DA1 module MA8900, DSD

since using Roon I have been trying to play DSD through the DA1 onboard DAC module without success. Whenever I try to play the DSD files the stream is going to be converted to PCM 384kHz which is the maximum this DAC does support.

Upsampling will not be an option either as DSD will not be listed as an option only PCM related options are listed “for compatibility only” by instance.

Digital USB Input Sample Rate:

32-bit/44.1kHz to 384kHz (PCM)
DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DXD352.8kHz, DXD384kHz

The MA8900 is directly connected through USB to a MacBook Pro 2018.
The Macbook is connect to the network through wifi 5g.
The Macbook is the Roon Core.

Have you seen this? what to look at?

Let me know if I should move this to the support forum.

You should set it as DoP. Mac will not do native DSD. And the highest rating you ll get is dsd 128.

If you want native DSD, then look at a Windows 10 pc with the McIntosh drivers loaded.

1 Like


will give it a try!

good explanation here about DoP

This is the type of questions and answers I need to hear and learn from. I am a new MA8900 owner, and a Mac User. Would I be able to get the higher bandwidth etc., if I buy a Roon core?

As Rugby said above, you can’t get DSD256 on a Mac. Use a Windows PC if you want DSD256. If you want the Roon user experience, buy the Roon license and run Roon Core on Windows.

Yes, what Peter said. If you use a ROCK Core or Nucleus both of which are Linux based; then you might encounter additional issues as Linux and native DSD can be messy and complicated, and sometimes not even possible.

Really, if native DSD at high resolution is your goal, then a Windows PC running the manufacturer’s ASIO drivers are the way to go.

If you decide to go that way then there are a couple of different ways to achieve it; PM and I can go through the various options.

I’m not interested in dealing with windows. Are there not any “turn key” devices or solutions out there? Roon’s hardware nucleus would eliminate my dealing with a computer would it not?

1 Like

None that work with McIntosh’s USB chip. You either use windows and the driver McIntosh wrote for it or you move to a different DAC and a turn key device that is known to support said DAC at the high DSD rates.

Nope, FYI, a Nucleus is an Intel NUC computer in a boutique case, running Roon’s OS which is based on Linux, it basically is Linux. You can achieve pretty much the same by getting an Intel NUC and loading Roon’s ROCK.

But, the point is that it is a computer, running Linux and Linux’s track record with native DSD is extremely situational. With Linux you need to verify the DAC can do it and that the kernel version in the device (aka small computer) is patched to work with that specific DAC and/or USB chipset. Meaning one device might work doing native DSD to a specific DAC, but that doesn’t mean that any other device will automatically work. You have to do pre-purchase research.

The reality is that McIntosh attempts to build a sandbox (much like Apple does) in which they provide everything from a built in photo preamp to a DAC.

You are a bit trapped since SACD requires an interface between transport and integrated amp. McIntosh calls this an “MCT” input (on the built in DAC). Again, it is the only part of the built in DAC I use.

Then they released the DA2 DAC (plug in module) but charge $1k and make it dealer installed. That’s a heavy amp to take to a dealer.

The DA-1 and the DA-2 do not compared to (at least the one I chose) an outboard DAC.

It is indeed a beast to transport. I would have to travel some to get a DA2 installed and with that sort of effort involved, I would wait while the installation took place.

I have to wonder if it would be worth all the effort. I will not part with the MA8900 and financially I’m not going to spend for a new DAC etc. I appreicate the insight though!

I opted for an outboard DAC rather than the DA2, but it is significantly more expensive. If/when I get a turntable, I’ll like buy an outboard phono preamp rather than use that which is installed in my MA9000. Wife is very interested in a turntable. I am less enthused, but the year is young. She feels that record shopping would be fun.

Regarding expense: the Denafrips Terminator is less pricey than some other DAC options. It is, however, not inexpensive. It truly is remarkably better than the built in module. I have been told that the Jays Audio CD transport sounds better than the double price McIntosh MCT 500. Shall see.

I would like to know were can I get Denafrips DACs in the US… I want to know of dealer, instead of having to order online.

To my knowledge, the only U.S. dealer was in Atlanta but is no more. I ordered direct from Singapore and was/am very pleased.

I am using my Nucleus USB to a JCAT USB Isolator filter to the McIntosh C49/DA1 DAC. The sound quality is very good. I bought the Nucleus to take over the Roon Core duties (and streaming) from my Windows PC, which I use for other activities. Nucleus definitely works with the DA1.