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My Dac is not DSD Compatible - Does it really matter?


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Hi Guys,

 

So I just bought myself a Matrix M-stage HPA-2 (USB) with a pair of AKG Q701 headphones using it on a Mac Book Pro. I also upgraded my power cable and usb cord. So far I'm happy with my purchase. Sadly I didn't do any research into DSD and my device is not DSD compatible.

 

Would you suggest I buy a DSD Dac to add to my collection or is it okay to just collect Hi Res Flac.

 

I'm also confused which music format to start collecting with a long term perspective in mind.

 

I've previously bought 192/24 flac but it seems the rave is DSD.

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Josh

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It's a tough one because some people do like to use DoP. Is there a lot of native DSDs in the music that you listen to? There are some reasonably priced DSD only DACs with more coming along - would it be possible to get a home demo on one from a local dealer? In my opinion it is OK to collect anything that you like including the bargain priced CDs and FLAC is a good choice. I wouldn't worry about what you perceive the rave to be about but you will probably have the itch to scratch and a local dealer could be able to help out - I know that is not always an option for some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There are not many DSD downloads available legally, and in most cases, there is a hi-rez PCM option as well. Those DSD downloads come from SACD releases (DSD recording or DSD transfer from analogue tapes).

 

I think most people are currently using the DSD input of their DAC for SACD rips, that they made themselves (PS3 method) or that they downloaded somewhere.

 

So if you're not into SACD rips, you're not missing anything.

 

I don't think there will be a significant number of DSD downloads which do not come from a SACD release (the DSD download market is too small to justify making a new DSD transfer for that purpose alone), so the number of DSD downloads is not likely to increase dramatically in the future.

Claude

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Claude -

 

I think you overstated your case a bit. It depends what kind of music you like. If you like classical and jazz, there is quite a bit of music available as DSD download. I'd go as far as to say you could build quite a respectable, though incomplete, collection from what's available now, especially for classical.

 

I'm also not sure what your point is about the DSD downloads coming from SACDs is. The fact that those files are available only stengthens the case for DSD.

 

That said, if I was the OP, I wouldn't worry about it too much. As you noted, many of the DSD downloads are also available converted by the label to 88 or 176k PCM downloads, and sound quite good that way.

 

Josh, if you are really curious about DSD, there are some inexpensive and good DAC options available like the Schiit Loki or the iFi Nano DSD which are both under $200, play DSD, and by all accounts sound quite good. No reason at the start to invest big bucks in a new DAC.

 

There are not many DSD downloads available legally, and in most cases, there is a hi-rez PCM option as well. Those DSD downloads come from SACD releases (DSD recording or DSD transfer from analogue tapes).

 

I think most people are currently using the DSD input of their DAC for SACD rips, that they made themselves (PS3 method) or that they downloaded somewhere.

 

So if you're not into SACD rips, you're not missing anything.

 

I don't think there will be a significant number of DSD downloads which do not come from a SACD release (the DSD download market is too small to justify making a new DSD transfer for that purpose alone), so the number of DSD downloads is not likely to increase dramatically in the future.

Main listening (small home office):

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Claude -

 

I think you overstated your case a bit. It depends what kind of music you like. If you like classical and jazz, there is quite a bit of music available as DSD download. I'd go as far as to say you could build quite a respectable, though incomplete, collection from what's available now, especially for classical.

 

I'm also not sure what your point is about the DSD downloads coming from SACDs is. The fact that those files are available only stengthens the case for DSD.

 

That said, if I was the OP, I wouldn't worry about it too much. As you noted, many of the DSD downloads are also available converted by the label to 88 or 176k PCM downloads, and sound quite good that way.

 

Josh, if you are really curious about DSD, there are some inexpensive and good DAC options available like the Schiit Loki or the iFi Nano DSD which are both under $200, play DSD, and by all accounts sound quite good. No reason at the start to invest big bucks in a new DAC.

I'm personally still not convinced that a $200 IFI will sound better than a DSD to PCM conversion played on my Exposure DAC (with a nice analog stage and an excellent power supply, plus the Belcanto mlink isolation). Maybe I should try it at some point.

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I'm also not sure what your point is about the DSD downloads coming from SACDs is. The fact that those files are available only stengthens the case for DSD.

 

The availability of DSD downloads are dependant on SACD projects. DSD masters were created for SACD. Without SACD, DSD will be used less by recording and mastering engineers, because in the end the product will be released in PCM formats (hi-rez downloads, Blu-ray-Audio), DSD downloads being a small niche market.

 

There is a large number of past SACD masters that can still be reissued as DSD downloads, but there will not be as many new DSD masters in the future.

Claude

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Hi Guys,

 

So I just bought myself a Matrix M-stage HPA-2 (USB) with a pair of AKG Q701 headphones using it on a Mac Book Pro. I also upgraded my power cable and usb cord. So far I'm happy with my purchase. Sadly I didn't do any research into DSD and my device is not DSD compatible.

 

Would you suggest I buy a DSD Dac to add to my collection or is it okay to just collect Hi Res Flac.

 

I'm also confused which music format to start collecting with a long term perspective in mind.

 

I've previously bought 192/24 flac but it seems the rave is DSD.

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Josh

 

Josh:

 

DSD raves are greatly exaggerated. My suggestion would be that you focus on the music you like and collect it in whatever format it's available on. If in the future you find that the music you like is only available in DSD (unlikely) you can then buy a DSD capable DAC. Sound quality -- and your enjoyment of music -- are much more a function of recording and mastering than of formats (PCM/DSD) or sampling and bit depth (once you have CD quality or better).

 

Happy listening!

 

Guido F.

For my system details, please see my profile. Thank you.

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DSD raves are greatly exaggerated. My suggestion would be that you focus on the music you like and collect it in whatever format it's available on.
I agree 100%

 

I have a DSD capable DAC, and some native DSD content, but I still choose to play DSD as PCM, as it allows for the audio to be processed for volume leveling and headphone DSP.

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The availability of DSD downloads are dependant on SACD projects. DSD masters were created for SACD. Without SACD, DSD will be used less by recording and mastering engineers, because in the end the product will be released in PCM formats (hi-rez downloads, Blu-ray-Audio), DSD downloads being a small niche market.

 

There is a large number of past SACD masters that can still be reissued as DSD downloads, but there will not be as many new DSD masters in the future.

 

The accumulated SACD catalogue over the last 15 years is surely a major source of DSD content, but the emergence of DSD128 and 256 recordings clearly shows that DSD is not all about SACD.

 

In the disc-less future, audiophile labels could easily be delivering both PCM digital and DSD downloads by simply doing split feeds from the analog mixing consoles.

 

Btw, you might find these data interesting:

 

"Of the 1,000+ high resolution music downloads on the site, supplied by several record companies as well as the Analogue Productions reissue label owned by Kassem, 70% are PCM downloads while 30%, or just over 280 music downloads, are Direct Stream Digital (DSD). Surprisingly, even with this numeric mismatch in selections, Kassem reports that over 80% of his music download sales are from DSD downloads."

 

http://positive-feedback.com/Issue73/kassem_hirez.htm

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Hi levjean -

 

This is a solution without a problem. :) Even 16/44.1 CD RIPS are going to sound good indeed on your kit. In some cases, hi-res like 24/96. 24/192, etc. is going to sound better, and you have all that capability nailed.

 

Now, DSD. That's a tricky little thing. I personally have my player upsample all my 16/44.1 AIFF files to DSD128 and play them through a very inexpensive DAC. I like that better than almost any other DAC I have heard, and the funny thing? The DAC I am using is really a headphone DAC/Amp thingamajig. (grin)

 

I would, if it were me, buy either a $149 Schiit Loki, which will work with your current DAC and simply add DSD64 capability, or else purchase an iDSD Ifi Nano at $189. Either one will let you play with DSD to see if it is for you. If it is, you can take steps. If it isn't, and you like your current DAC better (which is entirely possible) then - only a small investment lost.

 

It isn't really a "sad" thing, as I could live the rest of my life with my little Wavelength Proton, which is PCM only and accepts a max sample rate of 24/96. But I gotta tell you, if it turns out you like the sound of DSD, it is the neatest thing since sliced white bread!

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Btw, you might find these data interesting:

 

"Of the 1,000+ high resolution music downloads on the site, supplied by several record companies as well as the Analogue Productions reissue label owned by Kassem, 70% are PCM downloads while 30%, or just over 280 music downloads, are Direct Stream Digital (DSD). Surprisingly, even with this numeric mismatch in selections, Kassem reports that over 80% of his music download sales are from DSD downloads."

 

Chad Kassem HiRez

 

DSD sales then exceed PCM sales, even though PCM titles outnumber DSD 2.3:1. Even you weighted the numbers for popularity if that were possible, DSD on the Acoustic Sounds site anyway, is the preferred choice. So. What are they waiting for? Offering 2-4 titles per month on DSD is far too slow! Move it Acoustic Sounds, keep churning out the titles on DSD and forget PCM.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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Hi levjean -

 

This is a solution without a problem. :) Even 16/44.1 CD RIPS are going to sound good indeed on your kit. In some cases, hi-res like 24/96. 24/192, etc. is going to sound better, and you have all that capability nailed.

 

Now, DSD. That's a tricky little thing. I personally have my player upsample all my 16/44.1 AIFF files to DSD128 and play them through a very inexpensive DAC. I like that better than almost any other DAC I have heard, and the funny thing? The DAC I am using is really a headphone DAC/Amp thingamajig. (grin)

 

I would, if it were me, buy either a $149 Schiit Loki, which will work with your current DAC and simply add DSD64 capability, or else purchase an iDSD Ifi Nano at $189. Either one will let you play with DSD to see if it is for you. If it is, you can take steps. If it isn't, and you like your current DAC better (which is entirely possible) then - only a small investment lost.

 

It isn't really a "sad" thing, as I could live the rest of my life with my little Wavelength Proton, which is PCM only and accepts a max sample rate of 24/96. But I gotta tell you, if it turns out you like the sound of DSD, it is the neatest thing since sliced white bread!

 

-Paul

Paul, i know you are big on the ifi iDsd, and i am contemplating that or a KORG.

a few questions...

 

1. can i modify the volume on the ifi from the pc, or do i have to use the dial on the ifi?

2. do you use the usb for power? i don't like the idea of having to use batteries, and i heard if you use the batteries it is better?

3. can you upconvert ALL files (mp3, wav, flac) etc to DSD?

 

I am sure you don't know the korg, but i have same questions for it.

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DSD sales then exceed PCM sales, even though PCM titles outnumber DSD 2.3:1. Even you weighted the numbers for popularity if that were possible, DSD on the Acoustic Sounds site anyway, is the preferred choice. So. What are they waiting for? Offering 2-4 titles per month on DSD is far too slow! Move it Acoustic Sounds, keep churning out the titles on DSD and forget PCM.

 

Perhaps they need DSD to help smooth over the poorer quality of recordings made when many members were still in nappies, or not yet even born ? For DSD to succeed, it needs modern recordings , and not just Jazz and Classical,made from masters before all the added compression.

The same applies to 24/192 PCM.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Perhaps they need DSD to help smooth over the poorer quality of recordings made when many members were still in nappies, or not yet even born ? For DSD to succeed, it needs modern recordings , and not just Jazz and Classical,made from masters before all the added compression.

The same applies to 24/192 PCM.

 

Problem is they need the content to be released by the labels to begin the process of anything PCM or DSD. As Cookie Marenco explained, there aren't that many trained operators to work on tape to begin with, then the right people that digitally master/EQ. Labels apart from Acoustic Sounds won't bother, only with exceptional recordings (if they have any), for money spent to be returned.

The labels are also very guilty about trashing many original masters during the lean part of the 80's and 90's, so there may not be much to source from originals only copies.. They could have given them away to the Smithsonian/museums, or back to the artists than the dump. It's criminal to destroy history, all for the sake of the lousy $.

 

New recordings have the daunting task of offering which format, there are as many formats as the days of the year, how is the consumer used to MP3/CD decide which is better? I cringe when sites offer 256kb MP3 and label them CD quality. In some respects, DSD(64) is one format that can be locally sampled faster on users equipment if they wish or played as is with very good results. OK you need a DAC that can play DSD. No excuses with iDSD micro/nano or Schiit Loki as entry level DSD DACs.

 

Offering the one format stops the confusion of offering FLAC/WAV/AIFF/ALAC/OGG and combos of 44.1/48/96/192/176/88/352 in between, what a mess that is.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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Paul, i know you are big on the ifi iDsd, and i am contemplating that or a KORG.

a few questions...

 

1. can i modify the volume on the ifi from the pc, or do i have to use the dial on the ifi?

 

Hi Mike - no, you would have to use the volume control knob. In my system, I set the volume on the iDSD Nano to Max and use my preamp to control the volume.

 

2. do you use the usb for power? i don't like the idea of having to use batteries, and i heard if you use the batteries it is better? [/Quote]

 

I use USB power, though I admit to running it through the iUSB Power which does a very good job of cleaning up the power. However, you are in luck. The iDSD Nano runs for about 10 hours on it's built in battery, if you prefer to use that. I think the iUSB Power provides sound every bit as good as battery power though. YMMV.

 

3. can you upconvert ALL files (mp3, wav, flac) etc to DSD? [/QUote]

 

Yep.

 

 

I am sure you don't know the korg, but i have same questions for it.

 

Nope. I MR2 here, but that isn't the same kind of beastie as the new Korg DACs at all.

 

Yours,

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Or, perhaps nobody really needs DSD, any more than anyone really needs a $5000 DAC. But it sounds better.

 

DSD has, I suspect, already succeeded. I think the primary opposition to in in Audiophile circles is the "snob" factor, and based on the fact most current DSD offerings are far less expensive than top of the line PCM only DACs.

 

-Paul

 

 

Perhaps they need DSD to help smooth over the poorer quality of recordings made when many members were still in nappies, or not yet even born ? For DSD to succeed, it needs modern recordings , and not just Jazz and Classical,made from masters before all the added compression.

The same applies to 24/192 PCM.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Or, perhaps nobody really needs DSD, any more than anyone really needs a $5000 DAC. But it sounds better.

 

DSD has, I suspect, already succeeded. I think the primary opposition to in in Audiophile circles is the "snob" factor, and based on the fact most current DSD offerings are far less expensive than top of the line PCM only DACs.

 

-Paul

 

Pretty funny actually...i remember when i first came on the board (maybe 6mos ago?), that i was screaming dsd is the only way, and was shot down by the majority of the board...although i believe you and one other stood up for me, and said it looks like it may be going that way...

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Pretty funny actually...i remember when i first came on the board (maybe 6mos ago?), that i was screaming dsd is the only way, and was shot down by the majority of the board...although i believe you and one other stood up for me, and said it looks like it may be going that way...

 

(grin) I don't remember, though it seems like you have been around a long time. And of course, it is possible that I either changed my mind or was just plain wrong. That's my story and I am sticking to it... (/grin)

 

 

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Or, perhaps nobody really needs DSD, any more than anyone really needs a $5000 DAC. But it sounds better.
DSD sounds better on your DAC.

 

It is not universal - there are many DACs which sound better playing PCM rather than DSD.

 

DSD has some inherent limitations which do not exist with PCM.

It is more difficult and more expensive to make a good PCM DAC, which is why a DSD DAC might be a good choice at the lower end of things.

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Hi Mike - no, you would have to use the volume control knob. In my system, I set the volume on the iDSD Nano to Max and use my preamp to control the volume.

 

 

 

I use USB power, though I admit to running it through the iUSB Power which does a very good job of cleaning up the power. However, you are in luck. The iDSD Nano runs for about 10 hours on it's built in battery, if you prefer to use that. I think the iUSB Power provides sound every bit as good as battery power though. YMMV.

 

 

 

Yep.

 

 

 

 

Nope. I MR2 here, but that isn't the same kind of beastie as the new Korg DACs at all.

 

Yours,

-Paul

 

Ok, thanks for the info...i am still undecided. One thing the dragonfly did have going for it is that you could change the volume from the pc. I wish someone would come out with an affordable dsd dac that you could upconvert everything to dsd, that volume was controllable from pc, that you could plug your own external power supply into...maybe i will continue to wait.

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DSD sounds better on your DAC.

 

It is not universal - there are many DACs which sound better playing PCM rather than DSD.

 

Perhaps. All the ones I have listened to, DSD sounds as good as or better than PCM. Usually better.

 

DSD has some inherent limitations which do not exist with PCM.

It is more difficult and more expensive to make a good PCM DAC, which is why a DSD DAC might be a good choice at the lower end of things.

 

I disagree with you in part here. In terms of playback, DSD has far fewer limitations than PCM, and of those, I cannot think of any that PCM does not also have, at least when you start getting up into comparable sample rates.

 

And while the best PCM DACs are astonishingly good, that same level of astonishingly good playback seems to be available from much less expensive DSD devices. That leads me to postulate that a SOTA DSD Dac might blow away even the best SOTA PCM DAC.

 

Won't know until someone builds one and tests it though. I am very sure that the even the little iDSD NANO would not be embarrassed up against any $5000 PCM only DAC I can think of. Not embarrassed at all.

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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