The first day of the RMAF 2013 edition is behind me and I’m looking forward to an even bigger crowd today. The AIX Records sales table ended up right adjacent to the registration table rather than in side the large ballroom where most of the vendors were located. It turned out to be an ideal location with continuous traffic all day. It almost seemed that Denver had given audiophiles the day off to come to the show. It was probably one of the best opening days ever. I only managed to get free of the table for a quick bite and a couple of dashes to the restroom. I will probably run out of many products today.
The company adjacent to me had an old Studer A80 1/2″ analog tape deck, which they were using to demonstrate real time transfers to DSD 128 using their hardware converters and the Merging Technologies Pryamix DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). The master tape had been encoded using Dolby SR stereo (Spectral Recording Model 363) noise reduction unit. Visitors to their display/demo area were able to compare the output of the analog tape vs. the output of the double DSD stream. As I listened to the pitch made by the audio engineer attending the equipment, I was interested in his assessment of PCM vs. DSD.
He was all about DSD over PCM. PCM is harsh and DSD is more “musical”, a very tired and inaccurate assessment. PCM is a complicated conversion and DSD is a simple conversion…very similar to analog (which it is definitely not). However, the reaction of a number of attendees who listened to the comparison ran counter to his assertions. A number of them preferred the analog tape output to the DSD version. To be fair, the listening conditions were hardly ideal. They were using a good set of headphones, but the comparison was done by unplugging from one phone jack and plugging into another.
Transfers of an analog tape are actually reasonable uses for DSD. It was originally intended to be an archive format and not a consumer delivery format. Taking a 1/2″ analog master…especially on that was encoded using Dolby SR. Converting the tape to both HD PCM AND DSD 128 would have been more appropriate comparison. I’m rather confident that the PCM version would be more accurate…but in audiophile shootouts accuracy is not necessarily a positive attribute.
There is a seminar today moderated by Dr. David Robinson on his favorite topic. It’s entitled “DSD Downloads, The New High-Resolution Standard: A Major Update”. The usual participants will be involved including Chad Kassem (Super Hirez/Analog Productions/Acoustic Sounds), Andreas Koch (Playback Designs), Michael Bishop (Five/Four Productions), Jared Sacks, (Channel Classics), Jan-Eric Persson (Opus3 Records), Matt Ashland (JRiver), Dr. Rob Robinson (Channel D), Michal Jurewicz (Mytek Digital), Jonathan Tinn (Blue Light Audio), George Klissarov (exaSound) and John Siau (Benchmark Media Systems). Talk about a stacked deck! Another love fest for DSD…except for John Siau of Benchmark, who explained the myths behind DSD in an interview for this site. The interview that I have posted on this site, is the single most visited page on ReadHD-Audio.com…over 4000 visits. And if you read it, you’ll know that John is not a fan of DSD. I wish I could attend the seminar but I can’t sacrifice 2 hours of potential sales to listen to the same biased pitches about how DSD is the “new standard”. It’s not; there are still no tools and simply pushing the noise further out to higher and higher frequencies using DSD 256 really doesn’t solve anything.
I have my own seminar tomorrow morning on the production stages of creating a high-resolution audio master…and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that I won’t be talking about making recordings in DSD. I might, however, endorse selling DSD downloads or files for those customers that want DSD. I’m willing to give people what they want…even if I know that it is flawed.