Is higher better?

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Working with DSD and PCM has been a real learning experience. The two formats sound different from each other though it is unclear why. Is it the analog to digital conversion processor? The DACs? That DSD is closer to analog? They are all different technologies.

On the one hand, DSD runs at a much higher sample rate than any PCM. Single rate DSD is 64 times higher sample rate than CD quality PCM. Yet, there’s not much more audio bandwidth available because of that higher sample rate.

And then there’s PCM. Few today would argue that 44.1kHz is the bare minimum required for decent reproduction. Anything less and we lose the audible frequency range. But double that, and now we can capture twice what we are capable of hearing. And 4 times that (176kHz) and we’re able to capture 80kHz. Much more than we can hear and more than sufficient for phase linearity.

Yet more seems better: 2X, 4X, 64X, 128X, and so on.

We don’t know if the “better” we are hearing is due to the change in architecture or sample rate or both.

But, in a way, what does it matter?

I have heard CDs trounce 192kHz versions just as I have heard DSD smash anything PCM.

In the end, I don’t think higher is necessarily better any more than I think lower is always better when it comes to distortion.

Gotta listen.