Best delivery format for NPC archival LP recoding?


#1

Apologies if this topic has been covered. Did a search, and came up empty.

Having gotten caught up in the vinyl resurgence, I’m ready to chuck my old recordings of my LP collection. Having much better vinyl gear now than when those recordings were made, I’m picking up my NuWave Phone Converter today, and look forward to re-recording LP’s. But I’m unsure on the best delivery format: DSD or PCM?

The manual is pretty clear that if I choose PCM, then 96/24 is the way to go. And Standard Rate for DSD, if I do that. But which one?

I understand (I think) that if I choose DSD, then post-recording editing will be impossible - at least in Vinyl Studio. Other than track breaks, I have no interest in post-recording editing. I think. My top criteria is getting the most faithful recordings that I can.

Thanks in advance. Any help is much appreciated.


#2

Welcome, scolley!

Both PCM and DSD will provide you with a superb recording.

DSD cannot be edited; no click removal, no normalization, nothing. It also can only be played on certain devices.

PCM is more universal, can be edited and played on many more devices.

I would go with PCM as it is, in a sense, more future proof; I will always own something that plays PCM.

On the other hand, if you find DSD sounds better to you and feel comfortable you will always have something that will play DSD, go this route. DSD can be transcoded to PCM, but it is slow even on a fast computer.


#3

Elk, how do you tell that going from DSD to PCM is slow?

I recently got about 10 DSD albums, I was using the Benchmark Dac2 which accepts pure DSD. Well I recently switched to the Lindemann which is PCM only. JRiver outputs them in 24/176 and I have never had any buffering issues. Is it just apparent when looking at performance in the Task Manager?

To the OP, I don’t have the option, but I have been transferring vinyl at 24/96 using Vinyl Studio. I use the default settings to remove ticks and pops. At that setting it doesn’t always get them all, but it helps and seems transparent. The best thing you can do, if you are new to Vinyl Studio is record a couple of LPs in both formats, and experiment. I found the program reasonably intuitive, but there is a learning curve, well there was for me.


#4

I think Elk may have misspoke:

Decoding DST (the lossless compression for DSD used on multichannel SACDs) is very slow. Converting PCM to DSD takes some horsepower but shouldn’t be a problem for most modern CPUs. Converting DSD to PCM is a simple low pass filter and doesn’t take much processing power at all.


#5

Wow! Just finished a long, well considered reply. Hit the “send” button, only to be told by the forum server that the “connection had been reset”. And everything I typed was gone. Then I tried to re-type everything, but the “Submit Reply” button was grayed out and would not work. So I’m trying now a third time, after closing the web page, and coming back…

OS. So please forgive, my brevity in reply. Making this third attempt to reply more brief…

  • Elk - thank you very much for the reply.
  • I'm very familiar with DSD's limitations. Have a small DSD library. Should have said to initially. Sorry.
  • I've got no interest in post-processing other than track breaks.
  • My number one priority - and what I'm hoping to learn here - is which method (PCM vs. DSD) is most faithful to the original analog signal?
  • The point about the "universality" of PCM is an excellent one Elk, which I WILL consider. Thank you for pointing that out.
  • However, for now, I'd like to keep focused on the question of which is the most faithful to the source.
Thanks a mil'!

#6

Jeffstar - thanks for the advice. I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds LOL) of hours using Vinyl Studio. Indeed, there is a bit of a leaning curve. But too bad IMO. Also should have said that up front. Sorry.

I only resort to the click and pop stuff in extreme cases, and then only lightly. IMO it hurts the sound, even if used lightly. But in some cases - like the the 65 year old copy of Jackie Gleason’s “For Lovers Only” that I got from my parents - that I recorded last night. That required post-recording work, or it would be un-listenable.

So in rare cases like that, I do it. But as a general rule, I want to hear what the original LP sounded like. Question is, would that be best done with PCM or DSD?

We are preparing our house to put it on the market. Subsequently the room my hifi is in is not really set up for critical listening, so I’m not sure I’d trust an A/B’ing between PCM and DSD. But short of that, surely there is a general consensus of which is more faithful. Hoping I can find that.

Thanks.


#7
scolley said However, for now, I'd like to keep focused on the question of which is the most faithful to the source
Between high resolution PCM and DSD it is a toss up based on what you hear, what you are recording with, playback equipment, etc. Try both and see which you prefer. It matters not a whit what the rest of us happen to like. :)

#8
scolley said ... surely there is a general consensus of which is more faithful. Hoping I can find that.
There really is no consensus. Asking whether PCM or DSD is more faithful is a bit like asking whether digital or vinyl sounds better. There are strong partisans on both sides. As Elk said, trust your ears even if your current setup is not ideal. The main thing is what sounds best to you. You may not hear a significant difference but even that would be telling you something.

#9

Elk - is there a way to have this conversation without using the word “better”?

As the OP, I have to take responsibility for having accidentally skewed the conversation in that direction by using the word “best” in the thread title. My apologies. As I’ve tried to clarify my own interpretation of “best” - for my purposes - is “most faithful” to the original recording.

stevem2 - Thank you for the reply. To provide more info, I LOVE my small DSD collection. I strongly suspect that were I to undertake the “which do I like better” comparison, I’d find I like DSD best. By a pretty good margin. My frustration - as mentioned in a prior post about losing a detailed post here by some apparent server-side error - is that I previously went into a good bit of detail (yes, that was not ever actually posted here) about the great lengths I’ve gone to in order to do double blind comparisons between PCM and DSD. In short, my limited experience is that DSD wins hands down. But that DOES NOT make DSD the right choice for me to use in archival LP recording.

That DSD soundi better to me (and my double blind tested audiophile friend ears) does not mean it is more faithful to the original recording. And that fidelity is what I am seeking.

This is a question that I thought would have been near and dear to Paul McGowan. But the silence there would seem to indicate that this might be a topic that is uncomfortable for a principal of PS Audio to discuss. I would not presume to know the reasons why. But the absence of comment is certainly interesting.

Would love to hear more than, “Listen to both, and see what you like best.

Thanks.


#10

To add to my prior post…

I posted here specifically because of two things…

One - I just bought at NPC (which at first blush is quite impressive).

Two - because I read this post. Which makes it clear that DSD is the way to go for recordings that exceed the capacity of vinyl. But it does not take a position on plain old vinyl.

That said, I’m really ignorant of the entire digital game, so regardless of the reply about my general question, I’d definitely have some follow ups. Specifically…

  1. Does the same hold true for 45 RPM vinyl? And...
  2. What about high density and/or thicker vinyl?
Thanks again.

#11

On the contrary, I think DSD is the most accurate and best sounding format, IMO. In my setup, I can A|B compare pretty easily my DSD recordings and original vinyl and it’s not immediately discernible which is which. With PCM it’s pretty clear cut for me. And I think Vinyl Studio does a great job de-clicking/popping/hissing more road weary recordings. Often after processing the poorer quality vinyl sound great on PCM. In the end it’s not pristine vinyl ripped in DSD 128, however. My threshold is that if I won’t listen to the original vinyl because of clicks and pops, I don’t record in DSD and clean up in PCM as I see fit. I’ve actually rescued some pretty bad vinyl with Vinyl Studio. To me it comes down to one word really: wet. DSD sound more “wet” to me. Not dry and analytical like PCM can. Granted these differences are not as pronounced with the Directstream DAC versus the NuWave DAC, interestingly enough. I find the Directsream DAC to deliver a more pleasing, analog sound to PCM, thereby closing the gap between the two formats. I recently did an A|B comparo on The Doors Morrison Hotel I bought in DSD 64 and had a pretty hard time telling it apart from a Tidal MQA stream. Both sounded fantastic to me. Same thing with my favorite vinyl rip; a MoFi Steely Dan Aja done in both DSD 128 and PCM 24/96. On my NuWave, I definitely liked the DSD versions better. Such is progress, I guess. My point is that perhaps your Musical Fidelity DAC somehow colors your DSD rips a touch? Just a thought.

And, BTW I’m with you. I hate it when people say, “Listen to both, and see what you like best.“ Drives me nuts! Guys, there’s a reason I’m asking the question. I want your opinion!

Adam


#12

On the contrary, I think DSD is the most accurate and best sounding format…

amgradmd - Apologies! I have not even had the chance to read the rest of your post, but gquckly wanted to get this in…

Aparently I got caught by “spell check”. Where I tried to say previously that my preference was DSD, I saw - after the fact - that it got changed to “CD”. Wow and LOL.

I’ve edited that post to correct it. Am reading the rest of your reply now. Sorry about the clear miscommunication.


#13

Adam - sorry. Don’t know which coast you are on. I’m on the “right” coast… so slowly wrapping my head around your reply, at this hour.

However, it is EXACTLY the kind of feedback I was hoping for. :slight_smile: thank you.

More soon…


#14

Adam - OK, have digested…,

First, thank you. You’ve stated that you prefer DSD recordings - in terms of fidelity - to PCM. Thanks. That’s what I expected, but wanted to hear. That’s one data point for recording in DSD. :wink:

Second, that your ability to discern between the two appears to be somewhat influenced by your DAC. To that end, Directstreams showing less of a difference than Nuwaves. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

If so - in my particular use case - a person planning on buying a Directstream Jr shortly, I might assume that either format will be hard to distinguish between. While one remains editable.

Hmm… thank you for that insight! :slight_smile:


#15
scolley said To add to my prior post...

I posted here specifically because of two things…

One - I just bought at NPC (which at first blush is quite impressive).

Two - because I read this post. Which makes it clear that DSD is the way to go for recordings that exceed the capacity of vinyl. But it does not take a position on plain old vinyl.

I'll add my two cents. DSD is superior in most ways I can think of to PCM. It's more analog like (re: real) and by far the closest I have heard to live music. FWIW.

#16

Thank you sir!

I guess thiat’s a wrap. I was hoping to hear DSD, just because of my personal preference for it. And - lucky me - I got it! :slight_smile:

Thanks to all for the help. I’m off to re-rip my vinyl library to DSD, on my shiny new NPC. Except the really scratchy ones…


#17
scolley said Elk - is there a way to have this conversation without using the word "better"?
Sure, see my post #7 as an example.
scolley said On the contrary, I think DSD is the most accurate and best sounding format. . . . I was hoping to hear DSD, just because of my personal preference for it.
You have just defined "better" for yourself. :) Accordingly, DSD is what you should use. You prefer it.

Curiosity: Paul happened to agree with your preference. If he had opined PCM, would you have then recorded in PCM even though you find DSD sounds best?

Please let us know how it goes. Digitizing vinyl can be a good deal of work.


#18
Elk said
Please let us know how it goes. Digitizing vinyl can be a good deal of work.
+1 one on that! It's worth it though. Usually.

#19

Elk - Paul indicated better in every way. “Every” should include fidelity.

But yes, I absolutely would have recorded everything in PCM if he had said it was more faithful. Though I’d be interested to know why he said it.

I know I like the DSP sound better. But I don’t know if it’s more faithful. For all I know, it could be like hitting the “loudness” button on stereos from the 70’s. I liked it better with the button on, but it certainly was not as faithful to the source.

As to the work… happy to report. But it’s going to be a long process. Not sure how many albums I have. I’d guess between 4 and 5 hundred. The last time I did it, I had maybe 150 fewer. That was when I wanted to retire my old turntable, and go 100% digital. But - as I mentioned earlier - I got bitten by the vinyl resurgence bug, and now have more, higher quality vinyl.

Last time it took me roughly a year. And I did it in waves of activity. First I cleaned every record. Then I recorded every record. Then I edited the track name and album cover data for every record, then the track breaks, and finally converted the WAV recordings to FLAC.

I was afraid that if I did it the opposite - end to end, an album at a time - that somewhere in the middle, I’d just give up.

The vast majority of my albums have not been touched since I recorded them last time. But I’ll be re-cleaning them because they were previously “spin cleaned”, and now I’ve got a Disk Doctor Mini-Pro, which seems to do a better job. And I’ll definitely be combining the cleaning and recording steps, because the Disk Doctor does a great job of eliminating static on the vinyl as it cleans. But I don’t think I’ll do it in steps that include the entire library before moving to the next step.

I’ll prioritize my recent (higher quality) LP purchases, and do those first. And I’ll start with a small set of those just to give my process - whatever that turns out to be - a shake down cruise.

Will let you know. Thanks for the support!


#20

I can tell you one problem I DO have now, though…

I don’t know if I should use the phono amp in the NPC or my existing Musical Surroundings Nova II.

The Nova II runs off of a rechargeable battery, so it’s dead quiet. But my sound system is on a dedicated circuit with minor power conditioning, so things have to get pretty loud before you can hear the difference.

Theoretically this would be the point where I make a decision based on which I think sounds better. But the differences between the two would have to be pretty profound for me to hear it. As mentioned earlier, we’re getting ready to list our house. So all acoustic treatment of the room have been removed. Furniture that absorbed a lot a stray sonic energy has been removed. And worst of all, my good speakers have been removed, replaced with less ominous looking KEF LS50’s.

But I guess I’ll have to give it a shot, and see if I can hear the difference.