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Mark Waldrep is claiming that PCM 24/96 is superior to DSD


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Mark Waldrep is claiming that PCM 24/96 is THE format and that DSD should be cheaper than PCM.

Comments? Is he right or just promoting his Itraxx pcm recordings?

 

From the recordings that I’ve heard from Sound Liaison, they’re doing excellent work. I can only guess that the “buzz” around DSD enticed them into that market with their PCM conversions.

When I noticed that they want more for the DSD 64 conversion from the PCM original (33% more), I had to wonder why? I’ve written to the company and asked them how they arrived at the premium price for a file that was converted (actually downconverted) from high-resolution to DSD 64, which I regard as just slightly better than a standard CD.

2nd_line_website_mei_2015_vdsd.jpg

 

I don’t mean to single out Sound Liaison with regards to the pricing of DSD conversions of their high-resolution 96/24 PCM masters. Their recordings are actually spectacular (maybe because they make them at 96 kHz/24-bit PCM?). We share many techniques when it comes to capturing a live performance. Yesterday, I wrote to them and inquired about the additional expense of the DSD conversions. Here’s what they said:“Hi Mark,

The pricing for DSD is a combination of the extra work it takes to make an accurate DSD master and the disc space it uses (you need DSD-dff and DSD-dsf both).

Plus it’s the market…in general; a DSD master is more valuable then a PCM master. But I agree that the PCM is the most original so from that point of view it should be more equal.

Thanks,

Frans”

I agree that it does take additional work to convert a high-res PCM file to a DSD in both DSD-dff and DSD-dsf, but compared to the production time spent actually making the recordings and completing all of the post production stages associated with the original master, the conversion is really not that big a deal. The iTrax site offers 21 different versions of each of my tracks…talk about production time and disc space!

The other statement in his response resonated with a number of readers yesterday in their comments. Thanks to the dozens of misleading and highly biased reports done in audiophile publications and present on the “love fest” DSD panels at various audio trade shows, DSD is being promoted as “more analog-like” (which isn’t true…a study determined that listeners couldn’t tell the difference between a PCM and DSD encoded file of the same source. Read my post on the study by clicking here.) and therefore deserving of a higher price. The market is driving the price premium for DSD according the Frans and many readers pointed out the same thing.

It’s a business decision. No surprise, I guess. The guys at Sound Liaison are offering customers a choice between a downconverted DSD file and the original “more equal” high-resolution PCM file. No one is making visitors to their website spend the additional dollars for the DSD file.

I wrote back to Frans and thanked him for his response and I invited him to make his wonderful tracks available through iTrax.com. I’m not sure they will agree but if they do, I would have to decide whether to offer the PCM and DSD files or stick with the better format and leave the DSD conversions for someone else to post. I also asked him about the process they use to do the conversions.

Reader Phil made a great suggestion in a comment yesterday. He wrote:

“What you could do is sell DSD downloads for *less* than your PCM downloads, with the notation that:

‘If your system is capable of playing 96/24 PCM, that will get you better sound than DSD can, since with 96/24 PCM you’ll be listening to the music as we originally recorded and mixed it, without the removal of high frequencies above 22 KHz that DSD requires. With 96/24 our downloads give the full overtone structure of the instruments and voices (up to 48 KHz) that lets them – and the room they’re playing in – sound real.’

Only if PCM is priced *higher* than DSD will these folks have any chance of recognizing the real relative values of the formats.”

I’m going to figure out how the best way to make the conversions to DSD and post a couple of examples on the FTP site. I’ll let you decide which you prefer.

Links; Dr. AIX’s POSTS | Real HD-Audio

 

Sound Liaison Music Shop

Sampler200shaduwv2.jpg

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Mark Waldrep is claiming that PCM 24/96 is THE format

 

Not any worse than the claim that DSD is THE format! (I happen to think that the "pro-PCM" camp has more compelling evidence, but I digress)

 

But I don't care either way. Just give me good recordings to listen to . . .

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Old news. Lots of people in this race. Many well respected engineers and producers with differing opinions about which format is best.

I think often the format you think is best depends on your equipment and which particular format sounds best on your setup.

I agree with beetlemania - just give me good recordings.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
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All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Mark Waldrep is claiming that PCM 24/96 is THE format and that DSD should be cheaper than PCM.

Comments? Is he right or just promoting his Itraxx pcm recordings?...

 

Hi oso,

 

As I often say, what is "good", "better", or "best" depends entirely upon just what one is seeking.

As I also say, if you ask three audio folks a question, you will get at least four different answers. ;-}

 

To my ears, while 24/96 can certainly show just how sonically debilitated CD is (decent as that can sound), even the very best 24/96 still sounds to me like "great digital" -- it doesn't, as I like to put it, get out of the way. The only format I've ever heard do that is properly done 4x PCM -- 24/176 or my preferred 24/192. (Other than in the bass, I don't find DSD to be an improvement over CD, and at the top of the spectrum, I find it to be worse.)

 

To be clear, my reference is comparison against the input signal, particularly the direct feed from my microphones. Most digital and all analog I've heard can sound very good, which is exactly what I don't like about it. I want the sound to come from the music, not from the format or the gear used to reproduce it. When I first heard properly done 24/192, I knew that for the first time, I was hearing a format that I could not distinguish from my mic feed. (Instead of sounding "very good", it exhibited no discernable "sound" of its own.)

 

How about you? What do *you* hear when comparing the formats.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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Wasn't this discussed before?.. ;)

 

Hundreds of times. The best is great music, that sounds great in your system. In many cases those are good recordings and/or transfers, high resolutions and great playback DACs....but even redbook can sound magical, and even 24/192 or DSD can sound putrid. But ALL else being equal, high rez original native recordings will sound best (and all else is never equal :( ). Barry's stuff, Mark's stuff, Jared's stuff. It's all native and all good. :)

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Mark Waldrep is claiming that PCM 24/96 is THE format and that DSD should be cheaper than PCM.

Comments? Is he right or just promoting his Itraxx pcm recordings?

 

 

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Links; Dr. AIX’s POSTS | Real HD-Audio

 

Sound Liaison Music Shop

 

 

I've spent a lot of time with Mark Waldrep, and indeed he is vehemently against DSD (In fact, you don't want to be in the same room with Waldrep and Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records. It's like a matter/antimatter reaction!). Waldrep says that DSD has high distortion (if it has, I've never heard it, and I have hundreds of SACDs). He also says that because DSD must be essentially converted to LPCM for editing, and then converted back to DSD for distribution, that it's a fraud.

 

I have a couple of his AIX samplers, and I've got to say, that while his recordings are clean enough, somebody needs to teach him about how to mike an ensemble. The sampler recordings are a disaster IMHO, with wall-to-wall pianos (who the hell mikes a piano with a stereo pair INSIDE (as in under the lid) of the piano?! But the accompanying video of each track on the sampler Blu-Ray disc shows just that!), instruments popping in and out of the mix as if being dropped-in and then yanked-out when they've finished playing. No soundstage at all, just pan-potted images stretching single file across the stage, often seemingly ON TOP of the piano!

George

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thanks for the link, typical resume mumbo-jumbo

 

Can the following excerpt be called into question: "Waldrep has repeatedly demonstrated his unique ability to embrace both the technical and creative aspects of the recording industry"

 

Also, the following: "As an expert on music and the digital future...."

 

Seems to me that an open mind to potential and possibilities leads to exploration and advancement, not a closed mind like Mark seems to have.

 

For the record, I listen to anything from low res streaming to files upsampled to DSD 256

Jim

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Hi oso,

 

As I often say, what is "good", "better", or "best" depends entirely upon just what one is seeking.

As I also say, if you ask three audio folks a question, you will get at least four different answers. ;-}

 

To my ears, while 24/96 can certainly show just how sonically debilitated CD is (decent as that can sound), even the very best 24/96 still sounds to me like "great digital" -- it doesn't, as I like to put it, get out of the way. The only format I've ever heard do that is properly done 4x PCM -- 24/176 or my preferred 24/192. (Other than in the bass, I don't find DSD to be an improvement over CD, and at the top of the spectrum, I find it to be worse.)

 

To be clear, my reference is comparison against the input signal, particularly the direct feed from my microphones. Most digital and all analog I've heard can sound very good, which is exactly what I don't like about it. I want the sound to come from the music, not from the format or the gear used to reproduce it. When I first heard properly done 24/192, I knew that for the first time, I was hearing a format that I could not distinguish from my mic feed. (Instead of sounding "very good", it exhibited no discernable "sound" of its own.)

 

How about you? What do *you* hear when comparing the formats.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

 

 

While you and I have vastly different ideas about recording, I do agree with you here. When I started recording 24/96,I realized at once that for the first time in my almost 40 years of doing location recording as the recordist for The San Jose Symphony as well as the NPR "Jazz Alive" series among others, that digital was far better than even the very best analog. My trio of Otari MX5050 1/2 track 15ips recorders instantly went on the block (well, I did keep one). I recorded for years using these with (while I could still get it) Sony's 1/4-inch Ferro-chrome (FeCr) tape, and the results were excellent. Later, I tried a Sony 16-bit/44.1 KHz converter, and a portable BetaMax recorder to do PCM, but I never thought the results were really any better (in in some ways not as good) than the analog Otari 5050s with the FeCr tape.

 

About 8 years ago I bought a Behringer FireWire FCA202 audio-to-computer interface box to use with my Mac laptop. I recorded some Stanford University Jazz Band rehearsals just to try-out the ensemble using Audacity as the capture software. I was floored by the results and used this set up for several months until I chanced upon a Korg MR1 DSD recorder on E-Bay - cheap. This slightly-larger-than-a-pack-of-cigarettes recorder was much easier to use than the Mac computer, and its small size fit right in to my style of recording. It would do 24/96 LPCM or 265K DSD. I've never looked back. I now capture everything using DSD (my main DSD recorder nowadays is a Korg MR-2000s but I still use the MR1 in parallel as backup). Once in my computer, Korg's Audiogate software allows me to output in 24/96 or 16/44.1 for my clients and I use DiscWelder Bronze to burn 24/96 discs. Every time I think about lugging those huge Otaris around with me, the hours of set-up time and alignment at the location before the event, and how I don't have to do that any more, I smile. But convenience alone wouldn't have been enough to sway me away from analog. No. The digital recordings were that much better and they continue to impress me.

George

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If the fact that nearly all DSD has some editing done in PCM makes it a fraud, does the fact that PCM goes through sigma-delta conversion to essentially DSD format in nearly all DACs make it a fraud?

 

No to both, I'm with Ted.

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 -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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thanks for the link, typical resume mumbo-jumbo

 

Can the following excerpt be called into question: "Waldrep has repeatedly demonstrated his unique ability to embrace both the technical and creative aspects of the recording industry"

 

Also, the following: "As an expert on music and the digital future...."

 

Seems to me that an open mind to potential and possibilities leads to exploration and advancement, not a closed mind like Mark seems to have.

 

For the record, I listen to anything from low res streaming to files upsampled to DSD 256

 

The man has a small record company and he sells his stuff exclusively on Blu-Ray discs in both stereo and 5.1 on the same disc. He is very outspoken about LPCM vs DSD, and while he has some very good musicians in his roster, IMHO, he doesn't have the slightest idea how place microphones and thus, to this listener, his recordings are very disappointing and ultimately non-satisfying.

George

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If the fact that nearly all DSD has some editing done in PCM makes it a fraud, does the fact that PCM goes through sigma-delta conversion to essentially DSD format in nearly all DACs make it a fraud?

 

No to both, I'm with Ted.

 

 

People have to justify their opinions with something concrete, even if that rationalization is somewhat specious.

George

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The man has a small record company and he sells his stuff exclusively on Blu-Ray discs in both stereo and 5.1 on the same disc. He is very outspoken about LPCM vs DSD, and while he has some very good musicians in his roster, IMHO, he doesn't have the slightest idea how place microphones and thus, to this listener, his recordings are very disappointing and ultimately non-satisfying.

 

Shame that you don't have the same credential:)

 


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thanks for the link, typical resume mumbo-jumbo

 

Can the following excerpt be called into question: "Waldrep has repeatedly demonstrated his unique ability to embrace both the technical and creative aspects of the recording industry"

 

Also, the following: "As an expert on music and the digital future...."

 

Seems to me that an open mind to potential and possibilities leads to exploration and advancement, not a closed mind like Mark seems to have.

 

For the record, I listen to anything from low res streaming to files upsampled to DSD 256

 

Just because someone reaches an opinion does not make them close minded. He has compared the formats and knows something of how they work. At some point most of us will decide one way or the other. Especially as he is someone who records for a living he must at some point decide which method is best, and use it. Doesn't mean he might not find a better method in the future or be close minded to trying it. For now he has come down on the side of PCM for several reasons vs DSD as it is currently done.

 

Now as a music consumer I can use any format I wish (or ignore those I don't like). Good music isn't going to be destroyed by DSD. I only listen to it converted to PCM, but the result sourced from DSD can be very good. The bottleneck to musical recordings on anything of redbook quality or better is the quality of the recording more than any other factor.

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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Yes, elsdude, you are correct about my closed mind statement, but Mark could use the YMMV in his statement or he might argue that the sky is too blue! He has no proof of his statement, no way to prove it in fact, hence my hackles were raised! There can be too much pontificating from people who are "experts" (my quotes!) when they are standing on quicksand. Their arguments show nothing more to me than mental masturbation at best, or a control freak attitude at worst.

 

In my system to my ears my mileage is this: when I am in my general about the house mode I have Pandora, some of my ripped music streaming, or heaven for bid plain old FM(!) through a Squeezebox, Sonos, or FM tuner. When I am in sit-down, desert island music listening mode I lately have been upsampling to DSD 256 through my ifi iDSD nano to my great satisfaction. And I add, YMMV!

 

Cheers!

Jim

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I find it interesting that Barry D. prefers LPCM too, but at 24/192.

We are unable to compare with what they heard in the studio before it is released.

Cookie Marenco, on the other hand prefers native DSD, so perhaps personal taste is coming into play here, or it may even be due to the playback chain used ?

 

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.

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Shame that you don't have the same credential:)

 

 

I'm just talking as a listener here. I have no axe to grind. There are lots of people in recording with whose methodology I don't agree. I would go so far as to call many of them incompetent, but they have the job and I don't, so I vote with my pocketbook.

 

I record for ME, it's an avocation, and I'm happy with the results. My recordings sound like real music played in a real space because they are. Luckily, over the years I have found enough clients who agree with me to pay for this particular vice and I have a library full of recordings that sound better than anything one can buy commercially to show for my efforts. Since that's my goal, I figure I've been successful. It has allowed me to record the kind of music I like and to ignore the rest. Most people who do this for a living, don't have that luxury. :P

George

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I find it interesting that Barry D. prefers LPCM too, but at 24/192.

We are unable to compare with what they heard in the studio before it is released.

Cookie Marenco, on the other hand prefers native DSD, so perhaps personal taste is coming into play here, or it may even be due to the playback chain used ?

 

 

Frankly, I don't hear much difference in the results. If done properly both DSD and LPCM formats can yield marvelous results. What I don't hear is any real sonic advantage to 24/192 over 24/96. The thing is that very few consumers get to actually listen to the exact, same recording in DSD (both 2X and 4X) as well as in both 24/96 and 24/192. So, in discussions such as this, it becomes "he said, she said" because almost no listeners gets to actually make the comparison for themselves.

George

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If done properly both DSD and LPCM formats can yield marvelous results.

 

+1

 

IMO, sums up the topic very well.

 

Mark Waldrep's anti-DSD stance is well known and is nothing new. James Tanner of Bryston rode the same hobby horse. That is, until Bryston started to support DSD last year. :)

"Relax, it's only hi-fi. There's never been a hi-fi emergency." - Roy Hall

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - William Bruce Cameron

 

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Hundreds of times. The best is great music, that sounds great in your system. In many cases those are good recordings and/or transfers, high resolutions and great playback DACs....but even redbook can sound magical, and even 24/192 or DSD can sound putrid. But ALL else being equal, high rez original native recordings will sound best (and all else is never equal :( ). Barry's stuff, Mark's stuff, Jared's stuff. It's all native and all good. :)

 

+10

 

This is all entirely implementation dependent. Unless you are using a ladder/r2r DAC you are listening to SDM regardless. The quality of the music #1 and recording #2 vastly overshadows any intrinsic difference between the formats.

 

I will say this: I've not heard a $500 PCM DAC which holds a candle to the iFI iDSD... but willing to learn

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