Serato DJ Pro vs. Audirvana Studio for tango music: it’s all about the DAC filters

As I mentioned in a previous post (Towards a music-focused tango: the audiophile milonga) many tango DJs use software like Traktor Pro.

I haven’t had a chance to test the Traktor Pro with my Chord Qutest DAC which I acquired more recently.

But recently I’ve been doing some gigs in a cafe bar on my guitar and also DJing some Brazilian electronic music. For that I’m trying out Serato DJ Pro for the DJing. I was looking for DJ software that would play the CD quality music from Tidal.

So I did some comparisons between that and Audirvana Studio for tango.

I use high res 24bit/96kHz music files for tango. When I use Audirvana Studio I set it to upsampling to 32bit/192kHz. I can see on the Chord Qutest DAC the blue light which indicates that it’s receiving 192kHz sample rate.

On the Chord Qutest DAC use the “Warm HF roll-off” filter which is “designed to introduce a little warmth to the recordings … ideal for high resolution PCM playback”. I find using the “Incisive neutral” filter, which is “Designed for all who wish to hear the full spectrum of audio no matter what sample rate … has an ultra linear frequency response”, is too much information and a bit overwhelming.

Serato DJ Pro sounds pretty good for electronic music on CD quality 16bit/44.1kHz files.

When I play the high resolution tango files it still outputs 44.1kHz judging by the red light on the DAC.

When I compare the two player apps without changing my DAC settings I find that there is a clear reduction in quality when I move to Serato DJ Pro to the point that it sounds unpleasant. However, when I switch to the Incisive neutral filter on the DAC it sounds much better.

I’ve recently been alerted to the importance of filters in DACs when looking at some reviews of the Topping DACs which are developing a solid reputation for budget level DACs. You learn a lot by watching product reviews and this is most certainly the case with DACs which can be hard to get your head around.

I still prefer Audirvana Studio with the Warm HF roll-off filter on the DAC. The sound is euphonic and has colour that is really pleasant to the ear.

But this filter only seems to work when using high resolution playback, and this is mentioned in the instruction manual for the DAC. In other words, even if you’re using high resolution files, unless the player app outputs in high resolution then this filter will not sound good.

On the other hand Serato DJ Pro may have some advantages in terms of cost and file management which is not that great on Audirvana. In that case using the Incisive neutral filter on the Chord Qutest DAC seems to produce acceptable sound for tango.

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