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Upsampling everything to DSD SACD

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Posted on November 17, 2020 at 17:13:47
I understand SACD is DSD64 in the computer world. I have found myself in a situation where I am now upsampling everything to DSD64, mostly CD quality or less. As soon as I switched to exact PCM resolution my ears had such severe pain I can't explain what happened.

I know there are ways to help the sound of CD with tubes or similar but DSD in my humble opinion is more pleasant to my ear at least.

 

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RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on November 17, 2020 at 19:18:39
srl1
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Well, my Marantz Ruby SACD player upsamples to DSD at 11.2 MHz all PCM input internally. That output sounds very smooth and clean, but I still prefer an exteral DAC for PCM conversion. Marantz must have made that design decision for some good reason (to them). I like it with aggressive CDs. And the SACD performance is outstanding.

 

RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on November 17, 2020 at 19:28:39
I'm streaming BBC radio 3 upsampled to DSD64. It is rather nice.

Something about the sound that is pleasant. I've gone through a couple of SACD players, they all wound up failing on the SACD playback after only a few years each. That could essentially be why SACD failed most places except Japan.

 

RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on November 18, 2020 at 05:49:19
zacster
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I've been dabbling with upsampling to DSD on the fly using Audirvana on my iMac. It can do up to DSD256 without issue, I've tried 512 but it couldn't keep up.

It does make any lower res recordings sound better to my ears as my DAC has native DSD conversion. Much smoother on CD and even on 24/44 or 24/48. I've even left it on for 24/96 but at that rate I didn't think it was better. It wasn't objectionable either. The only issue is that it won't switch the conversion on the fly based on the bit rate of the source. I'd have to get up from the couch...

 

About: " Something about the sound that is pleasant.", posted on November 18, 2020 at 07:03:28
AbeCollins
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I played with SACD many years ago and the sound was pleasant on several recordings. However, I thought well recorded and mastered PCM CDs were right up there with SACD... perhaps just a little "different" sounding.

Fast forward a couple decades and I played with DSD downloads vs PCM, as well as on the fly upsampling conversion of PCM - using HQPlayer or DSP that is built into Roon.

My conclusion:

To my ears, SACD/DSD will make otherwise harsh sounding CD/PCM sound smoother, better, more pleasant. BUT, take a CD or PCM recording that sounds excellent to begin with and SACD/DSD simply polishes it smooth..... almost unnaturally smooth in some cases. Much of the fine texture is gone. Some of the "edge" that the artist intended to be there is also polished smooth.

Duke Ellington: I found both to be outstanding but the DSD was not quite as dynamic as the PCM




 

+1 - although DSD256 is better at avoiding the artificial smoothness [nt], posted on November 18, 2020 at 11:30:32
Chris from Lafayette
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RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on November 19, 2020 at 14:47:09
flood2
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How are you doing the upsampling and is the DAC used the same in both cases?
"Severe pain" is not something one would ordinarily experience with PCM unless the original recording had been poorly mastered or compressed resulting in inter-sample overs. If you are using a (Windows-based) computer source and if your aren't using ASIO or an equivalent means to get bit-perfect data transfer, then the Windows SRC can be "abusing" the data.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

Just find it difficult to understand, posted on November 19, 2020 at 15:48:24
E-Stat
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how converting a master to a different format can truly *improve* it.

It can change it, but now you no longer have the original.

 

I agree with you [nt], posted on November 19, 2020 at 15:59:28
Chris from Lafayette
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RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on November 19, 2020 at 16:29:44
I'm using Linux. And USB, the Toslink and the SPDIF sounds better with PCM. Perhaps there is some kind of lower level stuff going on with using Linux and PCM. I have no idea.

 

It is and always has been about..., posted on November 19, 2020 at 16:40:55
PaulN
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the reconstruction filter and the group delay; i.e. phase behavior of the DAC.

It isn't about the format, it's how the conversion to analog takes place. When a base PCM signal is transcoded to a very high-rate DSD signal, the out-of-band noise of the delta-sigma modulators is pushed far above the audio band and a very gentle reconstruction filter can be used with good phase response. It doesn't change the original recording, but it does change the way your ear perceives the reproduction of the signal. I'm currently transcoding everything to DSD 128 including low-bit rate internet streams and even broadcast FM and to my ears literally everything sounds better with the simple DSD FIR reconstruction filter in my dac versus just decoding the PCM directly.

 

RE: It is and always has been about..., posted on November 20, 2020 at 06:19:26
E-Stat
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It isn't about the format, it's how the conversion to analog takes place.

Perhaps, but a recording mastered at Redbook will never have the extension of 24 bit recordings sampled at higher rates no matter how you diddle with it.

If you enjoy the artificial "softening", so be it. Perhaps it's because the Revel has a rising top end response which I don't find desirable.

Courtesy of Stereophile:





 

Why only DSD 64?, posted on November 20, 2020 at 07:08:59
oldmkvi
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What Software/Dac do you use?

 

What Software /Dac do you use? I, posted on November 20, 2020 at 07:12:37
oldmkvi
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also listen to everything in DSD 128, but the Software does the conversion, not the Dac.
You can't access the Dac without Software, can you?

 

Actually, Severe Pain from PCM has been reported here,, posted on November 20, 2020 at 07:26:07
oldmkvi
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and in Stereophile Letters.
I always kind of dismissed it.
But some digital music can wear me down,
too hard and cutting in some cases.
And I have to be careful about playback level.
Turning up something soft can make the loud passages unlistenable for me.

 

I've been fiddling, posted on November 20, 2020 at 08:52:05
with linux and a small computer, there's a post in PC Audio asylum.

I've managed to clock the processor higher and get to DSD128. It is better and there is more sound now.

My DAC is an Auralic Vega, it is an old revision of the DAC so I can only go to DSD128.

I've linked my quest below.

 

RE: What Software /Dac do you use? I, posted on November 20, 2020 at 10:46:04
PaulN
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I am using HQPlayer to transcode (upscale) the files to DSD128. HQPlayer has the best delta-sigma modulators on the planet and they far exceed any upsampling in any silicon chip. Most modern DAC chips do have resampler/upsampling modulators built in to them and can perform that task. However, none of them come close to the performance you can attain with a powerful desktop computer running HQPlayer, or provide all the choices for modulators.

If your DAC has the capability, you can set it up to upscale everything to DSD without software, usually with some sort of button on the front of the DAC. Again, most modern chips and DAC implementation allow for this. But there are compromises because of compute power on the DAC chip and software scaling is always preferable.

 

That's an interesting reply, posted on November 20, 2020 at 11:24:27
PaulN
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in that it seeks to invalidate what I posted AND it insults my choice of speaker as defective.

So here's the lecture you begged for with that, I will do my best Abe here and be a know-it-all ass:

My background is EE and I took a year of filter theory, a semester of analog filter design and a semester of discrete time processing. I designed and built an exemplary baseband PCM system for use in our university's communications lab as my senior design project and put that knowledge directly to use as the project manager and system architect. So, I have a background in this stuff, have also done all the math and actually have some experience with it. I'm not just another armchair expert.

Early cd players were criticized fo their terrible sound quality. Why? The Sony 101 didn't use any noise-shaping upsampling it was a 16 bit ladder dac PCM converter with a steep analog filter in the output stage. Those reconstrucion filters messed with phase and sounded bad. Philips first implementation used oversampling with a 14-bit converter and a less steep reconstruction filter at a higher frequency and it did sound better. The loonies diy'ers of the time thought the early 16 bit Philips dac chips of the second generation sounded best with no oversampling at all and a similar more gentle filter. There was eventually a convergence of thought on why all of this was. It was the way that the digital imformation was converted to analog, not the digital data that was making a difference and one of the most important aspects was keeping the output stage reconstruction filter far away from the frequency of the musical content, moving it much higher in frequency so it impacted the musical signal much less. I listened to a Sony CDP-101 in 1982 and is really was terrible.

How important are frequencies above 22kHz? It depends, I suppose because of harmonics. Sampling theory tells us that in a band-limited system like one from 0-22kHz all of the frequency information is preserved when sampling it using known methods. Transient information might be an exception because of harmonics which is what an impulse response is. You can't get it back, no. It is gone and conventional upsampling doesn't interpolate new information it just changes the data format. Why bother? Because we also know that changing the data to a 1 or multi-bit delta or pulse width like DSD allows the use of a simple low-pass filter for reconstruction. There is no discrete DAC needed, just clock the data in and send it through a filter, the best case a really good digital FIR with a gain stage behind it. That isn't smoothing anything. It is preserving the information you have in your original file while moving the filter corner frequency out to such a high frequency and gentle slope that it doesn't sound terrible.

Regarding my speakers, I have run sweeps and built very high quality FIR room correction filters in acourate that provide a frequency response within +-2db from 30Hz-24Khz at my listening position, which is extraordinary real-world performance. Impulse response and interaural coherence coefficient are also quite exceptional with my latest builds.

 

Oh, brother, posted on November 20, 2020 at 13:59:23
E-Stat
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You're welcome to your own preferences.

 

RE: Actually, Severe Pain from PCM has been reported here,, posted on November 20, 2020 at 20:35:09
flood2
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I think we have all come across poor sounding CD transfers/mastering/recordings from the 80s and 90s. Then of course the loudness wars have further ruined many CDs in the noughties. However, I do not find that DSD is any better than PCM as a format. For recordings I make in high resolution formats, I can certainly pick them as "better" than the Redbook down conversion, but I don't hear huge differences and certainly don't get pain in my ears!

"Turning up something soft can make the loud passages unlistenable for me."

This could well be due to dithering and noise-shaping artefacts. The dither amplitude and noise-shaping assume a certain listening level to be "transparent". On classical recordings of solo piano, I have heard nasty aftefacts when turning up the volume. For my own recordings and carefully choosing the dither and noise-shaping algorithms, I don't have this problem when down-converting to Redbook.

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

Don't bring me into this fight, posted on November 20, 2020 at 22:41:54
AbeCollins
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I'm not arguing your precious PC based delta-sigma modulator. I simply called you out for being flat out wrong that "CDs are .wav". 100% undeniably incorrect, Mr EE.

As for preferring quality PCM over DSD, that's just my subjective preference. Nothing to argue about here.




 

Dude, posted on November 21, 2020 at 10:25:46
PaulN
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You invited this sort of snark years ago with your insufferable and seemingly uncontrollable pedantry and one-upsmanship. I think you have illustrated a great many times why you have earned my derision. It wasn't about the .wav error, it was about the 1000 times previously that you jumped into a thread in order to be right about something/anything. Point to Abe. Hurry, go put that on the bedpost of your online life. Its pretty apparent that this is your only form a joy these days.

 

"I. . . certainly don't get pain in my ears! [from PCM]", posted on November 21, 2020 at 11:30:02
Chris from Lafayette
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I think such people used to be more numerous around 10-20 years ago, but I also think that, for the most part, such folks have gone back to live underneath their rocks! ;-)

We had a very well known partisan of that idea (i.e., that listening to PCM was painful) here on AA years ago in the personage of Teresa (I think PCM may have given her a skin rash too!) - although I think she later developed other medical problems in addition. I haven't heard about her for years (aside from a couple of reviews she did for Positive Feedback) and I hope she's still doing OK.

 

RE: Dude, posted on November 21, 2020 at 11:32:28
AbeCollins
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So you bring my name into a thread that I have nothing to do with..... as you rant on about your world dominating PC based delta-sigma modulators, supposed EE, and extensive background in filter theory, etc. I don't care. I wasn't part of that thread.

Please leave me out of your shit storm. I want no part of it.



 

The dog continues to bark, but the caravan moves on! ;-), posted on November 21, 2020 at 11:35:00
Chris from Lafayette
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Speaking for myself, I'm happy when someone who is right (about anything) jumps into a thread! ;-)

 

RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on November 24, 2020 at 04:59:19
John Elison
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I set my FiiO M15 to upsample PCM to DSD and it sounds a little better to me. All I noticed was a slight smoothing of the highs. In other words, it took the digital edge off of Redbook digital.

I own two digital players, a FiiO M15 with dual top-of-the-line AK4499EQ DAC chipsets and a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge with dual ES9028PRO DAC chipsets. The Brooklyn Bridge won't upsample PCM to DSD, but it sounds just fine anyway. The FiiO M15 player sounds just a smidgen better with DSD upsampling engaged.

Best regards,
John Elison

 

What next? DSD Therapy? ;-), posted on November 24, 2020 at 10:01:57
AbeCollins
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.

 

FiiO , posted on November 27, 2020 at 06:50:08
You've been raving about your FiiO for awhile now. It must be very good sounding and convenient for you. My setup uses a NAS (network attached storage) so I am doing most things over the internal computer network.

As an update when I clock the mini-computer which does the DSD work higher to 128DSD it creates a lot of heat. I would imagine a DAC that does this via hardware to be much better.

 

RE: FiiO , posted on November 27, 2020 at 15:59:27
John Elison
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> You've been raving about your FiiO for awhile now.

Yes, FiiO players seem to work very well for me. I like the fact that I don't need to connect my computer to my stereo system in order to play digital music. The little FiiO players are totally autonomous and play digital music files directly from their plug-in micro SD memory card. I like that aspect, although it's kind of limiting because the largest capacity micro SD memory card is 1-TB so I need several and I have to switch them periodically to play all my music. I don't understand NAS systems and that's why I went with the FiiO players. Perhaps I should have learned how to use an NAS system.

I'm currently using the flagship FiiO M15 player. It sounds fantastic but it sometimes gets a little warm when upsampling PCM to DSD. However, it doesn't get very warm when playing DSD files or PCM files; only when upsampling PCM to DSD. It also drains the battery twice as fast in the PCM-to-DSD upsampling mode.

I also have a Mytek Brooklyn Bridge, which can play PCM up through 24/192 directly from a plugin USB drive. If I want to play DSD I have to use JRiver from my computer. Since I prefer not to use my computer to stream digital music files to my Brooklyn Bridge, I use the Brooklyn Bridge primarily for PCM and the FiiO M15 primarily for DSD. My Brooklyn Bridge also serves as an external DAC for my HDTV and my Oppo BDP-105D.

Best regards,
John Elison

 

RE: FiiO , posted on November 28, 2020 at 04:55:00
That's a very nice setup. It is still amazing you can fit so much data on those little memory sticks and cards. I would say no need for a NAS, especially if you don't want to drive yourself crazy. I'm a pretty advanced user and my NAS sometimes still baffles me. I got it to work, but it is very complicated for the most part. You need a good level of experience in computer networking to get it to work properly. This is for the advanced NAS units one would need to use for audio with lots of storage.

Basically a NAS is a harddrive that you plug into your network router.

I was looking into Mytek about a year or two ago, it is supposed to sound pretty good for what you pay for it. I didn't upgrade and wound up keeping my Auralic Vega DAC instead which I like but I can only go up to DSD 128.

There are DACs that convert everything to DSD, if I remember correctly one is made by PS Audio. Someone here mentioned some SACD players are also doing that in hardware if you play a regular CD with the SACD player. Doing it in software requires a lot of power in terms of the processors, which cause heat and overworking the processing chips. And it maybe the case in your situation as well, since the battery is draining and the chips are working overtime.

I haven't looked too much into DACs that can upsample everything to DSD. That would be something I would be interested in.

 

RE: FiiO , posted on November 28, 2020 at 06:55:15
John Elison
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Both the Mytek Brooklyn Bridge and the FiiO M15 sound excellent to me. I can't necessarily say one sounds better than the other. The Brooklyn Bridge will play DSD256 through its USB computer input. The FiiO M15 will play DSD256 from a plugin micro SD memory card. However, it will play DSD512 when connected to a computer via USB. Both the FiiO M15 and the Brooklyn Bridge will decode MQA. The FiiO can upsample everything to DSD if you select the PCM-to-DSD mode. The FiiO M15 costs $1300 and the Brooklyn Bridge costs $3000. They both sound excellent to me and I'm quite happy with both of them.

The Mytek Brooklyn Bridge is rated Class "A" in Stereophile's Recommended Components. The Mytek Manhattan DAC II is rated Class "A+" in Stereohpile's Recommended Components, but it costs $6000.

Good luck,
John Elison

 

RE: FiiO , posted on November 29, 2020 at 07:58:41
E-Stat
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I'm a pretty advanced user and my NAS sometimes still baffles me. I got it to work, but it is very complicated for the most part. You need a good level of experience in computer networking to get it to work properly. This is for the advanced NAS units one would need to use for audio with lots of storage.

Gee, that's not my experience at all. Last year when I retired my ten year old Win7 box with a MacMini, I opted to purchase a Synology 718+ instead of their pricey SSD storage. While you have to configure the drives, I chose a simple storage pool using all of one 2 TB drive with the other serving as mirror. I downloaded and installed LMS and pretty much that"s all I've had to do other than running updates on various internal applications.

My situation may be different than yours in that I have multiple systems. I purchased a 400 GB microSD card which is capable of storing my digital music library - just because. I could use it to provide a standalone server on a Raspberry PI, but enjoy the benefits of using a single digital library (which also contains about 500 videos) shared by no fewer than eight players around the house when you include the Roku sticks attached to bedroom TVs.



Basically a NAS is a harddrive that you plug into your network router.

Not if it is a good one. Mine is a managed storage environment using a quad core Intel processor that provides optimum data throughput for shared access using 6 GB of cache. It monitors drive health and periodically runs diagnostic tests on the drives and sends me an email reporting the results. Since the OS is a thin Linux based one, it runs for months without the need for rebooting. I'm away from home for the holidays and can access it remotely. As I type, I logged on and find it has been up for 39 days and reports good health.

 

RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on November 29, 2020 at 21:59:47
airheadair
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I also have Marantz SACD player (SA10) which converts CD files to DSD format instead of using a traditional DAC. I think it does improve the sound, especially the soundstage, compared to the other players I have tried....these include an Onkyo, which was very two-dimensional, and also a Marantz SA14, which was much better than the Onkyo but still not as good as the SA10. The SA14 did have a USB input to its DAC that could accept DSD input up to 128 from Audirvana, but the SA10 does 256 and sounds better, I think. There is now a Marantz SACD 30n which also converts CD to DSD but which costs much less than the Ruby or the SA10 and which has much better network capabilities.
I haven't read much about it yet.

 

Marantz SACD 30n, posted on December 17, 2020 at 17:47:22
The Marantz SACD 30n seems ideal. Heos built in, SACD, CD.

Here's a review.

 

RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on December 17, 2020 at 21:53:56
fantja
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You have had your SA-10 for quite awhile now.
I really need to add this spinner to my Collection.

Do we know if Marantz is stocking spare drives/laser mechanisms for future repairs?

 

RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on December 18, 2020 at 07:01:22
lokie
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"it took the digital edge off of Redbook digital."

That doesn't ring true with my experience. I have no edge with Redbook but it took me a journey to get there... which means Audio Note nos dacs. And then I moved on to similar technology and chip but a slightly different flavor. My digital system is currently better than my analog rig at three times the price.

My point is... if you concentrate all your gear to optimize redbook, you will be rewarded far beyond the miles of extra upsampleing coding can provide, although it may be cheaper in the short run. But I buy Redbook CD's all day long for a few bucks a piece, so the payback is quick and you can listen to ALL kinds of music, not just "audiophile" music. .

 

RE: Upsampling everything to DSD SACD, posted on January 5, 2021 at 03:49:54
Cool_Jeeves
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Nice. I have an SA10 too. In theory, converting 16/44 to DSD would make for a bit of harshness since the upsampled version's frequency is not an exact multiple of 44khz. It would have been an exact multiple of 48KHz or 96KHz, but not 44KHz. But the SA-10 sounds just beautiful.

 

DSD clock is 64 * 44.1kHz, posted on January 6, 2021 at 01:31:10
flood2
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The DSD clock is an integer multiple of the standard RB sample rate: 64 * 44.1kHz sample rate i.e 64fs is 64 * 44100 = 2.822400MHz
The bitstream runs at 2.822 MHz in order to overcome the limitations of a 1-bit D-S modulator which necessitates aggressive noise-shaping to achieve a decent SNR in the audible range. Consequently, the response may theoretically extend up to 100kHz, but the noise-shaping is designed such that the bandwidth for maximum SNR (120dB) is 20kHz which matches the Redbook specification.
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: DSD clock is 64 * 44.1kHz, posted on January 6, 2021 at 03:54:08
Cool_Jeeves
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Yes. You are right. I forgot. Actually the SA-10 has two upsamplings - 11.2896MHz and 12.288MHz - being integral multiples of 44.1KHz and 48KHz respectively.

 

That's interesting!, posted on January 6, 2021 at 11:56:55
flood2
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So they sensibly maintain the oversampling ratio according to the base clock - I had wondered what would happen in that instance.
Thanks for the info!
BTW Happy New Year
Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

I did an experiment recently...and I think dither is the key, posted on January 15, 2021 at 01:44:20
flood2
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I recently got an Analogue Productions SACD of Bill Evans/Shelly Manne Empathy and initially thought I had completely wasted my money when I heard the CD layer (first). The piano had a nasty "ping" to it and the recording sounded flat - the drums lacked ambience in the decay.
When I flicked to the SACD layer, the difference could not be greater - the "ping" had gone on the piano and the drums sounded incredibly natural in the recorded acoustic.
These were both played through the same PCM DAC so the conversion stage is identical - I use an Oppo 103 set to output PCM and use an HDMI link to a NAD M51 which enables the SACD layer to be output to the DAC. Since the M51 uses a 108MHz video clock, the HDMI input has the same very low jitter performance of the other inputs.

So I decided to investigate further:
I took a CD track (The Washington Twist) and converted it to DSD64. Since the conversion involves reducing the bit depth to 1 bit, adding noise-shaped dither is essential so I decided to investigate what adding dither to the standard Redbook PCM would do. I did two versions, one with simple TPDF and the other with a lightly noise-shaped dither (iZotope MBit+) for comparison.

The results were very interesting:
The DSD64 conversion of the CD layer was virtually identical to the SACD layer.
The TPDF dither solved the annoying "ping" and removed the slight harshness and restored the imaging and ambience that the DSD64 version had although it wasn't quite as smooth.

So, this says 3 things to me.....one is that there is nothing wrong with Redbook PCM when properly mastered and dithered. Secondly, I suspect that "harsh" sounding CDs are likely not properly dithered and finally, conversion to DSD64 does sound noticeably smoother and subjectively "better" when directly comparing the original Redbook version (as presented on the disc). I am convinced that this is not because of the format so much (since the final conversion to analogue was PCM in all cases) and definitely not due to bandwidth (since it is identical in all cases).

I also repeated the experiment on the new MoFi SACD of Run DMC "Raising Hell". The CD layer on this was incredibly awful with a really harsh glare on the higher frequencies (and I am not crazy about the "yelling" now that I have become older....and hesitate to call this music), but repeating the same experiment as for the Bill Evans fixed the harshness.

I therefore conclude that dither and possibly noise-shaping is responsible for the (very clear) audible differences and I am convinced that the CD layer was likely not properly dithered when it was converted from the DSD file.

Regards Anthony

"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats

 

RE: About: " Something about the sound that is pleasant.", posted on January 15, 2021 at 22:49:21
fantja
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Abe-
nice selections, as always.

 

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