As this is the first edition of Ted’s Corner (a familiar place as I was told to go to my corner many times in my childhood) I thought a quick background check would make sense. I am a longtime audiophile who has been interested in all things high resolution, especially SACD’s and DSD, since the early days. The fact that the second iteration of SACD brought multichannel, it was a bonus and got me hooked for life. After owning 10 different SACD and/or universal players (starting with the great top-loading Sony SCD-1 beast, see pic) I dreamed of being able to sit in my listening position and call up my entire library without having to get up and change discs! Yes, laziness sets in to every hobby!!
Oh, the DACs I have owned..!
As computer audio and external digital-to-audio converters (DACs) hit the market I began to see that my laziness dream could come true. I became enamored with DSD in October, 2011, when Michal Jurewicz sent me his first consumer DSD DAC, the Mytek Stereo 192 DSD DAC (and later stacked 3 of them for the first consumer 5.1 DSD prototype review, see pic).
Hearing native DSD-recorded piano was all the proof I needed. Over the past few years I have probably had more than 30 different DACS, most of them DSD-capable, inhouse for either review or personal evaluation (I own several currently). Jesus Rodriguez of Sonore/Simple Designs asked Brian and me to help him start a DSD database since he felt the momentum too. We started with 4 or 5 candidates and today the market has over 280 (the database is available here on our FAQ pages, and although we try to keep it updated the momentum is overwhelming).
“I envision this Corner to be a chance for me to update readers on the going trends in DSD playback, vent about those trends (just kidding…maybe), and answer broad commonly seen questions that come into our NativeDSD helpdesk monthly.”
My contribution to the scene
I am now a frequent contributor on many music forums, run the HiRez Circle on the Audio Circle forum and began my hardware reviewer career with the late Harry Pearson’s short-lived ezine, HPSoundings. I now write reviews for Chris Connaker’s Computeraudiophile.com and have created screencast videos for DSD-capable software player setup (example is JRiver Media Center).
As a founding team member here on Jared’s NativeDSD team I try to help the team to ensure that all our downloadable music is ready for the consumer. The primary tasks include providing our mastering engineer, Tom Caulfield, with the proper information and tools to tag each track of music with the correct information (aka metadata) so that when you, the customer, gets the music and loads it on your favorite player that there are industry-standard tags showing you artist, album, track number, composer, album name, etc. (see pic).
CES: The DSD playback sector says boom!
This month I visited the land of sin and deprivation….no, not New Jersey. I went to Las Vegas to attend the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. My main goal was to visit with as many potential partners and get an overall feel for what is coming down the road for DSD playback.
The DSD playback sector is booming! A tell-tale sign is when the term DSD is being used to entice folks to come in to one’s room and hear the systems that have been set up. Another tell-tale sign is sample rate (wrong term for 1 bit DSD but you get the idea) wars. It is no longer enough to say that a unit is capable of DSD (aka DSD64) playback. Higher and higher resolution formats like DSD128, DSD256 and even DSD512 are being touted as available to the consumer. Another big tell-tale sign is that DSD hardware innovation is being done at both ends of the price point. There are now DSD512 capable DACS for under $400, portable DSD playback devices, and $99 DSD64 thumb drive DACs. At the other end are designers who have created DSD-only playback devices with no digital chips involved, just a clever and innovative set of analog filters to create DSD playback that they claim is as pure as an analog signal. Vinyl without the clicks and pops! DSD playback involving tubes, DSD playback in units costing $30,000 and up, DSD playback using FPGA devices and no commercially off-the-shelf chipsets, DSD playback across the ethernet..and even a proof-of-concept ethernet radio stream of DSD128 content.
In my next segment of the Corner I will give a brief synopsis of some of the more interesting finds during my walking tour of CES.
I’ll return in one bit (get it?)
Written by: Ted Brady, Jan 30th 2015