I don’t mean to single out Sound Liaison with regards to the pricing of DSD conversions of their high-resolution 96/24 PCM masters. Their recordings are actually spectacular (maybe because they make them at 96 kHz/24-bit PCM?). We share many techniques when it comes to capturing a live performance. Yesterday, I wrote to them and inquired about the additional expense of the DSD conversions. Here’s what they said:
The pricing for DSD is a combination of the extra work it takes to make an accurate DSD master and the disc space it uses (you need DSD-dff and DSD-dsf both).
Plus it’s the market…in general; a DSD master is more valuable then a PCM master. But I agree that the PCM is the most original so from that point of view it should be more equal.
I agree that it does take additional work to convert a high-res PCM file to a DSD in both DSD-dff and DSD-dsf, but compared to the production time spent actually making the recordings and completing all of the post production stages associated with the original master, the conversion is really not that big a deal. The iTrax site offers 21 different versions of each of my tracks…talk about production time and disc space!
The other statement in his response resonated with a number of readers yesterday in their comments. Thanks to the dozens of misleading and highly biased reports done in audiophile publications and present on the “love fest” DSD panels at various audio trade shows, DSD is being promoted as “more analog-like” (which isn’t true…a study determined that listeners couldn’t tell the difference between a PCM and DSD encoded file of the same source. Read my post on the study by clicking here.) and therefore deserving of a higher price. The market is driving the price premium for DSD according the Frans and many readers pointed out the same thing.
It’s a business decision. No surprise, I guess. The guys at Sound Liaison are offering customers a choice between a downconverted DSD file and the original “more equal” high-resolution PCM file. No one is making visitors to their website spend the additional dollars for the DSD file.
I wrote back to Frans and thanked him for his response and I invited him to make his wonderful tracks available through iTrax.com. I’m not sure they will agree but if they do, I would have to decide whether to offer the PCM and DSD files or stick with the better format and leave the DSD conversions for someone else to post. I also asked him about the process they use to do the conversions.
Reader Phil made a great suggestion in a comment yesterday. He wrote:
“What you could do is sell DSD downloads for *less* than your PCM downloads, with the notation that:
‘If your system is capable of playing 96/24 PCM, that will get you better sound than DSD can, since with 96/24 PCM you’ll be listening to the music as we originally recorded and mixed it, without the removal of high frequencies above 22 KHz that DSD requires. With 96/24 our downloads give the full overtone structure of the instruments and voices (up to 48 KHz) that lets them – and the room they’re playing in – sound real.’
Only if PCM is priced *higher* than DSD will these folks have any chance of recognizing the real relative values of the formats.”
I’m going to figure out how the best way to make the conversions to DSD and post a couple of examples on the FTP site. I’ll let you decide which you prefer.