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  • High Rez PCM v. DSD

    Where do you stand on the sound and which do you prefer?

    What about the number of titles available in each format?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

  • #2
    I don't have a strong preference for one over the other. To me, they are both excellent. But Lp is still slightly better (more natural ) sounding.
    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
      Where do you stand on the sound and which do you prefer?

      What about the number of titles available in each format?
      Been thinking about this alot.......

      Here's a long answer as to how I think about it.....

      Let's say we're talking vinyl, and the choice is 45 rpm vs 33 rpm. That's about it for formats.
      For ANY given turntable , I'd be willing to guess most would say the 45 is a bit better.

      Let's say we're talking digital and the choice is:
      24/96; 24/176; 24/192 ; DSD64; DSD128; DSD 256; "and beyond"

      For ANY given setup - mostly no one will agree.

      For a GIVEN, SPECIFIC set up, there may be some consensus around one of the options.
      But it's quite apparent - to me at least - and from conversations with industry pros, that the result is
      going to be highly system dependent and not unrelated to how the DAC is "biased" in terms of PCM and DSD.

      BTW - I'm presuming native playback on all of this - not conversion.

      (Clear so far ??? )

      For my setup, and ONLY MY SETUP..... I think there is a "minor" difference to no difference - and certainly not enough of a difference to spend time chasing.
      My setup will handle up to DSD128. I would not buy equipment just to chase the format.

      Another issue is: recordings that were not natively produced in a certain format but are being converted and sold as such.

      So, here's how I net this all out:
      For downloads - I'll just get the highest PCM available.
      If something that I want that is available ONLY as a DSD download, I'll get that.

      And then move on and enjoy the music.





      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Andy View Post

        Been thinking about this alot.......

        Here's a long answer as to how I think about it.....

        Let's say we're talking vinyl, and the choice is 45 rpm vs 33 rpm. That's about it for formats.
        For ANY given turntable , I'd be willing to guess most would say the 45 is a bit better.

        Let's say we're talking digital and the choice is:
        24/96; 24/176; 24/192 ; DSD64; DSD128; DSD 256; "and beyond"

        For ANY given setup - mostly no one will agree.

        For a GIVEN, SPECIFIC set up, there may be some consensus around one of the options.
        But it's quite apparent - to me at least - and from conversations with industry pros, that the result is
        going to be highly system dependent and not unrelated to how the DAC is "biased" in terms of PCM and DSD.

        BTW - I'm presuming native playback on all of this - not conversion.

        (Clear so far ??? )

        For my setup, and ONLY MY SETUP..... I think there is a "minor" difference to no difference - and certainly not enough of a difference to spend time chasing.
        My setup will handle up to DSD128. I would not buy equipment just to chase the format.

        Another issue is: recordings that were not natively produced in a certain format but are being converted and sold as such.

        So, here's how I net this all out:
        For downloads - I'll just get the highest PCM available.
        If something that I want that is available ONLY as a DSD download, I'll get that.

        And then move on and enjoy the music.




        I've always preferred the sound of PCM over DSD. I keep getting told, "You just don't have the right equipment", or "You haven't heard double DSD", and now, "You haven't heard Quad DSD". I've listened to a lot of different downloads through a lot of different DACS, though, and I can only think of one time when I preferred the sound of DSD over PCM, and that was in a friend's really incredibly bright sounding system where what normally sounds to me like an excessive lushness or "glossiness" with DSD did take away from the brittle edge of his system. It's fine if someone wants a super-detailed system, but I don't think you should then conclude that DSD is inherently superior to PCM (as an example) just because it takes the edge off of a certain degree of high-frequency hotness. My $0.02 worth.
        Transrotor Rossini Turntable w/Jelco SA-750DB
        Audio Note Io Gold Cart. w/AN-S9 SUT
        Audio Note CDT-Four Transport/Woo WDS-1 DAC
        Ayre QX-5 Twenty Dig. Hub & 13” MacBook Pro w/Roon w/Melco N1A NAS
        AN OTO Phono SE Signature Int. Amp w/AN-E SEC Silver Speakers w/Murata Super Tweeters
        Purple J-Corder 1520 R2R and Nakamichi Dragon Cassette Deck
        PSAudio P10 AC Regen./Equi=Tech Bal. Transformer
        Harmonic Technology, Audio Note, Kondo Sound Labs, Stealth, AQ Cables
        Woo GES w/Sfax SR-507 Headphones

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        • #5
          When I had a PCM only DAC and let JRiver Media Center convert DSD on the fly to 24/88, I preferred 24 bit PCM. Now that I have a DSD capable DAC, on some files where I have both to compare (I have about a thousand DSD files on my server) I prefer DSD to PCM, others it is a toss up.
          What bothers me is that in some cases where I have 16 bit FLAC files I ripped from CD and a hi-rez downlaod from some legitimate source in either 24 bit or DSD, and JRiver says the 16 bit FLAC still had a greater dynamic range than the high resolution file.

          But, since getting the ifi iDAC2 that can do DSD, I find that generally DSD is friendlier and more comfortable to listen to, in a more analog like way.

          Still prefer LP, however...
          Steve Lefkowicz
          Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
          -
          Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
          Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
          Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
          Speakers: Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
          Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
          Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
          Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
          Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
          Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

          Comment


          • #6
            PCM does not sound like DSD. PCM converted to DSD does not sound like native DSD. DSD is the first digital format I have heard that sounds closer to great analog. I much prefer the sound of DSD to PCM of any resolution. And does anybody who listens to PCM really hear much difference between any of the different bit depths and sampling frequencies? I don't and I have a big bag of everything from 16/44.1 to 24/192. PCM sounds like PCM.
            Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

            Comment


            • rbbert
              rbbert commented
              Editing a comment
              I hear much more difference between 24/88.2 and 24/96 PCM and 16/44.1 PCM than I do between those PCM formats and SACD. I only have a few DSD files, all of which were ripped from SACD's and not surprisingly they sound identical to the SACD's to me. 24/192 PCM (originally recorded in that format, not transferred from analog) sounds the best to me.

            • MylesBAstor
              MylesBAstor commented
              Editing a comment
              I don't nearly have the time or breadth of listening you have Mark. One time though we used one of the Channel Classic Samplers, Tidal system, Aurender server (I forget the DAC) and compared the same recording at 16/44, 24/96 and 24/192. (there might have been one other?) Anyway, there was a big difference between all of the bit depths and sampling frequencies. RBCD sounded like skeletons, 26/96 was somewhat better and 24/192 finally sounded like real musicians and there was meat on the bones rather than caricatures of musicians.

          • #7
            My experience has been dependent on the DAC used. For PCM files (almost all 192/24 that I ripped myself) the best sound comes from playing back on my Pacific Microsonics Model Two, which I used to rip about 10,000 albums - vinyl and tape. Also ripped CD's and other miscellaneous stereo downloads.

            For the 500 or so DSD files I have, most of them are mch either bought from NativeDSD or ripped from SACD's, and can only be played through my Merging Technologies NADAC. The stereo DSD files sound best through the combination of HQ Player converting to 256DSD played through the NADAC. I cannot yet up convert mch DSD to 256DSD using HQ Player - need to get a more powerful computer.

            I am currently looking at getting a Merging HAPI to experiment with ripping my prerecorded tapes directly to 256DSD. That would be a good test to compare with ripping at 192/24 on my PM Model Two. Since I already use Merging's Pyramix for the PCM rips, I would be using similar software in both conversions.

            Larry
            Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
            Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
            Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
            Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
            Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
            Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
            Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.3KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

            Comment


            • #8
              I had an interesting experience today comparing either single and double DSD vs 24/176 PCM via the MSB Select/Aurender at Bob's place Rhapsody Music and Cinema. Bob was saying he preferred hearing the digital DSD files via XLR on the MSB vs. USB. Of course, that means that the DSD file is converted to 24/176 and one has to adjust levels because the PCM is much louder. That said, both of us preferred the files replayed via PCM/XLR. The DSD sounded wimpy, washed out and lacking midrange and information relative to the PCM/XLR feed. By contrast, the PCM had more midrange, solidity and low end.

              So that leads me to ask the questions:

              1) Are the results of PCM vs. DSD dependent upon the DAC and server and parts and implementation within?
              2) Could it just be something with the USB cable (EnKlein) and possibly could get a different result with another USB cable. Possibly the EnKlein isn't a good match with the MSB?

              I have to say that my interest has been piqued by the smaller $7000 MSB DAC sounds based on how their top of the line DAC sounds.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
              -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
              -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
              -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
              -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
              -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
              -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
              -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
              -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
              -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                So that leads me to ask the questions:

                1) Are the results of PCM vs. DSD dependent upon the DAC and server and parts and implementation within?
                .
                yeah - see my post above, from which this is excerpted:

                "the result is going to be highly system dependent and not unrelated to how the DAC is "biased" in terms of PCM and DSD."

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by Andy View Post

                  yeah - see my post above, from which this is excerpted:

                  "the result is going to be highly system dependent and not unrelated to how the DAC is "biased" in terms of PCM and DSD."
                  Sorry Andy missed your post!

                  So I get the system dependent but are you saying it also (or doesn't) depend on the digital playback gear?
                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                  -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                  -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                  -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                  -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                  -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                  -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                  -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                  -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                  -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                    Sorry Andy missed your post!

                    So I get the system dependent but are you saying it also (or doesn't) depend on the digital playback gear?
                    My earlier choice of words.... "system dependent"... is admittedly sloppy.
                    My experience is the source or the playback gear ( Mac or PC computer; Aurender; disc player, etc ) paired with a specific DACs will affect results.
                    Also holding the source constant, say using an aurender, with different DACs, may affect the PCM / DSD outcome depending on the DAC.

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Myles, I played around with the USB vs. the AES/EBU connections from the Aurender N10 to the MSB Select II DAC. The sonic differences are still evident BUT the XLR output is much higher and you really have to turn up the volume on the USB to get the correct matching level. When you get the USB volume level correct then you get very good sound from the USB. I still prefer the conversion to 24-176K on this particular set up BUT it's more different than better once you get the volume levels correct. We really did not switch back and forth enough and set the volume levels high enough on the USB connection.

                      Agree with Andy, it is all "system dependent".
                      RHAPSODY.AUDIO

                      http://www.rhapsody.audio




                      Pilium Audio, Magico, Alsyvox, Bayz Audio, Diesis Audio, Kondo, Nordost Supreme Reference Dealer, VYGER, VYDA Cables, Constellation, Taiko Audio - Extreme server, Aqua Acoustic Quality, Raidho, TechDAS, Critical Mass Systems, Aurender, TelluriumQ, CMS/Center Stage, Devialet, REL Acoustics, RD Acoustics

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                        Where do you stand on the sound and which do you prefer?

                        What about the number of titles available in each format?
                        For such a simple question or two, the answer is pretty complicated ;-) !

                        First DSD has far more titles seemingly than DXD. Which is odd b/c most DSD seems to be sources from DXD edit masters (regardless of whether the source is tape or digital)

                        My answer to the first question is it's DAC and file dependent. I have GREAT native DXD files (like Reference Records Mahler and Take One, "Piltch and Davis" pretty the former was digitally recorded to DXD and the latter to analog tape. I also have great DSD files like several from Blue Coast Music.

                        My Vivaldi upsampler just came back from a update allowing me to experiment now with 2xDSD...which initially I am liking it as best. both up sampling native redbook to 2xDSD and I have a few native 2xDSD files (Bill Evans, "Some other Time" one example.

                        The think I seem to notice is common is if the source is analog tape, I seem to like what ever the playback format is. I can pick and choose filters, up sampling rates, etc etc...but regardless if it's from tape it's usually pretty damn good.

                        I will say today's best digital has really erased any gaps with vinyl. And I'm a historically a vinyl guy...which is saying something I think.
                        Speakers: Rockport Altair 2
                        Amps: Nagra HD Pre Amp & HD Amps
                        Cables: Transparent Magnum Opus speaker and interconnects
                        Power Transparent Opus Power Cords & Opus Isolators
                        Digital dCS Vivaldi full stack w/ Transparent Reference XL Digital cables
                        Phono: Grand Prix Monaco 2.0 TT, Spiral Groove Centroid, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement, Nagra Classic Phono & PSU
                        Racks: Grand Prix Audio Silverstone F1 (x4)

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Myles-Something is funky about the DAC you were listening to if DSD converted to PCM sounds better than native DSD. That DAC was obviously designed primarily for PCM playback vice DSD which is not uncommon. DACs are usually optimized for one format at the expense of the other. That's why you are seeing people at the top of the digital food chain buying two DACs-one for DSD and one for PCM.

                          You need to hear a DAC that is optimized for DSD to hear what DSD is capable of.
                          Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Nothing "funky" about the MSB Select Dac When Myles and I were listening we were NOT listening to any native DSD files. We had Myles Davis "In a Silent Way", which is not a native DSD file. I have MANY native DSD files and they sound great, as they should, through the Select Dac/USB. We switched back and forth 2-3 times with only the MD track....AND did not have the volume set properly for the USB as I said in prior post.

                            If you listen a lot of 64 bit non native DSD files a LOT of times they sound better playing through AES/EBU at 24/176K vs USB/DSD 64. Big difference between Native DSD files and the plethora of non native DSD files available for download.

                            If you listen to non native DSD files (which is what we were listening to) via usb and compare to 24/176K it's different and different people would prefer one over the other.
                            RHAPSODY.AUDIO

                            http://www.rhapsody.audio




                            Pilium Audio, Magico, Alsyvox, Bayz Audio, Diesis Audio, Kondo, Nordost Supreme Reference Dealer, VYGER, VYDA Cables, Constellation, Taiko Audio - Extreme server, Aqua Acoustic Quality, Raidho, TechDAS, Critical Mass Systems, Aurender, TelluriumQ, CMS/Center Stage, Devialet, REL Acoustics, RD Acoustics

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