DSD 1-bit audio recording technology

I’d like to start a discussion around this technology. Many years ago I used to own a Korg MR-1000, which I really liked. Had to sell it to fund different gear. I’ve also owned the portable Korg MR-2 as well.

I find the technology very intriguing. Besides providing extraordinarily clear recordings with a lot of dimension, I remember that the audio reacted differently from standard PCM when sending it hotter signals. It felt like it was much more pleasing; not what you’d normally expect from clipping while recording audio digitally. It also came with this AudioGate software to convert your DSD files to wav, and I recall being able to really push the levels before finalizing with some interesting results.

I’ve come full circle, and am interested in this technology again. Anybody out there using a Korg MS-2000 or some other Tascam/Sony variant with this technology? What have your experiences been like?

What is DSD technology? Something related to delta-sigma audio converters? I thought most contemporary converters are of this variety?

Check this out.

I’m not good at describing the technical aspects of it; I’ll try to find some relevant articles. I’m not sure what is legit or not though… so I don’t endorse any of it.

Reading abit about it on wikipedia, would seem that DSD is just 1-bit delta-sigma conversion stream without the decimation into PCM? Specwise comparable to ~20bit 96kHz PCM aufio.

Furthermore, it seems that 1-bit delta-sigma has been surpassed by mutibit delta-sigma already. Therefore it’s unlikely that new hardware will support this intermediary technology…

Yeah, this gets into audiophile territory. A lot of people who like to convert their vinyl to digital format are proponents of this technology. There’s a ton of debate still going on about DSD technology.

I’m not sure about the multibit delta-sigma; the 1-bit DSD is the only one that has made its way to consumers in considerable numbers, and I’m not sure how lucrative it is. I know that Korg, Tascam, and Sony are still producing hardware for it. You won’t be able to manipulate it in its DSD format without really expensive software, but when software like AudioGate is used to convert that super high quality file to wav, a lot of pros feel it sounds better to them than recording straight to 20bit 96kHz. A lot of pros use something like the Korg MR-2000 to master to from what I gather reading threads on Gearslutz.

I had up until recently been using the Tascam DA-3000 DSD recorder to record a final master 2 track from my daw
I did extensive testing between the DSD format and high sample rate PCM and if your monitoring environment is good enough you can hear a subtle difference.
The DSD recording has a slightly warmer, less digital sheen sound so to speak which is why it has been compared with recording to tape.
The difference in the end was a little too subtle and when I needed some money I sold the unit.
Apart from the DSD recording the Tascam unit has incredible AD/DA converters worth the price alone. Seems the price has jumped up though lately?

I think you can find good prices on slightly used units. I was highly interested in the Tascam until I read a lot of complaints about the SD/CF reader going faulty, and the headphone amp being lackluster. I kind of have my sights set on the Korg MR-2000 due to AudioGate, which is no longer compatible with non-Korg hardware. Also, it has a stellar headphone amp. What you described sounds similar to my experience as well; I just wish I experimented more with pushing the levels in that format as a creative effect.

I’d like to know how scientific their research on the matter has been before ventruing further tbh. Not saying that it’s snake oil as I don’t have personal experience, but if it really were that good, DSD audio streaming would have caught on more, don’t you think?

The DSD audio format itself saves pretty large files, not appropriate for streaming. I think this whole DSD thing is all about the quality of the audio files after conversion using the software.

Used audiogate as well when it was free but then bought an app from Mac store that was much better. Was really cheap too. Mac only though. Can’t remember name though?

If I do get another DSD unit, I’ve narrowed it down to the Tascam and the Korg. I’ll take a look into that software.

It’s such a contentious topic.
The problem is you eventually have to covert back to PCM at the end which in itself means you lose some of the inherited quality you gained by recording in DSD to begin with.
If you didn’t need to convert back to PCM at the end it would be a better medium

I researched the two and bought the Tascam.
It’s a newer device with better converters

A lot of people will argue that after that conversion, it still sounds better. I guess the debate still rages, but from my experiences, I do really like the quality of the audio I have recorded using this format/conversion technique.

IIUC, DSD is nothing more than storing the output from your AD converter in a non-decimated format, thereby taking more diskspace. Now if this decimation process to PCM codec reduces captured quality somewhat, well that I have no expertize to comment on. But again, most AD converters in this day and age are sigma-delta already.

I would categorize this quality diff to be somewhere up in the list next to having better digital clocks for your audio system? Havent bought a superclock yet, even though I know it would also improve the quality of my digital audio. I’d like to know which approach would yield better sounding results, superclocked 24/96 PCM vs normally clocked DSD

Yeah, not sure because I haven’t had the opportunity to use a ultra-high quality system with top-of-the line converters, and digital clock. At about a $700-$800 investment, and for people who are trying to avoid computers as much as possible, it’s a compelling option though if the quality is comparable.

Well, if you have the dough, go for it. Find a good deal and you can flip it later for about the same money if you later on decide it wasn’t worth it.

Personally, I am still at the stage where improving my mics & monitoring acoustics reap larger benefits than high-end digital exotica. YMMV as always.

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Like I said the converters on the Tascam are worth the price alone.
My main monitoring DAC at the time was the Mytek 192 DSD mastering version and the Tascam unit was no slouch in comparison
Even if you used for PCM only it’s great value

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