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Old 12-25-2011, 05:49 PM
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Default DSD conversion to DFF on a Mac - the next step

For those of you that are interested, or at the stage of having some DSD ISO's lying around the place (ie have ripped your SACD's via a hacked PS3) the next step is converison with scarletbook.exe. There is no binary written for Mac yet.

I installed W7 and XP under bootcamp but a) its a nuisance losing20 Gb off my SSD and b) its a nuisance not having access to my other files. I was about to buy a small net book just to do my conversions (you can do it on the PS3 but you really don't want to stress the unit by so doing: the models that can rip are scarce now and all eventually get the YLOD ripping SACD's - you get 300-400 out of an ebay special one if you are lucky, 50-60 if you are not).

Then along comes a fellow called Yves on Computer Audiophile and voila - problem solved. He has worked out a way to extract under emulation (I tried wine but it didn't play nice)

Effectively you run scarletbook.exe under a commercial wine emulator (app) called WinOnX. It runs from cmd line in dos but is very easy to do.

Yves kindly put together a PDF showing the steps on CA. Here is the link (its very unassuming and if you blink you miss):
Mytek Stereo 192 | Computer Audiophile

Great and easy solution for Mac users. Working through my list of Living Stereo SACD's now.

No question this is the best I have heard digital sound. Makes my $1500 Mytek sound like ...well sort of like (let's not kid ourselves) an uber $$ converter (eg dCS/Meitner with hi rez PCM). PCM sounds pretty good as well but not in the same league as DSD. id love to hear native DSD through the Playback designs / Emm labs / dCS dacs. Wow! is what I would expect.

Pre amp function in the Mytek (which you can bypass) also impresses.
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:21 AM
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Congrats Andy - seems like you're on a bit of a winner with the Mytek. Also thanks for all the info on what DSD is... sounds as if it might well be an essential part of our future for hi-res.

I have heard a couple of discussions over the limits of advantage with resolution where once you go much past 24/96 the extra demands made on the processor can mean adverse impacts on sound quality that can outweigh the increased res... I've only played up to 24/192 and some of the best sounding albums I have are at this higher rate. The recent 24/192 Naim release of Sciubba and Forcione 'Meet me in London' is the best sounding recording I have by a country mile... great music as well. Then again some of my other favourite hi-res music is 24/41... once you get up to this resolution could be more of an issue of how good the original recording and performances are... nice to think that the beauty of the performance and the sound recordists skill with miking is always going to be the linch pin in the end.

Am very keen to hear the DSD tho especially now you are reporting such great results. Very handy Andy...

cheers
Graham
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Old 12-26-2011, 11:09 AM
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I think AudioGate app from Korg play DFF files.
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:49 PM
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Yes Mike it does - and I use that as well. Its great!

Here is abit from wiki - that gives some perspective on it all..
DSD is 1-bit, has a sampling rate of 2.8224 MHz, and makes use of noise shaping quantization techniques in order to push 1-bit quantization noise up to inaudible ultrasonic frequencies. This gives the format a greater dynamic range and wider frequency response than the CD. The SACD format is capable of delivering a dynamic range of 120 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz and an extended frequency response up to 100 kHz, although most currently available players list an upper limit of 80–90 kHz and 20 kHz is the upper limit of human hearing. The process of creating a DSD signal is conceptually similar to taking a 1-bit delta-sigma analog-to-digital (A/D) converter and removing the decimator, which converts the 1-bit bitstream into multibit PCM. Instead, the 1-bit signal is recorded directly and in theory only requires a lowpass filter to reconstruct the original analog waveform. In reality it is a little more complex, and the analogy is incomplete in that 1-bit sigma-delta converters are these days rather unusual, one reason being that a 1-bit signal cannot be dithered properly: most modern sigma-delta converters are multibit.
Because of the nature of sigma-delta converters, one cannot make a direct comparison between DSD and PCM. An approximation is possible, though, and would place DSD in some aspects comparable to a PCM format that has a bit depth of 20 bits and a sampling frequency of 96 kHz.[3] PCM sampled at 24 bits provides a (theoretical) additional 24 dB of dynamic range.
Because it has been extremely difficult to carry out DSP operations (for example performing EQ, balance, panning and other changes in the digital domain) in a 1-bit environment, and because of the prevalence of studio equipment such as Pro Tools, which is solely PCM-based, the vast majority of SACDs — especially rock and contemporary music which relies on multitrack techniques — are in fact mixed in PCM (or mixed analog and recorded on PCM recorders) and then converted to DSD for SACD mastering."
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:52 PM
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And here is a post I made over in the Classical Music thread..
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueChiaro
I need a lesson in digital playback, Andy...you completely lost me after, "ripped."

Sent from my DROIDX using A.Aficionado
ahhhh - what I'm into is fairly cutting edge in the digital world. DSD is the Phillips/Sony proprietary format (at least it is proprietary when its on the hard copy medium - SACD's). Its also, along with DAD (not a Sony animal) the default digital recording medium for 99% of studio's world wide. That is what they archive in as "Master Tapes".

The Holy Grail in digital has been to get DSD (or its actual playable file formats DFF or DST - the former is Phillips the later Sony's formats) playback from your computer, like they do in the Mastering studios. What we have always heard - native DSD SACD players aside (and there are precious few of those) - has been PCM, which is what we are talking about with everything from 16/44 (red book) to 24/192 (hi rez). Don't get me wrong - PCM can and does sound great.

Several obstacles in this quest - first getting the DSD iso (or extracted DFF/DST files) in the first place, secondly having the SW to playback the DFF files and lastly having a dac that can playback the DFF/DST files without conversion to PCM (which kind of defeats the exercise).

Until very recently all were impossible. Then along comes dCS with their open source async tech and Playback Designs saying they support DSD playback in their consumer gear - fine we all say but firstly who has got native DSD files (remember you can't rip an SACD thanks to Sony's hw and sw copy protection) and secondly who has got a lazy 12k for a Playback Designs box (don't answer that - I suspect on AA most members have a lazy 12k's lying around....)

Ok along comes a Melbourne programmer called, on the forums, Mr Wicked. He works out along with a few others, a way to hack PS FW 3.55 to bypass the SONY sw copy right protection. Yippee we say. Except they still have hw protection - which means you need either a professional sony recording station (20k), Sonoma card (8K) or...certain models of PS3's which support SACD playback.

So provided you have the right PS3 (and they are getting old now and eventually die from a design flaw resulting from overheating) and can work some basic command line you can rip your SACD's to iso image.

Happy days! Of course you can't actually play the iso unless a) you burn to a DVDR and playback on an SACD or b) convert to DFF or DST. Next up is a separate program called scarletbook.exe - a windows based DSD iso - DFF or DST converter. Again cmd line - you need to know a tiny bit about computers.

Alrighty - but what about playback - well aside from Playback Designs and the pro work stations that playback DFF (which are VERY expensive) there is only one dac out there atm (I expect MANY others in the next 12 months) that can playback native DSD - the Mytek DSD for $1600. Based, as it must be at this time, on the Sabre chip.

Aha - now we are talking - more like my beer budget to see what the fuss is about.

Next we need playback sw - I'm Mac based so there are 2 - Audirvana+ Pure Music. I used Audirvarna+. Not sure about windows - for sure Foobar and one or two more.

So finally after much effort, I am playing back native DSD through my system.

Well you ask - so what. The What is that it sounds different to any other digital I have heard. I've playback dff vz 24/192 of the same album through my Mytek and you can always pick the dff - just more of everything - deeper bass, more air, cleaner mids - everything is just better. More space more air - a relaxed fluidity.

Different to vinyl - undoubtedly more detail but it shares vinyl's fluidity. If not the warmth perhaps. Or the editorialising.

Anyway - all good fun. And that is what DSD playback is all about. I expect DFF to be the default format in the format - the file sizes are huge - 3-5 Gb for an album. But in these days of high and fast bandwidth and cheap storage that isn't really concern.
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Old 12-26-2011, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audiot servant View Post
Congrats Andy - seems like you're on a bit of a winner with the Mytek. Also thanks for all the info on what DSD is... sounds as if it might well be an essential part of our future for hi-res.

I have heard a couple of discussions over the limits of advantage with resolution where once you go much past 24/96 the extra demands made on the processor can mean adverse impacts on sound quality that can outweigh the increased res... I've only played up to 24/192 and some of the best sounding albums I have are at this higher rate. The recent 24/192 Naim release of Sciubba and Forcione 'Meet me in London' is the best sounding recording I have by a country mile... great music as well. Then again some of my other favourite hi-res music is 24/41... once you get up to this resolution could be more of an issue of how good the original recording and performances are... nice to think that the beauty of the performance and the sound recordists skill with miking is always going to be the linch pin in the end.

Am very keen to hear the DSD tho especially now you are reporting such great results. Very handy Andy...

cheers
Graham
Pleasure Graham - all abit of a laugh. Now its the hols I can easily pop over one day with my Mytek, MBP and some DFF files. Easy enough to make some 24/192's out of the DFF's for a compare.

I have to say - I agree - at this level its all about the recording...and mastering...
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Old 12-30-2011, 07:22 PM
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What was really interesting to me last night was ABing 16/44 converted from DFF file via Saracon at a mate's place through SGR actives similar to mine.

The differences were very small through the Mytek direct to the CX3's (I have CX4's)

Which is to say I thought I could pick the difference reliably but my friend wasn't convinced.

It might have been my psycho acoustics going on but the real point to the story is the differences between the formats, if they exist, are very small. It wasn't a "OMG that's amazing" - more like "I think something's different - abit toppier, abit more bass...etc".
And you know what they say in audio - if you have to think about it then it likely doesn't exist.

So what I deduce from all this is that what really matters is the source material in the first place. Not whether its 1/352 DFF or 16/44 red book.

What I also posit is that perhaps more care is taken with SACD than with standard red book - dunno.

So word to the wise - don't worry about DFF just yet. It may all just be fluff and stuff.

On the other hand the Mytek impressed with its abilities for a $1600 dac/pre amp - red book or dff...
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Old 01-03-2012, 05:33 PM
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I popped over to a friends place, I'll call Neville, on Monday past to compare the Mytek to the Korg DSD he has.


Neville has some impressive gear: Avantgarde Omega Duo's, Lamm mono's,



Concert Fidelity Pre & Emm Labs transport & dac. Oh and some round thing for spinning records. I really like the AV's properly driven. Very different to some other Duo's I have heard - which I didn't like when I heard them - and I love AV's. Horns can be so hit and miss - I love them but you spend lots $$ a) getting them and b) getting them sounding right. First time I have ever heard AV's in a room about 4m x 3m that opened out into the hall - still very very small. Never thought that would ever work but surprisingly it did and very well. Bass was visceral.

Neville wanted to hear the Mytek and I wanted to see if I could hear any difference between DFF and a 16/44 made from it, as I and a friend tested above last week..

Upshot was I could hear the difference easily but it was subtle - DFF was less aggressive and had more information between the notes, more natural
decay and less of a "look at me quality" to the leading edge. More organic, more fluid. More vinyl like. By subtle I mean the differences were there and
definite but one wasn't necessarily better than the other - just different.

Some would prefer the PCM and some the DFF - I would imagine it all depends on your hardware. In Neville's system's I preferred the DSD but could listen to the PCM. Much like if you like vinyl or CDs. And of course you can get used to anything…and think its great.

The difference was really apparent with DSD source material from Master tapes. Neville has a whole bunch of music from a) analog tapes b) vinyl rips
and live recordings that either he or his friends have done at DSD 128. Here the DSD sounded just great - like "live". I got to hear a young pianist
recorded in 128 DSD with just 2 mikes into his Korg at a friend of his house - it was amazing : like being there. dynamics were huge. Tonality just
out of this world.


He was of the view that rips from SACD's and all digital PCM depended entirely on the mastering and handling of the mastering in the transfer in
the first place - so if the mastering was crap, or was little better than 16/44 converted to DSD and plonked on an SACD, then the difference between the two formats would of course be small - which makes sense. Vinyl cut from Master DFF sounds different again - more forgiving he said, which is the attraction he suggests.

Of course in the above test we compared a native recorded DFF (Blue Coast Collection) so that didn't apply what I did earlier. FWIW I tested the exact same track at Neville's and no question - you could pick it. It was readily apparent.

The Mytek was better at playback than the Korg DSD with both PCM and DSD into his Pre. Had more detail, body and texture. Tone was spot on as well.


Neville's system was ultra transparent and dynamic - much more so than my SGR's (which are no slouches) so the differences were easy to pick. The first adagio in Bruch Violin concerto DFF was captivating. Best I have heard it.


At the end we played his EMM Labs, which converts 16/44 to DSD 128 before play back (don't ask me how - but obviously its conversion via up sampling
at some point) and its performance was extraordinary - enough that I really questioned why you would bother with DSD at all. Mind you its 20k worth of
source.

I'm guessing that PCM correctly handled and/or, perhaps more correctly, seasoned to taste with hardware leaves you wanting little from native DSD except the mastering advantage that comes with some SACD's or the native DFF files.

Similarly in Neville's system the Emm labs would leave me wanting little from native DSD except the mastering advantage. RBCD was stunning. In my system as a front end I'm guessing the Emm Labs would be a little too harsh or revealing like the MSB gear (or so I think). Then again maybe it wouldn't. The MSB in Neville's would, I suggest, be a really nice synergy. All I know is that with digital, as least for me, tubes in the chain are important more often than not.

And there is a big difference between the uber converters and the dacs I can afford. Ha! but I've always known that. The nice thing about DSD is that it closes the gap abit.

So all in all an enjoyable couple of hrs which confirmed to me that a) the advantage in DSD lies in accessing the master tapes before they get mucked
around with in mass production to PCM 16/44 and b) its all system dependant anyway - and that you can get great 16/44 playback by tuning your system for it. But unless you have exceptional converters you are best running the highest native rez you can find provided its true native rez.

Happy hi fi
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyPandy View Post
I popped over to a friends place, I'll call Neville, on Monday past to compare the Mytek to the Korg DSD he has.


Neville has some impressive gear: Avantgarde Omega Duo's, Lamm mono's,



Concert Fidelity Pre & Emm Labs transport & dac. Oh and some round thing for spinning records. I really like the AV's properly driven. Very different to some other Duo's I have heard - which I didn't like when I heard them - and I love AV's. Horns can be so hit and miss - I love them but you spend lots $$ a) getting them and b) getting them sounding right. First time I have ever heard AV's in a room about 4m x 3m that opened out into the hall - still very very small. Never thought that would ever work but surprisingly it did and very well. Bass was visceral.

Neville wanted to hear the Mytek and I wanted to see if I could hear any difference between DFF and a 16/44 made from it, as I and a friend tested above last week..
(...)
Andy, your friend's installation is impressive ! It must have been quite an experience to be able to do all those format comparisons in those conditions !

Thanks for sharing,
Guy
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Old 01-03-2012, 06:59 PM
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Yes - all good fun Guy. I've got a number of mate's who are into the pushing the boundaries with digital. Some have much better computer skills than me and some (most) have much deeper pockets than me. I just sort of tag along and try not to get in the way too much....

Gear aside I haven't been much interested in exploring audio formats until recently when DFF cropped up. It's perked my interest right up.

Yesterday out of curiosity another mate popped over with his AKG 702's and his Schitt Lyr (??) headamp. The headphone out of the Mytek had more bass and generally was comparable: more similar than different to the tubes Lyr. The Mytek struggled to drive the 702's properly but other than that acquitted itself very well.

I plan on getting some balanced cables for the HD's and running directly out of the XLR output. Should be a hoot. Nice thing about the Mytek - apartfrom the price - is that its small and portable. So I take it into my study or bedroom and listen on the cans when I want peace and quiet.

Oh..I see you have Emm Labs as well. Very nice gear Guy - I thought it a level up in transparency upsampling to 128DSD.

I've got another mate with the Trio's + Bass Horns and Tom Evans everything + VPI TT. Now that is an experience. The Duo's really surprised me - never thought they would work in a small room but they did - although imaging suffered abit - mind you : not a horn strong suit at the best of times.
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