DSD Files based on FLAC/WAV/etc files

What do DSD files offer that weren’t the product of DSD recording (like Octave Records) or digitizing an analog master tape?

Some DACs will sound better playing back the DSD file, some will sound better playing back the PCM file. Depends on the processing inside your DAC. The only way to know is to listen and compare.

There are some DACs that convert all input to DSD before outputting an analog signal. If they are chip based, they may like getting an already converted DSD file to begin with so the DAC doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting (processing).

And then there are some DACs that convert everything to DSD before outputting an analog signal that do a better job converting a DXD edit master file into DSD than does Pyramix. But here we’re getting really down into the weeds.

Go back to the first paragraph, listen and compare on your own system to determine what works/sounds best for you.

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and another question…

purchased Also Sprach Zarathustra from NativeDSD

fine performance and recording, but dynamic range is out of sight. Beginning is barely audible without high volume on amp, but at the crescendo, decibels explode…way too loud…net result is thusly unrealistic

I’ve noticed that on a few recordings from London Symphony and SF Symphony.

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Pronounced with Audirvāna, less so with Roon on same 256dsd file

@akro, what album from NativeDSD are you listening to? The only Also Sprach I can find is this one, and it’s DSD64 file, not DSD256.

That’s it, lousy memory

It is a Pentatone recording and their tendency has always been to provide full dynamic range without any compression. So, what your getting is the full dynamic range of the performance, which is sometimes more than we’re used to hearing. Can make for challenging listening sometimes, though, as you’ve noted!

I have a copy of the same recording. I’ll have to give it a listen tomorrow.



The dynamic rang of a full orchestra is incredible, from barely audible to painfully loud.


Have been to 100+ performances in NYC and Cincinnati without such dynamic range, which as a musician I understand

Far more with Audirvāna than Roon

Reason is, to hear it, you have to lift the barely audible part from 0dB over the basic noise level of the room (30dB or so), meaning the loud parts are too loud for most listening rooms…which is why very high dynamic ranges make lower sense at home…we usually often rule them out by our remote. The 120dB or so dynamic range of an SACD, if utilized, would mean you’d have to listen to the loudest parts at 150dB level at home. Which makes the dynamic range argument of formats so meaningless (except of the fact, that we don’t want brickwall‘ed or compressed recordings).

Would be interesting which level of dynamic range this recording actually uses, I have it, too, have to listen by occasion.

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The dynamic range called for varies greatly by the piece.

Also Sprach is one which calls for nearly everything an orchestra can produce, soft and loud. As a trumpet player it is a hoot to perform the opening.

Most other pieces in the literature do not call for anywhere near this dynamic range. Also, the sound in a hall during a live performance does not seem nearly as loud as reproduced at home even though the sound at home is actually much quieter.

Sadly many orchestral musicians and conductors have significant hearing loss from the sheer volume. To help mitigate this, Plexiglas panels are placed in front of us so that the wind players are not subjected to the direct sound of trumpets at FF.

Amusingly, Apple watches routinely warn their wearers the sound is too loud during rehearsals.


Yes…I remember hearing I think it was the chorus in Mahler’s 8th or something like this live. This is something where one immediately gets aware that live can be so much better than reproduction. It simply can’t be done comparably dynamic, loud and still somehow mellow, listenable at home.


I hope that you have not suffered from hearing lose. I also was not aware of the loudness dangers and the practice precautions that the symphony members take. I still can’t wrap my head around (no pun) why, like you said, it sounds louder at home, even when it is quieter there. I get that better system capabilities, recording techniques and the room itself all contribute to what seem like greater dynamic range than live. I have gone to countless concerts, and in most cases, the quieter passages seem quieter,
and the louder passages seem louder, as my system has gotten better. Or, my perceptions have aged along with my ears. Not necessarily in a good way :grimacing:.


The only thing I can think of is that the dynamics are experienced at the Mic position whereas hearing live, the entire room and distance to audience absorbs some of the peaks.


Thank you for the well wishes. I am fortunate, my hearing is good.

I suspect live does not sound as quiet or as loud because the sound produced makes sense in a performance space. The room is not overloaded, the bass is effortless and rich, everything is in context.

Put these extremes of sound pressure in one our listening rooms and we are unable to process it as believable, not to mention the limitations of what our rooms can handle.

A solo violin can be quite loud. Sitting next to a violinist in a performance space is comfortable, sitting next to them in a standard room is intense, even though the sound pressure is the same.


Of the theory’s I’ve never tested, yours is the most plausible and the most logical culprit for the disparity in live vs. recorded dynamics. I give you the prize.


Thank you for the real world observations, in understandable and understated context.


True. There is a big difference being among the orchestra and even the audience front row. The dynamics steadily decline with distance from stage. And, even on stage, the distance from another orchestra section matters.

Two things about this DSD file. The ultra quiet introduction is too soft. I am certain that this is louder on stage where the microphones are likely placed. Interestingly, the ‘extreme’ difference in loudness in this DSD from soft to loud is not presented on Deutsche Grammaphon’s vinyl with Herbert Von Karajan, which for better or worse became my benchmark. (by the way, my favorite part of Herb’s recording is the wistfulness of violins shortly after the introduction; the DSD recording comes very close)

Furthermore, I am certain that the beginning of Also Sprach is more readily hearable in the context to the upcoming decibel crescendo for those on stage, in the first several rows of audience, and microphones.

Secondly, the presented dynamic range of the DSD varies significantly between Audirvana and Roon, the latter much less ‘dynamic’. Thus, software is doing something. Perhaps, Audirvana exaggerates and/or Roon compresses.

I agree, the violin parts are delicious.

Audirvana and Roon should present the same volume. Something is not as it should be.

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