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In the latest issue of TAS Robert Harley touches on an interesting subject: DSD vs PCM. That's been on a lot of minds lately. The approach Robert is taking is a good one: let's just take our time and see what comes out of a lot of listening.

While all of us probably have a position on the subject, like we do for just about every other aspect of music's reproduction, I think this is going to be a really difficult question to answer for some time to come.

We live in a PCM based world. When the CD was first introduced in 1982 it was PCM and that format of recording and playback has stuck with us ever since; this despite the notion that there may be other, better, formats available today. In 1982 personal computers were just peeking their heads over the horizon and the world wide web wasn't even a glimmer in Tim Berners-Lee eye. The rise of digital audio and the personal computer followed a parallel time track and naturally, when computers started playing music, it was PCM based.

Decades later DSD came into play. DSD has to live in this PCM based world. What this means is when you listen to DSD sent from your computer to your DAC, you're listening through PCM's architecture on equipment that considers DSD an afterthought.

Just food for thought.

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Paul McGowan

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