Oversampling in Audirvana or not?

What are your experiences on oversamping in Audirvana. I tried it and hear a difference. It becomes brighter but also a but unnatural. When I do not oversample, my DAC does this if I understand the manual of it correctly. (NorthStarDesign USB32).

What are your experiences? On which DACs it does good, on which not?

Hi Sander_Kaa!
It’s me again :sunglasses:. For what I have read your DAC is an internally upsampling one. Like my Cambridge DAC magic plus, just that my Cambridge is 2 no smaller. I made the experience it is counterproductive to do double upsampling. Leave it up to the DAC, that’s just my 2 cents.
Once I preferred upsampling. But then my system grew and it became less attractive. If something, if it’s possible, convert to DSD. This might be a game changer. Hope you will not encounter the Plop Plop…


In same (rare) cases it might be beneficial. For pure DSD DACs for example.

In most cases you’ll just generate ultrasonic noise that can creep through to the analog circuits and make the sound worse.

Until know, I agree on the upsampling on the DAC gives me better sound. On popular forums I’ve read quite often the power of the computer exceeds that of a DAC and thus makes it a more viable upsample point.

That’s very dubious claim since the oversampling is usually done by the DAC chip in hardware. DAC chips are tuned to produce best results using the internal upsampling algorithms, but sometimes DAC just works better at a given resolution (DSD for example). In those cases you might realistically get an objective improvement in sound quality through external upsampling.

It’s mostly question of preference, what sounds better to you.

I’m glad to read your comment !
SW oversampling is often said to be wrong in many forums …
I get the best sound result by tuning Audirvana preferences with “use max device sampling frequency” .
As you said, my system works better at this frequency , so SW oversampling is better in this case !

I read your comments on upsampling with SoX in Audirvana. I use a Mac mini and a Cambridge Audio Dac magicplus. I had some problems with the SoX upsampling. I discovered that the RAM memory in my Macmini (4 GB) was much to small for the upsampling process of SoX. I enlarged it to 16 GB. Now it is working just fine. The sound is great. In Preferences I use “use max device sampling frequency”.

You should get the best results by upsampling by power of 2 (2X, 4X). If your DACs max resolution is not a power of 2 multiple from the source sampling rate, you’re up-converting the resolution. This is generally not good.

Cambridge Audio is notorious for their aggressive use of upsampling internally. Maybe that’s why it sounds good at that resolution.

I also own a DacMagic DAC. I’m not a huge fan of upsampling. I like to leave it to the DAC to do it’s thing, but I might just give it a go to see if I can hear a difference.

Thank you, bitracer, for your advice. I have been listening with SoX upsampling for a week now and as I said the sound is great. I couldn’t make out though what I liked best, with or without SoX. I tried again this morning the several possibilities, deactivated, upsampling by the power of two and maximum sample rate. The differences are tiny and I think it is a matter of personal taste. It all sounds good. The SoX usampling gives the sound a bit more dynamics, while without the SoX the sound is a little bit brighter. At least on my audiosystem (Macmini, Cambridge audio Dacmagicplus, Cambridge Audio Azur 851A and Monitor Audio Silver RS8). When I realise how the instruments and the voice would sound on stage in real life, I come to the conclusion that without the SoX the sound is the most natural. So, I have come to the conclusion that, for me, the Dacmagicplus beats the SoX.

Update, change of insight. SoX upsampling turns out to sound very well after all!
Since my previous post of november 2019 I have changed several things in my music installation. In november I still used both loudspeaker exits of my amplifier (A and B) in a bi-amp construction. I noticed that in several tracks the low sounds didn’t come out very well. Too much over the top. So I am now using one speakerexit (speakers A) and I bought much better speakercables (Audioquest Rocket 33). Also I now have a CD transporter (the Cambridge CXC) which gives an incredible good sound. Space, dynamics, detailed. Just beautiful. So now I could compare the sound of the CD with the sound of FLAC (Tidal) via Audirvana. My DAC is the Cambridge DACmagicplus. This DAC upsamples automatically to 24 bit/384kHz. I noticed that the sound of the FLAC, with the SoX upsampling deactived, was more harsh, sharp, than the sound of the CD with the CXC. Turning on the SoX upsampling (“device maximum frequency”) the sound of the FLAC was as good as the same as that of the CD. Astonishing. I also tried SoX upsampling “power of two” but I prefer “device maximum frequency”. It seems likely that the Dacmagicplus has an easier job with upsampling the CD file (which is not compressed) than with upsampling a FLAC file (which is a compressed file, though lossles). Actually, I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but letting Audirvana do the greater upsampling job with SoX increases the quality of the sound. Is my experience now.
And whatever the technical explanation may be, who cares? The proof is in the listening…

This is how an illogical conclusion can lead to “sound improvement”. :wink:

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I think you are right, bitracer, that it isn’t logical at all. I heard the sound improvement and afterwards I was looking for a technical explanation. And I am not technical at all. But there it is. In case of enjoying music I rather trust to my ears than trust to logical and technical explanations. I didn’t know either that a CD could sound so beautiful as it does now. The source, in this case the cambridge CXC, is very important so it turns out.
If you are interested there is a YouTube post that is nice to watch, in relation to logic and listening. At least the first five minutes are interesting and also the conclusion:

And another one about rediscovering the CD:

Keep enjoying the good music! And thnx for your reaction.

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My take on this is that USB sucks. By oversampling you’re tuning the sound to match your preference.

This can not be explained by claiming that providing high resolution signal somehow makes your DAC filters work optimally. If that was true, your transport would sound like crap.

I believe you when you say you prefer the oversampled sound when playing from Audirvana. This has nothing to do with sound quality or fidelity. It’s just your very personal preference.

This might be interesting to you:

The FLAC decompression is done on your computer. The DAC is presented with the redbook stream, the same as from a CD.

Some claim that this decompression creates more electrical noise that is then transmitted through the USB cable to the DAC. That’s why some people rip CDs in WAV or uncompressed FLAC. I don’t believe in this. The computer barely breaks a sweat while decompressing FLAC. Maybe on a low powered device it makes a difference.

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Thank you for your response. It makes things much clearer for me. And also thanks for the YouTube post. Very nice.