If it accepts DSD but converts it to PCM successfully at high bitrates, it is not obsolete.
If it doesn't float your boat because you want a direct DSD-to-analog conversion, then it is not suitable for you.
They're not obsolete yet, but the handwriting is on the wall. Going forward, DAC mfgs that don't do DSD are putting themselves at a tremendous disadvantage. Any new DAC coming out more than six months from now had better have DSD capability. I can't imagine anyone that's thinking of plunking down serious bucks today will think long and hard about spending $5k and up and not getting DSD capability. Wyred4Sound has DSD capability for $1600.
Of course, existing DACs that don't do DSD still have a strong place in hifi.
I got a Teac UD501 a while back which handles up to 2xDSD and DXD a while back.
In my system with a Mac Mini (QC 2.6GHz, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD) Audirvana Plus in Integer/Direct mode, I found it wasn't quite as resolving as my (pricier) Bel Canto DAC3.5VB MkII - which only handles up to 24/192 but not DSD.
I've also recently built a quiet PC (QC 3.9GHz, fanless PSU, fanless heatsink, 16GB RAM, 240GB SSD) and run Windows7 + JRiver - which can dynamically perform DSP on any material to 2xDSD. The combination of the quieter machine, JRiver handling 2xDSD IMHO improved what I was hearing on the Teac considerably, I thought. Of course, this is dependent on the computer up sampling material to 2xDSD but I did prefer this to the Bel Canto.
IMHO DSD material (native or upsampled) have a nicer more analogue feel to it.,, it is also more resolving with complex passages in music.
I first noticed this with the same PC hooked to my Playback MPS-5 via USB-X which sounded better than Audirvana Plus running in Direct/Integer mode. I now use the Mini to run JRiver Mac to do the same 2xDSD conversion to the Playback in that set up.
No they not not obsolete at all. It depends on the quality of the dac really.
tube analogue stage is extra distortion, color and compression. it does make sound more pleasant, but i believe it's not important in DAC. great suggestion for TEAC UD501.
KR4 - I don't believe it accepts DSD, it has to have DSD converted to PCM in advance (I'll double check that). If that's the case, it would at the very least hurt its potential resale value in the next couple years?
It may be a feature I never care about but OTOH if music is moving increasingly to hi res it's not something I want to miss out on.
DoggieHouser - So basically a better dad that didn't do DSD was outperformed by up sampling to a lesser dad that DOES DSD? Interesting.
Mitch4T - I've been thinking about the Wyred 4 Sound DAC as well. Have you heard it? Also the newest Benchmark does DSD. Any opinions on the Wyred VS Benchmark?
Larry, I have not heard the Wyred4Sound DAC. I've heard good things about their previous DACs...and for $2500, their newest special edition DAC looks like it might be a winner. Not enough reviews out yet on it.
I have a D/A that does DSD and I could care less about the feature. I've never downloaded DSD recordings and I don't foresee me doing so anytime soon. As such the DSD feature is meaningless to me. Does having DSD future proof the machine? After the deluge will it really be important?
There is hardly any high rez music out there and I dont care for dsd until there is a wealth of recordings. That being said the consumer will expect very good deals on non dsd dac's in the future.
I'm probably way off base since I'm just now looking into this stuff. But it seems that impressive results are being had up-rezzing PCM to DSD like with the Sony HAPZ1, J-river - what Mitch4t is describing.
If this is true, a DAC without DSD capability could be a liability.
Not everyone likes the DSD sound so best to audition if you can.
I know there are very strong proponents of older R2R PCM DACs (these DACs don't convert PCM to sigma delta before converting to analog) like the TDA1541 or the PCM1704s. There are certain characteristics of those DACs that I like - I own an Ayon CD5S.
But I do like how SACDs and native DSD DACs sound which I feel are closer to my analog rig.
Personally I've always preferred SACD / DSD sound. It's always sounded to me like 90% of the way to Vinyl SQ with none of the downsides. But that's besides the point.
Even if I never play a DSD disc for the rest of my life, it seems like with the new PSAUDIO DirectStream, the Chord, The Sony HAPZ1 etc - the new performance frontier is moving to DSD up conversion from PCM etc and the use of gate array's instead of off the (quickly obsoleting) shelf chipsets.
If you have a DSD capable DAC even in a humble version its inevitable that some kind of stand alone device that could do the up-coverting ahead of it and pass through to the DAC would be available in the near future.
Your choice of original media or file type would be irrelevant.
This is a ridiculous argument, just because a dac can or can't do DSD is hardly a reason for not buying it, you buy a DAC because it sounds great period!
It is of course nice to have a dac which can do DSD but to automatically say that DSD is superior to PCM is a ludicrous statement, it really depends on the hardware.
I have listened to many, many, dacs, and there are ones that sound great on DSD and ones that sound great on PCM but to say automatically that the DSD sounds better or brand A DAC sounds better because it is playing a DSD file is just silly.
On some pieces of hardware DSD files sound too soft and a bit rolled off, while the same file played via PCM sounded more detailed and dynamic so it is up to a persons taste, ear and system match.
My shop sells many dac including the NAD M51 no DSD and the Auralic Vega DSD as well as Naim Dacs No DSD, and it comes down to taste.
The Vega is better than the NAD, but boy does the NAD sound amazing especially for $2k, the new Naim DAC V1 also is shockingly good for $2,500.00
We also sell the Lumin which is a pure streamer which does both DSD conversion and PCM playback and in that piece the DSD conversion does sound a bit better.
So are non DSD Dacs obsolete no they are not, and just because you use a gate array doesn't negate a good dac chip.
The Lumin uses Wolfson dac chips and in a recent demo blew aaway a DCS Puccini which uses a custom ring radiator decoder made from discrete gate arrays so in audio as with a anything else there is no absolute just opinions.
Which is better a Mercedes or BMW? Comes down to taste, doesn't it. Does the Tesla electric car now obsolete the internal combustion engine non-electric car?
Now their are proponents of each but which is ultimately better depends on what you personally value.
Thanks for the input. I'm new to the DAC world and trying to get my head around the new technology given the apparent success of the HAPZ1 etc.
Doesn't the Lumin also use DSD upscaling?
Personally I'm not totally sold on DSD on a sound-quality basis alone. DSD has an inherent rolloff above about 8khz that, while not all that prominent to most listeners, is still there. It's not as cleanly extended in the highs as, say, DVD-A, Bluray or even PCM. Below 8k everything is wonderful, so it may well be, as far as all *that* goes, a matter of taste. But, all those manufacturing trends discussed above are only there in direct response to what the recording industry is doing...or is gearing up to do. Sony, who has up until recently been one of the main proponents of DSD, has now officially backed off on their commitment to it. Those who watch the recording biz say Sony likely may not be the last to do so. For any foreseeable future, PCM still looks to be very safe (i.e. the most future-proof for a number of technical reasons) and upstart Bluray may yet take hold at some point.
In the *longer* run, all of us may eventually have to worry about the orchestrations now going on to cease shiny disc production of all kinds, worldwide, and we then enter (or are thrown into) the brave new world of nothing but downloads and clouds. There doesn't seem to be any immediate panic just yet as there are still, no doubt, mountains of prerequisite legal and technical issues that must be sufficiently worked out in advance first, but this is what the international community has been working toward for a number of years now (but, like I say, not all countries are on board yet). But, that day is coming...likely as not, within the next 5 years...
I wonder if DSD preference is largely age related? For those of us that grew up with Vinyl we were used to the rolled off highs (especially growing up without expensive equipment).
Thos growing up in the digital age are used to the greater extension that we boomers spent big bucks trying to get rid of. Thinking back to my old Cal Audio gear.