The Birth of DSD Part III


By Mark Waldrep


Did you know that to promote DSD among recording studios, Sony offered the studio owners a free equipment programme. Sony had offered free or heavily discounted Sonoma DSD systems to production and mastering houses, but no one with a commercial outfit opted to take up the offer.


Sony had realised that in order for their SACD discs and SACD players to sell, the production of music had to be in DSD.


Also, by the time Sony and Philips had completed the design and manufacturing of their SACD players, the ADC chip makers had already advanced beyond DSD2.8.


In the third part on the birth of DSD, Mark Waldrep, PhD, aka Dr Aix of AIX Records and writes: “In spite of the generosity of Sony, no one with a commercial recording facility opted into their free equipment program. Sony went to production facilities and mastering houses offering free or heavily discounted Sonoma DSD systems.


“After all, if a new consumer audio format is going to get the traction that it needs to succeed in the marketplace, there has to be a whole bunch of new SA-CDs being released. If there aren’t any studios using the DSD system then the pipeline will remain dry.


“By the time Sony and Philips completed the design and manufacturing of their first SA-CD machines (which were limited to stereo playback initially), the chip makers had already made advances in the design of their chips. It turned out that analog to digital converters had abandoned clocks of 64fs (64 times 44.1 kHz) and moved to 128fs. And they determined that using only a single bit wasn’t the best technology either. The state-of-the-art moved beyond 1-bit (from 1.5 to 5 bits). The imagined simplicity of the original Sony plan failed…to stay current with the new chips they needed additional processing, which was not part of the new player designs. Sony and Philips were forced to live with the older design based on the capacity of the discs (which held the same amount of data as a standard DVD – 4.7 GB). The original SA-CD players and discs used DSD 64 and analog filters…and they were produced from analog and PCM masters.”


Mark says “the biggest obstacle in adopting DSD was the lack of a DSD production chain…an obstacle that remains to this day. You simply can’t produce a native DSD recording without adopting very stringent limitations…limitations that commercial studios will never accept.”


To read more on how DSD entered the music scene, click




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