Originally Posted by matvei
So, I am about to buy the Fostex HP-A4 DAC which comes out next week in Japan, and I had some questions relating to this thread in terms of PCM vs DSD. For reference, the DAC supports up to 24bit 192kHz in PCM, and up to 5.6MHz!!! in DSD
If I understand this thread correctly, 24 bit PCM is useless, as are 96kHz and 192kHz sampling rates. Therefore, HD Audio is snake oil.
If all you are doing is playing commercially released recordings, then yes, 24bit is useless. It's not useless if you are recording or mixing music though. Again, 96kHz may have some uses during recording and mixing but not so much for playback. 192kHz is useless for virtually everything, including recording, mixing and playing back commercial recordings!
Originally Posted by matvei
I'm not quite sure I understand DSD. It was said in this thread and others as well by Giorgio that although SACD shouldn't sound any better than redbook, they often do because they have better masters. In that case, wouldn't that mean the only use of the DSD feature is to play back (mostly illegally) ripped SACDs? And what on earth is the difference between 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz DSD? Is there any point to using this crap or are these features all extraneous?
DSD uses 1bit rather than 16bit or 24bit. The downside of this is huge amounts of unwanted noise but with very high sampling rates there is plenty of space above the audible spectrum to move this noise, thereby making it inaudible. The SACD standard has a sampling rate of 2.8mHz and therefore a theoretical audio range of 1.4mHz, which is way more than enough to account for any difficulties related to reconstruction filters or other required process. This DAC obviously has a mode which exactly doubles that and indeed there are apparently some recordings available in this format and one or two DAC manufacturers are now offering a quad DSD oversampled rate of 11.2mHz. It appears that these oversampled DSD rates which have appeared are purely for marketing (snake oil) purposes. On the basis that if something has a higher number in it's specs, it's easier to market it as better, even if it isn't or even if it's actually worse!
Your basic premise is correct, look for the quality of the recording rather than for the distribution format. In some cases the best you will find will be a standard CD (16/44) in other cases it might be SACD or 24/96. You can always take a good master which may happen to be in 24/96 format, convert to a lossless 16/44 format to save space on say your smartphone and be secure in the knowledge that you're not loosing anything audible and are therefore listening to the highest quality available!
Edited by gregorio - 11/14/13 at 11:53am