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why should I get excited about DSD? (Read 4366 times)
Donnie
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why should I get excited about DSD?
10/28/16 at 22:24:19
 
Why should I convert or upconvert everything into DSD?
Will I really be able to tell the difference over my 24/96 stuff?
Do I really need to send my Wyred 4 Sound DAC in for the $600 upgrade?
Would I get more milage from a cheap pair of sneakers?
I have questions!
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Lonely Raven
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #1 - 10/29/16 at 20:44:35
 

IMHO, DSD is the most analog sounding of the digital formats. It's the closest I've heard to Reel to Reel Master tapes, minus the density that (so far) only a master tape has.

I think the really high sample rate seems to smooth out the wave forms better than PCM. But then PCM seems to have a sharper leading edge to sounds that tends to improve PRaT (again IMHO).

I really like DSD, and I'm a die-hard believer. The PS Audio DirectStream DAC has been able to squeeze out so much more from my old CDs. I'm constantly amazed at how CDs I've been playing for years suddenly sound like remasters; the same, but slightly better.

Should you upgrade your DAC to do DSD? I really can't say - I think that PCM vs DSD is very DAC dependent as to if it's worth the effort. I also feel that DSD doesn't really start sounding analog till it gets to DSD128 and beyond. (Note, the PS Audio DirectStream up-samples everything to DSD128 internally)

If you already had a DAC that does DSD128 or better, I would absolutely recommend grabbing a demo copy of HQ Player and seeing if you get that analog sound out of your current gear. But $600 to upgrade? There are probably DACs you could pick up for that $600 that right out of the gate do more (And possibly sound better) than your W4S. The double edged sword of digital music, is the technology is improvement and costs are going down. So what might have been a $2500 DAC 5 years ago could probably be replaced with a newer $600-$1000 DAC.

So your in case, I'd do the research and see if people enjoyed dropping $600 on that DSD upgrade, or if they wish they would have just purchased a newer DSD DAC.

When I can afford it, I'm probably looking at getting a $500 or less DSD DAC for my second/bedroom system - just to see what these new units can do compared to my stupidly expensive DirectStream. I know eventually I'm going to run into something in the sub-$1000 price range that's going to keep up with or surpass my DS DAC...but hopefully that something is several years away.   Grin
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Donnie
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #2 - 10/29/16 at 22:01:12
 
LR,
I went on a fact finding mission today to the only High End audio boutique within a hundred miles on my home.
I got to the place and the manager was out front smoking a cigarette,  He commented positively on my motorcycle, so that was a good start. I told him that I was looking for a new DAC, he asked how much I was willing to spend and he replied that he didn't really have anything at my price point($1500). They had a few in the $4-5K range, but that is a bit rich for my blood.
Anyway, I took a tour of their place, nice stuff all around the place. They fired up their reference room for me, Wilson Alexia speakers, BAT Rex amp, BAT Rex pre, and a CD player that I didn't pay any attention to. It sounded OK to me, a little lean maybe, not even close to Steve's ZOB-Imperial system from the "Fest.
I'd say that my modest Torii -OB system would give it a run for it's money.
The one thing that they said is that their feeling was that DSD was just a passing "fad" kind of like Dolby Atmos, just the flavor of the day.
I'm not sure of how to take that, and am kind of confused on what way to go from here.
So, I'm going to keep researching and plotting, as I often do.
By the way, the only thing that I was even tempted at buying was a pair of small bookshelf speakers that a local Champaign guy is selling through them. They appeared to be Blumenstein clones, really nice looking. They said that the guy was getting ready to sell some single driver mid size towers. I might have to look these up.  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #3 - 10/29/16 at 22:36:04
 

Sounds like a nice shop with typical name brand stuff. Great if you were a typical audiophile consumer...but we are...maybe a little more refined than that.

Also, if he's stuck in the DSD is passing fad crowd, then he's clearly not keeping up with the times. Maybe that was (possibly) true back in the SACD days, but DSD has come a long way from that, and he's just completely unaware.

Keep doing your research. I have a concert I'm taking a redhead to for her birthday, so I'll be offline most of the night, but I'm sure I can dig up some interesting food for thought on DSD. I've read some great articles over the years....If anything, DSD is bigger than than ever.
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Palomino
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #4 - 10/31/16 at 19:00:22
 
Hey Donnie,

Just finally got to this digital forum.  Been busy lately.

I don't think DSD is a fad based on the manufacturers putting the capability into their DACs.  PS Audio being one of the more notable ones.

Chord is another that has it in most of their base units. The direct stream and the Chord Dacs are often compared.

I had heard Raven's DAC lots of times and I always felt it sounded good.  I had also heard this DSD upsampling Sony player for $1000 at a local audio shop that I also thought sounded good.

It wasn't until I had these OBs with the same driver that you have and heard PCM followed immediately by DSD that I became a convert.  Then I heard my speakers back on PCM at the fest and didn't like a lot that I heard that has now moved me to DSD evangelist.

So $600 for the upgrade?  I think I'd follow Raven's advice.  See what the Wyred folks are saying.  Keep in mind that Raven and I are both digital based.  I would think CDs would be the same, but maybe not.

Also, my DAC can go to DSD128, but for some reason, I am stuck on only being able to do DSD64.  I feel I hear a big difference in smoothness even at that lower setting.
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Colin Booth
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #5 - 12/05/16 at 05:09:55
 
Donnie, regardless of how awesome DSD sounds, reconverting all your current stuff from its current PCM based format to DSD won't net you anything. In fact, it'll make you stuff sound worse since you can't ever get better than the source (be it original master or 128 kbps mp3) and no format is perfect.

That said, if you have DSD based sources or are converting from analog masters that have never swing through a PCM based stream then a DSD based DAC or a DSD/PCM combo DAC might make sense for you. If you don't have pure DSD sources, investing in a good multibit DAC will probably serve you better than getting a second DAC.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #6 - 12/05/16 at 18:04:36
 

Quote:
Donnie, regardless of how awesome DSD sounds, reconverting all your current stuff from its current PCM based format to DSD won't net you anything. In fact, it'll make you stuff sound worse since you can't ever get better than the source (be it original master or 128 kbps mp3) and no format is perfect.



I was hard into this camp as well - but have found through experience that DSD does in fact tend to bring out more details *and* sound smoother and more analog like to boot.  So at this point I have to firmly disagree. In fact, the DirectStream DSD converts everything coming in to 2X DSD.  In fact, most DAC chips that aren't ladder DACs convert PCM to DSD internally before running them through filters and out to analog!

I was shocked how much more detail was pulled out of regular 16/44 CDs when upconverted to DSD.

So yes, I agree you can't make information where there is none - I think the upconversion does something that allows you to hear better into what is already there. Maybe someone smarter like Ted Smith could (and probably has) explained why.
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Palomino
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #7 - 12/05/16 at 18:44:16
 
I share the same opinion as Raven.  At least on my mac-based rig, it has a big impact on digital glare.  Maybe someone with a higher end CD player would not hear these improvements.

But most of the computer software people are adding this capability and as I stated before some major DAC manufacturers are going this route as well.  Not that there isn't a bandwagon effect sometimes, but these are not fly by night operations.

Didn't Schitt offer some kind of a low cost converter box that allowed you to do DSD conversion?  Loki?  You could try that Donnie.  It was less than $200.
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Palomino
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #8 - 12/05/16 at 18:55:12
 
Just read that Schiit canned (pardon the pun) the Loki because "DSD is a dud."  This seemed to be both content (or lack there of) focused and what Jason described as a "noise shaped" format.  This was December 2015.

I wonder what Ted Smith or Cookie would say about "noise shaped format."

http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/new-loki-incoming-loki-my...
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Lonely Raven
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #9 - 12/06/16 at 08:11:38
 
Yeah, they are basing that simply on music being available in that format natively.

Cookie puts out DSD512 Albums somewhat regularly. And so are many of the "Master Tape" shops.

"and what is out there I wouldn't want anyways" is the other argument I hear.

Well, that's why we upconvert. It's sadd that Schiit doesn't give it a try. They seem to make good products.
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Palomino
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #10 - 12/06/16 at 11:03:26
 
What are your thoughts on them saying it's like blowing up an iPhone picture?  That's not what I experience but wondered about it technically.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #11 - 12/06/16 at 18:33:35
 
Here is what I think is happening - I feel it's all about the sample rate.

Since we are a visual people, I'll use Anti-Aliasing in video game graphics as an example of what I mean.

When we sample a curve, we are taking an object with infinite points, and representing it in a finite number.  Here is a gross exaggeration used in graphics to represent what I'm talking about.





So when we are upconverting 16/44 (note that 44.1kHz is how many samples per second we are taking of that curve) to 2x DSD (5.2Mhz sample rate), we are taking that staircase, and adding more and more points smoothing out the jaggies and bringing them back to curves again.




Then, going further, the different "filters" or algorithms used in conversion are different ways of calculating the next point in that curve. As with video (specifically video games) these calculations can have different effects on the output (and how we perceive it) of the final results. If we are perceiving it as "more analog" or "more lifelike", then doesn't that mean it's working??








So no, you can't *make more* detail than what's on the original source, but you can smooth out the wave form, and get the best signal to noise possible, both of which allows us to better perceive those intrinsic details that improve apparent timing, timbre, and space. And I believe that's what we're hearing when we listen to DSD, especially at 2X and above.

But, but, but...there are studies that say we can't hear any better than 44.1!!!   Yes, I've read all about that, and have for years, and that's what got me into the "you can't make more detail than what's there" camp. But as I'm finding out more and more "everything matters". And if a different format/sample rate/algorithm helps me to better hear into that original recording, to hear that timing, space, and timbre *and* make it sound more analog and closer to the master tape....then maybe we just weren't looking at the right things and drop the expectation bias?


I think that's part of why Palomino and I make such great leaps in our sound quality. We do our best to drop our expectation bias, and "come in blind", and *trust our senses*.  I'll read and read and read, and some of this audiophile stuff sounds just downright goofy. But when something can prove itself to me, get my foot tapping, give me goose bumps, get me to believe I'm there in *that room* that the recording was made, and even make me tear up...then maybe it's something we don't yet understand the *why* of and needs to be further investigated.

I believe this is also why guys like Steve (And Zygi) are able to do what they do. They get these ideas, and even if (or especially because) they go against common convention, they say "what if I..." and see what happens.   Wink


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« Last Edit: 12/06/16 at 18:38:09 by Lonely Raven »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #12 - 12/06/16 at 18:51:01
 
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« Last Edit: 12/06/16 at 18:51:18 by Lonely Raven »  
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Palomino
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #13 - 12/06/16 at 19:03:08
 
I'll look around for reviews of the DSD conversion programs like Audirvana.  I have read lots of positive forum comments, but no formal review.

I think Schiit's attitude may just come from how they have chosen to tackle digital nasties.  Rob's dac was pretty smooth (but a bit warm to me).
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Tripwr1964
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #14 - 04/05/17 at 17:45:05
 
good interview with Moffat & Stoddard regarding DSD.  see video further down.  love these guys and feel like i can understand what they are saying unlike most in the digital side of this industry who are deliberately trying to confuse consumer and audiofile.

http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2016/03/talking-schiit-about-mqa-dsd-at-canjam...
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Tripwr1964
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #15 - 04/05/17 at 18:17:05
 
https://vimeo.com/194658219

Another easy to understand direct non-pcvid
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Lonely Raven
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #16 - 04/05/17 at 20:00:03
 

I get their points - but their dismissing DSD is shortsighted considering upsampling. For guys who talk about innovating and yet going with what's popular, they sure are dismissing a lot of stuff.

But their points are valid about streaming, and "standard bearers" and needing to be in compliance...I sure hope they don't paint themselves in a corner trying to be "innovators".
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Tripwr1964
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #17 - 04/05/17 at 23:35:22
 
agree.

i am starting to understand all this a little more.  obviously everyone has a point of view on this topic.  i don't even know enough to argue 1 way or other.

but, until you can capture all the markets (lowfi, midfi, and hifi) at a reasonable cost point... it probably will never make it.  lets face it, the number of folks that listen and have the passion, as we do, are not the majority.  so whatever the next thing is, it has to be affordable to the masses.

it'll be interesting to see where all this goes however!  in the meantime i'll keep reading.
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« Last Edit: 04/05/17 at 23:36:40 by Tripwr1964 »  

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Lonely Raven
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Re: why should I get excited about DSD?
Reply #18 - 04/06/17 at 17:38:41
 

That's the part that makes sense...going for the largest demographic with great sounding budget friendly gear is awesome...but dismissing DSD altogether because there isn't that much content is so very short sighted.

Even Roon now supports DSD128 upsampling - and they are working to being a big player out there. I'm seriously considering a lifetime subscription with all they've done just in this last update. (more on that in another post)
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