Paul McGowan writes: There’s a quiet conspiracy afoot and something you should be aware of. The conspiracy is one of “don’t ask don’t tell” from DAC manufacturers. PS Audio is just as guilty as the rest. The issue is one I bring up consistently when I speak to audio groups and I am always surprised at the reaction. The problem involves a shift in the media we play – and if you only play 44.1kHz Red Book media into your DAC you’re immune to the issue – but venture out into the wilds of higher sample rate audio and you’re in for a surprise.
The villan in our little conspiracy is called a sample rate converter or SRC. This little beast is found in 99.99% of all DACS produced today and in the past. It quietly sets the sample rate to whatever the user or the DAC manufacturer wants: 44.1, 88.2, 196, etc. The SRC accomplishes this irrespective of what the original source material is.
Did a light bulb just go off in your head? If you feed the beast 44.1kHz it will work its math and give you the desired sample rate which is almost always higher. But if you feed it high resolution audio it will do the same – only this time it might take it lower. Add to that our findings that most SRC circuits (including our own) manage to make everything fed into them worse sounding and you see the problem.
The little Daemon sits quietly in your DAC doing evil every time you play music. The conspiracy I mention is that DAC manufacturers continue to use these devices without giving you the ability to bypass them as we do in our higher cost DAC and will continue to do whenever we launch any new DAC.
I would encourage open dialog about this and hope other manufacturers follow our example of providing a way out.