Multichannel DSD over Nucleus HDMI

Hello @Masato_Hashi,

It is not possible to play DSD files over HDMI to devices that do not support DoP DSD signaling. This is not a limitation of Roon, to my knowledge only licensed Blu-Ray and SACD transports are capable of native DSD transmission over HDMI.


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Hi John, thank you for your advise. It sounds like we have to stick to disc drive based player as far as we want to listen to multi channel DSD files. Or is Roon ready and Blu-Ray/SACD certified disc-less transport that can handle multi channel DSD files available anywhere?
And it sounds strange limitation because we can play 2ch DSD files over unprotected USB output.

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Roon is perfectly happy to play multichannel DSD over USB: in fact, I’m listening to that as I type this. The problem is HDMI — there are no open source DSD over HDMI audio drivers for Linux that I’m aware of, nor are there any such drivers for MS Windows nor macOS. The only Roon-ready device (that doesn’t also play discs) I’m aware of that outputs DSD over HDMI is the Bryston BDP-3, and that’s limited to stereo per my inquiry to Bryston last fall. One might note that many universal disc players (e.g. Oppo 103/105 at least, Pioneer Elite BDP-80) run Linux internally, but the HDMI audio driver doesn’t appear to be publicly available, and is likely tightly tied to the MediaTek system-on-a-chip (SoC) that those players use. When one googles Linux HDMI DSD, one finds that several folks have looked into this, but nothing has ever been developed due to a combination of technical (I’m not clear), legal (possible patents), and political issues.

Alas, I’m not aware of any receiver or pre-pro that will accept multichannel DSD over its USB input. The two devices I’m aware of that will play multichannel DSD from Roon are the exaSound e38 (what I’m using) and the Merging NADAC (or Player if you want a built in Roon Core). The exaSound uses a USB interface; the Merging DACs attach via Ethernet. Alas, the exaSound is not exactly inexpensive (currently a little under $4000), and the Merging products cost somewhere in the range of double to triple that of the exaSound.

The other (alas even more expensive than the Merging products) Roon-ready multichannel pre-pro I know of is the Trinnov Altitude series, but I don’t know about its DSD capabilities…

If your receiver/pre-pro will accept multichannel DSD over Ethernet via the DLNA/UPnP protocol, you might see if it’s possible to make the Logitech Media Server (LMS) UPnP bridge plug in work. I would expect this would be tedious to configure, but might be your only choice without buying new equipment. Note that are often weird limitations in these capabilities; if I remember right, my Marantz 8802A will accept stereo, but not multichannel, DSD over Ethernet. Sigh.

Good luck!


Hi Flashman,

Would you mind sharing more information about your system components? I see you are able to adjust your Marantz CD player’s settings from within the Roon app. This is a bit confusing to me. How is this done since the SA-14S1 is not Roon Ready.

I am trying to play native DSD as well… I have a Mac connected to Denon X8500…

Thanks in advance…

The trick is to use a recent Oppo disc player with HDMI in and out as a bridge between Roon and the DSD-capable HDMI input on you AVR.

Hi, I do not have the Marantz device. I think I pulled the screen shot from this link.

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Thanks for the quick reply :slight_smile:

It seems like you have some experience with what I am thinking about doing.

I have a NADAC 8 and have been attempting to play high resolution sound (Native DSD, DSD 256 or 512), but have recently realized that my current server is not up to the task (i.e., it has insufficient processing speed at the higher settings).

I am beginning to consider options for a new server and have heard good things about the Nucleus +. However, I am unable to locate any information about how well it plays these DSD resolutions.

It seems that you have that have accomplished this. I would like to know about your experience with the Nucleus with high resolution DSD.

I have had some experience with the Nucleus+ in this regard:

Thanks for the link. I would say you “have had some experience with the Nucleus+ in this regard.”

I appreciate your interest and am very grateful for what you have contributed to the multi-channel listening community.

Have you had “some experience” with the Red Wolf 2? It seems like a very good, higher end alternative to the Nucleus (at a “higher end” price).

Not the Red Wolf but I was pretty impressed with the Alpha 3:

Thank you for the link. Again, I am very impressed with your writing.

The Alpha 3 now has an upgraded version, Alpha 3 SX. It seems like a very good piece of equipment.

The Red Wolf 2 is a lot like the Alpha 3 SX, with the main exception being the external linear power supply and the shielding/case prep. Although there will probably be a RW2 SX at some point, the Alpha 3 or Alpha 3 SX seems like a good choice.

Are there other servers that stand out for multi-channel DSP?

None that I have my hands on. DIY is next for me.

I suspected as much. Thanks for providing your impression.

I had some experience building my own computers decades ago and, three years ago, I found a computer person who had a great deal of compassion for audio.

As our project progressed, it became apparent that he was not as forward-thinking as I was. He had preferences that I later learned were a bit self-serving (e.g. the operating system he selected was one he owned a number of licenses for rather than were the best ones for what I wanted).

There was a lot of exchanges and I ended up with a server that I have been happy with. I took some regrettable “financial short-cuts” as well. A couple of them I have come to regret.

As I got more interested in high res, Native/DSD quality music, I started to notice some of the limitations built into the machine. I have learned and realized a lot from this experience.

I remain pretty happy but realize that I did not anticipate the evolution of multi-channel music (or high res music in general). I also did not anticipate that I would be building a new system with quality (rather than simply cost) in mind.

At this point, I think I know what some of the future parameters of servers might be. I have a general idea of what my upward limitations (in terms of ability to appreciate the finer points of quality) might be. I think the upgradeability path is for me.

Over the years, I have met a lot of audiophiles and I have met a lot of computer people. I have met very many people who are truly in both groups. This seems to have changed a bit over the last year or two.

I hope you write about your adventures in DIY. I am sure I would enjoy reading them. Perhaps the DIY scenario is a bit more audio-friendly than it was.

John -
I use a Microsoft Surface Pro, i5 version, (it’s fanless, so not that fast) to run my Roon core, not a Nucleus. Playing music isn’t that CPU intensive unless you’re upsampling or doing other DSP manipulation. Moving close to 70 Mbit/s (6ch DSD256) of time sensitive data could be somewhat of a network stress, however. I believe your fine DAC is Ethernet attached, yes? Are you running 100 megabit or gigabit Ethernet?

Good luck!

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I don’t know why anyone would not be using 1G (or more) networking these days.

I am using gigabit Ethernet. I just signed up for it a couple of months ago. I doing some trouble shooting, coincidentally, contacted Comcast to see about reducing my cable/internet/phone bill. They offered me a pretty good discount which included gigabit Ethernet in exchange for a two year contract. I took it.

This troubleshooting experience has led me to the realization that my pursuit of high resolution, multi-channel DSD is placing me on a collision course with the upper limits of technology capability within my home. It has been abetted by the relatively recent introduction of DSD512 media and reports of DSD1026 demonstrations.

My current “bottleneck” seems to be my server. Once that is relieved (possibly through an upgrade), I will have a look at the rest of the system.

At this point, I think the cabling is least likely to be the next bottleneck. However, I can foresee a future in which there is heavy use of video and audio, separately and coincidentally. I think the cable and the ethernet will serve me well.

I am firmly keeping in mind (some moments less than others), that there is a real upper limit in my ability to appreciate a difference. Given my track record, I am unable to believe that this is knowable without experiencing it.

Your ISP-provided Ethernet is not particularly relevant here as the critical links are between NAS, server and renderer/DAC as well as the routers, switches and cables, all within the house.

Let me suggest three reasons, the last of which is an accident:

  1. Your house was built in about 1995-2002, when Fast Ethernet (= 100 Mbps) was common, but before Gigabit Ethernet was affordable, and so you have long runs of Cat5 (not Cat 5e/6/6a/…) in your walls, and you haven’t had a reason to rewire;
  2. Your house doesn’t have Ethernet in the walls, and you’re using an older Ethernet over power line or MoCA (Ethernet over cable TV coax) solution. In this case, upgrading is usually straightforward.
  3. You think you have gigabit, but have a faulty cable and the devices negotiate down to 100 or even 10 Mbps. This happened to me a couple months ago with a brand new, 3 foot long supposed Cat6 cable. However, two devices both with gigabit Ethernet would only talk at 10 Mbps. It was an inexpensive cable, part of a pack of 5 (so far, the others have worked just fine), so I threw it out.

I’m sure there are other scenarios…

Kal’s reply to the original poster below is exactly correct: it’s not the speed of the Internet connection that matters, but rather the speed the local network (inside the house) is running at, in particular the link between the Roon core and the NADAC. If music is stored on a NAS, then the link between the NAS and Roon core also matters.

Any Core i3/5/7/9/Xeon machine from the last decade capable of running Roon won’t have hardware limitations that will prevent it from playing multichannel DSD256. Software misconfiguration or network
issues are far more likely. I say this on the basis of (too much) education and experience. Of course, purchasing a Nucleus would likely solve a software misconfiguration. If the OP wants to purchase a Nucleus, I know of no reason why one shouldn’t, so go ahead.

Good luck!

PS: In the past, I have had less than optimal experiences with ISP provided routers. YMMV

But up or down sampling anything to DSD256 and the use of EQ/Audeze presets might be to much even for the fastest processor available today.