hi res audio & downloading music

THE BEST SOUND WE’VE EVER HAD!

Finally audiophile quality for all!

Digital comes of age

Having recently bought the Doge 7 DAC which can decode DSD and 24 192k audio and has a USB input, I investigated playing high resolution files. It was a learning curve but worth it. Companies like Reference Recordings and Opus 3 and third party sellers like Acoustic Sounds, eclassical.com and prestomusic.com and HDTRACKS offer music in various formats. The recordings that are really high resolution, mostly 24 96k sound superb. I’m not surprised, the recordings I made of local groups in my city were all done in 24 192k and I know how great these sound, and how much was lost when downgraded for the CD 16 44k standard.

I have some music titles both on master tape copies and 24 192k files and the digital file is the equal of the master tape copy and in some cases superior. As for music that was digitally recorded in high resolution, it is breathtaking – its like being at the recording itself, or having the musicians in your room.

I have to say that finally we are getting truly high quality audio, free of digital artefacts and analogue imperfections. I know many audiophiles think analogue on 2 track reel to reel is the best format. While I love r2r, there is no doubt that tape has a softening effect, which digital does not.

Even files which are only 44.1k 16 bit, the old CD standard, sound vastly superior to playing the equivalent CD. And if I rip a CD and play the audio file, it’s superior to playing the actual CD through the same DAC! Surely this is an indictment of the mechanics involved in playing a CD.

And the good news is that just about everything is available to download.

DSD and SACD

Almost no recording companies record in native DSD. If they do, they have to convert to PCM to edit. Analogue recordings converted to DSD sound great, a bit smoother than high bit PCM but not much. SACDs carry recordings made in PCM, then converted to DSD. They are not superior to high resolution downloads of the same recordings! And they are much more expensive. They exist because Sony killed DVD AUDIO, which would have easily coped with the data storage needed for high rez PCM.

As a matter of interest, I use AUDIRVANA as my music player after many frustrating hours and days trying to get others to work properly. JRIVER is pretty good too and has a file browser. VOLUMIO was a major PITA to get working and sounded way inferior to either of the others. AUDIRVANA sounds the best. I use it without upsampling, because that introduces some haziness to the sound. But the bit rate with my DAC is changed to 32 which makes a big difference and is probably why CDs sound better when they are ripped and played through AUDIRVANA.

Download sites

For classical and jazz, PRESTOMUSIC is by far the best. Eclassical, run by BIS recordings is cumbersome to use, gives errors through Chrome and Windows and will screw up your music server, besides all sorts of other issues. I’ve written to them but they don’t care! Good business sense, when downloads are a big business?! Not!!

HDTRACKS and DSD File are both error free.

There are others too.

OEHLBACH XXL MasterClock

I recently added the OEHLBACH XXL reclocker. This little box really cleans up the sound and spaces between images are more clearly defined. It gives the USB link a proper power supply and reclocks the signal. Well worth it, especially for the low asking price. In Australia it’s available on Amazon prime.