Converting SACD ISOs to DSF - Best Practice

I heard the multichannel demo in Munich and I must say, it was extremely impressive. The NADAC is certainly a DAC I am following closely.

In my view one issue with Multichannel is how metadata is handled for SACD material. With an SACD ISO the stereo and multichannel tracks sit in the same container, so I would assume that the metadata set roon has for a specific SACD content contains both the stereo and multichannel tracks.

At this time let’s not discuss the merits of being able to play SACD ISOs in roon, but let’s assume that the ISO has been converted to DSF files.

In order for roon to do something sensible with SACD content in DSF format, I would assume that the DSFs for both stereo and multichannel tracks would need to sit in the same directory in order for roon to identify them as belonging to the same SACD.

I am asking, because I am looking at different ways to convert my >1’000 SACD ISOs to DSF and depending on how this needs to be done it is a larger or smaller effort. The main issue with the conversion is that all the ISO to DSF tools that I am aware of convert either the stereo or the multichannel tracks during a batch, but not both.

If you look at the metadata for an SACD the multichannel files are usually appended after the stereo files. Hence you get tracks 1-10 (say) being stereo then 11-20 (for my example) being multichannel. This is going to cause issues for Roon unless it can determine which are just the 5.1 tracks from the metadata and adjust accordingly.

Fortunately they are smart guys, so here’s hoping…

For now I’ve just been converting my ISOs to stereo files. I really ought to have gone through the .cue files and made a note of which ones have multichannel tracks as well. This would make the process speedier when I make a decision on 5.1.

Thanks, dpstjp
That’s exactly where the issue is buried. Using the PS3 I rip SACDs to ISO. Once I start converting them to DSF, the problems start. All conversion tools I know of are based on sacd_extract.exe and convert stereo and multichannel in two separate batches and the DSFs end up in two separate directories, which is a bummer.
roon could definitely tell from the DSF itself whether it is stereo or multichannel. And if the DSFs are in the right sequence it could also tell from the metadata where in the sequence the multichannel tracks start. So that can be handled - as long as the DSF files of one SACD sit in one directory and the tracks are correctly numbered.
The other option for roon of course would be reading the ISOs directly, then everything would be one place and the metadata of the SACD embedded in the ISO (which is quite extensive and contains unique identifiers to the SACD) would be available as well for identification. But that is a two edged sword as something like sidecar tagging is needed to store the metadata outside the ISO.
So it’s a bloody conundrum and I truly don’t know which path would be easier for roon and the users. The users will be the ones that need to convert the ISOs to a DSF structure that roon can handle, which is no easy task given the ultra primitive conversion tools available today.


Given the fact we’re not supposed to be able to have the ISOs in the first place I’d say it was a “First World problem”.

I also suspect we’re going to need someone outside of Roon to come up with the solution to it.

Scripting experts to the rescue …
But first we would need to know what sort of DSF file structure roon would require.

No different to that of regular albums. Roon will deliver the same metadata it does for regular albums. You could even export to DSF and not worry about tagging DFF files.

The DSF file structure will be best if it matches the track sequence found on the typical release of the album. Roon ID will find it more successfully that way.

This is how I handled ripping my DVDA…which is exactly the same as you are doing here.

\music\DVDA 2.0\artist\album\1-01 track name.flac

\music\DVDA 5.1\artist\album\1-01 track name.flac

If you do it this way then you can add the \music\DVDA 2.0 folder as a watch folder right now

In your case you would obviously call it \music\SACD 2.0 or something sensible.

Then later you can add the 5.1 folder as and when that is appropriate.

Although you felt it was a bummer that the conversions would land in different folders for 2.0 and 5.1 I actually think you would be better off this way.

IMHO it is neater and allows for better watched folder management.

I think Evan’s right. We already know. However without the script to do this it’s simply too much work for me to be bothered ahead of seeing what Roon’s multichannel proposal is.

Especially as I have no hardware to play it on.

FWIW - I just tested the conversion app noted above.

It took about 1-2 mins to convert a 10 track .iso.

I copied the album folder into a watched folder and Roon got it straight away.

This was really minimal effort.

For a single ISO it’s no issue. It becomes a bit more involved for 1’000, if one wants to keep the directory structure the ISO sits in, i.e.

Abbado, Claudio
Beethoven, Symphony Nr 3
Track 1
Track 2

I would need this, because that’s where my artist / album metadata sits. If I lose that, I lose the ability to adapt roon’s metadata with my own artist structure for certain elements (for Dire Straits that’s a non issue, but it’s a major one for classical).

But when you unpack the .iso do you not get artist and track meta from within the .iso itself automatically ? The example I used above was all properly auto-tagged and Roon brings in the rest very nicely.

Suggest you test a small subset of your iso’s and see what you get and whether anything that is missing is particularly unique.

Thanks, Nick
I have been dealing with the tagging issue for classical music for many years.
The metadata within the ISOs is all over the place and really unuseable:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart, Wolfang Amadeus
Wolfgang Mozart
Wolfgang Motzart

depending on the origin of the SACD. It’s even worse with the eastern Europeans or Russians.

While pop basically only uses artist and album, classical uses artist, composer, album, conductor, soloist and others, depending on the database or sacd or the user’s preferences. So if you want to search for [Beethoven’s Triple Concert with Karajan as conductor and Oistrakh as soloist] ( as opposed to [this one] ( again with Oistrakh as soloist but a different conductor, then the fun begins. It gets worse with opera.

Currently there is NO perfect meta-database for classical and I doubt there will ever be one. Roon is quite close, but not perfect. So everyone enhances the existing metadata with information of their own that suits their preferences. I have over the years developed a naming convention for the different fields (what goes where. Becasue ID3 tag fields are not made for classical you have to misuse some of the fields to store information). Currently I have a very consistent database, that goes across FLAC, mp3s, SACD ISO, the lot. I absolutely want to keep this rigid database in the background when I switch to Roon. Roon is by far the best quality of metadata I have seen to date, but again, it is not perfect and certain elements of the metadata I will have to enhance with my own manually input data.

With Jazz, Pop no problem. Classical tagging is a brainteaser that has driven many people close to despair.

Yes. ISO2DSD is such and should be adaptable to suit, both to enable ripping of both stereo and multichannel tracks (as an option) and to provide options for file naming/placement. I doubt if Sonore would be willing to undertake this on their own but, perhaps, ROON might be willing to open a discussion about a joint effort.

In a word, no.

Ok…I see what you mean. thanks for sharing.

Would you mind posting an example of one of your tagging files you refer to. Once we know what’s in it we may be able to point to something that can read the content and write it to the DFF files.

Good luck writing metadata to DFF files…

I just ripped a Living Stereo SACD and converted it to DSF. it will be easy to post a screenshot of the existing metadata. Will be tomorrow though as I’ve already tagged it in MP3Tag.

Basically the movement names were there in the file but nothing else.

Basically what would be needed is an ISO to DSF conversion utility that has the following modes of operation:

  1. Convert all the files within an ISO and dump the DSFs into a artist / album directory structure based on the metadata within the iso.

  2. Convert all the files within an ISO and dump the DSFs into an identical directory / album structure the iso was in.

From there on the user would be free to extract the artist / album metadata from the path name and put them into the DSF file’s tags if he / she wishes.

From there on there one can use the tags copy / paste functionality within jRiver to copy all user defined tags of the ISOs to the DSFs. Sounds scary, but I’ve done it for a library >1’000 ISOs (with a lot of help from the guys in the jRiver forum I am very grateful for). Stereo DSFs only, otherwise I’d be done. It actually works and the tags stay synchronized for several hundred ISOs at a time.

Then of course being able to chose only stereo or only multichannes, DFF etc -> all the input / output options of sacd_extract.exe.

There are several variations to the ISO2DSD theme.The one that probably could be most easily adapted to our needs is this one sacd_extract UI. It allows you to dump an ISO onto the working area and it will then extract the DSD files either to the location of the ISO or a given target directory. It does this by copying sacd_extract.exe to the target directory and running it from there for each conversion with the correct parameters.

I am sure the author (his name seems to be Mike Galusha) could quite easily adapt his shell to do what we want. However I have not found any way to contact him. Any other good programmer could build such a shell as well, using sacd_extract.exe as the conversion engine (given Mr. Wicked’s consent).

Basically the steps the utility needs to do are:

  • accept the users conversion parameters
  • parse the ISO for tracks and metadata
  • create output directory
  • copy sacd_extract.exe to ouptut directory
  • extract the stereo tracks to DSF
  • extract the multichannel tracks to DSF, offsetting the track numbering by the right amount
  • clean up
  • dito for the next file in the ISO until done with the ISO
  • copy ancillary files (folder.jpg etc.) from source to target directory
  • dito for the next ISO until done for all the ISOs

A batch mode as follows and we’re (almost) done

  • ISO files sit in a directory structure within a single input directory
  • user specifies an output directory
  • utility parses all ISOs within the input directory and converts them to DSD files under the output directory

Sorry if my specification is not 100% clear, I am a well meaning amateur, not a programmer.

sacd_extract.exe has a few annoying quirks (dare I say bugs) that I have run into over the last few years. I have tried to contact Mr. Wicked about this. So a shell would need to compensate for these in the process. But that should be fairly easy. They are really only quirks and I’d be happy to share the list.

Anyone up to building this shell?

If such utility were to become a reality, we could probably stop the discussion about roon having to be able to read ISOs (and close the infinite ISO feature request thread).

Regarding the topic I have one question:
Is there a difference to the result when using

  • ISO2DSD (multi-platform) and
  • TRAX Audio SACD Extractor (mac)

if the target is DSF files (stereo) and processing is done in one single step?
Or do both tools produce an unchanged extraction of the DSD files (probably decompressed without DST)?

Hi Rudi

I have been using commercial software for about a year now, that is capable of doing both these things. It is called AuI ConverteR. It will convert either the multi-channel or stereo parts of the ISO into DSF (and/or many other formats). You can do batches of ISOs, although I would not suggest batching 1,000 ISOs in one hit. The target file structure can either be based on the ISO metadata, or alternatively, can be set to mimic the ISO directory structure, with a new root directory. Having used it many times, I am reasonably sure it will do what you want. Windows and OSX versions are available.

Unfortunately, it is not the “prettiest” looking software (nor is the web site). The author’s first language is not English, and some of the instructions and options can be a little hard to understand. However, he is a really friendly and approachable guy, and quite often is prepared to make adjustments to his software to make sure it does what you want. I have no connection to the software or its author, other than as a paid user. You can check it out and download a trial version here:

The trial inserts gaps into the output files, but it should allow you to prove to yourself that it can do what you want. It is modular and you pay according to the modules that you want to use.

I suggest you have a look at it and email the author.