Network Bridge and Roon best practice on DSD

Hi All,
My simplified system:
Roon Nucleus - Network Bridge - Esoteric D05 DAC via double AES EBU (tops at DSD64 DOP)

To get higher rates to play I had to manually change the dCS settings in the Roon app to Maximum DSD64 instead of the default DSD128.

What is better:

  • Let Roon convert to DSD64 all higher rates;
  • Limit myself to buying DSD64 albums.

In other words, is the Roon conversion to from say DSD256 to DSD64 creating a “worse” path than a clean DSD64 file?

Many thanks - and I know that with a modern DAC I would not be asking this, so please answer only on the above :slight_smile:

My first question is how many DSD 256 albums are we talking about? I know of very few , mainly a handful of classical recordings. But even these are probably not “pure” DSD256 as DSD cannot be edited and has to be converted to PCM to do this (hence DXD) and then reconverted back to DSD.

Given the reality of DSD recording I wouldn’t worry. You probably will not be getting “clean” DSD anyway.

Not trying to be a smarty pants here :wink:, because I agree that these are not commonplace, but I just posted over in the What’s Spinning thread a couple of links to a wonderful recording of Noelia Rodiles’ Butterfly Effect. It’s in native 256DSD; here are some notes about the recording.

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Ah yes, the exception that proves the rule :grinning:.

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Touché! :rofl:

I’d agree with Pete that right now there aren’t enough DSD256 material to be concerned about it.

However, there are plenty of DSD128 material out there from the like of or that are audibly better than their DSD64 counterparts, at least when played back on dCS platforms.

As such @Promao, I’d say when purchase DSD material, get DSD128 or better and use Roon to down-sample where necessary (assuming your PC has enough grunt), until you’re able upgrade your DAC in the future. :metal:t3:

Thanks guys,

The real question remaining to answer is wether letting Roon downsample 256 to 64 ends up worse than buying the 64…


The question is difficult to answer as it depends upon the provenance of the DSD64, 128 or 256 file. If the original recording was made at DSD64 and the 128 and 256 versions were upsampled from it then buying the DSD64 is preferable. If the original recording was DSD128 or 256 the file being sold as DSD64 has been downsampled. It is then dependent upon a comparison of the D to D conversion algorithms used by Roon v. the unknown product which the record label used and its conversion algorithms to decide which is best - which is an unanswerable question for the most part.

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I have the same recording and other DSD256 (native and analog mastering). I am currently about to invest to take my DAC to a higher level. Currently use a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge. I am currently renovating the house and building a custom 2 channel listening room and want to have to state of the art DAC in it. On the fence between dCS Vivaldi and MSB. Totally different approaches to greatness – RingDAC (everything resampled to 5-bit) vs. “pure” ladder of the MSB Select II hybrid DAC. It’s not like this equipment is sitting at your local Best Buy to audition, so since you are lucky enough to have both on hand, what are your thoughts. My taste is the DSD is superior to PCM most of the time. I think SACDs DSD64 often sound superior to PCM 24/192. Any thoughts you could share would be great. You’ve got a great setup!

I probably like DSD overall, though I’ve heard some SACDs that made me cringe, and I am not sure I can go as far to say that DSD is generally superior to PCM. There is some excellent DXD out there, and that’s just PCM. Still, I appear to be settling in on DSD upsampling on the Vivaldi. I like some DXD upsampling, and some stuff sounds better not upsampled, but my sense of timing and sensitivity to upsampling artifacts does not seem to be as acute as Pete’s.

Both the Vivaldi and MSB have SOTA SQ. I love them both. If you held a gun to my head, and forced me to give one up, it would be the MSB solely because it is the heart of my headphone rack. And if I had to choose just one system to have, it would be my speaker system, so that my family and friends could still enjoy music with me. Otherwise, here are some stream-of-consciousness comparative thoughts [and little of it is about SQ]:

Points that favor dCS Vivaldi:

  1. More vibrant, energetic user community. I really wish MSB would do something to build a community like the one here. It is a real delight.

  2. Very good technical support inside that community.

  3. The Vivaldi is set up for improved clocking in a very different way from MSB. I like this flexibility, but dCS is a tad coy about the clock specs one starts with in the basic DAC box. I have found that adding external clocks improves the sense of realism offered by the DAC.

  4. Overall, dCS seems to be more interested than MSB in providing engineering informatioin about their equipment. And there are way more reviews of dCS equipment than MSB.

Points that favior MSB Select II:

  1. More versatile. Swappable upgradeable modules make expanding and upgrading the DAC ridiculously easy. And silly expensive.

  2. More flexibility. Multiple modules, aditional preamp ins and outs. The Select is truly a DAC/preamp.

  3. I am about to test the following proposition: that the MSB USB solution is superior to the Vivaldi. dCS engineers and most users seem to agree that the dCS network playback solution is superior to the USB implementation, and this comes from the company that essentially invented asynchronous USB. I think the MSB network playback is also superior to USB. Personally, I can’t stand USB. But an awful lot of work has been put into making it decent. And now, MSB has a newish ProUSB module with built-in fiber isolation, that I plan to test out with an EVO432 server. We’ll see how it goes.

  4. If you like an industrial techno look, the MSB is lovely. If you want something different, the Vivaldi is gorgeous. Both are hefty and solid, but the MSB feels slightly more “whole.” Given that the box is CNC-machined from an aluminum billet, thats no surprise. I am hopoing that BVivaldi’s successor smoothes some of those sharp corners.

  5. The MSB display can be read from across the room, but it’s not very informative, and it looks a bit dorky. The Vivaldi display(s) are more informative, but are difficult to read from more th 8 feet away. Neither provides cover art. I use Roon; I don’t care.

If network play is unimportant, you could look at the Nagra HD DAC X. I’ve heard very good things about its analog section, but it never made my listening list due to absence of network play [Nagra is repoortedly working on that]. And you might also consider the Meitner; it does network play, takes upsampling to another level, but didn’t seem to me to sound as good as Vivaldi.

FWIW, I would not let the absence of native 256DSD be a deciding point. It wasn’t for me. I think Pete’s point above about procuring music in its recorded provenance, or as close to it as possible, is spot on.

If I had to pick one word to desdribe the MSB, it would be "ruthless.” It reveals everything. If I had to pick one word to describe Vivaldi, it would be “organic” or “lifelike.” I don’t know that Vivaldi doesn’t reveal everything, and something about its presentation allows me not to care.

Bioth have anti-obsolescence support paths. They are different. But you should feel confident in investing in either one.

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I take the approach to convert any DSD album >DSD64 to PCM

  • to 24/176.8kHz for DSD128
  • to 24/352.8kHz for DSD256

For this conversion I use DSDMaster, which I find to deliver the best conversion quaity by a margin.
While I would love dCS to provide DSD256 on the Rossini, I realize that this is unlikely to happen, as it would likely involve a major upgrade, that is probably not doable by SW alone.
I think this approach is better than using roon to convert DSD256 to DSD64 (converting to PCM and remodulating to DSD64). I stop after the PCM conversion.
dCS then gives me the freedom to chose DSD or DSD128 upsampling if I desire.

I do what Rudolph does for native DSD256 recordings, converting them to DXD with DSDMaster (be sure to use the Zero Phase filter). I do wish I could play the DSD256 I have (currently 32 albums, and that doesn’t yet include Noelia Rodiles) natively, then again, it’s true it’s barely a drop in the ocean in my record collection…

Greetings from Switzerland, David.

However I do note a recent increase in the availability of DSD 256 from a microscopic level to a minimal one :wink:

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Hi Greg,

Which MSB do you own?

Select II DAC.

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Exactly, you mentioned it above)

I thought I felt something tugging at my leg when I was outside with the dogs. :wink:

@PaleRider thanks for beautifully summarizing these two products

  • do you mean dcs is more forgiving to bad recordings compared to msb, when you say msb is ruthless
  • did you try putting msb into your main speaker system and what were your observations?
  • is the msb analog preamp module a game change and is first that good and second does it universally work well with power amps (or atleast your merrill amps if you had tried it)?

Well, the MSB Select preamp is indeed a very nice passive preamp. I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of its engineering, but it’s essentially an analog passive pre behind a high output (3.57v) DAC. As near as I can tell, this is what the DAC sounds like, and no matter the level, there is no loss of detail. And it’s excellent. MSB sells two headphone amps designed for the Select that have no volume controls of their own. The DAC is the preamp in this configuration. I have yet to hear this arrangement, but I am getting closer to trying it. I have three headphone amps connected to the Select: a custom T2 for my Stax electrostats, the Trafomatic Primavera for my Susvara, MySphere, and ZMF cans, and the RAAL HSA1A for my RAAL SR1a earfield monitors. Each of those amps has its own volume control. They are all pretty good, very good really, but I suspect there’s some coloration going on there. It’s fairly slight, and tends to get lost in both the qualities of the headphones themselves and their drivers (especially the tubes).Still, having just the MSB passive ore in between the DAC and the amp is tempting. Is it a “game changer”? I don’t know. On a $80+k DAC, I guess it ought to be, but I’m not sure what that means here. There are lots of great DACs. Is it so good no one could want anything else? Obviously not, as a quick perusal of What’s Best Forum will show.

I have not tried the Select in my speaker system. That’s an awful lot of work, and I just haven’t been motivated to try. This may sound weird to some, but I’m just not that interested in hearing the relative differences between the Vivaldi and the Select. Both sound so good right where they are. I’d rather enjoy them than tinker with them as this point.

As to “ruthlessness,” I want to start by saying I am not at all sure the Vivaldi is all that “forgiving.” One has no trouble hearing just how bad a recording can be on a Vivaldi stack. (But heck, I can discern bad recording on my Apple Watch/AirPods while out walking.) But the combo of the MSB, T2 amp, and Stax SR-009S cans doesn’t leave any place for a bad recording to “hide,” and in that environment, all the flaws and the humanity of any recording are clearly audible. Sometimes that’s good though. The sense of intimacy with headphone listening can be very rewarding, even if the spatial presentation is somewhat unnatural (even with the RAAL’s and MySphere’s impressive—for headphones—soundstages).

Still, I think it’s possible that the Upsampler does provide some SQ improvement on some recordings that would otherwise be less enjoyable to hear. And so, in that sense, the Vivaldi stack can, at the listener’s discretion, be less ruthless.