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Does "one drop" pf PCM ruin DSD recordings?


fritzg

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So, I'm new to this hi-res thing and am not sure I quite understand why DSD is supposedly superior to 24/192 PCM. I am especially confused as to why a DSD file sourced from a PCM recording/file would be superior since from what I can tell, those who are DSD proponents say there should not be any PCM in the DSD chain at all. Kinda like the "one drop" theory.

 

"One drop" of PCM ruins DSD, true or false?

 

Discuss and educate me.

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You are correct.

 

Now the thread can be closed.

Hey, that was quick eh !

 

What remains is what's better in native form in the first place. But of course nobody is going over this AGAIN ?

But I guess so because it will never stop.

 

Regards,

Peter (making a bit of fun, but still ...)

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So, I'm new to this hi-res thing and am not sure I quite understand why DSD is supposedly superior to 24/192 PCM. I am especially confused as to why a DSD file sourced from a PCM recording/file would be superior since from what I can tell, those who are DSD proponents say there should not be any PCM in the DSD chain at all. Kinda like the "one drop" theory.

 

"One drop" of PCM ruins DSD, true or false?

 

Discuss and educate me.

 

Listen for yourself and make up your own mind.

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It seems to me that the answer may come in three parts. One is on the side of the recording and a second is on the side of the playback. The third is the synergy between the two which is where theoretical best and practical best come together.

 

While the two camps who believe what they do about each format being best can speak in abstract terms dealing with factors so small relative to other factors in the music reproduction chain, I think quite a few more people believe the third part (the specific equipment's ability to play back a particular format "best") is the most important factor. If it is true that certain DACs play certain formats better, as in a way that makes that format "music" (say the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series for PCM and the Lampizator Big 7 for DSD, for example), then it appears there is more going on than just the format.

 

In the end, it may be best to say whichever format is most direct to the source (either native recording or conversion from analog tapes) is better than one converted yet the format that your DAC plays back most like "music" is best for that DAC, even if converted.

 

This is the tricky outcome of your question: it depends on factors other than the providence of the file and that is the mystery of computer audio...

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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I don't have a spare $10k for that experiment, so I'm asking our resident DSD and digital experts.

 

So you expect them to tell you what you will hear and what you will enjoy? OK, since you neefd to be told what you must do and what you like, I say stick with a casatte walkman bog standard, or tack on a tube output stage. Digital is not for you. LoL

 

Listen for yourself does not mean to shell out $10K.

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So you expect them to tell you what you will hear and what you will enjoy? OK, since you neefd to be told what you must do and what you like, I say stick with a casatte walkman bog standard, or tack on a tube output stage. Digital is not for you. LoL

 

Listen for yourself does not mean to shell out $10K.

 

Wow, that's arrogant and not helpful. I don't know why boards like this exist if not for sharing what the pros and cons are to different ways to listen to digital audio.

 

The point to the question is, "Is DSD truly DSD if any PCM is involved in the process." From what I've read, it isn't and I'm wondering what folks here who have made the investment think.

 

Don't bother responding. I won't be taking anything you say as worth a single bit.

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That is not really what I meant because it doesn't help the OP much. But by now it really isn't only the 100th thread about it but also the number of running in parallel is kind of countless. I not only lost track but also interest (read : will see it coming when my own time is right).

 

But seriously, if it is about the suggested "one drop", my answer remains as serious as it (that part) was.

And want an even better answer ? it most 99% probably is not even about that either, because the DAC itself matters more. Or the (filtering if applicable) software.

 

Peter

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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The point to the question is, "Is DSD truly DSD if any PCM is involved in the process." From what I've read, it isn't and I'm wondering what folks here who have made the investment think.

 

Don't worry about this too much (there are lots of strong opinions which is why its a sensitive subject).

 

Bottom line is the recording/performance.

 

If a recording is available in only one or the other format just on't worry. I think some software/DACs do a better job with one or the other and for those DACs software can convert to what's best. Would it be best for DSD if no PCM involved? Maybe but frankly its hard for me to tell the difference between high quality versions of PCM and DSD in many/most cases.

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Don't worry about this too much (there are lots of strong opinions which is why its a sensitive subject).

 

Bottom line is the recording/performance.

 

If a recording is available in only one or the other format just on't worry. I think some software/DACs do a better job with one or the other and for those DACs software can convert to what's best. Would it be best for DSD if no PCM involved? Maybe but frankly its hard for me to tell the difference between high quality versions of PCM and DSD in many/most cases.

 

That has been my experience listening to DSD files converted to PCM with JRiver. I don't hear a difference, so to give DSD a chance I figured I'd ask the opinion of those who do listen to pure music in a pure DSD chain if the pure chain matters.

 

From what I can tell there are probably less than 100 pure DSD recordings, anything else would be considered PCM so is not really worthy the title of DSD and is snake oil. It also appears there are probably less than a dozen decent DSD DACs and even fewer possible systems that can truly reproduce DSD. I'm an early adopter, but not that early.

 

DSD looks like such small niche as to not being worth caring about. I'm gonna stop.

 

I read this yesterday. Seems relevant to my new opinion of DSD.

 

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

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@fritzg, you didn't respond to what appear to be sincere answers/comments to your question yet you jump straight into an argument that has nothing to do with the question.

 

In fact, you have asked such a question as to imply no serious answers, especially since you don't play DSD at all. You might have well have asked how many angels can dance on the head of a pin if the music is played via DSD converted to from PCM rather than native DSD.

 

Your comments about "pure DSD" completely misses the point of a preferred playback format for a particular DAC, nor does it acknowledge that something recorded and mastered in analog then converted to DSD *is* native DSD no different than the same file converted from analog to PCM is native PCM.

 

If you don't have DSD capable playback equipment and you aren't willing to acquire some, then why are you asking? Surely it isn't just to stir up trouble...

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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There's virtually no DSD recording that hasn't been dropped to PCM at some point in post-production. And there's no PCM recording these days that didn't go through sigma-delta modulation (a DSD-like stage). So much for purity. As so often in these arguments, the real point is elsewhere.

 

Is there material in DSD format that sounds great, better than what's available for those pieces as PCM? I'd say yes, pointing to examples like favorite Rickie Lee Jones and Who albums. Are PCM conversions just as good or nearly so? In my experience, no.

 

So then the decision is straightforward: Is the expense of DSD capability (actually pretty cheap these days) worth it to you?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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@fritzg, you didn't respond to what appear to be sincere answers/comments to your question yet you jump straight into an argument that has nothing to do with the question.

 

In fact, you have asked such a question as to imply no serious answers, especially since you don't play DSD at all. You might have well have asked how many angels can dance on the head of a pin if the music is played via DSD converted to from PCM rather than native DSD.

 

Your comments about "pure DSD" completely misses the point of a preferred playback format for a particular DAC, nor does it acknowledge that something recorded and mastered in analog then converted to DSD *is* native DSD no different than the same file converted from analog to PCM is native PCM.

 

If you don't have DSD capable playback equipment and you aren't willing to acquire some, then why are you asking? Surely it isn't just to stir up trouble...

 

My apologies for not responding to your helpful post and others. I did get dragged down by the arrogance of other posts.

 

I ask about "pure DSD" because quite frankly the failures pf PCM seem to be the reason for DSD from what I can tell from its proponents. I asked the question because I wanted clarification.

 

What has been clarified is what I already thought, the format isn't that important. Therefore, from what I can tell, DSD isn't that important. And I ask the question to consider if the format is worth pursuing. I've doubted it, and your helpful comments and that from others confirm that for me.

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There's virtually no DSD recording that hasn't been dropped to PCM at some point in post-production. And there's no PCM recording these days that didn't go through sigma-delta modulation (a DSD-like stage). So much for purity. As so often in these arguments, the real point is elsewhere.

 

Is there material in DSD format that sounds great, better than what's available for those pieces as PCM? I'd say yes, pointing to examples like favorite Rickie Lee Jones and Who albums. Are PCM conversions just as good or nearly so? In my experience, no.

 

So then the decision is straightforward: Is the expense of DSD capability (actually pretty cheap these days) worth it to you?

 

That is a helpful opinion, Jud. Thank you. Hi-res PCM sounds pretty darn good to me, and I doubt the expense of DSD for the limited files available is worth the expense to me. I'll be upgrading my system in other ways before I worry about a niche format this small.

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My apologies for not responding to your helpful post and others. I did get dragged down by the arrogance of other posts.

 

I ask about "pure DSD" because quite frankly the failures pf PCM seem to be the reason for DSD from what I can tell from its proponents. I asked the question because I wanted clarification.

 

What has been clarified is what I already thought, the format isn't that important. Therefore, from what I can tell, DSD isn't that important. And I ask the question to consider if the format is worth pursuing. I've doubted it, and your helpful comments and that from others confirm that for me.

Actually, you were the arrogant one with your $10k retort.

 

You seem more interested in starting an umpteenth format war. Carry on.

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http://old.hfm-detmold.de/eti/projekte/diplomarbeiten/dsdvspcm/aes_paper_6086.pdf

 

Nice attempt to determine audibility here. Blind test, lots of participants. Excellent equipment, all tracks recorded concurrently in DSD and 176/24 with converters from the same manufacturer. Was an AES Paper in 2004.

 

Now of course if the best version of something you like is DSD, then it is important. As to DSD being a generally better format I think the evidence is not in support of that. So if you want music that is on DSD, DACs doing DSD in some form are reasonably plentiful. If you don't have a list of DSD music you, not much reason to go out of your way to get it. Seems likely new production done natively in DSD will remain at best a small niche market.

 

Whether the DSD must be pure to benefit, well the above test would indicate it really doesn't matter. Both PCM and DSD can likely be transparent. The mastering choices are the most important difference in what you hear one format vs another.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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http://old.hfm-detmold.de/eti/projekte/diplomarbeiten/dsdvspcm/aes_paper_6086.pdf

 

Nice attempt to determine audibility here. Blind test, lots of participants. Excellent equipment, all tracks recorded concurrently in DSD and 176/24 with converters from the same manufacturer. Was an AES Paper in 2004.

 

Now of course if the best version of something you like is DSD, then it is important. As to DSD being a generally better format I think the evidence is not in support of that. So if you want music that is on DSD, DACs doing DSD in some form are reasonably plentiful. If you don't have a list of DSD music you, not much reason to go out of your way to get it. Seems likely new production done natively in DSD will remain at best a small niche market.

 

Whether the DSD must be pure to benefit, well the above test would indicate it really doesn't matter. Both PCM and DSD can likely be transparent. The mastering choices are the most important difference in what you hear one format vs another.

 

Thanks. Another helpful response.

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Wow, that's arrogant and not helpful. I don't know why boards like this exist if not for sharing what the pros and cons are to different ways to listen to digital audio.

 

The point to the question is, "Is DSD truly DSD if any PCM is involved in the process." From what I've read, it isn't and I'm wondering what folks here who have made the investment think.

 

 

Don't bother responding. I won't be taking anything you say as worth a single bit.

The bottom line is that if it is a really good recording at source, it will sound really good in either case. Don't fret over the technicalities too much.

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The bottom line is that if it is a really good recording at source, it will sound really good in either case. Don't fret over the technicalities too much.

 

Not disagreeing with you at all, firedog. Just wanted to say that for me, up to now, this situation - two good recordings, just different formats - happened seldom. For me (and my old PS3 ;) ), DSD has much of the time been a way to get a really good recording/mastering unavailable in PCM.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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@fritzg, you didn't respond to what appear to be sincere answers/comments to your question yet you jump straight into an argument that has nothing to do with the question.

 

In fact, you have asked such a question as to imply no serious answers, especially since you don't play DSD at all. You might have well have asked how many angels can dance on the head of a pin if the music is played via DSD converted to from PCM rather than native DSD.

 

Your comments about "pure DSD" completely misses the point of a preferred playback format for a particular DAC, nor does it acknowledge that something recorded and mastered in analog then converted to DSD *is* native DSD no different than the same file converted from analog to PCM is native PCM.

 

If you don't have DSD capable playback equipment and you aren't willing to acquire some, then why are you asking? Surely it isn't just to stir up trouble...

 

Nice summary. Thanks.

1070957250_Imprimatur.NihilObstatSepia3Crop(2).jpg.2162a44365e84a5df7d456bf8026ed67.jpg

 

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Not disagreeing with you at all, firedog. Just wanted to say that for me, up to now, this situation - two good recordings, just different formats - happened seldom. For me (and my old PS3 ;) ), DSD has much of the time been a way to get a really good recording/mastering unavailable in PCM.

 

This makes sense to me. Of course one would seriously consider searching out a quality way to play DSD files if that format is the only way they are presented. My question has been when there is a choice of formats, is DSD a big enough of an improvement to justify the expense.

 

Take for example, Duke Ellington's Indigos at HDTT, Duke Ellington Indigos

 

My instincts lead me to doubt that DSD makes a difference and that for me to listen and really tell if it does or not would take a larger investment than I am willing to make.

 

But I am open to being wrong and to the possibility that adding a $500 DSD DAC to my meager system would make a difference. So, I was trying to get an understanding of the intrinsic virtues of DSD and why it is supposed to be a superior consumer digital audio chain than PCM.

 

BTW, this album does sound pretty damn good to me in 24/192 and is quite a bargain. One of my most enjoyable purchases.

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This makes sense to me. Of course one would seriously consider searching out a quality way to play DSD files if that format is the only way they are presented. My question has been when there is a choice of formats, is DSD a big enough of an improvement to justify the expense.

 

Take for example, Duke Ellington's Indigos at HDTT, Duke Ellington Indigos

 

My instincts lead me to doubt that DSD makes a difference and that for me to listen and really tell if it does or not would take a larger investment than I am willing to make.

 

But I am open to being wrong and to the possibility that adding a $500 DSD DAC to my meager system would make a difference. So, I was trying to get an understanding of the intrinsic virtues of DSD and why it is supposed to be a superior consumer digital audio chain than PCM.

 

BTW, this album does sound pretty damn good to me in 24/192 and is quite a bargain. One of my most enjoyable purchases.

 

You need to listen to it, decide with your ears and not your brain. Some people like it better, some don't, and some can't tell the difference. Once you have crossed this bridge you can begin to research your digital output formats, until then you are speculating on theories and opinions without any basis of your ability to hear any difference at all.

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