We’ve entered February and it’s time once again to visit Brian’s Corner. In this edition I’ll tell you about getting Free DSD Tracks, equipment that plays Multichannel DSD music files and a new Multichannel DSD 256 album from Iso Mike.
Free DSD Tracks to Test Your New DAC and Portable DSD Player
Santa has been good to many listeners as I have received several questions in the new year about how to set up new DSD Digital to Analog Converters (DACs) and how to try out different DSD bit rates (DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD 256) and channel configurations (Stereo, Binaural and Multichannel).
A good place to start your testing is to pick up some Free DSD Tracks and try them out on your new DAC or Portable DSD player. That will tell you which DSD bit rates work on your system – and which do not. At no cost to you.
Once you get a Free Registration at the NativeDSD Music store and sign-in to the NativeDSD website, you will have access to many Free DSD Tracks for this evaluation and testing. Let’s look at what is available.
After you log in to the NativeDSD web site, select MUSIC, TEST FILES from the main menu, or click here to go to the “Members Only” section of the NativeDSD web site and download several Free DSD Test Tracks.
The first series of Free DSD Test Tracks, also known as Just Listen Collection 1 – is found by clicking on the blue album cover (shown above). Here you will be presented with 13 Free Tracks of Music in various DSD bit rates (DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD 256) and channels (Stereo and Multichannel). A few of the tracks are also available in DXD Stereo for listening and comparison purposes.
Just Listen 1 provides the listener and new DAC owner with a variety of musical genres and performances to evaluate your new audio equipment. Be sure to consider purchasing the full album(s) of the music that you enjoy during your visit to the Just Listen 1 section to thank the artists for participating in the DSD Test Track program.
Next, we have the Mendelssohn Session. This is a performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by the Budapest Festival Orchestra under the baton of conductor Ivan Fischer
The session was recorded at two different Direct Stream Digital (DSD) bit rates – Single Rate DSD (DSD 64fs) and Quad Rate DSD (DSD 256fs) using two of the recording industry’s best Analog to Digital Converters (ADCs) – the Grimm Audio AD1 (at DSD 64fs) and the Merging Technologies Horus (at DSD 256fs) during a dedicated recording session in Budapest. With two of the industry’s best known DSD recording and mastering engineers: Jared Sacks from Channel Classics Records and Tom Caulfield from the NativeDSD Mastering Lab at the controls.
This set of tracks lets the listener compare the sonic capabilities and flavors of these two top DSD converters. They also provide a comparison of DSD bit rates.
In this section, listeners will be able to download and listen to the following 4 editions of this unique session, at no cost:
Original DSD Recordings
- DSD 64 (original from Grimm AD1 Analog to DSD converter)
- DSD 256 (original from Merging Technologies Horus Analog to DSD converter)
Downsampled DSD Recordings from Horus DSD 256 Original
- DSD 64 (downsampled from DSD 256 to DSD 64 via Horus)
- DSD 128 (downsampled from DSD 256 to DSD 128 via Horus)
The final Free DSD Test Track is from the first movement of Mahler’s 3rd Symphony performed by the Budapest Festival Orchestra, conducted by Ivan Fischer. It is a session outtake recorded by NativeDSD Mastering Engineer Tom Caulfield. The recording features three DPA 4041SP microphones for the Left, Center and Right channels and two DPA 4006A microphones with nose cones for the Surround channels. The Analog to DSD 256 Conversion was done with a Horus converter from Merging Technologies.
This is an unedited native DSD 256 recorded session excerpt optimized for 5.0 surround sound by microphone selection and placement. It was converted to 5.0 surround in DSD 128, DSD 64 and DXD, and additionally mixed to 2.0 channel for Stereo listening. Listeners will get a backstage peek into the session recording of a major orchestra in full DSD 256 Surround Sound. It’s worth a serious listen – especially if you have a system capable of DSD 256 Surround Sound.
Playing Multichannel DSD Files
Recently NativeDSD has been receiving more questions about playing Multichannel DSD music downloads. This is probably not surprising as the record companies participating in the NativeDSD Music store continue to release more and more albums in this format.
Today, NativeDSD has well over 950 albums available in Multichannel DSD – including 115 in DSD 128 Multichannel and even 91 albums available in DSD 256 Multichannel sound! So, let’s look at the products that Oppo Digital, exaSound and Merging Technologies have for our listeners to bring Multichannel DSD into your listening room.
In the first edition of Brian’s Corner (January 23, 2015 – http://blog.nativedsd.com/dsd-developments/), I told you about the ability of the Oppo Digital BDP-103 and BDP-105 Universal Disc Players to not only play audio discs (CD, SACD, DVD-A and BD Audio) and video discs (DVD Video and Blu-ray Video) but also to act as a Digital to Analog Converter for Stereo DSD and even Multichannel DSD 64 music files. All with the software built into the Oppo players.
The good news here is that, while Oppo has discontinued the BDP-103 and BDP-105 players, their new universal disc players and DACs – the UDP-203 and UDP-205 – also offer Stereo DSD and Multichannel DSD 64 playback. Along with 4K Video support and a host of other features. All for prices that start at only $549 for the UDP-203. A great audio buy to be sure.
While the Oppo players bring you Multichannel DSD 64 playback, what about the times when you want to hear Multichannel DSD 128 and Multichannel DSD 256 recordings? One answer to that question is the e38 (and the earlier, now discontinued e28) from exaSound Audio Design in Canada.
The e38 brings you Stereo and Multichannel playback in DSD 64, DSD 128, DSD 256 as well as DXD and PCM formats using popular music software programs like JRiver Media Center, HQ Player and Roon (sold separately). It’s truly a universal Multichannel DAC featuring the ESS ES9028 Pro DAC chip. While the e38 is a DAC that is small, its audio performance is impressive, winning exaSound a series of very positive audio reviews and awards. Best of all, the e38 sells for a price that is less than many Stereo only DACs on the market.
When you buy the e38 from the NativeDSD Gear Store, Jonas Sacks will add 6 Free NativeDSD Downloads of your choice to your collection as part of the package.
Next on our list of Multichannel DSD DACs is a pair of DACs – the NADAC MC-8 and NADAC Player 8 – from Merging Technologies. These two DACs offer Stereo and Multichannel DSD 64, DSD 128 and DSD 256 playback plus Stereo and Multichannel DXD and PCM as well.
Of special note here is that the NADAC MC-8 and NADAC Player 8 bring the very high-quality Digital to Analog Conversion from their popular Horus and Hapi recording studio converters to the home audio market. As many DSD fans know, the vast majority of DSD 128 and DSD 256 recordings on the market today – Stereo and Multichannel – were recorded and mastered with the Merging Horus and Hapi converters. So, the NADAC MC-8 and the NADAC Player 8 bring you very close to the actual recording session experience when listening to these DSD albums at home.
With the NADAC MC-8 you will need to use it with a computer and a music software program such as JRiver Media Center, HQ Player or Roon. The newer NADAC Player 8 adds a CPU card and Roon software to the NADAC MC-8, making it an all-in-one solution. Both are well worth auditioning if your plans call for a high end Multichannel DSD 256 system.
IsoMike’s First DSD 256 Surround Sound Release at NativeDSD
Since we’re talking about Multichannel DSD in this edition of Brian’s Corner, let me wrap up with a recommendation of an excellent DSD 256 Surround Sound album from the NativeDSD Music store from IsoMike.
Ray Kimber is best known as the inventor and founder of Kimber Kable, an excellent line of top quality audio cables. But he is also the inventor of a unique recording system known as the IsoMike. IsoMike uses an acoustic baffle system which they feel improves the fidelity of recorded music. Most of the IsoMike recordings are done in 4-Channel DSD Surround Sound with the front microphones being used as the source of the DSD Stereo edition of these albums. To hear all 4 channels of an IsoMike recording, a DSD Surround Sound system is needed.
IsoMike’s first release at NativeDSD Music is really something. It’s a performance of Chopin’s Last Waltz by pianist Robert Silverman. Some of you have heard Silverman in concert at audio shows sponsored by IsoMike. Now you have a chance to pick up a copy of his music in DSD.
For me, IsoMike’s recording of Chopin’s Last Waltz is a real treat
IsoMike notes that they record and release their albums in native DSD with no processing, mixing or compression using their unique recording method. For that reason (no compression), Ray Kimber invites listeners to turn up the volume to enjoy the full range of this music. I second that suggestion.
For me, IsoMike’s recording of Chopin’s Last Waltz is a real treat. It brings you a very vivid and realistic performance of this beautiful composition. When listening in its recorded resolution – 4 Channel DSD 256 Surround Sound – with the Merging Technologies NADAC MC-8 DAC, you really do get very close to the sound of a real piano during a live performance. This is a DSD recording that you will want to add to your collection.