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DSD downloads worth the trouble?


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What is your opinion/experince on DSD downloads.

Is the quality of sound really so much better than 24/96 or higher

To play them I understand one needs a DAC that is capable to play them.

In that case which DAC? Korg?

Opinions please.

 

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What is your opinion/experince on DSD downloads.

Is the quality of sound really so much better than 24/96 or higher

 

Just my opinion, but I think that "pure" DSD recordings (like the Channel Classics stuff), plus many DSD's from analog masters can sound really great. Personally, I like having the ability to play back both PCM and DSD recordings. A number of people on this site also like the results from converting PCM to DSD prior to playback, but I have no personal experience (to date) with that approach. I would say that if you don't listen to a lot of classical or jazz, your choices of DSD recordings/remasters are pretty limited.

 

To play them I understand one needs a DAC that is capable to play them.

In that case which DAC? Korg?

 

Which DAC depends on your budget, so indicate how much you plan on spending, and I'm sure people will have recommendations.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Hi Orgel, thank for your respons.

I listen mostly to jazz and classical.

I should like a DSD DAC that is able to drive my 300 ohm Sennheiser HD800 headphone. Budget 1000$.

Why does people convert PCM to DSD? Does the DSD conversion add to the sound?

I have several original 24/88 and 24/96 and higher files and always thought that the best was to get music files, if possible, in the original format they where recorded in, avoiding any up or down sampling.

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I should like a DSD DAC that is able to drive my 300 ohm Sennheiser HD800 headphone. Budget 1000$.

 

There are a lot of good options in this price range. The iFi micro DSD is getting a lot of good buzz around here. There's a thread in the DAC section. Personally, I think the Resonessence Concero HP is also worth considering.

 

You could also consider breaking up the purchase into a separate DAC and headphone amp, which would allow you more upgrade flexibility down the road. If you decide to go this route, you might want to check out what Schiit Audio has to offer. For example, within your budget, you could get a Bifrost DAC, a Loki to add the DSD capability, and still have enough left over for an Asgard 2 or Valhalla 2 amp, depending on how you configure the Bifrost.

 

Why does people convert PCM to DSD? Does the DSD conversion add to the sound?

I have several original 24/88 and 24/96 and higher files and always thought that the best was to get music files, if possible, in the original format they where recorded in, avoiding any up or down sampling.

 

So far, since I haven't experimented with this, I tend to agree, but the people who like to convert PCM to DSD say that it sounds better to them.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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I'm an outsider, but this strikes me as a passing fad.

 

There are also some players that will convert them for you. Whether this degrades the sound quality in an audible manner I suppose will be debated long after the industry either abandons or converts to the DSD format. Also, from what I understand, many are actually derived from PCM to begin with. It might be possible people like the sound of the conversion/upsampling to DSD.

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PAP, hi. I want to first say that I am known around here as being quite a DSD-fanboy (although read my latest reviews here and you'll see that ain't all true...but mostly :) ). Also, another caveat to my perspective is that I work/volunteer as the US Technical Advisor for the leading multichannel and 2 channel DSD download site, namely NativeDSD.com. We deal in only those recordings that are natively recorded in DSD (yes, some labels post process in analog or PCM, called DXD, but the recordings are all DSD-based).

 

All that being said I think you ought to peruse another site (another hat I wear is co-author of the DSD database on google docs) where Jesus R (Sonore US) and I have compiled a fairly comprehensive list of all things DSD, especially DACs. I say "fairly comprehensive" because when we started out the DSD-capable DAC world numbered 5 or so. We are over 100 now and it seems 95% of all new DAC announcements include DSD playback of some sort.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AgVhKcl_3lHfdFVyenBBNjNpQ2lieG81WGpqQTNfVUE#gid=0

 

There are many ways for DAC manufacturers to implement DSD playback, and some may sound good to you, others may not. It is important, therefore, if possible, to demo these DACs via loans, fair return policies, dealer demos, used market, etc. The implmentations range from DSD-only chipless filtering to behind-the-scenes-conversion to standard 24/88 PCM, and anything in between. Proprietary chips, off-the-shelf chips, FPGA programming, etc.

 

I see DSD as adding to the availability pool another treasure trove of high resolution music. Is it gold or silver? Who cares; if you find an old abandoned silver mine that has been discovered having a huge new vein of silver would you NOT mine it cuz you happen to have mostly gold in your portfolio? No.

 

My rule is "if it's recorded in or originally transferred from analog to (pick PCM or DSD) then listen to it in that same format if at all possible. Some folks like to convert from one to the other, and I feel they do that cuz their DAC has a sweetspot for one of those formats (maybe even unbeknownst to them).

 

So...demo, find a sweetspot, find what you like, and go for it. Your choices are very good at almost every price point.

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For the price you stated I can recommend the TEAC UD-501:

 

Amazon.com: Teac Dual Monaural D/A Converter with USB Streaming, Black UD-501-B: Electronics

 

Because you are in Europe:

 

TEAC UD-501 USB DAC: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

 

To my ears & system good DSD is better than any good PCM.

 

Regarding conversions from PCM to DSD, when the PCM is outstanding, you could get a better than outstanding SQ with the resulting converted DSD tracks, mainly to DSD-128. I have made a lot of conversions this way thanks to Audiogate.

 

Roch

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Anybody here in this forum doing so, and willing to admit to it?

 

There are a lot of folks here, including myself, doing exactly that. And in general, getting some grief for doing so. IMNSHO, yeah- converting redbook to DSD64, DSD128, or higher adds significant benefit to the reproduction of the sound. Not more information - what's in a 16/44.1K recording is all that is ever going to be there, but playing them back as DSD makes one heck of a lot of difference. Almost always to the positive. :)

 

You really need to try it yourself though. There are inexpensive alternatives you can use to try this - the best of the bunch being the iFi iDSD Nano DAC, priced at $189 or so and available from Music Direct. There are, of course, far more expensive DACs, but this little beastie does an amazing job. It's big brother, the iFi iDSD Micro DAC ($500) does an even better job, so much so many people I know are dumping non-DSD DAC that are far more expensive to use one of those two devices. I can easily live with the Nano as a main DAC.

 

Of course, you may find you don't like the sound of DSD, at least as presented through these two DACs. Which is why you would need to try this for yourself. If you are using JRMC as your playback device, Windows or Mac, then it is simplicity in itself to try this. Other players may require a few more contortions, but are worth the trouble. Again, in my opinion. :)

 

-Paul

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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What is your opinion/experince on DSD downloads.Is the quality of sound really so much better than 24/96 or higherTo play them I understand one needs a DAC that is capable to play them.In that case which DAC? Korg?

 

There should be 0 doubt about this nowadays, yet...

 

Look for a DAC which does DSD native (by native I mean the DAC should not convert to PCM internally!), like the iFi iDSD Nano and Micro ones, Lampizator (much higher budget), etc...

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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converting redbook to DSD64, DSD128, or higher adds significant benefit to the reproduction of the sound. Not more information - what's in a 16/44.1K recording is all that is ever going to be there, but playing them back as DSD makes one heck of a lot of difference. Almost always to the positive. :)

 

That's not a valid generalization - the result with conversion is totally system-dependant, the good thing will come only if the DSD decoding is native and well-implemented.

 

Our experiences are similar because we have the same DAC, but it's not a general case.

 

To the OP: you need to think signal chain if you want to benefit greatly from a DSD DAC, i.e. get an amplifier with fast transients and great dynamics. I built a tube amp which gives me exactly that, and have great speakers (stands if necessary, with proper placement). Add in some room measurements with REW and room treatment and things will be awesome.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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Anybody here in this forum doing so, and willing to admit to it?

 

I am converting all lossless compressed to AIFF within iTunes, and then converting all AIFF to DSD 2x with Korg Audiogate 2.x.

 

That's the sweet spot in my system.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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IMNSHO = In My Not So Humble Opinion. :) It is my opinion that is is a pretty valid generalization, but not true for everyone. Ergo - everyone needs to try it for themselves first.

 

I greatly prefer using Audiogate to transcode the Redbook PCM to DSD, but other folks prefer on-the-fly conversion. To each their own. I think the on-the-fly conversion to DSD sounds better than pure Redbook PCM.

 

That's not a valid generalization - the result with conversion is totally system-dependant, the good thing will come only if the DSD decoding is native and well-implemented.

 

Our experiences are similar because we have the same DAC, but it's not a general case.

 

To the OP: you need to think signal chain if you want to benefit greatly from a DSD DAC, i.e. get an amplifier with fast transients and great dynamics. I built a tube amp which gives me exactly that, and have great speakers (stands if necessary, with proper placement). Add in some room measurements with REW and room treatment and things will be awesome.

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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:) It is my opinion that is is a pretty valid generalization, but not true for everyone. Ergo - everyone needs to try it for themselves first.

 

I greatly prefer using Audiogate to transcode the Redbook PCM to DSD, but other folks prefer on-the-fly conversion. To each their own. I think the on-the-fly conversion to DSD sounds better than pure Redbook PCM.

 

If it isn't true for everyone, it is far from a good generalization. If your DSD implementation is crappy, no type of conversion will help.

 

On-the-fly conversion is better than PCM to me, but offline conversion is even better than real-time conversion in my system.

 

In fact, in my system, what sounds best is everything converted offline to DSD 2x. It's far better than lossy (of course), lossless compressed (ha, interesting...) and pure PCM.

 

That's because the iFi iDSD Nano and it's Burr-Brown chip have a native DSD path and it's very well-implemented, just as the Lampizator has a well implemented pure DSD implementation.

 

DSD being > PCM is not necessarily the case if you consider people who have a DirectStream, which does internal conversion to some form of high-rate DSD and outputs at DSD 2x. For these, I have read reports that PCM sounds better at input, so there's no advantage to gain to convert these with the audiophile player to DSD.

 

Your (our) case is a special case where the DSD implementation at the DAC level offers some great aural effects.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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I think we have a semantics mismatch here - a generalization is by definition, specifically not true for everyone. :)

 

I do love the DirectStream, but it is not on the agenda for right now. It does seem to sound better doing the PCM->DSD conversion than doing the conversion on the fly with JRMC. On the other hand, it seems to love DSD files converted by Audiogate too. Wish I had more listening time with it.

 

 

-Paul

 

 

If it isn't true for everyone, it is far from a good generalization. If your DSD implementation is crappy, no type of conversion will help.

 

On-the-fly conversion is better than PCM to me, but offline conversion is even better than real-time conversion in my system.

 

In fact, in my system, what sounds best is everything converted offline to DSD 2x. It's far better than lossy (of course), lossless compressed (ha, interesting...) and pure PCM.

 

That's because the iFi iDSD Nano and it's Burr-Brown chip have a native DSD path and it's very well-implemented, just as the Lampizator has a well implemented pure DSD implementation.

 

DSD being > PCM is not necessarily the case if you consider people who have a DirectStream, which does internal conversion to some form of high-rate DSD and outputs at DSD 2x. For these, I have read reports that PCM sounds better at input, so there's no advantage to gain to convert these with the audiophile player to DSD.

 

Your (our) case is a special case where the DSD implementation at the DAC level offers some great aural effects.

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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I do love the DirectStream, but it is not on the agenda for right now. It does seem to sound better doing the PCM->DSD conversion than doing the conversion on the fly with JRMC. On the other hand, it seems to love DSD files converted by Audiogate too. Wish I had more listening time with it.

 

-Paul

 

Yes, there is a DirectStream thread on CA. Best to continue the DS comments there.

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/ps-audio-directstream-digital-analogue-converter-19591/index24.html

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Well, without a a DAC to play then DSD downloads are not worth the trouble. :)

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Before getting excited about the DSD feature of a DAC, you should be aware that there won't be a huge flow of DSD downloads in the future (IMHO)

 

Almost all of the currently available DSD downloads are late by-products of previous SACD releases/reissues. When it comes to reissues of old analogue recordings, if no SACD is planned, the mastering engineer opts for PCM. It could be that Sony - which has archived it's analogue tapes in DSD - will offer DSD downloads in the future, but so far the only Sony albums available as DSD files are those previously released on SACD.

 

On the other hand, if you are ripping your SACDs or downloading SACD rips (which is not legit of course), you may have plenty of DSD music to use that feature of the DAC.

Claude

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Before getting excited about the DSD feature of a DAC, you should be aware that there won't be a huge flow of DSD downloads in the future (IMHO)

 

Almost all of the currently available DSD downloads are late by-products of previous SACD releases/reissues. When it comes to reissues of old analogue recordings, if no SACD is planned, the mastering engineer opts for PCM. It could be that Sony - which has archived it's analogue tapes in DSD - will offer DSD downloads in the future, but so far the only Sony albums available as DSD files are those previously released on SACD.

 

On the other hand, if you are ripping your SACDs or downloading SACD rips (which is not legit of course), you may have plenty of DSD music to use that feature of the DAC.

 

Not confident about this prediction. A lot of people and companies are getting behind DSD. If for no other reason than it is another format to resell music in. One that people who care about the quality of the recording are willing to pay a slight premium for.

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

Robert A. Heinlein

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Not confident about this prediction. A lot of people and companies are getting behind DSD. If for no other reason than it is another format to resell music in. One that people who care about the quality of the recording are willing to pay a slight premium for.

 

Market needs novelty, dsd is novelty. this year... we don't know how it's going to be next year.

 

One think is sure, 99% of the records are not and will not be made on dsd for the editing limitation already known.

Channel Classics goes to great trouble doing their live "setup" of musicians to avoid such editing limitations, but I wonder who else does that kind of perfectionist approach... we are certainly talk about niche players...

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I've been listening to this one year fad (DSD computer files to DSD-capable DACs) for 3 years now (not counting SACD listening, since 1999) and am not sure why folks have such an allergy to the computer audio market discovering new wonderful music (8000 albums released on SACD and thousands more in Sony's archive vaults). Yes, some are bad musically, some are PCM-based (with better options like PCM hirez availability), some are no better sonically....but that is not the point here. Even amongst the PCM sources, some of these are all we got. I could understand it if the majority of the DSD DAC hardware market was charging huge premiums for DSD playback capabilities, but with several dozen under $2k (and over a dozen under $999..some wayyyy under) it ain't that. What is it? Why are folks so allergic to having access to more hirez music?

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Market needs novelty, dsd is novelty. this year... we don't know how it's going to be next year.

 

One think is sure, 99% of the records are not and will not be made on dsd for the editing limitation already known.

Channel Classics goes to great trouble doing their live "setup" of musicians to avoid such editing limitations, but I wonder who else does that kind of perfectionist approach... we are certainly talk about niche players...

 

Not exactly "this year". I had being a SACD fan since the beginnings, exactly with the first SONY nice and expensive SACD player. Then a lot of audio reviewers talk a lot of sh*t about SACD SQ, but with bad players, or "protecting" some recording companies?

 

Anyway, good recorded music doesn't comes from edited in excess sessions, with tricks like:

 

- Over dubbing (Frank Sinatra recordings way?)

 

- "Exotic" mixings: Two artist recordings: "Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias Sings Together", Willie recorded in the USA and Julio in Spain, mixed?

 

- Artificial reverberation.

 

- Etc., etc. etc.

 

Niches of today, with 7.184 billion world population ( 2013 estimation) could be huge...!

 

Just my opinion,

 

Roch

 

PS/ Please note that outstanding recording engineers like Barry Diament & Cookie Marenco doesn't use this tricks. The first one in Hi Rez PCM and the second in analogue and DSD.

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