Tuesday, March 13, 2012
A final push for DSD
The sonic battle between PCM and DSD is an old one - it started when SACDs were launched in 1999.
SACDs which contained DSD files were pitted against DVD-A which had hi-res PCM files.
It is not really clear which format won the war, but according to http://www.sa-cd.net/ there has been an increase in SACD releases in recent times while not much has been heard about DVD-A.
However, the new battle erupting between PCM and DSD is not between SACD and DVD-A. It involves downloads of DSD and hi-res PCM files. The optical disk still has a role to play in the current war since it is possible to rip DSD files from SACDs and also to burn DSD Disks with DVD-R to be played on some Sony SACD players and Play Station 3.
While DSD recording and playback has been used by professionals in the studios for decades, the music available to the consumer market has been PCM files converted to CDs for sale in record shops. It was only in the past few years that hi-res PCM files have been available for download.
The latest charge by the proponents of DSD has been led jointly by software and hardware merchants.
On the software side, the most active is perhaps Blue Coast Records which has been offering free DSD downloads to get you hooked to the fabulous sonic quality of DSD files before selling them to you.
On the hardware side, Playback Designs has been playing an active role. In fact, Andreas Koch of Playback Designs rounded up Andy McHarg of dCS and Rob Robinson of Channel D to come up with an open standard for DSD streaming via USB.
To read the complete announcement, click http://www.audiostream.com/content/usb-link-dsd-audio-pcm-frames-andres-koch
To emphasise the seriousness of the latest move to push DSD, Andreas managed to convince a list of hi-fi luminaries to support his open standard and they include Jim White (Aesthetix), Damien Plisson (Audirvana ), Rob Robinson (Channel D), Andy McHarg and David J Steven (dCS ), Matt Ashland (J River, Inc), Dominique Brulhart (Merging Technologies), Jon Reichbach (Sonic Solutions), Gordon Rankin (Wavelength Audio) and Ali Dixon (XMOS).
Already there are several DACs that can decode DSD -
* Playback Designs (http://www.playbackdesigns.com/). Supports DSD, double rate DSD and PCM up to 384kHz via USB.
* dCS: http://www.dcsltd.co.uk/. Support for DSD and PCM up to 192kHz via USB.
* Mytek Digital: http://www.mytekdigital.com/. for DSD and PCM up to 192kHz via USB and Firewire
* Fostex: http://www.fostex.jp/hifi/products/HP-A8 Its DAC/headphone amp HP-A8 decodes DSD from the SD card. Available only in Japan.
* Meitner: http://www.meitner.com/preview/ma-1.html Meitner's MA-1 DAC will soon have a DSD over USB upgrade.
Some music players are offering playback software supporting native playback of DSD files:
* AudioGate (freeware) by Korg http://www.korguser.net/audiogate/en/download.html#
* ChannelD Puremusic: http://www.channld.com/. Supports DSD and double rate DSD on Apple Mac.
* Audirvana: http://www.audirvana.com/. Supports DSD on Apple Mac.
* J. River Media Center V. 17: http://www.jriver.com/. Supports DSD and double rate DSD on Windows PC.
* Merging Technologies Emotion: http://www.merging.com/. Supports DSD and double rate DSD on Windows PC. Release planned for early 2012.
* Signalyst - HQ Player http://www.signalyst.com/consumer.html
DSD files can be downloaded from:
* Blue Coast Records: http://www.bluecoastrecords.com/
* Japan: http://ototoy.jp/feature/index.php/sound_and_recording
* 2L: http://www.2l.no/hires/index.html
* Wheatus: http://wheatus.com/
* David Elias: http://www.davidelias.com/
* E-Onkyo-music: http://music.e-onkyo.com/artist/m101210_R.asp
Two more labels have joined the DSD-download bandwagon - German classical music label Cybele Records (http://www.cybele.de/downloads) and Channel Classics http://www.channelclassics.com/dsd.html.