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DSD or FLAC?


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Hello All-

 

After a long hiatus from higher end audio I'm back in thanks in part to this wonderful site.  I just purchased the Lumin X1 and will be connecting it directly to Mark Levinson 536 amplifiers.  I have not listened to it yet as I was told it really needs at least 300 hours of burn in.  So I have been letting internet radio stations run on it until I connect everything.  This is my first DAC and my first dedicated streaming device.  In the mean time I have been ripping my approximately 2,000 cd's.  What a hideous project... I will be subscribing to ROON when everything gets set up.

 

Now my question for all you is that I want to purchase some hi res music but am confused as to whether or not I should get 24/96 or 24/192 FLAC files or get the highest resolution DSD files of the same music.  I really don't want to purchase an album in say 24/96 then DSD512 and find out how much better the DSD sounds.  I understand the higher DSD files are pretty limited but would just like to hear from people on the site that have been doing this for awhile what your advice would be.  If DSD is available is it a no brainer just purchase that album version vs the FLAC version?  There is a lot of knowledge on this site and I would love to hear from you all.

 

Price isn't the overriding concern, sound quality is.  I just don't want to pay $30 for a FLAC album and then $50 for the same DSD album and find out it sounds so much better.  I appreciate all the guidance/advice...

 

 

 

 

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The link below contains many reasons why DSD is technically compromised vs. PCM. There's a long preamble, but you can start reading at the paragraph titled "DSD vs. PCM Technology":

https://www.mojo-audio.com/blog/dsd-vs-pcm-myth-vs-truth/

 

 

“To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity for reflection.” 
Bertrand Russell 

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1 hour ago, firedog said:

It's a matter of preference and you may find the format doesn't really matter to you. Not everyone thinks it's significant. On my previous system I preferred DSD, on my present one I prefer PCM.

I could happily listen to either, at any bit rate. To me what matters is if the recording/mastering is good. Others say they can only listen to a certain format/sample rate.

 

Try a few tracks and compare and see if it is an issue for you. Don't assume what the outcome will be for you based on what other people with other systems say.

For the record, can you list you previous and current system, thanks!

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17 minutes ago, Rexp said:

For the record, can you list you previous and current system, thanks!

It's in my signature. Allow signatures.

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 Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I am HQPlayer user, feeding my DAC with DSD data stream regardless on source format (PCM or DSD). Some years ago I preferred DSD source format and playing it natively (without any upsampling or other processing). But within years the quality of HQPlayer upsampling filters and modulators raised so I changed my preference. Any wished DSP processing (for example multichannel to stereo, room treatment or headphone crossfeed) can be done much easier with PCM source content. In HQPlayer DSP is possible with DSD source content, but it requires too mach processing power.

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I want properly mastered music. Once I have that I find format doesn't matter to me much.

 

Just in case you didn't know:

 

FLAC isn't an audio format. It's an asymmetric PCM file compression algorithm. The asymmetric means that the when you choose a higher compression rate it takes just a wee bit longer on modern hardware to compress but the decompression is all the same.

 

 

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10 hours ago, firedog said:

It's a matter of preference and you may find the format doesn't really matter to you.

 

5 hours ago, plissken said:

I want properly mastered music. Once I have that I find format doesn't matter to me much.

Yes and, in addition, for the vast majority of music, you do not get a choice, anyway.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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4 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

 

Yes and, in addition, for the vast majority of music, you do not get a choice, anyway.

 

I listen to a lot of classical so I find my choices abundant. Just scooped up three different recordings of "The Firebird Ballet" by Igor Stravinsky and they are all great recordings.

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36 minutes ago, plissken said:

 

I listen to a lot of classical so I find my choices abundant. Just scooped up three different recordings of "The Firebird Ballet" by Igor Stravinsky and they are all great recordings.

Same performance?  Different in what way? 

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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7 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

Same performance?  Different in what way? 

 

I agree with you that for a lot of artist you don't get much in any way of having choices. Classical music is great for the choices you have.

 

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3 hours ago, plissken said:

Classical music is great for the choices you have.

Does that mean the "three different recordings of "The Firebird Ballet" by Igor Stravinsky" are of the same performance but in different formats?  I ask because, even in classical music (which is where I spend my time), one does not usually have many options.

 

 

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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42 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

Does that mean the "three different recordings of "The Firebird Ballet" by Igor Stravinsky" are of the same performance but in different formats?  I ask because, even in classical music (which is where I spend my time), one does not usually have many options.

 

 

 

I'm saying I get to have options like Elgar or Marriner orchestrating a composers works. Variations on a theme. I'm not talking formats, I'm talking production values. Sorry I thought I was quite clear on that.

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For me the format I want to purchase is the one it was recorded in. Rarely are things recorded using more than one format. The additional formats are then derived via software such as Saracon. I prefer to own the original and resample or convert as needed for my purposes. For playback much is determined by your DAC, or your preferences with your DAC and can be converted by software. My favorite is HQPlayer. It is popular here for PCM>DSD and its extensive options and capabilities. The developer, (user name Miska) is here as well.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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I agree with 4est.  Having the music in the original format seems the most pure and then it can be manipulated however one wants. - makes sense.

 

So how does one determine or find out what the original format is/was?

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15 hours ago, fight_on said:

I agree with 4est.  Having the music in the original format seems the most pure and then it can be manipulated however one wants. - makes sense.

 

So how does one determine or find out what the original format is/was?

Many classical recordings list it in the booklet. or at the download webpage. On non-classical recordings you pretty much never know, with the occasional exception. You can assume it is 16 or 24 bit PCM. Generally 44.1 or 48 sample rate. Occasionally something non classical is actually recorded in 2X sample rates, not often. A lot of popular music is recorded in 24/44.1.

 

DSD - almost nothing is actually recorded in DSD. And if it is, it is turned into PCM at some point before it gets to you for post recording production (even if it is sold turned back into DSD). The small number of exceptions are found at NativeDSD.com and a couple of other small labels/sellers. And even a lot of those are recorded in DXD resolution PCM before a DSD master is produced. Some are actually recorded and mastered in DSD.

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 Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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17 hours ago, plissken said:

I'm saying I get to have options like Elgar or Marriner orchestrating a composers works. Variations on a theme. I'm not talking formats, I'm talking production values. Sorry I thought I was quite clear on that.

OK.  I was not clear on that but I do agree.  My point, OTOH, is that once you choose a performance, you do not generally get options for the delivery format, even in classical rep.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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