Mac mini (late 2011) with latest OS X El Capitan (main music source)
Audeze Deckard DAC (USB 2.0)
Audeze LCD-3 (Fazer) w. Nordost Blue Heaven cable
What would be the optimal settings to get the most out of my system, sound wise? Have read about HQPlayer and really want to give it a try. Can anyone give me a step-by-step guide as how to set up all the different parameters?
I use the Mac mini as a Roon Server, with my iMac, iPhone and iPad all serving as Remotes.
I appreciate all the help I can get making my setup as “smooth” as possible.
This Roon KB page will get HQ Player setup with Roon.
I recommend Geoff Armstrong’s Kick Start Guide as a good start for setting up HQ Player followed by a read of the current manual (found in your HQ Player folder after installation).
FYI, In your setup you would need to run Roon and HQP on the same machine. And depending on what you want HQP to do, you might need a more powerful system than your mac mini, especially if you are going to do any upsampling to DSD.
Hi Daniel. I am only really trying to make the most out of my setup, i.e. that the sound processing is the best and cleanest that it can bee. My sources are mainly FLAC files, with the highest sampling rates of 24bit/192kHz. I guess HQPlayer is a better alternative to the native, built in, audio handling in OS X/Mac mini…or am I wrong? Have never considered converting to the DSD format, whitch seem pretty limited in delivering the type of music I typically listen to.
Am also running a 2011 MacMini with HQ Player. (8 Gigs of Memory). Upconverting to DSD runs really on my machine so I would imagine upsampling to 192k or 352/384 to match the Deckard’s capabilities would work fine.
Good luck and let us know how you’re doing with it.
As your system is setup, Roon should be sending bit perfect output to your DAC which would then convert it to audio. You can tell if you are sending lossless to your DAC by hovering over the little light indicator to the left of the playing track (which should be light purple) and it should say lossless.
If you are craving something different, not necessarily better, than experiment with HQP. But, you don’t need it to get bit-perfect / lossless playback back through Roon.
As Daniel says, Roon will deliver bit-perfect audio to your DAC and there is no need for any further processing if you want to listen to Redbook or hi-res FLAC at their native resolution.
The main reason people use HQ Player is to upsample from Redbook to higher resolution PCM or DSD. Most DACs these days upsample internally in several steps before converting to analog. Upsampling in HQP enables those internal steps to be bypassed. The computer running HQP is usually much more powerful than the processor in a DAC, so HQP can use better filters and modulators than a DAC. The extent of any improvement in SQ depends on what input resolutions the DAC can accept and the nature of the filters/modulators being bypassed.
Generally speaking, less expensive DACs show a greater benefit from using HQP than some quite expensive DACs that use better quality filters etc.
I use HQP to upsample to DSD128 and feed that to my Auralic Vega. I have used both the minimum phase and linear phase filters in HQP. The first has improved transient response, the second improved spatial cues. Lately I’ve been using the closed form filter which is the same type of filter used by Chord. It seems to me to be a slightly richer sound with an improved soundstage.
Hi Andrew. Great response! Though I don’t understand everything that you just wrote… That is not your fault, rather my incompetence.
My main source for music is hi-res FLAC. Either streamed through TIDAL or from downloads, with sampling rates varying from 16bit/44.1kHz to the highest supported resolution of 32bit/384kHz. I don’t think my DAC can handle any DSD files…? So I guess up-sampling from FLAC to DSD would be the only solution for me, with the audio signals eventually being fed to my DAC through conventional PCM. Please correct me if I am misunderstanding something.
As of yesterday I simply couldn’t hear any benefits from using HQP over the built in bit-perfect processing available through the Roon media player. I am certain that that has to do with my settings in HQP. Therefore I ask if there is anyone out there with some experience as how to optimally set the different parameters for my specific set-up/DAC?
And one last thing; Can I run HQP alongside the Roon Server on my Mac mini, or do I need the Roon (Core) app itself to be able to use HQP? I have tried both variants, only to see that the latter option worked for me. Any thoughts?
@Mikael_Schou regarding the best HQP settings for Deckard, you will have to try a few different options and see which sounds optimal as there is no one-solution-fits-all.
I would start with the highest rate (384k) supported by your DAC on Mac, but also try 176k,192k, 354k
I have both the Deckard and LCD-3, On my windows 10 PC, Rate:192k, Filter:Poly-sinc or Poly-sinc-shrt-mp, Dither:NS5 works best for me. However, my preferred setup is 384k PCM going in to Hugo TT.
I EQ all my headphones (LCD-4/HE-1K/LCD-3) so HQP is quite handy as I can use high quality EQ filters.
Upsampling to PCM is not as processor intensive as upsampling to DSD, so Roon Core + HQP on your Mac mini should be fine I think, I do not have a Mac mini but I run HQP + Roon Core on MBA '13 upsampling to 768k. I cannot comment on Roon server as I have not used it with HQP.
If your DAC doesn’t accept DSD files then upsampling in HQP to DSD won’t enable it to do so. You are correct that upsampling to the highest supported PCM resolution of 384 kHz is the most that can be done.
KMan has set out what works for him with the Deckard DAC, and you can try each of the resolutions listed by him as outputs from HQP to see if any of them are better for you than others. Sometimes a DAC will have a simpler time dealing with lower resolutions than it’s maximum and there could be an SQ sweet spot. Still worth starting with highest res though.
It is quite possible that after listening to the settings as per KMan’s post, you find that you don’t hear any audible benefit. That may be because the DAC is doing a pretty good job of upsampling itself, or because other components in your system are masking any difference, or simply because the benefits from upsampling in HQP are not the kinds of thing that are significant for you when listening to music. I started a thread about how HQP may not be for everyone and I haven’t changed my views about that.
Lastly, HQP can happily run alongside Roon Server. That is what I do on a Gigabyte BRIX. Roon Server is a Roon Core. You configure the Core using another installation of Roon on a computer (Remote) or a tablet. Point Roon Server at localhost if HQP is running on the same computer as Roon Server.
This is, up intil now, probably the clearest post i have received. Great job making everything so understandable.
The last explenation of how to make HQP and Roon run in harmony, on the same computer, was really a special little treat for me. Now, at last, I understand why I would wont to use “localhost” instead of the IP-address when running these two softwares alongside each other (on the same computer).
There is nothing better than understanding the connection between the different components and how to get them to run as they were intended to do. And with that I wish you a great weekend.
Anyone else who might have some experiences they would want to share or any other tricks up their sleeve are welcome to post a reply.