Understanding DAC's


Hey,

So I am trying to understand something about DAC's and once again it is probably due to being a novice.

Now, I understand the basic duty of a DAC, convert digital audio/signal to an analog one. I get that part, that's easy.

Initially when I first discovered DAC's (or I should say, starting paying more attention to them), my impression was besides converting to an analog signal, a DAC should be able to playback high res music. That's why I got one and I was specifically after DSD playback after I discovered there was such a thing.

So, in my mind I figured all DAC's will have this feature, to be able to decode DSD.

But as I started researching them, I discovered many high end DAC's do not do DSD duty and to me, it just doesn't make sense. They are probably already decoding upto 24/192 or higher for PCM, so why not DSD?

And secondly, these higher end DAC's that only do PCM, are they making that PCM file sound that much better then say a $1000 or lower Dac?

Here is just one random DAC, Mojo Mystique v3, it's about $7555 and as far as I can tell, no DSD capability.

Maybe it's just me. I don't see the sense in getting an expensive DAC and not having DSD Capability.

I have DSD on mine and have purchased a few DSD albums and they sound so much better then CD quality or 24/192 even.

I get that some might not care to listen to DSD but on the manufacturer side, I wonder some do not include those features.
jay73
The vast majority of digital music out there is Redbook quality PCM.
High Res material above Redbook quality only make up a small sliver, and formats such as DSD and MQA make up an even smaller sliver of what is out there. That is why some manufacturers only do PCM, or choose not to support MQA.
Thanks for your input Jazzman, I guess that does make sense.

I hope more quality DSD Albums become available. 

I recently bought the album, Temptations on DSD and if I had any doubt in the capability of DSD, then this album restored it back. Sounds so good.

I can only imagine how it would sound on a system that is way above mine.
DSD recordings make up probably less than 0.1% of all music recordings out there, that’s why.

I personally have 3 DSD albums, and play only 1 regularly. There's no DSD streaming that I know of, possibly because DSD music takes a lot more data than the PCM counterparts.



Everything considered, the original quality of the recordings probably makes the most difference whether it was done in DSD or redbook PCM.  Having said that, everything else being equal, if the original recoding was done in DSD, it should be better than redbook format.

Also if a recording was done in DSD, it's almost likely that there were a lot more thoughts went into the recording so you probably get more quality playback just because of that - that is the recording was done by people who knew what they were doing.  So the majority of gain in quality probably has more to do with the nature of the recording than because of the DSD format.

I once used JRiver to convert a redbook format CD to DSD format, but the playback of both was more or less the same and I couldn't tell the difference.  So I guess to make any difference, the original recording has to be done in DSD.  That is not to say they are the same, but it is meant to point to the importance of the original format.

And there are also those who do not like DSD format because being higher in frequency, the higher frquency of the DSD clock is more susceptible to noise and jitter.  But we are getting into technical area that beyond this discussion.

For historical perspective, back during the infancy of digital recording, the reason redbook format was recorded at such low data rate is because had it done in high resolution (like SACD or DSD), the disc would have been so large to store the extra data rate that it was not practical (because the digital storage capacity much lower in those days).  Panasonic actually wanted high resolution, but Sony on the redbook side won out because Sony was able to make the compact disc smaller and more portable.