With any new technology, change happens quickly. The development of stereo and multichannel Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording technology for SACD is no exception. With players dropping dramatically in price, more artists, engineers, and producers will begin to venture into this new world, drawn to its pristine audio quality and backward compatibility to the CD. For those already working in this domain, the praises are high, both here and abroad. However, with any new technology also comes a learning curve for all involved.
For the manufacturers of professional audio equipment, native DSD recording and processing means entirely new technology. Below is a listing of the latest equipment for audio production of DSD/SACD titles. Interestingly, Sony made a system that is not for sale, and Philips only works with other companies on a development basis. We will follow with updates and changes as they occur both in the magazine and on our Web site. Stay tuned!With any new technology, change happens quickly. The development of stereo and multichannel Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording technology for SACD is no exception. With players dropping dramatically in price, more artists, engineers, and producers will begin to venture into this new world, drawn to its pristine audio quality and backward compatibility to the CD. For those already working in this domain, the praises are high, both here and abroad. However, with any new technology also comes a learning curve for all involved. For the manufacturers of professional audio equipment, native DSD recording and processing means entirely new technology. Below is a listing of the latest equipment for audio production of DSD/SACD titles. Interestingly, Sony made a system that is not for sale, and Philips only works with other companies on a development basis. We will follow with updates and changes as they occur both in the magazine and on our Web site. Stay tuned!
Product: dCS 904 ADC, 954 DAC, and 972 DDC Converters
Price: dCS 904, $6000; dCS 954, $6000; dCS 972, $5435
Located just outside of Cambridge, UK, dCS makes a series of popular converters for DSD work. The DCS 904 is their A/D converter, featuring SDIF-2, SDIF-3 digital outputs, AES/EBU Digital out , and AES/EBU Encoded 4-wire Sony DSD output. With the four AES/EBU outs, DSD can be recorded on any standard PCM digital recorder that can store eight tracks of 16-bit/44.1 kHz audio. Additional 904 features include Active DC control, Windows remote control, software and hardware upgrades, a Digital Tone Generator, and Precision input level adjustment. Sample rates for PCM use include 24-bits at 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192 kHz. In DSD mode, the dCS 904 has seven different noise shaping options. The 954 D/A converter features much of the same functionality, along with dCS’s patented 5-bit oversampling architecture, providing low levels of Differential Non Linearity. There is also a Sony DSD digital input, via the SDIF-2 digital In, as well as four AES/EBU inputs. In DSD mode, the 954 has four filter settings, allowing the output signal bandwidth to be adjusted to the needs of the monitoring chain. The flexible dCS 972 and 974 are sample rate and format converters, able to convert between standard PCM audio and DSD, as well as working the other way around. The 974 also has Quad AES input and output interfaces for 176.4 and 192 kHz, with 50 kS/s input for 3M digital recorders. The company recently began offering a Window-based Universal Remote for all 900 series products as well. It features an Error Log and the ability to access the extended functionality of the converters.
NOTE: dCS has informed us there are upgrades coming soon. The dCS 905 will replace the 904, the 955 will replace the 954, and a 974 with four AES/EBU I/Os will replace the 972.
Product: ADC-8 and DAC-8 Converters
Price: $6500 each
Converter designer Ed Meitner from EMM Labs in Canada was contracted early on during the SACD campaign to develop high-quality 8-channel and 2-channel converters for the DSD program. The 8-channel version is available directly from EMM Labs. Both the A/D (ADC-8) and D/A (DAC-8) converters generate, and can receive, DSD at 1-bit/64 FS, PCM at 24-bit/2 FS, PCM at 24-bit/1 FS, and PCM at 16-bit/1 FS. The ADC-8 also features analog to Sony Optical, SDIF-2 or SDIF-3 DSD, and SDIF-2 and SDIF-3 DSD input to Sony Optical DSD, as well as front-panel level and offset control. In addition, they both allow for conversion between DSD and PCM in both directions. PCM formats include AES/EBU and SDIF-2.
Product: GX8500 Recorder
Price: GX8500 8-channel multiformat disk recorder (no drives), $5425; GX85DSD DSD processing card, $650; GXA8DSD DSD output card (factory fitted option), $1695; GXD8DSD DSD input card, $595
The GX8500 is commonly known as the first commercially available multiformat recorder capable of DSD recording. The latest GX8500 software (v2.08.02) can record and playback up to eight channels of DSD per machine, with the ability to chase and stack up to six machines in DSD mode. This SCSI-based unit can accept audio data in a variety of formats, including AES3, SDIF2, DSD, and IEC958. At the end of this month, the company plans to release software that supports the DSD IFF file format. The GX8500 will be able to record and playback in native DSD IFF, and offers seamless interchange between the Sonoma, SADiE, and Pyramix workstations. It can record in linear or nonlinear modes, which allows for nondestructive editing. External converters are needed to operate the 8500 for DSD recording, and the DSD card provides crossfade capabilities, as well as decimation back down to PCM audio for metering and headphone needs. Software for remote PC operation is included, allowing for takebook and session logging, as well as further front-panel operation control. The 8500 can record PCM audio at 16, 20, or 24 bits, with sample rates from 32 to 192 kHz. It also features an 8-channel digital mixer onboard, and supports a range of disk and file formats from proprietary to FAT32, BWAV, UDF, HFS+, and AIFF. Options include a 5.2 GB MO disk drive or a fixed hard drive, as well as various cable offerings, including the DSD D-type to BNC break in/out.
Product: GXA8 and GXD8 Converters
Price: GXA8 8-channel 192 kHz PCM/DSD analog-to-digital converter, $3345; GXD8 8-channel 192 kHz PCM/DSD digital-to-analog converter, $2995
The GXA8 and GXD8 converters are separate 8-channel units, each capable of up to (you guessed it) eight channels of conversion in DSD mode, or eight channels of 192 kHz sampling in PCM mode, all within the same chassis. The PCM and DSD sections use completely independent analog stages, and both are phase-linear up to 100 kHz. The DAC has a word clock output so that it can be the master clock in playback-only situations, guaranteeing a jitter-free clock when needed. For slave clock situations, the PLL has two modes: wide and precision.
Product: Pyramix DAW
Price: From $4000 for a fully configured entry-level system, including complete PC and monitor.
From $2000 to $4000 each for Mykerinos with 16 channels I/O on 2+2 ADAT optical connectors, Mykerinos with eight channels of analog and eight channels of AES/EBU I/O on joint Analog + AES-EBU daughter card, Mykerinos with 24 channels I/O on AES-EBU, TDIF, or SDIF daughter card, or Mykerinos with 56-64 channels I/O on MADI daughter card. Options: Software bundles ranging from $500 to $5000 include the Broadcast Pack, the Music Pack, the Mastering Pack, the DSD Pack, and the Post Pack. Back in September 2000, Merging Technologies launched their 2-channel DSD option for the Pyramix digital audio workstation. Now, with the new V.4 software release, it is fully capable of eight channels of simultaneous DSD recording, mixing, editing, and mastering. According to the company, this should increase to a full 24 tracks later this year. This workstation approach, offering full SACD Scarlet Book specifications, allows users to stay within the system from tracking through final output, with processing done in an oversampled PCM mode operating on a 32-bit floating point processor running at 352.8 kHz, offering real-time dynamics, EQ, and reverb. Upgrades are available to any Pyramix system user via the Mykerinos DSP card and DSD I/O daughter card, along with the required SACD software option pack. DSD recording is handled in the same manner as their 44.1, 48, 96, 128, 193 and 384 kHz sample rate recording.
Product: D-MASTER DSD stereo digital master recorder
This single rack space unit includes stereo A/D and D/A converters with microprocessor control, stereo VU Meters, and DSD SDIF digital inputs and outputs. It also features Sony 9-pin RS422 transport control, a Class A headphone amp with volume knob, and an Ultra Wide SCSI port. As an option, a PCM output is available for downconversion to 16-, 20-, and 24-bit PCM at 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz resolution, all without noise shaping. External sync for multichannel ganging is provided, and it will record to DVD-RAM-2, AIT/DLT tape, or any SCSI disc. Software and hardware upgrades are available online. Units can be daisy-chained via the second 9-pin connector for functional multichannel mixdown use.
Product: SADiE Super Audio CD Mastering Editor
Price: $28,000 for the turnkey system, including keyboard, mouse, LCD monitor, audio drive, and AIT tape drive
The SADiE Super Audio CD Mastering Editor is a 2-channel turnkey system that features new version 4.2 software. The new release is designed for compatibility with current and future workstation operating systems, and includes new editing features such as unlimited nondestructive “razor blade edits.” This system will actually take your title all the way through the authoring stage, so a master AIT tape can be sent directly to the plant. Storage interfaces include SCSI-1, SCSI-2, and SCSI-3, and recording formats include DSD and linear PCM, with rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz. The software includes full project management and audio file search. Real-time mixing functions include 4-band parametric EQ and dynamics, and level and pan with full mouse control capabilities. The processing is performed on a PCI card that employs Sony’s dedicated DSD processing ICs. The company notes that a number of display features have been added to the new version, including individual vertical zoom settings for EDL streams, large or small PQ and video stream settings, and enhanced waveform viewing for greater precision while editing. They have also just announced the development of a surround DSD editor/authoring system. We will keep you updated on this one.
Product: Sonic Solutions HDSP Processor with HD-DSD option
Phone: 1-888-SONIC-4U or 415-893-8000
SonicStudio HD-DSD combines Sonic’s HDSP format-independent audio processor with Sony’s custom-developed DSD technology, providing four channels of DSD audio. Two board sets can be used for multichannel purposes, delivering up to eight-channels. Using an advanced, PCM-sampled, proxy audio technique for functions such as screen display, SonicStudio HD-DSD provides mastering engineers with the capability to record, edit, and audition the 64x-oversampled one-bit DSD signal in real-time. As an option to Sonic’s SonicStudio HD, Sonic DSD editors have been used to create the majority the industry’s SACD titles. Additionally, the HDSP host processor is capable of 16 channels of 44.1 kHz, 8 channels of 96 kHz, or 2 channels of 192 kHz 24-bit audio, all on a single card. There is also built in surround mixing and panning on the processor.
Product: Sonoma System
E-mail: [email protected] (Andreas Koch)
The Sonoma system has been developed by a small staff of engineers in San Francisco for the purpose of editing and mastering SACD titles. Based on a PC platform, Sonoma is an 8-channel workstation that handles gapless punch-in and punch-out recording and editing functions. It also incorporates a 16×8 mixer with equalization, dynamics, aux sends, and inserts. All signal processing is done in the DSD domain on Sony’s proprietary processing chips. A separate software application allows the generation of a PCM master from the DSD 2-channel master (for SACD-Hybrid disks). Currently, there are 75 systems in use worldwide, with no plans for producing more systems or even for commercially releasing it. (Hence, no prices given). Info on the Sony SBM-Direct for downconverting DSD to lower sample rates will be posted on our Web site when received.
Product: DS-D98 Recorder
Based on the DA-98HR DTRS recorder, the TASCAM/Sony developed DS-D98 can be configured as a 2-channel DSD recorder or a PCM multitrack. In DSD mode, up to 16 machines can be synchronized for a total of 32 tracks. It is the only machine capable of DSD recording to tape, and features Sony SDIF-3 digital I/O, RS-422 control (P2 protocol), a front-panel LCD, onboard test tone generator, and electronic patchbay. There is also a TDIF-1 digital interface and a D-sub 25-pin, 8-channel AES/EBU digital I/O. For PCM applications, it can record eight tracks at 24-bit, 44.1/48 kHz, 4 tracks of 88.2/96 kHz, or 2 channels of 176.4/192 kHz audio. Sync functions include XLR timecode I/O with onboard SMPTE synchronizer, word I/O/thru, and sub-frame machine offset.