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  • DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

    Anyone using the DSD files being made lately? Is there an advantage to them (better sound) over the FLAC or AAC files? I realize that the original recording has more to do with the quality than anything else. I am wondering if i need to think about DSD compatibility when purchasing new equipment.

  • #2
    Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

    It probably only matters if the original recording was done with DSD. Anything recorded with PCM will work fine with any lossless file format. In other threads, some people claim to hear a difference between lossless formats. I haven't done enough comparisons myself.

    In this day in age, finding a clean recording that isn't compressed to death or way too damn loud is a challenge. I have a small SACD collection and in general they seem to avoid the loudness wars compared to CDs. I suspect that audiophile versions in general are mixed better, but they aren't all good.

    I try and research before I buy. http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/

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    • #3
      Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

      DSD was conceived at a time where the digital/analog conversion was done at the 1-bit level, so it seemed like a good idea to avoid all the decimation and stuff and just store the 1-bit stream natively. OK, there's some merit to that. But, since then, DACs have moved away from 1-bit to multi-bit because the latter has proven to work better. DSD came along as this shift was occurring, and now there's so much pride and ego behind the technology that you'll never hear them say they missed the boat.

      DSD isn't really "better" than 16-bit 44kHz, but it is a little different. There may be some subjective opinions that trend toward one or the other. Probably not more than between different implementations of the same PCM DAC, but still. Now, if you have the option for 24-bit 96kHz instead, you're well beyond DSD's league (well, at least DSD64.) Naturally, you will hear from some people who would swear on their souls that PCM isn't, and can never be, the equal. You will hear the same argument about poly vs. electrolytic caps, esoteric cables, audiophile grade power outlets, and black Sharpie on the edge of a CD. I'm not going to say there's absolutely no truth in any of that (for the caps, I don't even know if I have an opinion, and I have an opinion on everything!), but the audibility of any of the above are highly subjective and nearly impossible to prove.

      There's something to be said for having a system that can play back DSD, provided you don't give up PCM performance to get it. Although: 1) If you're playing the audio back via software, it can convert DSD to PCM for you; and 2) If you're playing the audio back via hardware, the DAC is almost certainly converting DSD to PCM for you anyway. (Even the much-loved ESS Sabre converts to multi-bit internally. So much for that 1-bit purity.)

      Now, FLAC vs. AAC: Again, there are some in this very forum that contest the transparency of one or either compared to uncompressed PCM. I have done tests that ran a series of files through both codecs and back to PCM and produced a 100% bit-perfect result. Others claim the difference is clearly audible. In theory, that is complete nonsense. In actuality, there could be software chains that foul up encoding, decoding, or playback. I haven't found such a case, but it could potentially exist -- and that is all the credibility I am willing to give this argument. IMO of course.

      (EDIT: Oops. Saw "AAC" and read it as "ALAC". Luckily Pallas caught that below. Just to confirm, AAC==lossy, ALAC==lossless.)
      Last edited by SirNickity; 02-19-2014, 10:14 PM.

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      • #4
        DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

        Originally posted by Dabspok View Post
        Anyone using the DSD files being made lately? Is there an advantage to them (better sound) over the FLAC or AAC files? I realize that the original recording has more to do with the quality than anything else. I am wondering if i need to think about DSD compatibility when purchasing new equipment.
        Every SACD is in DSD. I consider Meyer & Moran's 2007 paper published in JAES definitive on the subject of sonic differences between Red Book (44.1/16) and DSD (or any other "hi-rez" format, including higher bitrate PCM) relating from the digital encoding. The masters used may be different between formats, but that's a marketing decision labels may make, not a technical one.

        If you own SACDs, you need a player that can decode them. Otherwise, don't bother.

        As for FLAC and AAC, AAC files could sometimes sound different. It's a lossy compression method, after all. Did you mean Apple Lossless, often abbreviated "ALAC"? Given the same master, Meyer and Moran proved that an SACD, CD, FLAC file, Apple Lossless file will not differ.
        Last edited by Pallas; 02-20-2014, 12:18 AM.
        --
        "Based on my library and laboratory research, I have concluded, as have others, that the best measures of speaker quality are frequency response and dispersion pattern. I have not found any credible research showing that most of the differences we hear among loudspeakers cannot be explained by examining these two variables." -Alvin Foster, 22 BAS Speaker 2 (May, 1999)

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        • #5
          Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

          Originally posted by Pallas View Post
          Every SACD is in DSD. I consider Meyer & Moran's 2007 paper published in JAES definitive on the subject of sonic differences between Red Book (44.1/16) and DSD (or any other "hi-rez" format, including higher bitrate PCM) relating from the digital encoding. The masters used may be different between formats, but that's a marketing decision labels may make, not a technical one.

          If you own SACDs, you need a player that can decode them. Otherwise, don't bother.

          As for FLAC and AAC, AAC files could sometimes sound different. It's a lossy compression method, after all. Did you mean Apple Lossless, often abbreviated "ALAC"? Given the same master, Meyer and Moran proved that an SACD, CD, FLAC file, Apple Lossless file will be not differ.

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          • #6
            Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

            Originally posted by generic View Post
            The study didn't include lossless files.
            So what?

            As for the rest of your post, my earlier post addressed your concerns completely.
            --
            "Based on my library and laboratory research, I have concluded, as have others, that the best measures of speaker quality are frequency response and dispersion pattern. I have not found any credible research showing that most of the differences we hear among loudspeakers cannot be explained by examining these two variables." -Alvin Foster, 22 BAS Speaker 2 (May, 1999)

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            • #7
              Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

              Originally posted by Pallas View Post
              So what?

              As for the rest of your post, my earlier post addressed your concerns completely.
              So what? If your going to quote a study, you shouldn't include things that were not in it. At least that's how I feel. It is only my opinion.

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              • #8
                DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

                Originally posted by generic View Post
                So what? If your going to quote a study, you shouldn't include things that were not in it. At least that's how I feel. It is only my opinion.

                The Meyer and Moran study was quoted as to the issue of hi-rez vs Red Book.

                The bit-perfect equivalence of Red Book and lossless 44.1/16 is well established. But you are correct that the Meyer and Moran paper is silent as to that issue. As for lingering questions about lossless vs aiff...If others wish to beat themselves up over non-issues, I recommend using an expensive brand of audiophool approved wire for the self-flagellation. The more expensive the more effective, of course.
                --
                "Based on my library and laboratory research, I have concluded, as have others, that the best measures of speaker quality are frequency response and dispersion pattern. I have not found any credible research showing that most of the differences we hear among loudspeakers cannot be explained by examining these two variables." -Alvin Foster, 22 BAS Speaker 2 (May, 1999)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

                  DSD DACs aren't exactly cheap and plentiful so I'm sticking with 2 channel. As far as flac vs. ACC, I've been ripping any new material to flac in hopes that flac is the way of the future.
                  1: Sony DVP-S7000 | Denon DVD-2900 | Laptop > Parasound Zdac > Denon AVR-5700 > Focal 826V | Def Tech BP2000 | (2) DIY 15" Subs powered by Crown XLS2500
                  2: Computer > Schiit ‹bered Bifrost > Emotiva RCA Control Freak > Crown XLS 1500 > Focal 706V | Def Tech SM450 | Velodyne F-1000B Sub

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                  • #10
                    Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

                    FLAC is the way of the now. While sources are not plentiful, FLAC can support hi bit rate multi-channel, so DSD not strictly needed. As always, the source matters much more than the method.


                    Originally posted by doctormorbius View Post
                    DSD DACs aren't exactly cheap and plentiful so I'm sticking with 2 channel. As far as flac vs. ACC, I've been ripping any new material to flac in hopes that flac is the way of the future.
                    I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
                    OS MTMs http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...d.php?t=220388
                    Swope TM http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...d.php?t=221818
                    Econowave and Audio Nirvana AN10 fullrange http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...d.php?t=216841
                    Imperial Russian Stouts http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...=1#post1840444
                    LECBOS. http://techtalk.parts-express.com/sh...ghlight=lecbos

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                    • #11
                      Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

                      Soooo.... The reason I asked is I am looking at buying a Marantz tuner. Some of the newer ones do DSD as well as all the other formats. They have changed the power supply in the 6007 making it lighter than the 6006. Probably not an issue that I would notice in the sound. The 6006 does not do DSD and the 6007 does. I have heard the 6006 several different speakers and I like it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

                        If you guys have an hour or so to spare, here's a video of the DSD discussion held at the RMAF last fall. A huge turnout of attendees, but more impressive was the huge turnout of panelists - a sure sign DSD isn't going away any time soon. At just over an hour, my mug appears to ask a question (elephant in the room)...... :p

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGwon6FDBr4
                        Live in Southern N.E.? check out the CT Audio Society web site.

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                        • #13
                          Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

                          Originally posted by generic View Post
                          ... If they spent the same amount of energy fighting for quality mastering and standards, then we wouldn't have to worry about it as much.
                          I wish this was the case so damn bad. I don't have the background or expertise in the details as many here do, but my ears work and the differences in quality I've experienced because of "whatever" mastering process was used is incredibly annoying, and disappointing.

                          In general I'm certainly a big fan of FLAC when the source is excellent. I use a dedicated optical cable from my streamer to receiver and of the very large amount of supported formats, FLAC always seems to win. I'm not familiar with DSD but at the moment it's difficult for me to imagine how it could be any better than FLAC if created from the same source.
                          Feel free to rip my assumptions apart when wrong, or fix if close.

                          Passive Radiators:
                          All PR(s) Vd must at-least double all woofer(s) Vd. Calc = Sd x Xmax to get Vd for all PR(s) and all woofer(s). If all PR(s) Vd at-least double all woofer(s) Vd they'll work.
                          For woofer(s) with large Xmax vs Sd, all PR(s) with Xmax at-least double all woofer(s) Xmax will work.
                          A PR max weight is said to be its Mms x3

                          PR Systems - tight focus with key parameters.
                          PR Speaker Design - thorough coverage.

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                          • #14
                            Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

                            Originally posted by Thump View Post
                            I wish this was the case so damn bad. I don't have the background or expertise in the details as many here do, but my ears work and the differences in quality I've experienced because of "whatever" mastering process was used is incredibly annoying, and disappointing.

                            In general I'm certainly a big fan of FLAC when the source is excellent. I use a dedicated optical cable from my streamer to receiver and of the very large amount of supported formats, FLAC always seems to win. I'm not familiar with DSD but at the moment it's difficult for me to imagine how it could be any better than FLAC if created from the same source.
                            I really don't know. Here is a place you can get the same thing in different formats and compare. http://www.2l.no/hires/index.html

                            I might attempt to get the DSD foobar plugin working and try them out myself.

                            I think spending a grand plus on gear only to play DSD files is silly. I'd rather build $1000 speakers, but I sometimes keep an eye out on a older PS3 with the right firmware so I can rip my SACD disk. Some of them don't have a CD layer on them.

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                            • #15
                              Re: DSD files vs FLAC or AAC

                              Originally posted by Thump View Post
                              I wish this was the case so damn bad. I don't have the background or expertise in the details as many here do, but my ears work and the differences in quality I've experienced because of "whatever" mastering process was used is incredibly annoying, and disappointing.

                              In general I'm certainly a big fan of FLAC when the source is excellent. I use a dedicated optical cable from my streamer to receiver and of the very large amount of supported formats, FLAC always seems to win. I'm not familiar with DSD but at the moment it's difficult for me to imagine how it could be any better than FLAC if created from the same source.
                              Agree completely on the mis-spent energy comment. I've bought a whole bunch of new CDs lately and most of them just don't sound very good. It's generally the same two things ... bad EQ (either a dull overall sound or too much midrange emphasis on vocals / drums) or too much compression. Of course there's ALWAYS too much limiting, but lately, I've been feeling like the whole industry is so used to squashing the drums through an LA-2A that enough isn't enough anymore, and it has to come out stinking of vintage tubes to be taken seriously. Too much of a good thing.

                              Also, if I may be pedantic... FLAC is a file format and data compression scheme, but it isn't itself a competitor to DSD. That would be PCM, which FLAC encodes from and decodes to. Same for ALAC and WAV (although the latter is simply a storage format, with no encoding or decoding ... usually. Although that really gets into semantics.) Of course, the line gets blurred when you're talking about music download sites, since you're more likely to see some combination of DSD, WAV, FLAC, and ALAC as download options, and not "DSD or PCM". The term DSD is used as both an encoding method as well as a file format in this case. Sorry if this is well understood, but it is common for people to be confused about the difference between container formats and the actual codec used within. (E.g., MP3 frames can be natively stored in WAV, MPA/MP3, MKA/MKV, MOV/MP4/M4A, among other containers.)

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