AUDIO SHOWS SACD TECH TALK — 31 August 2015

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You don’t have to drill very far to realize that John Siau, the chief designer at Benchmark Media, is a very smart guy. Over the years since I first met him, he has become a friend and one of my goto guys when it comes to the technical merits of this or that system, format, or accessory. He’s not a marketing guy, he doesn’t spin facts to his advantage, and he doesn’t need to write articles on the things he knows about but he does. And thank goodness, he does. Because the audiophile world needs more technically capable people writing clear and concise papers about things that make a difference in our listening pleasure and the pursuit of ultimate fidelity.

There are far too many writers making “subjective” pronouncements about equipment, recordings, tweaks, and technical issues and not enough competent, experienced technical authors sharing their expertise to balance the scales. I know a number of these people and they just sit back and laugh at the stuff that appears online and in the audiophile publications.

This myth goes something like this:

“DSD provides a simple and direct digital path between the A/D and D/A.”

“DSD is simpler than PCM.”

“DSD is not PCM.”

Anyone who’s read the “Reality Check” article on the front page of this website knows that John is not a supporter of the “Direct Stream Digital” format (You can join the over 10,000 readers of that piece by clicking here). I happened to notice a ping back email the other day from the guys over at Computer Audiophile linked to a discussion about an a new article that John posted on the 27th of August. The title of the article is, “Audio Myth -“DSD Provides a Direct Stream from A/D to D/A”. Perfect.

Needless to say, some of the “experts” over at CA has some pretty harsh things to say about the piece. They claimed that his claims weren’t true and that John was doing some heavy spinning in favor of his PCM-based DACs (which also is a first class 1-bit DAC for DSD lovers). DSD advocates simply refuse to grasp that it is never going to be a mainstream recording and delivery format.

One thread of the discussion focused on the fact that there are now available tools to do all of the needed postproduction processes (editing, fading, EQ, reverb, compression etc) on quad DSD staying in the native 1-bit format. I can’t say definitively that such a system doesn’t exist but I’m highly skeptical. The leading system for working in DSD is the Pyramix system from Merging Technologies and they chose to convert everything to DXD (which is high rate PCM) to do all of the postproduction processes. I was encouraged that CA founder and editor Chris Connaker had issues with the “compete post production system” claim by trying to describe the functions that audio engineers need to be able to do with raw recordings. Tascam was mentioned but I haven’t heard anything about a set of tools for working in native 1-bit DSD. I promise I’ll take a look.

You absolutely must read John’s well-written article on why the claims about DSD are pure myths. He careful to say that there are some really wonderful sounding DSD recordings but they are great sounding recordings because of the production methods of the team of producers and engineers and not the characteristics of the format. His position is one that I share. I think my own AIX Records tracks sound they way that they do because of my recording style and less because they are made using 96 kHz/24-bit PCM. The sound of the Christian Jacob “Beautiful Jazz” tracks coming from analog tape sounded really good yesterday. But don’t even think about asking for any additional copies unless you’re will to spend a ridiculous amount of money.

Here’s the link to the article, “Audio Myth -“DSD Provides a Direct Stream from A/D to D/A

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About Author

Dr. AIX

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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