DSD on Naim Streamers

Hi somehow I have never really felt that dsd was any better flac or wav… it should be … is Naim converting dsd on the fly … don’t get me wrong dsd sounds good but on my ND555 it just does not sound quite as dynamic.

Results may depend how you have Roon configured to handle DSD.

Are you comparing formats derived from the same master?

Don’t like dsd on my Nds. They sound dull.
The Naim dsd format is apparently DOT. Can’t say more on it.
@Thomas or Mike B can explain.

I bought a handful of DSD 128 albums. I used them on my ND5 XS, ND5 XS2 and now on my NDX2. I regret buying them!
They sound worse than redbook CD rips on my system, and on all three streamers. I don’t get what all the fuss is about with DSD. Back to good old PCM for me.

1 Like

As a previous poster has asked, are you comparing the same mastering? Is it a bad recording? Without giving specific details, it’s difficult to say what’s happening.

DSD sounds great, just like any other format, if the recording and the mastering are great. If it’s a poor recording and mastering, it doesn’t matter if it’s DSD, High res FLAC, MP3 or vinyl, it won’t sound good.

Naim use DAC chips that are natively configured or only work in PCM. The conversion from DSD to PCM therefore occurs prior to the DAC… I suspect by the SHARC processor.
DSD to PCM is an inexact and ultimately lossy process, and there are many different ways of achieving it with pros and cons. It’s very different from converting FLAC to WAV for example which is precise and lossless.
Therefore you may find Naim’s chosen conversion algorithm to your liking or not. If not you can always convert separately in a separate transcoder like a UPnP player or Roon and use that conversion algorithm which you may prefer … or not as the case may be. However ultimately the best way to playback DSD is use a digital to analogue converter chip itself and digital filters that natively operate with DSD, and internally are being sent DSD/delta sigma bitstreams.

Alternatively you can use a Naim streamer with digital out, and if sent DSD, then sends pure DSD information on the SPDIF (This is known as DoP… where pure DSD is packaged up and sent in the data construct of a 96/24 PCM transport) . This DSD SPDIF signal can be sent to a native DSD DAC and that way you can listen to pure DSD, rather converted DSD that the Naim streamer otherwise play out.


Hi Simon, The ND555 white paper has a small piece on this …
“ … ND555’s PCM1704 DAC chips are not DSD compatible, DSD signals are transcoded to PCM within the DSP. First the DSD signal is downsampled to 352.8kHz, 40-bit floating point PCM and low-pass filtered to remove DSD’s noise-shaped ultrasonic quantisation noise. Then it is upsampled to 705.6kHz/24-bit for passing to the DAC stage.”

1 Like

Indeed the PCM1704K isn’t able to decode DSD, but the newer DAC chips used in the NDX2 for example I believe are, but are configured along with reconstruction filters to work in PCM mode.

That’s a bit far fetched… If DoP is correctly implemented it isn’t lossy.

Thomas you have got confused I believe.
In DoP there is no conversion, it’s simply using a stereo PCM 24 bit sample construct to pack pure DSD bit stream encoding data. DoP is pure DSD data.
If you convert DSD to PCM, which is nothing to do with DoP, then that is ultimately lossy.
Refer to my post above for the explanation, but I have noticed a few trip up over this so you are not alone :grinning:

1 Like

Right, I thought the NDxxx streamers did read DSD through a DoP process. It appears not being the case, if it is indeed a conversion than it results being somewhat lossy.

The NDxxx documentation lacks clarity for that matter.

Naim streamers receive DSD using a DoP data construct.
To play out internally Naim convert it to PCM then to analogue… it’s just how Naim do it… and as Mike says some of the converters Naim use can only handle PCM anyway.
If you play out digitally, then the transport natively send DSD DoP via the SPDIF out.

… a slight thread drift, I use Asset UPnP on the NAS, this has the option to play DSD ‘as is’ or play ‘as DoP’. I’ve tried both & I don’t see or hear any difference on the NDX. I like what I hear & am not too concerned about how it works; however I’ve thought about it theoretically & it’s something I don’t seem able to get my head around, that usually means I have a missing link or something & not fully understanding the process.
If anyone can go over it in words of one syllable or less muchas gracias

Yes but that’s the confusion, or part of it, Asset UPnP say they can play (stream) as DSD or DoP

Yes I understand for DSD there are different MIME types such as DSD, DFF, DSF and WAV (DoP) which a UPnP media server can potentially use … they are all effectively equivalent and provide bit streams… it’s just they are data packed differently, I guess analogous to PCM being big endian or little endian encoding. However it will be ultimately down to what the renderer supports as the data formatting type.

My Teac PD 501 HR plays DSD in native format, and sounds stunning. It plays DSF or DFF files, which I have to burn on DVD recordable discs. Analog output from the back of the teac, no conversion needed, or DOP packaging.DSD in native format is basically the same as an SACD disc, and they sound very good.image

1 Like

If you like sirupy, caramel like sound, it sounds great indeed

Sorry, but what do you mean by ‘sirupy, caremel like sound’? Making blanket statements like DSD sounds bad on Naim is really unhelpful. Unless you’re making like for like comparisons then this is meaningless.

1 Like

Oh dear that sounds rather damning of the equipment playing back DSD. What are you referring to?

Great thanks this has been very enlightening …
I checked mine out Roon seems to converting DSD to PCM… I might try switching that off…and see if the ND555 foes it better…