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Old 11th February 2015, 02:02 PM   #1
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Default Upsampled music with NOS DACs?

I've been doing some general reading about digital-to-analog conversion. Can't say that I really comprehend much of it, but I think I might have some vague understanding of the high-level concepts.

In particular, regarding the older NOS-style DACs versus newer sigma-delta DACs, I have this notion that maybe a best of both worlds approach is to use a good NOS DAC, but feed it very high-resolution stream, either natively high bit rate, or upsampled in software (libsamplerate, sox, HQplayer, etc).

Virtually all of my music collection is redbook audio CD, 44/16. My (admittedly marginal) understanding is that trying to filter out artifacts introduced by the digital-to-analog conversion at this sample rate is a game of managing compromises. Whereas, working at say 176.4khz gives the filters a lot more "room" do do their thing.

I've upsampled a few CDs to 176.4khz using libsamplerate. On my DAC (an Emotiva Stealth DC-1) I don't really notice any obvious difference. But, the sound might be a little less fatiguing---perhaps the highs are reigned in a bit? I wouldn't swear to it, as that's only a cursory observation.

So now I'm wondering if it might be worthwhile to try this experiment with a NOS DAC? I'm thinking something as simple as possible (that supports the higher bit rates of course)? Does anyone think it might be worthwhile to give this a try? I only dabbled with a NOS once, briefly, and I was not impressed. But, to be fair, it was a $50 ebay cheapie (Muse tda1543x4), and I only attempted one easy mod.

Thoughts? This post was intended to spur general discussion if nothing else.
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Old 11th February 2015, 02:17 PM   #2
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Yes its worthwhile trying NOS with chips other than TDA1543. Doing the digital filtering in the computer (rather than local to the DAC) has the advantage of less noise on the power supplies close-by the DAC chip.

The DAC I'm playing with at the moment (based on TDA1387 which I consider superior to the TDA1543) can accept S/PDIF up to 192kHz via its CS8414 receiver. It also has the option of a plug-in USB interface which also supports up to 192kHz. Its a bargain given the SQ obtainable after a modicum of mods. Given it comes out of China you'll not be able to place an order for it until after the up-coming Spring Festival but there's a link on my blog to the international sales operation if you're interested.
The heart ... first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it. Anthony de Mello
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Old 11th February 2015, 05:36 PM   #3
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I'm currently testing a dual mono PCM1794 NOS DAC with a gentle 2nd order analogue filter and giving it music upsampled in software (Sox on Foobar) to get the images farther up into the filter cut region.
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