Best native DSD DACs for use with HQPlayer?

Yes, software volume works, and I might test and play around with it, however there is a rather big latency involved. Didn’t know Roon could control HQPlayer volume though, I’m guessing you get that if you set “Device volume”

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That’s right, I can do that.

The Holo Spring I doesn’t have a volume control, I don’t believe the II does but don’t know for sure.

T+A has switchable stepped attenuator analog volume control. Same thing for example for the HA 200 headphone amp too, you can hear nice comforting relay clicking when you adjust volume.

That’s an option and in such case it is important to limit the maximum volume from HQPlayer settings to avoid accidents. There is still risk the OS or some other application makes sounds, so it is best suited for installations like HQPlayer Embedded or some otherwise dedicated server.

ADI-2 and Spring 2 don’t have analog volume control.

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T+A seems to be a very nice DAC, have you listened to it and do you remember anything about how it sounded compared to RME?

One good thing about using digital volume from Roon/HQPlayer is that it takes care of the headroom problems (which is over 10dB for me with room correction in place). And since that has to be in place no matter the DAC, the optimal from a sound quality perspective would be to use it and nothing else.


HQPlayer Embedded is managing ALL DSP for me - convolution for room EQ , upsampling and overall volume control.

For one of my systems I have to use a Windows NAA (with Focusrite multichannel interface with ASIO driver).

I fully disabled (not just mute) all WDM soundcards in Win10, to minimise any chance of Win10 somehow taking over audio.

HQP Embedded machine with Jussi’s custom kernel.

I have the DAC8 DSD and HA 200. It is not so different from RME (AKM) sonically. But I’d say RME (AKM) is middle ground in terms of “smoothness”. ESS Sabre based things are certainly out of question for you.

One other AKM based possibility are TEAC UD-503 / UD-505 which correspond to RME’s first and second generation ADI-2. But not much sonic difference to be expected. But different kind of volume control.

For chip based DACs, BB/TI chip based things are on the smoother side. But I’d say Holo’s Spring 2 is closest to what you are looking for. Means either using analog pre-att (traditionally called pre-amp), or relying on software digital volume (which needs some extra care on configuration and use). Good thing is that Spring’s DSD analog output level is 6 dB lower than with PCM. So excessive gain is less of a problem.


I like a neutral sound, but the problem is that both my amp (NC 500) and my speakers are a little forward and analytical, so thats why I think a slightly less forward DAC would suit.

But having said that, DSD128 (which I run now) into RME DirectDSD and controlling volume with Roon/HQPlayer gives a very nice sound. I currently use poly-sinc-ext2 filters with ASMD7EC modulator and 44.1*128 (anything I should change?). Maybe going to a T+A DAC8 DSD will be more of a sideways change?

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Make sure the RME DSD filter is set to 50 kHz. If possible from CPU power perspective, you could try DSD256 using ASDM5EC.

Trying now, 45% CPU and 7% GPU, but its on my desktop computer so not ideal when working on it. But I plan to buy a fanless NUC so that will sort itself. Btw, is ASMD5EC better for RME DAC? Any preferences in filter?

Not necessarily, but it also works fine. You could try if you prefer it sonically over ASDM7EC.

Filter is up to your personal choice.

So far I like ext2 best. But I have 1-2 clicks when pausing/playing or between songs when pressing next in Roon (only for DSD, PCM works perfectly). I am playing to NAA on a microRendu with newest 2.8 software and NAA version 4.1.1.

Please check that you don’t have “quick pause” setting enabled. Because that will cause some pause/unpause clicks.

Pressing next in Roon likely makes Roon to unnecessarily stop and restart HQPlayer playback engine.

Just read this review, seems like a relatively cheap alternative (probably measures badly though, all R2R seems to do that):

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Not all! For example Holo Audio Spring / May DAC measures well even with the R2R, when driven correctly.

If implemented and driven correctly, also DACs based on chips like PCM1704 can measure well.

SDM DACs can certainly outperform PCM DACs. But it doesn’t mean that all PCM DACs would measure “badly”. There’s a lot of space between “best” and “worst” objective performers.

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So do you think Pegasus is a good DAC for DSD upsampling in HQPlayer? It mention 6 bit native DSD, but I don’t know exactly what that means. Anything that does some sort of PCM conversion internally for DSD is not interesting.

Btw, here are the measurements:

You should ask Wolf to feed it DSD256 from Roon and measure…

He did that for me once. I forget which DAC but he showed it measured best with DSD256.

Of course it would be even better with HQPlayer but it would show something .

Without measuring it’s just guessing.

Well, Im banned from that site so cant log in. I asked how Amir could be so sure that whatever was measured completely covered all that a human ear can hear, and how they could use words like “science” and “proof” when everything is based on an unproven assumption. Got permanently banned :slight_smile:


It could be OK. Also with PCM if you set DAC Bits to 15 or 14 and run it with one of the noise shapers at max PCM rate. Main problem seems to be low level linearity which is the typical R2R problem. But this can be linearized by driving it correctly.

Hmm maybe you were expecting too much from that site.

The measurements are the measurements. That is the proof. If you doubt his measurements, you are free to buy an APx555 and measure the same products and dispute his measurements that way.

The same measurements he does by the way are the same that the designers of your favourite gear do, to write up their product specs…

Shows good engineering and not so good.

I use measurements to short list what I demo… once I demo, I decide by ears and features.