Recipe for AVR (Denon) and DSD upsampling/playback

I was curious about DSD upsampling. I have a Denon AVR-X3300W. It says it supports DSD. I have a Windows 10 PC attached to the AVR via HDMI for display and toslink optical for audio. Toslink doesn’t support DSD and Intel says DSD is not supported over HDMI. So, no way to get DSD to the AVR dac.

So I started looking for a DSD capable USB dac. I found the $85 (!) Topping D10. What the heck, thought I’d give it a try.

First, I downloaded and installed the D10 driver from Topping’s website as instructed. Then I rebooted the PC just to be thorough.

Hooked the D10 up using the supplied USB cable, which also powers the device (no wall wart!). Found a decent looking analog RCA stereo cable (with gold plated connectors!) in the audio junk pile and ran that from the dac to the AVR analog in. Pretty simple so far.

Fired up Roon and it spotted the D10 right away. I enabled it in audio setup. Note: there are two D10s listed: One using the built-in Windows wasapi driver and the other using the installed D10 asio driver. Be sure to enable the asio version.

Next, under device setup, DSD playback strategy, select “native.” Also make sure it is “fixed volume.” All the other defaults appear to be fine.

Then, click on the speaker/device icon in “now playing” bar, select the D10 asio device as the active device, then click the volume icon, and click DSP to bring up the DSP settings for that device. (Is there an easier way to get to DSP settings?)

Enable “sample rate conversion.” In the dialogue, select DSD as the sample rate conversion. In the “sample rate” select the desired rate. I used DSD64. All the other defaults appear to work fine.

(For my setup, I also enabled a “procedural EQ” for "volume"with +6db for the left and right channels. DSD playback volume was a little lower than other outputs.)

In the the Denon AVR, assign the analog input to which you attached the D10 analog cables to a playback device. You can also experiment with direct mode v. various Audyssey settings, bass management, etc. There are similar settings for other brands.

So, how does it sound? After listening for a couple of days it sounds pretty good. By pretty good, I mean it sounds “smoother” and less “harsh” on loud, brassy vocal, horn and guitar parts, and there’s slightly more “definition” and “clarity.” Or, it’s all just confirmation bias. (I always heard that DSD sounds more “analog” like an LP, but I didn’t notice any snap, crackle, pop and rumble, so that was a little disappointing.)

The little blue signal path light shows processing speed 4.2x while playing upsampled DSD128. The core is running on a Windows 10 Lenovo X1 Tablet with an i5-8250U with 8GB ram. The endpoint is an old, tiny Lenovo Q190 with a Mobile Celeron 1017U and 4GB ram.

So, DSD, pretty cool. An $85 dac, also pretty cool.

As for the $85 dac, I also tried it using the wasapi driver with upsampling to 96/24, just like I had configured for the previous toslink playback. I couldn’t tell any difference, so the dacs in the D10 are at least as good as the dacs in the Denon, or vice versa. The D10 also has toslink and coax out if you wanted to use it as an inexpensive USB to s/pdif converter.