DSD or how I learned to stop worrying and love PCM

Warning, abbreviations to follow.

I recently got a DSD capable DAC and was interested to learn more about the fancy sounding DSD playback it offered. I read the right articles. I signed up at nativedsd.com and bought their starter pack, and then a pair of albums on promotion after listening to the samples and liking the recordings. I even went so far as convincing someone that Roon was capable of doing native DSP on DSD tracks without converting to PCM.

In short I was a convert.

And then the penny dropped; its all a load of marketing nonsense and even in pure DSD DAWs eg Sonoma or Pyramix, to do any editing they have to convert to DXD, which is, you guessed it PCM. So converting back to DSD256 is a bit of a conn, or it’s entirely so to be exact.

But let’s be clear, DSD has a place and it’s actually a far more common one than most realize. DSD is intended for recording the source analogue signal, and it makes sense to have that at the highest DSD rate available. And this is how the majority (if not all) ADCs work, start with a DSD stream and store that as DSD or PCM.

So don’t worry so much about DSD.

If you are a musician, hold onto the premix DSD originals just in case something better than PCM comes out and you can remaster to that.

As a listener, don’t bother, they just take up space and cost an unnecessary premium for no benefit over a hires PCM file.

Another day, another life lesson in the pursuit of Hifi, more expensive doesn’t equal better, bigger numbers don’t equal better.


Are you sure “Pyrex” not Merging Technologies “Pyramix” ?

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Indeed. Though Pyrex is also pretty great.

But something that stands out like dog b@lls to me as soon as I head to the nativedsd.com website:

As a ‘quick n dirty’ exercise, if I filter for the woopty woop holy grail of DSD releases (DSD512 !!), they tell you right there that 129/350 are originally recorded in DXD…

They are quite transparent, no? I don’t feel like they are scamming me. Didn’t cost me anything to see that :slight_smile:

Agree, I went down the dsd road and then realised I was paying more attention to technology than the music. Set your budget, pick a DAC, then get back to the music. :tumbler_glass::tumbler_glass::tumbler_glass:


The DSD512 is an odd one, they even have an article talking about how its upsampled as the highest recorders do DSD256. They end it by saying, why not buy both and see which you prefer, thus not making any false claims but leaving the door wide open for people to “believe” its worth paying to have a pre upsampled file.

Though its not really about NativeDSD, its the whole premise of selling DSD to the listening consumer, rather than the recording engineer. It makes totally sense on one end and zero sense on the other.