music of storage devices such as USB sticks, harddisks, SSD, servers you need extra digital processes which are usually provided by streamers.

I am really surprised that you do no appreciate the feedback that if you put in your SGCD + your power amps you could make it possible with very low or no investment to upgrade to a Strata, without even calling PS Audio to find out what the real score is.

We are just trying to help, sure PS Audio is willing to help too.

Thanks for the clarification on the streamer’s use. I appreciate the information. It makes sense now that the Stellar would be unable to “extract” data from another device, but must have it “pushed” to it.

If you look at the dollars and cents of the Strata suggestion, there’s no reason to be surprised that I’m not jumping at it. While I don’t feel it’s incumbent on me to explain my financial status, I’ll just note that according to PSA’s website, the maximum trade allowed for the Strata is $900. So even if I sent in everything I have that the company would possibly take, that still leaves $2100 out of my pocket. That might qualify as “very low or no investment” to you or other PSA customers, but it sure doesn’t to me.

I have nothing against PSA’s price points in terms of the value they represent, but regardless of that value, in absolute terms they’re much, much higher than I can afford (and from the traffic across the forum, it appears customers like me are a distinct minority). I only have the Stellar in my system because when the company went direct-sales, a disgruntled online dealer closed out his remaining inventory at a surprisingly large discount. It’s exceedingly rare that I’ve ever been able to exceed even $1k on any single piece of audio gear (only three times in the past 20 years). There’s no way I’d be able to spend more than two grand on any equipment, even if it washed the windows while I listened to it. Well, maybe I could sell that one to the wife.


I am sorry, I did not realize that they mandate a limit to what they will accept as trade in. PS Audio block the trade in info to online visitors from outside the US as that option is not available to us.

Now your response makes sense to me. And I understand you completely. Thanks for the clarification. I will refrain from making such suggestions in the future.

And I didn’t realize that visitors outside the US don’t see that information on the website, so please accept my apologies in return. I understand now that your intentions were good, and I appreciate them.

Yes, I’ve studied the trade system a lot, and spent a good deal of time trying to come up with the maximum trade/least expensive outlay options for a number of possible PSA purchases, ultimately failing because of that limit. I’ve considered the Stellar amp stack, I’ve considered the Stellar Phono. I always come up short, and resign myself to keeping my Emotiva amp and opting for a Channel Islands Audio phono preamp. Don’t get me wrong - I think their program is fantastic, even with limits. No one else is doing anything like it, and I have to wonder how long they can continue. But it still leaves their equipment beyond reach for me.


Let me ask a couple of followup questions if I might…

If I decide I should just bite the bullet and get an inexpensive computer for this task (playing DSD downloads through the SGC), is the appropriate place to route that data the SGC’s I2S port? And if so, do people make cables that go from a computer’s USB A port to a plug compatible with that I2S port or is another piece of equipment needed between the two devices?


Craig Burgess