What are the best digital recordings I can buy ?


I'm wondering:

1) What are the best digital formats I can buy via internet download or other delivery means today? I

2) Is there a way to buy a high resolution digital master file if I want to?

3) Are there specific native high res DAC products (native, not up or over sampled) available to me today (home or commercial grade) that I can use to hook my computer up to my stereo and play these with? Where can I find such products? Which ones are good?

It has to be a native format that exceeds Redbook CD resolution otherwise there is no inherent added value.
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It has to be a native format that exceeds Redbook CD resolution otherwise there is no inherent added value.

DVD players and Blu-Ray can both exceed CD.

DVD format can contain up to 2-channel Linear PCM audio data ranging from 48 kHz/16-bit to 96 kHz/24-bit

Blu Ray format can contain up to 2-channel Linear PCM audio data up to 192Khz/24 bit (not sure if any products exist like this yet on BD discs - it would use up a lot of the disc space)

Both support a variety of compressd formats which would not interest you. With most movies you are hearing a compressed audio format(like Dolby and DTS), however DTS is generally preferred as it is 20 bit versus Dolby's 16 bit.

There is not much of a market for two channel Linear PCM of high bit and sample rate - so I am not sure what you can find - Chesky made some stuff and so have other audiophile labels, however, these are often of artists that you probably don't want anyway....
I do think that there really is and may always be limited demand for higher res formats because frankly the vast majority of people can't really hear a difference anyway due to limits of human hearing and also perhaps in addition to limits in the rest of the audio system in conjunction, even with most very very good systems.

I think I've read that proven practical limits of human hearing in most cases was one of the factors that went into determining Redbook CD specifications at the time. I'm sure there are exceptions to this though, those with truly exceptional ears for detecting minor variations in detail.

Higher res data takes up more space and is more costly as a result, but the actual added value is marginal at best if people truly can't hear it so it may just be a waste.
Mapman, if you insist on native, then there are about 6000 SACDs available. That format, in a great player, rivals analog, IMHO. Already mention is DVD, but it doesn't have near as many discs and seems unlikely to produce more. Blu-ray is coming and, hopefully, some day soon we'll have thousands of B-r discs to select from, but that's a bit of a gamble right now.

I'd suggest that you seriously investigate unsampling schemes, as used by Emm, dCS and Playback Designs. Redbook CDs sound stunning through these DACs getting very, very close to SACD, IME.

Dave
The only blu-ray disc, that I am aware of, is Trondeheims-Solistene, by Divertimenti. The blu-ray comes with a SACD of the same material so you can get a good idea of the difference. I have the blu=ray and use a PS3 to output the sound. Great things will be coming.