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DSD Needs A Big Push

In keeping with our dedication to gear, gear and more gear (that is why you read the magazine, isn't it? It is not just the women singers on the front cover?) PAR is debuting two new editorial features in July.

In keeping with our dedication to gear, gear and more gear (that is why you read the magazine, isn’t it? It is not just the women singers on the front cover?) PAR is debuting two new editorial features in July.

PARFiles is a feature written by Steve Murphy profiling a variety of facilities around the country. Since PAR is a magazine that covers all pro audio niches each month’s installment will be different. One month could be a studio. The next month it could be a famous club, or a post production house, church, museum or amusement park.

The other new editorial is MicroViews, which marks the return of Frank Beacham. Frank is an avid audio/video journalist (and movie producer) and will offer us a sampling of smaller product reviews each month.


Tom Jung’s review of TASCAM’s DS-D98 DSD recorder underscores an uncertainty that exists about the DSD technology. I don’t mean an uncertainty about the DS-D98; it is one great sounding recorder. I am talking about an uncertainty in the professional community stemming from the lack of a focused education/PR effort on DSD’s behalf. In a word, Sony, the creator of DSD, which is used to create SACDs (Super Audio CDs), has not put on a sustained push to the pro audio industry.

Although Sony and Philips invented the advanced 1-bit, high speed DSD process as an archiving medium, over the past four years it has become a favorite, almost “underground,” recording medium among the audiophile labels. Tom Jung’s DMP, Telarc and Sony, to name a few, have put out hundreds of new and reissue titles. Those who know about it and have heard it say they are impressed. I have heard it, and I am impressed.

But the technology has not been promoted or marketed to the pro audio industry in any concentrated manner. I have talked with a number audio pros who did not even know what DSD is beyond its acronymic moniker. With all the beyond-PCM 44.1 kHz CD technologies being implemented – 24-bit 96 kHz, (and now 192 kHz), throwing DSD out here half-heartedly does the promising technology little good.

First, what about DSD products? The manufacturers out there who are making DSD products, such as EMM Labs, Merging Technologies, SADiE, TASCAM, dCS, Sonic Solutions and others are doing it because they believe in its sound quality. Sony, however, does not even have a line of DSD products that it markets – other than its recorder/editor, the Sonoma, which was developed in order to make recordings for its own label. I don’t see any Oxford or R100 consoles with DSD mixing capability.

I remember when HDCD came along in the mid-1990s, Pacific Microsonics marketed the heck out of it, going door-to-door to the studios and convincing the engineers of HDCD’s merits. It paid off; there are a lot of HDCD CDs out there because of the company’s effort.

Other than the few pro audio companies who run ads for their DSD products and display them at trade shows, DSD’s major promotion seems to come from the consumer side of Sony. With software ads in the music and video consumer magazines and targeted promotions at the consumer trade shows and pro audio trade shows, the SACD promotions focus on the end product – not the technology that pros would use to make the SACDs.

It would be helpful for the DSD technology – and the manufacturers who are taking a chance on it – for Sony to visibly put its resources into the professional side of DSD and give it a full industry push. How about some well-publicized, DSD technology seminars for studios. Let’s see some comprehensive professional product information guides. Let’s see a highlighted DSD product display at Sony’s booth at the next AES.

Until these type of efforts are put forth, I believe the promise of the DSD technology will not be fulfilled for pro audio.