Dr. AIX's POSTS SACD — 17 December 2013


Whenever a comment is made that references this site (in this case a link to the John Siau interview…which has now received over 5500 views!), I get a notification. Today, someone referenced the interview with John in a series of comments on the Computer Audiophile site. Chris Connaker posted a link to an article written by Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustics, makers of very high-end equipment. The title of the piece is “World’s First Valid Comparison of PCM versus DSD?”

It begins with:

“Recently the introduction of computers into home audio playback systems has made possible an unforeseen occurrence — the reintroduction of DSD, the modulation scheme used in Sony’s failed format of SACD from the turn of the millennium.

At the end of the 1990s as the CD patents were expiring, so was a huge revenue stream for Sony and Philips, developers of the Compact Disc format. Anxious to replace the CD with another exclusive format that would also generate licensing income, Sony and Philips tried again with the Super Audio Compact Disc or SACD. In the meantime, none of the other hardware manufacturers were having any of it. They all saw the explosive growth of DVD as the wave of the future and wanted to base any new format on DVD. Thus began one of the most bizarre chapters in the history of audio formats.”

Here’s a link to the entire article Read the article

As you would expect, the CA post immediately stirred the pot about this touchy subject among advocates on both sides of this latest “format war”. There are a couple of very insistent individuals that post with way too much regularity on that site about that topic (DSD proponents). If you have too much time on your hands, feel free to sample some of the usual musing on the topic. I’ve pretty much given up trying to make sense of these people.

What I did find amusing was the title of the piece. It’s a showstopper…you just have to read an article called, “World’s First Valid Comparison of PCM versus DSD”. It might make you think that Charles and the folks at Ayre have actually done something new and innovative with regards to DSD vs. PCM. I’ll skip right to the punch line and save you the trouble of reading the article. They didn’t do the first nor did they do a valid comparison of these two formats.

I do applaud Charles for saying much the same thing that I’ve been saying here for these past 8 months. It takes a brave man to publicly take on the Sony juggernaut and the proponents of DSD. The article is accurate with regards to the facts behind the format and the misinformation behind the SACD format and DSD.

But Charles and his team offer up a series of recordings made in DSD and PCM for comparison. You can download the files and listen for yourself from their site. But just like the flaws in the Boston Audio Society study that pronounced CD and HD media as identical, the team at Ayre transferred older vinyl LP through their A to D converters making the test pretty useless, in my opinion. These are the files that you can compare. I’ll download them tomorrow and get back to with my assessment, but I’m already disappointed that the sources are vinyl LPs. Why choose an inferior audio recording format to establish the differences between formats that are superior?

Doesn’t it make more sense to start with a new recording recorded through the same signal path to both DSD and HD-PCM? That’s what a group of us did back in March. I’d say that was a whole lot more valid and it happened nine months ago.

To be continued.

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About Author


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

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