Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DSD sounds most natural and lifelike


Well, I just had to post something on a leap day.


Early today, at 1.30am to be precise, I played some of the most natural and lifelike music I have ever heard.


No, I did not change my sound system. I played DSD music files that I had downloaded for free from http://audiogate.bluecoastrecords.com/.


DSD has been touted to be the format that will take CAS by storm in the near future (see previous post). And I just had to hear what the buzz was all about.


Downloading the three files was simple; playing them was something else.


The DSD files were Zip files. So I had to google to find out how to unzip a Zip file and ended up downloading a free trial copy of Bitzipper.


Frankly I did not quite know what to do next since the music players in my laptop - J River V16 and Media Monkey - could not play DSD files natively.


Using Bitzipper to open one zipped DSD file, I double-clicked on the song title and - lo and behold - J River V16 was automatically launched.


Once the file was unzipped, J River V16 announced that it could not play the music file in the 24bit 352.8KHz format BUT it could be played in the 24bit 96KHz format and asked whether I wanted to automatically change the DSP settings to play the file.


I clicked 'Yes' and beautiful music started to emerge from the resident system comprising a Toshiba laptop with Windows 7 64-bit, J. River V16, Kimber Silver USB cable, Wyred 4 Sound DAC2, Oyaide XLR interconnects, Bryston 4BSST power amp, Kimber 12TC speaker cables and ATC SCM40 floorstanders.


I wouldn't say the music sounded 'analogue' or 'undigital'. Instead I would say the music sounded most natural and lifelike. The solo violin on Emily Palen's Light In the Fracture (DSDIFF file) sounded like the real thing with the right timbres and wooden resonances of the instrument's body and the right silky 'screeches' of the bow sliding on the strings. The leading edges, the dynamics, the decay all sounded right.


On Jenna Mammina and John R. Burr's When I'm Called Home (DSF file), a track comprising female voice and piano, the vocals sounded natural without sibilance and the piano sounded most natural with the right timbres, tones and decay. Certainly, it sounded like a master track.






The third file - Keith Greeninger and Dayan Kai's Bid You Good Night (from their Make It Rain album) - featured male vocals and acoustic guitars. Once more, I was transported to the studio where the recording was made - the vocals sounded natural and the guitars had the right tone, timbre and decay. The wooden resonances could be heard clearly.


On all three DSD tracks, I could hear the acoustics of the recording venue and I could sense the space around the artistes. The sounds of musical notes of the piano and guitars decaying into deep silence was most astounding.


Bear in mind that I was not playing or decoding the DSD files natively as the J River media player had converted them into 24/96 PCM files.


I wonder how much better it would get if I can play and decode the DSD files natively...



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