Deck The Halls - Compare for Yourself - DSD and DXD | Blue Coast Music

Deck The Halls - Compare for Yourself - DSD and DXD

Deck the Halls

Deck The Halls - Compare for Yourself - DSD and DXD

DSD and DXD Produced for this listening test. One song, six DSD and DXD variations.Can you hear the difference?
Record Label: 

DSD and DXD Remastered for you to test. Answer the question for yourself... does it matter if you record to DSD or DXD?
Compare six versions of the same song to decide for yourself.
50% discount on this product through November 28, 2022. Apply coupon code at checkout!

# Play Song Title Duration

Deck The Halls

Does DSD have to convert to DXD for mixing or mastering?


WARNING! To play these files requires a DSD and DXD DAC!
Do not purchase these files without the proper gear!

Please read your manufacturer's specifications as to whether you can hear DSD256 and DXD354.2. You won’t be able to hear the files otherwise. No refunds will be available after the files have been put into your account.

Because our home base is a DSD recording, mixing and mastering facility we decided to do the most thorough tests we could and offer files for you to decide for yourself.

The test wasn’t created to say one method of working in the studio was better than another, but for us and for you to decide for yourself what you think.

The files will be available on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 to download. Included in the download package will be six large files of one song for you to listen to and compare. 

What’s included in the package?

We’ve uncovered some unusual findings while doing the test that have never been mentioned and we’re waiting on manufacturers' answers. Because of this, we’ve decided to give you all the files we created to provide a thorough test that a mastering engineer would want. The files you’ll receive will be:

  1. Deck the Halls - mastered through analog systems to DSD256

  2. Deck the Halls - mastered through analog systems to DXD352.8

  3. Deck the Halls - mastered through analog systems to DXD352.8 converted to DSD256 (down 1db to match test tone in DSD256)

  4. Deck the Halls - mastered through analog systems to DXD352.8

  5. Deck the Halls - mastered through analog systems to DXD352.8 converted to DSD256 (down 1db to match test tone in DSD256)

  6. Deck the Halls - original source file provided as 176.4 (approx 2db louder than our DSD remastering).

We’ll also include a list of gear for the entire recording chain and will send you a $25 gift coupon good towards music available in our store.

We’d like to thank Laurence Juber for allowing us to use his recordings for our tests.

We are working on a thorough White Paper to present

Scheduled to be available in early 2023, you'll get it free in this package.

Not all engineers agree how DSD can be mixed or mastered

We consider it part of the ‘artform’ that a producer chooses his tools and methods just as a painter like Picasso might choose his brand of paint or the brushes used to apply the paint in his art.

Not everyone will have equipment to hear the differences in these files. We don’t expect everyone to have the same opinions if you do hear the differences. You can probably guess what we preferred.

The point of these tests isn’t to change anyone’s mind or methods of working or listening but to celebrate the fact that we can hear differences and all our listening systems are not the same. 

From Paul McGowan's forum at PSAudio... response to a post.

Hi Mike and thank you for pointing out my recent article and comparison tests.   I agree with you... music first, format second.

Paul is correct in saying that most DSD recordings started life as PCM or tape.  Recording direct to DSD is a very difficult challenge that few people undertake (it could be only Paul and I at this point... LOL).  

At the same time, musicians want to release in DSD to reach our audience.  We developed a remastering technique we call SEA (Systems for Exceptional Audio) to accomodate artists and engineers recording in PCM or other formats who want to reach our audience of DSD256 listeners.

Laurence Juber was one of those musicians.  He recorded with Al Schmitt (a deeply respected engineer who passed away in the last few years).  We found that using our SEA process to remaster the 176.4 PCM masters to DSD256 was what our customers at Blue Coast Music Store wanted. (Note: we sell 9 formats for each song).  It's not a simple conversion process.

We also found a lot of confusion in our audiophile community who asked the question "If you need to go to DXD for editing, why not record to DXD instead of DSD?"

We had done the test in the studio many times, but decided to create a project where those interested to test at home, could compare the variables of DSD and DXD.  So, using our SEA remastering process on one of Laurence Juber's songs, we recorded direct to DSD and direct to DXD and supplied the DXD converted to DSD256. And yes, we included the original source files provided by Laurence.

Very few, if any, had created this test or offered it for customers to compare under such controlled environments.  It wasn't easy to create and do the blind listening tests with a qualified group.  Since we rarely record directly to DXD, we also found some odd things....  the same test tone used in DSD recording is 1db hotter when recording to DXD on the Pyramix.  So we also included DXD recordings adjusted to the same test tone for DSD.  With the original source file, that's 6 versions of the song to compare.

And we did compare and found differences.  At first it's difficult to tell those differences, but when we returned to the files recorded to DSD, they won with our test group.  (Note: that does not mean someone else might prefer a different sound... that's what we preferred and reinforced why we work the way we do).

Also interesting to note..  the analog stage we use in the SEA process also improved the clarity and deepness of the bass in DSD over the original source file.  It's not always the case, but we did find our DSD256 to our liking over the original source file.  Others might have a different opinion.

I liken these differences in studio work habits to great painters of fine art.  We wouldn't ask Picasso to paint like Monet.  Similarly, if you ask 3 vinyl mastering engineers what their approach is, you'll find very different answers.  Bernie Grundman, MoFi, Abbey Road and others take very different approaches to mastering.  The same album will sound different depending who's mastering and each will have a following.

There isn't a simple answer that explains why we choose what we choose in the studio. That is part of the 'art' we provide our artists and listeners. It's a big beautiful world full of differences. :)

Enjoy your music!
Cookie Marenco
Blue Coast Records and Music

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