Yesterday’s post presented a few ways that record companies produce and release DSD recordings. You can check out the entire post yourself by clicking here but simply put I laid out two approaches: convert source high-resolution PCM files to DSD through an analog conversion chain (D/A/A) or record directly to DSD and then do multiple conversions in order to mix and process the material in the analog domain. The sonic results of all this bouncing back and forth between analog and digital is a reduction in the fidelity of the ultimate file. Why bother?
For those wondering how other labels record and release DSD or DSD recordings, you can check out the labels listed on the Native DSD Music website. This site is a good resource for those looking for DSD productions of various sorts.
The label 2XHD is a record label that I’ve discussed previously. They use their “proprietary system to process music masters originally recorded in analog or DSD or other format, to DSD in order to produce a unique listening experience”. The two owners have assembled a well-equipped studio that they use to convert sources to analog, master those conversions with analog compressors and equalizers before converting once again to DSD. I have no doubt that they are using the very best cables, tube processors, and state-of-the-art DACs etc. but I think the approach is more about hype and branding than it is about maintaining the “dynamics of the original master”. Any conversion compromises the sound. And the name 2XHD is completely misleading.
One of the largest contributors of DSD recordings to the Native DSD Music site is Channel Classics. It’s no surprise since the site is owned by Jared Sacks. I know Jared and his work is absolutely first rate. He’s a musician that has spent decades living and recording in Europe. When Sony came along with their SACD initiative, Jared was one of the original supporters…and he continues to believe in DSD. And his production methodology is one of the very few that can actually work within the constraints of DSD.
Jared brings his studio with him on his recording adventures. He lives in the Netherlands and loads up his car with microphones, preamps, converters, a mixing board, recording equipment (DSD), and a complete monitoring system so that he can set up his portable studio on location. He places microphones around the ensemble and then mixes all of the source live as he records the output of his mixing desk…of course, to a high-end DSD system. I’m impressed. His method works but it’s the recording equivalent of walking a tightrope without a safety net. The blend of all of the source microphones has to be right at the time of the recording. There is no going back and pushing up a solo line or balancing the low strings against the upper strings. The postproduction process does involve simple editing (which requires a momentary conversion to PCM) but in essence he’s capturing a live performance. His approach is very close to my own but rather than mix everything in that moment; I capture all of the tracks in isolation and take my time mixing after the sessions are over.
Then there’s 2L. Morten Lindberg founded, owns, and operates his label in Norway. He does amazing work and charges premium prices for high-resolution and ultra high-resolution audio files. But he doesn’t record using DSD. You might not know that if you read the marketing materials from Merging Technology, the company that makes the Pyramix system and peripherals that he uses. It’s very common for DSD/DXD to show up in SACD or DSD literature. In fact, Merging Technologies invented the DXD (Digital Extreme Definition) specifically so that SACD focused labels would have a postproduction tool. It’s deliberately meant to be confusing. No one in the DSD camp wants to admit that they have to resort to PCM to get any work accomplished in their flawed format. DXD is not a format. DXD is highrate PCM.
With all of this PCM stuff being used to create DSD files and downloads, it might seem obvious that DSD isn’t really what it pretends to be. Why not produce and distribute the original source files in PCM and avoid all of the conversion and inconvenience?
Morten prefers highrate PCM to capture his awarding-winning productions. Then he downconverts to DSD and lower rate PCM. Not native DSD at all.
To be continued…