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A while back I commented about my experiments with 'no-dac decoding of DSD. At the time I was using a very simple low-pass filter to derive an analogue output from DSD. The sound quality was really good but there were some issued with pops and clicks. There's a whole thread on the No-DAC approach at DIY Audio.
Wind the clock forward a couple of years an things have improved and DSD is becoming established as an alternative to PCM in some quarters so I thought I would revisit DSD playback motivated by the sound quality I experienced previously. Amanero have now produced DSD specific firmware for their USB board that addresses the pops/clicks and it can now process upto DSD512 data rates as well. Signalyst has always been one of the main proponents of DSD and developed an open-hardware delta-sigma D/A convertor, the DSC1; https://www.signalyst.com/hardware.html This has been developed by others. I recently purchased a derivative of the DSC1 from a DIY-Audio member who lives in Russia. The DSC2 operates in differential mode and the output filtering is handled by transformers instead of op-amps. This morning I put the components together on a 'breadboard'; Feeding the Amanero DSD256, upsampled from CD quality FLAC rips with HQ Player, and I've spent several hours listening. The sound quality is outstanding, rich but very detailed and really engaging, it imediately caught my partner's ear and she came and listened too, always a good sign as she has minimal interest in my 'gadgets' or tinkering. We experienced none of the noise/pops/clicks of the previous experiments either. The DSC2 beats my current Twisted Pear Sabre 9018 equipped DAC and costs significantly less too. I'm hoping to be able to compare it with the latest Twisted Pear Sabre 9028 DAC in the next couple of weeks. I have some further tweaks planned, primarily to install an isolator/reclocker between the Amanero and the decoder board and maybe try a shunt power supply. Then I can think about boxing it up.
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Hi Ray, Very cool project. Are you going to incorporate femto Clocks? I hear prices have come way down on them and they blow picos away.
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Hmm, Femto clocks; the first thing is to try a Twisted Pear Cronus reclocker that I have available (equipped with Crystek oscillators) to see if it makes a difference over the Amanero board's oscillators - my understanding of DSD, which isn't great, is that this approach is less sensitive to jitter than more conventional PCM decoders. We'll see.