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DePhazz Now In DSD: A Walk Through the Process

World-renowned lounge music group DePhazz is now available in DSD thanks to German label Sommelier du Son.

Dirk Sommer is a man who wears many hats. He is editor and owner of the online magazine HiFiStatement, recording engineer and music producer, and co-founder of the label Sommelier Du Son. Years ago he recorded, produced and mastered the live album Garage Pompeuse by DePhazz. Since its release in 2015 it has only ever been available on vinyl… until now!

In this article originally published on HiFi Statement, Dirk takes us through his process of creating the DSD versions of the tracks. He also offers the eighth song on the album – titled Trashbox – for download in DSD256 and PCM 384/32 for you own comparison at home.

Article originally published in German here on July 29, 2022.

“No wonder if the cover looks familiar to you. Seven years ago I reported on the creation of the Dephazz LP Garage Pompeuse and offered three files for free download. In the meantime, a lot has happened in terms of digital recording and playback technology. That’s why the title “Trashbox” is now available in DSD256 and PCM 384/32.

As mentioned in the article about the Cen.Grand , I got back to the Garage Pompeuse master tape because I made a DSD version for the nativedsd.com download portal . In addition, the Analogoque Audio Association decided to make the album available as a tape copy at 19 or 38 centimeters per second. Today it is no longer a problem for some analog/digital and very many digital/analog converters to process files with high bit and sampling rates. And with DSD, the DACs often accept a multiple of what can be generated natively – i.e. without arithmetic tricks. In any case, I don’t know of any A/D converter that can produce more than DSD256, i.e. a 1-bit data stream with 11.3 megahertz. But what use is the immense ability of the converters if there is very little material to exhaust their potential accordingly? Two files are now available for free download, which you can use to challenge your converter a little.

A lively conversation about music and formats (from right to left:): Michael Vorbau, Pit Baumgartner and the author
A lively conversation about music and formats (from right to left:): Michael Vorbau, Pit Baumgartner and the author

Offering the files here is only possible because Pit Baumgartner, the mastermind of Dephazz and owner of the rights to Garage Pompeuse, kindly allowed this to coincide with the band’s 25th anniversary. Michael Vorbau, head of the AAA tape project, and I met him in Ladenburg. Since I think it’s too risky to send tapes – you can imagine what happens if the package is next to someone with speakers – Michael Vorbau and I had agreed to hand over the tapes for the AAA productions personally . The middle of the route was not far from where Pit Baumgartner lived, so the three of us chose Ladenburg as our meeting point. By the way, you can find all information about the great music and its recording here.

Pit Baumgartner signs one of the tape boxes
Pit Baumgartner signs one of the tape boxes

When creating the files, I put in a certain amount of effort: First of all, the tape heads and tape guides of the Studer A820 had to be cleaned and demagnetized, and then the equalization had to be measured against the level tones of the master tape. I then connected the machine with the Lacorde Statement NF cables from Göbel High End to an active Neumann fader, which is fed with clean energy by a Funk power supply unit. From there it went again via a Göbel cable to the Mytek Brooklyn ADC, which was supplied with energy by a Ferrum Hypsos. The Mytek worked alternately in stand-alone and PC mode. In the first case, it was connected to the Tascam DA-3000 with three Audioquest BNC cables, but this time it didn’t convert the DSD64 data stream into a file. Only the peak hold function of the DA-3000 was used, then I activated PC mode and the Mytek sent data via the Habst Ultra III USB to a notebook running Playback Designs’ Sonoma software, which writes the incoming music data to a file. This program only works with a Windows operating system, but the finished file sounds better if you use Windows Server including Audiophile Optimizer instead of Windows 10, for example. The quality of the files is even better if the notebook is powered by an external power pack instead of the built-in battery. Does that sound adventurous to you? Then convince yourself here of the tonal differences – assuming, of course, a high-resolution digital playback chain. In this article you will also find pictures of most of the equipment involved, all of which, by the way, except the Studer, are powered by a PS Audio Power Plant.

Small spoiler: Another of the tapes that the AAA will publish has cheated onto the picture here.  The masters for the tape copies are in the brown boxes
Small spoiler: Another of the tapes that the AAA will publish has cheated onto the picture here. The masters for the tape copies are in the brown boxes

As soon as the tapes are available at the AAA – the first copies are to be heard on August 20th and 21st at the Norddeutsche Hifi-Tagen – and the files at nativedsd.com, I will briefly inform you about it in a news and also reveal which other albums apart from Garage Pompeuse are processed and offered in analog and digital format. Until then, have fun with the files, which you cannot play directly this time due to the large amount of data, but only download them!”

Free Downloads “Trashbox”

We are grateful for the work Dirk has put in to this project. It is truly a gift to hear DePhazz in DSD, and we think our listeners at NativeDSD will appreciate it just as much as we do.

Written by

David Hopkins

David is NativeDSD’s Product and Communication Manager. He grew up writing songs, playing guitar and drums. Working with musicians in studio to produce records as a recording engineer and producer, he produced music for numerous commercials for Pulse Content, and organised numerous music events and concerts.

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