I will be upsampling CDs to 24/192 on the cheap: $299!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by KeithH, Jun 7, 2002.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    The idea of upsampling CDs has intrigued me for awhile. I've considered picking up the Musical Fidelity A324 DAC for $1200. My gripe about it (and some other DACs) is that it only has one coaxial digital input and one optical digital input. I wish the A324 had a few coaxial digital inputs. I would use such a component in my main system, where I have a Sony SCD-777ES and Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 as single-disc transports, and would like to be able to connect both via coaxial digital cables. Anyway, I could always use the A324 for the '777ES and be done with it.
    Another option that intrigued me is the Cairn Fog v2.0 CD player that Sam Tellig reviewed favorably in the current issue of Stereophile. The base player is $1095, but it is available with a 24/192 upsampling chip installed for $1595. This is a less appealing option than the A324 to me because it is more expensive and because I don't want a new player. The '777ES with the A324 would probably be a killer combo.
    Yet another option is the Perpetual Technologies P-3A for $800. For another $800, Dan Wright will mod it, and his mods are authorized by Pepetual Technologies. It has been said that the A324 beats the stock P-3A, but I'm sure the modded P-3A would be something to behold.
    Then there is the new Bel Canto DAC to consider for around the same price as the A324. I would certainly try to audition both before plunking down the cash.
    For now, I have decided to upsample to 24/192 for a mere $299. Upscale Audio (www.upscaleaudio.com) is offering a 24/192 upsampling board for the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 for just $299. I have pre-ordered one. It will supposedly be available at the end of August. I am not going to say that this upsampling board will match the A324 or other comparably priced stand-alone DACs, but for $299, I feel it is definitely worth a try. Some of you may be aware that Dan Wright of www.modwright.com is also offering mods to the Ah!. These mods are compatible with the upsampling board, so I could go with Dan's mods later if desired.
    I won't be upsampling for a couple months yet, but I will report back when the chip is installed. Of course, this chip doesn't allow me to upsample from the '777ES, which I still would like to try at some point. It's too bad the Ah! doesn't have a coaxial digital input like some high-end CD players do (e.g., the Cary CD 306/200).
    Down the road, I will consider a stand-alone DAC like the A324, but I like the idea of trying out upsampling on the cheap first. I also like being able to try upsampling without having to make room for yet another box in my audio room. Finally, I bought the Ah! for tweaking, which adds some fun to the hobby.
     
  2. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would be sceptical about any improvement in sound, since there is no way to "upsample" without simply interpolating, which is not going to be a faithful reproduction of the music. The only area that could improve is if the DACs are of a higher quality. With CDs, you are pretty much stuck with 16bit, 44.1kHz source material, and other than eliminating some distortion at Nyquist, there is little to be gained by increasing the downstream bit depth and sample frequency, since none of that material is present in the source.
     
  3. Eugene Hsieh

    Eugene Hsieh Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    550
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sounds like $300 poorly spent to be quite honest. I'd rather get another $300 of software (CD, DVD-A, or SACD).
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Matthew,

    I was not aware that the Onkyo 'DS898 upsamples. A home-theater receiver that upsamples. Very interesting. No offense, but I wonder how good a job the 'DS898 does at it. Like anything else, some components are said to upsample better than others, and I am talking about high-end CD players and stand-alone DACs. It's too bad the 'DS898 doesn't upsample to 192 kHz.

    Interestingly, I see no mention of the 'DS989 or 'DS989VER2 flagship models on Crutchfield's web site being capable of upsampling. The 'DS898 is the only home-theater receiver I am aware of that upsamples.

    As for my receiver, I have yet to hear back from the repair shop. If it cannot be repaired, I will get a check from Sony (again) or get part of the money from my insurance company (less the deductable). No matter what, I will get a receiver that is the equal of or better than the 'V444ES.

    The Kenwood minidisc deck is working fine. Thanks for asking.


    Jeff,

    Not everyone out there is sold on upsampling. I have read comments on Audio Asylum from people who prefer the upsampling mode on high-end players and DACs turned off. Also, I have read comments from people who prefer upsampling to 96 kHz over 192 kHz. If you stick around this hobby long enough, you are bound to hear everything. In the end, I will try out upsampling and see how it sounds. If I am not happy with the $299 upsampling chip either because it sounds no better or sounds worse than the stock DAC set-up, I will not write off upsampling altogether. I am sure that there are better ways to upsample, but they cost far more than $299. The bottom line is that if $299 gives me a noticable improvement over the stock unit, it's money well spent. If it doesn't, I'll return the upsampling board for a full refund.

    Many people love upsampling. I guess like anything, it depends on one's system (overall quality and system synergy) and one's preferences. If you haven't read it already, read Sam Tellig's column in the current issue of Stereophile. In it, he gives a brief review of the Cairn Fog v2.0 CD player with a 24/192 upsampling chip. Tellig clearly likes upsampling. I'm in a good mood, so I'll provide his quote about upsampling:

     
  5. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Eugene, we'll see. If $299 makes my piles of CDs sound better, it's money well spent, as I said to Jeff. If it doesn't do it for me, I'll return it for a full refund. For just $299, I think it's worth a try at upsampling.
    Don't worry. I'm still buying software. [​IMG]
     
  6. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2001
    Messages:
    6,394
    Likes Received:
    0
    Real Name:
    Lee
    Keith,
     
  7. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  8. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2000
    Messages:
    5,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    Keith- It is upsampling *and* re-sampling too. Upsampling a CD would simply be to 88.2 or to 176.4 kHz. (In the DAT world, re-sampling is a no-no because it degrades the signal. 44.1 to 48 kHz or the reverse. But some people say that the newer chips do a better job.)
    There's also GW Labs for a little more. I've been thinking about this one:
    http://www.audioadvisor.com/store/pr...le%20Converter
    Someone said that I should wait for the next gen units. I'm still fence-sitting... Let us know how it works out!! [​IMG]
     
  9. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2001
    Messages:
    1,081
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Doug,

    I am going to take this one step at a time with the Ah! The upsampling board is a simple and inexpensive tweak. Simply swap boards and you're off. As I said, if I don't like the sound of the upsampling board, I can return it. Dan Wright's mods are more involved, and his more comprehensive mods are more expensive than the upsampling board. For these reasons, I would like to see some reviews of Dan's work before jumping in.

    It would be nice if the upsampling board were available sooner. I decided to place an order now because Upscale Audio is currently giving preference to people who already own the player, like me. At some point, Upscale Audio will start taking orders for new players with the upsampling board installed. I don't want to be thrown in with the pack, so to speak.


    Kevin,

    I understand what you are saying, but 'upsampling' is the accepted term for increasing the sampling rate. It has been said by some on Audio Asylum that 88.2 and 176.4 kHz sound better than 96 kHz and 192 kHz. I seem to recall reading such opinions, anyway.


    Jeff,

    Your point is well taken. The inherent problem in putting what one hears to words is that terms get thrown around loosely. I don't know what Sam Tellig meant by "dynamics". Perhaps you should write a letter to Stereophile voicing your objection. They might even print it. Again, the jury is out on upsampling for me because I have little experience with it.


    Matthew,

    I read up briefly on the 'DS898 on Crutchfield's web site and no mention of upsampling to 192 kHz. The 'DS898 has 24/192 DACs, but I recall reading that it only upsamples to 96 kHz. Of course, you own the receiver, so you should know its capabilties best. I also was not aware that the 'DS797 upsamples. Onkyo is ahead of the game on the music side of things.

    Glad to hear that your Tascam deck is working well for you.
     
  11. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    0
    Keith,
    I know you don't want another player, but I just came across a player on another board that sounds pretty intriguing. It's made by a Chinese company and, contrary to most Chinese-made products out there, has a pretty good reputation for build-quality (so much so that Mark Levinson is importing one of thier amplifiers and re-badging it for sale under the Rose Red brand).
    Anyway, the company is Xindak Audio and they offer two SACD players, the SCD-1 and SCD-2. The SCD-2 is their flagship, offering balanced outputs, a tube output buffer stage and upsampling of Red Book CDs. You can check it out at www.xindakaudio.com. From what I've heard, this player, if you can find an exporter in Hong Kong or China, will come in around $500.
     
  12. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Eujin, when I started reading your post and came across a Chinese CD player, I thought you were going to mention the Shanling CDT-1000, which is a tube player (no SACD playback). Music Hall is the lone US distributor of the Shanling player, and it sells for $2000.

    The Xindak Audio players sound very intriguing, but I have never seen any mention of them on Audio Asylum (which doesn't mean there hasn't been any). Unfortunately, I do not read Chinese, so the link you provided does nothing for me. Are the model numbers really SCD-1 and SCD-2? I would imagine that Sony would have a problem with another company using SCD-1. Anyway, I have a hard time believing that a player that does everything you describe (tube output stage, SACD playback, and upsampling of CDs) could possibly sell for $500 USD, unless it is an APEX-type product. I am not dismissing your information, but I am skeptical about the quality of this player.
     
  13. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2001
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    0
    Keith, you have every right to be skeptical--it DOES sound too good to be true. The link I provided does have another link at the bottom of the page for English--that was the only way I could read it too. I came across the player via AVS Forum, in a discussion about a new Xindak DVD player that does SACD. I went to the site and came across the SCD-1 and SCD-2 myself. If you wade around the press releases there, you'll see one announcing the granting of the SACD license to Xindak by Sony. Xindak were supposedly the first Chinese company to produce SACD players. You can find the original thread on the Xindak DVD player (and my discussion of the SCD-1/2 with the starter of the thread on P.3) here: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=141439
    As for the features that I mentioned, they were on the Xindak site. Just thought I'd pass on the information as you seem to be the resident SACD guru on HTF! [​IMG]
     
  14. Oliver

    Oliver Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 1999
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    0
    @KeithH
    There are more receivers out there that do an Upsamling job without pointing at it. This whole upsampling is not new but rather an old thing. The AVR 5800 and 5803 do Upsampling as well. It is called Alpha Processing which is content of Denon CD-players since long. If you get to the story of Alpha Processing you will read that it is an interpolation of the data missing from 16 bit to 24 bit and the AVR 5803 does it at 192 khz.
    Only problem with this whole upsampling is that the output is always random. You cannot get an exact reproduction of an analog curve in the digital domain, and it even get worse if you recorded first at low 16 bit resolution and then try with mathematical tricks to increase the resolution.
    24/192 works best only coming the direct way from the analog master.
    Of course an upsampling can (but must not)sound better then the original 16 bit CD, but you will never get the same result as if this was an original 24 bit recording.
     
  15. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oliver,
    Thanks for the information. It is interesting that more companies do not advertise upsampling technology in their components. I have never heard Denon refer to its Alpha Processing as upsampling. Interesting. Anyway, I know that upsampling is not new, but I had no idea it was so widespread since it is not advertised, except by the high-end companies.
    Eujin,
    Thanks again for the information. I only peruse the AVS forum occasionally, but it looks like I should do so more often. [​IMG]
     
  16. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2000
    Messages:
    5,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    Denon and Alpha Processing... I did not know that...

    I do hear they have a (high end) pre/pro coming sooner or later...
     
  17. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2000
    Messages:
    2,149
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have to agree with Jeff on the issue of upsampling having just finished an EE course in Signals, Systems, and Transform methods.

    If the CD was only mastered at 16 bit 44.1 kHz then there is no way you will get any more information then is already present. Sampling past the Nyquist rate of 2w(omega) will do nothing to change the sound on a CD already mastered at 44.1 kHz. CDs are sampled at 44.1 kHz to remove any aliasing that can occur within the human audible range. Sampling at a higher frequency is useless with a CD as a source.

    Now, getting a better DAC should make a differnce and possible improvement in your sound, but this has nothing to do with upsampling.

    J
     
  18. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Justin, I realize the different DAC could make a difference and I am not sold on upsampling. However, I have little experience with upsampling. Truthfully, the upsampling board for the Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player is not the best way to evaluate upsampling because you cannot turn off upsampling. With a DAC like the Musical Fidelity A324, you can switch between 16/44.1, 24/96, and 24/192. I would be interested in comparing the three modes. I understand the theory you are citing, but many people have claimed to hear differences when having upsampling off and then on. In some cases, people have said that the upsampling mode sounds better. I have read such opinions on Audio Asylum. Anyway, all I will be able to do is compare the sound of the Ah! player with the stock DAC and then with the upsampling board.
     
  19. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2001
    Messages:
    2,174
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  20. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    9,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Saurav, I am not an electrical engineer, so I am not completely up on digital theory. All I will say is that while many people like to blow off the audiophiles out there as inventing improvements that aren't there or can't be there, I do not believe that high-end audio is completely smoke and mirrors. I feel some tweaks are bogus, but when legitimate high-end audio companies incorporate upsampling into their CD players, that suggests to me that there is something to the technique. However, I have little firsthand experience with upsampling, as I said, so I cannot say one way or the other whether upsampling is beneficial.
     

Share This Page