Sample rate and format conversion: how much is too much for a server

I have experienced some of the joys of upsampling and format conversion:

  • Every DAC I have owned upsampled, including the current Devialet Pro mandatory upsampling to 192/24.

  • I have used roon to upsample to 96/24 to reduce the load on the Devialet (theoretical), which was an improvement.

  • I have used roon to upsample to 192/24 and Auralic Aries to downsample that to 96/24, sounded better again, perhaps due to the Auralic filters rather than transparency/accuracy

  • I have used roon to convert PCM to DSD 64 for transmission by DoP, this was very interesting and seemed very beneficial (it goes 44kHz to 384kHz to bitstream DSD in roon, and then presumably bitstream DSD to 192kHz in the Devialet).

  • (of course others have taken this much further, including conversion with software and saving the cnverted version to disk to remove that load from the core/server).

But with my last step my core (EX) was processing 2x. And now after the latest roon update with MUSE … computer says no. I realise it was not intended for heavy processing like this, and this problem is likely my network being throttled back too much, but it does pose the questions …

How much processing is too much? Where is the sweetspot?

It occurs to me, with each successive increase in upsampling load, there is trade-off because the conversion provides benefits but the extra load may also be detrimental, even before computer says no.

Ultimately a decision needs to be made weather or not to accept the limitations and enjoy it, or consider the core/server needs more capacity (be it processor speed or throughput, RAM, etc) which can lead to the option of replacing the current server.

It would be interesting to have a discussion of people’s insights and experience with this.