the topic 'soft' sounding DSD is back again


#1

Paul has submitted a statement on soft sounding DSD with the DirectStream on:

http://www.psaudio.com/pauls-posts/chocolate-or-vanilla/

I would recommend PSAudio investigating the claim that DSD music sounds a little soft with the DirectStream. It is a serious complaint that deserves thorough investigation. I have now 4 DSD albums and they all sound very detailed, transparent but also a little boring and soft.


#2

Do you also find PCM sources to sound soft as played back on the DS as well?

That is, do you hear the DS as soft? Or do you only hear DSD played back on the DS as soft?


#3

My PCM recordings do not sound soft/boring, only my 4 single DSD recordings.


#4

Do find this to be true of other DSD playback on other equipment as well? Or only on the DS?

Are you sufficiently familiar with the specific recordings to know whether it is the recording or the format? What recordings do you have?

How are you playing them on the DS?


#5

I don’t believe my problems with DSD are just happening in my system only.

Anybody has other experiences with DSD?


#6

See, my questions above.

You want “investigating,” so let us investigate!


#7

Thanks Elk, but I believe PSAudio should be doing some investigation, not me.

Don’t get me wrong: I am very happy with the DS 16/24 bit performance, just not DSD.


#8

But you need to jump in and help. Your observation that four unidentified recordings input into the DS by unknown means seem ambiguously “soft” does not provide anything for anyone to go on. :)

What do you have to lose by providing real information?

Some have opined they miss the comparative transient bite of the PWD v. the DS. I do not recall anyone complaining the DS sounds “soft” playing back DSD in comparison to other DACs, concluding there is something inadequate with the DS. Of course, my recollection can easily be deficient.

There have been observations that DSD sounds different on the DS than PCM. This is, of course, fully expected. Perhaps you simply prefer PCM.


#9

I am more than happy to help is improving the DS, however I don’t think I can do much. I have not listened to other DSD converters so it is difficult to say something on comparisons.

In comparison with my 24 bit PCM recordings DSD lacks slam, attack & energy.

Maybe my current Bridge I is not helping but my 24 bit recordings just sound more alive and dynamic.


#10

ELK said " Perhaps you simply prefer PCM."

Both an interesting and potentially profound statement from our hoofed forum tidy-upper.

Seriously I am beginning to wonder if I might just prefer PCM as well although I do enjoy playing it through the processing path of the DS.

I really don’t know for sure but ELKS statement is definitely on the list of possibilities.

PAUL

We both respect the ears of a certain fellow who, if I remember correctly, converts his DSD to PCM for preferred playback SQ.

Am I remembering correctly?

Would this gentleman be willing to post what are the sonic quality differences he prefers and if he has any reasonable guess as to what causes them?


#11

I recently upgraded my server and acquired several superb DSD recordings. The DSD recordings (directly from original master tapes by all accounts) are simply fantastic in comparison to the same album taken from CD and ripped to flac.

I am firmly in the camp of “DSD sounds better” based on my experiences. I do not hear anything soft in DSD. Nor does it lack slam.


#12

I may have said this before, but I think the DS is probably doing both PCM and DSD as well as anything out there (and I suspect in most cases better). I think a lot of what’s going on is with the DS providing such a clear path for the music, what we’re hearing may have more to do with the way the music in engineered over anything else. I have recordings that are RBCD digitized from analog tape, RBCD that were digitally recorded, PCM that was a conversion from DSD, DSD that was a conversion from PCM, DSD that was digitized from analog tape, and DSD recorded directly. Among these I have versions of the exact same recording across two (sometimes more) formats. I’ve come to believe that the digital music that has gone through the fewest digital transforms seems to sound the best. Maybe a lot of these “soft” sounding DSD recordings (yes I’ve heard them) are not really (what I’ll call) first generation DSD.


#13

“I’ve come to believe that the digital music that has gone through the fewest digital transforms seems to sound the best.”

Sounds like a pitch for an NOS Dac, at the other end of the world from the DS.

Metrum Octave, anyone?


#14

The following DSD albums all sound very transparent but also a little boring and soft:

Anyone has similar experiences with these albums using the DirectStream?


#15

Maybe your best option is to get a hold of one of the Opus 3 DSD Showcase samplers and give it a listen. I have a large collection of DSD recordings, and most of them sound outstanding through the DS. Yes, there are some that sound flat, lifeless and soft, but this is a result of the mastering/engineering and not the DS. Let’s face it, some SACDs are just plain crap.

Most of my Redbooks sound amazing through the DS, but play one that is mastered poorly and the DS will hit me over the head with it like a frying pan!


#16
audiobill said "I've come to believe that the digital music that has gone through the fewest digital transforms AS PART OF ITS RECORDING AND PRODUCTION PROCESS seems to sound the best."

Sounds like a pitch for an NOS Dac, at the other end of the world from the DS.

Metrum Octave, anyone?

There. I may not have been clear enough, although I thought I was.

#17

In theory you are right. But I am not the only one complaining about DSD. It maybe be the specific albums, the DS or my preference for PCM (or a combination of factors).

So, is there someone out there with simimlar experiences with these DSD albums:


#18
adriaan said But I am not the only one complaining about DSD. It maybe be the specific albums, the DS or my preference for PCM (or a combination of factors).
There are those that feel DSD lacks what they perceive as a certain snap possessed by PCM. Perfectly reasonable.

I hope you are able to compare the same recoding in DSD and PCM and to give us your thoughts. I would also be interested in your impression of the same DSD recordings played back on another DAC and whether they still sound soft to you.

The topic is intriguing. No recording actually sounds like live acoustic instruments in a performance space - microphones hear differently than we do and there are many additional inherent artifacts created by recording and reproduction. Thus, identifying and embracing one’s preferences is ideal.


#19

I have several albums from Blue Coast Records - and a couple from Opus3. I have to say, the better the DS sounds, the flatter or “softer” all the Blue Coast Records recordings sound, to the point where I’m just not interested in listening to them anymore. The Opus3 recordings have always been the best sounding DSD I’ve heard yet, (and their Reel to Reel tapes are simply amazing) sound a little flatter but still good. I did a demo at a small audio fest, and everyone noticed how much flatter my DSD tracks sounded on the DirectStream.

Now, Paul and others have said that PCM had a harder leading edge that adds excitement to the music. So I’ve just chalked this up to; the more accurate the DS gets, the more apparent this difference between PCM and DSD is.

I’ve also listened to some true studio master tapes - and I’d have to say that the DS is the closest to Master Tapes I’ve heard digital recordings.

So I’m at a bit of a personal impasse - Is the accuracy of the DS showing what DSD really sounds like…or is the DS softening the DSD playback? I’m leaning towards the former of course, but I need some time to test and mull it over. I don’t have any other DSD players to play with unfortunately, so the only reference I have is the DS old firmware vs new.

Personally, I’d rather the DS be accurate and DSD is what it is, rather then have something changed that adds some distortion or something that makes DSD sound more edgy. I’m thinking this will all shake out for the better in the long run.


#20
Lonely Raven said I've also listened to some true studio master tapes - and I'd have to say that the DS is the closest to Master Tapes I've heard digital recordings.
LR, I know this may not be too easy to do (or even possible), but would you be able to give a sense of whether the "character" of the Master Tape sound was closer to good PCM played back through the DS or good DSD played back through the DS?