What is the max sample rate an iMac is capable of?

And he is right max pcm384 will allow dsd128, pcm768 will bring dsd256, for dsd512, you’ ll need a… pc :grinning:

Sounds like a curse. :slight_smile:

Got it.

There’s no escaping it. The Mac can only do max 384k & DSD256. I also understand the PC is limited to these rates as well unless a 3rd party ASIO Driver is used.

Electronics technology can do almost anything, but, when Apple and Microsoft really do not care about the audiophile community out there, I understand now why music servers are the rage. No more worries about incompatible software, upgrades that break everything etc etc.

I have yet to “downgrade” the firmware on my iFi iDSD BL. It’s new so I thought I’d try it out for a while before I start tinkering with it. It’s a little frustrating though, knowing that the DAC can do much more, but my iMac cannot handle it. Not that my ears can discern the difference anyway :rofl:

Thanks again everyone.

Bigger number is not always better. If they removed the DSD256 there is a reason. Probably because it wasn’t preforming that well with that resolution.

It takes seriously high end DAC to really benefit from DSD256. There’s barely any content natively produced at that resolution. It’s a gimmick for upsamplers.

I would stick with the latest firmware.

What an interesting thread!

Although there is plenty of content in native DSD128, I’m highly skeptical of the existence of native DSD256, let alone DSD512. Over the winter holiday season, Astell&Kern had a special offer of the entire Marie Callas Studio Album collection in 24-bit, 96kHz high-res audio on microSD cards for only $100. I’m not a huge opera fan, but the price was too good to pass up, particularly when the collection isn’t generally available in the U.S. at all.

Included in the package was a coupon offer from NativeDSD.com. I spent some time on the site and was immediately curious as to how they were able to get so many titles in DSD format at the full range of sample rates when they were never released on an SACD in the first place. Although NativeDSD has an impressive selection of true native DSD recordings, the vast majority of their offerings are converted from DXD masters. DXD is actually a PCM format - 24bit, 352.8kHz. Not only that, but many of their so-called masters were actually upsampled from the lower sample rate original masters. What’s the point? The only reason to purchase music in a DSD format is that it preserves the original analog signal as a data stream, but at a high enough bit depth and sample rate, DSD and PCM are mathematically equivalent.

From a physical acoustics standpoint, I can make an argument for DSD64 and maybe DSD128 formats, as I can for PCM 24-96kHz and maybe 24-192kHz content. There are plenty of engineers who will try to argue that the sampling theorem and theoretical dynamic range of the original CD format is more than adequate to represent what the ear is capable of hearing. However, a physical acoustics model and the physiology of the middle and inner ear tell us otherwise. That said, with upsampling, interpolation, error detection and digital filtering, exceptional sound can be recovered even from a well-mastered 16-44.1kHz data stream.

Coupling Audirvana with the iFi, I’d be skeptical that any human could tell the difference between DSD64, DSD128 and PCM 24-192kHz, let alone DSD256 and DSD512. Given the choice of natively-produced content, I’ll choose DSD128, as it’s native on all my DACs. Spending money on more than that is frankly a waste.

@bitracer, I’m inclined to agree with you. However, my right brain tells me sample speed does not matter when we’re way above the Nyquist frequency since it’s the music that counts, but my left brain tells me that we must experiment to find the limits :grinning: :grinning: and it would be nice to see the LED light up in magenta :rofl:.

I read an article somewhere that the difference between analog and digital is that in the analog domain the sample rate is infinite - there’s no clock too worry about just the passage of time. And there is no limit to the division of time (maybe there’s a quantum limit???). People, please don’t go ballistic on this - I’m only messing around :innocent:

I made a decision not to do anything with the firmware unless I really need to. Although, I don’t nor do I have the intention of using MQA so this feature is wasted.
Thanks again.

Hello @SteveInNYC,

I hope you’ve survived COVID19 unscathed.

Referring to your point on sample rates and bit depth, physics and mathematics does place a theoretical baseline on the process. Obviously it does not prevent engineers from trying to do better. Whether it improves the sound is still being debated everywhere. One thing is certain, the bit depth is finally limited by the inherent thermal noise in any system and do we really need a dynamic range much greater than about 100dB?.

Even more interesting to me is that the majority of recorded music (both analog and digital) is very badly recorded and mastered. And as you say some 16/44.1 CDs can sound excellent. I believe it’s because the musicians, engineers and producers actually made the effort to maximise the quality in the entire recording and mastering chain (electronics and acoustics). For example, I have XRCDs that sound excellent, and some live recordings on CD that present a beautiful soundstage and presence of the musicians and audience to the listener.

It’s possible that there some other qualities that are important. For example, many of us are drawn to an organic or warm aspect in a system. This may be one of the reasons why vinyl has not died. Many equipment designers and manufacturers even use this quality as a goal in their products. How they measure this is anybody’s guess.

And, music lovers like yourself will just continue listening to Maria Callas or any other performer or performance even though most of the recordings were made in a less numbers oriented era. We just simply enjoy the moment.

I don’t, and we all shouldn’t, live or judge by the numbers. However, if it’s available then why not take advantage of it unless it’s detrimental to the quality of the music?

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Sorry about the delay in my response. So far I’ve survived COVID-19, but my wife and I have done so by only leaving our apartment to go to the grocery on the next block, or the pharmacy on the block next to that. What a shame, to live in one of the greatest cities in the world in terms of things to do, and to not be able to do them. If you want to catch a performance of Hamilton, you have to subscribe to Disney+, but at least the price is more reasonable. Anyway, it’s better to listen to music through my Beyerdynamic T1s than to take a chance on a live performance and end up with a one-way trip to intensive care.

You raise some very good points regarding the inherent physical limitations of both analog and digital systems. I do think that the care taken in maximizing the quality of a recording is far more important than the use of extreme bandwidth. That said, the human ear is much more complex than most electronic systems and it’s very sensitive to subtle differences. Moreover, its dynamic range is dynamic and although you probably won’t notice the sounds of musicians squirming in their seats when they’re playing, you’ll certainly notice it between movements. I’m not saying that adding 8 bits to the bit depth of a track is necessary, but it probably helps.