HDTracks, will this new high resolution format make it?


The newest top shelf way to obtain high resolution music is through HD downloads from HDtracks and other companies offering these high-rez downloads, the problem is, I am just not comfortable with it, I want something to hold in my hand, is that wrong, wern't Telarc and Reference recording and other quality label offerings good enough? First it was great to have a vinyl record to hold and while I listened I sat and read all the good information on the album cover, lots of interesting things on the artist, artwork, information on what equipment was used to record the music, etc. Around 1980 that all started to change with the introduction of the CD, although we still had something to hold and read, to collect, to place on a shelf, something that could not be lost in cyber space, or with the demise of a bad computer drive, we did not have to worry about backing up any files up, I had something I could hold on to, a hard CD, and my great vinyl records!

It seems I am a dying breed as none of my children or grandchildren give a hoot about quality, they can listen to MP3s all day long and never object, they could care less about high end audio reporduction. I was one of the crazy people that bought into SACD, with a Sony SCD-1 on one system, an XA-9000ES on a second system and a Sony XA-5400ES on my office system. Was I ever surprised when Sony stopped producing SACD altogether, DSD became a thing of the past, and I'm stuck with an SCD-1, a $5,000.00 player that they have no parts and refuse to service. Who knows if they can repair the XA-9000ES or the XA-5400ES, hope I do not have to find out. So, no more SACD, but all of a sudden companies like PS Audio revive DSD completely with their new DAC, but I digress, back to HDTracks.

I still want something I can hold in my hand, a "hard copy", but I'm not sure I can do this with a download from HDTracks or any of their competitiors. I have read how people download and burn to a CD-R, but from what they say, they are not even realizing they are defeating the purpose of downloading a high-rez file completely, when burning to a CD-R. It was suggested we put the downloads on a flash storage device, a memory stick, etc. Just a quick look at the available downloads from HDTracks, they offer 44.1 KHz/24 bit, 96 KHz/24 bit, 192 KHz/24 bit, and I even found a 352KHz/24 bit. Did not see any DSD, heck can you even download DSD?

It would be interesting to see some discussion on downloading from sites like HDTracks, how to archive the downloads, can they actually be stored on a hard disc, DVD, CD-R, whatever. Does my computer have to have specific cabilities to handle these downloads, and if SACD did not make it, as no one carred a hoot about quality, how many people are going to spend $30-$50 to download these files? As everyone seems to say connecting to an outboard DAC via USB is no good, how do we take a file on our computer and output to a DAC, what cables, what connections does our computer need to have, what capabilities does our computer need to have, what does an end user need to have to realize the "true" benefits of a 352KHz/24 bit downlaod?? I would enjoy hearing from some of the PS Audio folks or some of the members of the forum that have been down this new audio road, speak to me like a first grader!


Welcome, LiteJazz!

You can indeed download DSD files, but this is still uncommon.

You can burn high resolution files to CD or to DVD and play theme back on a computer. The PS Audio PerfectWave Transport can also play high resolution files on a DVD.

Generally, however, people make a back-up copy of downloads onto a portable harddrive or other device. This way they will not lose the files if there is a problem with the harddrive they are otherwise using for the files.

USB previously was a poor transmission format. The latest playback systems as USB capable DACs are now excellent.

High resolution files may win out now that there are portable players which play such files and sound superb. They are as convenient as MP3 players. There is also a new breed of headphone fans who actively care about sound. This combination may be enough. Only time will reveal this.


Some downloads come with PDFs of the liner notes, which you can print and hold in your hand or just view on your computer. Unfortunately, many just come with the cover itself. The good news is digital downloads, whether PCM or DSD, these days are generally free of digital rights management (a polite term for copy protection, which was a big problem with SACDs). As Elk said, the files can be stored on just about any digital media, whether CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, memory stocks, hard drives, etc. Generally you are going to be using a hard drive. High res files can get very large. I keep a silly number of backups because I’ve learned the hard way that all hard drives fail eventually. How you connect, and what type of files you can play, depends primarily on your DAC. There are also many software choices depending on your preferred platform. HDtracks doesn’t sell DSD downloads as far as I know but you can find them at other places, like Acoustic Sounds or Blue Coast Records. It’s not like the days when you could hold the album cover in your hands. On the other hand, you can now have your complete library at your fingertips with instant access to any track. I’m happy with that trade off.