DSD Downloads

Acoustic Sounds Inc. has today announced that it has launched a new high resolution download service, Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez, at www.superhirez.com that will differ from other such services by focusing on uncompressed Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology. Downloads, across all genres of music, will work with both Mac and PC computers. There are currently about 35 titles available for download with many more to come. High resolution albums will be available for $24.99.

“My customers have been asking me for DSD downloads for years and overall, I’ve always tried to provide the highest quality, best-sounding formats and this is one of them,” says Acoustic Sounds owner Chad Kassem. “ Along with SACD and vinyl, we believe this is another high quality option for them to get their favorite music.

“We’re gonna have CD files and high resolution PCM files, but most of our focus right now is on the DSD files because those have never been available for download before. No one has ever served that market and that’s really what our customers are asking for. Our plan going forward is that we have about 150 titles that we’ve done from Universal Music. They won’t all be up at the beginning but we’re working on it. We also have music coming from our own blues label. We will be adding content as fast as we can in the same high quality that Analogue Productions and Acoustic Sounds are known for; with the superior sound that people know and trust us for.”

Share | |
COMMENTS
Stephen Mejias's picture

This is awesome.

John Marks's picture

Google "Studebaker +logo" to see what I mean.

Of course, the last or next-to-last Studebaker logo was also very close to the previous Pepsi logo.

No criticism intended; I just thought it was an interesting parallelism.

JM

LS35A's picture

We have vinyl  and SACD as niche products. 

We do not need another niche product.  

music or sound's picture

Another format will not help to have access to interesting music. The reasons for SACD to exist was mainly copy protection. Most SACDs I own do not sound better than well recorded CDs. The introduction of SACDs had a negative influence on the development of DSP like digital crossovers and corrections as they can not be performed in DSD. I am using a digital cross over function in my Devialet and that makes a very significant improvement over a traditonal passive crossovers.

So DSD files are not interesting for me and besides most DSD able DACs convert it into PCM anyhow.

Louis Motek's picture

 

DSD can only be directly converted to analogue using a Sigma-Delta type DAC chip (used to be called "1-bit" and has been around for a long time, but the promoters changed the name as a new marketing campaign to include higher sampling rate). By this I mean without first converting to PCM.

 

However, those who have had the opportunity to directly compare, and these are very few because everything else has to be kept the same in an experiment and this is inherently difficult, inevitably choose the older and more costly parallel resistor type DAC chip to be superior in tonal quality. Because conversion of formats is not a real-time process, it can be done with any typical office computer without loss of quality or information. How many times does it have to be repeated that the only *real* aspect of quality in digital audio conversion is jitter content at the point and time of conversion. This has nothing to do with the sampling rate. 

 

The following article explains in sober language why the numbers race of higher and higher sampling rates is founded on nothing but misconceptions and is not the aspect of digital audio playback which deems better playback quality. In fact, it can actually degrade certain aspects of quality when ultrasonic electromagnetic signals intermodulate with electromagnetic ones within our hearing range.

 

http://www.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

 

You can also find a video version of the same info here:

 

http://youtu.be/cIQ9IXSUzuM

 

So many times I have been in listening tests alongside people who have measured hearing loss of high frequencies, and even when their hearing capability is truncated at some 12kHz can they hear qualitative differences between power cables, signal cables, etc. We aren't hearing super high frequencies, we are hearing and admiring the relative purity of tones and overtones within the audible range.

 

Countless times I have heard people prefer redbook files to so-called high res files. Why? Because the sum jitter content (recorded and played back) of the redbook versions was on those systems lower than that of the high res versions.

 

Sometimes people rather like the high res version over the redbook version. Why? Again, because during that playback, the sum of recorded and played back jitter was less in the higher res version.

 

What the industry needs is not a numbers race regarding higher sampling rates going up and well beyond our upper range of hearing, but rather, a system of honest accountability for just how, under what circumstances, the new high res versions were made!

 

Remember the CD descriptions: AAD, ADD, and DDD? The consumer was let in on at least an inkling of the prehistory of digital conversion of his purchased files.

 

Today, when you buy a high res version, you don't know what you're getting. Maybe it's just a redbook CD spinning, going into D/A conversion, then on into a Sony 1-bit DSD A/D process. Has often happened in the release of SACDs. Has also often happened even without leaving the digital realm. Do people realize (non mathematically inclined people) that in order to upsample 44.1 kHz sampling rate files to higher sampling rates, the most successful algorithms in this process actually first go through a procedure most comparable to MP3, and only then the new sampling rate is applied? No, they don't, unfortunately. They just see "high res, new!" and a price tag. It's a shame. Accountability is here called for.

 

It is ludicrous that when ultimate playback quality is the direct derivative of Jitter content these numbers races continue. The only reason there has not been an emergence and subsequent dominance of one single high res modern format is because it is not founded on the underlying aspect of quality, which is jitter. This has occurred only because jitter measurements border on the measuring equipment's capabilities and is therefore itself an art to measure and interpret. High res? Easy to measure and market aggressively. Audio marketing: "who cares what it's about, as long as the kids go."

Poor Audiophile's picture

After SM's comment, it's all downhill. Did anyone catch what Chad said? "My customers have been asking me for DSD downloads for years.."  He's giving his cutomers what they want; imagine that! So, if you're not interesed, move along! 

 

John Marks's picture

The Loewy coupe was the loveliest car ever made in America.

JM

music or sound's picture

"After SM's comment, it's all downhill. Did anyone catch what Chad said? "My customers have been asking me for DSD downloads for years.."  He's giving his cutomers what they want; imagine that! "

Stephen Mejias's picture

Interesting comments. I posted a link to Facebook regarding Acoustic Sounds' DSD announcement, and someone left this comment:

"An opportunity to acquire classic albums by Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Coltrane, and Reiner/Chicago Shaded Dogs in yet another format to complement the dozen copies of each you already own."

For sure, that's one way of looking at it. But this perspective also strikes me as being rather jaded and self-centered. There is an entire generation of music fans who have never heard or owned any of this music. Now, rather than settle for MP3s or some other compromised solution, they have an opportunity to own this music in a high-resolution digital format.

This announcement seems to me to be further evidence of high-end audio's interests merging with those of music lovers, and the music industry, in general. More and more high-quality digital music is becoming readily available. And the high-end audio industry is making it happen, which can lead to greater awareness among the general public of high-end audio. 

Haven't we been asking for more high-resolution download options? I thought we liked quality. Don't we want greater awareness? Don't we want freedom of choice?

Interesting also to note the contrast between comments here and those at AudioStream.

Poor Audiophile's picture

What a difference in the comments here & there! But wait, here comes Mr. Motek to show us how smart he is!

GeorgeHolland's picture

Funny how actually knowing how something works and just being a fan boy pays off hmmmmmmm?

Tim Mckay's picture

I really don't understand why this site is everywhere I look right now.  Don't get me wrong I am a big advocate of hi-res files and its nice to see a growing trend in the availability of hi-res music, however this site has like two titles.   And I think when they keep adding new formats and when everyone in the industry is doing different things it is confusing for someone who is just starting to discover hi-res downloads.

No to mention HDtracks has been offering hi-res downloads from all of the major lables for a pretty long time now and has an amazing catalog!!!

 

 

Stephen Mejias's picture

No to mention HDtracks has been offering hi-res downloads from all of the major lables for a pretty long time now and has an amazing catalog!!!

Hi Tim. That is true. HDtracks is great. But what makes this an important and exciting development is the fact that DSD files are finally becoming readily available. Acoustic Sounds is not the first to offer DSD files -- 2L, Blue Coast Records, Channel Classics, and a few others have offered DSD for a while now -- but Acoustic Sounds is the biggest company to provide the format.

HDtracks offers high-resolution PCM files, which are also excellent. DSD is not a replacement for PCM. It's another option.

Many people believe that DSD has the ability to provide even better sound quality. DSD technology has been around for some time, but it hasn't been easy to access or play. Now, however, more and more DACs can actually play DSD files. See AudioStream for a list of DSD-capable DACs. As DSD files become increasingly available, even more DACs will be equipped to handle those files. And, in a couple of years, most DACs will handle DSD, as well as other file types and resolutions. You'll be able to choose to listen to whatever type of music you want, in any format or resolution you want.

The way I see it, the music world is only getting bigger and more beautiful.

FSonicSmith's picture

being romantic and not seeing the world as it really is. http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/anoth...

John Atkinson's picture
Stephen Mejias's picture

being romantic and not seeing the world as it really is.

Alright. My world is bigger and more beautiful.

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f6-dac-digital-analog-conversion/another-example-why-i-hate-dsd-and-why-customers-who-bought-sonys-boloney-are-so-annoying-17112/

I admire Charlie Hansen. But I don't see how this post is related to anything I've said or how it demonstrates my inability to "see the world as it is."

I'm not concerned with "Sony's Baloney" or users ("poor schmucks," in Charlie Hansen's words) who suffer from what Charlie Hansen calls "audiophilia nervosa combined with computerphilia nervosa." I'm sure it's a terrible condition to deal with.

I do know that DSD has invariably delivered the very best sound I've heard in private demos and at recent hi-fi shows. And I believe that people deserve the option to purchase high-quality digital files of the music they love. I think Acoustic Sounds is helping to make that happen.

Matching_Mole's picture

I was floored the first time I heard a DSD file on my Oppo BSD-105, and I'm happy to see more vendors selling them. Here's hoping the selection improves quickly.

Louis Motek's picture

It's not "DSD" that sounds better, it's the use of DSD on equipment which would otherwise convert PCM to 1-bit and then convert that on a Sigma-Delta chip, instead of playing PCM back on a parallel reistor DAC chip.

 

If you meticulously built a strange overkill converter which included both a pair of high quality mono parallel resistor DAC chips, as well as a stereo 1-bit Sigma-Delta DAC chip, and if that converter were set up such that all the electrical conditions were as close to the same as possible given their different configurations, and if you had it set up such that when you switched from PCM to DSD input, the PCM would either get converted by the parallel resistor DAC chip or the 1-bit DAC chip, and the DSD would either get converted by the parallel resistor DAC or the 1-bit DAC chip, people would prefer the sound of the PCM on the parallel resistor DAC chip. They would also prefer the sound of DSD on the 1-bit DAC chip OVER the sound of PCM on the 1-bit DAC chip, congruous with the comment above.

 

On a 1-bit chip:

PCM to 1-bit chip --> more action required to get it there.

DSD to 1-bit chip --> less action required to get it there.

 

On a parallel resistor chip:

PCM to parallel resistor chip --> less action required to get it there.

DSD to parallel resistor chip --> more action required to get it there.

When people say "I rather like DSD" they are not talking about DSD, but the absence of conversion processes from PCM to 1-bit. They only believe they are directly comparing PCM to DSD. But you can't compare directly because you have to change the way the circuitry is working in order to go from one format to the other. And everybody knows, the more functions you can turn OFF in computer audio, the better the sound due to simplicity.

 

Those who believe the sampling rate race is cause for the perceived improvement in sound quality have been brainwashed by successful marketing campaigns. There is a very small community of audiophiles who know that parallel resistor chips have not been surpassed in sound quality by Sigma-Delta type chips. There was also a very small percentage of Germans in 1933 who...  Ok, not going there!

moncong's picture

This is certainly good news. Charles' rant, as I see it, centres around his own personal encounter dealing with his customer who is more likely experiencing a software issue. That does not decrease the merit of DSD, a single bit, pun intended. I have been using Mytek DSD DAC for over a year without any big issues be it on Windows 7/8 or Mac. Most of the issues got to do with DSD128 playback which now have been ironed out already (be it on USB2.0 or Firewire interface).

With the possibility of archiving SACDs using PS3 method, in essence: getting the DSD files, and playing back through the Mytek DAC, I can say that my time listening to the ripped files is time well spent. More channels to get the DSD files are always welcome. 

earwaxxer's picture

Just another way to extract bucks from us old folks... I have some 24/96 downloads from HDtracks. No better than the redbook IMO. I still upsample them in Foobar with Sox, min phase filter, dither 24/192 etc, and they sound MUCH better. Its crap. Massage the rebook that you ALREADY own. Dont waist your hard earned cash on snake oil...

X
Enter your Stereophile.com username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading