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The Fiio X5 Thread - Page 344

post #5146 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dixter View Post
 

I guess a stupid question here...     so why didn't Fiio utilize a better DAC that supports native DSD instead of a software conversion ??   So in the end the X5 is just a souped up X3 ??

I was really hoping that the X5 was the DAP version of the Idsd...   would have been a great product.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skalkman View Post
 

Probably just price. The PCM1792A used in the X5 is priced at $7.08 /1ku to $7.21 /1ku. The equivalent DSD1792A is priced at $11.18 /1ku to $13.32 /1ku (all numbers taken from TI:s website). So it would mean a bump in price for the parts and the implementation would probably cost a bit more also. It wouldn't be AK territory but i can see why FiiO decided to go with the "lesser" chip, only sacrificing one feature that CAN be done with software (Probably not as good but still better than nothing.).

 

Though I'm no accountant and i have no clue about the actual cost of the implementation of both chips, i would still say that the DSD1792A would be a welcomed upgrade for a X5 mark II or maybe the X7.

 

Actually that will be the wrong guess, but you are right that money is a factor. When you buy chip in bulk from manufacturer (as FiiO does), you get special deal that is far cheaper than you buy from distributor as you are cutting out the middle man. You will be surprised how cheap those chips will be. So no, price isn't a factor.

 

The problem doesn't lie in the DAC, but the DSD format support among SoC (System-on-Chip, or "enhanced CPU chip" for those non-geek). Most SoC that you will find on DAP is RISC based (similar to those find on smartphone), and they have no native support for DSD, which is a relatively new compared to the industry standard PCM format (2005 vs. 1956). Therefore if you want direct DSD support, you need to "rewire" (= hack) the SoC in both hardware and software to make it supports DSD. But when you use PCM, everything has been implemented nicely.

 

Basically, when you play music on DAP (or in fact 99.95% of all PC soundcard), the SoC / CPU read the digital files (mp3, FLAC, etc), coverts it to the standardized PCM format, send via the I2S channel ( or IIS, Inter-IC Sound) to the DAC, which coverts it to analog sound. These are all pretty much how the computer's sound works since the early days. But I2S doesn't support DSD format at all, as DSD was invented much later in time. Therefore to do direct DSD decoding, you must bypass I2S and use a dedicated channel to send the signal to the DAC, and the DAC will require a dedicated DSD port to listen to this signal (which can be integrated into the same PCM listening port with some clever design, but that's another story). So to do this in a DAP, you need to specially rewrite the firmware code to tell the SoC to differentiate PCM and DSD, then implement a GPIO (general purpose I/O) channel to reroute DSD signal to the DAC - this might sound easy on paper, but the actual implementation, especially how to write a brand new firmware, is a major headache.

 

When you buy a SoC from a SoC maker, you don't just buy a chip - you are buying a whole "solution". This mean the SoC maker is your solution provider, including sufficient firmware support and bugfix. If you are Apple and you own a team of software engineer of your own, firmware is not a problem for you. But when you are a small company like FiiO, you need to either rely on the SoC maker to iron out the bug or you need to invest big money onto hiring a team of software engineer or even outsourcing the firmware to a software company - and believe me both of the later will cost a LOT of money. So to do DSD native decoding, you will have to invest a lot of money into a brand new firmware since the basic coding from the SoC maker isn't likely going to work, then you need to face a lot of new bugs since you are basically hacking a solution of your own together. To put it short - it is a lot of pain for very little gain, not un-do-able but not easy in anyway as well. On the other hand, software DSD-to-PCM convert is much easier and cheaper to do, and therefore it is the common choice for most. So now you know why the very few DAP with DSD native decoding cost so much - but if you really think about this - does DSD really is that superior to PCM that worth the much of an investment? Personally I have read argument from both sides (and some of them are heavy weight icon in the audio industry and scientific / engineering field) and so far there isn't a clear winner yet. It is, as far as my opinion goes, not the magic dust that automatically makes music sounds better, and therefore shouldn't warranty some much attention when there are better ways to improve SQ. If DSD really proves to be better in future when it is much more common, then perhaps we will see a lot of DSD decoing DAP on the cheap.

 

Kind of longish, but hope these makes sense.


Edited by ClieOS - 3/12/14 at 6:29am
post #5147 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesFiiO View Post
 

 

sorry not. only PCM from coaxial out

Thanks for replying.


More reason for myself to upgrade to future X7 or X5 MKII :beerchug:

post #5148 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesFiiO View Post
 

 

not, the SOC is output IIS signal to PCM1792A, if you want to use native DSD supports, you have to switch all the digital I/O setup for PCM1792A.  and yes, maybe the X5k will support native DSD.

Thanks! Guess i didn't check what SoC that was used.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

Actually that will be the wrong guess, but you are right that money is a factor. When you buy chip in bulk from manufacturer (as FiiO does), you get special deal that is far cheaper than you buy from distributor as you are cutting out the middle man. You will be surprised how cheap those chips will be. So no, price isn't a factor.

 

The problem doesn't lie in the DAC, but the DSD format support among SoC (System-on-Chip, or "enhanced CPU chip" for those non-geek). Most SoC that you will find on DAP is RISC based (similar to those find on smartphone), and they have no native support for DSD, which is a relatively new compared to the industry standard PCM format (2005 vs. 1956). Therefore if you want direct DSD support, you need to "rewire" (= hack) the SoC in both hardware and software to make it supports DSD. But when you use PCM, everything has been implemented nicely.

 

Basically, when you play music on DAP (or in fact 99.95% of all PC soundcard), the SoC / CPU read the digital files (mp3, FLAC, etc), coverts it to the standardized PCM format, send via the I2S channel ( or IIS, Inter-IC Sound) to the DAC, which coverts it to analog sound. These are all pretty much how the computer's sound works since the early days. But I2S doesn't support DSD format at all, as DSD was invented much later in time. Therefore to do direct DSD decoding, you must bypass I2S and use a dedicated channel to send the signal to the DAC, and the DAC will require a dedicated DSD port to listen to this signal (which can be integrated into the same PCM listening port with some clever design, but that's another story). So to do this in a DAP, you need to specially rewrite the firmware code to tell the SoC to differentiate PCM and DSD, then implement a GPIO (general purpose I/O) channel to reroute DSD signal to the DAC - this might sound easy on paper, but the actual implementation, especially how to write a brand new firmware, is a major headache.

 

When you buy a SoC from a SoC maker, you don't just buy a chip - you are buying a whole "solution". This mean the SoC maker is your solution provider, including sufficient firmware support and bugfix. If you are Apple and you own a team of software engineer of your own, firmware is not a problem for you. But when you are a small company like FiiO, you need to either rely on the SoC maker to iron out the bug or you need to invest big money onto hiring a team of software engineer or even outsourcing the firmware to a software company - and believe me both of the later will cost a LOT of money. So to do DSD native decoding, you will have to invest a lot of money into a brand new firmware since the basic coding from the SoC maker isn't likely going to work, then you need to face a lot of new bugs since you are basically hacking a solution of your own together. To put it short - it is a lot of pain for very little gain, not un-do-able but not easy in anyway as well. On the other hand, software DSD-to-PCM convert is much easier and cheaper to do, and therefore it is the common choice for most. So now you know why the very few DAP with DSD native decoding cost so much - but if you really think about this - does DSD really is that superior to PCM that worth the much of an investment? Personally I have read argument from both sides (and some of them are heavy weight icon in the audio industry and scientific / engineering field) and so far there isn't a clear winner yet. It is, as far as my opinion goes, not the magic dust that automatically makes music sounds better, and therefore shouldn't warranty some much attention when there are better ways to improve SQ. If DSD really proves to be better in future when it is much more common, then perhaps we will see a lot of DSD decoing DAP on the cheap.

 

Kind of longish, but hope these makes sense.

 

Yes you're right (i may have taken some bits for granted regarding the X5), I guess that I'll have to rely on desktop units for DSD playback for the time being and wait a few days until i get the tour unit to try it out.


Edited by skalkman - 3/12/14 at 8:06am
post #5149 of 19481

I apologize if this has been posted or asked before, but does using the x5 in USB DAC mode also charge the x5 while in use?

post #5150 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by subver View Post
 

I apologize if this has been posted or asked before, but does using the x5 in USB DAC mode also charge the x5 while in use?


Yes, it does!

post #5151 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by twister6 View Post
 


Yes, it does!

I figured it probably would, but that is great news for me :)

Right now I am essentially using my DAP setup as my only source of music.. I have no good speakers and I live in a little apartment and can't play loud music... so for now I am working on getting a really good DAP setup! X5 being able to be used as a USB DAC (and not lose battery power while doing it) is just a Huuuuuuge bonus!

post #5152 of 19481

IIRC, the USB DAC firmware implementation is not yet done. 

 

Me? I'd want to be able to stream from Spotify or other internet streams through the better DAC in the X5. A major advantage of the iDSD over its competitors to my mind is its ability to do that. 

 

Not to say that the X5 doesn't have its own considerable advantages already. Very exciting DAP!

post #5153 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roscoeiii View Post
 

IIRC, the USB DAC firmware implementation is not yet done. 

 

Me? I'd want to be able to stream from Spotify or other internet streams through the better DAC in the X5. A major advantage of the iDSD over its competitors to my mind is its ability to do that. 

 

Not to say that the X5 doesn't have its own considerable advantages already. Very exciting DAP!

 

Not sure why you say USB DAC implementation is not done. I was able to connect it to my laptop and use as external USB DAC without any problem, unless you meant something else?

 

 

post #5154 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by twister6 View Post
 

 

Not sure why you say USB DAC implementation is not done. I was able to connect it to my laptop and use as external USB DAC without any problem, unless you meant something else?

 

 

 

 

As I said "IIRC", my mistaken impression was that this was not yet implemented. Maybe it was some specific aspect that was being discussed. This is a 344 page thread by now, so tough to keep track. 

 

But since you have used the X5 as a USB DAC, can you confirm whether or not the X5 can be used to play streamed digital content from a computer source (Spotify, NPR Music, etc)? Is a special driver need to use it as a USB DAC with a Windows computer? 

post #5155 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post

 

Kind of longish, but hope these makes sense.

Wow thanks for the great info. Learn something new everyday on Head-Fi.

post #5156 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roscoeiii View Post
 

 

As I said "IIRC", my mistaken impression was that this was not yet implemented. Maybe it was some specific aspect that was being discussed. This is a 344 page thread by now, so tough to keep track. 

 

But since you have used the X5 as a USB DAC, can you confirm whether or not the X5 can be used to play streamed digital content from a computer source (Spotify, NPR Music, etc)? Is a special driver need to use it as a USB DAC with a Windows computer? 


Yes, it required a separate driver in order to be recognized.  Sorry, I don't use any streaming music services (X5 is my standalone player, and I use E18 as external usb dac), but if I recall streaming movies, etc was not a problem.  It's really like a regular external audio card where you select it as a default sound playback device, so I wouldn't expect it having any issues since instead of routing your digital audio signal to internal DAC connected to speakers or headphone output you are just routing it to usb port.

post #5157 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by twister6 View Post
 


Yes, it required a separate driver in order to be recognized.  Sorry, I don't use any streaming music services (X5 is my standalone player, and I use E18 as external usb dac), but if I recall streaming movies, etc was not a problem.  It's really like a regular external audio card where you select it as a default sound playback device, so I wouldn't expect it having any issues since instead of routing your digital audio signal to internal DAC connected to speakers or headphone output you are just routing it to usb port.

That is super news. 

 

No lag on the sound when you streamed movies? A USB-coax converter I had a while back which required a driver introduced a delay that caused the sound to play out of sync with the video. 

post #5158 of 19481

No synch issues in my experience. It acts like a standard sound card.

post #5159 of 19481

ClieOS -

 

Thanks much for explanation.

Very informative. I think another factor is the amount of CPU required to decode DSD.

When I demoed the AK 240 playing hi rez files such as flac, a lac etc… It was fine.

When I switched to DSD files, it got pretty warm.

 

When fiio announced DSD playback, I was like "wow!"

DSD playback for a fraction of the cost. This was before the clarification that it was DSD ->PCM

post #5160 of 19481
Quote:
Originally Posted by JACONE View Post
 

ClieOS -

 

Thanks much for explanation.

Very informative. I think another factor is the amount of CPU required to decode DSD.

When I demoed the AK 240 playing hi rez files such as flac, a lac etc… It was fine.

When I switched to DSD files, it got pretty warm.

 

When fiio announced DSD playback, I was like "wow!"

DSD playback for a fraction of the cost. This was before the clarification that it was DSD ->PCM

 

Yes, CPU can be a factor. As I said RISC based CPU used on DAP are not optimized for DSD, and therefore battery life and performance both suffer. RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing - basically a set of most commonly used computer commands are hasten using pre-build hardware, and therefore able to achieve really fast speed by relatively low power consumption. Unfortunately the downside is, when it comes to non-common commands, it will runs much slower, such as the case of DSD. There is so far no demand on implementing DSD into RISC, since RISC is really meant for smartphone or embedded system and not much for audio specific purpose. So the assumption is PCM should be more than enough for now and DSD can take the long way around if needed.

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