Cookie Marenco dems DSD

Blue Coast Records’ Cookie Marenco, one of the more gifted recording engineers around, is a firm advocate for DSD and SACD. But in the Sony room at THE Show, she demonstrated a disturbingly audible difference between one of her recordings of a solo violin in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral played from SACD via a Meitner DAC and from the original DSD file played back via a PC running Foobar, a USB link, and the new $1000 Mytek DAC. Yes, the converters are different, but the Meitner is no sonic slouch. Even so, the file had more of a luminous halo around the solo instrument and that space was better integrated with the direct sound. Huh?!?! This isn't PCM. A DSD bitstream is a DSD bitstream is a DSD bitstream!

DetroitVinylRob's picture

Really?! What does this mean John?

John Atkinson's picture

What does this mean John?

It means that I wasn't expecting to hear anything but a very small difference, not the enormous difference I did hear. - JA

cookiemarenco's picture

If you have the equipment (DSD DAC and an SACD player with appropriate DAC) you can do the test at home.  Here is the solo violin recording with Emily Palen.

We used Song #3, Light in the Fracture.  You can download the DSD audio and purchase the SACD here, if you like.  The music was recorded to DSD, by me and Gus Skinas, no compression, efx, eq used in the mixing.  I master it and sent the files off for SACD manufacturing, so no tampering was done to the files.  It's the same DSD audio.  I was amazed at the differences.  Thank you John for this post.

dalethorn's picture

After a few days with this it seems this solo violin recording shows up differences in equipment better than any other recording I have. Not bad.

JItterjaber's picture


The DSD/PCM differences were easily noticable. Unfortunately the Mytek DAC retails for around $1695 not $1000, unless the price dropped...LOL

very cool DAC from Mytek!

cookiemarenco's picture

Yes, the Mytek is about $1700.  To my knowledge, Foobar wasn't involved.

The chain was iPad controller with Pure Music using iTunes for song manager, then to a Mac Mini, to the Mytek. 

It should be noted that the Sony team spent some time getting all the firmware and software to work properly together.  I've heard that using Apple based computers may emmit some digital popping noises.  Keep your speakers turned down if you try this at home when switching tunes at first.

We just got out Mytek and will be setting up a system using the Mytek, a PC based computer, JRiver and a PC tablet sometime this week.... and testing against the actual master files.  We'll let you know what happens!




JItterjaber's picture

Apparently Mytek will be releasing a mastering version of the DSD DAC as well.  This will allow mastering engineers/audio people to transfer from a SACD hardware/player to hard disk storage/playback.

$1595 retail for the mastering version

DetroitVinylRob's picture

Thank you John and thank you Cookie, I will take a listen.


dalethorn's picture

I really like the delivery from Valence Records. I wish everyone did their download site like that.