Category Archives: hi-res

40% Off Everything – May Day Sale

EXTENDED SALE NOW THROUGH MAY 3rd 2020, ending midnight PDT (Los Angeles) 5/3/2020.

Save 40% off anything/everything you buy on my Bandcamp Catalog.

Use this discount code at checkout:  MAYREPEAT

DavidElias-BandCampDiscography-49Titles
Bandcamp is waiving their artist fees on May 1st so I pass that and more savings on to you for that day. Offer ends May 3, 2020 @ 11:59pm PDT.

Currently 49 titles on this catalog including MQA remasters up to 24/352.8k.  All titles will play on any player, the hi-res is transparent until you have the proper MQA decoding software and/or hardware (DAC).

If you’re not into MQA don’t worry it doesn’t matter — you can download and play any of the 49 titles on Bandcamp :)

Hope you are safe and well and thank you for continuing to listen to my music online and as downloads.

Don’t forget to find me on Spotify, TIDAL, iTunes Music, Amazon Prime, Deezer, Qobuz, Last.FM, Pandora and all the rest.

Again many many thanks for supporting independent artists!

Sending Aloha,

~ DE

SendingAloha

 

Album of the Week: “The Window” on NativeDSD.com

AOTW facebook twitter

Get 20% Off “The Window” in any DSD Resolution up to DSD512.

NativeDSD.com in the Netherlands has selected “The Window” as their Album of the Week. The 20% discount is good through May 1, 2020.

Go to the NativeDSD website here…

Use the checkout promo code: AOTW to get 20% off.

NativeDSD.com has original DSD masters and remasters up to the highest resolution DSD512 (stereo). “The Window” has both stereo and 5.1 multichannel surround downloads available (MCH downloads up to DSD256 resolution).

Download one of the best known reference quality recordings, recorded live studio directly to DSD64 by Gus Skinas, mastered by Gus as DSD for SACD release in 2003.

“The Window” contains no edits, overdubs, digital effects or any compression of any kind. It is a pure acoustic recording made using vintage EMM Labs ADC DSD converters and the original Sonoma DSD Workstation (8 tracks max.).  It is mixed on the Sonoma using the Sony Wide DSD Mixer Card and mastered as native DSD on the same workstation.

This recording never has been converted to any other digital or analog format and is considered a PURE DSD recording, one of very few anywhere in the world. It only gets converted to analog for the first time when you play it on your DSD enabled system. What you then hear is 100% identical to the studio master recording.

“The Window” features some especially talented musicians backing me on these live studio recordings: Matt Flinner, Ross Martin, Sally Van Meter, Eric Thorin, Marc Dalio, John Magnie. Recorded in 3 consecutive days at Immersive Studios in Boulder, Colorado.

AOTW Instagram - Layout

https://www.nativedsd.com/albums/SSP3162D64-the-window

Don’t forget to use the discount promo code AOTW at checkout!

Many thanks – please share with your social media and friends online.

~ DE

Listen to the newest song release "Stand In The Middle" online at davidelias.com -- other new song releases and the album collection "Nighttime Music" with unreleased songs also here.

Listen to the newest song release “Stand In The Middle” online at davidelias.com — other new song releases and the album collection “Nighttime Music” with unreleased songs also here.

Over 23,000 MQA Remastered Albums Streaming on TIDAL up to DXD

David Elias Streaming listeners in the last 28 days

Are you streaming audio?

Do you listen to hi-res?

If not, do you want to?

 

[Note Added by DE, 03/16/2020]:

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-resolution_audio)

High-resolution audio (High-definition audio or HD audio) is a technical and marketing term for audio with greater than 44.1 kHz sample rate or higher than 16-bit audio bit depth. It commonly refers to 96 or 192 kHz sample rates. However, there also exist 44.1 kHz/24-bit, 48 kHz/24-bit and 88.2 kHz/24-bit recordings that are labeled HD Audio. “

The above Wikipedia definition of hi-res includes 24/44.1k, which may also be referenced as HD. When what I refer to in this post as my DXD and other masters are played as TIDAL Masters (MQA) through a Mytek Brooklyn USB MQA/DSD DAC or an iFi Audio Pro iDSD USB/Wifi MQA/DSD DAC the bitstream is reported by the DAC (Mytek and iFi Audio) to be 24-bit 352.8k (or 24/384k) MQA.  This is, according to any definition in the so-called audio industry I am aware of, known as DXD.  I don’t make this up. I report it as it is presented by the industry authorities and experts of digital audio. If the source bitstream is not a folded MQA encoding, it will be reported by these same devices as either 24/44.1 or 24/48 — both of which according to Wikipedia above also qualify as hi-res.

In addition, there are a number of streaming services apart from TIDAL that deliver bit perfect, lossless streams of their source audio files. I have played my MQA 44.1k masters through the Qobuz iOS player at 24/44.1k (routed via WiFi to Pro iDSD DAC/preamp) and they are properly recognized as MQA 24/44.1k on the iFi Audio Pro iDSD USB/WiFi MQA DAC. As long as a bit perfect stream is delivered to the gear decoding MQA, the MQA authentication is preserved through streaming services such as TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer, 7digital, and others.

Finally, in 2019 alone, a number of MQA equipment partners were recognized by the music industry at many levels with awards for their excellence in sound quality. These are not money hack grubbing shyster types of people and businesses. These are some of the more respected names in the beloved & sacred music industry. For those who choose to accuse others of nothing more than base and ill motives (ie, money) for their pursuit of better sound in a newly emerging hi-res, highly compact and deliverable/streamable, carefully researched and listened to listened to listened to new audio encoding that requires extensive listening and comparison rather than only spec reading to evaluate, let those accusers at least know the scope of the indictments they are passing without jury onto others characters, with or without snake oil expletives.

https://www.mqa.co.uk/news/post/mqa-partners-reap-rewards
(Pro-ject, Hegel, NAD, Mytek, Bluesound, iFi Audio, Astell&Kern, TIDAL, AudioQuest, HELM, LG, dCS Bartok, Aurender, Esoteric, FiiO, Wadax, Control4, Mark Levinson, Dali Callisto, Roon).

Other MQA Partners include:  nugs.net, Onkyo Music, Hi-Res Audio, e-onkyo (Japan), Sony, Pioneer, 2L, Xiami Music, Audirvana, Amarra, Essential, Cayin, HiBy, ibasso, Audiolab, Berkeley, Bel Canto, Brinkmann, Canever, Novatron, EmmLabs, exaSound, Jineung, Lumin, M2Tech, Matrix Audio, Meridian, Moon, MSB, NuPrime, PS-Audio, PureAudio, S.M.S.L., Teac, Atoll, Cary, Esoteric, Citech, Technics, Krell, Rotel.

“MQA is quite an emotional experience. One of the great pleasures of MQA, beyond its ability to give the listener high resolution sound, is having a true center come out of two loudspeakers or earphones.” – Bruce Botnik, longtime The Doors engineer

Let it be. – DE


TIDAL streams hi-res as MQA Remasters. Their iOS/Android/Windows player decodes to 24/96 without buying any new hardware. Right now there are over 23,000 albums and singles in the TIDAL “Masters” catalog. These usually appear with the letter “M” on the thumbnail.

There is a list online that gets updated twice a week with the current MQA Masters album list on TIDAL. You can download it as a CSV file and open it in Excel anytime.

Here is the Forum that created and manages the list. The link to the list is in the first post you see “MQA_List.csv”:

https://www.meridianunplugged.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php

Most remasters are 24/96 or 24/192k but some are CD (44k) remasters (where MQA sound quality improvements are most noticeable to my ears) and some are up to DXD rates (352.8k and 384k). My albums are in this list:



There are some of my all time favorite albums in this list including (random picks) Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Todd Rundgren’s Faithful, Talking Heads 77, The Stones Let It Bleed, Yes Fragile, Steve Earle Copperhead Road, Tom Petty (they have just about all of them). Create your own playlists and have at it.

Yeah But Does It Really Sound Better?

Yeah, it does. PCM never sounded so good to my ears after about 35 years of trying, until I heard MQA encoded masters. I’m talking about CDs (PCM) and other hi-res up to 24/192k. I hated CD sound then I found DSD and never looked back for what sounded good digitally for audio. But everyone was still listened to CD and PCM streaming….Then I found MQA for all of those people hearing CD quality and worse (MP3, AAC) all the time. I had a lot of music recorded for CD since the mid 90’s. It needed help. MQA helped it a lot. It could also make my DSD available for listening to people not setup to hear DSD. And it still sounded darn (damn) good.

MQA is good for CD, it doesn’t have to be hi-res. I don’t notice the press talking/writing/blogging much about this but I hear the most improvement on regular CD masters at 16 or 24/44.1k. I have my work to compare first and foremost to my ears here. That’s why I had my whole CD collection reencoded as MQA. They all sounded much better that way, more like what I heard when I was recording and mixing them. The MQA “math” also points to its biggest improvements at the lower resolution masters like CD where brickwall filters typically used for studio recording/mastering induce the highest incidence of pre-echo ringing on the results. MQA removes this unnatural edgy artifact from the master so it sounds more like analog when you listen to it, especially if it’s acoustic and vocal and not compressed to start with.

DE on BC

The hi-res 24/96 and above streams at the lower bitrates from TIDAL. That means you won’t use lots of data (around 1 to 1.5mbps) to listen to the music coming in at 24/96, 192 and higher. MQA has a “folding” technology that saves data space which means small files for downloading and low bitrates for streaming.

You can try TIDAL free for 30 days from their web site at TIDAL.com

 


Thank You NativeDSD & Listeners in Lots of Countries

 

DE ON NATIVEDSD

Huge thank you’s for all who took advantage of the COMBI-1 discount new downloads for Higher Rates Program (HRP) up to DSD512.

In February 90% of those buying my DSD downloads at NativeDSD.com were selecting remaster rates above the original DSD64.  These higher rates are another evolved technology that brings huge smiles to listeners ears, mine included. Thank you NativeDSD!

Thank you to all February listeners from Germany, US, Spain, Canada, Italy, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Hungary, Belgium — Many thanks! – DE



MESSAGE FROM DE: When a message is better than a mission. Why DSD Why MQA Why Hi-Res Why Art Of Listening

On Mar 4, 2020, at 12:01 PM, music at davidelias.com wrote:

Aloha & Welcome to the hi-res world with DSD and MQA as well as PCM above 16/44.1. I was introduced to DSD long ago and still work quite a bit at what I came to call the art of listening, a lot of which has to do with retraining my ears not to listen to music the way compressed CD was first presented in the early 80’s. In 1999 I heard DSD64 from a Sony prototype 2-track (Stereo) archive machine on some of the Sony analog masters converted to DSD and captured in the new PDM (not PCM) approach to digital audio. I finally had some relief in listening to digital audio and could relax with what I was hearing as a counterpart to the original analog recording. I’ve been working at those listening skills ever since and there are many dimensions to them.

To answer some of your questions about free DSD demos, the first page I can send you to is here:

https://www.oppodigital.com/hra/dsd-by-davidelias.aspx

I worked with OPPO for many years before they shut their doors in the US. Great company and products for value and quality. I still use the 103 here for SACD and CD mostly. My samples on this OPPO page can get you into comparing some of the basic variations in digital audio from straight PCM, to hi-res PCM, to DSD and then MQA.

In prior years I have tried to upsample my own DSD masters to DSD128 and DSD256 and never had a conclusive result as far as listening and comparing to the original DSD64. So I left that aside until NativeDSD did their conversions using more modern tools and gear. Things improved dramatically for my ears under their process of the DSD resample. In addition, I use a fantastic product from iFi Audio that has the ability to upsample/resample everything it receives streaming from MP3 (any bitrate) to CD (ie, TIDAL) to higher res (Qobuz 24/96) and first filter then resample as DSD1024 before converting to analog and preamplification through their analog tube component.

This is the iFi Audio Pro iDSD Preamp/DAC — I wrote about it on my blog (https://art-of-listening.com) and it was published at Positive Feedback Online (https://positive-feedback.com/reviews/hardware-reviews/ifi-audio-pro-idsd-dac/).

If you take the time to download and compare some of the samples on the OPPO page, let me know if there’s a particular song that works best for you as far as comparative listening and I can send you a DSD128 of that for you to play in your OPPO.  The 205 by the way can be used as a DAC connected via to the PC and support DSD rates higher than 128.  Mac has problem going above DSD128. I use JRiver as my main computer audio player setup. The iFi Pro iDSD by the way can act as a regular USB DAC as well up to DSD512 playing downloaded audio.

The MQA approach (PCM not PDM) to higher sample rates makes the headache of the large DSD files go away for downloading as well as storage. You will see from my samples that the MQA remaster is not much larger than any 24/44.1k download (slightly larger than a CD ripped to FLAC). I measure the streaming bitrate of my MQA which unfolds to 24/352.8k at well under 1mbps. This is incredibly useful for anyone streaming, especially in places like here in East Hawaii where cell service and internet service are not fat pipes like in the big cities.

As I’ve written on my blog, MQA does an incredibly good job correcting the pre- (most important) and post-echo ringing in PCM masters. This is most effective on the Red Book CD Masters at 16/44.1k but adds sonic improvements at the higher rates as well like the popular 24/96 (ringing is not as severe on higher bitrate recorded/mastered work, nor does it exist for sonic detriment in DSD).

As you know already, hi-res is a big subject with lots of diversions to follow and things to try to get your best sound to your ears from your equipment in your rooms for listening and headphones. I’m happy to send you these samples and hope you take some time to compare them. The DSD128, DSD256 and DSD512 from NativeDSD are further improvements on what I get from my DSD masters. I wrote about this on my blog as well.

https://art-of-listening.com/2019/11/23/the-single-bit-in-dsd-goes-further-than-the-us-dollar/

Here is some summary of things I’ve been addressing in hi-res lately:
https://art-of-listening.com/2020/01/24/3-things-nothing-related-to-anything-except-everything/

If you search the web for OPPO 205 and DSD256 you can find more info on how the OPPO can play higher res DSD as a DAC from players like JRiver or Foobar2000 on the PC/Windows.

Hope all this helps.
Best Regards,

David Elias
https://davidelias.com
https://davidelias.bandcamp.com (PCM and MQA catalog)
https://youtube.com/davideliasvideo
https://art-of-listening.com

3 Things – Nothing Related To Anything Except Everything

It’s 2020. I have been recalling the beginning of the 21st Century which was 2000 – 2001, and that would be 20 years ago. At that time I was able to do lots of projects that just kind of presto happened. For NYE on 12/31/2000 I had a large version of the band called “David Elias & The Great Unknown” perform for our openly invited friends in a theater on the Hwy 1 coast in Half Moon Bay, California. I know some of the email addresses on my list here were there in the HMB Mel Mello Theater which is now called something else maybe twice or thrice over, who knows.

We had SF and Coast and East Bay and even Humboldt people on stage helping me with lots of songs played. Different nice & kind people from all over including La Honda and Pescadero brought perfect food including hand-dipped chocolate covered nasturtiums, and we (let us remain anonymous) brought kegs of beer inside and then there was other things to not notice too closely…

21st Century started a long time ago folks. I have to think about that when I wake up at 2:30 am or 4:00 am or 6:21 am if I slept in. Is it now the XO10014xo910#9999 Century???? No one knows. It could be any century forecast by Asimov or so many who came before him as well as later to write about the impossible. But that’s today. Impossible. Who can deny it.


The 3 Things Revisited

I still love music and I know you do too. Sanity and Balance through music comes in a language we can all understand perfectly but only few can read. No matter. How does it get better than that? So I don’t just write music, I write about music. But not just always about music but sometimes about things that make music more enjoyable, if you are needing to find that improvement in your life through your ears and deep down in your knowing know-dom.

So here are 2 articles I wrote just this month (I started working on the first one in December) and were published in A Creative Forum For The Audio Arts which is Positive-Feedback.com — I know my friend Chief Editor Dr. David W. Robinson through music for more years than we remember unless we count. PF as it’s called is a lightning rod for finding out about how to enjoy music in improved ways for your knowing know-dom if you need it. No kidding. Go there and see all the things they write about since 2002 or so. You can’t stop reading once you start, that’s all I’ll say at this point.

PF….

First I wrote an article and review about why it is no longer necessary to be called an audiophile who has a designated sweet spot to sit to hear the best sound in a perfectly acoustically correct room as incredibly good sounding studio quality, reference quality, perfect bit perfect quality, and any term you’ve heard to describe da kine! music. There is so absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things and I have been there myself in my way many times over many years. Audiophiles pay lots of attention to music, What’s not to like about that.

It’s that Audiophile Armchair Perfect Seat that I think is fading now as a type of requirement, and that is a huge freedom release for everyone who likes to listen to music.

These days, and really more like only in this past year or two, you can finally hear your music as really really good sound, in many different ways from many different sources including your TV, your phone, your CD player (I hate CD, but bear with me and read the post), DVD player, the Internet, a NAS drive or USB thumbdrive, anything Airplay or Google Play can reach….all of it.  No Bluetooth needs to be involved. I can repeat that because Bluetooth is probably sorely and mistakenly missing from the AMA’s Top 5 List of Frustrations That Lead To A Personal Breakdown Of At Least One Type If Not More. 

What I’ve realized working with new audio products and just paying attention to my now dated total affinity for Wireless WiFi Networking For Audio is the dawn of what I felt I should call “the transparent network” evolving that lets anyone play anything they ever heard or can imagine hearing (the global music library), and hear it with not just good but very excellent sound quality.

None of this existed even a couple years ago. This is not yet in many or most products, but the beginning of this transparency is in progress with more to come no doubt.

I’ll go out on the limb here and say that even if you don’t think sound quality matters all that much, you would think that it matters if you really heard the difference. It could take as little as 15 seconds. I’ve seen this happen more than once. You just have to use your ears, not your eyes reading a spec or brochure or YouTube video training. Just by listening.

A lot of people have said “David writes a lot of interesting stuff and it is about music which I care about but a lot of times I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

All I’m Talking About Here Is Really Good Sounding Music You Like To Listen To Online Or From Your Phone Or Computer or CD/SACD/DVD/Blu-Ray Player…


You don’t have to be an IT System Admin to hear really good sounding music today. In 1995 that was so not true for just about everyone online. Dialup internet and online music (downloads only, no streaming the network was too darn slow) was too new and too fun to worry about how inferior it sounded compared to vinyl or even the dreaded CD in most cases. By 2003 when I released an SACD, some really excellent digital sound was only possible for people who could speak Audiophile and who knew where to buy what gear for the best price which was usually a lot even in 2003 US Dollars today.

So… It’s a good thing we can now hear some very very good sounding ANYTHING we want, streaming or downloaded or otherwise for not hardly any new money spent and it’s another very good thing that our music library just got UNIVERSAL and ever expanded, never stagnant, like Asimov’s entropy, for  as little as say $120/year if not free. That’s a lot to think about but fortunately for us all, all we want to do is hear music.

So now you don’t have to read what I wrote in my blog and for PF, but if you want to read it anyway, it’s here:

https://positive-feedback.com/audio-discourse/the-fading-audiophile-armchair/

THE SECOND THING is another piece I wrote during the past 4 weeks that was mostly about reviewing an exceptional piece of innovative and comprehensive audio gear created by iFi Audio (iFi-Audio.com)

The product which is over 1 year out in the market is called the Pro iDSD. It breaks the doors down on most of the preconceived notions of DAC and even preamp or network audio or computer audio. The one reason for breaking the mold is that the Pro iDSD is a the ultimate refactoring audio vending machine. I made up that term for my blog review of the Pro iDSD, but that’s what it is. You can read about it here.

And THE THIRD thing is that I have a brand new web site as of today. It too started being written in December and now my past 20+ years of online hosting with Hostbaby is dust in the ether as a new host (Bandzoogle, yes, Bandzoogle) takes over. I’ll say now that not having heard their name before, I went to the sidecar to see what might happen. But it turns out they have tons of music and musician and ecommerce experience and dang, they made it easy to get going.

I believe that all is well on my new website at the moment so please stop by and take a look or a few listens to some of the song/album players or videos embedded there.The same “Contact” menu choice gets your private message to me (or just reply to this message). In fact, nothing about my web stuff or email or anything should have changed at this point except the content. Amen. Thank you Bandzoogle. If something does go wrong for you there, please let me know.

https://davidelias.com

FINALLY AS A 3b ITEM….On the new website you’ll see and can hear my latest album “Nighttime Music” that was released on Bandcamp about a week ago and will be on Spotify, TIDAL, Qobuz and all their cousins in about another week or less.

Nighttime Music” is a collection of songs (19 tracks) spanning a full 35 year horizon of original music by me with songs dating as far back as the mid-80’s when I was using a Porta One 4-track cassette recorder in Palo Alto to put down things I was writing with various instruments I played and voices I sang in. Talk about the good old days. (That’s one thing that can be so good about the good old days James.)

Thanks to all who take a listen to this album. There are songs as newly written and released as 2019 as well as old songs from back as far as 1985 which you can’t have heard before. There are also some bootleg versions of songs you might know but these are previously unreleased even though I always liked how they sounded. And there’s some tried and true older released tracks as well because they just fit right in the mix. These are probably not the songs you might guess. Well, you might. I don’t know.

Wishing you all much good fortune as 2020 rolls on, it’s a new decade, so the adventure is there for sure. I hope the music stays with all of us.

Aloha Nui and Take Care,

– DE
https://davidelias.bandcamp.com
https://youtube.com/davideliasvideo
https://davidelias.com
https://art-of-listening.com

Photo by iFi Audio

When Computer Audio’s Top Quality Hi-Res No Longer Requires A Computer or a Bluetooth Leash and Delivers Stupendous Sound

By David Elias, 01/05/2020

The last 2 years of computer audio (2017 – 2019) for listeners and musicians have been unlike anything I have seen or heard since the earliest exciting and revolutionary days of the introduction of DSD as SACDs into the market which I participated with as an album (SACD “The Window” released in 2003). After the SACD early years (~2000 – 2005) excitement the next step was to launch Sony DSD Disc Format downloads in 2009 with my release of “The Window” in stereo, followed by “Crossing” and then both as multichannel 5.1 studio DSD64 masters. Keep in mind around then Netflix streaming was still new, 5mbps Internet download speed was a marvel to have, and DSD playing on any of the 30+ million Sony Playstation3’s in homes then was astonishing.

Following those years of early SACD Discs (.ISO image downloads to burn to high capacity DVD-R’s) 2013 and 2014 were the beginning of Sony’s official High Resolution Audio (HRA) program removing DRM from DSD recordings and inciting many companies to create low cost DSD USB DACs and headphone amplifiers that soon flooded the market and began encouraging many to listen to excellent recordings in both DSD and PCM (24/96 and DXD).

Since 2016 the introduction of MQA as both remasters for downloads and low bit rate, high resolution (unfolded up to 24/384 but delivered at about 24/48k or far less in my experience (FLAC ~700-1000kbps)) streaming from TIDAL and other services further puts the inexpensive reality of the highest quality studio masters in the accessible hands and ears of music lovers from something as simple to use as an iPhone or Android smartphone, tablet, or from laptop or desktop. Hi-res from a smartphone streaming from the internet. Who would have guessed. No one did, not too long ago.

On the high end of gear in these categories, and as described in this post regarding iFi Audio’s Pro iDSD product released in 2018, there are products now available that can be connected to home studio setups delivering bit perfect transmissions of encoded MQA and 1-bit DSD over WiFi as well as DSD1024 resampling of any streaming source such as Spotify (from 160k up to 320k through the Internet to your phone). These same standalone receiving DAC/DLNA/AirPlay/Google Cast units can also decode MQA from a connected computer (via WiFi or USB), or internet streaming hi-res TIDAL masters. None of this was imaginable in 2009, or 2013, or 2016, let alone anytime before that.

Photo by David Elias

iFi Audio Pro iDSD DAC/streaming/preamp and xDSD mobile DAC/headphone amp


Jump To The Point – What Do I Get Reading This

You get to imagine living and/or working in an environment where you can play any music you like in any audio format from any device you might have (including your Smart TV or Apple TV or CD/DVD player) through your stereo setup or headphones with the best sound you may have ever heard from the exact same music your ears may already know very well. I believe it will sound better to you than it ever has before, even though the listening room, the headphones, the stereo or studio monitors you are using may not have changed at all.

What’s changed is what I’ll call the digital audio cleaning and grooming needed to create an excellent quality analog rendition of the music, as they say, “as the artist intended”. Here is one artist musician who agrees this is finally possible in a single box regardless of the source or format of the data or the destination of the sound delivery (headphones, PA, stereo, studio monitors).

You get the best sound from your own digital album/cd/streaming library collection than ever before by routing and refactoring the audio through the iFi Pro iDSD.

The iFi Audio Pro iDSD digital to analog converter provides an incredibly effective and authentic delivery of analog audio from virtually any digital source using its unique and highly progressive combinations of filtering, DSD1024 resampling, analog tube preamplification, and balanced outputs with headphone impedance matching.

For the first time, what’s commonly referred to as hi-res computer audio requires no computer to play digital audio from any internet stream, both lossy and lossless into perfectly natural and studio quality analog music through your headphones or speakers. And there is no Bluetooth; amen to that too!

All of this can take place over your local WiFi setup in which the Pro iDSD acts as a DLNA or UPnP (AirPlay or Google Cast) endpoint and in fact can extend your Internet router’s WiFi range to allow local devices like smartphones receive streaming music from favorite sources like Spotify, TIDAL, Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Prime.  In my test the Internet WiFi router was located upstairs with a slightly weak 802.11 signal for smartphones downstairs. So I had the Pro iDSD located downstairs air link cleanly to the WiFi router upstairs, and had my phone and computer WiFi connect directly to the Pro iDSD unit as their WiFi router. These music source devices were then more reliable to play music consistently from, and even for any other internet access they might require.

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More about the Wow….

I’ve read some reviews about the Pro iDSD and most of them say they don’t know exactly what to call the device, or they say it has so many features that it’s hard to describe. I don’t have any problem describing what I see and have used the iDSD as: The ultimate media refactoring vending machine.  

It plays from nearly any source and delivers to nearly any receiver endpoint for playback in a perfectly cleaned up audio state of sound quality excellence. It supports the native source format if desired (lossy MP3 or AAC, lossless CD, MQA, DSD) but has tremendous sound quality improvement options as well. It is indiscriminate about what kind of music it receives and what kind of refactored music it delivers as analog. The user decides all of this, mostly in realtime with the ability to then easily listen to the differences between the choices to nail down a preferred sound. I don’t know of any other product that does this to this extent, and usually not even close.

If you play your streaming services in the same crappy 64kbps Pandora input that began in the 90’s, they come out of the Pro iDSD as filtered and upsampled DSD1024 (45mbps). Stream your Smart TV movies and music or your Amazon Prime favorite shows and they get the same filter + DSD upsample (aka resample or remaster) treatment. Send your CD/DVD player audio through your Smart TV via HDMI and get the same improvements.

Stream your TIDAL Masters MQA library from your tablet or laptop and you can hear audio unfolded to 24/384k with ringing corrections on both the encoded (master) and decoded (DAC) side. Play your native DSD up to DSD1024 (wireless DSD64 as DoP, USB wired otherwise). DSD64, 128 and 256 source masters can also be upsampled to the higher DSD bitrates.

Use the DLNA or AirPlay or Google Cast connections to send all your music from your smartphone to the Pro iDSD via reliable and extended distance WiFi. No more Bluetooth woes! Have your MP3 and CD music filtered through iFi’s innovative and effective GTO filter to work through some of the same PCM ringing problems as MQA does before DSD resampling and converting to analog to your headphones.

Enjoy a tube warmed preamp sound for all of it!

The ultimate media refactoring vending machine.  

Much of the music you may already play comes from a phone or tablet streaming from services like Spotify, TIDAL, Pandora, Bandcamp, Apple Music, Qobuz, Deezer, any or all of them, at different times. Using iFi’s Pro iDSD DAC and headphone amplifier or studio (tube or digital) preamplifier you will hear your music take on new depths and clarity and natural sounding characteristics you probably have never heard before with your own music libraries. To my ears, the digital reproductions playing through the Pro iDSD all seem to back off and just let me listen. There are no battles between what my ears hear and how my brain receives the music. It flows pure and simple.

You don’t need a computer to hear this. It can come from the same smartphone you play music on everyday. Forget Bluetooth, go WiFi. It’s a cleaner, bit perfect transmission (also forget about aptX and other compatibility headaches) and without a 30 foot limit (which it never is) before it stutters and drops and waits and drives you crazy. I’ve decried the virtues of WiFi audio over Bluetooth for years and now I have it before my very ears.

The music could also come locally stored as downloads or ripped CDs from your computer (tablet, laptop, desktop) connected via WiFi or via USB to the same iFi Pro iDSD and sound again better than you have heard it before. The player could then be Roon, JRiver, Audirvana, Amarra or others.

Why will it sound better?

If you are used to streaming less than bit perfect CD quality music from Pandora (64k free, 192k paid, lossy), Spotify (Free up to 160k and Premium up to 320k, lossy), TIDAL (Premium 320k, or HiFi 16/44.1 to 24/96 lossless), Qobuz (Premium 320k lossy, Hi-Fi 16/44.1, Sublime up to 24/192k lossless), Bandcamp (up to 256k lossy), Apple Music (up to 256k lossy including Mastered for iTunes), all of your lossy MP3 and AAC streaming music can be properly filtered to address pre- and post-ringing echoes that make digital music sound unnatural, and then get upsampled to DSD1024 (or DSD512) by the Pro iDSD and then output as analog (via analog tube preamp!) to your headphone/speakers with highly improved sound quality and listening pleasure.

All this can happen over WiFi in your home directed from a smartphone.

Lightly depress a Pro iDSD knob to instantly go from “No DSD Remaster” to “DSD Remaster DSD512″ and then once more to advance to ” DSD Remaster DSD1024“. If you are curious why the remaster (aka upsample, or resample) improves the sound, first I say you have to just listen to it. DSD remastering through oversampling has been at the heart of most digital audio players since you may be surprised to know the earliest portable digital players and recorders featuring 1-bit then 4- or 5- or 6- or thereabouts bit DSD (delta-sigma) converters. I’m saying that the heart of PCM digital to analog playback in commercial consumer gear has been a close DSD cousin all along, since the 90’s. The Pro iDSD is a high level Cadillac version of that root approach.

I like to think of DSD as a digital representation of an analog wave, such as you would see on an oscilloscope. This approach (Pulse Density Modulation) is as much as 1024 times the sample rate of CD. Describing the analog wave in binary storage is a very non-destructive way to reproduce the sound later through a DSD DAC. The high sample rate DSD conversion (remaster) of PCM masters also makes the result sound more analog like and natural to my ears. That’s why I’ve always preferred to record to DSD in the first place whenever possible. Now the ability to remaster everything (except MQA) to the highest DSD bitrate comes in a very nice looking 4 pound package.

Read some high level expert discussion on this by the chief creator of the iFi and AMR products:  https://www.audiostream.com/content/qa-thorsten-loesch-amrifi

Prior to resampling the music source you can apply an iFi software invention called the Gibbs Transient Optimized (GTO) Digital Filter. I feel strongly this is a true landmark breakthrough for playback of non-MQA PCM digital masters and streaming music. I also use their Bitperfect+ filter option as an alternative. Rotate the knob on the front panel of the Pro iDSD anytime to change the filter being used (they offer 5 choices) and to hear the differences in real time within the same song.

What I hear with the GTO Filter and DSD resample is a huge improvement in the width of the sound stage, separating the instruments and giving them much more natural sounding attacks (impulse) and decays (sustain). The edgy sound of digital audio ala CD quality which has plagued my ears since it was introduced around 1981 is no longer edgy. It’s suddenly a real sound as if people were actually playing the instruments I’m hearing in the room I’m sitting in. Singing and breathing are similarly more relaxed and natural sounding. I also hear distinct improvements in this same direction between the DSD512 and DSD1024 remasters, preferring DSD1024 as most natural. Some music I’ve listened to through the Pro iDSD sounds best to me using their Bitperfect+ filter instead of GTO. I would need to continue listening to and comparing these filters to decide when and why one filter may excel in natural sounding results over another and if there is any consistency to their different uses.

I want to add here my preference for the Tube switch selection in the Pro iDSD because once again there are distinct natural differences to my ears between how deployment of the J-FET all-valve Class A output featuring two GE5670 tubes warm the resulting sound (of usually acoustic or ambient style music genres as my preference) and get my vote over solid state or the Tube+ (added natural harmonic distortion) alternate choices. Slide the switch on the front panel anytime to instantly hear these differences.

All of this is based on the premise of working with a good recording and production master in the first place. But in all fairness, many recordings that sound crappy through normal CD player setups, will sound improved and even good through, say, a Spotify or TIDAL stream of them (MP3-320 or lossless 16-44.1) into the Pro iDSD streaming DAC/preamp. I’m starting to think of this tasked performed as audible cleanup, a series of steps (highest DSD resample, best filter, tube preamp) that deliver easy to hear improvements on the sound delivered to your speakers or headphones.


It’s in the Apps

I have used numerous music player apps on my iPhone to control playback through the Pro iDSD, it being set in its “Apps” mode through a front panel knob selection of inputs. Again these apps are not delivering audio via Bluetooth which is not present in any form on the device. Wireless audio is always 802.11 WiFi which has been sorely overlooked by the digital music consumer product manufacturers and largely overlooked by prosumer and studio gear makers. Another important topic for another day.

The most complete solution I have found for iOS and Android as a music player capable of providing access to the user’s libraries of music online including TIDAL and Qobuz as well as saved music on the phone, Dropbox, iCloud, or OneDrive is called mconnect from Conversdigital Co., Ltd. This app literally connects any music/video/photo media server to any UPnP or Google Cast (Chromecast) device.  It plays MQA Masters on TIDAL as well. Voila!

With that app in hand, I can connect my iPhone to the Pro iDSD as UPnP and log into my TIDAL or Qobuz account and stream MQA or any other music to the studio playback. I can also send my Apple Music library of albums stored on the iPhone itself to the same destination including MQA playback. (Please note here that unlike what others have mistakenly claimed, MQA is not an audio format which is technically referred to as a codec. MQA is an encoding that can be applied to any of the common lossless PCM audio codecs available, the most popular being FLAC, ALAC (Apple compressed lossless), WAV and AIF. This is significant because I can download MQA masters as 24/44.1 or 24/48k ALAC files and even Apple Music/iTunes will acknowledge them and store them on my iPhone without even knowing they are MQA!) All of this happens over WiFi allowing me the freedom of moving anywhere I’m connected including outdoors.

A video by Owen Delehedy at iFi Audio on how to setup mconnect for playback through the Pro iDSD is online at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkv0_2JAdEA

You must use the paid version of mconnect, not the Lite version. It also doesn’t support Spotify accounts but the Spotify app can run concurrently on the phone with mconnect player and they cooperate. iDSD detects MQA Masters from TIDAL and decodes up to the full 24/384k depending on the resolution of the source recording being streamed.

mconnect app can direct play of DSD and FLAC from the phone as well and supports Gapless playback. It will run on iPhone, iPad, Android phone and tablet. It also supports AirPlay compatible devices Apple TV, Airport Express, AirPlay Audio. You can render on Smart TV, and other UPnP supported Audio and receivers.

You can create mconnect Playlists that contain songs from any mix of servers you are connected to. What? Yes, you can integrate your various music libraries across servers by creating playlists choosing from any or all libraries.

In addition to mconnect player, other apps I’ve connected to iDSD from my iPhone using AirPlay or DLNA include Spotify, Bandcamp, Onkyo HF Player, HiBy, Qobuz, TIDAL.

Beware – AirPlay is lossless to 16/44.1k — so your hi-res and possibly MQA won’t stream via WiFi under AirPlay intact. DLNA support by players like mconnect can do better than that and can preserve DSD as well as MQA encoding. My MQA masters are folded to 16/44.1k so they are preserved perfectly well under the lossless delivery of TIDAL or Qobuz to my iPhone using mconnect, then WiFi over to the iDSD via Airplay and unfolded and decoded to the stereo. “It sounds just like you are playing in the room” was what a listener with good ears said immediately.

These albums streaming to iPhone from both the Qobuz app as well as mconnect (TIDAL library) as 44.1k lossless, then sent via WiFi Airplay to the iDSD where they are recognized as MQA with DXD resolution (24/352.8k) and accordingly unfolded and decoded, sent to the Tube preamp then out to a Yamaha amp and Polk Audio stereo speakers setup in the room. Note that the streaming bitrate for the various songs are in the 700-800kbps range as FLAC! That is roughy 1/2 of the bitrate of a CD (1411kbps). MQA’s tech advances in delivering the highest res PCM with correction for ringing at the lowest bitrates is a big part of what makes the past 2 years in computer audio so fantastic. 700kbps streamed into your phone or computer becomes approx. 17340kbps (24/352.8k) unfolded and played through the MQA DAC. I love the math.

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Rediscover your music just by listening.

What MQA Encoding and the iFi Pro iDSD streamer DAC GTO filter have in common is the ability to correct the biggest problem with PCM recordings especially the CD 16/44.1k format we’ve all had to live with for too long. Both MQA and GTO filter technologies come from two different companies who have in fact collaborated, and help clean the sound you will hear in your digital music in cooperative ways. When I say “clean the sound” I am referring to the problems with PCM and the industry’s decades (think 1980) old standards for preferring to favor frequency accuracy over timing and spatial accuracy. This was done and still done by the industry studios and labels despite the fact that our ears are much more senstive to the timing and locality of sound than to frequency.

By implementing the favored brickwall filter on CD in the earliest implementation of CD, Sony and Philips imposed the burden of what is called pre- and post echo ringing effects all digital music listeners. The ringing artifacts are most severe on CD resolution masters (16/44.1k) and then continue to decrease with the higher resolution masters (24/88, 24/96, 24/176, 24/192, 24/352, 24/384k).

Ringing is a distortion added to the digital audio signal that echos the impulse (accentuated instrument’s note or singer’s voice or drumbeat you are hearing) multiple times before you ever hear the note/voice/beat itself come through the signal to your ears. Pre-echo ringing means an echo before the note is played. Even worse, the echo is an inverse unnatural sound like a tape being played backwards.

Post-echo ringing are those following the impulse. While both (pre- and post-echoes) are confusing to the ear/brain/listener, it is the pre-echo ringing effects that throw off our listening and make our ears tired and disbelieving in what they are hearing. Echoes off a wall in a room are common and natural to our ears. The post-echo ringing artifact is similar to that and so less invasive to our listening.

Ringing happens over and over and over again with typical PCM masters, more so with the lower resolution masters (CD is 16/44.1k) that the higher res masters (up to 24/384k in the DXD category) because of the math related to the steepness of the brickwall filter attenuating all frequencies above a fixed limit (on CD this is at 22.05k or half of the 44.1k sample rate). By attenuating the frequency through the lowpass cutoff filter, echoes are imposed before and after the impulse. The severity of echoes will change with the type of filter used, hence brickwall versus minimum phase versus apodizing versus the new iFi GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimal) filter.

More info here from SoundOnSound.com: MQA Time-domain Accuracy & Digital Audio Quality


My Grandson Baseball Analogy

Imagine you are watching your grandson perfectly crouched over home base with baseball bat raised in anticipation of the pitch now being delivered. You see ball delivered and you see your grandson begin to swing. But just before the bat reaches the ball you think you hear the sound of the bat connecting, not a full impact but a shadow of that sound playing backwards. In fact you might have heard it twice or more times in quick succession. Immediately after that you see the bat connect with the ball and then hear the resounding smack!  Suddenly all is well, but what did you hear before the bat struck the ball?

Your eyes saw the bat had not connected to the ball but your ears heard premonitions (echoes) of the ball to be hit. Then a split second transpired (the difference between the speed of light at your distance and the speed of sound) and you heard the familiar and expected resounding crack of a good swing connecting for a great hit. It may have been followed by tiny echoes of the event but those were masked to your ears by the main impulse event of the ball being hit.

You don’t know what you heard as the shadow of the main impulse event. Your brain didn’t know what your ears were hearing.  Those echoes didn’t exist in the real world. It didn’t happen on the field with your grandson. It was a phantom sound that threw you because you expected to hear nothing from the bat and ball until after he actually hit the ball. (I’ve also read about a precedence factor in the human ear/brain that claims our location recognition of sound is programmed to ignore echoes that would otherwise confuse us as to where a sound originated from after bouncing off numerous walls, floor and ceiling inside a room. If that’s true, then the effect of pre-echo ringing is even worse on our disorientation of what we are trying to listen to in digital music. More on that here…)

My baseball analogy is not even describing the whole problem because it puts the listener in a vision-oriented situation which normally influences some 80% of our sensory perception. So vision in my example is partially correcting the audio problem by deciphering for the brain/viewer what is really going on visually. However when we listen to music from our favorite armchair or tatami mat we can’t use our vision to correct distortions in what we are listening to. We are focused instead on the distortions and spatial discrepancies of what we are hearing. It can be hard frustrating work. Things called ear fatigue, digital glare, edgy unnatural sound are what we then suffer from.


Ringing and Filters

Welcome to the world of pre-echo ringing also known as time smearing and temporal blurring. My example of the baseball batter is the analogy of what we are subjected to with the typical CD quality digital playback that was recorded and mastered with close attention to frequency accuracy not time accuracy. These problems are equally true or worse for MP3 and any lossy derivatives of CD masters. These pre-echo ringing artifacts are created during the analog to digital transformation of sound under Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) processing. They are created to a much lesser and closely or fully inaudible degree by other techniques including DSD’s use of Pulse Density Modulation (PDM).

To this end PCM industry recordings are usually made with what are referred to as linear phase brick-wall (or “brick wall” or “brickwall”) filters to accomplish their best attempts at analog to digital conversions with the 20kHz range of human hearing being catered to and other “noise” above 22.05kHz (half the value of the 44.1k sample rate per Nyquist) sharply removed. By avoiding aliasing, ringing is introduced. It’s at its worst in CDs and less so in the higher res well made studio recordings at 24/96 and higher sample rates. The artifacts of this filtered approach to exacting only preferred frequencies desired are the ringing artifacts then imposed on both sides of the impulse itself (pre- and post-echo ringing). MQA addresses and corrects this problem as does iFi’s new GTO Filter. (More from Stereophile in 2006 on this here…)

Even more (from Audiostream) on ringing and why DSD doesn’t record with this problem…

Other filters have been introduced over the years primarily referred to as mininum phase (or apodized, or listen filters) that can remove the pre-echo and place the entire burden on the post-echo side of the impulse which is not as intrusive to our listening since we are accustomed to hearing and adjusting to post-echos as sound reflections off walls etc.  Once again, iFi’s GTO filter is an advanced approach to resolving these ringing problems for any source digital audio including MP3 and other lossy streaming or downloaded files such as what iTunes has been selling as AAC lossy downloads since 2003 when the store opened with 200,000 songs.


Why WiFi?

Finally and hugely importantly, a fantastic option for input on the Pro iDSD is what they refer to as “App”. The Pro iDSD acts as a DLNA server on your WiFi network. Apps such as the Spotify (lossy) and TIDAL (lossless) players on your computer or smartphone can see the server once you set it up (use a passworded encrypted protocol!) and connect to it for audio output. So the Pro iDSD is your midpoint between your wireless computer or smartphone and your internet service provider through your normal WiFi router. It talks to both sides.

Your iPhone/Android phone is no longer hampered by poor sounding, poorly connected, highly frustrating Bluetooth that you have to sit nearby to stay connected to. Instead your phone sends the signal via WiFi to the Pro iDSD as a perfectly preserved digital signal where it then gets converted to analog. You can walk anywhere in your home or even outside where WiFi reaches and stay perfectly connected. iFi got it right. I’m amazed at how long it has still taken wireless digital audio to migrate to Ethernet where it should have originated from in the first place instead of a sketchy lossy, dropout prone protocol like early and persistent Bluetooth.

Anyone using the Sonos Connect product in a similar fashion will immediately understand the musical and logistical benefits of this. The Sonos product does not however support MQA as iFi’s product does.

All of the source input regardless of where it comes from can be easily resampled as DSD1024 on its way to your stereo. Will you hear the difference? I honestly can’t imagine anyone listening and not hearing these differences. I’ve presented these comparisons in real time to other non-audiophile ears and the results were instant and affirmatively better with the proper filter and DSD1024 resample. My ears find also find it instantly preferrable.

MQA avoids DSD resampling on the Pro iDSD and gets properly unfolded and decoded up to the highest bit rates (24/352.8k and 24/384k) for analog delivery to your headphones or speakers.


Your TV plays through it too…a pretty damn big deal

I can’t stop writing about the Pro iDSD without telling you that you can also easily hook up the optical Toslink cable from your Smart TV as another audio input (Coax/Toslink S/PDIF). This will route your tv’s audio through the same beautiful cleanup process (GTO or Bitperfect+ filter -> DSD1024 -> Analog Tube preamp -> balanced or unbalanced Analog output) as I’ve described for other sources like streaming MP3. It will be upsampled to DSD1024 if you desire. By the way, DSD1024 is a 45 to 49 mHz single bit rate. How far we’ve come.

In case you’re wondering, yes there is a BNC connector (S/PDIF in or sync input) as well as a Micro SDHC and USB A to connect for example your 2TB USB drive with your entire music library or smaller thumb drive to. Here is the Pro iDSD user guide, see page 4 for all inputs and outputs…

Since my test setup CD/DVD player was connected to the LG Smart TV via HDMI, all CD and DVD audio also went through the same Toslink cable into iDSD. Simple. Sounds great. In this setup Amazon Prime (both music only as well as 4k and other films) also comes through as resampled DSD1024 converted to analog signal through the Tube preamp to a Yamaha amp and out to a pair of vintage Polk Audio speakers in the room.

In short, iFi Audio’s Pro iDSD is a fantastic and innovative addition to today’s revolving doors of media playing gear and software. IFi’s products have always made hugely impressive impressions on me, but the Pro iDSD is a new trip to a new universe with all the sound quality I’ve been trying to find find for quite a few decades in the digital domain.


What’s Next?

Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy…

So much work still needs to be done before we can have confidence in asserting what can be heard and what cannot be heard.” – Thorsten Loesch

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Errata…

  • Pro iDSD plays downloaded DSD512 and DSD1024 files only via a USB wire connected, not through WiFi.
  • On a number of occasions I lost the Pro iDSD WiFi connection, or, slightly more confusing, my source device appeared to be streaming music to the iDSD but no sound came from the speakers. Occasionally this was due to a mysterious zero volume suddenly imposed on the iPhone, since it’s not a Bluetooth connection to iDSD it’s either off or on in terms of volume control, but zero volume yields exactly that, no sound, from the amplifier & speakers. Other times, I had to turn off the iDSD unit and power it back up to restore a complete audio path to the house stereo. It seems to occasionally lose the WiFi source connection it supports at least as far as streaming audio. This didn’t happen often, but often enough to note here.
  • Specification
    Sample rates: PCM up to 768kHz
    DSD up to 49.152MHz (DSD 1024)
    DXD and double-speed DXD (2xDXD)
    Inputs: USB (required for DSD, DXD and sample rates above 192KHz)
    AES3 (XLR – single link)
    S/PDIF (coaxial/optical combo)
    BNC multifunction (S/PDIF in or sync input)
    Outputs: Balanced XLR at 4.6V (+15.5dBu – HiFi) or 10V (+22dBu – Pro)
    Single-Ended RCA at 2.3V (HiFi) or 5V (Pro)
    Headphones 6.3mm & SE 3.5mm Jack at 0.55V/2.1V/5V
    Headphones BAL 2.5mm/4.4mm Jack at 1.13V/4.6V/10V
    Headphones out 1,500mW RMS X 2 @ 64 ohm, 4,000mW max. 2 X @ 16 Ohm
    Headphone Output Impedance: Single-Ended (S-BAL): < 1 Ω
    Balanced: < 2 Ω
    Volume control: Balanced (6-gang) Alps potentiometer, motorised with IR remote control
    XLR/RCA outputs can be selected as fixed level or adjusted
    6.3mm headphone jack is always adjusted
    Other Functions: Various digital and analogue filters can be selected for DSD and PCM up to 384KHz
    PCM Filters: Bitperfect 44.1 – 192kHz, always used for 352.8 – 768kHz
    Bitperfect + 44.1 – 96kHz
    Gibbs Transient Optimised 44.1 – 384kHz
    Apodising 44.1 – 384kHz
    Transient Aligned 44.1 – 384kHz
    DSD filters: fixed 3rd order analogue filter @ 80kHz with correction for DSD’s -6dB gain
    Gain (headphone section): user-selectable: 0dB, 9dB and 18dB
    Dynamic range: 119dBA (solid-state, PCM, -60dBFS)
    Output power Pro iDSD 4.4mm socket. (16 Ω, balanced/single-ended): >4200mW /1>1,575mWPro iDSD 2.5mm socket. (16 Ω, balanced/single-ended): >4000mW /1>1,500mW
    Output voltage (600Ω, balanced/single-ended): >11.2V / >5.6V
    Input voltage (Pro iDSD): DC 9V/6.7A – 18V/3.35A
    Input voltage (iPower+): AC 85 – 265V, 50/60Hz
    Power consumption: < 22W idle, 50W max.
    Dimensions: 213 (l) x 220 (w) x 63 (h) mm
    Weight: 1980g (4.37 Ibs)

 

You Roll Right On – Live Studio (HD)

Recorded live studio David Elias & The CasualTees
[words, music, photos, video by David Elias, © 2018]

http://davidelias.bandcamp.com
[24/176.4k audio download]

Video from photos of Big Island Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Maui’s Haleakalā.

Aloha ʻĀina
Recorded live studio David Elias & The CasualTees
[words, music, photos, video by David Elias, © 2018]

http://davidelias.bandcamp.com
[24/176.4k audio download, released 7/2018]

Video by David Elias w/ iPhone photos of Big Island Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Maui’s Haleakalā.

Aloha ʻĀina

__________________________
David Elias
DSD/MQA Masters: http://www.davidelias.com
Streaming/Downloads: http://davidelias.bandcamp.com
YT Channel: http://youtube.com/davideliasvideo
FB: http://facebook.com/davideliasvideo
______________________________

You Roll Right On
– by David Elias

Coastal waves of inspiration all you have is meditation
Trees of fire burn the choir singing for their salvation
Hints of glamour girls enamored with their own afflictions
Situations complications never mind the contradictions

You roll right on
You roll right on
You roll right on
As you roll right by
You roll right on

Memories of disenchantment paying back the conversation
All you owe is paid in full the rest is just hallucination
Early water Sunday’s daughter ran away no hesitation
Where she goes nobody knows, hell to pay in moderation

You roll right on
You roll right on
You roll right on
As you roll right by
You roll right on

Acupuncture found the juncture in between the constellations
Heaven knows those bodies glow when forced away from contemplation
Witness this with mortal bliss the Gods can’t touch our incarnation
And after all is said and done
You wind up back where you begun
Everlasting peace will mark the end of our emancipation

You roll right on
You roll right on
You roll right on
As you roll right by you roll
As you roll right by you roll
As you roll right by you roll
Right on

90 Highway Miles – another new release (24/96kHz)

90 Highway Miles
– by David Elias

90 highway miles
I’ll get there when I can
Sunset shades my tired eyes
I will be down the road again
Sorrow sways with the blue walled tires
Will they make it round that bend
90 highway miles
90 highway miles
90 highway miles
I’ll get there if I can

19 days of freedom
Catch ’em when I can
Border states they invite me in
I will be down the road again
Swinging low we all agreed
To make it round that bend
19 days of freedom
19 days of freedom
19 days of freedom
Catch ’em if I can

9 more nights of northern skies
Will I sleep soon by and by
The wind is down and the moon is high
Ain’t no time to wonder why
Shine a light now don’t be shy
Will we make it there somehow
9 more nights of northern skies
9 more nights of northern skies
9 more nights of northern skies
Well I’ll sleep soon by and by

90, 19, 9 and 1 well count me in my dear
I’m standing here in an empty field
The hay it’s all but cleared
Give me time to speak my mind
Before I lay me down
I’m on that road just one more time
I’m down that road just one last time
I’m on the road one time
I’m on the road again

I will be on the road one more time
I’m down that road just one last time
On the road one time
I’m on the road again
________________________________

David Elias - 90 Highway Miles - Cover Art-3-1400px-FINAL.png

credits

released July 16, 2018
Words and Music by David Elias, © 2018
All Rights Reserved Worldwide

David Elias: acoustic, vocals
Charlie Natzke: electric
Scott Beynon: electric bass
Ken Owen: drums

Recorded as DSD live studio by Charlie Natzke, www.slipperworld.net
Mixed stereo DSD by Charlie Natzke
Produced and mastered by David Elias
DSD Masters: www.davidelias.com
David Elias Video Channel: youtube.com/davideliasvideo
David Elias Blog: art-of-listening.com

license

all rights reserved

Late To The Party – Apologies and 50%

Still Here Still Here Still Here.

DE-Coco-Fronds-Falling

Lots happening here lately as many of you know with an erupting volcano. Above the ground lava has been flowing. Below the ground lots of unrest and shaking going on (300+ over Richter 1.5 on the Island this past 24-hours, many of those above 3.0).

So… I missed the Memorial Day party — hope everyone was safe and well off in spirit and health. Here’s a post party favor of 50% discount of anything I have (23+ titles) on Bandcamp.  All albums, singles, whatever you order until midnight UTC this Sunday June 3rd.

Go here: http://davidelias.bandcamp.com

On checkout use this Discount Code in the popup:  Remember50

That should do it for the discount. Hoping for the best for all especially here on the Orchid Island these days. 

Take care y’all,

~ DE

The Mobile HRA Mighty Duo (Safe for Home Use Too!)

XDP-100R and HA-2

Pioneer XDP-100R and OPPO HA-2 linked via USB (DoP). Together they comprise a mighty mobile or home studio duo.

Well I’d say in these modern days of tech not enough things work well together, at least not as expected given the decades of preparation those science/art folks have had to interoperate and optimize efficiencies for best results at lowest cost.

Do I expect too much? Maybe I don’t know. But I know I have been using two perfect examples of that kind of interrelated power with these two devices.

From Pioneer last year came the XDP-100R a High Resolution Audio (HRA) player with its own storage for audio files. The “gotcha have to try that” incentive for me was that this was one of the very first (and still one of the only) portable audio players that supported native DSD (1-bit to analog via DoP, or conversion to PCM up to 192 on the player itself and PCM to 384 via USB) as well as full res MQA decoding (up to 24/384kHz).

The OPPO HA-2 (now supplanted by the HA-2SE) is a “simple” headphone amplifier (analog circuitry) as well as a supreme native DSD DAC as well as PCM — both convert to analog and presented to either a headphone jack (with amplification) or a line out jack (for home stereo/studio use). In addition it is a lithium battery pack capable of charging other devices (like a Pioneer XDP-100R or iPhone/Android smartphone).

I’m working with DSD as a recording media for my music over 15 years now and MQA as a mastering with authentication PCM encoding for over 1 year. To me these don’t compete!  I am not surrounded by people of that same persuasion but then again, I’m not sure that matters to me either.

There’s a lot more to this story of the Mighty Duo…

Given that these 2 devices work independently of each other and the XDP-100R is a standalone player with a headphone/line out jack and 161 position volume control, it is not that obvious why I might want to pair them together.

Granted the HA-2 needs a player attached as its role is to do digital to analog conversion (DAC) and amplify the resulting signal as needed.

However in addition to the fact that the XDP-100R decodes MQA as studio authenticated masters up to the maximum resolution of masters out there today (24/384kHz), it can also upsample the resulting PCM to DSD and pass it on to the HA-2 via DoP!

The result for me (MQA decoded then upsampled to DSD at 5.6mHz Real Precision and sent to HA-2 for 1-bit conversion to analog) is absolutely some of the best sound quality I have ever heard.

I typically listen to these devices using OPPO PM-1 (open planar magnetic) though also PM-3 (closed planar magnetic) as well as earbuds (typically travel with Zipbuds Pro at about $25 on Amazon – amazing!).

If I play DSD tracks on the XDP-100R they get sent as-is to the HA-2 for 1-bit conversion and off to the headphones/stereo. Again both components doing exactly what they were made to do and doing it expertly well. This is really what I consider the best sound possible: A native DSD master played from the linked XDP + HA-2, as DSD via DoP, with no conversion except to analog out the headphone jack on the HA-2.

Well made recordings as native DSD masters (not upsampled to DSD but recorded/mastered as DSD or transferred from analog tape masters) will translate perfectly well as needed to any other media format.

To me PCM with MQA  encoding is a perfect media format for today’s media environment as it delivers hi-res up to 24/384k (19mbps) in right around 1.5 mbps streams or audio files in a lossless FLAC or ALAC format at 24/48k or 24/44.1k folded MQA. That’s smaller than 1/10th the size of the hi-res file or stream it becomes when it plays! The MQA DAC unfolds the hi-res on playback after the file or stream is downloaded or received.

Dare I say that when MQA decoding can be done from a Smartphone app, the cell network bandwidth required to stream MQA masters at 24/96 to your phone will not be a problem…even if you are not on an unlimited plan. If you are on an unlimited plan most of those get restricted around 22GB anyway.

So the differences between 1.5 mbps and say 5mbps for hi-res audio streaming have big effects on what someone might do with great quality music playing anywhere they go. Remember MQA in a FLAC format is not just smaller (about 1/5th the size of a 24/96 WAV/AIF file or DSD64 file for that matter) it is time corrected as well, so it sounds much better than the original PCM master did.

The same master images can also be delivered on standard CD discs which again on playback or when ripped can be MQA decoded to full high resolution. These are then 16-bit depth with the same excellent sound quality to my ears as others. They can play on any CD player and to be honest sound very very good with no MQA decoding or unfolding at all. Pretty nifty.  These stream at well under 1mbps!

Back to the Mighty Duo…

What is unusual about this combo of devices  is that the XDP-100R as a audio player, is able to play and decode the MQA audio file and then upsample and convert it to DSD and pass it on (DoP) to a DSD DAC to be played as an analog signal.

This dual function is not possible with the typical MQA/DSD DAC such as the very capable Mytek Brooklyn.  It (the typical MQA/DSD DAC) is not an audio player, it only can decode MQA and convert to analog or it can convert DSD to analog to play. It can’t do both functions (decode MQA and then convert to DSD) in series as the XDP-100R does before handing it to a DAC to play as an audio signal.

Nor can any other strict DAC that I’m aware of (though I’m sure they could if minds were put to it).

So what I’ve found is 2 devices of very similar dimensions and weight that can inter-operate such that the resulting sound is as good or better than most pro setups out there.

By maxing out the storage support for media on the XDP-100R by buying and inserting 2 SD Micro chips at 200GB each, I arrived at a full 432GB storage that I can carry around on a device as big as a slightly fat smartphone. If I wanted to add 200GB, 400GB, … etc. I could just buy other SD Micros to swap as needed. Unlimited storage in other words with no USB drives to carry around, and certainly not a laptop.

The total package (XDP-100R and HA-2) with extra RAM, water resistant case for both devices ($10) and all cables and still easily fits with notepad in my day pack all cost me well under $1000 US, closer to $800 really. That also includes about $150 of the extra memory (400GB) which is of course optional. The XDP comes with 32GB and you could add any additional amount of storage via SD Micro chips as you wished.

Hard to believe but I found the XDP-100R for a very low price special. It was last year’s model, as the newer XDP-300R has 2 Sabre chips (left and right channel) as well as a separate balanced headphone jack. Not sure what retail prices and specials are today but suggested retail is probably somewhere in the $500-600 range which means you can find it for less.

I think the OPPO HA-2SE followup to my HA-2 is still retailing at $199. I didn’t check.

I shouldn’t go into some of the other enormous capabilities of the XDP-100R but suffice to say it is a full blown Android palm computer. It hosts and runs any Google Play app. I regularly use email (BlueMail), Dropbox, Skype, some internet browsing and a few other apps. The only thing it isn’t is a cell phone and a camera. It stores and plays (on a very nice display) pretty much any video format as well.

There is a TIDAL app for streaming MQA if you buy the account. The number of MQA (Warner and perhaps UMG now) masters released on TIDAL for streaming at this point is in the thousands including Zeppelin, Doors, Petty, Talking Heads, Costello, Black Sabbath, CSNY, Neil Young and many many other pop/rock legends.

Playing DSD and having it sound par excellence is easily achieved here.

Playing Studio Authenticated MQA on audio files or streaming is easily achieved here.

What I’ve found and written about elsewhere is that there are some huge gains to my ears in sound quality improvements when MQA Masters at the CD Red Book resolution (16/44.1) are upsampled to 2.8 or 5.6mHz DSD and played via a DSD DAC like the OPPO HA-2.  Other DACs supporting DoP (DSD over PCM) should work with the XDP’s in the same way.

The reason I think the MQA gains in reducing edgy, compressed CD-like sounding masters are greatest at this low resolution are due to the steepness of the brickwall filters used to cutoff frequencies above 20kHz. The backlash of this industry common way of filtering PCM is that it introduces large pre- and post-ringing echos on the digital signal.

This ringing also referred to as time smearing or blurring effect lessens with the increased resolution of the master recording (88.2k or 96k, 176.4k or 192k, 352.8 or 384k). DSD also measures very low in this ringing effect right out of the box.

MQA practically removes these echoes in its careful PCM technology and so the image you hear as a result is much more natural sounding and easier to listen to for longer periods of time.  Instruments and voices are much more naturally located in space (left to right, up and down) as well as less confusion in our brain as to what is going on with these echos we’re hearing before the note or pulse actually gets to us. The ear is much more sensitive to location than it is to pitch! Thank you Darwin.

What’s commonly referred to as ear fatigue then gets reduced greatly and you can continue to hear the music without having to give your ears breaks.

Upsampling to DSD is now also a common feature on audio players both software and hardware. Doing this with a decoded MQA digital signal is something I’ve found to be nothing short of magical in terms of what you end up hearing from the DSD DAC as an analog signal (ie, music).

So Mobile and Home HRA has made some mighty gains in what it can do for all listeners at prices that really most if not all listeners can afford if they are looking for audio gear to feed their music habits.

– DE