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Test Your Systems with 4 Formats of Playback!

Test Your System with Free Downloads from Blue Coast Music. Known for their DSD, WAV and FLAC downloads, you'll have a chance to listen and compare the same audio master to see which downloads your system plays best. You'll also know if your DAC will play all of these formats.

Updated 7/14/2018. List of sites that sell DSD Downloads

Dragonfly

It's been a long time coming and many of us thought the day may never come when mainstream listeners would want to hear music above an mp3 quality.  But to our surprise, some of mainstream's most ardent resisters are becoming advocats for High Definition audio.

Heavenly Voices

Simply put… an SACD is a disc and DSD is a file type that can live as an audio file anywhere.. a hard drive, a disc, a USB drive, etc.  DSD64 can live on an SACD.  But, if you want to hear DSD256... you need to have a DAC (soundcard equivalent) that processes the sound from Digital to Analog..  SACD and DSD are not interchangeable words.

The internet is filled with people screaming “snake oil”. But are they correct? Do you believe your ears or the math? Why are some people so reluctant to do a comparison test?

Setting up a listening test to compare various types of files is not easy.  You need a base of equipment and a trusted set of files to start.  Set aside several hours and have a few people involved.  We rarely do a test with fewer than 3 people. Here we'll explore some of the basics steps to compare files.

Mytek

Do you ever visit audiophile forums or social media groups where anger fills a post about someone can hear the difference between cables? The same thing happens when comparing DSD to WAV or FLAC and even MP3. If you can hear the difference, why can't they?

John La Grou

An interesting article was recently posted at CBC Radio, a Canadian company, about the future of music. Not just in the next year, but in the next few decades. It's part of an ambitious series by the Spark crew called The Next Big Thing. John La Grou, audio pioneer and engineer, offers his views on what the music experience will be in the future.

Ancient Vulture Flute

We've recently discovered a website filled with interesting articles and research about all kinds of things, but what peeked our interest were the articles on music, audio and sound. This was an interesting article on the first instruments created and why humans get chills from certain music.

Here's an excerpt....

Health and wellness has been more focused on a good night's sleep more than ever. Can music play a role in helping us get that 8 hours we need every night?

Primephonic started as an HD download service a few years ago. Then offered music streaming at a mainstream sampling rate. Suddenly, it's gone and owned by Apple who plan to re-release the classical music streaming service to address the classical music listeners who need more search functions / metadata to serve their needs.

Apple brought Spatial Audio into our music world like gang busters with millions of dollars being spent on ad campaigns. Is Spatial Audio the rebirth of music the way iTunes ushered in the world of digital audio with devices, music and non stop ads? Is it really better?

An article in the New York Times presents an ugly picture of what might happen if Spotify goes away. But really, it applies to all streaming services. Are you keeping your entire music library on playlists and relying on big business to treat your music library as carefully as you would?

Recently, a subscriber wrote to us and asked this question. Everyone is going to have a different opinion and to a certain extent, if you're happy with how you listen, that's the only opinion that matters. But, if you're asking which sounds closest to the final mixed or mastered version of a music track and from an audio engineering point of view, there are a few critical processes to consider.

Apple has decided to challenge the mainstream with the idea of higher quality audio.  Sadly, it's at the expense of the labels, artists and engineers who created it by not adding another level tier.  Of course, Apple will sell their hardware to their advantage and increase the prices.

iPhone

With the announcement that Apple is going to offer streaming FLAC and Atmos, we believe DSD is going to benefit from the chaos that will ensue. Apple has no idea what they've just committed to.... killing off great sound except for the few who are committed to DSD.

Rushton Paul writes a very good article on the challenges of DSD recording and how different engineers, labels and resellers approach it. Rushton investigates the variables and gives examples from different labels.

Somehow, the discussion of 'what sounds better' has gone from bad to worse. Click bait videos, angry arguments online, people trying to conjure up proof without getting enough facts. And what happened to DSD in all of this? Is it forgotten? We hope not.

It's hard to mess up a DSD recording. At the same time, it's not easy to DO a true DSD recording. DSD won't improve a bad recording and neither will a $100,000 stereo system.

Michael Bishop

Today we lost a giant... It's hard to believe. Michael Bishop was a pioneer in DSD audio recording and immersive sound, now gone.

Michael was an audio engineer for Telarc and later a co-founder of Five/Four Productions, which recorded classical, jazz and other acoustic music. He was a driving force for DSD and always outspoken for fair practices when it affected all of us. When we had a question or wanted an opinion, Michael was always someone to turn to.

11. The Recording Session: Getting the perfect take

Our session is well underway now and everyone knows their part. The goal now is to get the perfect rendition of the song.

There's a lot of controversy in the audiophile community.. almost as much to say that you can't be an audiophile without an argument. Of course, I'm joking, but many of you experience the strong opinions of 'right and wrong' ways of listening. We hope to start a conversation about being an audiophile without all the arguments... Here's our questionnaire....

Spotify

Is this for real? Spotify offering a HiFi tier? What Happens to DSD?

DSD playback can be frustrating on a Macintosh or an iPhone.. but it's possible with the right software. In this article, a music lover, Phil Lewenthal, discovers a solution for playing DSD on an iPhone - with help by Native DSD.

Gapless or Seamless Playback means your tracks will flow into the next song without pause. Crossfade is fairly similar: it fades one track into the next. Usually, the crossfade is something the end user can set in their playback software so that no silence is heard between songs. Gapless or Seamless playback is a term more used when two parts of the music are joined together by the musicians/producers/engineers of the music as a creative choice then a point or index mark is to separate the tracks if you want to skip forward. Hmmm.. that's hard to explain...

Paul McGowan, founder of PS Audio, has a wonderful daily newsletter. Today he offered a very simple explanation of sampling and bit rates... you know.. 44.1, 176.4, 9624, One bit DSD and all the variations between.

Have a look.
https://www.psaudio.com/pauls-posts/sample-rates/

Digital downloads seem to be the losers in the battleground for the music listeners attention if you look at the decline in sales. But, will this still be true 5 years from now? People thought the CD would clobber vinyl sales when it first emerged... and it did for awhile, but now we see declining sales in CD and growth in vinyl sales. Will the same thing be true for DSD downloads?

Not all of my friends listen to HD audio. It's not a requirement of my friendship. The good news is that many want to know more. So, if you're not familiar with the many forums or publications that focus on HD listening you might not even be knowledgeable to search for the word "audiophile". So today, I decided to put in a few arbitrary words to see what comes up when I went to see what was offered to those new to HD audio.

A recording session

Perhaps the most important decision of all is choosing the right music to record. Many artists compose their own music, but some do not and rely on other songwriters, collaborators, or composers to provide material. In our example, the artist writes songs, and has been doing so for a while and has many compositions to consider. Who makes the decision on what songs to record?

Audiophile Style

Chris Connaker, founder of Audiophile Style and Computer Audiophile, wrote a very interesting piece on playing back music from Amazon's new HD audio services. He's outlined his process and done a very good job setting up a system to test what is coming through his systems.

Playback Designs

What is a DAC anyway? Every cell phone or laptop or device that is playing sound of any kind is a DAC. DAC means Digital Audio Converter and is the the short version of what we call the 'chip' inside a device that changes the 1's and 0's into audible analog sound. DACs come with various ability to play "formats" like mp3, WAV, FLAC and DSD. So if you've heard of DSD and want to use it, how do you know if your DAC is capable?

Last time we talked about the three basic types of microphones, based on their method of operation (the dynamic, ribbon, and condenser microphones). This time we will look at the directional patterns of microphones and how they influence the sound of a recording.

Omnidirectional Microphones

Kiss In A Shadow

We don't know how long you'll be able to hear this comparison test, but for a short time you can test your skills and hear for yourself what can happens when a record label delivers its files. In good faith, a label delivers the best master possible. What happens after that is a crap shoot.

David Flitner is a writer, musician, music lover and friend.  Here, he brings his thoughts to the new world of music from his unique perspective. 

Enjoy the read and feel free to comment on from your own perspectives.

As businesses around the country consider how to proceed with plans for partial and staggered reopenings, The Recording Academy understands that there is a deep sense of responsibility and trepidation. Directives for opening are, of course, on a state-by-state and city-by-city basis. The Producers & Engineers Wing®, like its membership, is resilient and created this set of guidelines after much research.

singing with headphones

The pandemic has accelerated the desire for musicians and others to record at home. Unfortunately, it's going to be difficult to replace the feeling of rehearsing or playing with bandmates when everyone is in the same room. What many people don't understand is how to get a song recorded when you're overdubbing drums, bass, guitar and vocals from different locations. There are so many factors beyond just getting a good sound from a microphone it's hard to know where to start. Even if you're not a musician, it could be interesting for you to understand the mechanics of how some recordings are made. Here are my top factors to achieve or avoid when building tracks in this way.

surpirse

Systems for Exceptional Audio or SEA is a process that takes any ordinary file and transforms it through an analog process to DSD256. Joke about the acronyms all you want, but in the studio, life is easier when we have defined process that can be uttered with one word. That then transfers to the music buyer to ensure what they've purchased. If you've optimized your playback system for DSD256 or DSD128 you'll know why the SEA process is important.

The Dino Blog

Livestreaming has become an important tool for every musician. Before the pandemic, we all thought about livestreaming's potential but after the pandemic and the cancellation of concerts, local gigs and touring, livestreaming rose to the top of the "must do" list for everyone in the music industry. Reality hit hard.

E.S.E. at the Fenix with Keith Greeninger

Extended Sound Environment (E,S,E,) is as relevant today as it was when we invented it back in 2002. Some people wonder why we come up with names for recording techniques and here's why....

AEA 44CX Ribbon Microphone

8. Microphone Characteristics

There are hundreds of professional microphones to choose from, and all have different characteristics and each model sounds different. We can divide these microphones into three basic operating principles, and look at the strengths and weaknesses of each.

JMR Orfeos

Recently the question came of what I use for mastering. It may comes as a surprise to know that mastering engineers don't all agree on how to listen or the processes involved. Even the loudness wars (louder sound vs more dynamics) has divided sides. I'll talk about my process.. the one I know. :)

Streaming DSD

Brian Moura wrote this terrific article for Positive Feedback.in 2017 when Blue Coast Records hosted the first livestream DSD concert with Alex de Grassi and Jenna Mammina. Take a trip down memory lane.

I watch a lot of youtube. The other day a video came up where a audiophile vlogger (name withheld) put together an 18 minute video about DSD vs PCM and what the differences are. He was 50/50 on getting the information right... but still, he spoke with authority when he was wrong. Why is this still happening?

drive in

We had heard about a few drive-in theaters opening up, but the idea of going to a concert at a drive-in sparked our interest! Certainly, during a pandemic where people are asked to socially distance themselves, the idea of being in a car, correctly spaced sounds pretty good if the reward is to see a great band.

Our discussion so far has looked at the recording process as it occurs in a recording studio. But, with rare exceptions, studios are not large enough nor acoustically suitable for recording a symphony orchestra.

Consequently, most classical recordings are done “on location,” which might be a concert hall or other large venue with suitable characteristics. Music that was composed to be performed in a concert hall should logically be recorded in that environment.

French Horn with iPhone

Paul McGowan tells a fascinating story of a unique discovery by Randy Crowell. What happens when you pair a French Horn with an iPhone?

Written by Doug Fearn, founder D.W. Fearn

This article is Part 6 of Doug's continuing series of what it takes to get a great recording.  Microphones 2 is an extensive description of microphone placement and challenges faced during an acoustic music setup.

We found this interesting article that describes how the world is slowly changing to a better quality audio playback. With Amazon's HD Music, Tidal, Qobuz and others, it seems the time is ripe for better sound.

Our brains reward us for seeking out what we already know. So why should we reach to listen to something we don’t?  Pitchfork, one of the leading music magazines available in the mainstream, explores this question using Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring as an example.

The world is in lockdown mode, but you still have your music and listening system.  Suddenly, you feel the urge to test the difference between all the different formats.  You think it's an easy task?  It's even harder on your own.  If you have a family member, bring them onboard to help you with this test.  Make it a fun family event!

Download 9 formats of one song recorded in DSD here.. and it's free!

Pat Metheny

 Patrick Metheny describes what it's like to improvise and melody.  Most importantly, he talks about how to listen.  Neuroscientists later interview him about music, emotion and the brain.

Even though we specialize in DSD audio we understand the value vinyl brings to the music industry.  As much as this fire represents a set back for many, we don't believe it spells the end of vinyl.  Read for yourself, add your comments, let us know what you think!

Microphones 1

We have a properly-constructed and acoustically-treated studio and it’s time to record some music. We will start with a very simple performance: a singer playing acoustic guitar.

Our first task is to determine where to place the performer in the room. This can be more complex than it might first appear, because many factors need to be considered. Some are technical, some are artistic decisions, and some are psychological.

Andreas Koch is a pioneer of digital audio from the days of developing digital audio recording in the 1980's for Studer Dyaxis to his leading edge work with Sony working on DSD and the first recording device for DSD - the Sonoma System.  Here Andreas explains the differences between PCM and DSD audio.

David Solomon and Dan Mackta

HD Music Day's first event was held at the Hilton Anaheim during the NAMM Show on January 19, 2020.  The half day event was very well received and packed with interested professional audio engineers, artists and others wanting to up the quality of their listening.  AES (Audio Engineering Society) has suggested a repeat performance in October 2020 at the New York City AES convention.  Join the HDMusicDay.com mailing list to stay up to date on activities.

It's coming to the close of 2019 and we want to know what you think about HD Music! Fill out the survey form listed in the article and we'll announce the results in January 2020.

NAMM AES Show

Mark your calendars for January 19, Sunday.  Sign up to receive the latest information at http://hdmusicday.com/

From 10am-2pm at the Hilton Annaheim, NAMM and AES will be giving Blue Coast Music free reign to put on 4 panels for the professional audio community.  Representatives from Sony, Qobuz, Roon, Blue Coast and others will be there to introduce the professional audio community what the consumers have been listening to for years.

The world’s coral reefs have been affected from the devastating effects of climate change which has given rise to some radical solutions. Last week, British and Australian researchers suggested another way they say could help restoration efforts: broadcasting the sounds of healthy reefs in dying ones.

Jo Hogg

CDs, vinyl and cassettes used to be an easy way to give someone you love a gift at the Holidays.  Kind of like baking cookies, it was something we did that could express an emotional feeling from yourself or because you knew the other person so well that you could introduce them to new music or give them a cherished sound.  Do gift cards have the same sentiment?  Can a $20 gift card to Starbucks offer the same feeling as the time you'd spend on those Holiday cookies?  We're going to offer several new ways to express your love and friendship....

cassettes and vinyl

 If you read the latest Universal Music email, nearly all the Christmas packages include colored vinyl, a cassette and t-shirt...  from Billy Eilish ro Mumford & Sons.  Sony and other companies are offering the new Tik Tok Karaoke performers million dollar contracts.

We're curious how audiophiles listen.  What's the highest sampling rate of your portable DAC... click here to tell us!

Block diffusers

The proportions of the room may seem like it would only affect the visual aesthetics of the space, but the ratio between the height, width, and depth of the studio can have a profound impact on how it sounds. This applies to all rooms where acoustics are important, including the recording control room, a listening room, a classroom, a church, or a concert hall. Read how you can improve the sonic response of your room.

Most people know of Neil Young as the iconic rocker from days of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and his decades long career in music that influenced the likes of Pearl Jam and others.  Audiophiles might remember him for the Pono high resolution portable music device.  Wired Magazine offered a wonderful interview of his recent enthusiasm for high resolution music and why he feels Amazon's Ultra HD Music subscription is the biggest event to happen to digital a

With Amazon, Apple, Qobuz and others beginning to offer streaming services for high resolution audio, we are about to see the "war of words" and definitions hit music lovers hard.  Brace yourself as the mainstream enters the audiophile world and subscribes to Amazon's Ultra HD Music service for high definition audio.  What does it all mean?

Auro-3D

Immersive Sound is the latest term coined by the music industry to mean music that has a consumer playback using more than 2 channels of playback. Surround Sound, Quadrophonic, Atmos, 360 RA, Auro-3D and more.

We've all known it was a matter of time before Amazon, Apple and all the other streaming companies would have high resolution streaming.  Qobuz, Tidal, Deezer and others had already been offering high resolution streaming.  Amazon's announcement could have a huge impact on the music industry... find out why.

It's not that you need to care about this question and many of you may not know whether you're listening to a digital conversion or an analog transfer.  Bottomline, if you're happy with your music then GREAT!  Continue listening...

But, for those of you interested in the processes recording engineers often use, then read on.

What is a digital conversion?

An interesting video of how music affects your brain by WIRED magazine.  Explore how getting goosebumps or chills when you hear certain music happens.  See what improvisation and creation is a different brain reaction than performing music. Very interesting information!

You might already know that the patent for the SACD is about to e

Simply put, open source is when the source code for a piece of software is free and open to the public. This means that people who use the software are not required to pay a licensing fee because it is not owned by one person or company. DSD (.dsf) is an example of an open source digital audio format, FLAC (.flac) is another.

The Future of DSD Audio and Music

Excerpt from Positive-Feedback and written by Brian Moura. One packed seminar featured a discussion of The Future of DSD hosted by Cookie Marenco, owner of Blue Coast Music along with Gus Skinas, chief of the Super Audio Center and Marc Sheforgen, Chief Operating Officer for Acoustic Sounds. DSD Audio is predicted to be the format of choice for high resolution audio and music.

Writer, Vade Forrester, offers a very good guide to backing up your precious music files.

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