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Author Topic: The SACD vs Tape Challenge  (Read 25333 times)

Offline Tubes n tapes

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2009, 03:41:14 PM »
Making a comparison between analog tape and SACD wouldn't be very intersting. DSD is an inherently flawed system that was really proposed by Philips and Sony with the intention to significantly reduce complexity and cost on the playback side. Unfortunately that didn't practically work as expected, so the playback became actually more cumbersome than CD.

With the right effort SACD is capable of very good sound, but in reality it is as uncontrolled and subjective as any analog medium. The fact that it is also a multi channel medium is for me the most attractive aspect of SACD. For those few labels that are still producing them: Please keep on doing it! I'm a fan!

But back to the subject, a comparison between tape and high res PCM would be more interesting because high res PCM is by nature a much better defined and controlled medium than DSD.
The good news with respect to this subject is that Reference Recordings has the Exotic Dances available in HRx 176kHz/24bit. Now we are talking about an interesting and reasonably objective digital vs analog tape comparison.
Arian Jansen.

SonoruS Audio.
VP of technology of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society (LAOCAS).
ESL/OTL builder and modest Studer/ReVox collector.

Offline astrotoy

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2009, 05:31:21 PM »
I was really hoping that SACD would be comparable to the best vinyl and R2R. I invested a good bit of money on my Bel Canto PL-1A that I wanted to use for SACD and bought a fair number of SACD discs, including the Julia Fisher Pentatone violin recordings. So far, they are very nice, but not at the level that I had hoped for. The cost of my Bel Canto is more than Doc's Bottlehead Technics 1506 with the repro preamp. However the software cost for the SACD's is lower. Maybe the Reference Recordings 176/24 will be the audio nirvana, but that will take another $10K investment for very limited software, certainly not the back catalogue that the YP has access to.  I'm not ready to take that plunge yet.  Larry
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Offline Hiro

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2009, 03:55:07 AM »
Making a comparison between analog tape and SACD wouldn't be very intersting. DSD is an inherently flawed system ... HRx 176kHz/24bit. Now we are talking about an interesting and reasonably objective digital vs analog tape comparison.

are you sure? have you tried Korg MR2000S DSD studio recorder?

It has much higher resolution than Blu-Ray Audio (link below)
http://puresuperaudio.blogspot.com/2009/04/exit-lp-enter-dsd.html
« Last Edit: April 04, 2009, 04:18:07 AM by Hiro »

Offline mikel

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2009, 08:50:18 AM »
Making a comparison between analog tape and SACD wouldn't be very intersting. DSD is an inherently flawed system that was really proposed by Philips and Sony with the intention to significantly reduce complexity and cost on the playback side. Unfortunately that didn't practically work as expected, so the playback became actually more cumbersome than CD.

With the right effort SACD is capable of very good sound, but in reality it is as uncontrolled and subjective as any analog medium. The fact that it is also a multi channel medium is for me the most attractive aspect of SACD. For those few labels that are still producing them: Please keep on doing it! I'm a fan!

But back to the subject, a comparison between tape and high res PCM would be more interesting because high res PCM is by nature a much better defined and controlled medium than DSD.
The good news with respect to this subject is that Reference Recordings has the Exotic Dances available in HRx 176kHz/24bit. Now we are talking about an interesting and reasonably objective digital vs analog tape comparison.

Hummmmmmm.

Arian,

we certainly disagree on this subject. i've been involved with SACD since 2000 and own 700-800 of them. i prefer SACD in general to any other digital i have heard, including the HRX RR's. it seems to sound more like a mic feed than any other digital to my ears. as far as PCM being better defined and controlled.....that's the problem.....PCM 'manipulates' the music into submision thru the process of recording and (in my opinion) misses a level of musical essence. most telling to me is the way PCM deals with ambience and space. SACD/DSD gets closer to how RTR tape or DTD Lp captures low level information which provides the context of music in the venue. it's no accident that DSD is more expansive.

Absolutely no doubt that overall SACD/DSD sounds much more similar to my vinyl and RTR tape than any PCM.

I'm planning on putting together a hi-rez music server, my digital player is a hi-rez server DAC as well. Maybe after i live with hi-rez PCM files for awhile i will modify my viewpoint....but i doubt it.

mikel
« Last Edit: April 04, 2009, 08:52:30 AM by mikel »
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Offline ironbut

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2009, 10:42:54 AM »
are you sure? have you tried Korg MR2000S DSD studio recorder?
Hi Hiro, welcome to the forum. I listened to the MR2000 briefly at AES last year but you know how that goes (noisy environment, unknown samples etc). I have spent a little time with the MR1000 at the higher sample rate (5.8mHz?) and it did sound very nice. The files that I listened to had not been processed for commercial release and I think that makes a huge difference. Even 16/44.1 sounds pretty decent before any processing or transfer to disk.
I understand what you're talking about regarding ambient cues and I agree that SACD has a fuller, richer sound than hi rez PCM. More analog. But in practical terms, I listen to vinyl or tape primarily and I don't worry about more analog since I listen to the real thing. When I listen to digital, I'm looking for another perspective so I've gravitated to hi rez downloads (diskless is much better IMHO).  Meanwhile, my SACD player gets very little use. I think if I was listening to digital as my primary source, this might be different but that's the reality of my particular situation.
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Offline joeljoel1947

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2009, 07:34:18 AM »
Anyone with an interest in this thread should check out the interview below with one of the greatest engineers of our time, Tony Faulkner.  A lot of different topics are covered including SACD vs. Analog.  Tony points out many of the limiting factors of SACD as well.

Also, I strongly disagree that SACD is better then HRx material.  I have all the HRx releases and they are at the very top of my list (sonically) of any material I have in the home--- including the TP tapes!!

http://www.stereophile.com/musicrecordings/804k622/index.html
Regards,
Joel Kozlowski

Offline Tubes n tapes

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2009, 07:40:02 PM »
I have certainly not heard every DSD recorder and player, so it may very well be the case that the Korg MR2000S lifts DSD to a new level.

That said, as far as I know nobody has heard a true DSD decoded audio stream because DSD cannot be converted to analog as it was originally intended (One of the several inherent flaws of DSD). As far as I have been able to find all DSD DACs use a questionable digital filter with a conversion to some form of PCM at the end. If anyone is aware of the existence of a true DSD DAC, I am very interested to learn more about that.

The best DSD DAC I have used is the EMM Labs DAC6e. Good as that unit is, it could not reach the level of my modified Luxman on high res PCM, especially on the HRx material.

But as I mentioned before, SACD has become a niche format for serious audio and I really appreciate that, especially for multi channel. So if anyone can help me find a significantly better SACD player or DSD DAC, I am very interested.
Arian Jansen.

SonoruS Audio.
VP of technology of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society (LAOCAS).
ESL/OTL builder and modest Studer/ReVox collector.

Offline mikel

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2009, 07:49:23 PM »
Joel,

i read the linked article and remember reading it back in 2004. Mr. Faulkner's comments are focused on the technical and practical issues with DSD/SACD and really don't draw any clear conclusions about performance. His points are ones i have heard and read for 10 years about this subject. For me the only thing that matters is what i hear when i listen.

regaridng Reference Recording's HRX recordings; i agree they do sound very good. so far i have only heard them in other's systems and at shows. i have a couple here in my room but have not yet put together a server to use so i've not listened to them in my room yet. I plan on getting most/all of them. I am a big fan of Reference Recordings on CD, Lp and Tape.

However much i like the RR recordings and even the HRX's i have heard i generally prefer SACD for sound quality. SACD is simply more like music.....that's just my opinion.

2 years ago i had an event in my room where we recorded off my tt onto an Alesis Masterlink, made a redbook CD, and then i attempted to identify whether i was hearing the CD recorded or my tt live. I identified the tt in 5 out of 6 trials and should have easily been perfect. Later that day a local pro audio guy who was helping with the event recorded my tt onto his KORG. when he played that back i was only 50-50 in identifying my tt. we did not do many trials but DSD was much much closer to the source than the redbook.

then last summer my friend Winston Ma (FIM Recordings) used my room and tt to make a K2HD disc recording from a DTD LP he had bought the rights to. i had three pro audio guys and Winston in my room for 12 hours recording from my tt onto 2 different Hirez recording chains; one was a Pacific Microsonics II at 176/24 and the other was a DAD AX24 at 386/24. we made many test recordings from my tt at onto a hard drive from both these units and then listened. this was as good as a digital recording can be, State of the Art. none of those test tracks came very close to the level of my tt. it was easy to hear the difference when we would play the test recording and the tt live. none of those recordings came nearly as close as the DSD had to reproducing the sound of my tt. we probably did 10 or 15 separate back and forth comparisons.

so my opinion is based on my personal experince.

i prefer DSD to any PCM. OTOH i own 4000 CD's and listen to them every day.....they sound great.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 07:56:50 PM by mikel »
Mike Lavigne

Offline mikel

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2009, 07:55:05 PM »
The best DSD DAC I have used is the EMM Labs DAC6e. Good as that unit is, it could not reach the level of my modified Luxman on high res PCM, especially on the HRx material.

But as I mentioned before, SACD has become a niche format for serious audio and I really appreciate that, especially for multi channel. So if anyone can help me find a significantly better SACD player or DSD DAC, I am very interested.

i owned the original EMM Labs DAC6, the DAC6e and then the DAC6 SE. the original and the DAC6e sounded identically but the SE was better.

I now own the Playback Designs MPS-5......which is a few levels beyond the EMM Labs DAC6 SE on both Redbook and SACD. It is also a SOTA server DAC (there is a DAC only version for less money). If you want to hear how good digital can sound listen to one of these.
Mike Lavigne

Offline Hiro

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2009, 08:57:02 AM »
One of the several inherent flaws of DSD

Channel Classics will receive tomorrow BBC Music Magazine "Technical Excellence in Recording" 2009 Award for Shostakovich 2nd cello concerto (Pieter Wispelwey) which is DSD recording http://www.sa-cd.net/showthread/36600//y?page=first

Kevin Killen (sound engineer) during "Deep Listenig" discussion http://puresuperaudio.blogspot.com/2009/01/deep-listening-why-audio-quality.html said that "Super Audio CD was the closest we ever get to the master tape", even Morten Lindberg from 2L (a great supporter of PCM) admits he prefers DSD to PCM 24/96kHz

DSD isn't that bad, seriously.

Offline Tubes n tapes

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2009, 11:26:54 AM »
Mike,

Thanks for the equipment suggestions. I am still very interested in SACD despite the inherent flaws, because it has been adopted by some serious audio labels and there certainly are very nice recordings available on that medium.

DSD, because of its analog nature, is very suitable for continuously ongoing improvements and may even have the potential to become the best recording medium in the end. There is however the danger, even more so than with our analog recording media, that there will be significant mismatches between recording equipment and playback equipment for DSD. You can already hear (and measure) large differences between DSD recording algorithms used by the different music labels. It is very conceivable that DSD playback equipment depending on the algorithms used there may favor a certain recording algorithm.
(Maybe we end up with three different SACD players in our systems, each one dedicated to certain music labels.)
Arian Jansen.

SonoruS Audio.
VP of technology of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society (LAOCAS).
ESL/OTL builder and modest Studer/ReVox collector.

Offline Ben

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2009, 12:40:15 PM »
I worry more that right now , you can't get a good quality DAC regardless of
the digital encoding even for CD quality music. Will all our music be tied to only
one supplier of chips, who only cares about profit rather than audio quality?
 
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Offline mikel

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #27 on: April 06, 2009, 06:23:16 PM »
Mike,

Thanks for the equipment suggestions. I am still very interested in SACD despite the inherent flaws, because it has been adopted by some serious audio labels and there certainly are very nice recordings available on that medium.

DSD, because of its analog nature, is very suitable for continuously ongoing improvements and may even have the potential to become the best recording medium in the end. There is however the danger, even more so than with our analog recording media, that there will be significant mismatches between recording equipment and playback equipment for DSD. You can already hear (and measure) large differences between DSD recording algorithms used by the different music labels. It is very conceivable that DSD playback equipment depending on the algorithms used there may favor a certain recording algorithm.
(Maybe we end up with three different SACD players in our systems, each one dedicated to certain music labels.)

Arian,

regarding compatability with DSD, i have a few comments.

on the playback side; i've not heard an SACD player that is superior on one label but not on all labels. it's either better or it's not.

OTOH certain pro DSD ADC's did sound better than others. i was an EMM Labs owner for 7 years and there is no doubt that SACD's recorded thru EMM Labs pro ADC sounded better than the dCS pro ADC. and the EMM Labs mastered discs did sound better on EMM Labs consumer DAC's. dCs mastered discs also sounded better on EMM Labs consumer DAC's. Ed Meitner was involved with Sony/Philips in the creation of the first pro audio gear for DSD recording. Andreas Koch (who also did digital design for EMM Labs) worked with Sony/Philips in the creation of the DSD format.

even though SACD's mastered on the dCs were not quite as good (in general they had less pleasing high frequencies), those SACD's still sound very good. i think that over time there are fewer 'non-optimized' SACD's. i've not purchased one for 3 or 4 years which had any edge. i think that dCs has improved their ADC.

i think another problem with SACD is that some DAC's convert DSD to PCM prior to analog conversion (mostly this was older SACD players). it's not hard to find out which players do what and how.

like anything; there is SACD 'done right' and SACD 'light'. PCM also comes in many different flavors of filtering and upsampling, it's not unique to SACD.

mikel

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Offline funbebop

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2009, 07:55:42 PM »
Hi I'm new to the forum, so forgive my ignorance....I grew up with digital CD's and at the end of the tape/vinyl age...mid 80's.  I thought CD was the way to go, it was so easy to cue and relatively balanced but I was listening on fairly cheap consumer equipment.  I finally got some money and got some decent speakers and a good ES Sony amp...well, in the course of about 2 years both top end Sony ES amps had failed...so I was doing the same thing with my guitar amps...I finally went to tube amps for guitar and later decided to go with moderate priced tube stuff for a home audio...

my experience is that CD is great for no hiss, but the dynamic range, depth and soundfield sucks compared to a good clean LP...I'm hoping for a similar experience with reel to reel audio, but I know there will be hiss with my Revox A77 at high speed...however, I feel confident that a half inch or inch reel at 15 ips is going to blow any CD or SACD, or any digital recording away regardless of sampling rate and resolution....digital at 24 bit , 96 kHz is good, but you really have to have your own master recordings to do that...other than a few master stuff I've recorded myself and a small batch of conversions in the Grateful Dead tape scene I don't know of too many out commericially available  to get that kind of digital with out doing it myself  but I don't see much benefit taking a "remaster" CD or a SACD and converting it to tape....it may warm it up and do the saturation thing, but it's only as good as the master in many ways...

I will say that digital amplication is not very satisfy-ing...it may have great specs, but I've only heard a few solid state guitar amps that sound good - and the ones I have are low impedence, mainly the early polytones from the late 70's

Offline joeljoel1947

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Re: The SACD vs Tape Challenge
« Reply #29 on: April 06, 2009, 08:46:54 PM »
Well, I want to add that for the high-resolution "PCM" crowd (aka the computer audiophiles), there is really a lot of great material out there.  For the past few years the audio rags and myself have been glued to the HD tracks site as an up and coming source of hi-rez material.

As someone who owns close to 350-450 SACD's/DVD-A's myself, if I could find just 4-5 that sounded as good as the HRx material or some of the hi-rez PCM I own then I would be all ears!  I am not knocking the SACD stuff, I love it, I'm just stating that PCM done right at high resolution is the way to go.  At least in my system.  Many will agree and many disagree, which is the nature of the beast!  I personally find SACD to sound less "lifelike/realistic" and slightly more artificial/synthetic sounding (especially in the treble as documented by others) then well done PCM.  That is just my opinion.

But, I will say that PROPERLY recording in DSD is about as close to "analog" as you can get.  My friend is a recording engineer and bought the Korg mentioned in this thread.  In his opinion, its as close to analog as you can get.  And I have heard this myself in his half million dollar system and also with the very few pure DSD recordings I own---mostly Telarc's.  However, as ALSO mentioned in this thread---its the decoding that counts, and unless he uses the same Korg to play it back when my friend is recording, there is a loss in quality.

Done **right** I think you will be hard pressed to beat PCM----- from either HRx, or any of the magnificent 24/192 material available from such labels as 2L, Acousence, Design w/ sound, or Linn for example.  MikeL, hopefully at some point you can hear this (HRx or hi-rez) material done right in your own system and can agree with me (like it took you a while to do with tape!!)!  ;)

Actually, with regards to the 2L material---I don't like the PCM OR the SACD versions quite as much as the Blu Ray version!  For example on this release where you can compare them all:
http://www.2l.no/epost/news2008may.html

For those who really want to learn what HRx and PC audio/PCM audio have to offer, check out the computer audiophile website:
http://www.computeraudiophile.com/\\

P.S. MikeL I know Winston Ma too (and his friend Gary Koh from Genesis who happens to be here in Michigan today) and as I spoke with him at CES this year----- he will be the first to tell you that computer audio downloads/PCM are the "wave of the future".   I hope that soon Winston has these type of downloads available direct from his site, as he said would happen eventually at CES.

In the end its all about having all these wonderful formats---hi-rez PCM, SACD, Blu Ray, tape analog, LP, redbook, etc.---at our (my) disposal!  As to which is "absolute best" will be an argument for eternity!!  Each is in the grand scheme of things only slightly different then each other----none significantly better nor worse!


Regards,
Joel
Regards,
Joel Kozlowski