First DSD test


#1

I’ve been itching to try DSD for myself. When I read about Schiit’s Loki DSD dac, I couldn’t resist for the price ($149). It came yesterday. I downloaded an album of Wagner selections from Channel Classics in DSD and then created a PCM version at 24/176 with foobar.



Keep in mind the following, which could have a negative impact on the DSD sound:

– for the Loki, I used a very average laptop, not at all tweaked for audio

– no breakin on the Loki or the very average USB cable

– DSD files had to be streamed over wifi because I don’t have a wired outlet in the right spot

– PCM files were streamed over my wired ethernet connection, from a NAS that lives right beside the PWD II/Bridge, with good-quality ethernet cable



The Loki supports only single DSD, and my PCM setup is sounding pretty good of late. And the envelope please . . .



The DSD version played via the laptop and Loki was notably more analog-sounding. It really reminded me of an excellent vinyl record played on a top-notch setup–very, very natural-sounding. Everything seemed “right” and in balance in way that the PCM version did not quite match, and oh those brass instruments . . . Soundstage was somewhat better with more sense of air or space. I started by matching the levels of the two versions as closely as I could, for a fair comparison. Later I was able to up the volume on the DSD version quite a bit and not experience listening fatigue, which in my experience is a sign of quality recording and playback equipment. I did experience a couple of short dropouts on the DSD, which I suspect come from being streamed over wifi.



This is only one test, and I am certainly not claiming that DSD is always better than PCM. But I am convinced that something good is going on here; definitely worth further investigation. There is one fly in the ointment. Those who’ve read my other posts know that I run a Synology NAS with no computer. I really did not like having to park my laptop next to the listening chair. This seemed an awkward way to manipulate the music compared to my usual iPad/eLyric setup.


#2

Very cool!



It’s great fun to hear from someone that has purchased this little guy. You almost have gotten your moneys’ worth out of it already. :slight_smile:


#3

The Loki is ridiculously good value. Well done on taking the plunge and trying it out. My big issue is still availability of good music on DSD.


#4

DSD flows like warm buttermilk. B-)



Does the Loki support Double-rate DSD? My Oppo 105 does not, but it is rumored that a future firmware update will bring it up to speed. When I receive my NPC I am planning to archive my vinyl collection in the double-rate 128x, so I hope Oppo comes through in the near future.



Edit: Missed it the first read, but now see that the Loki supports only 64x DSD.


#5

@magister Fascinating.


#6

Great work. Thanks for posting. I have an entire terabyte of DSD just waiting to be heard when the time is right.


#7

My mistake. I thought the title of this thread was “First LSD Tests.” Wrong Forum I guess.


#8

:)) Nice. No, the LSD tests are over on the next page. :slight_smile:


#9
radioclash said: When I receive my NPC I am planning to archive my vinyl collection

In addition to my general curiosity about SQ of DSD, I also have ordered a NPC and need to decide how to archive my vinyl. Right now I am thinking I will record at 128x DSD and create PCM versions that I can play more conveniently over my current setup, with the option of playing the DSD versions later when I have a DSD-capable network DAC. If I understand correctly, foobar is limited to 64xDSD, so I would need another way to create the PCM versions. I've heard of Korg Audiogate and Saracon (latter outside my price range); any other options people are familiar with?

#10

I use discWelder Bronze to author DVD-A from DSD.


I suggest archiving to 96/24 PCM, not DSD, unless you actually have a DSD playback chain and have convinced yourself DSD sounds better for you. DSD is currently surrounded by a great deal of mythology.


DSD is roughly equivalent to 96/20 on its best day and all conversions of DSD to PCM are slow. Contrary to marketing claims, it is not the ultimate archival medium. Archive to 192/24 if you feel you need the additional resolution over 96/24.


DSD is the audio flavor of the month. A year from now it may well be more or less dead once again. I would not put all the work required to record in DSD until you know it is worth all the bother for you personally.


If you later purchase DSD compatible equipment and find it wonderful, you can always go back and re-record.


#11

@Elk: I have read the NPC manual and understand Paul’s recommendation to digitize vinyl at 24/96 because of the filter issue. I will certainly do that if I go the PCM route. Paul also says that DSD to PCM conversion (of a file originally recorded in DSD) is OK, the opposite is not as good sonically. (I think he was speaking of professional mastering, which perhaps does not translate to home-brew conversions with the NPC. Need clarification on that.) For me, it seems like a lot more work to record the vinyl twice. I know that DSD to PCM conversions are slow, but I can leave that running while I do other things. Disc space is now so cheap that there is no problem keeping both versions around–can always delete the DSD versions if DSD turns out to be a dead end.



Things may look different once the NPC and appropriate software is in hand, and I will of course experiment before making a final decision. I also have to think about what computer I will use for recording with the NPC. As I said in my original post, I have a cheap laptop at the moment. I wonder to what extent the computer one uses with the NPC will affect the SQ of the recording. (We know that the computer can affect USB playback of audio files.) If I get a small dedicated computer, like a CAPS server, that would also enable me to play back DSD more conveniently than I can now.


#12

I’m with you Magister, my plan at this point is to archive in 128x and then convert to PCM 24-96 to do the usual editing/track splitting/click removal/etc.



As you say, things may change when the hardware/software is at hand, but for now this seems to be the most logical way to go about it.


#13

Ideally, (from the future-proof point of view) it would be nice to archive in DXD, DSD128, and something that is compatible with your current devices, but that would take a lot of space and time.


#14
magister said: Paul also says that DSD to PCM conversion (of a file originally recorded in DSD) is OK, the opposite is not as good sonically.

This is correct. The conversion from DSD to PCM does less damage.

As a practical matter, the only software of which I am aware that does PCM to DSD are expensive (software plus needed hardware) professional packages.

#15

AFAIK, dCS DACs convert PCM to DSD internally (or using an external upsampler). Not sure about hi-rez - their web site is under construction ATM.


#16

As a practical matter, the only software of which I am aware that does PCM to DSD are expensive (software plus needed hardware) professional packages.

My Lumin player does PCM to DSD on the fly:
www.luminmusic.com/support.html



#17
Alekz said: dCS DACs convert PCM to DSD internally

Many DACs do so, and then process the DSD as multi-bit (generally, 4-bit to 8-bit, depending on the DAC).

#18

I’ve recently purchased a DSD DAC and downloaded some DSD64 and DSD128 content. I’ve also purchased some 48/24 content, some of which I also own redbook CD versions of. And I’ve also purchased some 192/24 content.



It all sounds good to me.



DSD does not bring a “day and night” difference over anything else. 48/24 versions of redbook CD sound virtually no different to each other. 192/24 does strike a sonic impression above anything else I’ve heard, except for stereo PCM on Blu-ray.



I have contemplated my circumstances for the past couple of days and have decided to stick with overwhelming simplicity. This means no need for a DAC and computer audio. CD (on average) is so competitive in sound quality to the other media, and it wins hands-down for simplicity and convenience over the others. I am going to return the DAC, I am not going to buy any more hi-rez downloads, and any additions to my music library will be via physical media (CD, DVD, BR).


#19

@brodricj- I’m betting that you have a PerfectWaveTransport.


#20

@brodricj



If you have a PWT (highly recommended), try burning some of those hi-rez files onto a DVD and then play them on the PWT. You will never hear hi-rez sound any better, amazing sound! B-)