@AMP, any news regarding the upcoming software update on the dCS NBR? It was supposed to happen in late October. Why the delay? Are there any planned SQ improvements (apart from MQA support)? What about AirPlay 2, will it be supported by the NBR?
The major delay (across the board) was MQA and that single feature on the Rossini tied up our development partners for many months last year. The complexity there surrounds the way in which our implementation handles clocking which is somewhat different from other integrated streaming platforms. The Rossini was implemented first and released in December. Vivaldi One is the next platform in line and that’s in verification now. Network Bridge is next.
In addition to MQA this release is slated to include USB audio output as well as the ability for the bridge to issue control instructions to a dCS DAC (i.e. volume control, filter selection, etc). There are also a number of bugfixes and general improvements to the code. If we hit a major snag that’s going to prolong things too much we may make some adjustments to the planned feature list.
I’ve had a working development version of the MQA firmware for a couple of months and it’s solid. We started testing USB audio builds a couple of weeks ago and although there are some issues to iron out it’s looking good. I can’t promise a release date (learning from the Roon guys on that one), but I can say that once Vivaldi One is done all resources will focus on NBR.
We don’t plan sound quality improvements as we try really hard to get that part right from the start
AirPlay 2 isn’t planned at this time, but may happen in the future. Apple just pulled AirPlay 2 from iOS last week so that’s a pretty strong indication that the code isn’t fully baked yet.
Wow, I didn’t expect such a detailed reply! Thank you very much for sharing this with is.
So it I understand correctly, the estimated realease dates should be:
Vivaldi One update - March 2018
NBR update - April/May 2018
Regarding the NBR update, will there be any other novelties apart from the USB output and MQA?
EDIT: I am running my setup like this: ROCK -> NBR -> (dual AES and clock BNC cable) -> Paganini DAC
What I find very annoying is the constant locking and unlocking to a clock rate sent by the NBR to the Paganini DAC. So even if I change a 16/44.1 track to another 16/44.1 track in Roon, the Paganini will (in 70% of cases) unsync and then sync again to the clock of the NBR, causing a delay of 4-5 seconds. Is there any chance to get this sorted with the NBR update?
Those dates are reasonable although I would like to see the NBR date pulled in a bit. These two releases are our #1 priority right now.
For new features it’s primarily MQA and USB audio output. There are also a ton of bugfixes which enhance overall stability and performance.
Just so I’m clear. Is this a natural track transition between 16/44 tracks or skipping from one 16/44 track to another one?
The reason that I ask is that Roon’s bitstream is uninterrupted as long as the sample rate and bit depth remain constant from track to track. In other words, if you play a CD’s worth of tracks the stream stays open and the endpoint is constantly sending data to the DAC. If you skip forward, pause for more than 8 seconds, or switch to a different sample rate then the stream is destroyed and rebuilt. Basically, anything that causes the signal path light to go off in Roon means that the stream was taken down.
For track changes in which format is constant and the skip forward control isn’t used there should be no resync on the DAC side. When there is a format change then the DAC has to re-lock and some are slower than others. This isn’t an issue with the bridge itself as much as it’s just the way everything works.
The Paganini is on the slow side when there’s a sample rate change, but there’s the added complication of dual AES. 44.1K and 48K content are sent down a single link, but 88.2K and above are split and sent over two links. There’s some added overhead in syncing dual AES and that adds time so switches from lower rates to higher rates and back will just take longer.
The newer DACs are quite a bit faster in this regard, but there’s no way to speed up the Paganini.
Having said that we have made some progress in the time it takes for the NBR to start playback so you may see some time shaved off from that.
If you haven’t already I highly recommend giving Roon’s upsampling functionality a go. The “Max PCM (power of 2)” setting will bump all PCM content up to 176.4 or 192. I’ve experienced a sonic benefit to doing this, but the added bonus is that all PCM content will present 24 bits and sample rates which will keep the NBR’s output nailed to dual AES. You may experience faster transitions in this setup and it should limit the times that the DAC needs to resync to switches between 44.1K base, 48K base, and DSD content.
I do upsample 16/44.1 and 16/48 in Roon in order for dual AES to work properly with these sample rates. I don’t upsample hi res content (24/88.2 and upwards to 24/384).
I mostly upsample 16/44.1 and 16/48 to DSD64, but good results can be obtained by upsampling to DXD too (24/352.8 and 24/384). The Paganini handles both very well.
Which combination of Roon upsampling settings do you find to work best? I tend to use the smooth/minimum phase filter and 5-CLANS upsampling settings. To be honest, I don’t even know what they do in technical terms.
Regarding the clock resyncing issue, it mostly happens when I skip tracks. Sometimes Room keeps an uninterrupted stream, sometimes it doesn’t. I haven’t managed to track down the cause of such behavior.
What bothers me the most is TIDAL. If I wish to skip a track, it breaks the stream every single time. For example, if I play a TIDAL album (through the “play all” button), the stream will not break. If I skip to the next song within the same TIDAL album, it breaks every time and the clock needs to be resynced. A workaround I found to work with TIDAL (instead of forced skipping to the next track) is pushing the time bar of the track to the very end, so that the next TIDAL track will start automatically. This is the only way to keep the clock in sync.
A few nights ago, for the first time in the past 6 months, I managed to skip from a library track to a TIDAL track without breaking the stream (without clock resyncing). That night was the first and only time that the NBR-Paganini combo displayed such behavior, and I failed to replicate it again.
So apart from MQA, the clock syncing issue is the most important thing to be sorted out with the NBR and older dCS DACs, if my opinion as a user matters. It would make our life so much easier!
Do you know if the forthcoming bridge firmware fixes some of the glitchy AirPlay behaviour of the bridge? I reported some of my issues to John Quick around the time I acquired mine. He said that my issues would probably be fixed with forthcoming firmware.
Two different issues, but both common to the Airplay stack we’re using. Both are logged and will be addressed, but I don’t have an exact timeline yet. We have a number of Airplay-related problems that are common across the product line and we’re working on the best approach to correct them en masse rather than individually.
I’ll be in the UK for the next two weeks and our release roadmap is at the top of the agenda.
I’m using my NB in a full Scarlatti setup clock>DAC>Upsampler - will I be able to use the NB USB Output into the clock so that it forces a clock rate change from 44.1>48/96 KHz ?? That would mean a lot to me to keep everything in automatic. I would still use the NB - into the Upsampler via AES then from the Upsampler - Dual AES > DAC. Is that the best way of working? Any Roon setting that would be worth making?
In your case you would want to use the upcoming USB > RS232 control functionality. Your Network Bridge would connect to your Scarlatti clock using a USB to serial adapter and through that interface the bridge would issue commands to change the clock frequency as needed.
Any DAC which “just works” with a typical Mac / Linux system without having to install a special driver should be fine. This includes the vast majority of the DACs currently on the market.
We have no way to test every DAC on the market nor do we have a way of efficiently testing a small number of available DACs. The USB support will work for most commonly-used DACs, but we have no intention of publishing a compatibility list.
Vivladi One is essentially done. We encountered a couple of minor issues in verification and correcting those meant another verification run (which takes days). Hammering on the final software versions now and assuming no issues we’ll be able to release very soon.
We have a moderate list of open bugs on the Network Bridge (mostly related to the USB output) and those are being actively worked. With the MQA releases for Vivaldi, Vivaldi One, and Network Bridge all piling up we’re under a resource crunch and are trying to allocate as best we can.
Vivaldi One is imminent. Vivaldi DAC / Upsampler as well as Network Bridge are all well along.