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High Res Audio, Audirvana & Schiit ?'s Beginner

Discussion in 'DACs' started by j_loop, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. j_loop

    j_loop AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    363
    Location:
    SW CT
    Been thinking of getting away from disc players and go with files on a hard drive.
    For cd's this seems pretty straight forward, but thinking towards the future I can't help but consider High Res Audio and how I can implement it into my system. So I have some questions:

    I'm on Mac.
    CD's: I've always ripped using aiff for lossless, but in this endeavor saving space would be wise. Should I use FLAC? Does it produce a smaller file? Any sonic reason(s) not to? What software is good at ripping cd's to FLAC?
    High Res Audio: iTunes won't seem to cut it. Audirvana seems to have a good reputation and I was wondering if anyone here has experience with it? I'd like all the audio files on an external hard drive, would that pose a problem?
    DAC: Schiit has a good reputation so that's where I'm focusing, that being said can anyone speak towards the difference between a Modi 2 and the internal dac of a Mac Mini late 2014 model? From what I can see all Schiit's players top out at 24/192 so it looks like straight DSD will not work with these, nor multichannel audio correct? Audirvana says for non-DSD capable dac's it will downsample to PCM. Can Schiit handle those? Since I don't plan to use a disc player is there any reason to get the Modi Uber? Seems like additional inputs are the only difference. (Multibit is a bit more $ than I want to spend)
    USB Cable: I may not have the same kind of USB open on my mac that the Schiit receives. Is there a downside to getting a cable that's USBx to USBy? Would that work?

    Sorry for soooo many questions. I've been playing vinyl for so long that I'm waaaay out of the digital loop.

    Of course if I missed something feel free to chime in!
    Thanks!!
     
  2. mnrocketry

    mnrocketry AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Savage, MN
    I rip CDs to FLAC. (I also rip to WMA for the little audio player that I take to the gym.) I use "DBpoweramp CD Ripper" on a Windows PC. Don't know if they have a Mac version of that software.

    I am very happy with my Schiit. I have an original Bifrost DAC; I just bought the 4490 upgrade card to install in it. I also have a Modi 2 Uber DAC and a Magni 2 Uber headphone amp.

    If you want a DAC and headphone amp, you can get the Fulla 2 for $99, or stack the Modi 2 and Magni 2 for $198. If you only need a USB input, and don't need any pre-amp outputs, then you don't really need the "Uber" versions.
     
  3. gvl

    gvl Active Member

    Messages:
    342
    A well-chosen external DAC will most certainly be an improvement. As for DSD vs. PCM there lies a dilemma, folks tend to like multi-bit DACs over Delta-Sigma and the former don't do DSD natively, so to listen DSD on a multi-bit DAC DSD must be converted to PCM at some point before the physical DAC chip, be it on the source or inside the DAC itself. Many newer Delta-Sigma units support DSD natively and DSD decoding happens on the actual DAC chip so no one extra data conversion step on the way to your ears. I can't speak to the benefits of each approach but suspect given proper implementation it would be hard to discern any differences. Schiit expressed no interest in supporting DSD in their products.
     
  4. j_loop

    j_loop AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    363
    Location:
    SW CT
    Thanks for the responses!!
    The more I look into this the more I feel I need to put DSD on the back burner...

    Which bring me to a 24/192 question:
    The Schiit can accept these, but they transform them to 16bit before output.
    Is there any reason to buy a 24/192 if it's just going to be brought down to 16bit?
    Are most DAC's similar in this regard? Would you have to spend a lot more for a DAC that keeps it 24/192 the whole way?

    Thanks Folks!
     
  5. gvl

    gvl Active Member

    Messages:
    342
    Most DS designs can do 24/192 with no data truncation from the tech spec point of view but the whole DA conversion process is so much different from multi-bit that it is not apples to apples comparison. You don't have to spend much more to get a unit that has a DAC chip that can do 24/192 natively unless you must have a multi-bit (also called R2R ladder) one. Whether you'll hear any differences when playing 24/192 content on a higher-resolution DAC depends on how resolving the rest of the system is and your ears. If you're not obsessed with scrutinizing every tiny little detail in the sound I'd say your money will be best spent on quality interconnects and signal purifiers or galvanic isolators if you use USB rather than a true 24/192 multi-bit unit.
     
  6. j_loop

    j_loop AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    363
    Location:
    SW CT
    Thanks gvl! Lots I didn't know there. Never knew the divide between multibit and DS was so complex...

    I'd be using USB for connection. Are there signal purifiers for that or are they just for spdif?
    And what is a galvanic isolator and what do they do?
     
  7. ictwoody

    ictwoody I like vintage gear — my preamp is from 2007. Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,922
    Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
    Spend the money for the Multibit DAC. It's superior and sounds more analogue than the less expensive chips. I've owned the original Modi, Modi 2 Uber, Bifrost, Bifrost Uber and Bifrost Multibit.

    The main advantage of the bifrost is the ability to upgrade later, such as the way I upgraded my Uber to MB. I also bought a second Bifrost Uber for my second system and may eventually upgrade it to MB as well. It also has a more robust power supply, but that isn't as big of a deal to me.

    The chip in the Modi MB is the same chip as the MB Bifrost but for much less.

    As for ripping your CDs, AIFF, WAV or FLAC is fine. Just pick one and roll with it. I wouldn't worry about DSD stuff at all.

    For USB cables as long as you have a USB port open on you Mac your just use a standard USB-A to USB-B with almost all DACs. If you don't need longer than 1m than the Schiit USB cable is great for the money... it's made for them by StraightWire. If you need longer lengths I would just buy a Belkin GOLD off Amazon.

    I haven't used Audiovana, but it seems well regarded. I say go for it. A LOT of people like Roon also.

    - Woody
     
  8. gvl

    gvl Active Member

    Messages:
    342
    In the end it is all about implementation, I spent several hours yesterday comparing a Modi Multibit and a Centrance DACMini CX which is a decent DS but older DS unit, and while the Modi has a slight edge in rendering certain details the differences are subtle to the point I don't really care.

    Computers send massive amount of RF noise on the USB bus and it tends to affect DAC's ability to interpret the data precisely and ultimately has negative effect on the SQ. There are also audible noise issues related to shared ground between computers and the rest of audio gear if the computer and say the amp are both grounded (use 3-prong wall plugs). USB signal purifiers clean the RF noise from/shape the signal and galvanic isolators break ground loops but the latter may not have much effect if the computer, amp or both aren't grounded. Purifiers and isolators are definitely a YMMV thing as much depends on how problematic your equipment is to begin with and if the DAC has any built-in measures to specifically deal with these problems, but most less expensive DAC have none.

    There are several products out there, iFi Audio is generally well regarded, and their micro-iUSB3.0 (or the USB iPurifier 2 + the original iUSBPower) seems like everything you might ever need to deal with these issues. If using a USB-powered DAC they also have Gemini cable to be used with the iUSB.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
  9. Jrflanne

    Jrflanne New Member

    Messages:
    15
    - I have tried a bunch of players for OS X and I use Audirvana. I just prefer it. Tried the much ballyhooed Roon and it was a total pita to get working. Life is too short. Audirvana' library functionality is nice. iTunes continually pisses me off. Audirvana works with Tidal.

    -DAC. I have Schiit multibit dac's in my main system and home office. I really like their sound. A lot. They just have a presence about them. Schiit no longer makes a DSD compatible DAC. No demand apparently. They aren't going to that Meridian nonsense either.

    - cable. I use USB. Although I fall in the "USB cables don't appreciably affect sound quality" camp, I have had cable problems. I believe these were caused by shielding of cheapo cables. Or something. Toss the defective cable in the crapper. I had a strange problem with random pops and ticks (not totally unlike a defective record) when I upgraded os x on my music server. Hooked up a Wyrd which fixed the problem, whatever it was.

    - format. I ripped all of my stuff to ALAC. No particular reason. I couldn't really tell the difference between that and FLAC or AAIF. Disk storage is cheap so you really don't have any reason to deviate from AAIF.
     
  10. Finjima

    Finjima AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    529
    Location:
    Lake Helen Florida
    I have Schitt Multibit in my future purchasing plans.
     
  11. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    Well, I have not heard the multibit but the regular Schiit DAC does not sound as good as the iFi Nano, to me. That is another brand to try.

    iFi is part of Abbington Music Research and they make very nice high end disc players and professional equipment. iFi is their low cost, trickle down tech brand.
     
  12. gvl

    gvl Active Member

    Messages:
    342
    I can't say anything bad about Schiit products, I have a Modi Multibit for now which I think is decent, but the fact all DAC recommendation topics end up in a "buy a Schiit DAC" makes me think we are all victims of mass hypnosis.
     
  13. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

    I guess what tickles my funny bone is: " My DAC, IT'S THE SCHIIT!!!!"
     
  14. gvl

    gvl Active Member

    Messages:
    342
    Exactly, the name they picked is probably a big part of what their popularity is riding on.
     
    invaderzim likes this.
  15. Finjima

    Finjima AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    529
    Location:
    Lake Helen Florida
    People just want a good dac and get something for their money. and Schitt sells on word of mouth mainly. because they deliver the goods over a period of years at many different price points. Look at what a stir their entry lvl products are causing. People are getting their money's worth and talking about it. some don't and thats ok too. But you do have to have a decent system to hear the quality also and some don't have that. Plus the name is killer smart
     

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