Sometimes you just have to wonder who dreams this stuff up. I received an email from a reader the other day about a “clever” technique to remove “the digital harshness” from MP3 files. We’ve already looked at a couple of algorithms from Harman and Sony…Clari-Fi and DSEE respectively…that attempt to restore the high frequency information that is thrown away by all of the “lossy” data compression techniques. The article over at monoandstereo.com advocates converting all of your MP3 files to DSD. And not just any old DSD flavor will do…they want you to use DSD 256 or DSD 512. I wasn’t aware that DSD 512 had reached the consumer level yet. Engineers like Michael Bishop are using DSD 256 to make new masters but moving to 22.5792 MHz and 1-bit to rescue 96 kbps MP3 files seems like overkill to me. But that’s what the article wants you to do.
Let’s assume that this technique actually “make (our music) more analogue sounding”. One of the primary reasons for encoding music using lossy techniques was to make the files small enough to fit on our iPods or other portable music players. Take a look at the illustration below for a size comparison between an MP3 file and the same file in DSD 256 and DSD 512 (I couldn’t even fit the DSD 512 circle on the page!).
Figure 1 – This is a chart that I’ve displayed before developed by Blue Coast Records showing different file sizes. I’ve expanded it to include DSD 256/512. [Click to Enlarge]
Is there anyone that believes that converting MP3 files to DSD 256/512 would be worth the file size tradeoff? Wouldn’t a better solution be to reacquire the files at a higher fidelity level rather than trying to resurrect sound that has been thrown away using a conversion technique that increases the file size by almost 250 times? Playing the original CD or an MP3 at 320 kbps would do a better job.
The people behind this effort are making small, inexpensive DSD converters…the nano iDSD and the soon to be released micro iDSD. Since there’s really not that much downloadable content available in the DSD format, it’s pretty obvious that pitching a technique that converts your existing MP3 library to DSD makes a lot of sense. Or perhaps not when you think about the size of the files that you’re going to be hauling around.
There may be reasons why you or others prefer the sound of DSD to PCM or MP3s. I read a lengthy post over at AVS Forum (I got an email alerting me to a thread I was following) from a reasonable individual that was all about the “superiority of DSD over PCM”. He’s certainly entitled to his opinion but I think he would acknowledge that using mega high bit rate DSD to “clean” up MP3 files might not be the best solution.
It might be better for audio enthusiasts to leave people that are still listening to “Reduced Resolution” MP3 files alone and focus on real music fans. Why bother trying to fix a music selection and just start with a good one in the first place?