A real-time operating system (RTOS), unlike multitasking operating systems, operates in real time with low latency. When used in a streaming product, like the totaldac d1-tube DAC/Streamer, it can also offer sound improvement.
A key characteristic of an RTOS is the level of its consistency concerning the amount of time it takes to accept and complete an application’s task; the variability is ‘jitter’.
Did someone say less j i i t r t a e r?
(that’s a digital joke 😉 )
Vincent Brient of France’s totaldac has released an update for his streaming products for Roon users [footnote 1] which moves the Linux operating system to a RTOS.
The totaldac streamer OS resides on a micro SD card that is located in the unit’s rear panel. The update process consists of a few simple steps and takes all of a few minutes.
I chose to use the freeware balencaEtcher to write the new OS to the totaldac micro SD card from a zip file I received from Vincent. Once the micro SD card is inserted in the card reader, the balencaEtcher software presents you with a simple interface where you Select the ‘image’ (the OS zip file) to write to the SD card.
Once selected, click Flash!
The flash process takes all of a minute or two. Once completed, put the micro SD card back into its home inside the totaldac, power it up, and Play.
What A Difference A RTOS Can Make
The notion than an operating system can impact sound quality may seem like voodoo nonsense to some, especially those who believe digital audio sends a series of tiny 1s and 0s through wires. For those of us who listen to music with our ears, the move to a RTOS in the totaldac d1-tube DAC/Streamer offered readily apparent improvements in music reproduction that made music sound that much less digital — greater separation of the parts that make up the whole and its close relative, enhanced resolution.
I would not call these changes dramatic — and having lived through last year, the bar for dramatic has been raised pretty high — but I would call them worth the minimal effort involved.
- The update for UPnP/Airplay/NAA/Roon totaldac streamer users is in the works.