T+A HiFi - DAC 200 - Official Discussion Thread
Mar 7, 2024 at 11:52 AM Post #437 of 494
Nice review but I was surprised to find the reviewer has “an engineering degree in digital signal processing”, but neglected to discuss the problems with ALL chip based DACs. Bezier filtering will help reduce the typical “echoes” found in all DAC chip processors (from equiripple in passband), not to mention the true discrete one-bit DSD which eliminates the issues of all upsampling chip based DACs. The DSD section is intended for use with either pure original DSD files or for all formats via a powerful PC which does upsampling to high rate DSD. Modern PC upsampling do not use the Mickey Mouse typical chip processor algorithms, which use lousy short tap length filters ( and produce a sinusoidal ripple throughout the frequency domain passband which mathematically equates to a pre and a post-echo in the time domain - creating harshness and collapsing the soundstage).

The reviewer used a Mac Studio running Roon and fed USB to the DAC - it would have been a simple matter to turn on Roon’s upsampling and feed the T+A D200 DSD256 - the reviewer would have been surprised if he had done so - especially at how much better the true one bit DSD converter can sound when fed high rate DSD compared to the built in DAC chip handling the industry standard PCM files….the upsampling in Roon software is actually very good.
 
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Mar 12, 2024 at 4:27 AM Post #438 of 494
Brief post to share how wonderfully good I am finding the DAC 200 with DSD via Roon and HQP via the Bliss KTE and a bunch of nice headphones. Currently switching between the ZMF Caldera and HEKv2 - both are stunning. I have posted previously about enjoying the PCM side of the DAC 200, and it is very good, but he DSD side with HQP and Roon is a step up. HQP does the signal processing heavy lifting and Roon provides a great front end. This is what makes a big investment (for me) in a DAC worthwhile - getting a big SQ bump. Loving this setup with the DAC 200.
 
Mar 12, 2024 at 9:17 AM Post #439 of 494
Brief post to share how wonderfully good I am finding the DAC 200 with DSD via Roon and HQP via the Bliss KTE and a bunch of nice headphones. Currently switching between the ZMF Caldera and HEKv2 - both are stunning. I have posted previously about enjoying the PCM side of the DAC 200, and it is very good, but he DSD side with HQP and Roon is a step up. HQP does the signal processing heavy lifting and Roon provides a great front end. This is what makes a big investment (for me) in a DAC worthwhile - getting a big SQ bump. Loving this setup with the DAC 200.
I really like the two “flavors” this DAC offers. I initially ran it exclusively in DSD mode via Roon / HQP via a Holo Red, then switched over to PCM for a few weeks which is, for me, a small step down in clarity but I didn’t care as it sounded very “analog”. Now, I toggle back and forth depending on mood and genre. Flexibility is a great feature.
 
Mar 12, 2024 at 10:30 AM Post #440 of 494
I really like the two “flavors” this DAC offers. I initially ran it exclusively in DSD mode via Roon / HQP via a Holo Red, then switched over to PCM for a few weeks which is, for me, a small step down in clarity but I didn’t care as it sounded very “analog”. Now, I toggle back and forth depending on mood and genre. Flexibility is a great feature.
I've been using HQP upsampled DSD almost exclusively with DAC200. On Holo Spring 3 I toggled between NOS PCM and HQP upsampled DSD, but still used DSD like 80/20. I feel like the quality gap between PCM and DSD is even bigger on DAC200 than it was with Spring 3, but then again the DSD section of DAC200 is IMO clearly better than Spring 3's DSD section. Maybe the ecstatic DSD performance of DAC200 is the reason why PCM gets so little time with it.
The reviewer used a Mac Studio running Roon and fed USB to the DAC - it would have been a simple matter to turn on Roon’s upsampling and feed the T+A D200 DSD256 - the reviewer would have been surprised if he had done so - especially at how much better the true one bit DSD converter can sound when fed high rate DSD compared to the built in DAC chip handling the industry standard PCM files….the upsampling in Roon software is actually very good.
I wonder how many reviewers realize what they're missing when they don't try these certain DACs with DSD upsampling. And I mean the DACs which are recommended by Jussi Laako to be used with HQP. Reviewing DAC200 without trying out the DSD section is like missing 2/3 of its potential.
 
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Mar 12, 2024 at 11:39 AM Post #441 of 494
...
I wonder how many reviewers realize what they miss when they don't try these certain DACs with DSD upsampling. And I mean the DACs which are recommended by Jussi Laako to be used with HQP. Reviewing DAC200 without trying out the DSD section is like missing 2/3 of its potential.
Completely agree. The PCM section is very good, but the DSD is another level. A review that doesn't touch the DSD option is missing the point.
 
Mar 13, 2024 at 6:48 PM Post #442 of 494
So glad folks are discovering the awesomeness of using HQPlayer with the DSD section of the T+A 200. Some of you may now be interested in taking the next step; offline upsampling and file conversion. Info is below along with a few other HQPlayer-y things I learned along the way:
  • HQPlayer (Jussi) does not recommend altering the default system values, resource priorities, etc. as this can cause instability, poor performance and adversely affect SQ. Naturally, I maxed out all the settings using ProcessLasso anyway (lol) and It's been running quite well thus far.
    • I found that running Roon and upsampling together on the same CPU with only 4 or 5 cores (alternated) assigned to Roon, and the rest assigned to HQPlayer, tended to yield the best sound quality. I haven't a clue why.
  • Try using HQPlayer (without upsampling) to play music instead of Roon. Uglier, less feature-rich, and a bit more logistically challenging than Roon. But the small bump in sound quality could be worth it for some. Turns out HQPlayer is actually a really good music player (with a name like HQPlayer who would have guessed?!?).
  • I largely stopped inline upsampling w/HQPlayer because:
    • I discovered dBpoweramp software. I resampled/converted my entire offline library from 44kHz - 192kHz .wav to DSD256 .dsf.
      • My custom digital source runs dual 20 core Xeon Gold 6148 CPUs on a custom water cooling loop. This really came in handy for DSD file conversion as it only took approx. 14 hours to convert approx. 6,000 tracks.
      • Be very careful with this software. It will consume all available system resources and almost melted my rig!
      • I wouldn't recommend going to all of this trouble unless you have similar native DSD capable DAC with a similarly optimized setup. In the end, this is just a "poor man's" way of squeezing better performance out of cheaper gear. Probably isn't worth the hassle for most.
    • To the surprise of absolutely no one, turning off inline upsampling resulted is much lower resource utilization, lower noise floor, and almost universally better SQ (sometimes it's subtle, but it's there). The same would be true of physically decoupling HQPlayer upsampling from a music player server as well (i.e. running HQPlayer on a dedicated upsampling machine and roon endpoint on a Raspberry Pi).
  • Notes:
    • DSD256 tended to sound the best on my rig (I mistakenly converted everything to DSD128 first. Long story, but I was evaluating SQ using upsampling with HQPlayer instead of natively converted test files because...stupid).
      • TEST before you commit! Convert a small number of test tracks to DSD64, 128, 256 and 512, then compare them with one other along with the original PCM.
    • Media storage is key. DSD files take up a TON of drive space. Be warned and plan accordingly! I run three 4TB NVME drives for a DSD library of 6,000 tracks. My library is divided across two of the three drives and consumes approx. 50% of each drive (drive efficiency tends to crater around 60% depending on the storage architecture used).
To be clear, converting files to native DSD will help you eek out the last little molecules of SQ leveraging the DSD section of the T+A 200, while inline upsampling w/HQPlayer provides far more options with regard to filtering and flavor.

Hope this helps.

- lj
 
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Mar 13, 2024 at 8:12 PM Post #443 of 494
Just got one of these over the weekend. I run Roon. Is there DSD up sampling in Roon or just in HQ player in Roon.
Thanks
 
Mar 13, 2024 at 8:15 PM Post #444 of 494
Just got one of these over the weekend. I run Roon. Is there DSD up sampling in Roon or just in HQ player in Roon.
Thanks
There is but HQP has a lot more options and is a much better upsampler.
 
Mar 23, 2024 at 3:48 AM Post #445 of 494
New firmware version released (v1.20). Release notes:

(22.03.24)
stable beta
Main: V1.20 Main: V1.1A
BL: BL:
===================================================================================================
- Home Theatre Bypass added
- INVert ON/OFF now additionally accessible via TONE menu
- editable source names
- automatically toggle between pre-out and phones modes
- separate volume & balance settings for pre-out and phones
- save settings for OVS, INV, FILTER separately for each input (can be enabled/disabled by an additional setup-menu item)
- big display of VOLUME level when changing volume by remote control
- output muted when switching output mode from variable to fixed to prevent high SPL on speakers (due to safety reasons the "fixed"/"variable" settings has been removed from from APP menu)
- smaller bugfixes

---

Unfortunately the update process isn't that simple. You need to take the unit to the dealer. The official way is through MP200 streamer, which updates the DAC200 software when they're in connection. There's also a dedicated cable which makes it possible to do the update with PC, but that cable is only available through T+A dealers.
 
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Mar 26, 2024 at 6:06 PM Post #446 of 494
So glad folks are discovering the awesomeness of using HQPlayer with the DSD section of the T+A 200. Some of you may now be interested in taking the next step; offline upsampling and file conversion. Info is below along with a few other HQPlayer-y things I learned along the way:
  • HQPlayer (Jussi) does not recommend altering the default system values, resource priorities, etc. as this can cause instability, poor performance and adversely affect SQ. Naturally, I maxed out all the settings using ProcessLasso anyway (lol) and It's been running quite well thus far.
    • I found that running Roon and upsampling together on the same CPU with only 4 or 5 cores (alternated) assigned to Roon, and the rest assigned to HQPlayer, tended to yield the best sound quality. I haven't a clue why.
  • Try using HQPlayer (without upsampling) to play music instead of Roon. Uglier, less feature-rich, and a bit more logistically challenging than Roon. But the small bump in sound quality could be worth it for some. Turns out HQPlayer is actually a really good music player (with a name like HQPlayer who would have guessed?!?).
  • I largely stopped inline upsampling w/HQPlayer because:
    • I discovered dBpoweramp software. I resampled/converted my entire offline library from 44kHz - 192kHz .wav to DSD256 .dsf.
      • My custom digital source runs dual 20 core Xeon Gold 6148 CPUs on a custom water cooling loop. This really came in handy for DSD file conversion as it only took approx. 14 hours to convert approx. 6,000 tracks.
      • Be very careful with this software. It will consume all available system resources and almost melted my rig!
      • I wouldn't recommend going to all of this trouble unless you have similar native DSD capable DAC with a similarly optimized setup. In the end, this is just a "poor man's" way of squeezing better performance out of cheaper gear. Probably isn't worth the hassle for most.
    • To the surprise of absolutely no one, turning off inline upsampling resulted is much lower resource utilization, lower noise floor, and almost universally better SQ (sometimes it's subtle, but it's there). The same would be true of physically decoupling HQPlayer upsampling from a music player server as well (i.e. running HQPlayer on a dedicated upsampling machine and roon endpoint on a Raspberry Pi).
  • Notes:
    • DSD256 tended to sound the best on my rig (I mistakenly converted everything to DSD128 first. Long story, but I was evaluating SQ using upsampling with HQPlayer instead of natively converted test files because...stupid).
      • TEST before you commit! Convert a small number of test tracks to DSD64, 128, 256 and 512, then compare them with one other along with the original PCM.
    • Media storage is key. DSD files take up a TON of drive space. Be warned and plan accordingly! I run three 4TB NVME drives for a DSD library of 6,000 tracks. My library is divided across two of the three drives and consumes approx. 50% of each drive (drive efficiency tends to crater around 60% depending on the storage architecture used).
To be clear, converting files to native DSD will help you eek out the last little molecules of SQ leveraging the DSD section of the T+A 200, while inline upsampling w/HQPlayer provides far more options with regard to filtering and flavor.

Hope this helps.

- lj

Quick update for those interested. Remastero has a major update in the works that will bring DSD upsampling/conversion capability to PGGB. Given the performance of the PCM side, this will likely be among the very best options available outside of legit studio mastering software.
 
Mar 26, 2024 at 6:10 PM Post #447 of 494
Quick update for those interested. Remastero has a major update in the works that will bring DSD upsampling/conversion capability to PGGB. Given the performance of the PCM side, this will likely be among the very best options available outside of legit studio mastering software.
I saw on the other forum your preference was/is DSD128. Is that still the case?
 
Mar 26, 2024 at 6:42 PM Post #448 of 494
I saw on the other forum your preference was/is DSD128. Is that still the case?
No, sir. I ended up re-converting my library to 256. It's a bit complicated...

I preferred DSD128 in combination with active HQPlayer modulators, filters, etc., but much prefer DSD256 without. Turns out there are a ton of ways to skin this cat. For example, you can convert everything to DSD64-256, then add HQPlayer filters during playback to ease the burden on the CPU and prevent it from having to covert from PCM to DSD in the first place. I'm trying to go the static conversion route w/out inline processing to squeeze every last ounce of SQ out of my server. However, it must me noted that this may not be the best long-term strategy for maximum SQ.

Filters, modulators, conversion algorithms, etc., including those employed by HQPlayer and PGGB, are often improved over time. So your converted library becomes a pseudo "snapshot" of results achieved with a particular algorithm at a given point in time. This means that to achieve the absolute maximize SQ available, you'll need to reconvert your library at some point in the future using improved algorithms. Meanwhile, inline upsampling with HQPlayer won't suffer from this problem as algorithms are updated transparently between versions. It really is a case of pick your poison; suffer through the extra noise and logistical headaches with inline upsampling or plan on re-converting your local library every year or two.
 
Mar 26, 2024 at 7:17 PM Post #449 of 494
No, sir. I ended up re-converting my library to 256. It's a bit complicated...

I preferred DSD128 in combination with active HQPlayer modulators, filters, etc., but much prefer DSD256 without. Turns out there are a ton of ways to skin this cat. For example, you can convert everything to DSD64-256, then add HQPlayer filters during playback to ease the burden on the CPU and prevent it from having to covert from PCM to DSD in the first place. I'm trying to go the static conversion route w/out inline processing to squeeze every last ounce of SQ out of my server. However, it must me noted that this may not be the best long-term strategy for maximum SQ.

Filters, modulators, conversion algorithms, etc., including those employed by HQPlayer and PGGB, are often improved over time. So your converted library becomes a pseudo "snapshot" of results achieved with a particular algorithm at a given point in time. This means that to achieve the absolute maximize SQ available, you'll need to reconvert your library at some point in the future using improved algorithms. Meanwhile, inline upsampling with HQPlayer won't suffer from this problem as algorithms are updated transparently between versions. It really is a case of pick your poison; suffer through the extra noise and logistical headaches with inline upsampling or plan on re-converting your local library every year or two.
Totally agree and I’m going through the same mental exercise before the new PGGB goes live. File size at DSD256 should be around 180mb/minute.

Leaning toward staying at my standard procedure which is to PGGB to 16fs/24 bit and then HQP to 512/1024 real time. However, if the PGGB DSD ends up being preferred over the above, I may do the conversion route you did. I’ll likely compare it with HQP Pro as well.
 
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Mar 26, 2024 at 11:33 PM Post #450 of 494
Totally agree and I’m going through the same mental exercise before the new PGGB goes live. File size at DSD256 should be around 180mb/minute.

Leaning toward staying at my standard procedure which is to PGGB to 16fs/24 bit and then HQP to 512/1024 real time. However, if the PGGB DSD ends up being preferred over the above, I may do the conversion route you did. I’ll likely compare it with HQP Pro as well.

I'm insanely jealous of your access to HQPlayer Pro. This is probably the mother of all converters based purely on the filter options alone. I tried, begged and failed to obtain a Pro license. I'll just leave it at that. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts between it and PGGB DSD.

Your approach seems solid to me, and if I'm honest, more sensible than mine. The only thing I'm sure of is my preferences tend to change a bit over time, especially when I change gear/capability. So maximizing options with HQP seems like the most flexible route.
 

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