DAC settings and oversampling
When choosing the system on which Audirvana will play your music, you select the digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that will transform the digital data into an analog electrical signal that will drive your speakers. The DAC is a key element in sound quality. For example, if you listen through your computer’s headphone jack, you use the DAC in the computer, called the “integrated output.” If you send the sound to an external device, the signal is transmitted digitally to that device and converted to analog by it.
Depending on its quality, the DAC is more or less accurate, able to support certain formats or high resolutions, and to perform consistent calculations in real time such as oversampling.
The default settings are generally satisfactory, but to optimize the sound quality of your system, regardless of file formats, make sure that Audirvana has the technical information about your DAC. You may specify whether or not it supports the DSD or MQA formats, the maximum sampling rate, and the resolution allowed. Thus, Audirvana will enable you to get the best out of your DAC by transmitting adapted and already decoded information, which will limit the computer processing to what is strictly necessary.
Almost all DACs on the market today operate on a very high frequency switching principle with a resolution of only a few bits. They therefore systematically oversample the signal, but work with limited computing power and more or less efficient algorithms. You can facilitate your DAC’s processing load by asking Audirvana to perform oversampling upstream, using the significantly higher computing capabilities of the computer and with a high-performance algorithm (SoX).
To send music to your wireless system without any loss in quality, Audirvana works with the universally accepted UPnP or DLNA protocol. It is a royalty-free protocol that allows multiple devices to communicate over the same network (wirelessly over wi-fi or wired over ethernet or PLC) to share and play files, including audio.
In this configuration, what DLNA refers to as a “media renderer,” which converts and plays the music, will retrieve the files on a “media server” using a control point, typically your computer. To be able to decode files in advance, Audirvana plays the roles of control point and ad hoc media server. In other words, it is seen by the renderer as the file provider, which allows it to perform the necessary processing.
Check your DAC's settings in Audirvana
Audirvana integrates a decoder for MQA files (Master Quality Authenticated), a PCM format able to reproduce HD quality in a file small enough to be streamed or downloaded.
A “MQA Decoder” DAC takes care of all the decoding process. If your DAC is an “MQA Renderer”, decoding is shared between Audirvana and your DAC. Both options grant you an optimal quality.
In most cases the software automatically chooses the settings, but if you play MQA with a MQA renderer or decoder DAC (check the manufacturer’s website), you should check if your DAC is well recognized by Audirvana :
1 – Click on the speaker icon
Then click on the arrow just right of your device to access Audirvana’s audio settings.
2 – Choose the right DAC mode
And configure Audirvana depending on whether your DAC is a MQA decoder or MQA renderer.
3 – Play with your audio settings
Take advantage of the upsampling options and check which setting sounds best with your system.
We recommend starting with the “Power of Two (e.g. x2, x4)” upsampling option.
Keep in mind that higher upsampling rates in UPnP/DLNA require higher bandwidths.
Even if your DAC isn’t MQA compatible, you can still read the files with Audirvana’s integrated decoder and benefit from their high resolution, including the unfolding of the upper half hires signal.
Our integrated partner TIDAL offers you a large variety of standard (green dot) and studio authentified (blue dot) MQA files, even with their free trial.