Is DSD audible in audio transfers?

September 22, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

17 comments on “Is DSD audible in audio transfers?”

  1. And which aspects of sound quality are audible, Paul? More and deeper stage depth? Higher PRaT factor? Better resolution of hitherto unheard finest details? My music server converts every format to 24/196 and there are no audible differences between DSD files or highres PCM files from the same recording (see Norwegian label 2L demo tracks) or other spectacular revelations from DSD files. Could it be that the theoretical advantages of DSD aren’t relevant in daily practice? Or is the quality lost in the USB connection?

    1. Much likely depends on what you’re listening to, Paul, and how you’re listening.

      For example, some of the most dramatic differences I have heard between PCM and DSD of the same recordings was in the upper frequency ranges: drums, cymbals, brushes. In the DSD version I can hear every brush stroke and cymbal clash where in the PCM version much seems lost or muddled. I can’t hear into that part of the music. It’s kind of like listening through a “mush” filter (if that makes any sense).

  2. Malta is a really lovely island Paul well worth a visit.

    I would agree DSD64 is A1 for transfers of tape but the advantage of a higher bit rate would benefit certain playback DAC’s by pushing that unwanted noise further up the bandwidth and allowing for easier conversion by the filters. Splitting hairs though really…

      1. Malta is terrific! Gozo Terrific.

        The history and importance of Malta is worth knowing about.

        Safe, clean, friendly and relaxing atmosphere.

        Medical service excellent as well.

    1. DSD (1 bit Pulse Density Modulation, Sigma/Delta Modulation is not digital. PCM is digital. ‘Direct Stream Digital’ is simply a marketing ‘logo’ created by Sony/Phillips.

      The problem is you cannot keep running off tape copies to vinyl – tape deteriorates every time you play it. With old tape you have to prepare the tape and very carefully play it back on properly calibrated equipment. If you capture it into DSD you have everything 100% accurate in a robust, versatile format. If you then use that DSD transfer to produce a new stamper for new vinyl copies you have done absolutely nothing but the very best.
      If old tape has deteriorated then a high resolution 96/24 or ‘DXD’ (PCM 352.8/24 is reasonable as restoration work is needed to create a stable and listenable copy for folks to buy.
      I understand and respect your concern about ‘digital’ vs analogue but please try to stand back a little and understand the processes involved in all of this stuff. At the end of the day all capture systems are analogues of the music itself with differing advantages and disadvantages (DSD cannot be mixed and mastered without conversion…)

        1. My personal view is all audio capture systems are effectively analogue as I explained, but to drill down to what is actually happening then PCM is 100% digital being a capture into binary value codes.

                1. Indeed, it’s a fine line but one that in my mind really sets DSD apart.

                  The DirectStream DAC has at its output a DSD stream. That DSD stream gets low pass filtered (through a simple capacitor to ground) and then fed into your preamplifier.

            1. PCM is 100% digital made up of bits, binary, value computer codes. Like an instruction sheet that gives the DAC the coordinates of how to rebuild the signal back again to be amplified.
              DSD (1 bit PDM) is not. It creates a mirror image of the signal in differing densities of 1’s and 0’s bits but they are not digital value codes hence it being impossible to digitally manipulate DSD in any way. However you can store it in a computer or similar digital device/environment because it uses 1’s and 0’s bits.

  3. My major problem is that my internet service either using Qobuz or a variety of services around the world can be a listening delight or a horror. My service is much better (quality of transmission) at off hours of the day than at busy times.

    Which bring me to a simple conclusion – listen to the music and its beauty. Get to understand the history of the composition. Just a different level of pleasure-However, the endless path of looking for the holy grail of audio
    production is still on my mind, but has taken a back seat-far back!

    Nevertheless, obsessions do drive the economy-

    Just a thought- An permanent impression of the Fletcher-Munson Curves on ones arm- body art at its finest!

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