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#401649 - 03/04/14 10:28 PM Hi res digital audio file questions
stermarc Offline

Registered: 03/25/05
Posts: 41
Loc: Montana
I have a Macbook running OS 10.7.5

I'm interested in high-res digital audio file playthrough using this Mac. I'd run the files to a Yamaha R-S700 stereo amp running Axiom M3 speakers.

Currently vinyl sounds pretty sweet on this system, with a little NAD photo preamp in the mix.

But I'm thinking of turning to DSD / 24/192 digital files.

Kind of looked at a Meridian director DAC, but some reviews cast some doubts. I certainly won't pay 4 figures or high 3 figures for DAC.

Does a 24/192 DAC decode DSD files? I could never figure out that relationship.

Is DSD and or 24/192 beyond the capability of my system? ie. will the difference between that and a slightly lower-res digital file be discernible with a midlevel DAC and my Yamaha/Axioms?

Will high-res digital files + DAC really sound better than vinyl? I've read they will but … before I invest would be nice to know. I also have kind of an entry level turntable-- Denon 300F with upgraded Grado cartridge. But vinyl takes up a lot of space & maintenance ...

#401650 - 03/05/14 12:04 AM Re: Hi res digital audio file questions [Re: stermarc]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10644
Marc, although it's remarkable how the relatively crude technology embodied in the LP could serve reasonably well for so long, the digital process is a superior technology for the precise reproduction of analog waveforms. Garbage in, garbage out, of course, so if the original recording, mixing and mastering procedures don't take advantage of the capabilities of the technology, a CD can sound bad.

The 16/44.1 capabilities of the standard CD provide ample frequency and dynamic range for our ears and the material being recorded. Some so-called "high res" material can in fact sound better, but if so, this is the result of better production procedures, not any inherent audible advantage from higher sampling rates or dynamic range capability.

In my view high priced DACs are a solution in search of a problem. For many years the DACs typically used in moderate cost audio equipment have been at a state of technological maturity which provides audibly flawless processing.

Enjoy the music, not the equipment.

#401653 - 03/05/14 08:01 AM Re: Hi res digital audio file questions [Re: stermarc]
Hellcommute Offline

Registered: 09/23/12
Posts: 152
Oppo bdp 103 or 105.

Plays dsd from network or disc. DSD is arguably the best format ever. It is as close to the studio master you can get, so long as the mater was used, of course. The Schiit frost is next cheap option.

Check out

Cd audio vs dsd is like comparing dts to dts hd master. The differences are there, and huge, but your system will become the bottleneck for performance.

#401657 - 03/05/14 09:31 AM Re: Hi res digital audio file questions [Re: stermarc]
alan Offline


Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 3267
Loc: Toronto/New York/parry Sound
Hello sternmarc,
I absolutely agree with JohnK. I've done many blind listening tests to so-called "high-resolution" files vs. the standard Red Book CD standard and there is not a whit of difference in sound quality.
The higher sampling rate files are useful for studio editing, but there's no audible difference. Some of these tests, by the way, were done in a Manhattan recording studio of a prestige audiophile label, and no-one in the assembled group could detect a difference from the high sampling rate files vs. the CD standard.

Alan Lofft,
Axiom Resident Expert (Retired)

#401660 - 03/05/14 11:48 AM Re: Hi res digital audio file questions [Re: stermarc]
Hellcommute Offline

Registered: 09/23/12
Posts: 152
I cant disagree with DBLT of redbook vs high res on technical merits of each. smile

Redbook has become a marketing term. Like "Audiophile Grade." Products at bestbuy bear this..... grin

I can say that the redbook spec doesn't regulate dynamic range --or sonic quality standards. shocked In fact, different releases of the same album or song in CD format ie. greatest hits vs original release often sound different! They still meet the redbook standard though. (Greatest hits are sometimes worse BTW sick.) Prince albums vs the "Ultimate" 2cd are a good example. Not a prince fan? How about the Beatles "1" vs other releases. Terrible.

The issue is often not only that the format spec is technically better, but that these formats are produced better-often from scratch. Their intended users, audio enthusiasts, demand the best. I think re-issue 180gram Vinyl and DSD are often regarded as better sounding partly because the dynamic range is often better than that of their counterpart CD or MP3/iTunes equivalent.

Now, on an SACD with Dual layer CD and DSD audio, the differences would be trivial, as the dynamic range would be the same. But a CD version of an album vs a remastered SACD years later? could be huge. Look at multichannel DSOTM....

The dynamic range database backs up this hypothesis:

It is a cool tool to see how formats stack up given the same album\artist etc.

The new Daft punk album Random Access Memories is a current example of how the Vinyl version sounds "better" than the CD equivalent. The numbers back it up too.

Currently, buying DSD gives you the best chance of getting a pristine version of an album. It doesn't suffer physically, as Vinyl does. It is the best spec technically. It is mastered with highest sonic quality standards in mind. cool

#401668 - 03/06/14 06:56 AM Re: Hi res digital audio file questions [Re: Hellcommute]
Jc Offline


Registered: 06/27/06
Posts: 530
Loc: Sherbrooke, QC, Canada

If you want to learn more about on the subject consult the website REAL HD AUDIO. Better yet, subsribe to HD-Audio guru Dr. Mark Waldrep newsletter. SUBSCIBE HERE

If you like Axiom's philosophy you will surely appreciate his boldness; he is not afraid to call things as they really are.

#401670 - 03/06/14 11:05 AM Re: Hi res digital audio file questions [Re: Hellcommute]
ClubNeon Offline

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3466
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
Originally Posted By: Hellcommute
DSD is arguably the best format ever. It is as close to the studio master you can get, so long as the mater was used, of course.


Cd audio vs dsd is like comparing dts to dts hd master. The differences are there, and huge, but your system will become the bottleneck for performance.

I can argue against DSD.

1. DSD has a finite slew rate, and is thus has a dynamic limitation when storing higher frequencies that isn't present for PCM. In fact you can take a 24-bit 192 kHz PCM, digital master, convert it to DSD, and then convert it back to PCM, and there will be changes in the data. That means PCM can store information that can't be represented by DSD.

2. DSD can't be processed by any standard DSP routines. So any normal work that is done during the mastering process has to be performed on PCM data, and then that is converted to DSD, which can be a lossy process (see #1).

3. It may be fair to say DSD is comparable to tape, but the only time tape is used during the modern recording process is as an effect (compression/saturation), and that's mostly emulated by DSPs these days (working on PCM data).

4. Receivers that can take DSD as an input format can only perform channel volume trims (and sometimes delay compensation) without converting the DSD to PCM. That means no Audyssey, or any sort of room correction/EQing, and not even a cross-over to send the lowest bass to a sub. If you want any of that to work you need to convert the stream to PCM, so why not use PCM in the first place?

5. Even Sony didn't submit DSD to be part of the Blu-ray spec. They knew it was a dead end, and have given up on it.

As for comparing CD audio to DSD vs. DTS vs. DTS-HD Master Audio. DTS was a lossy encoding scheme, as it can be argued that DSD is. CD is 16-bit, 44.1 kHz lossless. Nearly all BDs that use DTS-HD MA are 24-bit, 48 kHz lossless. So, quite a bit more dynamic range, but nothing more worth noting in the frequency response. I'd say that DTS-HD MA has more in common with the standard audio CD than the original DTS spec. The biggest addition is the inclusion of more than two channels.
Pioneer PDP-5020FD, Marantz SR6011
Axiom M5HP, VP160HP, QS8
Sony PS4, surround backs

#401675 - 03/06/14 03:46 PM Re: Hi res digital audio file questions [Re: stermarc]
Hellcommute Offline

Registered: 09/23/12
Posts: 152
Good post ClubNeon. smile When it comes to hi-res PCM vs DSD I think the choice is moot and either is probably going to get every last bit of possible performance out of the gear in a given system. Speaker placement etc. will be more of an bias to sound in this case. FWIW, I go DSD from OPPO>PCM to Reciver to do exactly what you are mentioning. Sounds great. cool

I think the reason Hi-Res is worth talking about, and it is growing, is because the emphasis it supposedly places on quality, and re-mastering. Digital\portable is sexy right now, and high end companies need to appeal to new buyers.

Easy marketing:
ie. dynamically compressed, flat mixed, lossy compressed mass media VS Something that is mastered with the intention of being a reference recording, from the start. Regardless of genre of music.

Different mentality and philosophy for each product. The market for a CD vs the market for SACD(DSD) is not the same.

I know what I would choose given the same price for each.

The main thing to remember is its "buyer beware" when it comes to how the hi-res files were made. Are they upconverted from lower res? Whats the point if they are. wink

"Hi-Res" is the new "redbook" when it comes to teasing the wallets out of an audiophiles pocket. grin

Here is a freebie site to check out what playback can be when the process is intended to create reference hi-res material.

Blue coast records also has trial songs free for download in hi-res formats.



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