Which is higher resolution? Wondering if I change from SACD to 24/96 downloads whether I would be going backwards...
Technically speaking, DSD, which is the recording methodology used on most SACDs, has better resolution and a higher sampling rate than 96/24 PCM.
But, some SACDs are recorded in DSD, ported into PCM at some bit rate, mixed in PCM, and then imported back into DSD for a SACD.
In direct A/B tests of my own recordings I prefer the sound of the DSD versions compared to the 96/24 recordings. So, yes, in terms of absolute sonic capabilities you are going backwards with 96/24 downloads, BUT, big but, you have access to some very fine 96/24 recordings that are only available via download. So if software trumps hardware, then 96/24 downloads are a superior way to go.
So what's your priority - fidelity or musical options?
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications
Actually, the resolution of DSD has been challenged by researchers, inc. Lipshitz and Vanderkooy. The issue seems to be too low a bit-rate to match the super-high sampling rate. It's in the math as shown here:
I prefer the sound of 24/96. This "format" doesn't need a filter to remove the ultra-sonic noise present in a DSD stream. It also doesn't have that "euphonic" sound that a number of audiophiles have complained about. Many vented steam on this at Audio Asylum.
I have had the opportunity to do extensive listening to multiple formats played on different source equipment through the dCS Scarlatti DAC. Here are my observations:
24/192 played from a hard drive and kept in it's native rate is by far the best digital format. Instruments achieve the fine balance between playing in their own space while being fully integrated in the overall soundstage.
Hard drives in general sound better than transports, even very high fidelity units (Scarlatti, Zanden) for CDs.
DSD recordings that are not put through a PCM conversion are very, very good. Can't play them from a hard drive though. They do present a delicious "smoothness" and "flow" but cannot compete with the sheer realism of 24/192 from a hard disc.
Can't wait for a high capacity solid state device to show up; many trusted listeners say SSD is even better than hard drive.
You might want to check out RR's "Exotic Dances". It is available in all formats, I believe, though the original recording was in 24/176.4. Even so, it does give you a good idea of the differences.
I currently enjoy CDs/SACDs via my Esoteric X-05 but I started thinking about going the download route when I went to Deutsch Grammaphone's site and found they sell downloads but not CDs! However, if I would be "going backwards" with 24/96 (didn't see any 24/192 at HDtracks.com) I'm less inclined to take the plunge especially as the Esoteric does not have digital inputs.
I do not expect to see 24/192 downloads any time soon. Chesky/HDTracks have no plan to introduce this format; the file size is too large for downloads
High Definition Tape Transfers
There might be others: iTrax, AIX
Personally, I prefer SACD to 24/96. But it's close.
We should note that the editor of TAS thinks 24/96 files are superior to SACD. He said these files had "many qualities of a live mike feed." He could not (and never did) say this for SACD.....
Care to comment Mr. Harley?
- In my quest to find the most transparent audio recording methods I have quantified the following:
[First the comparisons were done in a Studio environment with accurate nearfield monitors to eliminate acoustic contamination (not my normal/preferred listening method) and then with Magnetic-Planars in an audiophile listening room (preferred). The Digital Data was stored directly on SanDisk SLC (single-level cell) Solid State Drives (the best sounding that I have found). Points of comparisons were Live Musicians vs. everything else.]
Live vs. the live microphone feed was listened to first, to establish a base of reference and to get a sense of the loss from the Mics/cables etc. Then it was Live vs. 30IPS Analog Tape, 24/192 PCM and 2.8224 MHz DSD. Comparisons were also made between the different recordings against each other.
A. 24/192 PCM Sounds more like the Live Feed
B. 24/192 PCM Sounds more like the Analog Master Tape
C. ALWAYS some transparency was lost if we cross converted, such as DSD to PCM or vice versa.
D. DSD sounds more like the Live Musicians!
How can this be?? How can the DSD sound more like the Musicians, while PCM sound more like the Live Microphone Feed when both Recorders are AFTER the feed?? I don’t know. (A logical assumption would be, DSD is adding something that compensated for the Mic/wire loss. And/Or perhaps there is a perceptual issue going on in the human brain.) DSD sounds very smooth, dynamic, organic, lively,….well just live, with wonderful flow. The results were consistent with the listening panel preferring the DSD especially in the audiophile listening room over ALL other formats. To me DSD reminds me of Vinyl whereas 24/192 PCM reminds me of the Analog Master Tape of the same recording. Very weird indeed.
Rana N. Kabir
CEO, ENDS Technologies
I'm actually replying to another of your posts that I couldn't locate... I hope you and others on this string don't mind!
You had said that the least expensive way to get enough current into Magneplanar 1.7s was to use the big Emotiva amp. I was intrigued because I'd been looking into this solution. I have two questions for you about this: (a) I really haven't seen many recent reviews of Emotiva gear and was wondering whether this was an indication of its desirability/reliability/musicality etc; (b) what do you think of their matching preamp for $399, assuming you've actually heard it, ot know someone whose ears you trust who has heard it.
Many thanks for your time.
I did say that "the least expensive way to get lots of current into the Magneplanar 1.7s was to use the big Emotiva MonoBlocks" since that owner had an extremely limited (and lopsided) budget. BUT that doesn't mean it was the best amp for the Maggie. Far from it! If your listening habits & genres do not require much SPL and/or your room is on the small side then there are better amps to be had. While Emotiva's $399 preamp is good for the money, it is not in the same league as the amps and definitely not the speakers. Again you need to step up to do the 1.7s any justice. The least expensive preamps at this level would be the stereo Parasound Halo preamp. However an ARC tube preamp would be the way to go if Budget permits. I cannot stress enough that the Maggie 1.7s are SO good that they really need top flight gear otherwise you are wasting them! (Amps in the $10K range and Preamps in the $5K range. In my system my Maggies have always been the least expensive gear. (If you need additional info I will not respond within this thread since you have the option of starting a new thread for this subject.)
This sounds like a demo done 10 to 15 years ago when just about *every* recording engineer said DSD was superior to high-bit PCM. Note that Mr. Kabir is (apparently) not a recording specialist.
Over time however, high-bit PCM became the preferred choice. For its possibility to be dithered, lower-cost of production and (at home), ability to be played-back on hard disk/ memory...and sound quality - with HDtracks leading the way.
This could be why many recording studios have given up on DSD........
Studios gave up on DSD for multi-tracking because Sony never produced a native DSD editing program.
Many mastering studios still use DSD as a mix-down/mastering format. And many recording engineers use the Korg or Alesis DSD recorders.
While I do not make my living as a recording engineer, I use to be one. My field of study and my consultation services currently center around Acoustical Engineering; specifically music reproduction. My focus is on the playback half of the equation of the capture and playback chain. In this capacity I have consulted recording engineers how to design/build and setup a good recording studio/environments as well as setting up large venues for sound enforcement. My first Company (one man show) modified David Hafler’s amplifiers for serious sound for the money. I was 15 years old and tuned the circuits by ear. My reference was (and still is) live music. 30 years ago I pioneered the use of transient, full spectrum energy bursts in conjunction with computer analysis to acoustically model a venue within minutes. This was then used for correction to tame anomalies (and got an appreciation for how different a venue sounds AFTER its filled with humans and everbody is seated). I designed/built the equipment and my Partner Craig Eckert wrote the code. As far as I know we were the first to do this in the field with a “portable” setup. While I took a side step in the 90’s to start my own IT firm (and then last year a Chip & SSD Technology firm), all my technology knowledge & experiences ultimately get applied towards getting better sound (to paraphrase Jim Smith’s wonderful book). I am also a musician whose love of technology & especially energy physics has steered me in the direction of music reproduction as opposed to producing music. I would like to think I have a pretty good idea of what a real instrument in real space sound like and how to reproduce it as accurately as possible.
My classical education in Electronics & Particle/Energy Physics initially made me heavily dependent on technology, methods, circuits, distortions, figures, etc. But lifelong experimentation & experiences have taught me that all that technical merits are for paper. The real stuff is when that acoustical energy hits the eardrum and the brain reacts electrochemically. This is what it’s all about. AND often all the mathematics don’t correlate with how a human perceives. So take the theoretical/mathematical stuff with a grain of salt and concentrate on what you are hearing/enjoying. The mathematics of the ear/brain connection and its effects on perception are still in its infancy. The only Audiophile/Equipment designer that I know of who really understands and appreciates this (Psychoacoustics) is Bob Stuart of Meridian (the driving factor behind the MLP codec and a champion of the 24/96 format). I often wish he would put his three cents in, in a forum like this.
BTW, Recording Studios didn’t give up on DSD because it sounded bad. It was because of lack of production tools and lack of support from Sony which to this day aggravates the shit out of me! If this technology was allowed to mature and develop and had the R&D needed for normal progress it would be superior to anything and all discussions would be moot.
"Many" means (small) European audiophile labels. No major labels use DSD.
And I wonder why studios tried DSD - knowing that Sony did not make an editing device. Why spend 20-25K on the license with such an unsure system ? And no machines recording at 192k or higher...
No, you don't get it.
Many means MANY. Check a couple of studios in YOUR town - you'll probably find a Korg MR series or Tascam DSD recorder in their mastering room.
Please try to remember that DSD and SACD may share the same basic technology, but are NOT the same. One is a pro mastering medium while the other is a less than successful consumer medium.
The reason Studios and recording engineers tried DSD is they used their ears and decided that DSD sounded better than comparable PCM, especially for mix-down and mastering duties.
Just as I did and just as Rana did.
If you wish to rewrite history in your own mind that's fine, but some of us do know what's what.
Are any MAJOR labels recording with DSD ? NO. And it seems that smaller labels use PCM more than DSD. High-bit PCM, they'll say, is "good enough". This, because the vast majority of labels are not "audiophile".
And forget multi-tracking - even Naxos, Telarc and Water Lilly dumped DSD.
Finally, does it make any sense to use DSD for mastering...when recording in PCM ? Why do this ? Mastering is both easier and cheaper with high-bit PCM.
Actually major recording and mastering engineers DO use DSD for mixdown.
I know one pop group who recently did their mixdown in DSD.
BTW there are NO major labels anymore. They're all in receivership or up for grabs.
How does the fact that engineers do use DSD for specialized tasks threaten the dominance of PCM?
DSD has a place in top studios. End of story.
The bottom line is few overall titles are recorded with DSD. To me, the reason why we had it !!!
And the vast majority of contemporary titles are *mixed* with PCM. Even Wikipedia says this .....
Pardon me but Wikipedia is not a reliable source! I am not debating your statement I am merely pointing out that Wikis are not reliable. (This is why in most schools/colleges students are not allowed to use Wikipedia as a citable source.) Also it’s been proven by journalists that significant deliberate misinformation exist in Wikipedia.
I find Wikipedia to be a reliable source. *If* it isn't accurate, someone will come along and re-write the article. The truth shall set us free...
Only problem with that assumption is that it’s NOT working out that way. Several Journalists have tested this theory by posting bogus content on Wikipedia and they remained after 3-5 Years! (You can Google this.) Also there are groups of people (God only knows why) whose primary objective is to post bogus info on Wiki. So again, ANY citation from Wikipedia does not belong in a serious discussion.
Well, the science-based articles don't seem to have that problem. Out of the entire cannon (MANY articles), I'm sure you could pick a few bogus ones........
Yes, but how can you be sure that the one article you want to depend on, isn't one of the "few" bogus ones??
Again, the science-based articles don't have this problem. You're worrying too much. Just fact-check the data !
I would like to point out a significant development in amplification that could push DSD as the format of choice for audio application. This is the biggest reason I was very excited reading Sony’s first bitstream white paper some 18 years ago. Bitstream showed the potential of amplification AND analog conversion to be done in one step right at the speaker terminals. I would like to see the entire planet go this route and kill analog (and PCM) for good. I am speaking of Digital amplifiers that are essentially high current DACs, or DACs that have enough current to directly drive a transducer, depending on your point of view). This does NOT work with PCM (without conversion). Read NAD's white paper here. Their new M2 amp based on this tech is nothing short of revolutionary (wrap your head around the idea of a DAC that outputs 500 watts).
Keeping the entire chain in the digital domain and without cross conversion of any kind would be fantastic with this type of amplification. The preliminary experimentation that I have done with this technology shows great promise. Sound-wise something very special is going on here. As high performance CPUs drop in cost and if room correction such as Audyssuy can be done with DSD without cross conversion to PCM, we have serious potential. If we work together, from the recording studios to the consumer electronics manufacturers, the future of audio looks good.
I wish it would happen...but there is *very* little chance of it....
Yes that remains to be seen but we are the masters of our destiny are we not? It's a matter of collective cooperation towards a common goal and the starting point is always, "this can be done."
1) Does SACD appear to be gaining traction as a niche product for audiophiles?
2) What sites can I go to for lossless downloads?
1) It was especially when Telarc was around, but not so sure now since all DVD-Audio & Blu-Ray players supports 96/24 or 192/24 and there are a lot more of those out there. Add to this that none of the labels are allowing a DSD download while there are plenty of Hi-rez PCM downloads which can be easily burned to discs and Telarc's demise (posibly the largest SACD producer), I would have to question SACDs longevity. :-(
2) I have used these sites for lossless downloads. No doubt a Google search will reveal others.
Naxos Music Library
B&W Music Club
2L (Lindberg Lyd Ltd)
High Definition Tape Transfers
Deutsche Grammophon (Select Catalogue, then Format -> Download FLAC Lossless)
A good list is here: http://www.cirlinca.com/community.htm (BTW I use their authoring software and it is very good.)
I just read the white paper link you added to your comments. I have to say without a doudt it would be revolutionary-it is so much simplier in terms of of the current steps needed to get from point A to B! It amazes me that the concept presented in the Nad white paper wasn't though of sooner & adopted?
Sadly it reminds me of how our Goverment operates! 20 useless steps that complicate the heck out of everything-when all we really need is a couple.
I have to say thanks to both yourself & Steve S. you guys are very knowledgable.
Thanks for the link.
Well, the concept was thought of a long time ago (at least 25 years when I read about it, probably longer). The problem was low cost hi-frequency semiconductors. Remember one bit PWM coding requires fast processors because of the faster sampling rate. DSD's native rate is 2.8224 MHz (newer higher res 5.6448 MHz recorders are also available). Far cry from the 44.1 KHz CD rate or even 96KHz PCM The explosion in PC technology has made processing in MHz rates cost effective only relatively recently. How I wish we could have started the digital music revolution with DSD rather than PCM. It would be a different world for audiophiles.
ALL WE NEED IS A $100 MILLION IN R&D $$!! SERIOUSLY I REALIZE THAT & IT WOULD BE ALMOST IMMPOSSIBLE AS PEOPLE ARE NOT GOING TO TRASH THEIR CURRENT EQUIPMENT FOR THE NEW FORMAT- AS Y SAID TOO BAD FOR US. I FOUND THE READ VERY INTERESTING ANYWAY AS I WAS UN-AWARE OF THE CONCEPT. "EXCUSE THE "CAPS"