Friday, February 27

DSD Revolutions

Welcome Back!

After a long hiatus this site is returning to full time posting, so tune in for more DSD coverage.

This blog was created to educate on the (at the time) dismal state of consumer DSD. I am happy to say the past two years have treated DSD well, with driver standard DoP, or DSD over PCM taking hold in the market with dozens of manufacturers conforming to the specification. Hundreds of DSD capable USB DAC's are now available, from manufacturers such as Sony, Teac, Ayre, Benchmark Mytek, Korg, and many more. Popular crowdfunding projects have raised millions for DSD capable playback devices GeekPulse, and GeekWave, and most media servers now support DSD collections in standard file formats.

Open source Software such as foobar2000 (via sacd-decoder plugin), ffmpeg, VortexBox Linux mediaserver distribution, and cMP2/CICS all now support DSD decoding and native playback. A Modified version of Foobar named  'FoobarDSD' allows DSD playback easily with either DoP DAC's or native ASIO DSD, tested up to 256fs. Currently NO software is capable of native DSD recording via ASIO DSD drivers, even if the hardware and driver support this (e.g. the Rigisystems USBPAL support ASIO DSD, but no software is yet available) OS X mavericks now allows DSD 256fs playback using DoP.

There are even a few ADC's now sold employing a reverse DoP standard to allow recording via standard pathways, albeit limited to DSD128 (5.6Mhz) through DXD (352.8Khz) pathways in traditional PCM audio drivers (256fs DSD will require 700~768khz PCM support). Software support for this new recording DoP standard is limited, but includes the wonderful VinylStudio software for record and tape archival and digitization. The long awaited Arda AT1201 was released to greater commercial availibility, and combined with custom Multi-bit modulator to DSD FPGA's are offering reportably excellent sound quality rivaling the best in the industry.

Sources of DSD audio downloads are increasing every day, and combined with an ability to rip SACD's at home using modified PS3 gaming consoles, consumer can enjoy full quality playback with the signal chain and software of their choice. Portable DSD capable DAC's and iPod-like devices like the GeekWave are becoming popular mainstream, with coming options including high quality DAC IC's and headphone amplifiers. Portable playback of any format is soon a reality. Finally consumers have freedom of choice regarding their digital audio.

DSD is here to stay, and many new comers to the fold are introduced to DSD everyday as an alternative to poor quality PCM, MP3 downloads, or a convenient way to archive vinyl collections without handling or portability issues while travelling.

Keep on Groovin,
Alexander Countey