The miniDSP U-DAC8 is a compact high-resolution eight-channel DAC with a myriad of uses, from PC-based home theater, multichannel audio, to computer-based active loudspeakers. In this application note we will show you how to use the U-DAC8 with Audirvana+ to play back multichannel audio on your Mac.

Please note: miniDSP cannot provide support for third-party software. This app note shows you how to set up the miniDSP U-DAC8 with Audirvana+ for multichannel audio playback but the functions of Audirvana+ are beyond the scope of miniDSP support.

Audirvana+ with U-DAC8

1. Get connected [Top]

Nothing could be simpler than connecting the U-DAC8 into your system:

  • Analog outputs to your multichannel amplifier/s and subwoofer (or to another device with multichannel analog inputs such as an A/V preamp or receiver)
  • Power connector for 5 VDC
  • USB connector to your Mac

2. Configure [Top]

We will assume that you already have an Audirvana+ library set up, which includes multi-channel audio files. These files can be in multichannel (typically 5.1) PCM format up to 192 kHz, or in multichannel DSD format (again typically 5.1).

In the Audirvana Preferences, select the Audio System tab:

Audirvana+ Audio System configuration for U-DAC8

Configure as follows:

  1. Click on Change and select U-DAC8 Output from the list.
  2. Confirm that the U-DAC8 supports the expected set of sample rates (from 44.1 up to 192 kHz).
  3. Ensure that Native DSD Capability is set to None: convert to PCM.
  4. The low-level playback options may need to be adjusted depending on your version of Mac OS X.
  5. Allocate a good amount of memory for buffering.

(Note that Audirvana does not do bass management. So when playing content without a subwoofer channel (e.g. 5.0), it will be necessary for all speaker channels to be capable of full-range response sufficient for music. Alternatively, if connected to the analog inputs of an A/V receiver, the receiver may be able to perform bass management.)

3. Play! [Top]

Now you can browse to an album or file in the Audirvana+ library (screenshot at top of page) and play it by clicking on the Play button near the top left. You will hear multichannel audio playing through your system.

You can check the sample rate of the file and the DAC in the status area at the top of the window. To the right of the track display is the file format and sample rate, and underneath the play buttons at the left is the sample rate and format being sent to the DAC. For example, for multichannel 5.1 PCM (in FLAC), these two areas are:

Audirvana+ multichannel playing PCM through miniDSP U-DAC8 - DAC sample rate Audirvana+ multichannel playing PCM through miniDSP U-DAC8 - file sample rate

When playing multichannel DSD files, Audirvana+ will automatically convert them to PCM format at 176.4 kHz. Here is the display for a 5.0 channel DSD recording:

Audirvana+ multichannel playing DSD through miniDSP U-DAC8 - DAC sample rate Audirvana+ multichannel playing DSD through miniDSP U-DAC8 - file sample rate

That's it, have fun listening to multichannel audio with your miniDSP U-DAC8 and Audirvana+! Let us know how you go on our forum.


 

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