Dear Reader, if you don’t know what is “Amanero” or “DSD” or “NativeDSD” and why would anyone need that with “DSD upsampling” on top - this memo would not serve you any good.
If you are still reading… My story starts with one peculiar product “Audio-GD D-77”: ºÍ志µ响
“D-77” is one of many devices out there that employs “Amanero USB” interface, “Combo384 USB” to be precise: “https://amanero.com/” Out of the box all these Amaneros are fully functional devices, in my case “D-77” was immediately recognized by latest Win10, Linux Mint and, pleasantly, ROCK. But this comes with caveat - “out of the box” they can only do “DoP” with either DSD64 or DSD128 (PCM seems no issue). It turns out that getting it to “NativeDSD” one need to update the “Amanero” firmware. And there’s no coherent information on how to do it !!!
I suppose the update process may change with time, but here’s my “snapshot” as of July 2021. As I said the whole point of exercise is to bring the DAC to NativeDSD / DSD512 device that would be well recognized by ROCK for DSD upsampling.
Process starts with Amanero’s how-to: https://www.amanero.com/howto.htm
First challenge is to figure out how the Amanero flash can be erased on your particular device possibly without the need of going inside and putting a jumper onto Amanero circuit board. I will leave this creative part to you. In my case with “D-77” it was a “flash” button on the back of the device. Here’s another very good similar thread about T+A DAC8, they employ reset on the level of settings: https://community.roonlabs.com/t/question-re-dsd-upsampling-with-roon-nucleus-and-dac8/117007/4
Secondly the “update tool” - you need to figure out what patch you actually need. I have no clue about all the possible applications. My short summary is blunt. To get Amanero recognized as NativeDSD in ROCK you need this - “CPLD_1081 or CPLD_1081_SWAPPEDSD” (native DSD512 on Linux/Windows) “firmware_2006be11” oem tool 117 “Async DAC”: https://amanero.com/oemtool117u.zip
(hey, what if I’m wrong? well at least for D-77 or DAC8 and generally speaking for Amanero with Linux this is the case…)
At this point:
- you have short “how to” instruction
- you have an “Update tool”
- you know how to erase the flash on your device
- you need a Windows PC stably connected to Internet with all the latest patches and updates on it.
- You start with connecting the device to your PC. Give it some time to have device fully recognized by the Windows. You may test by trying to play something through it.
- “Erase the flash” - notice that this process is done with switched-on and USB connected device (certainly). When flash is erased - unplug the USB cable (do not switch off the device, unless instructed by the maker). Important - let Windows fully recognize the fact that device has disappeared! Takes about 10-15 seconds normally.
- Reconnect USB cable and let the Windows fully recognize the fact that something has been connected again. Took me about 10-15 seconds. Here comes first issue: on my “old” PC reconnected device was not recognized by Windows 10, and the promised driver did not help. Luckily I had another PC. And what if you got stuck on N.3 - I actually don’t know. Probably write to Amanero or read million forums…
- Assuming you are through with N.3 - check the internet and run the ConfigTool.exe. You will see unexpectedly demanding screen with only one question in mind - now what???
- First the program asks about OEMID. I did not have one, so I type in “combo384”
- It turns out the reprogramming process is two steps…
- Step 1. In “CPLD Firmware Selection” in drop down list choose “CPLD_1081” or “CPLD_1081_SWAPPEDSD”**. Click - “Flash CPLD”. If all is correct you will see some type of log and green progress bar at the bottom. The process takes about 5 minutes. During the process is stops uncomfortably couple of times. You may get an error message after clicking on “Flash CPLD” asking you to erase the flash. My understanding - either you did not properly erased it, or there’s a driver/connection issue to your device. So when I got this in my case, I “re-erased” the flash, and it worked.
- Step 2. When CPLD update is finished, you go to “CPU Firmware Selection”, you need to find and select “firmware_2006be11” from the list. Click “Flash CPU” button. You will see similar type of log as in 6.1. and similar situation with green status bar. It took me about 3 minutes, seemed a little faster than 6.1.
- When it is finished close the “ConfigTool”
- Unplug the USB. And again, please let Windows to fully understand that something been unplugged. Plug USB cable back again if you want. At this point I was connecting device to NUC ROCK.
** I have at first chosen “CPLD_1081”. After all steps has been completed and I tested the device in Roon and realized the right and left channels were swapped. So, I had to restart all over again by erasing the flash and selecting “CPLD_1081_SWAPPEDSD” in 7.)
As the result of the above process, in case all has worked correctly for you, you should be able to chose “Native” in “DSD playback strategy” in Audio Settings for your device.
And you will be able to set “Up to DSD512” in your “Max Sample rate (DSD)”.
Next stop would be DSP → “Sample Rate Conversion”. You may want to chose “DSD” in output sample rate and pick DSD512. (Note, according to my findings on the net, some people report artefacts and clicks and misbehaving DAC’s, sorry if this is the case for you. In my combination of “NUC (ROCK) → USB → D-77” it works perfectly so far)
- Filters has been discussed, you make your personal choice, but if not sure you may want to check here for starters: https://help.roonlabs.com/portal/en/kb/articles/dsp-engine-sample-rate-conversion
- In Sigma-Delta modulator I’ve chose - “7th order (CLANS)”, explained here: Can someone explain the CLANS noise shaper?
- Parallelize Sigma-Delta modulator up to you
- Enable native DSD processing - yes
Note: this NativeDSD thing drains processing power drastically, but it does the job at 1.8x or 2.1x. That is what matters…
PS: Ah, and what about the sound after all of this? Two things are immediately obvious, sound stage get’s more volume, and feels richer comparing to PCM playback, ok, this is subjective… (I have different PCM 24/192 DAC connected to ROCK, so could immediately compare) Second thing is wider dynamism, I think this has been also commented by some of ROON’s gurus as a fact, the music has more life in it. Listening to vocals from someone like Patty Smith, P.J. Harvey or Nina Simone, you hear the difference compared to simple PCM immediately.
Comments / Corrections are more than welcome !
All the best,