I was thinking about trying DSD upsampling in Roon to see if I can hear any difference vs 192/24 and 96/24 streaming from Tidal and Qobuz. If possible, I would use my ethernet connected RPi4 and my AEON headphones. I would need to purchase a DSD capable DAC for no more than $500. I know little to nothing about this subject and need help with a few questions.
Is it even worth it to try this?
Will my RPi4 running RoPieeeXL support DSD 64, 128, or 256? Which one?
Will my Roon Nucleus support DSD 64, 128, or 256? Which one?
What headphone DAC/AMP do you recommend? Chord Mojo?
My advice don’t spend money on something just for this. Upsampling won’t necessarily give you a bump in sq, its very DAC dependant and personally I have only heard a very marginal difference on one DAC, and I mean marginal. Why waste computer cycles when a DAC does it already If it needs to and those that do these days have the tech to do it. Buy new DAC because its better than what you have and compliments the rest of your system not for upsampling.
There are people that will tell you music is unlistenable without upsampling. These are also generally the people that think $1000 cables make a difference to sound quality…
Personally, I think upsampling is pointless. Basically any delta-sigma based DAC is already doing this internally anyway.
All of the above. DSD512 as well, if the kernel recognizes the DAC as supporting “Native DSD” mode over USB. Most popular DACs are recognized, but bleeding-edge new DACs may not be unless they are recognized by one of the “generic” methods (e.g., use the generic XMOS or other popular USB chipset).
Can’t comment specifically on this, as I don’t own a Nucleus. But DSD upsampling is VERY CPU intensive. You can probably get even up to DSD512, though, if you enable the multi-threading option. (FWIW, I can do DSD512 using multi-threading on my Xeon E3-1270v6 core with Roon reporting a processing speed of about 2.1.)
Pro-Ject Digital S3 does PCM768, DSD512 and MQA (if that’s important for you) and should be under your $500 budget (especially if you find one used). It doesn’t have a super powerful headphone output, however. Worst comes to worst, you could feed its line outs into a separate headphone amp if you have hard-to-drive cans. It is supported in native mode by the Linux/RoPieee kernel (NO Chord device is, BTW) and is a generally liked DAC if you read the many reviews of it. (I have retired mine now in favor of the SPL Phonitor xe, but that’s considerably more than your stated $500 budget.)
Roon supports up to DSD512. Basically it is limited by whatever the max rate of the attached DAC is (assuming kernel native DSD support as discussed above). (I’m assuming they haven’t added support for DSD1024, despite there being at least two DACs that now claim to support this silliness out there…)