Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Decibel - a very straightforward to use Mac OS X audio player with a clean and user friendly interface - becomes the first Mac OS X audiophile-grade player with ASIO support.

The ASIO protocol developed by Steinberg used to be the preferred sound technology on Mac computers. With the release of OS X Apple discontinued ASIO support. It was replaced with Core Audio, an Apple-native sound system.

Core Audio has inconsistent and sometimes absent support for Integer Mode, Exclusive Mode, and new audio formats like DSD. High-end audio companies have developed proprietary solutions like DSD over PCM (DoP) to work around the Core Audio limitations. Unfortunately, DoP causes 30 to 50 percent overhead. In addition, the DoP implementation for DSD256 requires support for PCM at 705.6kHz and 768kHz. Such sampling rates are a real challenge for both computer CPU and USB audio interface.

Besides support for DoP, exaSound developed a better solution and on March 22, 2014 announced an extension to the ASIO standard to make it available again on Mac.

The latest release of Decibel, announced on June 18, 2014, supports stereo and multichannel native DSD playback over ASIO for all sampling rates from DSD64 to DSD256 (Quad DSD).

Native ASIO DSD on Mac offers many benefits for audiophile-grade music playback:
  •  True asynchronous operation. With Core Audio the Mac is always the master, the DAC works as a slave device. With ASIO the DAC is the master. (Which makes you wonder if that was the reason why ASIO was removed from OS X :)
  • Simple and reliable support for Integer and Exclusive Mode. ASIO always works in Exclusive Mode.
  • Improved performance - CPU load for native DSD is much lower compared to DoP. Older computers can play high-sampling rates DSD.
  • Improved reliability - DoP has to switch to PCM mode if a marker byte is lost.
  • Faster seamless transitions from PCM to DSD within the same playlist.

Decibel offers DSD256 support for both Core Audio DoP and ASIO native DSD. This is a great opportunity for audiophiles to compare the two driver technologies. You can find out more about Decibel from the company website - and from the developer's personal website -


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