DSD to PCM conversion question

I have a PS Audio Perfect Wave Dac mkII with Bridge II. This is not a dac that will play DSD. I use Roon to control the music, and that particular software will convert DSD to PCM.

I’m interested in purchasing the high-resolution version of The complete Beethoven piano sonatas by Mari Kodama on the Pentatone label. It’s pretty incredible! It’s also a little expensive and I don’t want to make a format mistake.

If I buy the DSD version, I will be all set if and when I upgrade to a DSD dac in the future. But as this might not happen for a few years, I am worried that the DSD version might not sound good enough on my system.

If that’s not the case however, and the Roon conversion from DSD to PCM will be on par with the PCM version that I can buy, that would be the best option.

therein lies the question: is Roon’s DSD to PCM conversion as good as a straight PCM version? Or perhaps even better?

IMO, buy the best master and preferable in PCM with your situation unless the DSD is direct from analog and the PCM isn’t.

The DSD in most cases would have been sourced from PCM in the first place. Is this item a direct analog to DSD capture is what you need to find out.


I would support @DrTone in that recommendation. What were you looking at purchasing? Someone may have direct experience of different encodings. There isn’t much direct analogue to DSD out there. Even specialist labels like 2L record to DXD (very high rez PCM) before down converting to DSD.

I have a number of these recordings, and I think they were recorded direct to DSD using Pyramix equipment. This is from the booklet from one of the SACD’s:

They’re really good recordings, BTW.

I would buy it in whatever format it was recorded in. I’m sure it will sound fine sent directly to your DAC.
The Roon conversion to PCM is good quality, you can try it both ways and compare.

I used to have a DSD compatible system and now I don’t. It converts DSD to PCM - it sounds fine and it sounds like DSD. In fact I can even tell that files that originate in DSD or are converted to DSD before arriving at the DAC (that converts DSD to PCM) sound different from PCM files arriving straight to the DAC.

I’m pretty certain that Pyramix editing occurs in the DXD (352.4k PCM) domain. In fact, Merging invented DXD for this purpose.

Pretty sure that’s right, but I’m not sure how much editing they do on classical solo piano, and the technical notes say they go straight from the mic feed to DSD. Admittedly, it’s pretty vague. I’d really like to see better technical notes as a matter of course, but I guess that’s up to the label. NativeDSD.com is pretty good about making that info available when it exists.

It’s not very clear on Merging’s web site but it does appear that there are only 2 mixing environments capable of native DSD. That is Merging Technologies’ Pyramix and Sony’s Sonoma. The problem is that there are a lot of mixing and editing limitations with DSD as a generation of recording studio digital technology and plugin’s are essentially PCM.

As @joel mentions DXD was developed by Merging to overcome the problems of a lack of DSD editing tools by pushing a DSD stream into a very high rez PCM stream where it can be processed by standard studio PCM tools. It seems that staying entirely in the DSD domain is possible as long as the editing limitations can be tolerated and the studio has access to a handful of equipment right at the highest end of the pro-audio supplier chain.

This link explains it much better than me:

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The system coverts only the fraction of a second needed for the edit to DXD, does the edit, and coverts it back to DSD. So it’s possible to have a virtually pure DSD recording if it is recorded “live” and not mixed and processed.

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Also, again, remember that these are compositions for solo piano. I’m reasonably sure that Mari Kodama is capable of executing very clean takes of individual movements of the sonatas, so not a lot of editing was needed on these recordings.

The 2 choices I see “out there” are single rate DSD & 24/96. 24/96 seems odd if sourced from DSD.

I saw that, too, for some downloads. It’s a valid point, and I certainly can’t account for it. Here’s what NativeDSD.com has for the discs they carry (It’s all the sonatas, right?):

Sonatas 28 & 29 — Meitner DSD ADC, Merging software, recorded at DSD64
Sonatas 11–13, 15, 22, & 27 — Meitner DSD ADC, Merging software, recorded at DSD64
Sonatas 30–32 — Meitner DSD ADC, recorded at DSD64
Sonatas 5–7 — Meitner DSD ADC, Merging software, recorded at DSD64
Sonatas 9, 10, 19, 20, 24, & 25 — Meitner DSD ADC, Merging software, recorded at DSD64
Sonatas 1–3 — Meitner DSD ADC, Merging software, recorded at DSD64
Sonatas 16–18 — Meitner DSD ADC, Merging software, recorded at DSD64
Sonatas 21, 23, & 26 — Meitner ADC, Merging software, recorded at DSD64
Sonatas 4, 8, & 14 — Recorded at DSD64

Is the info completely accurate? Damned if I know. (Speaking as a long-time copyeditor, though, I can spot signs of somewhat careless data entry. Everybody zones out doing lists, tables, etc.)

Not really. Certain vendors prefer to consistently sell 24/96 and not have a multitude of formats for sale.

Some professionals also don’t agree that the audiophile idea of integer family down sampling (to 176 or 88) from DSD makes any difference to the sound of the result.

If it is important to you another specialist label that does direct to DSD as far as I can see is 2xHD. Looks like it is a small club.

I have the SACD box set. The DSD rips converted to PCM by Roon sound great.

Among the download options, the iso files Pentatone sells have the advantage of containing both the stereo and multichannel mixes. You can get the same thing from the physical discs at a lower cost if you’re willing to rip the files yourself.