#119 - Is DSD hard to record?
#119 - Is DSD hard to record?
Some of our audiophile friends have been creating tutorial videos, equipment review videos, videos of measurement test... videos of videos. One interesting video comes from our friends at PS Audio who are champions of DSD audio. The video tries to answer the question "Is DSD hard to record?"
I applaud Paul McGowan for his efforts trying to explain a very difficult subject in less that 5 minutes on YouTube where comments can run rampant.. and on this particular video they did. I arrived at the video within the first 24 hours of posting and already there were thousands of views and lots of comments.
Funny thing about the comments were how many "anti DSD" commenters seemed to write in. In fact, I wondered why so many people who preferred PCM took the time to watch the video and comment negatively.
By the sound of the comments, it was pretty clear they have never really been in a studio environment to hear and compare or understand the challenges in the studio.
DSD isn't hard to record to. What difficult is the software we have available to provide customers what they want.. DSD256. Those systems are called DAWs - Digital Audio Workstations... like ProTools, Logic, Reaper - the list is endless when it comes to PCM. For DSD, there are only two I'm aware of.. The Sonoma and The Pyramix. The Sonoma no longer has support but many of us still use it for creating SACDs and work in DSD64. The Pyramiix started as a PCM recorder (and still is) then added features for it to be used to record up to DSD256.
The Sonoma had no problem with editing in DSD and changing volume levels while remaining in DSD. How they do it, I can't tell you... but I can say that it wouldn't be impossible to create software and hardware to accommodate DSD256 editing. It would cost about $5 million to create the company to build the software. Sure, you might get a software programmer for 1/10th that price to build one version of software, but I don't know any audio engineers willing to spend $500,000 for software plus more for upgrades to record. There isn't enough volume of sales to warrant that. Who knows... maybe there's an investor out there who has a passion and money is no object (please contact me!)
So, we're left with the Pyramix. Yes, we have to temporarily convert the DSD to DXD for the sections where gain changes or edits occur. But think of it like this... We are doing the work of telling the device what to do and using DXD as a temporary monitor. Once the edits and gains are in place, then you render the file back to DSD.... and yes it sound FANTASTICALLY better in DSD256 than in DXD.
We use an analog mixing console so the "mixing inside the box" isn't an issue for us at Blue Coast Records. I can say this... even when working ProTools or PCM, when ever plugins for EQs, compression, etx come into the picture, everything starts to take a downward slide. That's why I stay on the analog console with vintage effects and devices. It sounds better to my ears.
There is a clarity I miss when working in PCM or DXD or mixing in the box. Everything sounds 'small'.
Keep in mind, I'm not saying there is a right or wrong to how to mix or the choices people have made in this area. Some of it is pure financial reality of building a studio and how the world works with music these days on the computer.
While I still have a choice, I prefer to record to DSD or tape and mix through an analog console. That's just me.... everyone has a choice how they want to listen or record. Bottomline is that we all love music and well performed and recorded in any format is a good thing.
Founder and producer Blue Coast Records and Music