Tag Archives: Hi-Rez

Black.. Cyber.. What Next ? Purple Saturday?? – 20% off Coffeehouse (music)

Black… Cyber … what next .. Purple?

OK it’s a holiday season thing. Good!

I got included in a nice promotion from one of most CAREFUL hi-rez download sites out there. www.nativedsd.com is in Holland (you know Amsterdam, but they are in another city nearby).  They are offering the DSD download of my “Coffeehouse DSD Playlist #1” for 20% off from now through January 5th, 2015 (2015???).

Here’s the page link:
https://skettisandwich.nativedsd.com/albums/coffeehouse-playlist-dsd-1

Don’t forget to use the Coupon Code: XmasCoffee (capital X, C) when you checkout. Friends of mine have told me that NativeDSD.com is one of the friendliest, easiest download sites for hi-rez.


For my part, I created the downsampled 24/48k FLAC of the same playlist album. This sampler has hi-res songs from all my other full releases so anyone wondering what all this DSD or FLAC stuff is about… here’s a way to try it.

If you’re not into DSD (yet), try the FLAC, it plays on PC and Mac (with free Flip converter) with most if not all media players and sounds way better than MP3 or lossy AAC.

Here it is on Bandcamp:
https://davidelias.bandcamp.com/album/coffeehouse-dsd-playlist-1

Use the same Coupon Code at checkout: XmasCoffee

The songs on the Coffeehouse sampler from “The Window”, “Crossing”, “Slipperworld DSD Sessions”, “Acoustic Trio DSD Session” are:

– The Old King
– Half An Hour Away
– Rodeo On A Ridge
– Mend My Mind
– Close My Eyes
– Morning Light / Western Town
– Vision Of Her
– Poor Polly
– Aspen Rose (solo, prev. unreleased)

Click here to look at the PDF with lyrics and notes on each song. Musicians on these tracks include: Sally Van Meter, Ross Martin, John Magnie, Matt Flinner, Marc Dalio, Charlie Natzke, Chris Kee, Scott Beynon, Ken Owen, Peter Tucker.

Enjoy the holidaze season…Aloha!

– DE

Go Get Some…Hi-Rez…

What’s New and How You Can Get Some…

David Elias - Independent Acoustic

David Elias – Independent Acoustic


I have been watching and listening to the way online music is changing further towards higher quality on almost a daily basis. One of the latest rockets here is that Sony is now opening their vault of master archives and letting the hi-rez bug put their titles online as downloads in the DSD format.

What’s that mean to you? I think it means a lot for anyone who has listened to vinyl, analog tapes (reel-to-reel), or other HD quality downloads from the ever increasing number of sources that give you something beyond the CD quality we’ve grown accustomed to, but not comfortable with.

You can watch the supposed 500 titles from Sony start appearing at http://SuperHiRez.com now through the end of the year. There are already a few hundred HD (FLAC and ALAC to 176.4k, 24-bit) and DSD64 downloads up there.

Click on the “Digital Downloads” menu in the left column to select specific formats. I’m still in their Top Seller 25 list with “Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions” and “The Window” so thank you if you helped with that.


As you must know by now, I care a lot about how things sound, mostly because there are ways to record and produce things that others can listen to (discs, downloads, videos, streaming mp3’s…) and cause them them say things like: “How did you make that sound so natural and real?”, and “How do you get the bass to sound like that?”, and “I never heard that on the CD!”, and “This is almost as good as my vinyl”, or “This is the best #**@#$(#$ thing I ever heard!”…

So listening to music gets fun again and more relaxed and more enjoyable as a pastime, and not necessarily as a background sound filler.  That is something I like a lot!

If you are into Classical and Rare Audiophile Recordings, try browsing High Definition Tape Transfers…They have HD and DSD for Baroque, Chamber, Orchestral, Symphonies, Jazz…You can find my DSD albums there as well. Thanks Bob!

The new release of the “Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions” recorded by Charlie Natzke at Slipperworld.net is a set of 14 songs recorded in 3.5 hrs. by me (acoustic/vocal/harmonica), Charlie (acoustic/vocal), and Chris Kee (upright bass).  We had the windows open (you can hear the redwing blackbirds on one track). We were standing about arms length from each other in a circle. We had our mics bleeding into each other…

We recorded to Sonoma DSD64 live with no overdubs. Nothing was edited.  I mixed this on Sonoma in a day and a night. The Sony mixer card allowed me to do that without ever converting the source tracks from DSD to anything else, even to analog and then back to DSD. The result is 100% pure DSD.

So it is a very live acoustic natural reproduction of a studio performance of the trio. Some people feel this is my most “authentic” recording. Their impression may be so because there are only 3 instruments to pick out and spatially they are represented in stereo in just the way they were recorded.  As I told a friend online, you have to stop thinking of “L/R” (left/right) and think of a performance of 3 guys standing in a circle and you sitting or standing there with them.

I now have the HD version of this album as an 24-bit, 88.2kHz FLAC download for those not using DSD playback hardware or software.  In addition, you get the smaller files as MP3-320 (320kHz) to use in your Smartphone or tablet.

The HD version is now online for $14.95.

The DSD (which also includes FLAC and MP3-320 copies) is also there for $24.95.

You can find these downloads at http://www.davidelias.com

If you have any questions, just reply to this email. Hardware and software for DSD playback is getting easier and cheaper to find. If you are interested in learning more about it, I can try to answer your questions. Two good sources to search for info are Positive Feedback and DSD Guide.

Thanks for Listening!
If it sounds good, it is good…


If you are interested in creating a DSD multitrack recording of your own, contact Charlie Natzke via email – He’s in La Honda, CA at Slipperworld.net.

Charlie is the studio and DSD engineer behind my “Crossing” and “Acoustic Trio” recordings. Another new DSD album release I hope to get out this year is one more project Charlie setup the studio for, recorded to DSD on Sonoma and mixed as analog. He’s da man!

My song “Silver Pen” online for download now is a single from this next DSD album release. It lets you compare different audio formats to hear the differences for yourself. It cost $4.99 for all 5 formats (DSF, FLAC 24/96, WMA Lossless 24/96, WAV 16/44.1 (CD), MP3-320).

Aloha!

– DE

New Album! David Elias – Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions

David Elias - Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions

David Elias – Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions

It’s Like You Were There In The Studio…

David Elias – “Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions”Released 11/04/2013

Download these 14 original songs as both DSD (DSF) and 24/88.2 FLAC audio files for the price of $24.95.

You get both formats! FLAC files are hi-rez lossless downsamples that can be played by all popular PC/Mac media players including JRiver, Winamp, Audirvana, Windows Media and many others.

http://www.davidelias.com

“What excellent compositions…exceptional performances…and rich, harmonic, organic sound, as natural and mellow via DSD as one could wish…10 stars…Love it, big time” – Dr. David W. Robinson, Positive Feedback

This collection of original material from the independent acoustic singer-songwriter David Elias is a special organic, natural sounding set of pure DSD recordings created at the Slipperworld Studios in La Honda, California (www.slipperworld.net). These 14 tracks feature David Elias (acoustic/vocal/harmonica), Charlie Natzke (acoustic/vocal) and Chris Kee (upright bass, Blue Coast Records).

This Acoustic Trio session release was captured in the studio on a single day as a series of live takes without any edits or overdubs. It was recorded by Charlie Natzke to no more than 8 tracks directly to a Sonoma DSD Workstation using Meitner converters.

The essence of the performance is the ambient and acoustic nature of all the instruments and vocals including natural resonance, harmonics, decay, and microphone bleed and decay using minimal micing without any artificial or digital effects.

Acoustic Trio DSD Sessions” was recorded on a sunny day among the redwoods with the windows open. The musicians recorded standing roughly arms length from each other in a small circle with no isolation. A pair of microphones were positioned overhead to capture a stereophonic image of “the room”. This was used as the only source of natural reverb in the mix.

The songs were mixed as DSD using a Sony mixer card in the Sonoma workstation. These tracks have never left the original DSD format, even as analog conversions for mixing!

As a result, what you hear from these pure DSD master recordings are the natural live performances of the trio, as if you were standing or sitting with them in the studio during the session.

Songs: 01 – If I Had My Way, 02 – Ohlone Dream, 03 – Above The Creek, 04 – Crossing, 05 – Changing Down, 06 – Take Me Down The Road, 07 – The Riddle Song, 08 – Rodeo On A Ridge, 09 – Summer Wind, 10 – One More Savior, 11 – Good Old Days, 12 – Vision Of Her, 13 – Transcendental Deprivation Part II Straw Dream, 14 – Morning Light Western Town

David Elias began recording to DSD in 2000 using a similar minimal microphone setup directly to the prototype 2-channel Sony SACD Project DSD mastering/archiving prototype workstation. Working with Gus Skinas (www.SuperAudioCenter.com) he went on to record live studio performances with a large acoustic band to 8-tracks in 2002. This resulted in the landmark independent hybrid multichannel SACD “The Window“. The followup award-winning SACD “Crossing” was released in 2005. Both SACDs received the coveted “Brutus Award for DSD Excellence” from Dr. David W. Robinson, Positive Feedback.

These and other DSD Downloads are available from his website at www.davidelias.com as well as from www.SuperHiRez.com and www.HighDefTapeTransfers.com.

David Elias - DSD Pioneer - Bio

Silver Pen – new single, HRA to compare as downloads

David Elias - SilverPen

David Elias – SilverPen

A DSD Download, plus other Hi-Rez to Compare.

NEW SONG to Download as DSD – “Silver Pen”

The new release “Silver Pen” from the upcoming DSD album “Slipper DSD Sessions – And The Bit Goes On…” is now online to download.  If you are interested in hearing what some of the different Hi-Rez (HD) formats sound like compared to one another, you might want to try this.

http://www.davidelias.com

You will get a DSF download of the original DSD source mix, recorded on Sonoma at Slipperworld.net in La Honda, California. This session recording featuring me, Charlie Natzke (guitar/vocal), Scott Beynon (Fender bass), and Ken Owen (drums) was done live to less than 8-tracks and used no overdubs or edits. It is pure DSD!

You will also get 4 other copies of the song “Silver Pen” in different audio formats (FLAC, WMA, WAV, MP3)… I know… keep reading…


Too Many Acronyms…DSFFLACWMAALACMP3WAVAIFFDon’tKnowDon’tCare…

Hi-Rez downloads are going nuts these days. Sometimes too many choices are just that. I have been working (my ears) on getting it right about lots of audio downloads issues since the beginning in the mid-90’s when MP3 started making it possible to get music online.

The tradeoffs then were file size (due to slow dialup Internet connections) and sound quality.  MP3 at 128k is just about 1/10th the size of the CD quality WAV file. So a “pretty good” sounding file that you could download in less than an hour was a “pretty good” way to go. And boy it went…by the millions of songs.

Cut to 21st century cable modem at 10mbps (million bits per second) compared to the dated dialup modem at 19.2kbps (thousand bits per second) and you can suddenly get either a lot MORE music files in the same time, or…maybe… just BETTER SOUNDING files in the same time. (BTW, Apple iTunes has given us MORE files — 25+ Billion Sold — but not BETTER SOUNDING yet.. maybe we need to ask them about that!)

“Silver Pen” is a native DSD file you can download as DSF with tags (metadata) that includes song info and the graphic (above) for the player to present to you. It is about 150MB as DSD.

Other popular formats you get with the download include the 24-bit, 96kHz sample FLAC, and WMA lossless (for Windows users) at about 80MB. I also included the CD quality (Redbook 16-bit, 44.1kHz sample) WAV for your comparison across formats at about 40MB.

I also included the highest quality MP3 (320kHz) which is just under 10MB. This is to put in your Smartphone or tablet where size does matter…

It’s a new era for audio. Sony is calling it High Resolution Audio or HRA. (I always thought “acronym” had to be pronounced as a word, but I looked it up and sure enough, it includes abbreviations.)

With the new era it is important to learn some new things about what’s out there and how it might fit your taste for quality with the tradeoff for size and cost.

I’m putting this new track out there for those who want to compare quality. There are other choices, but I made mine for this selection and hope it helps give you a reference point.

Feel free to reply to this message if you have questions about this. I don’t think it’s simple, but I do think there are differences. “Better” and “Worse” are like the weather. They change from place to place and person to person. So education helps. That’s what I believe anyway.

Music is for enjoyment.  Here’s to enjoyment!

And if you just like to buy music from iTunes, here’s the link!


PS – Muchos Mahalos to the outrageous CasualTees for playing to a full house in San Gregorio General Store last Saturday.  It was like we never left…Roger, KO, Scotty, Gar, Reid and Marty – you guys rock!

TOMORROW – NOVEMBER 1st — Scott and Marty and I will be back at the Store this Friday, November 1st, from 6pm to   8pm to give everyone the trio version of some of these original independent acoustic stories. Hope to see you there.

Aloha! – DE

california beach, hmb

california beach, hmb


DSD Bartender — Give Me A PCM Sandwich!

Direct Stream Digital (DSD)

The great news is that hi-rez (aka hi-res, HRA, or HD) audio is getting lots of renewed attention these days, by the likes of Sony and all kinds of audio loving creators and consumers.

I think that’s a great thing because if we would all just remember to slow down a little and maybe sit down and just listen to some nice music more often (like many of us used to do every day!) then we might all feel just a little better about the rest of what’s going on around us.

At 80 years old, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wrote that without music our civilization would have ended long ago. I’d have to agree with that. Pursuing a certain quality to whatever kind of music we might listen to is worthwhile. Music isn’t a distraction to many. It’s an essential part of our civilization and our lives.

DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is the High Resolution Audio (HRA in Sony’s acronymous world) that has been around as the media format behind SACD (Super Audio CD) which came out nearly 15 years ago. SACD kind of went invisible for awhile due to lack of the music industry’s support, but now is coming back around for big press and lots of attention and ears (new and renewed).

It has been reborn in the form of DSD Downloads, with the same audio quality of any equivalent SACD.

My question is:  How many people out there think they are listening to DSD and are actually not hearing DSD but a PCM conversion of their DSD source track?

DSD DISTILLED CORRECTLY…

Frequently DSD is being changed (converted) by hardware and software alike into the more ubiquitous PCM format before it reaches your ears.

What’s confusing, or worse is completely unknown to many listeners and audiophiles, are the proper steps required to actually play DSD in its native format. Despite the years that SACD has been around at this point, the proper direct DSD playback from both SACD discs as well as DSD Download audio files (DSF or DFF) is still elusive to or misunderstood by many.

Surprisingly, both SACD’s and DSD Downloads often have similar problems getting played correctly in their intended DSD hi-rez format.

This seems to stem from the ways that audio hardware and software have evolved. They have both followed a PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) dominated path that was based on most of the digital music being recorded and played as CD (PCM) since the early 80’s.

That’s a long, long, time and a whole lotta CDs and iTunes downloads ago… We’ve all been listening to PCM since vinyl LPs, cassettes and 8-tracks went out the window…

So the DACs (Digital to Analog Converters) that were first developed catered to PCM, the same format as CDs (WAV/AIFF). As far as I know, the DACs to this day still require different circuitry to support both PCM and DSD.

The bottom line is that it is neither simple nor cheap to support both standards (DSD and PCM) in the same product. Yet they both exist. In September 2013, Sony announced they felt the CD audio quality consumers were being fed for the past 30 years was not nearly good enough. As a result, they decided to back their own HRA format: DSD! This approach removes the edgy and compressed feeling to the sound you are listening to and instead provides a much more natural and ambient analog-like sound your ears are more comfortable hearing.

When software media players such as Winamp and QuickTime came out in the 90’s, they were meant to play the popular PCM formats (WAV and AIFF)  as well as the ubiquitous compressed MP3 (lossy – meaning audio quality is lost), AAC (Apple lossy) and then the more accurately compressed lossless (meaning quality is not lost) formats such as FLAC for the PC and ALAC for the Mac.

There are many more audio encoding formats and what are called containers for video and/or audio playback. I can show you a list of audio/video encoding formats and containers that is a long as your arm! They all have different approaches to compression vs quality and player compatibility.

By the way, notice any pattern here?  The PC and the Mac never really support the same encoded audio files! The Mac will now even run Windows (under a Lion OS X dual boot), but it won’t play a PC FLAC file…Give me a break!  Things are not better on the PC Windows side playing the Mac ALAC files…Give me 2 breaks! Even the mighty “cloud” won’t help you with this one…

A similar discrepancy has occurred in the HRA world of playing DSD through software media players including Winamp, QuickTime, JRiver, Audirvana, AudioGate, Pure Music, and all the rest. The circuitry does not exist inside the PC or Mac to decode the 1-bit DSD directly to analog!  This is pervasive, but perhaps not that well understood.

There is insufficient hardware (specialized chips) in the typical PC and Mac to play DSD as DSD without PCM conversion. Instead it must first get converted (via software) to PCM to then be played directly through its speaker or headphone audio out jack. (For historical reference, the Sound Reality chip in older Sony Vaio computers could in fact play DSD as DSD but that chip no longer exists in the newer Vaio computers.)

If you are using any of the popular media players such as Audirvana Plus, JRiver, Pure Music, AudioGate, Foobar2000, and if you are listening to DSD without an External DSD DAC (see below), then you are not listening to DSD, you are listening to PCM.  Here’s a list of media players from HighDefTapeTransfers.com

IMPORTANT NOTE: Korg’s AudioGate software does not support an external DSD DAC! There’s no way to hear DSD from the Korg software. You can only hear DSD directly output from one of its MR-series recorders (MR-1 or 2, MR-1000, MR-2000). AudioGate software always plays DSD files (DSF, DFF) as PCM!

AudioGate is a great tool for mastering and converting between many hi-rez audio formats including DSF/DFF (I use it a lot), but it does not offer any DSD playback without converting to PCM, nor does it integrate with USB DSD DACs.

THE DSD DAC SOLUTION

Fortunately, there is a way to listen to native DSD from a PC/Mac without converting it to PCM first.

The solution is to add an external DSD DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) to decode the DSD stream to analog and feed it from there to your amplifier, etc.  The DAC typically connects to your PC/Mac via a USB cable. More recent DSD DACs are USB sticks that connect to the PC/Mac directly and also act as headphone amplifiers…this approach (like in a product called GEEK) just might blow the roof off the cost/value proposition in the market! Other interfaces for popular DACs (old  and new) include Firewire, S/PDIF, AES/EBU and Toslink. DSD DACs usually support PCM as well.

In addition to the original Meitner (EMM Labs) DAC products, DSD DACs now are becoming a beautiful audio bouquet of selection from companies such as Mytek, exaSound, TEAC, PSAudio, and others. Some good DSD DAC lists exist at Positive Feedbackand AudioStream…

SAMPLE THIS….

There are differences in the sample rates supported by all of these things so that’s one more thing to pay attention to as a futureproof type of purchasing if that’s important to you. The original DSD 1-bit sample rate was at 2.8 MHz. This is referred to as DSD64 or 64fs or 64x because it is 64 times the sample rate of the CD (aka Red Book CD) standard of 44.1 KHz (44100 x 64 = 2,822,400).

To achieve even better sonic results, DSD sample rates have increased by factors of 2x (DSD128 at 5.6 MHz) and 4x (DSD256 at 11.2 / 12.2 MHz). Different software and different hardware have different capabilities in this regard. exaSound’s e20 and e28 DSD DACs are some of the early adopters supporting DSD256 in stereo and 8-channels! Pyramix and Horus from Merging Technologies also support DSD256.

DSD – NO PROBLEM……PCM – NO PROBLEM…
IF IT SOUNDS GOOD…IT IS GOOD!

I have no dispute to settle. I like good sound. I like to make good sounding recordings. It can be on a cassette in a boom box or DSF file being played and sent analog to that same boom box. It can be an iPhone sitting on a pallet out in the yard turned up like an AM radio from the 70’s. And no, not everything sounds good to me…

In many ways, listening carefully to DSD since 1999 has taught me to appreciate a good recording no matter what device or media it is playing through. I have come to call this the Art of Listening.

Roger Powell gave me the confidence back in the early 90’s to accept the fact that “if it sounds good, it is good. Thank you Roger!  I was trying to make the first “really good” recordings of my life at that point, having done lots of messing around for the previous 20 years. The digital DIY revolution was breaking and I was hooked

I was hoping not to screw up. A lot of things that I used and did for those 90’s recordings were dirt simple at the time, yet still just sounded good (honest, accurate, clean, natural) compared to most of what I was listening to on home recordings and many pro recordings. My sound was nearly all acoustic so that made it easier to evaluate for these attributes of clean, natural, etc.

Roger’s answer to my “is this good quality?” questions gave me the courage to stay on my track. Before too long I would be introduced to DSD by Gus Skinas. I’ve never had to look back or look anywhere else for a truly excellent audo quality resource. I’m not alone. If it sounds good, it is good! DSD has been all of that for me from the very start.

BARTENDER, GIVE ME A SANDWICH!

Say you walk into a bar famous for their home infused jalapeno margaritas. In fact they specialize in all kinds of infused drinks with deep colored bottles lining their shelves.

You sit at the bar and say “Bartender, give me a sandwich!”

He looks at you and shrugs and then goes somewhere and scrounges up a ham and cheese sandwich (maybe from the take out next door) and gives it to you, (Give the customer what they want!). You eat the sandwich and are not too impressed.

Then you go back home to your “Famous Bar Review” webzine work and write something about the poor quality you experienced at what you thought was supposed to be a very high quality establishment.

I’m afraid that this is what too often happens to DSD in its evaluations and comparisons to any other format (analog tape, vinyl, PCM, etc.).

A lot of people are listening to DSD as PCM. This happens if you don’t use the external DSD DAC as described above.  This is also likely to happen if you play the DSD from an SACD player that is using HDMI to connect to an amplifier/receiver or to even a video monitor to display its menus. The transport over HDMI (at least prior to HDMI v1.2) in the mainstream pro and consumer world is always for PCM encoded audio, not DSD.

This is only recently overcome and not usually implemented on the HDMI side of things. Prior to HDMI v1.2 DSD gets converted to PCM for transport to the amp/receiver. With newer HDMI versions, BDP players such as OPPO are now supporting the improved integration with some A/V receivers (some Onkyo, Integra and Yamaha models) where the DSD is preserved over the HDMI transport. There are apparently licensing issues here so DSD support is not guaranteed. You have to check with the manufacturer and spec for each model at both ends.

They have also gotten around this on the software USB side (PC/Mac media player to DSD DAC) using what’s referred to as DoP (DSD over PCM). DoP manages to keep the DSD intact and unconverted when it leaves the software player and arrives at the DAC. Other software drivers called ASIO and WASAPI also exist for similar USB DSD DAC integrations.

So….The hardware and software both cater to the PCM market — no problem…unless you want to hear native DSD and you don’t carefully setup and configure the hardware and software you are using for direct DSD.

The default settings for all these products are to convert the DSD to PCM before it is output.

=======================================================

I’ve seen this so many times now that I had to write this post.

=======================================================

It’s like asking that bartender for a sandwich instead of a jalapeno margarita. The finest most exotic and delicious specialty of the house is skipped for what the customer is most used to…

I’ve been on an education type track with hi-rez since well before 2009. I started recording with DSD in 2000 and recorded the self-produced “The Window” in 2002. In 2003 I was taking my SACD disc around to the hi-rez audio retailers in the SF Bay Area asking about all the gear that could play it and testing it out their audition rooms.

Similar issues always existed with the HDMI integration of amplifiers and receivers to SACD players. There can be other default player settings that just convert DSD to PCM for no apparent reason unless you turn it off in the setup configuration. I’ve seen this on Sony BDP players as well as others. Software will always convert to PCM unless you have the right path for it not to (to an external DAC) and set it up (with the right DSD drivers) properly.

People often want to hear my DSD recordings.  If they end up listening to my DSD recordings as PCM conversions, they may be nonplussed with the results, especially as sonic comparisons to other (PCM) recordings they have. I want to help them configure their systems to actually hear the DSD recordings in their native formats. Since they were recorded as DSD, they should be played as DSD.

Usually the response to a changed DSD playback configuration starts with: “Wow!“. The same benefits apply to any other SACD disc or DSD Download audio file played on the same system.

WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO…

So I recently created my own checklist for setting up DSD playback. This is so anyone can hear the DSD directly, and not as PCM masquerading as DSD.  It is a pretty confusing product world from one standpoint, but the checklist I came up with is pretty simple.

It is the mental list I’ve used when helping others listen to DSD recordings in their intended way. This list has changed as the whole thing continues to evolve.

So here’s my current Checklist to try to help others listen to native DSD if at all possible. There may be exceptions! In fact, I can think of a few. No matter. It is written for the general and common systems out there.

DE’s DSD PLAYBACK CHECKLIST

1. BEWARE: If you are using a computer’s analog audio jack (headphones/audio or line output), then software as a PC/Mac Media Player ALWAYS plays DSD as converted to PCM, not native DSD.

2. So….An External DSD DAC connected to a PC/Mac via USB is required in order to play the native DSD from a Media Player. This also includes a requirement for proper hardware (DAC) driver configuration on the computer. (The “driver” is software!).

Popular External DSD DACs are available from companies such as exaSound, Mytek, TEAC, Meitner, PSAudio and many others. A good list is here from AudioStream…

3, BEWARE: HDMI (v1.1) converts DSD to PCM before playback and therefore should be avoided when critiquing or trying to fully enjoy DSD audio quality. You can investigate HDMI (v1.2 and later) to see if DSD playback is being supported by your specific BDP (player) and A/V Receiver or Pre/Pro products.

CAUTION
: Enabling HDMI Output on your SACD/DSD player may cause DSD to automatically be converted to PCM on any direct output. This is currently true on OPPO 103/105 models. Check with the manufacturer for your player.

4. The best and simplest audio quality solution from a DSD/SACD player is usually to seek the configuration/setup that sends DSD directly to the analog RCA outputs (L/R stereo or 5.1 Mch).  You also need to enable DSD (instead of PCM) on SACD Output!

5. Finally, most DSD players (hardware and software) give some indication on a screen somewhere of what they are really playing based on their configuration.

Read the screen! 

This can be the media player (software) screen, or the SACD/Blu-ray player (hardware) display.  If it doesn’t say “DSD” or “SACD” and says “PCM”, or AIFF or ALAC, or WAV or FLAC or anything else, then it’s probably converting the DSD to PCM before it sends it to your amplifier or elsewhere. You may need to disable HDMI Output and/or enable DSD on SACD Output.

ONE MORE SIDE NOTE…… If you are using an OPPO BDP (103/105) and are playing DSD Downloads that you have on a USB stick, the OPPO and HDMI video screen displays do not tell you whether you are listening to PCM or DSD!

This is true for the latest firmware dated July 2013.

I was told by OPPO that the player will follow the SACD setup when playing USB DSD file (DSF/DFF).  So if you see “PCM” in the display when an SACD disc is playing, then you need to fix your setup as described above (HDMI Output = Disabled, SACD Output = DSD).

Then go get a good margarita and enjoy yourself!

dsd

dsd

 

new beginnings … 20 years in the making

With the 2013 Autumn Equinox, I am releasing a collection of recordings that was made about 20 years ago. It was the beginning of my work as an independent acoustic artist in the SF Bay Area. I began performing my original songs back then in a retro solo coffeehouse style approach to live music.

I also began recording at my home studio with the encouragement and assistance from Gus Skinas and Roger Powell who helped set me up with gear (which included a nice 100-year commemorative Gibson Gospel guitar!). I recorded to Hi-8 video tape on a Tascam DA-88 8-track PCM 16-bit recorder at 48kHz. Gus loaned me 3 very good mics which was probably the biggest quality influence on the whole setup.


… A CDBaby is Born …

Those are my beginnings as a DIY musician and the first effort yielded my first self-released CD called “Lost in the Green” in 1995. A few years after that I found out about a brand new online retail outlet called “CD Baby” (what a name!) for independent arists.

I had 2 CDs released at that point (“Time Forgets” was recorded in 1997 and released in 1998) so I called Derek Sivers in Woodstock, NY who in 1998 had started this brainchild of hanging anyone’s self-made CD in his storefront window and letting the artist control 100% of everything about the sale through their online account.

This included the retail price and all the info about the release. It could be changed by the artist at any time. Derek provided the warehousing of the inventory and did all the online transactions with Visa/etc. and shipped the package to the customer. Then he told the artist about it via email and kept the history of the transaction online.

To this day, I can look up the first CD I sold through CDBaby online in about 5 or 10 seconds. That’s 15 or more years ago! CDBaby has not changed the price it charges to provide their service to me ($4 per disc no matter what the disc retails for).


 … Getting Online … Slowwwwwly ….

At this point, in the 20-year horizon of how I was encouraged to produce my work and find my way into the Internet and DIY music, I looked back to the first recordings I made. This was all before CDBaby, before iTunes, before Hi-Rez, before Napster, myspace, Dreamweaver, DSL and cable modems, and lots of other things I gratefully forgot about…

I was staying up late nights into early mornings writing HTML in a Notepad text window and uploading it to my account with Netcom.com out of San Jose, one of the first ISP’s in the Bay Area. I didn’t have a domain name of davidelias.com. I didn’t think I’d need one…

But I did use the Alta Vista search engine (no Yahoo! or Google yet) to find the web sites and playlists for public and university folk and country radio shows. In the days of 19.2k, 33.6k dialup modems that everyone had, there was no streaming of music online.

You could upload and download mp3’s and then play them through things like Winamp (which I still use sometimes) but the radio stations weren’t part of that. What they did was show you the programs they had scheduled and the playlists of what went out over the air in recent shows by the different DJ’s. (They were using the web to try to push you to the air waves!!) They often had email addresses for their staff.

So I started emailing those DJ’s who were playing songlists that I felt my work would fit in with. I let them know what I was doing as an independent artist with a web site, writing, performing and self-producing CD’s and asked them if I could mail them a disc to audition for their show. They usually said “Wow – you must be crazy and when do you sleep and sure send a disc to me”.

I could then track my work appearing in shows in the US and other places as far away as Hong Kong. I maintained my web page by hand and added radio info and pictures and mp3 downloads as time went by. There were very few rules as to the “right way” to do things…This was still quite a ways off in the future…maybe it still is…

MP3.com went online in 1997. It let anyone upload their music to the web to be accessed by the universe of listeners, many of which were also artists. I was in heaven!

I don’t remember any other artist songs as covers or copies like the YouTube of today. I remember all this original music. Maybe I’m glorifying it, I don’t know.

Before too long there were a million songs online at MP3.com from independent artists like me. By 1999 MP3.com went public and all the artists online there were offered an IPO price on some (small) number of shares of the stock. Good times!

A shared music platform with free exchange of styles and motivations. Too good to be true? Yep…MP3.com produced some very big rumblings in the record industry that was sitting back watching music being given away…. lawsuits and the rest followed as MP3.com departed. (It first got locked in a drawer by Vivendi, then went to CNET and exists today in another form.)


… Napster (free) … iTunes (not!)  …

In the wake of MP3.com, Napster and others, there emerged a new unfolding of the retail motherlode of digital downloads…iTunes. I had been online almost 10 years with free MP3 music downloads at that point.  But suddenly there was this very huge RETAIL thing looming in front of the independent artists. CDBaby took us (lowly unsiged artists) to that front door, and all the other OMD doors…

Since then, iTunes has sold some 28+ billion downloads…that’s a lot of noteworthy hamburgers so to speak…CDBaby is the Online Music Distributor (OMD) of my catalog to over 50 download retailers including Spotify, Rhapsody, Amazon, Napster, MusicMatch, EMusic and last.FM. There are over 350,000 albums on CDBaby alone (2+ million songs!) that can be purchased as CD and/or downloads right there.  That’s just CDBaby, that’s not iTunes!  You want to make a living as a musician with some songs recorded?…uh you have a few competitors out there…

MP3.com proved that there could be a huge music community of artists and listeners using the web as a conduit for the exchange of music. MP3.com was visionary in this regard. they were ahead (meaning occured before) things like Ecommerce and ad-supported web pages. But they didn’t charge anyone anything to post music or to download music. It was just about the music for them, or so it seemed anyway. I, and I think millions of other people as artists and music lovers, liked that a lot.

Steve Jobs saw and seized the opportunity… iTunes became the vending machine for delivering music to a BUYER not necessarily a LISTENER. People who were involved in the approach (software) used to encode and compress the music files as MP3 were not necessarily happy with the resulting quality of the recording compared to the original. But modem speeds and expensive disk drives at the time were both catering to smaller files to download.

So iTunes jumped on the wave and created what I still think is one of the best media manager software packages out there. I spent years telling people that if they wanted to just catalog their CD libraries they could download iTunes software for free and do just that and play the music from the computer (or send it to their stereo system) or iPod or iPhone if they had one, and never buy a single download from Apple.

iTunes lets you rip CDs to WAV (if you change the settings) so the CD and resulting digital file sounds are identical. I don’t think most people understood how useful that was and still is. You can also sequence songs you want and easily burn a new CD with the same audio quality.

Newer software that can also play DSD now exists so iTunes hasn’t quite the same clout that it did…Still most media player software integrates WITH iTunes, it does’t try to REPLACE iTunes. Talk about market share…

What iTunes also did however, was assign a value ($.99 to be exact) to each song on the web. What a concept that Jobs had!  So free music became less interesting to a whole lot of people on both sides of the equation from then on.

The record industy had its serious competition forevermore; music lovers had to start being more judicious (mainstream?) about their choices of music; and starving artists (or some version of that) got this new gleam in their eye that said “hey if I could only put the right song up on that iTunes I could probably make….”).

Also In the wake of iTunes came a host of new challenges and opportunities, all of which I managed to get tangled in without a lot of guidance because most people didn’t know much about the How-To either.

Some were quite fun really as technology got kind of bolder on the desktop and then notebook then notepad computers. (Today I’m using an old iPhone as my portable tablet!) Plus I’m a persistent type so I don’t mind doing the research and experimenting for my own education.

A memorable list of emerging technology for music during those times is: webcasts, podcasts, live streaming broadcasts, highly stylized and customized media players, standardized media players and eventually videos.  Most if not all of these are still around.

So the waves of independent artist music grew large and poured out over the web, with me right in them.

Derek Sivers has since sold his CDBaby business (2008) which had grown to include HostBaby (where I’ve hosted my web site since he started that around 2000 I think) and other things. But the mechanics of how CDBaby works are the same.


DSD Wobbles Around and Then Sits Up Straight After 10 Years or so…

Time sure did race by… Now in 2013 I am 20 years into being an independent artist and also 10 years into the creation of the planet’s first independent (unsigned artist) hi-rez SACD recorded and mixed for stereo and 5.1 surround sound.

I made “The Window” available as a DSD Disc (stereo DSF files) download in 2009 – another first – to anyone interested in accessing hi-rez over the web as opposed to on an SACD disc. These were mostly being played on some of the 30+ million Sony PlayStation3’s out there that supported DSD Disc.

This same format (DSD as DSF / DFF audio files) was just this month, 4 years since my DSD Disc release, announced and embraced by Sony as part of their new High Resolution Audio (HRA) campaign that encourages DSD Downloads. Good friends to have in the DSD Download market!

You can read about their initiative through these links

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/personal/2013/09/03/cea-to-tout-high-resolution-audio/2758871/

http://www.cepro.com/article/sony_releases_8_hi-res_audio_products/

You can now also find my released DSD recordings online with the record label DSD Download crowd online at http://www.SuperHiRez.com — there lots of press and buzz about this:

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue68/hi_rez.htm

I’m just happy that there is a (rapidly?) growing community of artists, producers and labels that care about how good their recordings sound.  They (Sony and retailers) might say it’s because their surveys say that the market wants good sound, but I think they have to want good sound as much or more than anything else… let it happen!


Independent Acoustic Roots…

This new release is where I started with this world-connected music. I’d already been playing guitar and performing my songs for 20 years (I know, I know…). But that’s another story. Everything changed with the digital technology that enabled DIY CDs to be created and web connected communities of art started flowing into retail pretty quickly.

So here are 16 songs that are from the Big Bang of my Independent Acoustic DIY universe as a singer-songwriter. Playing guitar is one of the things I’ve cared about my whole life as a young guy then young student, then young adult then … what am I again now?

It doesn’t matter. Music is timeless. You can find the track downloads online at www.davidelias.com right now.  They will be online at iTunes and the rest of the web download machine any day now. “Lost in the Green” never made it to iTunes for personal and then some bureaucratic reasons. So adding this release to my catalog on iTunes and the other download sites helps complete my story online for Independent Acoustic.

Thanks for Listening and thanks to all those who have helped and encouraged me to be Independent along the way.

Enjoy the change of season with the Equinox.  9/22/2013…4:44pm EDT


About the new release…

Independent Acoustic Roots — these are solo acoustic bare bones performances, original mixes. As a result there is only one overdub on these tracks. Calvin McElroy plays mandolin with me on “Season of the Fall”. John Caulfield added his fiddle part to “Time To Sleep Corrina” as an overdub.

Some of these tracks were used later in multitrack mixes for the release of “Lost in the Green“. Some were unreleased. 4 tracks are written by Townes Van Zandt and recorded during the same time in 1994. Only two of these appeared on “Lost in the Green”.

 1. The Great Unknown (David Elias)
 2. Season of the Fall (David Elias)
 3. Dollar Bill Blues (Townes Van Zandt)
 4. Lost in the Green (David Elias)
 5. Time to Sleep Corrina (David Elias)
 6. May People (David Elias)
 7. Field of Wood (David Elias) *
 8. Nothin' (Townes Van Zandt)
 9. Every Hour, Every Day (David Elias)
 10. Eye on the Wind (David Elias) *
 11. Mainland (David Elias)
 12. Hair of the Dog (David Elias) *
 13. Rows, Desolation & Angels (David Elias) *
 14. Stormy Early Warnings (David Elias) *
 15. Waitin' 'round to Die (Townes Van Zandt) *
 16. A Song For (Townes Van Zandt) *

* Does not appear on “Lost in the Green”

“Independent Acoustic Roots” is online at http://www.davidelias.com


   16 acoustic tracks from the DIY digital dawn... NEW Release! Original Acoustic Tracks from 1993/1994