True high-resolution digital-to-analog decoding?

To S. Andrea Sundaram,

Has anyone tried to determine whether the DAC machine is truly capable of sampling 24-bit/192kHz from digital to analog? The problem is that my “Made in China” DAC does not have a display.

Notwithstanding the above, some DACs use the receiver (either from USB, FireWire, S/PDIF or AES inputs) as the source for displaying the sample rate. In this case, the actual sample rate from the DAC chip is not displayed.

If I play a 24/192 master-recording file (program and soundcard set at 24/192) followed by a new setting of 16/44.1 and compare the sound reproduced by both settings, I can conclude that if the sound is similar, or almost similar, the DAC is not 24/192.

A frequency monitor may help but it is not an easy task. The cost is a factor but the technique applied is also an issue.

Your comments are appreciated.


Professional audio equipment often has indicators for bit depth and/or sample rate because audio engineers need that information. Some DACs targeted at the consumer market also have such indicators, but I would be reluctant to put too much faith in them. The only way to prove whether a DAC is properly handling high-resolution data is to measure it. That said, you've actually performed a more important test -- if the differences are inaudible, then it is irrelevant whether or not it is measurable. That you hear no, or very little, difference in sound between playing back 16/44.1 and 24/192 data suggests that something is probably wrong with either the hardware or the software. It could be that the DAC is not really capable of high-resolution performance through its computer interface, the driver is not properly configured, the computer is doing some additional processing, or there could be a number of other problems. I usually use foobar2000 with the kernel-streaming plug-in to circumvent many of these issues, but not all hardware supports kernel streaming. . . . S. Andrea Sundaram