A good taste of DSD--what is your experience?

Over the last year or so I've pushed to get my digital front end to sound better.  I loosely define better to mean just that and "a touch more analog sounding."

My tube DAC is DSD 256 ready.  I had to use third party software to stream DSD to the DAC from my Mac Air.  I bought 6 DSD albums from Acoustic Sounds. 

While I generally think Redbook sounds great on this DAC and 96kHz files don't sound that much better and Redbook.  With DSD, the margin is greater for the better.  Everything still depends on how good the original recording is though.  

Some older recordings I tried, such as John Lee Hooker and Elvis, sound superb in DSD.  And through a 300B amp the vocals are scary real in the listening space.  The downside to me is cost of the albums, limited DSD library available, and the age-old problem for me of not having an album to hold and read.  I'm not fond of doing the ritual exclusively on a laptop.  

I'm curious as to the experiences of others.  If you have embraced this format, how do you run it and what changes to your system or listening habits have you made ,if any, to accommodate it?

Due to streamer limitations (really Linux kernel versions vs. DAC) I've downsampled a lot of DSD to 96/24 and honestly I cannot tell the difference. So my belief is that differences in DSD may be due to mastering differences.

There was a study done very early in the DSD era showing that the EQ was significantly different for DSD vs. Redbook. I do not know how much applies today.
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This is the third time I’ve asked this question, I have some Rolling Stones DSD CDs produced by ABKCO in 2002. They sound great but are they really DSD or is it a marketing gimmick? Am I hallucinating? 😳
@geoffkait I have those same ABKO Stones files. They display as DSD 1 bit format in Audirvana.... strangley enough, they do not display as DSD 128,256, whatever when they play on my SMSL SU8. That may be due to a display or actual functional limitation on the DAC although it is supposed to be DSD capable. Or it may actually be an Audio setting... I upsample everyting to SoX max bitrate- 756...I feel the redbok playbook sounds better.
i love those ABKO Stones DSD recordings.. the originals is recorded great and the DSD makes them sound smoother, more alive and present
i did a bit of reading and unfortunately, Apple does not support native DSD playback
That's correct--Apple doesn't support DSD. So, if you have a Mac you have to use third party software to send the DSD file to your DSD-capable DAC.  I'm using Colibri ($5 software) as I had trouble getting the popular Jriver to send the DSD in full form.  

GeoffKait, I'm curious about the Stones files.  I will look to see if I can buy some and see what my DAC reads out with on playback.  So far, with Colibri, my Doge Audio tube DAC shows the exact DSD specs as the files I purchased from Acoustic Sounds. 

This old link is a good reference for those who are new to DSD format.


My favorite is Blue Coast Records - they record in the studio directly to DSD256.  Recording quality is superb, but limited choice.

NativeDSD also has some albums directly recorded in studio to DSD256, but they also have transfers from master tape to DSD done by others.  But beware with their upsampled versions - they call it remodulation but it is actually upsampled.  All their DSD512 were upsampled from DSD256.  Some of their DSD256 were also upsampled from the original format, e.g. DSD64.  So read the album's technical specs properly.

I use Intel NUC and Euphony Stylus (paid software based on Arch Linux) as my DIY streamer, my preference is play from locally attached SSD.  Euphony supports both DoP and native DSD over USB Audio to the max my bitrate that the DAC supports. If you want to read more, I've shared in CA forum.


Yes, DSD albums are expensive, so I normally wait until 15-20% offers.
Does it sound like PCM, DSD, or analog? Surely the system you brag about is able to discern the differences. 😉
So that makes you a baby, or with only the intelligence of a baby. Look through all of your posts and see how many you answer with a question. 😉
Let’s stay focused on the subject at hand! :)

thanks to the above referral to Blue Coast records!!!
"I have some Rolling Stones DSD CDs produced by ABKCO in 2002."
I think geoffkait is asking about a batch of CDs (NOT SACDs) that say "DSD" on them. I would think that they are same as CD layer of initial hybrid SACDs. Just converted from ISO files, or something like that.

This is a picture of one of them. Note the sticker.



It was not much of a work. It was from memory.

To answer your question about embracing the format and how to run it, etc...

SACDs get converted to .DSF files. It is for convenience (less clutter in the room, simpler access, portable application, and so on). Then they get played through the...DAC on the SACD player or through the Walkman.

Vinyl records get copied into DSD (64x) and follow the path above.
I've got Let It Bleed on one of those DSD remastered CDs.  From reading the notes on the remastering in the booklet, it sounds like they transferred the tapes to digital as DSD  and they feel that this resulted in a better A/D conversion.  Or, if you are cynical, they want you to believe it resulted in a better conversion.  They then converted the DSD to 16/44.1 for the DSD CDs.  When I put it in my SACD player the CD light comes on, not the SACD light.
I’ve not streamed DSD yet, but I have a number of SACDs. To my ears the SACD DSD disc in comparison to the same redbook recording sounds better and clearly higher resolution. The sound is more present/ real sounding, less compressed, bigger, more effortless / less strained and natural... yeah so more like a proper vinyl system ; )
To the OP, I’d say if you like DSD and classical music there are a lot of SACDs or downloads available, dive right in. If you’re looking for pop, rock, jazz, etc. it’s a tougher recommendation.

Japan still releases a lot of nonclassical SACDs, but the prices are high and they don’t press that many so when they go out-of-print the prices go higher still. Many of the most popular albums have been done and are OOP.

DSD downloads is anther option. Many people think Roon is the greatest thing going. It gathers information about your album from all over the web and has other functions as well.

The downsides are that I have read complaints about DSD downloads being compressed and they may also disappear in the streaming onslaught. So, as I said, it’s a tough recommendation.
This just in, from the lukpak.org discussion of the 2002 ABKCO DSD remasters,

QZ1) Are the new Stones discs a big and NOTICABLE improvement over the old ABKCO discs in sound quality?

AZ1) In general, yes, to a fairly large degree.

My comments: However, the Virgin Stones releases circa 1994 are better than the original ABKCO remasters, too. So, that’s not saying much. I don’t think any of the ABKCO DSD remasters are the same albums as the Virgin remasters. Any of the above are very good sounding in my humble opinion.

full discussion at,

for instance, "Can’t you hear me Knockin" the opening guitar riff sounds identical and I think anybody would only be guessing to identify which is DSD. When Mick and the band comes in is when I notice the bigger soundstage and the smoothness of the vocals...this is Jimmy Miller’s work and very hard to improve upon his mixing and the money they spent on the first go-round... bass is bit more pronounced and tonally superior
You can pick up Stones DSD CDs all day long on eBay relatively inexpensively. If you want to see what all the fuss is about check out one of the compilations like Hot Rocks. There’s an auction for Through the Past Darkly DSD on eBay as we speak, high bid $3.99. Hel-loo! There’s also an auction for a bundle of sixteen DSD Stones from U.K. seller.
The 1994 Virgins and the 2002 ABKCOs are both remasters of the Stones catalogs and both are said to be improvements over the 1986 ABKCO original release on CD. The 2002 remasters were done in conjunction with the Stones' catalog release on SACD

I haven’t compared the 1994 Virgins to the 2002 ABKCOs, but what I’ve read is that the 1994 Virgins sound fine and if you own them there’s no need to upgrade to the 2002 ABKCOs. Of course some people feel that the 2002 ABKCOs sound better.

The 2002s are compressed by about 1db over the 1986 CDs. Some people always prefer the least compressed CD release, others do not.
The Rolling Stones SACDs (and "DSD CDs") are hard to compare to 1990s Virgin remasters. Mainly because they are different albums (Virgin did not have rights to those early ABKCO albums, I think). Otherwise, comparing The Rolling Stones' first album from one of the early days of CDs with these SACDs is apples-to-apples and SACD is objectively much better. However, it may be too good in some way.
I have let it bleed on DSD and I try down loading it .i had to convert it 24 176
and was not too happy with the sound quality . Maybe 
buying from HD Trax   Their masters iwould be noticably better since they know proper editing l I will try a few , just not a lot variety out there at the moment .
I have the mobile fidelity vinyl , early European vinyl. The sacd versions outshines them all. Stones albums just were never well recorded. Especially the crap they sent over here in the early days.
I have a bunch of SACDs that I have ripped to DSF files and play them via Roon/HQPlayer to my DirectStream DAC which supports up to DSD128.

Regardless of format or resolution, the mastering is the single most important element to getting great sound. I have listened to SACDs that sound terrible compared to a 320Kbps AAC rip. You must start with a good mastering.

But, format and resolution matters too. I have the SHM SACD of "Sticky Fingers" and also had the SHM CD. Both share the exact same mastering. But, the DSD64 tracks of the SACD sounded better than FLAC tracks of the CD. Mostly in was in clarity and resolution. There was a little better voice and instrument isolation with the DSD64 files too. But, I would have been completely happy with the CD version if that were all I had.  

Excellent information as above. I enjoy DSD titles from the Telarc (Jazz) label. Yes, this (DSD) is a 1-bit transfer process that yields better A/D conversion to my ears. I still enjoy those older 1980's first generation/original pressings (tape drop-out, tape hiss) as well.
The DSD format and process will clean up those specific original pressings on CD/SACD. Regarding hi-rez downloads or streaming I hear variations of digital glare that is not presented on physical formats.
In time, I suspect, that technology will improve to correct digital glare, artifacts.

Happy Listening!
2nd note;

regarding The Rolling Stones catalog on CD/SACD, I own the entire catalog from 1986 on CD as well as the 2002 SACD titles from ABKCO.
Additionally, I own the selected 1994 CD titles from Virgin.
No doubt that the 1994 editions are an improvement on the 1986 first pressings. The presentation and sound is clean and detailed by comparison.  The 2002 editions take presentation and sound one step further by adding better instrument separation.
1994 vs 2002 is an apples to apples example indeed. 
No, DSD,  is not a marketing gimmick to my ears.

Happy Listening!