Talking Schiit about DSD and MQA

Talking Schiit about DSD … and MQA NSFW

These guys talk a lot of sense. Does anyone know what they think of upsampling Redbook to DSD when using an SDM DAC ? Obviously the Yggdrasil is a different proposition.

Actually, I don’t accept the logic of their position on DSD at all. They’re saying, basically, “we’re not going to make a DAC that forces you to buy your music again.” There’s two problems with that position:

  1. many of the sort of audiophiles that would buy Schitt DACs already have DSD music files. So in that case, they’re basically telling us “sorry, you can’t play your music on our DACs.”
  2. having DSD support doesn’t force you to use it.

I wish journalists would push back on them on this.

The only subtle wrinkle, which I will grant them somewhat, is that it might be reasonable for them to say “supporting DSD along with PCM imposes sonic compromises and results in more expensive products.” Except, I’m not sure that’s true (?), and they never say that.

When was the last time the Audiophile press actually practiced journalism? TAS/Stereophile et al are essentially mouthpieces for the industry.


I have a Yggy and about 200 SACDs, couldn’t care less that the Yggy doesn’t do DSD. I agree with their position that many mainstream SACDs were made from PCM masters to begin with. I have a DSD capable DAC too, but hardly bother to turn it on. We’re too obsessed with believing that the differences are massive and warrant pursuit. I’d rather enjoy the music.

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This doesn’t really refute what I wrote though. I didn’t say all audiophiles care; clearly many don’t. I said “many” care. I do. I don’t have a ton of DSD content, but I have enough that it matters to me.

Wasn’t trying to refute your position. For you and others like you I guess you need to vote with your wallet.

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Cynical in many places and woefully ignorant about many things.

They seemed generally arrogant with most opinions.

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sniff sniff i smell bull.

It seems like they have not even looked into MQA.

100% agree. The audiophile culture is fueled by hyperbole, a lot of which is pumped by the trade mag press, and I think a lot of times true perspective is lost. Every “upgrade” no matter how insignificant (or placebo) is always described in language that connotes magnitude versus degree, from both posters on forums or in articles.

I think part of that is how hard it is to put in written word differences in what we hear and thus people unintentionally exaggerate differences between A & B in order to quantify the differences. When was the last time you saw a negative review in a magazine? Look at reviews on sites like head-fi, (which i really like) and the average for every product has to be over 4 stars. Now if everything deserves a positive review how can there be night and day differences in equipment even accounting for personal preferences.

I also think that enforces the belief that a new format requires a new piece of gear no matter the actual benefit or how well it is supported and gets to the heart of what they are saying in the video. Hardware changes to me at this point a evolutionary versus revolutionary. One the software side of things i do thing Roon does represent a true revolution and probably the biggest advance i have see in audio and none of that has to do with how my system sounds but rather how much i can enjoy it.

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For those who haven’t been following the Schiit saga… their particularly negative reaction to DSD is because they got burned by it. Users jumped up and down saying they really really needed a DSD DAC from Schiit, Schiit made one, and basically nobody bought it. They ended up with their production run of DSD DACs sitting like turds on their shelves for years.

Now, granted, the little native-DSD DAC they made was 1x, and lots of the kids are super into the idea of higher-rate flavors of DSD, but still… I totally understand their bitterness about niche formats now.

The thing is, anyone can play DSD files over the existing Schiit PCM DACs, it just has to be transcoded to PCM on the fly by the playing software. Which Roon will do.

The Schiit guys aren’t alone in this brave choice not to put DSD on the feature list - look at the Berkeley Alpha DAC Reference. The Berkeley guys have said they haven’t put the processing for handling DSD into the DAC because it would compromise the sound; they recommend transcoding in software outside the DAC.

Is it really arrogance when they have the technical chops and decades of industry experience to back their attitudes up?

Maybe, maybe not.

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Because, perhaps, the product was flawed from a UX perspective? You had to manually switch between PCM and DSD.

I recently finished Stoddard’s “Schiit Happened” and enjoyed it very much. A tip of the hat to some brilliant reversing marketing, clever product design, and on-the-fly production tweaking. Affordable American made electronics, from a startup. Deserves to be admired, in my opinion.

Having drunk the kool-aid of the improved perceived fidelity of DSD, I just wish I could afford to buy their products. I mean, their products ARE affordable, but not for this listener because my budget dictates that my ONE DAC must be able to handle DSD natively. Still, I feel a kinship to that outfit for some reason and wish they made a product today that fit my needs.

Maybe one of these days I’ll get one of their headphone amps for the desktop and have Roon resample DSD to it. Just, you know, to have some Schiit around the house.


The guys from Schiit have set out their reasons for not implementing MQA in more detail. John Darko reports on it in his Digital Audio Review.

The link is here. This time is from their website…

Actually I have one of those DSD DACs, Loki and it worked fairly well but I did have to send it for repair. I can see where they would as well as I would want to wait to see how much material is released in marketplace before jumping. I look at my small amount of DSD material, and while I like the format most of my listening is still PCM.

Looks like the high-end Schiit DAC uses a more expensive Multi-bit R2R vs SDM DAC chipset; which means it can’t do DSD natively without having to convert to PCM. Modern SDM DAC chipset has dedicated PCM and DSD input pins; PCM goes to over-sampling and digital filter while DSD goes directly to switch capacitor DAC and gets converted to analogue. The later is shorter and simplified process. Example is Cirrus Logic CS4398

Having both R2R and Sigma Delta I’ll take a good R2R implementation over a good Sigma Delta everytime. R2R presentation has less of an edge/ more of an organic feel to it.


Agreed, the R2R gives a more ‘organic’ feeling to music, I used to have NOS Burr-Brown PCM1704 DAC many years back and I must said it bring out the best in PCM reproduction.