DACs that upsample to DSD internally?

Hello Everyone,

I'm wondering if we can form a list of DACs that are capable of upsampling PCM to DSD internally? I realize there are various software programs that could do this on the fly from your PC. But for the truly computer illiterate among us (like me) who find learning to use such programs incredibly frustrating, it would be great to know which DACs can to this. I only know of the Directstream. Thanks to all!
Maybe I used the wrong term. Maybe it should have been oversampled or resampled. At any rate, I have over 1,000 CDs ripped to wav files and have used more than one NOS DAC. I found a lack of detail in them. I would like to listen to them in DSD format as many many people say it sounds wonderful. 
Format conversion is probably the most accurate terminology.  I'm not sure that converting to DSD will give you more detail.  If anything my Esoteric when used in that manner sounds smooth, actually very smooth.

How did you come to the conclusion that your DAC was the cause of the lack of detail?
What DAC are you using?
How is it connected to the digital source?
What cables are you using, i.e. interconnect and power.

I stream from my iMac, using a good USB cable, into a musical fidelity USB TO SPDIF converter, into a Bifrost DAC.

It sounds almost as agood as my analogue rig.

I play all formats (except DSD) and sample rates up to 24/192

I would suspect your problem may not be the file format

The one I'm using now is a no name one built from a very inexpensive assembled kit that I bought on here some years ago. I got it for using when I was "in between" DACs. (I would sell one then buy another to upgrade) My last one was a Metrum Octave, but even that didn't have very much detail. I'm not sure which to buy now, but I thought I'd go in the totally opposite direction and try DSD. In any case, my current DAC is by far the weakest link in my system.

My cables do need upgrading also, I have Cullen power cords, a Morrow IC, and usb and digital cords are just from Blue Jean. I recently had dedicated power lines installed. I thought I'd try to find a good DAC before upgrading the cables.

Thanks for the response. Do you have any choices? I mean could you listen to PCM if you wanted? If not, can you choose between 64, 128, 256?
All Delta-Sigma DACs convert PCM to DSD.  SACD is a product of Delta Sigma modulation (recorded output of Delta Sigma DAC before filtering)
Xrayz - regarding cables - I'm not going to tell you that cables ARE your problem. but I've found that with really good cables, even the most affordable component can perform to a very high level.

Having said that, my experience with the Bifrost DAC is as follows
- I purchased the original Bifrost with the USB port and UBER analogue output stage upgrade
- I then installed the newer USB port upgrade - but I was still left wanting more
- I  invested in the Musical Fidelity V-Link 192. This proved to be an exceptional purchase and really proved that not all USB interfaces are anywhere near equal - this provided a significant improvement to the really fine details.
- Lastly I upgraded the Bifrost to the 4490 upgrade option which provided a significant improvement in fine details

In parallel with that I started investing in really good cables

For USB cables that linked the computer to the V-Link192 I settled on a cable that had a separate power cable like this one and found it improved the details even more when powered with a separate power supply

The power a cable for the DAC is a DIY cable that I developed...

For IC's I started with the KLE Innovations gZero3 and ended up with the gZero20 - a cable which costs almost three times what I paid for the DAC + Upgrades.

However, I now use a DIY IC cable that I developed...

Crazy you say? - certifiable in many peoples eyes -  but I no longer yearn to replace my DAC and the sound really is excellent.

The DAC you have looks very capable and I think it would benefit greatly from some cable upgrades - but rather than experiment as I did, I would recommend taking the DAC to a good audio store that sells high-end cables and get them to connect it to one of their systems - I'm sure that the prospect of selling you some high-end cables they will jump at the chance and you get to see how the DAC performs outside of your system

If you are in the Toronto region let me know - I might be able to arrange an audition of my DIY cables :-)



Thank you for taking the time for the comprehensive response. I didn't mention before my DAC is battery powered. I don't even know if the USB port needs to be powered through the cable or not, but if so, would I need something like an iPurifier?
yes - iPurifier is one solution - if the dac uses power from the USB cable.


As Allen said said in the second post, why??

Your only denigrating PCM by converting it to dsd in real time with a dsd dac, better off getting the right dac to it with, get a good Multibit dac, which converts it "bit perfect".

From MoJo Music:
" When a PCM file is played on a DSD or Bit Stream converter, the DAC chip has to convert the PCM to DSD in real time. This is one of the major reasons people claim DSD sounds better than PCM, when in fact, it is just that the chip in most modern single-bit DACs do a poor job of decoding PCM."

Cheers George

Why? I just want to try DSD. Maybe I won't like it at all, I don't know. That's the only reason, and probably the only reason all us on here try different equipment. 
Xrayz - One last thought - what software are you using to stream?

I use iTunes for Library Management (only), but I use Audirvana to actually stream the data in the file to the DAC.

Audirvana bypasses all of the apple code that is normally used for streaming - WHY? - because Apple actually messes with the data file before sending it across the USB link and Audirvana has an option to send just the raw data.

Using Audirvana improved the fidelity and details considerably, but you have to set it up correctly - the user manual is very good.

Audirvana will also play DSD files (so I'm told) by converting them in real time on the computer - NOT in the DAC.

Audirvana also caches the entire track in memory before it starts to play, so there are no delays in playback waiting on network and hard disk processing - just straight down the USB pipe!

Why? I just want to try DSD. Maybe I won't like it at all, I don't know. That's the only reason, and probably the only reason all us on here try different equipment.
 That's fine, but listen to real dsd (native), not pcm that was converted to dsd and called "high rez". 

Trouble is there's not much to choose from in real native dsd in the way of music
And if you really want hear High Rez, DXD (which is done in pcm) it sounds stunning, but again no music to choose from, and it should be played back through a Multibit dac, not a dsd or delta sigma dac.

Cheers George
PS Audio makes the iconic and hugely popular DirectStream DAC. This DAC converts PCM TO DSD and outputs (as do all DACS) via analogue through your preamp. Spectacular results that produce analogue like results. I run Nodost cable from my DAC to my Krell Foundation and stream high res files from my music server, a Mac Mini. I use Pure Music software that attaches itself to iTunes and takes over as the music player. The music is, well, not only BETTER than analog but kind of like a musical heroin. :-). 
PS Audio Directstream, EMM Labs, dCS are ones I can think of.

These 3 companies are certainly recognised by audiophiles and audio journalists all over the world for making great sounding dac’s.
It matters not what chips they use or whether they convert PCM to DSD.
The proof as always, is in the listening.
Don't forget Playback Design, Andreas Koch who designed the EMM Labs Dacs and a few other before he went independent and started his own company.
The Esoteric K-01X does.  I have one and it is exceptional in both modes: PCM unfiltered and no upscaling and conversion of PCM to DSD.
xrayz, I'm still confused.  Do you need your DAC to output DSD stream to the outside (DSD stream on output connector) or you're looking for the DAC that outputs analog voltage that comes from PCM-DSD conversion.  As I mentioned before all Delta-Sigma D/A converters are based on principle of converting PCM to DSD, then taking average value (filtering) of DSD (PWM) stream.
I think you mean the DAC is a Delta-Sigma, which some mistake for DSD.  DSD is encoded using Delta-Sigma.


DAC's are either multi-bit or delta-sigma, although I think there's some hybrids with 2 bits, and I think the famous dCS ring DAC was  complicated 5 bit Delta-Sigma, but now I may be making stuff up. Schiit makes a big deal of using multi-bit DAC's.

99% of current DAC chips are Delta-Sigma types.

A common feature is "Asynchronous Sample Rate Conversion" though it may be called "reclocking" or upsampling or something. ASRC can go up, or down or even keep the sample rate the same, but with a new low jitter clock.


Eric, he was asking for the DAC that converts PCM to DSD. Every Delta-Sigma D/A converter does that, unless he is looking for the DAC that brings DSD stream to the output connector.

Delta- Sigma might be oversampling but it is not Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter.  ASRC is usually a separate chip that is in front of Delta-Sigma DAC.

I sit corrected! I thought by now there were a few DAC chips with this ASRC built in, but after browsing it seems I was confused.  Perhaps this was an outboard filter chip with ASRC built in. My mistake.