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HDtracks Starts Offering DSD Stereo Downloads

11-01-2015 | By Brian Moura | Issue 82

Some of the DSD Stereo Downloads at HDtracks

Some of the DSD Stereo Downloads at HDtracks

Two years ago at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, Acoustic Sounds and Native DSD announced their new music download sites that would feature Direct Stream Digital (DSD) downloads. At the same show, Sony Electronics introduced a family of Digital Music Servers and Converters that would play DSD files and upsample PCM music files to DSD. 

Sony also launched a web site to promote and market high resolution audio. As part of that launch, two new music download sites with DSD files were announced: Super HiRez from Acoustic Sounds and HDtracks. Sony also announced that listeners could buy DSD Downloads from Blue Coast Music and soon from HDtracks.

Much has happened in the last two years. The DSD Database now reports that there are 29 download sites that sell DSD music downloads (in some cases in both Stereo and Multichannel DSD) and that the number of DSD converters and products to play these files is approaching 400. 

We now have over 1,500 DSD Music Downloads according to the FindHD Music.Com search engine which lists titles from many of the DSD Download sites. And the big players in this market have turned out to be Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez (530 DSD Downloads) and Native DSD (749 DSD Downloads). 

HDtracks Joins the DSD Party

Despite this increase in activity, we didn't see any DSD Downloads from HDtracks over the last 2 years. That changed last week with the appearance of over 20 albums from the Sony Music and 2xHD catalogs in Single Rate DSD Stereo Download at the HDtracks store in the U.S.  Many of these DSD titles are also now available at the HDtracks stores in the UK and Germany. You can find a complete listing of the available DSD Stereo albums by clicking on this Sample Rate: DSD 2.8MHz link.

With most albums including Headhunters by Herbie Hancock, the initial screen won't show DSD 2.8 MHz as a purchase option since DSD is not available to select as your preferred format. To reveal the DSD option, you need to first click on the Sample Rate down arrow and click on DSD. That will reveal the DSD Download as shown below.

Click on Sample Rate to Reveal the DSD Download

Click on Sample Rate to Reveal the DSD Download

Low Prices

One of the highlights of the new DSD Stereo Downloads at HDtracks is their price. The store is selling each of these albums for $17.99 in DSD Stereo. That's lower than the prices we have seen for these albums in DSD in the U.S. and Japan markets where they have been previously available.

Also worth noting, the regular discount codes that HDtracks sends to their email newsletter subscribers that offer 15% Off all of their new releases also work on these albums. That means that a $17.99 DSD Stereo title can be purchased for a net price of only $15.29. A very tempting offer if you don't have these DSD Stereo Downloads already!

What is Available in DSD Stereo?

This leads to the question of what is available at HDtracks in DSD Stereo. In the interest of speeding your access to these Sony Music titles, here are the ones I've found to date. (Over time, there will undoubtedly continue to be more).

  • Turn of a Friendly Card – Alan Parsons Project (Arista)
  • Cheap Thrills – Big Brother & the Holding Company (Columbia)
  • Lady In Satin – Billie Holiday (Columbia)
  • Blood, Sweat & Tears – Blood, Sweat & Tears (Columbia)
  • Boston – Boston (Epic) *
  • Mingus Ah Um – Charles Mingus (Columbia) *
  • Time Out – Dave Brubeck (Columbia)
  • Gratitude – Earth, Wind & Fire (Columbia)
  • We Are In Love – Harry Connick, Jr. (Columbia) *
  • Headhunters – Herbie Hancock (Columbia)
  • JT – James Taylor (Columbia)
  • Best of Johnny Winter – Johnny Winter (Epic)
  • Blue Country Heart – Jorma Kaukonen (Columbia) *
  • Dompierre: Les Diableries – Kerson Leong (2xHD)
  • Thriller – Michael Jackson (Epic)
  • In A Silent Way – Miles Davis (Columbia)
  • Abraxas – Santana (Columbia)
  • There's A Riot Goin' On – Sly & the Family Stone (Epic)
  • The Bridge (Remastered) – Sonny Rollins (RCA Victor)
  • Texas Flood – Stevie Ray Vaughan (Epic)
  • Straight, No Chaser – Thelonious Monk (Columbia) *
  • Heavy Weather – Weather Report (Columbia)
  • Stardust – Willie Nelson (Columbia)
  • Marsalis Standard Time - Volume 1 - Wynton Marsalis (Columbia) *

You will notice that 6 of the DSD Stereo Downloads have an asterisk (*). This highlights the albums that are making their HDtracks debut as part of the new DSD offering. They are not available in ALAC, FLAC or WAV PCM formats according to the HDtracks web site. 

Turn of a Friendly Card by Alan Parsons Project in DSD Stereo

The Turn of a Friendly Card by the Alan Parsons Project

Turn of a Friendly Card by the Alan Parsons Project is an album that has not been issued by Sony Music on Super Audio CD (SACD). So it could be a nice addition to your music collection.  That is if you didn't already pick this one up in DSD from Acoustic Sounds Super HiRez where it debuted earlier.

ORG Music Remasters in DSD

Among the more interesting titles at HDtracks are The Bridge (Remastered) with Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall and There's A Riot Goin' On by Sly and the Family Stone. Both of these albums appeared on Hybrid Stereo SACD on the ORG Music label in editions that were remastered from Analog Tape by Bernie Grundman. 

The Bridge by Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall

The Bridge (Remastered) by Sonny Rollins

Recently these two SACDs from ORG Music, along with two more from the Warner Music catalog: My Favorite Things by John Coltrane and The Shape of Jazz to Come by Ornette Coleman showed up on the clearance, out of print list at Music Direct. I wouldn't be surprised to see these two Jazz classics appear in DSD Stereo once HDtracks begins licensing and posting DSD titles from Warner Music. 

For now, I'd recommend checking out the two DSD Stereo Downloads from Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall and Sly and the Family Stone. Very nice in DSD!

Provenance Information

One of the distinguishing features of the Blue Coast and Native DSD sites is that they tell you the origin of almost every music download they sell. This includes information on whether the download came from a DSD, DXD or Analog Master. Blue Coast also sells some albums sourced from PCM recordings while Native DSD Music does not.

The new DSD Stereo Downloads on HDtracks do not include provenance information with a few exceptions.  One example, Gratitude by Earth, Wind and Fire indicates it was sourced from "44kHz sources mastered to DSD." Interestingly, HDtracks doesn't mention that the albums from Alan Parsons, Sonny Rollins and Sly and the Family Stone (mentioned above) are sourced from Analog Tape to DSD Transfers and that the blues album Blue Country Heart by Jorma Kaukonen is sourced from a DSD recording. That is provenance information that would be wise to add to the HDtracks listings of these albums.

Blue Country Heart - A DSD Recording

Blue Country Heart by Jorma Kaukonen – A DSD Recording

No DSD Downloads from Chesky Records?

I'm sure some of you are wondering about DSD Stereo Downloads from Chesky Records. Chesky is owned by David and Norman Chesky, who also own HDtracks. 

Over the years, Chesky has released over 80 Stereo and Multichannel SACDs featuring Acoustic, Jazz and Classical music from artists including Bucky Pizzarelli, Christian McBride, Chuck Mangione, Hank Jones, Jimmy Cobb, Larry Coryell, Livingston Taylor, McCoy Tyner, Monty Alexander, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ron Carter, David Chesky and many more. While most of the more recent SACDs on Chesky Records are from 24-bit 96 kHz PCM recordings, some of their earlier SACD titles were from DSD recordings. So there are a lot of interesting DSD possibilities in the Chesky vault.

To date, there are no DSD Downloads from Chesky Records posted. However, a recent Facebook post from Chesky Records said that the new album The New Appalachians: From The Mountaintop Album will be available as a DSD Stereo Download soon. So it's just a matter of time before Chesky Records joins the HDtracks listing of DSD Stereo Downloads. This will be something to watch for.

More to Come

I'm glad to hear that HDtracks and Chesky Records have more DSD Downloads to come in the near future. At these low prices, this will be a music download store to add to your web site bookmarks, it isn't there already!

DSD Stereo Downloads at HDtracks


Super HiRez – Acoustic Sounds


Native DSD


Blue Coast Music


DSD Database


Find HDMusic – DSD Download List


Sony High Resolution Music Web Site


Rocky Mountain Audio Fest