Hi-res DSD files vs SACD sound quality

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Romany, Oct 13, 2021.

  1. Romany

    Romany Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Recently I have downloaded a few DSD and hi-res PCM albums and was very impressed. Some sounded noticeably better to Tidal MQA streams (fed via Zen Signature DAC in my office) and on par with my hifi turntable setup.

    Specific album sound quality and format availability aside, as these are often more important factors, I was curious if a relatively "inexpensive" SACD transport like Arcam CDS50 playing MoFi SACD discs (for example) would offer a sound quality similar to DSD files? I realize it's not a native DSD player but read very positive reviews of it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  2. C.Ludwig

    C.Ludwig Active Member

    Location:
    Kentucky
    I have 2 Players with internal DACs which play SACDs. One of those will also play 5.1 SACDs, as well as output DSD via HDMI. I have another DAC less player which will output stereo or 5.1 SACD via HDMI. So far, I cannot distinguish DSD downloads from SACDs of the same music, perhaps because the Music from either download or SACD is being processed by the same DAC: OPPO-205, Parasound P6, or Marantz NR1200. Now, I still prefer SACD to DSD downloads. SACD has resell value, less number of clicks to play, and no storage issues.
     
  3. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    DSD always sounded too smooth for me in all the DACs I tried it on.
    Not as much dynamics and punch


    I prefer PCM
     
  4. Romany

    Romany Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Thanks! Good to know you hear no difference between files and SACDs.
     
    bru87tr likes this.
  5. hoytis

    hoytis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    I'm new to hi-res digital, but wouldn't the SACD and DSD sound the exact same? The disc is a just vehicle for the file...they're both DSD, no?
     
  6. Romany

    Romany Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    With iFi DAC DSD files sounded very good - I was honestly blown away. But I agree that they do sound smoother and perhaps that's something I liked.
     
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  7. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco

    Yeah to each their own of course. All of this is subjective.
     
  8. Romany

    Romany Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    They both deliver the same format, but I never owned a SACD player and wasn't sure if the transport adds any difference to the end sound. Plus the player I mentioned above is not a native DSD - its DAC converts DSD to PCM.
     
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  9. hoytis

    hoytis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    Ahhh....got it. Thanks.
     
  10. bru87tr

    bru87tr Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA
    I always thought convert to PCM sounded best. Full, warmer sound. DSD always sounded cold and sterile to me.

    This is both on my player and on my portable setup.
     
    Romany likes this.
  11. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    Location:
    Malaysia
    SACD and DSD files may not sound the same due to the component handling the playback. It’s not just 1s and 0s.

    Try playing back an SACD on a Marantz SA-10 and a true DSD file on a cheap streamer (of course the built in DAC is another factor too). You will hear a difference.
     
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  12. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ottawa
    Using Sony UBP-X800 and X800 mkII streamer/players' HDMI outputs...

    I've never noticed a difference between a streamed DSD file and the SACD it was ripped from (both stereo and multichannel.)

    I've also never noticed a difference whether the Sonys were set to output native DSD or PCM.

    Same goes with every previous generation of Sony BD streamer/player that was SACD/DSD-capable.

    I've got a couple of older Oppo DV-980H players that are SACD-capable and have HDMI outputs, and notice no difference whether the output is set to native DSD or PCM.

    Jeff
     
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  13. oskar

    oskar Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Poland
    Not want to be a bummer but normal flac files also sound better than MQA files from Tidal. You don't even need hi res for that
     
    Lonevej, The Pinhead and C.Ludwig like this.
  14. Romany

    Romany Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    For sure. Arcam player most likely is excellent but the main knock on it for me is the lack of DSD support. I don't mind that it converts DSD from SACD to PCM, but it won't play DSD files either, and I have a bunch of those. I decided to stick with using my streamer and files for now, and perhaps start saving for a Technics player which I think is the cheapest one offering native DSD support. Marantz SA-10 is way out of my price range ;)
     
  15. Romany

    Romany Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    I wish Sony offered stereo-out jacks besides HDMI... they do offer native DSD support at much lower price points but their products tend to be more video-centric, not as much audio(phile).

    I think it depends on the files and individual albums. Some files, even hi-res, I own sound on the same level with Tidal MQA but many surpass it...
     
  16. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    Location:
    Malaysia
    The SA-10 really impressed me and I love it but can’t justify getting one. For me Tidal is convenient and easy access to tons of music. DSD files are convenient. Just keep mine in a Samsung portable SSD unit.
     
  17. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    This is correct. the transport should make no difference as the data is being fed to the DAC in uncompressed DSD64. Assuming you're using the same DAC, fed either from a file or transport, if the transport did make a difference, that would actually speak poorly of the transport for not being able to read/decode (eg. sometimes DST compression is used)/transmit the data in a reliable "bit-perfect" fashion.

    Regarding PCM vs. DSD, it depends on the DAC and settings to a certain extent. Digital conversion of DSD to PCM is typically very good these days so should be transparent.

    Different DACs will handle DSD differently. For example, recently I spoke of the RME DAC with AKM chip with the ability to do "DSD Direct":
    MEASUREMENTS: DSD Testing with SoX-DSD Signals Part II (RME ADI-2 Pro FS R Black Edition, DSD Direct, Filter @ 50/150kHz)

    And we can compare that to even an excellent PCM machine like the Topping D90SE when doing DSD with its ESS chip (not as good DSD dynamic range):
    MEASUREMENTS / REVIEW: Topping D90SE DAC - Part II: Resolution

    Differences are not huge and at best subtle. But they're there... Personally, I rarely use DSD due to the lack of flexibility and DSP potential. Also, the files tend to be unnecessarily large due to limited compression tools/compatibility for the files (although I have started archiving with WavPack over the years). That ultrasonic noise is another thing to be mindful of with high-bandwidth amplifiers.
     
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  18. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    Location:
    Malaysia
    My own CD rips, using JRiver (no tweaking) and a simple Asus optical drive, sounds better than Tidal but oh well … Tidal is just convenient.
     
  19. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    FYI: the MOFI SACDs have mastering that is usually exclusive to those discs. The same stuff usually isn't available as downloads through official channels. Whether you like MOFI's job on a specific album is another matter.
     
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  20. C.Ludwig

    C.Ludwig Active Member

    Location:
    Kentucky
    The Sony UBP-X1100ES has RCA stereo output.
     
  21. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    IME, streaming local files over my network > Oppo 205 spinning any disc (DSD or PCM).
    My network consists of a home-built NAS w/ a media server & music stored on an SSD. I have JRiver MC software installed on a different Win10 PC which sends the files to my PS Audio DS DAC. I see absolutely no reason to spin a disc ever again.
     
  22. dwilpower

    dwilpower Forum Resident

    Location:
    Glasgow Scotland
    I was always under the impression DSD was SACD
     
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  23. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident

    Location:
    CA
    SACD is DSD64…download DSD goes up to DSD 1024, though very few files are available at that resolution. The highest commonly available is DSD256 and some DSD512. By the way, most SACDs are recorded in PCM and transferred to DSD. Some are pure DSD, but that resolution is hard to edit. And some SACDs derive from analog master tapes.
     
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  24. ATSMUSIC

    ATSMUSIC Forum Resident

    Location:
    MD, USA
    Can anyone point me to a place to buy DSD downloads? I remember one place I visit a lot used to sell them but don't see them there anymore.
     
  25. Bachtoven

    Bachtoven Forum Resident

    Location:
    CA
    Nativedsd.com
     
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