This article did a listening comparison between 44.1k vs 96k vs 192k vs DSD
The conclusion was that: going from 44.1 to 96 to 192, there are gains in sound quality, and going from 192k to DSD there is a huge jump in sound quality.
I have only listened to 44.1k. I will do a test of 44.1k vs DSD of the same music using Hilo.
I don't doubt what he heard. Some DACs like the X-Sabre (and from what I hear about the Hilo and Mytek) tend to handle DSD "better" than PCM. Still doesn't show DSD is a "superior" format. Just that certain DACs handle DSD better than PCM.
Here's a good experiment: convert your favorite 44.1kHz recordings to 88, 174, and DSD. Then see if these conversions sound better. Try the use of different conversion tools or plug-ins, .e.g. r8brain, Adobe Audition, JRiver MC, foobar, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if these conversions coming from the same 44.k original source sound "better" or at least different. At least that's been my experience. I suspect this is because the filters in the DACs handle the higher sampling rates.
That's assuming you have one of those "boutique" studios with crazy expensive equipment which does AD conversion directly to DSD. Most of Sony's SACDs are probably taken from either the analog master (less likely since tape degrades or gets lost over time) or from a 24/96 PCM master.
Keep in mind that DSD rapidly starts to lose bit-depth after 24kHz because of one-bit quantization noise (in other words "error"). To the point where this noise overtakes any real musical content (sonic content past 20kHz gets progressively softer). In any event, the dirty secret of SACD or DSD players is that they must filter ultrasonic content to eliminate this ultrasonic garbage. So much for DSD as a "hires" format.
DSD was never about sound quality to Sony. It was about control and low cost (R2R DAC chips are hard to make. The precision of the resistors is paramount.)
RED = Raw DSD
BLUE = 24/192 PCM at the outputs of the player
GREEN = DSD at the outputs of the player
You can definitely see the DSD ultrasonic filter being applied - the stopband ripple gives it away.
Edited by purrin - 1/15/14 at 1:20pm