This week we dive into the high-end audio market. A lot is going on regarding this topic. Streaming services are using high-end audio as a unique selling point, and stereo speaker developers are innovating as much as they can.
But what about the music that you listen to? Is it high-quality or is it just MP3 quality? This time we interviewed Jonas Sacks co-founder of Nativedsd.com, leading distributor of high-end quality music.
Hi Jonas! Please introduce yourself
Hey! I am Jonas and started the NativeDSD platform as a solution to a distribution problem that records labels had to sell their large DSD files to listeners around the world.
What is the difference between a traditional distributor and NativeDSD?
We focus only on DSD content that was originally recorded in this quality, or analog tape recordings transferred to DSD by hi-tech companies like HDTT and 2xHD.
Can you explain what the meaning of DSD is?
DSD is the abbreviation for Direct Stream Digital, a 1-bit bitstream representing audio signals. The means of how this data is stored was first developed by Sony and Philips in the early 2000’s for the launch of the SACD market. SACD’s are popular among audiophiles. Now we remove the physical carrier by offering this high-quality audio bit stream as the direct download. Modern DA (Digital to Analog) Converters understand this bit stream coming from a computer or mobile device and can translate it back to an analog signal. DSD is different than all audio that is recorded in the PCM domain. DSD and PCM are completely different digital encoding standards. PCM is a series of completely independent binary coded samples representing actual numerical arithmetic values of the signal level at the time of the sample. Exactly like frames of motion picture film. DSD is a modulated bit stream comprised of a population of (clock) bits whose density is proportional to signal level, and unlike PCM, contains no numerical values. Recording in, e.g. DSD256 does not imply any PCM derivative of any sample rate.
DSD comes as DSD64 (sometimes noted as ”64 fs.”) (64 x 44.1 kHz = 2.8 Mhz), DSD128, DSD256 and soon DSD512. Each time the resolution and sample rate doubles, but the bitstream stays 1-bit. This creates very big word lengths and thus larger files than traditional ‘vertical’ 16 and 24-bit packages.
The sound quality difference between DSD and PCM is subtle, and primarily in the very low-level information, we hear as spaciousness cues. But they are there, and easily demonstrable with a level matched low latency A/B switching test.
Can you hear the difference with a standard set of speakers? Or decent in-ears?
Every ear is different. We recommend starting with our free sample material available from members.nativedsd.com.
Why do you think that other genres like EDM and Hip-Hop are not well represented in the high-end audio market?
We would love to have all styles and different genres, but there are technical issues with pop/rock studios, they mostly do not record in DSD, and the reason is the DSD format is not compatible with the outboard effects gear being used in those studios today.
You can take the old analog recordings and transfer these, and this is being done, but new records are just not being made in DSD nowadays. However, there is much progress being made in the technology, so hopefully, your wishes will become a reality sooner or later!
Lots of people are willing to start with high-end audio. What would you advise them, to begin this process?
Get a nice set of headphones and a DAC around 300/400 euro. You will be amazed already. If you want to expand and prefer speakers, get those and use the same DAC at first, hooked up to your amp. We believe it all starts with quality music data, such as DSD files. Of course, the format is now limited to mostly Jazz, Classical and World genres.
What is the most significant difference in the market between 1990 and 2017?
Less and less people are buying CDs :-)
Is it hard for musicians in 2017 to release a high-end quality album?
It should not be, we did a project in 2015 and had various musicians experience DSD for the first time, and they were all very attracted to the format.
How do you like to see the development of the market and Native DSD the following years?
It is not for ‘everyone’ in a way. Especially now there is some extra money, time and energy involved to listen to these files. People that are interested in a specific emotion connected to listening to music are very happy with the extra quality that DSD offers.
This is a great interest; the combination of music's beauty and emotional gifts, and the technical quest of ever improving its home enjoyment.
Try it for free.
Members page for 12 Free DSD Tracks. All you need to do is create an account, which is also free, and then click on the tracks to download.
Make sure your DAC is capable of playing the DSD files. Click here to see all of the DACs that play music in DSD