Opinions on DSD Please

For sixties-vintage music, is the DSD process worth it? Is a Cat Stevens DSD going to be better than the (well-kept) CD? I am suspicious of any process that is promoted to be better than the (possibly lousy) original. But I admit my ignorance about the technology.

Have you been universally pleased (or disappointed) with your DSD purchases? If ‘disappointed’, does the age of the original (as a proxy for poorer technology) seem to matter? The label? The website or medium? Just trying to get smarter, not throwing bricks.

Thanks, John

The mastering is more important than the format.


First, I agree that quality of the mastering is the most important.

Second, it’s important to find out how the DSD was made. If it’s a direct tape to DSD conversion - those generally are very good. If it’s converted first to hi-res PCM or even Redbook PCM before being turned into SACD/DSD - not much of a reason to buy it in DSD, IME. In that case, buy the PCM. Unless you have a strong preference for the sound of DSD in any case, that is. But if that’s true you can also buy PCM (generally cheaper and just convert it yourself.

I have a lot of vintage DSD albums (e.g. the ABKCO Rolling Stones re-issues) that went direct from tape to DSD and sound great. I often think DSD is the best sounding format for conversion from tape - most tape like.


I not initially impressed by DSD and preferred High bit rate 24bit PCM.

I think that audio gear has improved dramatically now though and hardware manufacturers are doing a much better job of replaying DSD.

I choose to let Roon upsample all my music to DSD64 for my Devialet Monos in my main speaker system and upsample to DSD512 for my Hugo2 headphone system. I have exhaustively compared upsampling versus non upsampling options and DSD upsampled images better and has more extended cleaner bass.

As far as purchased music I choose as high a bitrate as I can get but readily acknowledge the quality of the recording and mastering are hugely and probably more important. When DSD first came out the early releases appeared to be engineered to impress (which they didn’t to my ear). I never got the same emotional connection from early DSD recordings but that may have been playback hardware related. Wadia 781 front end at the time through Plinius Reference Monos into Quad 2905 Electrostatics.

I have a remote Roon server doing all the DSP so my endpoint audio PC isn’t taxed with the upsampling or filtering. Upsampling/ filtering on local audio endpoint PC does sound inferior to my ears.

Regards Andrew

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Very helpful, Andrew et al. I’m try to cut through the alphabet soup and unsuccessful processes to get to the critical few.

Hi Danny

Can you name a few albums that you are sure they went directly from tape to DSD and therefore sound great?
Thanks in advance :+1:

Hard for me to remember offhand, but the most obvious examples are the 60’s Rolling Stones albums on the ABKCO label. The master tapes were converted directly to DSD and remastered by Bob Ludwig for release as SACD. They basically all sound fantastic. But even the hi-res PCM versions and CD versions made from those SACD’s also sound really good.

Classical vendors often list the source as tape on DSD download pages. Some of the specialist audiophile labels also make DSD from tape, but you need to be interested in classical music or other less popular types of music for that to help you.

Sony basically converted all its old tapes to DSD for archival purposes, so there is lots of legacy material from Sony and the labels it owns that sounds really good. That includes Columbia and other famous labels. Usually if you see one of these albums sold as DSD, and it was previously released as an SACD it is from that source. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is an example. So is the second "Blood Sweat and Tears’ album (album title is the band name).

Generally a little checking and you can find out, if you go to the trouble.

sa-cd.net or http://www.hraudio.net/ is a pretty good source for info.

Vendors will often tell you the source if you ask. AcousticSounds is very good about this. They either list the source info on their download page, or they will tell you if you ask.


Take a look at Blue Coast or Stockfisch Records for starters - both have DSD and other formats. Generally regarded having great sound.

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Thanks danny and dan
Will have a look :+1:

If you like classical, check out the Channel Classics stuff. They’re sublime.



If you have a local library that have SA-CDs lying around, this might be interesting for you, to try out the DSD sound before acquiring and files:

as discussed in this thread here:

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Has anyone seen whether 1) the SACD ripping works on Oppos 203/205; or 2) whether the process has been codified? I’ve seen command line descriptions and such; nothing else to it? J

NativeDSD.com is full of (mostly classical) music recorded in DSD or recorded to tape and converted to DSD. You can search there.

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might check this comment in the thread:

they mention an Oppo 103 there, so you could at least try with your model, to see if it works.
There is an instruction, too.

I purchased Tea for the Tillerman in DSD from AcousticSounds and it is amazing! I don’t have the CD but compared to the Tidal streams (both HiFi and MQA) it is much better. The format itself is not the magic…but it does seem to allow a good engineer do some impressive mastering to digital from analog. So, it’s going to be hit or miss depending on how the music was transferred/mastered. I don’t think the music genre/period matters…though I find classical, jazz, and blues get the best treatment.

Erich, Well, your “hit and miss” experience isn’t unexpected at least. If there had been any systematic technical flaws, they would have been forced out of business by now.

My girlfriend (now wife of 45 years) and I wore Tea for the Tillerman LP out. Fond memories… Perhaps I can rekindle those memories with a little DSD magic :wink:

Does not work with 203/205. I used a borrowed 105 sometime last year to rip my SACDs (~30) to ISO without much effort or trouble. Alas, my new 205 cannot play ISO directly so I found another utility ISO2DSF that creates the original DSF files.

Yeah, you are right there: If you want to use your music within Roon this step is inevitable, since Roon can’t handle ISOs natively.

As others have said, the mastering is by far the most important aspect of sound quality. I have many 44/16s that sound outstanding and DSD512s or DXDs that sound flat. That said, I can say that DSDs tend to sound better on my system (Teac 503-NT -> Hypex Monos -> Harbeth SHL5+).

Native DSD is a great source of DSDs and they are super helpful. Channel and 2L are awesome labels for classical, and the Bill Evans titles from 2xHD are stunning. Of course I have lost my mind and started purchasing DSD512s whenever I can (hey, disks are cheap now).

I agree that DSD seems to work best either as the original format or transfer from a high quality analog tape. If PCM is in the mix I tend to stay with PCM (though DXDs sound a bit harsh to me).

Choice for best DSD of the last few weeks: Arvo Pärt, Creator Spiritus


Thanks to all for their opinions and expertise. An amazing website, this.