DSD Setup

How to play DSD on your computer using (the now-discontinued) Loki

NOTE: This guide is for Loki, a discontinued product. If you don't have a Loki, you don't need this guide.

Getting Started

Sit back. Relax. Take a few deep breaths. If you imbibe, you may want to pour yourself a drink. Getting DSD playback working is more like a science project than “plug and play.” If you’re easily frustrated, non-technical, short-tempered, or all of the above, you may just want to take a pass on this whole DSD thing. Seriously.


Choosing A Platform and Player

Loki has been tested to work on the following platforms and players. Included is some (very subjective) commentary on how easy or hard it is to get them working, to aid in your selection:

Mac OSX, Audirvana. Buy a Mac and get this. You’ll save yourself 10000x the headaches of, say, PC and Foobar. But, kidding aside, this is the most pain-free system out there.

Mac OSX, JRiver Media Center. Just watch the Audio Midi Setup on this one. Otherwise pretty straightforward. Also the least expensive Mac player out there. Unless we missed something. Which we probably did.

Mac OSX, Pure Music. See above about Audio Midi Setup. Integrates with iTunes, if this matters to you.

Linux, HQplayer. This is arguably even easier than Mac and Audirvana. However, HQPlayer isn’t free and open source (you must actually—gasp—buy it) so GNU/Linux purists may be allergic to it. 

PC, JRiver Media Center. Works fine, once you get through checking about 100 boxes in the Options panel. Uses WASAPI Push for bit-perfect performance. Definitely easier to set up than Foobar, but isn’t free. Personally, we’d pay for the convenience. But we’re lazy.

PC, Foobar. Holy moly, buckle up on this one. You’re going to be installing a ton of components and doing a lot of esoteric tweaking. But it does work. And it’s free. 


Configuring Mac Players

Note that Macs do not require any driver installation to work with Loki. Just download the player of your choice, install it, and then follow these specific instructions to set it up.
 
Audirvana
 
Step 1: Go to the Audirvana Plus→Preferences menu.
 
Step 2: Click on the Audio System tab.
 
Step 3: Under Preferred Audio Device, choose “Speaker-Schiit DSD Audio Device”
 
Step 4: Under Native DSD Capability, choose “DSD over PCM 1.0”
 
Step 5: Ensure that Exclusive Access Mode, Direct Mode, and Integer Mode are all checked.
 
And that’s it! This is what it should look like:
 
 

JRiver 
 
Step 1: Go to the Tooks→Options menu.
 
Step 2: Click on the Audio tab.
 
Step 3: Click on Output Mode Settings.
 
Step 4: In Output Mode Settings, choose “Speaker-Schiit DSD Audio Device” and ensure “Open Device with Exclusive Access” is checked.
 
 
Step 5: Click on Bitstreaming.
 
Step 6: In Bitstreaming, select Custom.
 
Step 7: In Bitstreaming→Custom, choose “DSD Over PCM (DoP)” and ensure DoP Format is set to “DoP 1.0 (0xFA/0x05)”
 
 
This is what it should look like:
 
 
 
Step 8: Open Audio Midi Setup (you can search for it in Spotlight)
 
Step 9: In Audio Midi Setup, ensure the Audio Devices→Speaker-Schiit USB Audio Device output format is set to “176400 Hz, 2ch-24bit integer.”
 
 
 
And that’s it! You’re done.
 

Pure Music
 
Step 1: Go to the Pure Music→Preferences menu.
 
Step 2: Click on the Audio Settings→ Signal Modifiers tab and disable “Right Channel Gain Trim.”
 
 
Step 3: Click on Music Server Settings→Advanced. Turn off all Upsampling options and turn on all Memory Play Optimization options.
 
 
Step 4: Click on Audio Setup and select the Device Selection and Output tabs and choose “Speaker-Schiit DSD Audio Device”, 192 kHz, Enable Exclusive Access, and DSD Preferred Equivalent PCM Playback Rate of "176.4 kHz."
 
 
Step 5: Click on the Special Options tab and Select DSD Streaming Device as “Speaker-Schiit DSD Audio Device” and Flag = “05FA.”
 
 
Step 6: Open Audio Midi Setup (you can search for it in Spotlight)
 
Step 7: In Audio Midi Setup, ensure the Audio Devices→Speaker-Schiit USB Audio Device output format is set to “176400 Hz, 2ch-24bit integer.”
 
 
 
And that’s it! You’re done.

 
Configuring Linux with HQPlayer
 
Like Mac OS, Linux does not require any drivers. Wahoo! However, as noted above, HQPlayer is actual bought-and-paid-for software that must be purchased with pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents/royalty/historical figures/birds/rocks/whatever on it. Or plastic. Or bit coins. Or, well, you get the picture. 
 
Step 1: Download and install HQPlayer from http://signalyst.com/consumer.html. If it installs without error, go ahead on. If you encounter an error, contact Signalyst. 
 
Step 2: Click File, then Settings.
 
Step 3: Under Device, choose “Schiit Audio DSD Device: USB Audio”
 
Step 4: Under SDM Pack, choose “DoP." This is what it should look like:
 
 
Step 5: Click the “OK” button.
 
Step 6: In the main window, set the output format. The Output Format menu isn’t labelled (no software is perfect) but it’s the one on the far right and only has two choices: “SDM" and “PCM".  Set it to “SDM”. Like this:
 
 
And, that's it! With these settings, HQPlayer will send DSD files to the Loki.  If you try to play a PCM file, HQPlayer will convert it to DSD and play it, too, so Loki can be used as a single DAC for all your files.
 

Configuring PC Players
 
Note that PCs need to have the Schiit Unified USB Drivers installed before any player setup. Yes. Drivers. Yes. More work. Yes. Macs and Linux are both wayyyyyy easier. Complain to Microsoft. Apparently they never got the whole “standard” part about USB Audio Standard.
 

Schiit Loki Driver Installation
 
Step 1: Go to schiit.com/drivers and download the Schiit Unified USB Driver. This driver works with Windows 8, 7, and XP systems. 
 
Step 2:  Go to your Downloads folder (or Desktop, or wherever you had Windows put the drivers) and find the “Schiit USB 1.03.zip” archive.
 
Step 3: Double-click on the “Schiit USB 1.03.zip” archive to expand it, and click on the folder: "Schiit USB 1.03.zip” folder to open it.

 
Step 4: Connect the DAC with a standard USB A-B cable, 2M (6’) or less in length, with true USB 2.0 speed rating. Note that many “audiophile” cables are not USB 2.0 rated. 
 
Step 5: Double-click on “setup.exe.” This will automatically select the correct driver for your version of Windows.

 
Step 6: Follow the prompts from the installation program to install the drivers. You may have to restart your computer.

 
Step 7: In Control Panel→Audio Devices, select “Speakers: Schiit USB Audio Device.”
 
Step 8: If you are using a separate player, such as Foobar or JRiver, you’ll also have to select “Speakers: Schiit USB Audio Device” in that software, as well.
 
Note: On some Windows systems, the driver download will show up as "Encrypted," and will not install. In that case, follow this procedure: 
 
a. After unzipping the drivers, you'll have a directory called CM6631_6631A_-1.03(CR).
 
b. Right-clicking on the directory gives a menu with a "Properties" button on the bottom.
 
c. Click on Properties, On the first tab, "General," click on the "Advanced" button under "Attributes." You will see four checkboxes, the last of which is "Encrypt contents to secure data."  
 
d. Uncheck that box and click "Apply." Unencrypt for all subdirectories, and proceed with Setup as in Step 5.  
 

JRiver 
 
Step 1: Go to the Tools→Options menu.
 
Step 2: Click on the Audio tab.
 
Step 3: Click on Output Mode and choose “WASAPI.”
 
Step 4: Click on Output Mode Settings.
 
a. In Output Mode Settings, choose “Speakers (Schiit DSD Audio Device)”
b. Ensure “Open device for exclusive access” “Diable event style” “Maximize device volume during playback” and “Play a little silence on DoP stop” are checked.
c. Set Bitdepth to “24-Bit Integer”
d. Set Buffering to “100 milliseconds”
 
 
Step 5: Click on Bitstreaming.
 
Step 6: In Bitstreaming, select Custom.
 
Step 7: In Bitstreaming→Custom, choose “DSD Over PCM (DoP)” and ensure DoP Format is set to “DoP 1.0 (0xFA/0x05)”
 
 
This is what it should look like:
 
 
 
And that’s it! You’re done.
 

Foobar
 
You really want to do Foobar? Really? Of course you do. It’s free, and it works well. But hey, better put your feet up for this one. It’ll take a while to get it all sorted out.
 
Step 1: Download the SACD Decoder plugin for Foobar here:
 
http://sourceforge.net/projects/sacddecoder/files/foo_input_sacd/
 
We used “foo_input_sacd-0.6.4.zip,” but there may be a later version available by the time you read this. Use the latest version.
 
Step 2: Locate the “foo_input_sacd-0.6.4.zip” file on your computer. It’s probably in the Downloads folder, accessible through your Computer button in the Windows taskbar menu.
 
Step 3: Open the “foo_input_sacd-0.6.4.zip” file. It includes several files, like this:
 
 
 
Step 4: Run the “ASIOProxyInstall-0.6.x” file and wait until it completes. Allow the computer to make changes if it asks.
 
Step 5: Run Foobar and open File→Preferences. This will show the Preferences: Components folder.
 
Step 6: Take the “foo_input_sacd.dll” file and drag it to the Installed Components window in Foobar’s Preferences: Components folder. Yes, just drag and drop. It should now show both “ASIO Support” and “Super Audio CD Decoder” components, like this:
 
 
 
 
Step 7: In File→Preferences, open Playback→Output and set Device to “ASIO: foo_dsd_asio.” 
 
 
 
Step 8: In File→Preferences, open Playback→Output→ASIO. Make sure the “Use 64-bit ASIO drivers” is checked. 
 
 
Step 9: Double-click on “foo_dsd_asio” to open the ASIO preference panel. Note: sometimes this panel is hidden. If you don’t see it, look on the taskbar and click on it to bring it to the front. 
 
Step 10: Set ASIO Driver to “ASIO Driver for C-Media with Microsoft Effects”
 
Step 11: Set DSD Playback Method to “DoP Marker 0x05/0xFA”
 
Step 12: Set PCM to DSD Method to “None” 
 
Step 13: Set Fs to “DSD64.” This is what it will all look like when it’s set up right:
 
 
 
Step 14: Finally, open File→Preferences→Tools→SACD and set ASIO Driver Mode to “DSD.”
 
 
 
And that’s it! Wait, no. A few last things:
 
Step 15: Go back to Playback→Output→ASIO and double-click on the “ASIO for C-Media USB Device” option to show the C-Media ASIO control panel. 
 
Step 16: Set Bit Depth to “24/24 bits.”
 
Step 17: Set Latency to “50ms.”
 
Okay, now you’re done. Cross your fingers. If you don’t get sound, go back and re-check this a few times to make sure you did every step exactly as specified. And even then, we can’t cover every version of every OS and every PC hardware combo in the universe. Sorry, sometimes life is uncertain.