Hello from sweltering Austin, Texas! Where, it's 100 degrees (F) and an audio roundup is about to take place. Joe Whip and I are here for the Schiit Texas Audio Roundup taking place this weekend, and look forward to both hearing everything and talking to fellow music lovers. No news to report just yet, but word on the street is that Emotiva has an Atmos setup here :~)
Speaking of Atmos, record label 2L is now offering the first of its kind downloads, 12 channel discreet DXD (24 bit / 352.8 kHz) WAV files of it's latest album Tuvayhun! Not only that, but every format possible is now available on the album's pre-order page (link). Check this out:
Let's walk through these formats.
- Hybrid SACD + Pure Audio Blu-ray is obviously the physical format the includes almost all of the others.
- MQA Stereo is the MQA 24 bit version of the album
- DXD stereo is a two channel mix at 24 bit / 352.8 kHz
- 24/96 surround sound 5.1 files are high resolution FLAC, playable in most applications
- Auro-3D files (embedded in 5.1 FLAC) - These require an Auro 3D decoder. This is usually within one's processor, but it's also available as a software plugin (as seen here). The plugin extracts the 4 height channels from the 5.1 FLAC file for immersive playback. FLAC is limited to 8 channels without an encoding technique like Auro 3D's.
- Dolby Atmos in MP4 file is the lossy version encoded as Dolby Digital Plus, just like what Apple Music streams.
- Dolby Atmos TrueHD and Auro-3D in MKV file - This is where the rubber meets the road. An MKV file, named after the Matroska nesting dolls, is just a container for nearly multimedia file. Hence the Matroska name. Both TrueHD and Auro 3D need a decoder. If played via Blu-ray player, the MKV file shows both the Atmos and Auro options, and will be decoded just fine. The way I use MKV files, is to extract the lossless TrueHD Atmos MLP files for playback on my music server. Much more about this in future articles. Either way, these are lossless files that sound stellar.
- DXD discrete channels WAV 7.1.4 immersive - This is the holy grail of music playback. I have this version and can say that there's nothing like it on Earth. This consists of 12 channel WAV files for each track, at 24 bit / 352.8 kHz. No decoder required to play these files. As long as one has 12 channels for playback, or wants to downmix them into a different configuration, the WAV files will play. I play this through JRiver and Audirvana, Roon doesn't support these files yet. Below is a screenshot of what this looks like in Audacity :~)
Offering all these options, including the 7.1.4 DXD WAV files is truly groundbreaking. Bert at The Spirit of Turtle started offering TrueHD Atmos yesterday, and others are on the way very soon. Cheers to Morten at 2L for breaking new ground and offering music in a previously unheard way. Bravo!
EDIT: Morten from 2L reached out to say the site now has a 5.1 DXD FLAC offering available as well. Great stuff.
More from the Schiit Show, I mean Schiit Texas Audio Roundup, later :~)