Acoustic Sounds Offers DSD Downloads...Now!

Online music and gear retailer Acoustic Sounds will begin offering DSD downloads...today! Wednesday, August 28th! That's right, here's the first source for popular titles from artists like John Coltrane, Muddy Waters, and Cat Stevens in lovely resplendent DSD. Kinda makes you glad you have that DSD-ready DAC. You do have one, right?
The new Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez™ service, available on www.superhirez.com, provides consumers with an alternative to MP3 and other lower resolution digital formats, while answering the needs of audiophiles seeking downloadable music with the same quality only available now on vinyl LPs or Super Audio CDs (SACD).

Using the same resident expertise used to produce its vinyl pressings, SACDs, and their own original recordings, the new service will employ Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology, which provides 64 times the resolution of audio CDs and a much more life-like quality than MP3 tracks.

Acoustic Sounds founder and CEO Chad Kassem explains,
“We’re excited to be the first company to offer mainstream albums from leading music companies using the DSD format on a website that’s optimized for simplicity and ease of use,” said Kassem. “Those who haven’t heard the music they love in this high-resolution format are going to be amazed by the experience.”

While Acoustic Sounds offers music in several formats, uncompressed DSD technology results in music as close to the master recording as possible, with deeper bass, reduced distortion, and an overall higher dynamic range.

Initial DSD albums available for download will include August and Everything After by Counting Crows, Come Away with Me by Norah Jones, A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens, Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits, and more. Users will be able to access these titles from a site that’s convenient to navigate via an easy-to-use GUI. A detailed, yet simple-to-use tutorial is also available to assist first-time users.

Acoustic Sounds Founder/CEO Chad Kassem (left) and COO Marc Sheforgen

I spoke to Chad Kassem and he expects to have approximately 35-40 titles available initially and 200-300 by the year's end. Titles will be culled from Acoustic Sounds in-house label APO Records, Analogue Productions, and the Universal Music Group catalog (which now includes EMI as well as a ton of others like Blue Note Records, Capitol Records, Decca, Def Jam Recordings, Deutsche Grammophon, Disa, Emarcy, Geffen Records, Harvest, Interscope Records, Island Records, Mercury Records, Motown Records, Polydor Records, Universal Music Latino, Verve Music Group, and Virgin Records) as well as others to be announced as the deals are inked. The initial releases will all be sourced from the original master tapes and mastered to 64x DSD. Double rate 128x DSD may be considered in the future. When the topic turned to bits, Chad emphasized, "Who mastered it is the important thing in terms of sound quality" and he also shared that he feels Acoustic Sounds works with "the best in the business."

This is obviously great, big wonderful news for music lovers. Chad added, "Acoustic Sounds is the best of the old school", having just built a state-of-the-art record pressing plant, combined with "the best of the new school" now offering DSD downloads. I could not be more excited for them and for us.

DSD albums will start at $24.99 and you can check out the first available titles from the Acoustic Sounds dedicated website www.superhirez.com.

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COMMENTS
Stephen Mejias's picture

I'm just gonna go ahead and state the obvious: This is awesome.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

This is awesome!

Azteca X's picture

Now people can quit paying too much for out-of-print SACDs and give their money straight to the source.  Huzzah!

Steven Plaskin's picture

Will download some titles tonight!

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Nat "King" Cole has never sounded so Kingly in digital. This is like getting a white label promo copy for $25.

Azteca X's picture

...is one of my absolute favorites.  Really excited to see this happen.  Glad I got that Oppo now so I can play DSD.

Steven Plaskin's picture

I bet the Nat "King" Cole is excellent. I have the vinyl reissue. Tonight.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

this is wonderful news.

Jonahsdad's picture

Visionary entrepreneurs are a joy to watch.  We are blessed to have him in our hobby.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

When I covered, for Stereophile, a recent demo at Music Lovers Audio in San Francisco

http://www.stereophile.com/content/sony-and-dcs-shine-music-lovers-sf

Yuki Sugiura of Sony was playing cuts from not-yet-available Sony Legacy DSD issues of classic recordings. I'd love to know if Chad is using the same source material that Sony is using for their Legacy issues, or if there is an agreement to issue different titles. I can't find Chad's address in my address book, but I do have Yuki's. I'll write him now.

louc6569's picture

This is great news,but i wish i can download them I just purchased a ifi dac and ipower.

sounds great with audirvana.:(

hifial's picture

Just last night I was watching the panel discussion from last years RMAF12: DSD - Hardware & Software Meet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj7d7Jnx0xc I kept hoping that Chad would realize that there really is a market for this thing called DSD download. After watching it I went to his web site hoping that maybe, by now he was offering DSD on his site. Alas no. But a new day has dawned and we can see the light at the end of the long tunnel for quality sound. Here is hoping that this is just the start of lots more to come. OH, and Chad, Start offering double DSD (128) sooner, much sooner then later. If you had it now I believe most of us would buy it rather then single DSD (64). I know I would.

silvertone's picture

Analog Productions!! Enough said.

audiostreamuser2013's picture

The search engine on that site doesn't seem to work. I searched for popular music from the likes of U2, Beatles, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, One Republic, etc., and for some reason nothing came up. These aren't exactly niche bands or artists. How very odd. 

Tim Mckay's picture

I am not sure if they have the fore mentioned titles, but they have inifinte amount more then this site.

Rolling Stones catalog, Mumford and Sons, The Civil Wars.

firedog55's picture

Very excited by this for the obvious reasons.

I understand from this that the DSD downloads will not be conversion from hi-res PCM, rather unique DSD remasters of the analog tapes.......so I'm going to buy ANOTHER remaster of Maiden Voyage?

Michael Lavorgna's picture

These initial releases are all sourced from analog tape according to Chad.

lithium's picture

Hi everyone,

For everyone outthere looking to save money and still get to listen to DSD from acoustic sounds, I would like to point out hybrid SACDs from them are significantly cheaper. Of course only if you can rip DSD from SACD.

I hate to be a downer here but it seems that the company charges twice in some cases  (for the same SACD data) just for giving it as a downloadable "DSD" file.

Tim Mckay's picture

I will say the samething I said on Stereophile,

I really don't understand why this site is everywhere I look right now.  Don't get me wrong I am a big advocate of hi-res files and its nice to see a growing trend in the availability of hi-res music, however this site has like two titles.   And I think when they keep adding new formats and when everyone in the industry is doing different things it is confusing for someone who is just starting to discover hi-res downloads.

No to mention HDtracks has been offering hi-res downloads from all of the major lables for a pretty long time now and has an amazing catalog!!!

Michael Lavorgna's picture

The appeal here is for DSD and Acoustic Sounds is the first to offer classic titles as DSD downloads.

I agree that HDtracks has a great catalog. The existence of the Acoustic Sounds DSD download store obviously doesn't change that. It just means we have another source for quality downloads.

More = better.

dekker's picture

I'm going to guess that most, if not all, the dsd downloads are the files used to create Acoustic Sounds sacd reissues (which I own quite a few of).   But none of them are new music and many have been reissued to death.  These downloads are not really any cheaper than the sacds themselves.    While dsd (and sacd) are great, so is 24/96 and above.   I'd much rather put my money toward new(er) music which hasn't been offered before in hirez.  Hdtracks has a bigger, more interesting selection of blue note jazz and also music from this century. 

Michael Lavorgna's picture

If given the choice between PCM and DSD, I'll take DSD.

I'd much rather put my money toward new(er) music which hasn't been offered before in hirez

Of course it goes without saying that just because Acoustic Sounds is offering these DSD titles, you don't have to buy them ;-) But you can see how other people might want to.

Hdtracks has a bigger, more interesting selection of blue note jazz and also music from this century.

I don't get this point of view pitting one against the other as if we have to choose between the two.

More = better.

lithium's picture

Hi Michael,

 if you look at some of their most popular DSD downloads(but not all) then several of them such as Wild Child Butler / Sho' 'NuffHoneyboy Edwards / Shake 'Em On Down or Myra Taylor / My Night To Dream are available on stereo SACD for $12.50.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

...is Acoustic Sounds "In-House Original Label". The titles you've linked to are all marked down from the original price of $25. But more importantly, imo, a DSD customer is not necessarily an SACD customer and if you want an APO title is DSD, there's no where else to go.

Hiro's picture

With the growing number of DSD DACs on the market - and the growing need for DSD content! - Acoustic Sounds couldn't have chosen a better time for the launch of the service. I read that they are planning to have "more than 500" DSD albums in the offer by year-end, which is most encouraging. Hope they will consider transferring analog masters to double-rate DSD as well (now that the Pyramix DAW has been updated to handle up to 256fs DSD), and the service becomes available outside US/Canada in the not-too-distant future!

bigrasshopper's picture

Yes, HDTracks has more popular titles, but we have to be privileged to inside info. inorder to have a clue what the provenience is for their music.  It's a hit and miss proposition, so read the reviews that are out their before purchasing  an interesting title.  

On the other hand Acoustic Sound label APO are all mastered from the original master tapes, almost exclusively.  We know exactly who mastered them and where.  In general, sound quality is the best currently available, thanks to people like Kevin Grey.  That's why people are excited.

Im sure that just because they had the rights for their SACD and Analog reissues at one time doesn't mean that they could simply offer another format now without having to renegotiate and generate revenue for the labels.  I have for instance purchased several APO titles in both disk and vinyl formats and it would gracious if they were able to give a discount to those that have paid once or even  twice, but that may not be feasible currently.  

Take your choice from more choices !   Personally, would wait and see what A.S. offers up as digital downloads before purchasing a bunch of stuff from HDTKs.  Unlike vinyl, it's  not going to sell out, so be patient, this is a sign that its only going to get better.  

Over the last several years I've commited myself to acquiring a decent collection of quality vinyl, so I've allowed myself a wait and see attitude towards hires. digital, but this could begin to alter the balance of my collecting habits.  I will be very interested to hear people's comparisons to APO vinyl vs. digital downloads.  Are these downloads taken from stored DSD data in APO's archive, is the PCM converted from DSD ?  Will we be comparing apples to apples ? I'd like to get both Micheals takes on this.  Does Plaskin's own a turntable ?  Tell us what you hear.    

It hardly seems likely that these are fresh masterings at least initially.  Are there 500 APO titles ?  As long as they're explicit about sources Ill be happy.  I am greatful that this reduces the pressure to buy an SACD player and  I can simply focus on the Dac.  But there will always be that physical thing to digital insecurity.

Hey MoFi, get with the program !

Archimago's picture

Putative sound quality differences aside, I've been trying to integrate SACD/DSD rips into my music library lately and it's really quite a poor state of affairs.

I really believe the .dff and .dsf file formats are inadequate for a modern computer-based sound server system. These are old file formats (more than a decade old) that should be retired. Somebody really needs to work on a new ".dsd" format that can really bring DSD files into the 21st century! The two main deficiencies:

1. Compatability with standard tagging software like Mp3Tag is essential. .dff is unable to be tagged and .dsf can be tagged with JRiver I believe but as far as I can tell, standard software like the aforementioned Mp3Tag is out.

2. Free lossless compression system. DST works well and is capable of compressing files easily >50%. The DSD bitstream is highly compressable and it's a shame that DST compression software is not freely available (as far as I know), and .dsf doesn't even support DST compression. Furthermore, uncompressed DSD128 files are huge and I suspect could greatly benefit both in terms of efficient storage space and data transfer time for downloads. CRC error checking is another benefit of having compression options.

IMO, this is the time to get it done 'right' before too many DSD albums are released. The DSD format is ripe for a good file format that can provide the features of something "universal" like FLAC is already for the PCM side. If companies are serious about DSD, the foundation should be made as "friendly" and seamless as possible; which is what the customer is already accustomed to in hi-res PCM.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

Ah, no thanks.

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