Vivaldi Upsampler - Any Benefit For CDs?

Apologies for what is likely a dumb question, or one that has been discussed before, but my dCS dealer has not been able to provide a solid answer.
I have a partial Vivaldi stack (DAC/ Transport/ Clock) and am considering adding the Upsampler. I have a huge cd collection for which I would like to maximize sound quality. I see in the full Vivaldi stack cabling recommendation an AES/EBU out from the Transport to the Upsampler. My dealer has been unable to tell me what the function of this connection is and suggests that it does nothing because the Transport already upsamples. I find it hard to believe that dCS would recommend an additional connection between Transport and Upsampler if it didn’t further enhance performance above the 1&2 AES / EBU connection between Transport and DAC.
Can anyone help with this so I can decide whether or not to add the Upsampler?

I would not pay any credence to what your dealer has told you. I will tag @Phil in case he feels the need to take this further.

Vivaldi DAC does not upsample. You are correct that there would be no point in dCS making an upsampler separately if the connected unit already performed the task.

You will find that to upsample to the higher rates you have to use AES 1 & 2 ( or 3 & 4). For rates of 352.8, 384 or DSD x2 the S/Pdif outputs will be muted.

Whether or not you like the outcome of upsampling and which chosen rates is a subjective matter that you will need to experience to make up your mind. Note that upsampling adds no further musical information to the source i.e. CD upsampling from 16/44.1 to, say, 24/352.8 does not magically turn the track into bona fide DXD as if it had used that format in the original recording. However amongst other matters the point at which the digital filter operates changes.

I would say that although I personally am not a fan of upsampling this only relates to its effect on much classical music and I can appreciate why many find it beneficial. The Vivaldi Upsampler is, however, not only concerned with this aspect and it is also the source of streaming in the Vivaldi line and as such is very much worthwhile giving access to vast amounts of music and at high sample rates ( subject to subscription).

Depending on your need for streaming , my preference would be to upgrade your Vivaldi DAC to Apex first if you have not done this already.

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That connection always outputs data at CD resolution (even when SACDs are played). So, should you choose to, you can use that connection to the Upsampler so that it upsamples the data and sends it to the DAC rather than the transport doing the same thing, which is the arrangement you have now.

My dealer, perhaps like yours (and like at least one of the sales guys at dCS), claims that using the upsampler as I’ve described “sounds better”. Me sceptical! Unless you are interested in streaming you might want to spend money elsewhere, as Pete suggests.

Thank you, Pete!
Yes, I had the Apex upgrade done a few months ago. I do plan to add streaming, but the dealer sales is recommending an Aurender product (which they also carry) instead of the Vivaldi Upsampler. I am wary of swapping other components in since I know a lot of engineering has gone into the full Vivaldi stack. So I’m trying to justify the VU based on its ability to achieve highest performance from my CDs.
I currently use the dual AES/ EBU 1&2 Transport into the DAC. Seeing as how the AES/EBU 3 on the the Transport only transmits cd quality data, as Simon noted, and it is a single cable vs dual cable I’m wondering how adding the 3rd AES/EBU output from the transport could be beneficial.
Perhaps the upsampling capability / precision in the Vivaldi Upsampler is superior to upsampling performed in the Transport ….or the performance of the upsampling function is improved by being placed in a separate chassis?

Thanks, Simon! See my reply to Pete.
Hopefully someone at dCS can explain the reason why the upsampling in the Transport (with dual AES/EBU to DAC) is improved (at least as reported by some) when a 3rd AES/EBU (from Transport to Upsampler) is added, especially when that 3rd output is lower resolution.

Hello again, I don’t think we have this point quite right. (I expect all is made clear in the upsampler manual, which can be found on the dCS website.) From reading the other manuals this is how I think it works: In a full four box stack, when playing a CD, either the aes1+2 connection feeds the DAC directly with the upsampled signal, OR the upsampler receives the unaltered CD 44.1 kHz signal from the transport, does the upsampling, and feeds that to the DAC instead. In this latter case no upsampling occurs in the transport, and only aes3 output (to the upsampler) is used.

That’s how it appears to me. The upsampler manual should have the info, and I’m sure lots of forum members will know, and correct me if I’m wrong. Many must have made the comparison (i.e., in terms of sound quality) too.

It all depends on what you want to do and how you connect the units.

I think that I misunderstood your initial posting and thought that you had been advised that the DAC upsampled. However you were referring to the transport. This does indeed upsample to DSD, DXD and DXD x2. Further I seem to recall a post from dCS a couple of years ago when it was advised that upsampling in the transport was, in the system architecture, preferable. Incidentally I tried a comparison and was unable to hear any improvement. You may be more fortunate.Those rates or SACD replay need dual AES connection. However the connection can then be to the DAC directly.

The transport AES3 output is more limited regarding the sample rate passed and, as pointed out by @Simon_C, will pass 16/44.1 in its native state. S/Pdif is an available alternative.I believe it is useful to be able to switch from upsampled to native CD as IMO upsampling is not always preferable. The Upsampler also allows a wider choice of upsampled rates should you so wish. Using AES 3 has no impact on upsampling or SACD replay using AES 1+2. It is a separate interface.

However I am going to reiterate the value of the upsampler for streaming. Frankly if you only have silver disc replay you are underrating how much streaming from, say, Qobuz or Tidal may enhance your life. For what is a tiny annual sum (m especially compared to a Vivaldi stack) you can, more or less, listen to almost everything. A friend recommends a recording - press a button and you hear it. No more buying CDs and finding out that you only like a single track :wink:. I would also remark that my extensive CD collection was taking over the available space in my place. The Upsampler with UPnP and Qobuz has solved that.

Aurender is a nice product. Did you know that a few years ago dCS were the UK distributor of Aurender? However I just checked the Aurender website and the upsampling available seems limited to PCM to a maximum of 192 KS/s should that be important to you.

Thanks, Simon!
I spoke with John Giolas, dCS VP Sales, who was great and answered all my questions. It turns out the Upsampler is the preferred location for signal processing, but all 3 AES/ EBU cables out of the Transport are needed to get the best out of both Redbook cd AND SACDs.
I am really blown away with dCS Community. Such a phenomenal resource. Thanks to all who helped!


Thank you, Pete.
I appreciate your explanation of the connections, and the utility of having a non-upsampled option. I am sure there are many cases where it is preferred. I will aim to maintain that capability.
I know streaming has tremendous benefits and I will be moving there gradually with the Upsampler. I still love physical media and purchasing music downloads for artwork / liner notes and so that I own the music and better support the artists I like. I’m looking forward to streaming mostly to aid in discovery of new music. So at least for awhile I’ll keep building rooms to house my music. :grinning:

Up to 352.8/384 on my W20SE

That’s great. However according to the Aurender ( USA) website, the current statement product is the N30SA which is is specified as per my earlier post insofar as upsampling is concerned.

Update to my quest (thanks to all for your very wise input)… I have decided to add the Vivaldi Upsampler, based on what I learned from John Giolis. Theoretically at least, taking the Vivaldi Transport’s AES3 output to the Upsampler (Upsampler doing the upsampling) will be superior for Redbook CDs versus the Transport’s AES1&2 to the DAC (I.e. upsampling in the Transport). I understand that the AES1&2 output to the DAC gives best results for SACDs, but I only have a few dozen and, if needed I can swap cables to maximize SACD.
I am still planning to evaluate the Aurender W20SE/ Conductor & ACS10 to do streaming and library management vs dCS Vivaldi Upsampler and NAS. For me, the user interface of Aurender seems more intuitive, but will evaluate each. Depending on the outcome I may wind up with both the Vivaldi Upsampler AND an Aurender.
But next challenge is clock cables! I’ve read many, many discussions on the topic and have noted the very helpful comments by Pete regarding Van Damme BNC 75 cables. In that recommendation, Pete stated that the Van Damme clock cables were superior to everything except a few that were over £1000 per meter. Pete, Is there any way you could drop a hint as to what those higher priced cables which you liked better than the Van Dammes are? Again, they would be for a Vivaldi stack. Thanks in advance.

That was some years ago and I try not to recommend cables these days as the number of brands is now so numerous, the range of permutations similarly and the chance of hearing more than a tiny number not possible.

I will say that I still use the Van Damme Pulsar clock cables with my Vivaldi Apex stack even though everything else in the cable loom has changed. That does not mean that they are optimal, rather that they form a practical choice at a realistic price.

Oops, yes you’re correct! I will investigate the N30SA. Thanks!
Pete, could you possibly give me a clue as to the few other, more expensive brands of clock cables that in your opinion were somewhat better than Van Dammes? I’d like to audition a few brands in both price ranges. Very grateful for your suggestions!

The fact that you are still using Van Damme clock cables after several years is very helpful. Thank you, Pete!

I sympathise with your question. However there are various reasons why I could not do this. As well as the reasons I gave above, the cable that I had tried in my own system went out of production years ago and has been replaced by the manufacturer at least twice by successors, none if which have I heard.

There have also been successors to other cables or new introductions of which I have no experience. So I am really in no better position than you.

Regarding your recent post, I have to say that I can simply find no clear reason why I should replace the Van Damme Pulsar’s so I don’t. Maybe there is some miracle piece of wire out there but I would love to know what it is :wink:

In the overall system architecture, it is surely a redundancy. dCS has probably done that thinking some people may only use transport+vivaldi dac.

As far as I understand, it is preferred to do the upsamling in the transport.

I have a Rossini stack with the same redundancy. I typically upsample it at the transport level. Is there a major difference in sound ? The answer is NO (to my ears).


I’m very happy with my Shunyata Alpha v2 clock cables

Thanks for the suggestion, Jonathan. I was leaning toward Shunyata because they have a lot of experience with high precision signal cables in medical. Out of curiosity, did you audition the Shunyata Sigma and Omega clock cables also?

Thank you, Sourav. Good to know your experience with the Rossini stack.
I may have the same outcome (to my ears anyway) with the Vivaldi stack.
I have a very large library of CDs, and dCS told me that most people prefer upsampling at the Vivaldi Upsampler vs at the Transport for standard CDs. SACDs do better with the dual AES/ EBU connection to the DAC.
I had a window of opportunity to get an Upsampler, so I took the chance. I will say that my current setup (dual AES/ EBU to DAC since Upsampler is not yet connected) sounds great with standard CDs. It’s hard to imagine using the Upsampler will yield major improvements, but I had to find out for myself. I’m hoping dCS guidance will yield audible benefits in my situation. I can post my findings if you’re interested.