DAC: Rossini vs Vivaldi

Would any of these beat a Vivaldi DAC with Network Bridge as a Roon end point:

  1. Rossini DAC.
  2. Rossini DAC with Network Bridge.
  3. Rossini DAC with Network Bridge and Clock.

3 would cost about the same as the Vivaldi DAC with Network Bridge. Would it sound as good though?

I’m no expert, but I cannot imagine how.

dCS are very careful to ensure that there are clear audible gains when moving from one range up to the next level in the hierarchy. Vivaldi is superior to Rossini.

The only component that delivers the actual sound that you hear is the DAC. Yes the components that supply the data for conversion are very important. However the finest audio quality that that data can provide ultimately depends upon the DAC. So whatever the combination, a Vivaldi DAC based system will always sound better than a Rossini DAC based one.

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Even though the Vivaldi DAC (no other Vivaldi Upsampler or clock components) does not have the Rossini upsampling capability? Have you compared the two directly?

Your original proposition compared the Vivaldi DAC with a Network Bridge against other contenders. That has no upsampler component. Now you introduce the Rossini’s upsampling feature . If you were familiar with my postings you would already know that I regard upsampling as degradation rather than improvement ( BTW, I do own a Vivaldi upsampler). Still, some like to be dazzled by the numbers.

When it was introduced by dCS before the turn of the century after some Japanese enthusiasts had added the professional dCS D to D converter to their Elgar systems it may have had merit . Yes I used it in the form of the Purcell. But the dCS DACs have improved so much subsequently that IMO the sonic aberrations introduced by upsampling outweigh any advantage.

NB : The major aberrations concern spatial reproduction and if your main interest is not classical music ( now the only genre recorded with a record of the actual performing space) this may be irrelevant.

Pete, sorry for hijacking GAS’s thread, but could you elaborate on this spec a bit? You are probably referring to something more detailed than merely knowing “where” something was recorded, as we often do know with many jazz club/hall and live rock concert recordings.

Yes, kind of. I guess the place to start is what the word “stereo” means. For me it is getting on for 02:00 in the morning so I am not going to elaborate now and maybe will pick up on this tomorrow.

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Get some sleep!

I guess that I need to start with that word: “ Stereo”.

Many people think it means two channel. Or sound coming from the left and right . It really means “solid”. The original Blumlein patents on stereo recording are concerned with using a configuration of microphones in such a way that, using only two channels, they capture amplitude and phase information so as to form an aural three dimensional image of a performance taking place before them. This necessarily included not only the performance itself but reflections of the sound from the boundaries of the room within which it was taking place thus creating a “solid” image of the event. A bit like an audio hologram.

It was literally about making a record ( in the sense of a historic report) of a real event in time. Of course Blumlein’s invention was before WWII when all recording was of a complete performance recorded direct to disc (or, rather, wax). Tape recorders and the ability to work outside of real time did not yet exist.

The reason that I introduce this historical aspect is that when commercial stereo records and reproducers were introduced post-war the same idea of the disc containing a record of a performance occurring in a real space continued for some years and related to all genres of music. High fidelity was originally developed to reproduce that performance /space as accurately as technically possible. A superb description of this concept may be found in the speaker positioning instructions in the user manual that came with the original Quad ESL in 1957. You are invited not to find the best place for bass but to envisage the plane between the speakers as equivalent to a theatre’s proscenium arch with the space behind as that within which the performers are situated.

Broadly speaking this concept still exists for classical music but other genres of music including much jazz have moved away from it. The main reason being the use of multi-track recording. The preference of producers for using this method is so that elements of the recording can be manipulated individually without simultaneously affecting other elements. Each element (vocal, instrument, group of instruments) is recorded to a separate track. For this to be successful it is essential that the sound of the other elements is not captured on that track. To do this the elements are screened from each other (called stopping or reducing “bleed”). The sound reflected from the recording room itself contains the sound of all the elements performing at the same time. This is therefore yet another form of “bleed” and is suppressed. So without the sound of the room no true “solid” image can be created. Hence a synthesised equivalent is created by the producer in the final “mix” to give an illusion of stereo.

This synthesised stereo illusion, effectively made up from elements recorded in mono, need not have any relationship to reality. Hence the listener may have no way of judging its likely correctness beyond generalisation. Therefore any spatial aberrations such introduced by upsampling will probably pass by the listener unnoticed unless they are gross.

In fact here in 2020 few rock/pop producers even aim for a synthesised stereo mix. They prefer to use a broadened central mono image with left and right margins for placing effects.

Live recording (concerts etc.) has its own technical problems. For example a microphone configuration such as a Decca Tree cannot be placed in front of the stage so as to obscure the audience’s view. The acoustics of the venue may also not be ideal. So, these days, a basically stripped down version of the studio multi-track system is used. Bleed is still a problem but some acts can go far to minimise this. I recall seeing Steely Dan on tour a dozen or so years ago and they actually used Perspex screens between elements of the band to reduce “bleed” (the Dan usually recorded their gigs). The end result is again not true stereo but a synthesised version. Of course although the public are unaware many “live” albums have been wholly or partly studio confections in any case.

Sorry this is long but it is why I hold that spatial oddities such as may occur with upsampling may be largely insignificant aside to those listening to classical music or to other recordings made prior to the late 1960s and 70s .

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Thanks Pete. Appreciate your time and the detail. I knew some of this [and was in fact introduced to it when I first auditioned Quad speakers many decades ago; easier to forget about placement for bass with the Quads :wink:], and am all too aware of the deleterious effect on performance imaging of modern recordings. And of course, like many in our hobby, I seek out recordings where capturing the space of the performance is a priority. They are too few and far between. Remarkably, even many so-called audiophile recording efforts are recorded on camera showing exactly what you described: a small chamber for example, maybe playing in a church, a potentially delightful venue, with screens between performers to facilitate less bleed in multitrack recordings. Something about that 32-track workstation seems irresistible. :unamused:

I remain curious about your aural impression that upsampling introduces artifacts that diminish the sense of spatial reproduction. Do you have any thoughts on why that might be so? What might it be about upsampling that either degrades what was there, or introduces competing aural information? Perhaps this is a known phenomenon that is simply ignored or not perceived by most? I am still on the fence about upsampling. I generally enjoy the sound of 2xDSD upsampling with the Vivaldi, but do not employ upsampling in Roon or other software; nor is it a feature of my MSB. When I demo’ed the Meitner, I was impressed by its upsampling capability.

One of the things that the Legacy Valors offer is something Legacy calls Stereo Unfold Technology, which is intended to restore phase and time information necessary for holographic reproduction. It is not a “universal solvent,” but on a majority of recordings, it creates a remarkable illusion of width and depth. This is of course done in the Bohmer 56-bit/96kHz DSP environment; there is a lot of manipulation of the signal happening [to which purists may object, as I once did, but I left that fig leaf in the rear view mirror long ago]. Still, the result is very engaging, so much so that I cannot listen without it on most of my music.

I am not sure that “diminish” is quite the word for what I am talking about though I suppose it could be used. “Confuse” is perhaps nearer what I experience.

I was initially unaware of the strange effects that upsampling can have. Way back when my Elgar and Purcell were returned from the factory with the + upgrades ( 1394 interface and DSD for SACD replay plus upsampling). I was pleased with what I heard. A couple of weeks later two friends came to dinner. So my plan to impress them was to play a CD normally on my Verdi then floor them by pressing the button to upsample it to DSD. Bound to be a huge hit. But almost as soon as I hit the upsample button both friends shouted in unison “No !”. They hated it and we went back to redbook. Later I began to hear the oddities myself. Yes I can hear more of the acoustic. But the acoustic is now amorphous. Yes the sound is smoother but is that violin solo coming from centre stage or a bit to the left, no I mean right , no left etc. Keeping things as PCM upsampling seemed preferable until I played The Beatles, Love Me Do.The result sounded more like a tribute band than the actual Moptops.

Now I believe in progress and therefore repeated all of the above when I bought my Paganini stack. And with the Vivaldi. No better I am sorry to say. I must be a crazy person :crazy_face:. That is were it not for the great reviews that I can recall received by the Elgar stack ( Jonathan Scull, Stereophile), Scarlatti ( John Atkinson -I think- Stereophile), Vivaldi ( Michael Fremer, Stereophile) and Vivaldi ( Paul Miller, Hi-Fi News). Every one a massive rave overall. However every one also expressing some degree of doubt over the result of upsampling. So I may not be alone after all.

Then there was my reading the preamble to the Leadh processing patent ( thanks to Patatorz for the link) which mentions the sonic aberrations caused. Additional support that I am really hearing this.

I think one would need to be a real expert in data conversion technology to proffer anything meaningful on the cause. After all it is not even generally accepted as a real issue - yet. I can only say that once I demonstrate it almost everyone can hear it. That has even included my dealer. It is “almost” because it does not include a longstanding dCS engineer :slightly_smiling_face:.

Yes as I have been saying the production values of most current non-classical recordings are unlikely to reveal the problem. I represent a tiny percentage of an already tiny cohort.

The Stereo Unfold Technology sounds intriguing.

Thanks Pete. Very interesting and helpful. I’ve got some recordings I will need to spend some time with and see if I perceive what you hear. I’ve also been meaning to go back and investigate the Leedh further; I will start with the patent. I realize there is a chance that stuff may find its way into future dCS product.

Well that was a very interesting diversion. Thank you. Interested to try switching upsampling off on the Bartok I have just now but I don’t think it’s possible.

Is upsampling not just another form of filtering but in the digital rather than analog domain? So the analog results of each could be the same if they use the same filters. Of course if they use different filters anything could happen. My limited understanding is that the benefit of upsampling is that it raises the Nyquist frequency and so moves the negative effects of the reconstruction filter to a less noticeable part of the frequency spectrum. And it makes the job of the DAC easier. The negative effects of the anti-aliasing filter have already been imprinted on the digital data though. Upsampling cannot remove that. Maybe upsampling even preserves the anti-aliasing nasties which might have partially hidden by the reconstruction filter nasties? I wonder if the space oddities are equally noticeable on all sample rate recordings? Perhaps Bowie’s song was really about the problems associated with upsampling.

Back on the original topic for a moment: Has anyone seen any comparisons of the Vivaldi Dac to the Rossini dac anywhere that they agreed with based on their own experience with those units? Most Vivaldi reviews seem to be of the whole stack.

It isn’t. Neither with Rossini. Which is why I spent far more than any sane man ( not me) could rationally spend by buying a Vivaldi.

Upsampling is not just a filter option but a mathematical process of approximating what the samples would be were the sample rate greater. There is, of course , no additional information created. Yes that process does indeed move the Nyquist frequency higher and thus the point from which a digital filter is applied. This may be considered preferable.

As I tried to explain in my first post on this subject, any Vivaldi DAC based system will always sound better than a Rossini DAC based one. I am sorry if you want to save money but there it is.

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Pete, is there a particular performance/disc where this upsampling aberration is more pronounced for you? It’d be interesting to see if other can hear what you’re hearing. :thinking:

I have owned my Vivaldi for over two years now and after spending many hours comparing Upsampling options I prefer DSDx2 and DXD (352800 or 384000). I have uncovered none of the deleterious effects noted above rather the music “seems” more like live music.

As I decided some time ago that I would not use upsampling I do not have a ready list of recordings best to illustrate my point. However I will now spend some time preparing this.

This will be brief and relate only to recordings with some degree of adherence to genuine stereo ( not multi mono images pan-potted to form a faux stereo picture - I would have no way of judging if or to what extent they are affected). Therefore as I have been trying to reason above, it is likely that classical music will be chosen.

I have already started this exercise and have been surprised to find that the upsampling aberrations were even apparent with a compressed internet radio source ( BBC Radio 3 , AAC 320 kb/s). What was not surprising is that some of the music played illustrated the peculiarities better than others though they were always present to some degree.

I am using a different sample of a Vivaldi upsampler to the one I used earlier this year and have chosen to upsample to DXD as it is a format that is one of the choices for some current dCS products where upampling cannot be defeated. I have not chosen DSD upsampling ( the alternative for those products) as that involves transcoding which I guess confuses matters somewhat. I shall leave it in PCM. Where available the asymmetric DAC filter will be chosen for both native and upsampled programme.

In order to switch from native replay to upsampled quickly for comparison I have disabled the clone mode. This means that 16 bit recordings will be padded to 24 bit although I do not think this is necessarily part of the problem which seems to me to be more related to frequency sample rates.

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Thanks Jim. Rather like Anup’s request but in converse mode would you kindly give me a couple of examples of recordings where you think that upsampling is clearly beneficial ?

OK here are three recordings that you could use to try the difference in spatial rendition between native and upsampled resolutions. I cannot say that the selection is particularly special in this respect but I hope that they prove of interest. However note that I am not saying that the differences are so large they will biff you on the nose. It is also important that the system used for audition is properly set up for optimum stereo. It must be able to provide an unambiguous three dimensional image using ordinary redbook files of naturally recorded acoustic music. This is about spatial changes/oddities not whether the music sounds smoother, warmer or whatever. Given the programme material I have chosen experience of both live orchestral music in a concert hall and chamber music in a smaller space may assist.

I have listening notes on all three selections which I will post later so as not influence your listening.

My selections are:

Beethoven Op.126 Bagatelles , Alfred Brendel. Philips 1990 cycle. 16/44.1. CD rip

Bologna 1666, Kammerorchester Basel, Julia Schroder. DHM, 24/96. Purchased download

Debussy. Prelude a l’apres midi d’un faune. Pierre Monteux/LSO. Australian Decca Eloquence 16/44.1. CD rip.

NB; all may be found in the same native resolutions on Qobuz – at least the UK version.

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I have Rossini DAC arriving today that is replacing a Bartok DAC. I already have a Rossini clock. A dealer is installing new Wilson Sasha DAWs tomorrow, and bringing along a used Vivaldi DAC for a comparison. The dealer also has a used Vivaldi Upsamnpler i will ask him to bring down.

I am having my music files ripped onto a NAS, and just had ethernet extended to the stereo rack. My intention with the Rossini was to stream from the NAS (both files i own, and from the internet), and keep a Mac mini (also on the network) for other duties.

So, if the Vivaldi is reasonably priced with the Rossini DAC as a trade credit, that’s a decision with added considerations. I’d need somehow to stream from the network and get that to the DAC (I get a one box solution to that with the Rossini DAC) I’d need a Network Bridge or Upsampler I guess.

If I switch to the Vivaldi, and either the NWB or Upsasmpler, I’m gonna need another quality BNC-BNC (I have 3 already), and a pair of AES/EBU interconnects.

Lots to consider between today and tomorrow…my inclination is to go for the Vivaldi DAC and Network Bridge.

Rest of the system is a D’Agostino Momentum HD preamp, D’Agostino M300 mono amps, a pair of JL Fathom F113 (v1) subs, and a Rossini clock. Stealth cabling throughout. I’ll post some photos once everything is installed/settled.

Life is good…