DSD over PCM, experience?

I have a handful of Dsf DSD64 files I had downloaded from Prostudiomasters.com. Today I configured Roon to play DSD over PCM for the first time. I have a idi Zen One Signature USB DAC.

Sounds great either way, had previously upsampled to 352.8.

Interested in other’s experience with DSoP.

These Dsf files sound amazing from Prostudiomasters.com.

1 Like

I can’t explain in words how much the experience changes from dsd to pcm, but the difference is quite noticible, because it’s a different way to handle the audio signal.

So if you can figure it out, use dsd native to truly see the difference.
even more difference through a balanced output.

DoP doesn’t change the audio signal at all. It is just a delivery format between devices to encapsulate DSD in a PCM stream. It is decoded on the receiving end as DSD. Its downside is that it doubles the size of the data stream to do this. But there is no sound difference. It’s tantamount to AIFF vs FLAC. Both result in the same data processed within the DAC.


I truly believe that the sound quality of any of these formats is most influenced by the quality of the original master. ProStudioMasters and other hi res store fronts have encoding protocols that maintain certain standards that are uniform across all the sampling formats that they offer, and whether I purchase DSD or FLAC formats from them the files are all aligned in terms of DNR, volume leveling, etc.

You might make yourself feel better by setting your DAC DSD filter high to obviate any quanitization noise, although even at the lowest setting 1 bit noise is set right at 20,000 hz, which anyone old enough to use audio equipment can’t hear anymore anyway—I think it’s theoretically possible that we might notice subtle improvements in definition if the analog masters were set at DSD 128 or higher sampling rates, but DSD 64 is “roughly” equivalent to FLAC 88.2 at 24 bit (sort of), so technically there’s more information acquired by FLAC 96 or 192 than a typical SACD file.

I would go with the format that has the master you find most pleasing to your ears, and approach the numbers with some degree of caution. Hope that helps!


I disagree.
Yes, it changes the audio, it is not true DSD.
It’s similar, but it’s not the same at all.

PS Audio’s Copper magazine has an interesting piece by Tom Gibbs discussing that DoP is not true DSD and negatively affects sound quality:

“I can’t begin to tell you how that information shocked me – I think I had a more intense reaction to that revelation than some of the analog guys probably did during the big Mobile Fidelity controversy last year! Dalibor had been telling me for a couple of years to avoid any devices that used DoP for DSD (and there are a lot of them), because the PCM conversion that is part of the DoP process negatively impacts the sound quality. Of course, there are tons of audio professionals and audiophiles who will tell you that bits are bits, and digital is only 1s and 0s, and that DoP has zero impact on sound quality. There couldn’t possibly be any difference between DoP and native DSD. Dalibor tells me they’ve been testing this premise for years now, and in their findings, DoP always sounds worse than native DSD.”

I’m very sorry that you can’t notice it, but the difference is there and people can hear it.

Flac and AIFF both use PCM so here won’t make a difference, it’s just the format.

The truth is that DSD signal is not the same as PCM in Flac, Alac, Wav, AIFF… etc.

It is true DSD, just in a different container, the data, once extracted, is completely identical.

■■ Audio… figures.

There is no PCM “conversion” occurring there, but it is not surprising that someone incompetent enough to work for ■■ Audio would think otherwise.

Maybe on ■■ Audio equipment, as the company does not employ a single engineer, only marketers, but that is not the case for anything that was designed by competent people. Once DoP is unpacked, it’s same DSD bitstream.

People can “hear” the difference between “audiophile” fuses, too. It is equally nonexistent.

DSD is not the same as PCM, no one argues otherwise (it could be well argued that there is no point to DSD in the first place, but there are recordings made in DSD originally, so DSD is the “original” there). DoP and Native DSD is an entirely different matter though, and those are the same, once the former has been unpacked.


Well, to me it doesn’t matter what you “think” is a fact.
I’m backing what I’m saying with real audio pros own words and also my own personal experiences.It is also fine if you believe it doesn’t have a difference, I mean no disrespect, like just do your music your way and be happy.
But if you could provide a little more than your own opinion on the subject, it would be great, then I would be really interested in what you have to say and discuss this further.

The fact that DoP unpacks to exactly the same data as native DSD is … well, a fact, not an opinion. DoP is to DSD what FLAC or ALAC is to PCM, just packaging.

In other words, you want someone else to do your homework. Sure, no problem. You can start here: Direct Stream Digital - Wikipedia

A DoP stream is designed to sound like low volume noise when played back by a PCM-only DAC, while a DoP capable DAC will detect the presence of DSD data, extract it from the PCM and play it back as DSD.

So, if DoP was mistaken for PCM, it would play back as “low volume noise”.

1 Like

No, that wasn’t what I was saying, I just did it when I brought my source to the discussion and I didn’t say it like I was doing someone’s else homework.

That is not a reliable source, and you should never rely on only one source.


No offense, but the day I’d give any scientific credibility to the outfit you quoted would be a cold day indeed. Do recall that PMcG himself created the myth of I2S connections being sonically superior to USB (without evidence) simply because he was eager to sell thousands of his Directstream/Perfectwave SACD/DAC combos (which individually go for $6,999).

While bestowing such greatness on this arcane data transport protocol (for which he created a proprietary pinout), he fails to mention that he was only able to circumnavigate Sony’s DRM rights and access the unadulterated digital signal from SACDs if he used that specific connector. A small caveat, that is what we call a “conflict of interest”. So maybe not such a trusty source when it comes to DSD vs. FLAC?

Getting back to facts and evidence, and I say this as an owner of reams of DSF and SACD ISO files and a cabinet full of SACD discs, there’s truly no evidence for DSD sounding any different than FLAC. It’s a slippery subject because it really isn’t possible to cogently compare pulse code modulation to pulse wave modulation, or qualify the tangible differences between 1 bit sampled millions of times vs 24 bit sampled thousands of times. Apples and oranges.

But we can calculate the amount of data contained in these samples, and as I said previously, DSD64 roughly “correlates” to 24 bit FLAC 88,2, in terms of the sheer amount of data contained in two files digitized from the same analog master. ALL of this is really sketchy scientifically, but since PCM 176.4/24 bit contains TWICE the amount of audio data than DSD64, THEORETICALLY it should sound more detailed (note I didn’t say “better”—just more authentic to the original master, assuming the master is an analog recording).

There’s an endless number of responses to this interminable question filling up hard drives all over the web, half saying hi res PCM is better, half saying DSD is better (ie a random distribution). Because what we have definitively proven, empirically, is that the human ear, particularly the adult human ear, is incapable of discerning differences much past 16 bit, detecting a dynamic range more than 96 dB (which is what a Red Book CD is, by design!), or hearing a frequency range outside of 20-20,000 hz—and by adulthood that upper number caps off around 17,000hz and steadily declines year after year (especially among frequent music listeners).

So what can be legitimately extrapolated from this info, using validated mathematical equations, is that anyone who claims to be able to discern differences between samples in the rarified air of these outrageously high sample rates is exemplifying cognitive bias, another scientific principle that has been validated, conclusively.

It is these very susceptibilities we have as humans that convince us to part ways with many thousands of dollars for a DAC that a similar DAC with the exact same chipset can duplicate exactly for several hundred dollars, or less. It’s also the same reason headphone manufacturers refuse to adopt the Harman standard, because those tuning variations are what keep us off-balance and convince us that we need a $4,400 headphone to accomplish what a $1,399 headphone can easily perform for us at nearly a third of the cost.

I have my own opinion about which format I prefer, but I prefer not to share it with this nice person, because I’ve been through my own journey trying to get others to persuade me in one direction or another, only for me to eventually discover after much punishment of my wallet that I have to come to my own conclusions through trial and error—there’s simply no shortcut around this, because as I said, there an infinitely equal number of opinions on both sides of the fence.

Half the fun of this hobby is engaging in these kinds of discussions, and experimenting to our heart’s delight. Everyone’s opinion counts, as long as they are enjoying listening to their music. But given the potential costs involved, and the number of bad actors there are out there, I’ve made a personal choice to never speak authoritatively or dogmatically about the pricier choices—because even though I’ve spent my share of excess cash in this pursuit, I try to offer information that has been proven. And if I’m pressed for my preference, I always state that it’s only my preference. Because that’s all it is.

And I never, ever quote the preferences of parties with a stake in the game, especially when they offer their own opinions without backing it up with hard evidence. Not until I find a way to buy stock in their interests and qualify for a corporate discount! Peace…


That is true, you should never rely on one source, I do a lot of research about audio, but when I get between dsd and pcm and what I find about it is not clear as day.
Is wikipedia is a reliable source then?

I didn’t know about that, that is really interesting information I didn’t have!
So I might be terribly wrong and mistaken about this then.

1 Like

In general, no, but in this particular case, it’s good enough. If you want the technical details, you can check this out: DoP open Standard | DSD-Guide.com


I really appreciate this, I will read through all of it.

I really enjoyed reading your whole reply.
it was eye opening for me and reminded me why I got into this hobby.

1 Like

Facts do not care what someone thinks. They are. DoP being same as native DSD by the time it gets to the DAC is one of those. If it was not, your bank account balance would be different every time you look at it, too. Math is a rather abstract thing, but it is a universal language, as it were, and all the digital data transmission is math (with a sprinkling of pretty well understood physics). It does work as objectivists say. If it did not modern world would not exist.

And it’s quite trivial. There have been multiple experiments run, and not one single time were the differences you are claiming to hear noticed in a blind test. None. Nada. Just like no one, ever, had managed to hear any difference between a $20K audiophile cable and a zip cord, as long as they could not see them.

On the other hand, there have also been hundreds of experiments showing that when people believe that there could or should be a difference, they will hear it. Not even by some malicious design, it’s just how psychology works.

And sorry, but some guy employed by PS Audio (a company that, so far, hasn’t managed to make a DAC that would be as good as a $10 smartphone dongle), referring to some other random guy, is not an “audio pro.” Marketing pro, sure, company employs quite a few of those, although only Uncle Paul can to Barnum as well as he can. But audio? No, not a single one has ever been observed. For that matter I remember that before Uncle Paul managed to hack together a (quite mediocre) DAC with DSD support he was foaming at the mouth how bad and useless DSD is. Of course once he could sell a DAC, and a completely useless but very proprietary connector he used to… well, let’s not get into any legalities, it’s a grey area, but Sony was quite adamant that I2S stays inside the device where it belongs, and raw bitstream never makes it out.

If you have any references of people hearing a difference between two identical signals (which native and DoP-packaged DSD are) in a blind test, please present it. You’ll show every egghead computer science professor out there that they have no clue! Until then, you’re just repeating, for whatever reason, marketing copy put up by someone trying to sell overpriced garbage.They are at least doing their work. …

It’s not a source, it’s an ad copy. You might have as well brought in a link to an ad showing that if you bathe yourself in a certain brand of cologne, supermodels will be dragging you into the nearest closet for you to have your way with them. Except that at least cologne ads are commonly understood to not represent the physical reality. Whereas the unsubstantiated nonsense that advertising rags like Copper put out is presented as real.


Yes, I was wrong, I’m sorry!
I explained that the info between pcm and dsd is not so easy to find.
I will think twice before saying anything about it like I’m an authority.

1 Like

You didn’t act like you were an authority—my apologies if I came across that way. You merely quoted a statement made by an industry figure whom you trusted at the time, and offered your opinion. My opinions have changed wildly over the years as I’ve been exposed to new information and what I continue to learn from others—that’s what‘a great about these forums. I’ve appreciated all your posts!


There are a few things to remember here.

  1. We all want to think that our hearing is great and we can hear subtle and minute differences. But all of us (you, me, that guy over there) have biases that affect what we do and do not hear. Just because one wants to think that there is a difference and hears it does not mean that the difference actually is there. It needs to be demonstrated.
  2. “Who benefits?” has been a classic question since antiquity. If you bring in some “authority” you have to ask yourself first, who puts butter on his bread. If the “authority” works for a company selling certain kind of equipment, any claims that in the end mean that buying some of that equipment would be beneficial should be taken with a grain of salt. In some cases, everything some people say should be taken with a mountain of salt.

In this particular case, difference between PCM and DSD isn’t even important. There is no DSD to PCM conversion occurring. DSD is taken, as is, out of one bag and put into a different box. Box is kicked across the wire, where DSD is taken from the box and put back in the bag. That’s all there is to it.