My 1st experience with DSD & hi-res music - a reflection or sorts...

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by 70'sMusic, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    Hi,

    Recently, I picked up a Sony HAP-S1 media player and have been really enjoying using it. Having heard some DSD files at an audiophile's home I decided to purchase a few files to enjoy using in my system. Over the Christmas holidays I purchased my first DSD recording & hi-res recoding from HD Tracks. As someone who frequently purchases music from iTunes I found the prices for hi-res files to be a bit "high" and was disappointed that I had to purchase the entire album vs. simply choosing the individual files I was interested in buying. With that said, here's my impressions of my purchases.

    My hi-res purchase was the recently discovered Ella Fitzgerald recordings from Zardis. The LP was a little pricey during the Christmas holidays (e.g. $75.00) so I figured the DSD version would be a bargain, especially with the 25% off HD Tracks offered during the holidays. Unfortunately, the highest resolution I could find was 192/24. Since the original recordings have been found, this would be a great release for DSD, but who knows what the record label was thinking. Yes, I'm a little biased when it comes to the music industry and I would not be surprised if they re-release it as DSD files in the near future as an attempt to get us to buy it again. But, I digress.

    Now, my "baseline" is my system as it is setup for 16/44 and my CDs are upsampled to 24/96 using a Musical Fidelity TriVista tube DAC. That combo sounds really great in my system. So, I compare any digital source to my baseline. With that said, did these hi-res files sound as good to my ears as my CD setup? Unfortunately, No. Does it sound good? Yes, a very clean and clear recording. I have my system eq'd for my room and my personal listening taste. When you turn up the volume you feel like you are in the venue listening to Ella sing. In the end, what more can you ask for? That said, this is still a perfect situation where this album should be available at the DSD resolution.
    ellaatzardis-606x606.jpg
    Next, I purchased the DSD files for something that I already have as a LP and CD - Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
    51VRdpYNU9L.jpg
    As a newbie to this format I was disappointed to find the selection of DSD files limited. I finally landed with this choice after a good 15 minutes of searching for some of my favorite artists only to find that their music wasn't available at the DSD resolution. Although I was disappointed with the 192/24 "sound" vs my system's 16/44 "sound", the DSD files sound really good! There is a difference in gain and with my system I have no way to turn the gain down on the Sony SAP-H1 so I can only turn the volume knob up a few clicks without the DSD files getting to loud. I also have to take the eq out of line so that there is a little headroom to control the volume. So far I don't have anything negative to say about this DSD recording. I really like the way this album sounds in DSD. So, I couldn't wait to do an A/B comparison with the CD version. In a straight DSD vs. my 24/96 setup the DSD files are more "up front" or "in your face" in sound. But, not by a lot. And with my eq added back into the equation the differences soon disappear. With my eq settings added back the sound is very similar. I would say that they both are "equal" depending on your personal listening preference. Given the much louder volume/gain of the DSD files, I have not been able to conduct an A/B comparison with my CD at the same volume level. Ideally, at the same volume settings I could simply switch back and forth from each source to make a better subjective comparison.

    So, what's the verdict? I like DSD in my system. Is it worth the extra cost, even on sale? IMHO, no it is not with my system and ears. Will I purchase any DSD files in the future? Yes, if on sale and I can find that resolution for some of the artists I enjoy. I don't know the process to create DSD files, but there's no reason why, at a minimum, the "best of" CDs for artists like Earth, Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Journey, Chicago, Anita Baker, Luther Vandross, Najee, Alex Bugnon, The O'Jays, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Commodores, just to name a few, are not available as DSD files.

    So, I am curious, what has been your experience with DSD files? Also, has anyone in this forum purchased the DSD version of "Thriller?" If "yes" what were your impressions? Thank you for stopping by and I look forward to reading your responses.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
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  2. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    PS: As I write this review I am in my office/bedroom listening to Sonny Rollins on CD. I live in a loft apartment full of concrete, steel and fake walls so I know the sound is bouncing all over the place. But, as I sit here at my computer behind a partial divider it sounds like the band is in my living room performing. And this is at a low volume level. Although I am not an audiophile I do like great sound. Right now it sounds and feels like I can reach out and touch Sonny Rollins. In the end, regardless of equipment or music format, isn't that the experience we are searching for? Life is good and I am a blessed man to have this privilege.

    PRCD-30044-2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
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  3. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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  4. PAGS

    PAGS AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Popular and pricey. Yikes! A little rich for this cheap bastard.
     
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  5. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    LOL - yes, pricey indeed. I am very happy with my used Musical Fidelity TriVista tube DAC. It sounds really sweet at 24/96 with the tubes warmed up. And a lot less expensive than the PS Audio alternative. Going to audition their line up later this year and will let you know what it sounds like in person.
     
  6. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Understand that upsampled content is not true high resolution. It theoretically makes the filter function smoother, but it cannot restore bits that were never captured in the first place. I choose to not upsample 44/16 content with my DACs.

    And neither the Ella nor the Michael were recorded at high resolution given the era. They were transferred from the analog masters that way. I'm a firm believer in the benefits of true high rez content. Perhaps you should purchase some modern recordings that were mastered that way to truly understand the potential.
     
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  7. evsentry3

    evsentry3 Well-Known Member

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    Something is reallllly wrong if you've found both SACD and 192/24 as in anyway deficient compared to Redbook.

    Where on earth did the idea that SACD is so superior to 192/24 come from anyway? Different, absolutely, but lacking compared to SACD to the point of avoiding....that's a bit of a stretch to imagine.

    But it is good you're out there looking, listening and sampling different things for yourself. But listen with your ears, don't listen with your eyes or go by what any of us write here....or especially conclusions that come from internet science.

    EV3
     
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  8. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    Thank you for the suggestion. Still searching for "modern" content to try out as most of the stuff I found on HD Tracks is a little older content for the artists I like.
     
  9. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    Thank you for the tip. The "ears" are the best judge, you are correct.
     
  10. GChief

    GChief Not well known, super member or other silliness Subscriber

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    Don’t limit yourself, expand your library. If nothing else the interwebs has made my already eclectic music library become more diverse.
    :beerchug:
     
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  11. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    LOL!
     

     

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  12. Dr. Ears

    Dr. Ears AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I considered 192/24 to be tied with my 24/96 CD player with a more forward presentation, but my CD player cost 6 times more than my stand alone DAC, which might be a big factor. It wasn't until a fellow audiophile sent me a couple of tracks at DSD384 that I felt the DSD sounded better, but they were nothing I enjoy listening to.

    MQA is here with more controversy than I can recall in high-end audio since digital was introduced.
     
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  13. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    Thank you for sharing, I appreciate it! Yes, seems like MQA is a bang or bust. We'll see....
     
  14. dewdude

    dewdude I fix stuff.

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    I have the DSD of Thiller....I also have the SACD. It seems like they extracted the DSD for the release as one of the tracks corrupts in my DAC (SMSL M8).

    There isn't much for sale in DSD...that's a problem. So where are we getting our DSD?

    We're making backups of our SACDs.

    When I bought my DAC the very next purchase I made was an old PS3. I buy a SACD...copy it to my PC in the PS3...put the disc away and play it off my computer.

    Creating a DSD file is...well...I'll put it this way. If you don't capture in DSD at the source (from tape or live) then it's pointless. The sad fact is a lot of early SACDs were PCM at some point. They may have been captured in DSD...but they we're converted to a stupid high rate PCM so they could screw with it.

    The good SACDs require getting the master...digitizing it in DSD and authoring it to a disc.

    This is rarely done outside of audiophile releases.
     
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  15. robert_kc

    robert_kc AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Music is deeply personal, and I respect the fact that different people like different music. With that said, if you only listen to decades-old recordings, you are limited to what WAS state-of-the-art recording quality decades ago. In terms of audio quality, you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

    Provenance of the recording is critical. If you want top quality sound, you need modern recordings that were captured and mastered in hi-res (i.e., 24bit/192kHz PCM, or hi-res DSD).

    The availability of high-quality hi-res recordings varies by music genre. For the classical music I love, high-quality hi-res recordings are commonly available, because new performances of classical music are available every month.

    Moreover, IMO hi-res is particularly relevant for classical music, because there is a clear benchmark for how classical music “should” sound – i.e., the live performance of natural instruments (e.g., violin, oboe, trumpet, etc.) in a symphony hall where no sound reinforcement system is used (i.e., the sound is 100% natural).

    FWIW, my preferences for consumer deliverables:
    1. My favorite is Blu-ray audio/video (featuring DTS-HD MA 5.0 (or 5.1) surround-sound). A few Ultra HD Blu-ray opera recordings are starting to become available. High-definition audio/video is particularly relevant for ballet and opera. Additionally, I think that high-definition audio/video is very enjoyable for classical concerts.

    2. My second choice in formats are SACD and Pure Audio Blu-ray that feature surround-sound. (No video.)

    3. My third choice are 24bit/96kHz or 24bit/192kHz FLAC stereo downloads (e.g., HDTracks).

    4. (I’ve not yet downloaded any DSD.)
    Of course, the most important thing is the music. In a few cases high quality analog master tapes of vintage recordings have been digitized at hi-res with fairly good results - e.g., some RCA Living Stereo. However, IME the audio quality of vintage recordings pales in comparison with state-of-the-art modern recordings, particularly for large scale orchestral music.

    Do you participate in a discussion forum for the genre of music you like? I participate in talkclassical.com, and learn a lot from the music experts, including recommendations for recordings.

    Often, I’ll find new hi-res recordings just by searching Amazon. There are several web sites that catalog hi-res recordings. I’d appreciate learning about others.

     
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  16. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

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    CD quality is 44.1 KHz/16 bit only. Anything over that is up sampling. You are still limited by the Nyquist frequency, meaning 20KHz for a CD and anything that is up sampled from that. 192/24 file has a Nyquist frequency of 96 KHz (where the cutoff of sound occurs in the recording). Does that extra ultrasonic make a difference? Only you can judge for yourself. For me is does add some depth and clarity, that is missing on the CD versions.
     
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  17. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    Thank you for sharing. I did find this recording by accident. It was featured during a Yamaha demo on YouTube and even with the YouTube signal, if you closed your eyes it really sounded as if you were in the church where this was recorded. I could just imagine how great it sounds in person, especially using the new gear Yamaha was using. So, I purchased the iTunes version and it sounds amazing. Finally located the disc and it is a SACD. Makes sense as if the iTunes ACC file sounds great that the original source recording must be nice.

    https://www.amazon.com/Cantate-Domino-Oscars-Motet-Choir/dp/B0000E64YT
     
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  18. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier Subscriber

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    Mine (with SACDs) has been positive. But with the caveat--it really takes a good player and a matching system to appreciate the differences. I owned a Pioneer Elite DV-45A and it actually sounded so poor that it made me hate digital for many years. It is a bright, nasty-sounding component, very gritty. The Oppo 105 was a gigantic move upward. The music actually gained a soundstage (it was almost holographic in comparison to the flat-as-a-board Pioneer that could only barely manage left/right positioning), I could listen for more than an hour without a splitting headache from grinding my teeth, and I could actually hear more detail in the music now that all the grit and grunge of the Pioneer was gone. I'd temporarily tried an auxiliary DAC to see if I could improve at least the CD playback of the Pioneer but it was a lost cause. (It was ironic the $60 DV-578A actually sounded a little better than the price 45A, as did my Pioneer 100 CD carousel! Nothing wrong with the 45A other than having a total crap analog section to it.)

    I'm taking an even bigger step digitally within the next couple of weeks with a DAC that contains a bridge so I can better stream from my NAS. I've ripped all discs, including SACD, to the server.

    As for Thriller, I ripped my SACD. Most likely the same source available as a download. Sony partly developed DSD to use as an archival format for their masters. I dont feel the Thriller SACD sounds as good as my original vinyl ever did--it doesn't have the bottom-end weight to it that I was used to. But otherwise, it's smoother than the original CD release. Keep in mind that later CDs have been remastered and a bit "brickwalled" in dynamics, so they aren't a good comparison.

    Thriller seriously needs a 2-LP/45 RPM treatment, and a good DSD mastering to go along with it. :)

    DSD is wonderful with classical! I have many titles there. So easy to get lost in the music, even those that were recorded decades ago.
     
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  19. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    Cool, thank you for sharing! I too have the original LP when it was first released. My version of the CD is also the first version released, before the Grammy nominations. But, I find that Michael's stuff was well recorded by Epic as he had access to and used the best in the industry to record and master his music. I will say that the CD set "HIStory" is a great sounding 16/44 CD. I'm sure it's been remastered but it is really good.
     
  20. 70'sMusic

    70'sMusic Active Member

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    Great idea!
     

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