Alex Peychev, digital / electronics guru and founder of APL Hi-fi, had this to say about DSD vs PCM (and vinyl):
After dealing with PCM and PCM converted DSD for so many years, I am now also convinced in the DSD superiority. We are not talking about amazing measurements and specifications, but sound quality that is comparable to analog. Vinyl, for example, has horrible specs, but how it sounds? Yes, DSD has more noise and somewhat compromised dynamic range, but it is the closest to vinyl I’ve heard.
Private correspondence, reprinted by permission with thanks.
My purpose in the last two posts has not been to sell you on DSD. Just to point out that the DSD debate, like the high-resolution PCM debate that preceeded it, is most easily resolved by audition not cognition.
Charles Hansen at Ayre has published a lengthy article about the evolution of high resolution digital playback. As is often the case, DSD is criticized heavily based on scientific analysis and lack of mixing/mastering toolsets.
Several members have asked me why I, a self-proclaimed mad scientist and inveterate tinkerer with an engineering degree, have embraced DSD playback.
I’ll share my answer with you:
For me it’s simple. There are amazing recordings on DSD that I want in my collection. They are not available at the same quality in PCM. With one or two exceptions, the best DACs in the world play DSD “for free.” I own such a DAC. Done.
The fact that I can (and do) rip SACDs to DSD is gravy.
Most of us read a lot about our hobby. Analyze and over-analyze. Sweat minutiae. That’s cool – it’s what men (and some women) do. But ultimately I just let it rest and listen. Then decide.
Shouldn’t you too?
It’s early days for this fledgeling project, so plans are understandably vague.
But the future of the high end is an important topic, and I urge you to visit the site and determine whether it aligns with your beliefs.
I believe that this is a really big deal. Nouveau business model meets “old World” market. LH is also canny to be riding the headphones wave. The title of the CES presentation is bold – How Indiegogo Will Help Save an Old Dying Industry – is a stretch for me (but not insanely so).
LH Labs’ 2014 CES Panel Discussion Takes Place on Heels of $1.1 Million Dollar Indiegogo Campaign
Indiegogo Director of Design and Technology along with High-Performance Audio Experts will Discuss How Crowdfunding Can Help The Dying Audio Industry
December 30, 2014-Sacramento, CA – LH Labs will be holding a press conference at the 2014 International CES discussing how non-traditional marketing, using crowdfunding and crowd- designing, has helped the high-performance audio manufacturer raise nearly 1.5 million dollars in five months.
LH Labs’ second crowd-funding campaign, running since October 28 on Indiegogo, raised $1,174,075 from 6,340 backers of Geek Pulse, a desktop digital-to-analog converter (DAC)/ headphone amplifier. The campaign was the 6th most-funded campaign in Indiegogo’s history.
Light Harmonic, known for industry-leading audio products such as the $31,000 Da Vinci Dual DAC, established LH Labs to offer mainstream-market audio products of exceptional performance and value. LH Labs’ first offering was Geek Out, a $299 portable USB
DAC/headphone amp introduced on crowd-funding site Kickstarter, where it raised over $303,000 from 2146 backers. LH Labs will debut Geek Out at the 2014 International CES in the iLounge Pavilion. <snip>
This particular exemplar came to me via a somewhat circuitous chain:
- Jim Smith podcast email
- Positive Feedback article
- Realization that “hey, he’s a BAAS member” (Alón Sagee)
- Download scanned wisdom (link at end of article)
Read it & enjoy.
The ever-entertaining Priconomics web site has followed up their report on subjectivism in wine tasting with a piece on classical music performances.
The conclusions are surprising, and the author ties them in to the Gladwell book Blink.
Yet another reason to close your eyes for any critical audio analysis. I do, and I have come to believe that it’s an essential practice.
Over 50 BAAS members braved a rare San Francisco heat wave and Elite’s store renovations yesterday to hear some of the best that vinyl and tubes have to offer.
Thanks largely to the efforts of Michael Woods (our host) and Peter Truce (or Analog Czar and organizer), the event was a great success. Thanks also to Allen Perkins (Spiral) and George and Carolyn Counnas (Zesto) for sharing their knowledge and expertise. (As a special treat, Zesto played the prototype of their much-anticipated tube power amp.)
Brass Tactics. Get the 5-track EP here. Cool tunes. Well engineered (if a bit compressed). In 320K MP3 (I didn’t notice).
Live concerts in Saratoga and Oakland – July 20-21.
In addition to being humorous, teaches a bit about overload distortion… – Bob
Celebrating their 40th anniversary, TAS is offering their first issue as a free download (PDF).
Printed in 1973, this was the all-analog age. LPs and tapes ruled, as did the Phase Linear 700 amp. And no advertising (Stereophile had just started accepting dealer ads).
I came late to the genius of Frank Zappa. this video provides another look at his art and his modus operandi. As a small bonus, there’s some cool footage of Dweezel at a mixing board, analyzing and enjoying his father’s master tapes. (Frank owned all of his masters.)
The recordings are analog, but the medium is ink on paper.
This article describes the process used by Indiana University, and contains recordings from the nineteenth century.
The HiFi Shock website fills a unique niche, specializing in showing what’s inside audiophile gear.
Some very interesting images.
New startup idea: do video.
We all lament how difficult our hobby is. How can we capture, remember, and describe an ephemeral audio event? How can we reconcile the results of objective vs subjective testing? Of sighted vs blind testing?
When I’m asked what it’s like to be an audiophile, I usually point to wine-tasting as the closest analog. Both involve fleeting, personal experiences. Both have myths and sciences. And, when in doubt, both favor the subjective view over the objective.
And both suffer from the bugaboo of expectation bias. Take, for example, the following passage from this article in The Atlantic:
An expert’s own expectation can act like Kryptonite on their superpowers. Expectation, as it turns out, is just as important as raw sensation. The build up to an experience can completely change how you interpret the information reaching your brain from your otherwise objective senses. In psychology, true objectivity is pretty much considered to be impossible. Memories, emotions, conditioning, and all sorts of other mental flotsam taint every new experience you gain. In addition to all this, your expectations powerfully influence the final vote in your head over what you believe to be reality.
Sound familiar? Read the article for an interesting and humorous account of enological blind testing.
It’s a shame that good articles like this 11-year-old piece have fallen into the Wayback-machine crypt. But they have.
A key conclusion reached is that not only does DSD suffer imperfections in accuracy, but also in precision. Ergo, it’s unlikely to produce the same waveform twice (due to intense noise modulation).
Of course, these technical imperfections may yield superior sound – especially when compared to 24/96.
I, for one, enjoy the DSD sound qualities (as do most folks that try them).
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