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Quality DSD Selections

One bad thing about SACD that turned me off from this format years ago was that they re-release old music from the 50s, 60s and 70s at very high prices.  I am hearing that DSD has such high sample rates that it has the potential to reproduce music with a more analog sound than PCM.  DSD512, for example, has a 22.5MHz sample rate that, in theory, should allow for a better reproduction of an analog recording.

I am searching for DSD512 selections, but I am finding the same thing I found for SACD years ago-- nothing but old music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s re-released being sold for insane prices.  There is some newer music too, but there is nothing that I am familiar with in the limited and small selection.  This is why I started this thread.

Does anyone have a fairly recent recommendation of a DSD256 or DSD512 release that demonstrates the format's audio quality?

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #1
DSD512, for example, has a 22.5MHz sample rate that, in theory, should allow for a better reproduction of an analog recording.
No one has ever demonstrated this, nor is there any basis upon which to believe it to be true.

For original DSD recordings, you might visit https://2l.nativedsd.com/.  2L also offers downloadable test files in many formats: http://www.2l.no/hires/.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #2
Thanks for responding.  Yes -- I did visit the nativedsd site and created a login there.  This was where I was seeing a bunch of older re-released recordings being sold.

I did visit http://www.2l.no/hires/index.html yesterday to download one or two DSD256 files.  My new DAC is still on order that supports this format.  My current DAC is limited to DSD64 only, so my current hardware does not support it natively.

One thing to note with my download file was the larger file sizes.  A DSD256 6 min 54 second classical download was 1.09GiB.  The file had a bitrate of 22.6Mb/s.  I would have to wait for my new DAC before I can play it natively.  Converting this same file to 24-bit PCM FLAC resulted in a file size of 393MiB.  That is a huge difference in sizes, so some data is getting lost for certain.



Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #3
Converting this same file to 24-bit PCM FLAC resulted in a file size of 393MiB.  That is a huge difference in sizes, so some data is getting lost for certain.

All the high frequency noise shaping added for DSD is removed when you filter down to PCM. Rather then add and remove the same noise, it would make more sense to just start with the PCM version. 

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #4
Thanks for your insight on this.

After doing a bit of research of selections, I am seeing that some were originally recorded directly to DSD256.  Only very new releases were though.  I confirmed this by visiting the record company's direct distribution site.  Here is a single one I found released in 2019 recorded directly to DSD256:  https://www.channelclassics.com/catalogue/JL019-The-Duke-Book/

They even sell it in DSD256 and various other formats on this site too.  The nativedsd also sells this one, so this would be a good one for me to choose no higher than DSD256.  I am also seeing some older releases from this same company recorded directly to DSD64.  nativedsd sells these releases as high as DSD256 (maybe even DSD512).  Since it was not recorded at these levels, this is a total waste of money and ripoff.

EDIT: I just bought this from the link above.  It was even cheaper to buy here than nativedsd.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #5
Quote
  Since it was not recorded at these levels, this is a total waste of money and ripoff.
Regular CDs are better than the original analog tape and CDs are better than human hearing.   i.e.  If you downsample any "high resolution" format to "CD quality" In most cases it will sound identical to the high resolution original in a blind ABX test.      A high quality MP3 can often sound identical to a high resolution original, or it can be very hard to hear the difference.  Blind listening tests can be humbling!

Quote
I am hearing that DSD has such high sample rates that it has the potential to reproduce music with a more analog sound than PCM. 
If you like "analog sound" Izotope Vinyl can degrade digital to sound like analog!   :P

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #6
If you like "analog sound" Izotope Vinyl can degrade digital to sound like analog!   :P

No thank you, but thanks for the offer.

The post above was regarding original recording directly to DSD256.  With this being the case, PCM was in no way involved in the audio recording.  Hence, the recording will have the maximum detail with no PCM loss.


Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #8
One thing to note with my download file was the larger file sizes.  A DSD256 6 min 54 second classical download was 1.09GiB.  The file had a bitrate of 22.6Mb/s.  I would have to wait for my new DAC before I can play it natively.  Converting this same file to 24-bit PCM FLAC resulted in a file size of 393MiB.  That is a huge difference in sizes, so some data is getting lost for certain.

— If your DSD file is in DFF/DSF, it's likely not compressed at all. If you convert it in FLAC, it'll be lossless (not the DSD stream but the intermediary PCM file) and you can easily expect a 60% size reduction (classical music usual lossless ratio) without any loss.
— Converting as 24 bit PCM is not enough to make a comparison. Sampling rate is missing. Is it 88000 Hz? 176000 Hz? 352800 Hz? Increasing the sampling rate will increase the final bitrate.
— You also have to check what noise filter is used. Some are removing all information above 30000 Hz, some don't. In one case, FLAC is very efficient; in the second case, the encoder have to encode much more noise and take much more place.

Example. I just take track#1 on Vivaldi — Le Quattro Stagioni — Rachel Podger & Brecon Baroque. recorded 2 or 3 years ago. I have a DSD 256 version, lossless compression in WavPack.
— DSD 256, WavPack lossless: 239.040 Kb
— FLAC, 88000 Hz, 32fp multipoint filter: 62.074 Kb
— FLAC, 352800 Hz, 60KHz filter: 292.554 Kb

As you can see, a 24 bit FLAC conversion can lead to a much bigger lossless file than the "native" DSD 256. Does it mean that original DSD has less information than PCM 24? Of course not…

My advice: forget about "analogue" sound. If you want something that sound analog, you should rather downsample your PCM than looking for extravagant sampling rate. At high sampling rate, DSD sounds exactly the same as PCM… on a blind test of course.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #9
This is interesting.  I was not even aware that WavPak may be used in a DSF container.  I converted the downloaded DSF file as it was created from the test link I provided above.  This is what Mediainfo shows about it:

Code: [Select]
Audio
Format                                   : DSD
Format/Info                              : Direct Stream Digital
Commercial name                          : DSD256
Format settings                          : Little
Duration                                 : 6 min 54 s
Bit rate                                 : 22.6 Mb/s
Channel(s)                               : 2 channels
Channel layout                           : L R
Sampling rate                            : 11.3 MHz
Compression mode                         : Lossless
Stream size                              : 1.09 GiB (100%)

I performed the conversion using EZ CD Audio Converter that used the maximum sample rate that PCM currently supports:

Code: [Select]
Audio
Format                                   : FLAC
Format/Info                              : Free Lossless Audio Codec
Duration                                 : 6 min 54 s
Bit rate mode                            : Variable
Bit rate                                 : 7 959 kb/s
Channel(s)                               : 2 channels
Channel layout                           : L R
Sampling rate                            : 352.8 kHz
Bit depth                                : 24 bits
Compression mode                         : Lossless
Replay gain                              : -0.91 dB
Replay gain peak                         : 0.966954
Stream size                              : 394 MiB (100%)
Writing library                          : libFLAC 1.3.3 (UTC 2019-08-04)

The sampling rate for the FLAC conversion will never be close to the original test file I downloaded.  I cannot tell from Mediainfo that the size difference is in part due to FLAC compression.  It is not showing any information related to compression.

Thanks for sharing this detail.  Honestly I have not used DSD much at all, so my reason for even getting a DSD512 file was mainly for test purposes when I get my new DAC.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #10
1bit DSD comes up regulary because some people claim it sounds better and so waste space and time over here.
It becomes boring.

A recent simple technical explanation can  be found at Troll-Audio. PCM and DSD
"In summary, DSD is a degenerate form of digital audio (PCM) with only two possible sample values, +1 and -1"

btw. for foobar there is a DST lossless packer plugin but i have no idea what rates it supports.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #11
Thanks for sharing this info.

I actually tried to look for the DST component for fb2k, but I could not find it on the main site.  I instead installed foo_input_sacd that also supports DST from here:  https://sourceforge.net/projects/sacddecoder/files/foo_input_sacd/

foo_input_sacd appears to work, but its configuration is not so straightforward.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #12


DSD offers a bigger dynamic range and a far bigger frequency range compared with PCM but it also generates a substantial amount of quantization noise.
In case of  DSD64 (the SACD standard) it rises strongly after 20 kHz.
If you do “nothing” converting this to FLAC results in a very big file as you can’t compress this noise in an efficient way.
As DSD64 is not capable of reproducing music above 22 kHz, you better use a lowpass filter or convert to 24 bit / 44.1 kHz FLAC.
Likewise DSD128 to 24 bit / 88 Flac.
Etc.
At least see to it that there is a low pass filter in the conversion.
Use a spectrum analyzer to make sure you are not frying your tweeters.
https://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/SW/AudioTools/Spectrum.htm
TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #13
The sampling rate for the FLAC conversion will never be close to the original test file I downloaded.  I cannot tell from Mediainfo that the size difference is in part due to FLAC compression.  It is not showing any information related to compression.
This is normal. DSD has always an ultra high sampling rate but it doesn't mean that you get usable information at x millions Hz.
DSD64 is 44100×64 = 2.822.400 Hz but coded with only one bit. If you convert it in ultra-high PCM stream and look in a spectrograph, you'll see that noise will become visible at ~25000 Hz and will cover all musical information at ~40000 Hz. That's why DSD is usually filtered during playback/conversion. Despite the 2.8 millions Hz, usable frequency information of DSD64 (SACD) is limited to ~30…40 Khz, which is comparable to regular PCM high-resolution files.
That's why a DSD64 at 2.822.400 Hz / 1 bit correspond approximately to a 88.200 Hz / 24 bit PCM file. A DSD128 could be compared to PCM at 192 KHz ; DSD 256 to PCM384, etc…


Just to illutrate words with pixels and numbers, I convert my nice and modern DSD256 file to PCM 352 KHz with two different filters (30 KHz and 60 KHz) within foobar2000.

• PCM with 30 KHz filter  (FLAC= 238.108 Kb)




• PCM with 60 KHz filter (FLAC=292.554 Kb)



As you can see in both pictures, the spectrograph shows musical information between 0 and ~40 Khz. Then you have nothing, and then starts pure noise. The biggest FLAC file is the noisier one, and not the one that keep more information. In this example DSD256 is a pure waste: there is nothing to code above 40 KHz, and the noise floor is already too low to get any benefit for increasing further bit depth. You won't get something more analogic, you won't hear more recording details, and there's no thing such "more presence" or "more life" in DSD or any high-resolution file (things people used to claim about gigantic / exotic audio fileformat).

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #14
Thanks so much for these post.  This was very helpful and informative.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #15
There is only one niceish feature of DSD - that it has non-linear dynamic range - huge at low frequencies, but dropping off fast.
How many kb takes a second of your DSD file? Make a PCM file with the same kb/s, it may be 32kHz and make up for size with bit depth - it won't be worse - you'll waste as much space as with DSD for something you can't hear anyway.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #16
The exact specs from Mediainfo are posted above.

I am still waiting on my DAC, but I will listen and compare for myself as soon as it arrives.  I already purchased the DSD256 download, and it's already added to my music library.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #17
Quote
I am still waiting on my DAC, but I will listen and compare for myself as soon as it arrives.
If you report your results here make sure to be in compliance with TOS #8.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #18
I appreciate you pointing this out, but my tests will be for my own information only.  I have no plans to publish any of my findings.

From my research on this topic, I am finding that very few recordings were DSD at all.  They started as PCM and were then converted to DSD.  I am seeing there is one studio who records directly to DSD, and I wish to observe differences regarding this.  I actually even emailed support with questions about their offerings, and I go a response right away.  Surprisingly, the actual Audio Engineer who performed the recordings even answered my email.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #19
Yeah to make any sense at all DSD must be native in as much recording and playback chain as possible.

Re: Quality DSD Selections

Reply #20
Quote
I am finding that very few recordings were DSD at all

The "problem" is that DSD is not an editable format.
You can't do any post production unless you convert the DSD recording it to e.g DXD ( PCM with a 352.8 kHz sample rate), do your edits and convert back to DSD.
If you want pure DSD then it is a matter of a direct mic feed into a mixing console going straight into a ADC.
These are very rare indeed.

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