High Resolution Formats - do you hear a difference on DirectStream?

Elk said

Blind tests are valid and useful but, as Ted notes, you need to know what you are listening for. Otherwise the blind test results will be random. The persons tested must be able to perceive the differences for the results to be valid.

The average person will not hear a difference between a good MP3 and a CD on a typical system. But many of us can because we have experience and know what to listen for. A blind test of the first group may provide evidence there is no difference to be perceived by randomly chosen people. Perhaps helpful, but it does not test whether there is a difference between Redbook and MP3.

My experience is like Ted’s. Unless the difference is profound, I need to listen for a long time to learn everything I can about the differences. Even if the difference is profound, it takes time for me to appreciate the various differences and nuances.

After switching back and forth like this, a blind test can be very helpful to test whether what you hear is real or your own perception bias.

I continue to find interesting that the differences I hear between Redbook and high resolution become smaller the better the playback equipment. My guess is many experience this with the DirectStream which produces spectacular results with Redbook.

Hi, yes I completely understand what you and Ted are saying. I know these versions REALLY well. I can hear differences as I switch between the known DSD and the Mastered for iTunes copies. I think this is what you guys mean? Being able to hear the differences as you are playing them.

I was extremely confident in being able to hear these differences and thinking I was a Golden Ear until I did that blind test lol

The most important thing, as I mentioned and Ted later said, is that I actually enjoyed all versions in the blind test - including the Mastered for iTunes copy !! Blasphemy, I know lol

This is not something easy for an audiophile like myself to admit by the way. It really showed TO ME (not anyone else) how expectation bias affects me.

I know many will think their ears are better than the rest of us (like I did) but you might be surprised in a blind test situation - even with the stuff you know extremely well.

To me the music comes first - I think it’s a credit to my DSD Snr that it’s able to make so much of my music sound amazing so this post is supposed to be read in a light hearted way - there’s nothing overly serious in the big picture of life here folks.

PS: where I have multiple formats of the same album, it goes without saying I really only listen to the ‘best’ that I have… DSD first, Hi-Res PCM next, CD and then Mastered for iTunes…

I’ll get back to toe tapping :slight_smile:


320 kbps MP3 isn’t all that bad either

If you haven’t tried them, give these a try

http://radio.linnrecords.com:8000/stream Linn Jazz

http://radio.linnrecords.com:8003/stream Linn Radio

http://radio.linnrecords.com:8004/stream Linn Classical


Exactly. If I’m stuck with ONLY an 320 MP3 or iTunes version of a favourite track - where I haven’t been able to find a CD quality version of that song, for example - I can easily still enjoy that song.

The DSD Snr actually closes the gap astonishingly. I know that’s been said about CD quality music playing through the DSD Snr but I would add well mastered 320 MP3 and well mastered Mastered for iTunes to that too - in terms of sounding surprisingly good (if they’ve done a decent mastering job) when played through the DSD Snr.

Fortunately I’ve been able to replace my old iTunes and 320 MP3 collections with CD quality and better, thanks to lossless online music stores like Qobuz and 7Digital and HDtracks etc. Also thanks to cheap 2nd hand CD’s coming up on eBay for stuff I can’t purchase online. But where I haven’t been able to replace those yet, I’m still very much able to tap my feet to those MP3 320 and iTunes purchases - thanks to the DSD Snr.

I’ll give those a listen Ted, thanks for that.


While we all know the quality of the recording matters more than the format (and how well it is reproduced), these experiences remain eye-opening.

Elk said

While we all know the quality of the recording matters more than the format (and how well it is reproduced), these experiences remain eye-opening.

Eye opening is the best way to describe my experience. Like many here, I was saying the exact same things on forums and to friends, like ‘you need to know what to listen for and switch between the formats over a long period of time’ etc etc etc.

That all sounds great and I thought I was the ultimate Golden Ear but it’s a fun and eye opening experience when you’re completely blind to what’s being played. Fun in the end, but quite stressful when all those things you thought you could hear when you were knowingly listening to a DSD version or CD quality version or iTunes version - aren’t so easily identifiable lol.

Again, it’s just fun in the big picture of life and the only conclusion I dare to draw only applies to me - I wouldn’t make some generalized conclusion that applies to everyone - and that is the effect of expectation bias when I am listening to things.

Having said all that, if you’ve (not you Elk but anyone reading this) done a similar blind test and come out a winner - I genuinely salute you - that is a real real talent.


Hmmm. Of course , we hear these discussions all the time. So, here we have a playback system trying to trick your brain that it is the real thing right? So what happens if we take that a step further and if I think DSD sounds the best - is it so wrong for that to come into play in the equation? I mean this is essentially a personal musical entertainment system. Let the brain take over and be entertained!! :slight_smile:


I still think DSD sounds best and where I have a DSD copy of an album I will always choose it over any other version I have. For me that hasn’t changed - despite failing my own blind test with my music and gear laugh

But the expectation bias is interesting. I don’t really over think it apart from acknowledge it’s clearly a real thing (for me). And then move on and continue to enjoy the music lol laugh


Dsd in most cases sounds better to me too. But great pcm at almost any resolution is still great.

Go find this album on tidal Billi holiday

body and sole. I own the analog masters from chad in dsd

a wonder full dsd sound. Loved it till I read that chad could not get the analog tapes and sourced it from hires pcm. Converted to dsd.

Still an amazing reference album.

Magic does happen when we go from one format to dsd even if it’s digital. My own version smokes tidals non mqa version but it’s still very good.

If you want a great example besides this go find civil wars on tidal. Billi JEAN it’s Ina 5 song cover album. Pure pcm from them not even mqa a very very good quality album and on the ds as it does good pcm enjoy it.


mi2016 - yes, easy to feel that a “blind” test was truly blind, and to be swayed by the assumptions made from it. It seems so logical! Scientists love them, even when not properly set up. A number of us have been there over the years. It’s a hard thing to do properly, and to know what you can actually assume/derive/conclude from it.

1234 said

Dsd in most cases sounds better to me too. But great pcm at almost any resolution is still great.

Go find this album on tidal Billi holiday

body and sole.

I see eight diff tracks, which one ?