Your best DSD256

Thank you, @ Rushton. I had read your definition of PureDSD earlier and it made sense to me. Your definition does make sense to me. And yes, all of our recordings at Blue Coast Records were recorded to DSD or tape. No PCM is involved for mixing or mastering. (I just don’t like the sound).

Can I leave it to you to explain these differences to Jazznut? He confused me by saying Blue Coast Records would not qualify. The less confusion about these terms the better. There is already a lot of confusion around DSD. :slight_smile:

I do appreciate your efforts (and Jazznut and all on this thread) for keeping the discussion of DSD alive.

Kind Regards,


There’s so many definitions floating around. One which I think Jazznut is asking about is what I would consider pure DSD. That’s where an original DSD recording has been made and then without any further mixing or conversions is transferred directly to disc. That would allow editing, fixing the tops and tails, and so on, but no conversion to either analog or DXD.

Hope that sheds some light on what I think he’s referring to.

And let me add to what Rushton said. He’s basically correct. The story I was told was that when Pyramix released the DAW they used the term Sony had coined “Pure DSD” when in truth, Pyramix was using 352kHz PCM (which in those earlier versions used an awful sounding DSM for conversion). Sony forced them to retract their usage of their term and thus, Pyramix coined DXD in response.

Fortunately, while those early conversions from DSD to PCM sounded awful the current DSM L/P decimator they use is to my ears pretty transparent. Then there’s also the Murison’s Zephiir filter which is even better.

I have argued the point of “pure” DSD with Gus many times but to no avail. Going from DSD to analog and then back again doesn’t, in my view, live up to pure (nor does DSD to DXD to DSD).

The only pure I know of is DSD recorded and transferred after editing directly onto a disc. Kind of like direct to disc vinyl of the old days.

Hope that helps.


I once asked Jared Sacks (of Channel Classics), if he had to pull his DSD tracks off the microphones into DXD for editing his orchestral recordings, why he didn’t simply record to DXD in the first place. He replied with two reasons: 1) as @Paul says, the DSD256 capture from the mikes is the best sound quality he can obtain, and 2) if he archives all of those original DSD256 source tracks, someday the technology will catch up to allow remastering those source tapes directly in DSD256 and he’ll be able to re-release them in even better sound quality. Ah, we can only hope.

So glad to see Octave Records having made the transition to record in DSD256. I will be very interested to hear some releases in DSD256 vs the DSD64 that I’ve heard thus far. DXD mastering is not such a bad thing.


Yes exactly. I thought „pure DSD“ must mean, no editing/mixing step with PCM conversions or further D/A-A/D conversions.

Rushton explained what HE (and Cookie) meant with it and as he means „pure DSD“ is everything that doesn’t inherit a PCM step, then Cookie‘s process would apply.

All this makes clear, that such marketing terms have to be detailled a little more. I’m with you, that “pure” should usually mean “DSD and nothing else, no conversions at all”

Finally most important seems to be, that something was initially recorded or transferred to DSD, whatever happens later.

Thanks Paul.
One question… the only way I’m aware of to stay in DSD to edit tops and tails for making “tracks” would be in the Sonoma system at DSD64. Then doing the authoring to an SACD. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyway in DSD256 to edit for “tops and tails” while staying in DSD256 on the Pyramix. Editing and adding space between tracks would add “clicks” in about 50% of the consumer DACs that I’m aware of.

If you know a way to do tops and tails in DSD256, I would love to hear it. Last I heard from NativeDSD they required DXD files for submission.

Any thoughts?

Thanks for chiming in,

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Hi @cookie , I know you addressed this to @Paul but it is an issue that’s been near and dear to me for the past year and more in my writing about DSD releases, so I thought I’d jump in with an answer and will look forward to hearing from Paul. Tom Caulfield (NativeDSD’s mastering engineer whom I believe you know) has written on the NativeDSD site: “In Pyramix, using DXD Project with DSD content, all level changes, including crossfade edits when rendered in Render Mode as opposed to Mix Mode, use a software modulator to remain in DSD. DSD rendering however precludes all Mix functions. Only level changes are supported.” (here)

Gonzalo Noqué (Eudora Records) has told me that this has been a capability of Pyramix DAW since at least release v12 and this is how he edits his pure DSD recordings.

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Hi @Rushton… good news, we have the same understanding. We also use the Pyramix using Render Mode and not mix, for tops and tails edits. So then, we are using the same processes in DXD as Tom Caufield does for mastering. We do not use Mix functions in the Pyramix. This is what we’ve been doing for years.

I didn’t want to bring it up since there is a lot of confusion about conversions and rendering outside of a few people like yourself.

I’ll let you explain the difference to the others :slight_smile:



Sadly, Cookie, you’re right. We can easily edit (make cuts and move stuff around) but no way to change the level to clean up the beginning or end of a track. Thanks for the correction.

I am becoming more and more aware that DSD is indeed mainly a pure archive format whose full and unaltered quality cannot be sustained. Anyway it’s the best digital option for recording.

Why DXD can’t record in the quality it can edit DSD still is hard to understand, but accepted (by me) :wink:

DXD can and does make recordings of stunning quality when played back as native DXD. Just listen to any of the recordings by Bert van der Wolf downloadable for his site The Spirit of Turtle.

Yes I know them, they are really great! I was just referring to the experience of those Pro’s who compared DXD to DSD recordings in favor for DSD (Cookie, Paul etc.), even if it’s later DXD mixed.

Well, let’s try one more time.

Think of it this way. To get anything analog recorded it must first be converted. There is no such thing as an analog recorder without conversion: even tape and vinyl are major conversions.

So, the quality of recorded analog is completely dependent on the quality of the conversion.

All modern A/D converters first convert analog to DSD (PDM) and then if needed, PCM. This first conversion to DSD uses what is called a Sigma Delta Modulator—a fancy processor that is mathematically (to some extent) inaccurate (it guesses). Once the final results are captured, the secondary conversion to PCM requires a “simple” digital low pass filter. Though technically simple it certainly has a sound to it (which is one of the reasons early Pyramix users hated the sound of DXD - their LP filter sucked the life out of music).

The first conversion to PDM (DSD) is as close to a true analog capture as anyone has yet managed. As many know, you can take the digital DSD stream and put it right into the input of an analog preamp and get glorious music. Depending on the sample rate, there is nothing lost. A perfect capture.

A PCM recorder, on the other hand, is a two step process (DSD-PCM) and because nearly all commercially available A/D converters (pro or consumer) use off the shelf chips from AKM, TI, AD, etc. they do the best they can within their limited space. (This is the same problem we brought up when we first launched DirectStream. A dedicated FPGA used to upsample incoming digital before conversion to DSD (through a SDM) will always sound better than a chip).

By focusing on the best A/D converters using only the first step in recording (DSD), the capture quality at 2X to 4X DSD will always beat PCM (and tape).

Lastly, it should be noted that technically speaking, one could build a PCM recorder that equalled DSD if they used an FPGA, a lot of programming, and extremely high sample rates. It’s just never been done.

So, we stay with what works.


Thanks much! This was a great detailing explanation I didn’t read before that way, explaining the preference for DSD over PCM recording, which I so far just believed, but couldn’t test or judge myself due to missing own test scenario.

If tape and vinyl are conversions in a way digital or AD/DA conversions are, can be argued about I guess…I’d say tape/vinyl are degradations, preserving a basic principle. With own, but different negative impacts. Format switches in digital and AD/DA steps on the other hand in my understanding are format conversions within a given principle (digital) respectively conversions between two principles (digital and analog).

I think what you mean is, a tape recording also is a conversion of analog signals to magnetic signals and vinyl a conversion of those to mechanical storage. An interesting point of view, but what’s a fact is, that in analog recording and playback, the principle (analog) stays the same from beginning to end. It’s a different matter for me, not necessarily better in all aspects.

Thanks Paul!

@cookie, I spoke with Tom Caulfield today about tops and tails edits in Pyramix. He agrees that using Render Mode keeps the file in DSD except for that 10-100 milliseconds of the splice itself.

Tom said he would pursue trying to find out from Merging whether they ever implemented the DSD level control function that their DSD guru had created before he left the company about 4 years ago. This DSD level control is how they handle the volume control in their NADAC unit (or so Tom believes). If it can be done there, then it should be something that could be implemented in the digital workstation, if they had the engineering resources to put it in. So, Tom is going to ask. For his own work, Tom says he’s using Signalyst HQPlayer Pro to make DSD edits – I had forgotten that and thought he was working in Pyramix.

I’m back to trying to reply to @timm’s original question that started this thread. Here is a delicious Pure DSD256 recording from recording engineer Gonzalo Noqué of Eudora Records. Gonzalo makes some of the purest, more transparent DSD256 classical music recordings that I know. This recording of the music of Fernando Sor for solo guitar is simply scrumptious. Available from NativeDSD, here.

Ricardo Gallén, from the recording session

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And to continue on a classical music vein, here is a 2020 recording (released just this month) that I think may be the best sounding recording that Gonzalo Noqué has made thus far. Just a beautifully captured acoustic environment with nicely captured and nicely balances violin and harpsichord in these six sonatas by Bach. The recording is simply jewel-like in its transparent beauty. Available from NativeDSD here.


And now for something different in the eclectic crossover/world music vein, consider the debut album from Just Listen Records recorded by Jared Sacks in Pure DSD256 (2015) and introducing the concept to these musicians that they have to record just as in a live performance. All in one take, no fixing it in the mix, balancing their voices and instruments on stage just as in a live performance. Talk about folks sweating bullets but delivering amazing results! These musicians from different ensembles and different traditions give quite a performance. Available from NativeDSD here.

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Want to show off your system? This little gem will have you mesmerized with such realism you swear it is live. The tone, body, extension, and air of the high frequency instruments is just off the charts! The middle frequencies are so present, and the power and dynamics of the lows will knock you off your seat! Beautiful recording!! DSD256 from NativeDSD.


I just downloaded two titles from Blue Coast Music both are 256 DSD and they don’t disappoint! The first one is a title I also own on SACD Blue Coast Collection remastered the sound on DSD 256 is noticeably better that the DSD 64 version a great multi artist sampler of what Blue Coast is capable of! The second is from the late great Joey Defrancesco I first heard this on Qobuz 48/24 and the DSD 256 version is so much better in every way! @cookie and Blue Coast hit these two out of the park and there are plenty more! I see my account shrinking already!! Make sure to check out the Blue Coast website especially if you can play DSD 256!!