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DVD-A vs. SACD

 

Anonymous
 
I just discovered this board recently and I've been reading some of the post about the dvd-a format and it seems that great deal of everyone perfers the dvd-a format over sacd, I've heard them both in the store and personally couldnt really tell a difference between the two, although it was on lower end pioneer equipment. basically my question is what make dvd-a superior over sacd?
 

nout
Unregistered guest
I just discovered this board recently and I've been reading some of the post about the dvd-a format and it seems that great deal of everyone perfers the dvd-a format over sacd

That puzzles me, because in European magazines and forums they seem to favor SACD for its "analogue-like" qualities.
A warmer and more natural sound than DVD-A

I make a poor debater because I never heard them in a side by side comparison, but to my ears they both sound pretty good.

Not very informative, is it? ;)
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 905
Registered: Aug-04
Anon & Nout,

I agree with the analogue qualities of SACD but the audio quality difference between the two formats is very small. Both are excellent and a big step uo from redbook CD. Of course, like all formats, the better the engineering/mixing etc the better the sound whether in 2 channel stereo or multi-channel.

With both formats, the instrument seperation seems so much clearer, the space is more airy and the definition has wonderful clarity.

I don't think one format is superior to the other - I have been trying to decide this point myself recently. I only have about 2 dozen titles about 50/50 and so far, the best engineered SACD in my collection just pips the best DVD-A for sound quality. And that one is Steely Dan's Gaucho.
 

nout
Unregistered guest
A link to an article on Audioholics

DVD-A vs SACD vs CD
 

Bronze Member
Username: Walt_h

CA

Post Number: 29
Registered: Jun-04
I am ignoring both of these media until such time that it becomes clear that the companies aren't going to retreat from the market. There already has been a report that Sony has cut back on budget for new SACD title releases. I, for one, don't want to be beholden to one company to decide what music I want to listen to. So - in the interim , I have concentrated on having the best redbook cd source that fits my budget. That way, I have unlimited music available. Most of the SACD/DVD-Audio release aren't "my cup of tea" anyway. The difference in quality is so miniscule and the future of the media so uncertain, it hardly seems worth the effort and $$$ at the moment anyway. One man's opinion only.
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 917
Registered: Aug-04
Denon has commented that it has not included DVD-A and SACD in their latest entry level DVD players because the general market has not taken to the hi rez formats. Well, that is something we've all known for quite a while.

But why:

My belief is (a) a lack of marketing and (b) a lack of knowledge/training pertaining to many salespeople.

Still, it is refreshing to note that many RC's are committed to extending the number of hi-rez recordings for the remainder of this year and 2005. Universal alone promises between 150 and 200 new SACD's.

Nout,

The recent article in audioholics is not accurate (there are now many CD's with Copy protection) nor is Walt_h's report about Sony cutting back on SACD releases especially since the head honcho at Sony has just given assurances to the contrary.

Walt_h

I wonder how many hi-rez titles you've heard and on what systems because as far as the difference being so miniscule, I'm sure there are many who will totally disagree. But, you are entitled to your opinion.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Frank_l

Timmins, On, Canada

Post Number: 13
Registered: Dec-04
Interesting debate! As much as DVD-A and SCAD are technically superior to CD I honestly cannot differentiate in sound quality. I only have limited experience with DVD-A - recently strarted using a NAD-T533 player and only have 4 DVD-A discs but to my ears my CD player hooked up to my NAD receiver through the optical digital output sounds pertty much as good as the T533 decoding DVD-A. My DVD-As are all 24bit 48kHz by the way. .. Any comments? ...
 

Bronze Member
Username: Canuckinapickle

TorontoCanada

Post Number: 12
Registered: Jan-05
This is a facinating debate and it won't end here. Furthermore the best format may not survive (remember beta anyone) and, unless the general public starts buying up titles on the new formats no clear outcome will be in sight.

I've been collecting a few SACDs, mostly Telarc recordings simply because all of their SACDs are Hybrid (will play in a regualar CD player). I like that feature because at least if the SACD format doesn't survive I can play them in a redbook cd player.

Having said that the DVD-A discs are often compatible with DVD-V players. What I don't like: I can't take it in my car. To be honest convience is what will likely make one format sell better that the other in the long run. Why? Because they both sound great otherwise. I can listen to my (Hybrid) SACDs in any ol' cd player and this is not so with the DVD-A format.

So my suggestion: if you don't know what to do but want to try out one of these new formats for fun, go with the SACD one and buy Hybrid recordings. The CD layers on the Telarc stuff are outstanding by the way.
 

Unregistered guest
Here's something I've been wondering - I'm pretty sure most or all professional recording studios now record in 24 bit pcm digital (the same technology used by DVDS-A's), rather than DSD. Although I hear that some studios are acquiring DSD recording equipment, it seems to be pretty rare at this point and would involve major investment by the studios. I just wonder what's the point in releasing an sacd of a record that was produced/recorded in 24bit pcm digital?

I find it intersting that most of the highly rated sacd titles are old analog recordings. That makes sense since the signal (I'm assuming) goes from analog right to DSD, and not pcm, so it's pure DSD. But what about new albums?

Is this making any sense?
 

Unregistered guest
Main diff is that SACD(f=2.145Mhz sampling frq) handles data serially and DVD-A is parallel(24bit/96khz).U can connect ur SACD player directly 2 AV receivers thro HDMI or i-Link(IEEE-1394) for listenin in SACD surround.So u need a just a single(Being serial) cable for interconnect rather than a bunch of parrallel wires and also sampling freq is also much higher than DVD-A.
How a about forgotten formats HDCD and DAD.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Shokhead

Lakewood, CA USA

Post Number: 21
Registered: Jan-05
Good reason to go with SACD are the hybrids you can play on reg players.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Riffman

Post Number: 21
Registered: Apr-04
I prefer SACD to DVD-Audio and I think SACD is superior for music. Clearly.

However, I recently ditched them both and upgraded my amp and cd player to maximize the possiblities of cd and vinyl. Not enough rock titles coming out in either format for me.
 

nout
Unregistered guest
What do you think about this: (the following text I copy/pasted from a Dutch site, but it was already copy/pasted there too, so where it originally comes from I don't know)

Digital System Wars

More Evidence on Sony DSD/SACD

In IAR's 1998 Master Guide, we discussed a serious (we think fatal) sonic flaw in the Sony-Philips DSD standard, also proposed as a standard for their Super Audio CD format. That discussion was based on the evidence of one demonstration, a well executed A-B-R comparison conducted by Sony themselves at AES.
Since we published that article, we have had the opportunity to further evaluate DSD and SACD, in two further demonstrations, also conducted by Sony and Philips. All three demonstrations were very different in nature from each other, and on different kinds of systems. Thus, we now have three very different kinds of evaluations in our journalist's pouch as evidence.
Because these three evaluations are each different in nature, they draw an observational bead on DSD's performance from three different angles. It's like triangulating on a target, with three independent and different kinds of observations, taken from different angles. That's very important, since there's always a chance that observations in a single experiment might be faulty, as there might be an unknown peculiar fluke in the one experiment. But if you make independent observations, in three different experiments that are designed differently, then you are essentially looking at the same object from three different viewpoints. If all three independent viewpoints agree, you can be sure that the observed properties truly belong to the observed object itself, and are not merely a fluke of one observation vantage point nor a fluke of one experiment's design.
In this case, all three evaluations of DSD, in three different kinds of experiments, all agreed, and perfectly corroborated each other. They all revealed the same fatal sonic flaw. So the case against DSD and Super Audio CD is now even far stronger than before.
The second demonstration was conducted by Marantz (a high end division of Philips). This demo was based on CDs, rather than master tapes or computer hard discs. Thus its results are assuredly very relevant to what you could expect to hear from Super Audio CD in your home system. This demo was an instantaneous A-B comparison of exactly the same music, recorded onto two different CD formats, and played back from these CDs. The format pitted against Super Audio CD was not the true competition in today's world, the emerging CD standard from DVD-A, which allows 24/96 fidelity. Rather, this demo from Sony-Philips was showing off the alleged superiority of Super Audio CD to merely the ancient 16/44 CD standard. The Super Audio CD was played on a special CD player optimized for this new format, while the 16/44 CD of the same music was played through a standard Marantz CD player. Note that this put the 16/44 version under a bit of a handicap, since (as we all know) there are far better CD players that show 16/44 PCM CDs to better advantage than the Marantz. And, insofar as the SACD playback being optimal, one of Sony-Philips' chief selling points is that the playback circuitry is very simple and can be inexpensively optimized, as it presumably was in the special Marantz SACD player.
So, how did the new SACD format compare to the handicapped and ancient 16/44 CD in this direct A-B comparison?
In some sonic aspects, the SACD lost!! Above 8000 Hz the SACD sounded awful, especially on sibilants of the female singer, and on cymbal sounds from the drum kit. Whenever these musical notes came along, the ancient 16/44 PC CD sounded much cleaner, faster, and more open (remember, both CDs came from the same original master). The SACD exhibited a very trashy distortion on these musical notes, making them frazzled and smeared.
This gross distortion heard from the Super Audio CD version was identical to the sonic flaw we observed during Sony's earlier A-B-R demo using master tapes and studio processors, and occurred on the same types of musical notes. As we discussed in our 1998 Master Guide, this seems to be a slew related distortion, like a digital version of TIM.
This second demo confirmed our findings from the first demo, and it's an especially powerful confirmation because the system setup was so different. Moreover, since this demo employed the finished CD product rather than master tapes and studio processor loops, the findings of this demo are assuredly relevant to what you will hear from Super Audio CDs in your home system.
If the new Super Audio CD loses out even to the ancient 16/44 CD above 8000 Hz, you can well imagine that it will be slaughtered above 8000 Hz by 24/96 PCM CDs, including both the present ad hoc audiophile 24/96 standard on DVD video and the different forthcoming 24/96 DVD audio standard from DVD-A. And indeed we found this to be the case (see below).
In all fairness, we must also report that, below 8000 Hz, DSD and Super Audio CD sounded wonderful in this CD A-B demo, just as we found in Sony's earlier demo. The Super Audio CD sounds more open, airy, musically natural, and dynamic than 16/44 PCM CD below 8000 Hz; in direct comparison, the 16/44 CD sounded more canned, glazed, constricted, and closed in.
As we discussed previously, this means that the basic principles behind Super Audio CD are valid, but that the sampling rate is not nearly high enough to support the higher frequencies of the audio spectrum with decent fidelity. In a 1 bit system like DSD-SACD, a very high sampling rate is required in order to handle music to 20,000 Hz, and to handle steep, high slew rate musical notes such as vocal sibilants and cymbal sounds. The present DSD-SACD sampling rate is only good enough to cover music up to 8000 Hz. This is simply unacceptable as a high fidelity medium. It's like having a speaker system without any tweeter. Actually it's even worse than that, since a speaker system without a tweeter would merely sound dull, and would not actively distort treble information, while DSD-SACD does grossly distort music's trebles.
Many listeners react favorably to the sound of DSD-SACD. They are obviously so entranced by the improved musical naturalness below 8000 Hz that they fail to notice the gross distortion above 8000 Hz on certain musical notes.
The third demo was Sony's current professional road show, for studio engineers. This was a single ended demo, with no A-B comparisons. It's worth reporting on because it showed off DSD to its very best advantage. The playback system included Sony's own very revealing speakers, and the source was as good as it gets, a studio master hard disc. Thus, we were treated to the very best possible sound of DSD, coming directly off the master recorder.
How did this sound? Again, up to 8000 Hz the sound was wonderful: open, airy, natural, and dynamic. But again there were severe sonic flaws above 8000 Hz, especially on musical notes requiring a high slew rate. One revealing track was an a capella chorus. Every sibilant was grossly mangled.
This mangling showed that DSD did a number of things wrong, which are worth a brief analysis. A live vocal sibilant is supposed to sound like clean, open white noise, like a jet of escaping steam. Try saying "ssssss" and listen to the sound. Notice that your teeth are bared, with your lips pulled back. Now say "moon", and then say just the "ooooo" part of "moon". Notice that your lips are cupped way forward, and are cupped into a circle. Next, say "ssssss" again, but this time force your lips into the same forward circular cup as they had while you were saying "ooooo". And finally, continue to say "ssssss" while moving your lips between this forward, cupped position and the pulled back teeth bared position. Notice that the sound of the "ssssss", your vocal sibilant, changes character drastically as you move your lips back and forth between these two positions. In the natural position, with lips pulled way back and teeth bared, your sibilant has a bright, open, white noise sound. This is what a live vocal sibilant sounds like, this is what an accurate recording should sound like, and this is what good PCM digital sounds like (both 16/44 and 24/96). In the artificial position, with your lips cupped forward, the pitch of the same "ssssss" sibilant drops, the sound is duller, the sound no longer has its natural spectral balance (the open, bright white noise sound of steam escaping), and the sound is closed in rather than open (as if it were trapped in a tunnel).
This is what DSD did to the vocal sibilants of the chorus in this master recording. Whenever a vocal sibilant came along, the pitch apparently dropped lower, as if the singers had cupped their lips forward while singing every sibilant.
DSD also mangled these sibilants in other ways. Try saying "ssssss" again (normally, with lips back and teeth bared). Notice that the natural sound consists of lots of little spikes of individuated noises. The only reason that you can hear these noise spikes as individuated, and subtly different from each other, is that there are instants of relative intertransient silence between the spikes. Now try saying "shoosh". Notice that the "sh" sound smears the spikes together into a more homogenous sound, and that there are no longer individual spikes of noise with high peak amplitude.
DSD does this same kind of mangling to sibilants. It reduces the amplitude of the individual peak spikes of noise, and smears the energy over time, filling in what should be intertransient silence between spikes. DSD might have excellent dynamics at lower frequencies, but in the trebles it sonically acts as a dynamic compressor, squashing the peaks. DSD then sonically takes this lost dynamic peak energy and smears it over time, filling in the spaces between transients so that the transient sounds lose their individuality, instead becoming blended and smeared into a homogenous slur. DSD changes "ssiss" into "shoosh".
This mangling of vocal sibilants was striking on the master recording of the a capella chorus, because the recording was so superb at lower frequencies, and because there were no other instruments playing at the same time that might have masked this mangling. We heard this mangling, and another audio pro at this same demo also heard it, being bothered enough by it to speak up about it to others.
Why should DSD-SACD have a too-low sampling rate problem, that leads to these fatal sonic flaws above 8000 Hz? After all, this is a studio mastering and archiving system, which is supposed to have data capability even beyond any consumer distribution medium. And this system is being born in the age of high density laser discs (such as DVD), with ample storage to support high sampling rates.
DSD's too-low sampling rate is even more puzzling, and more shocking, when we look at a bit of audio history. Philips was one of the pioneers of noise shifting, i.e. time averaging of oversampling, a technique which allows fewer bits to do the work of more bits, at least for lower frequencies where there are enough samples to average. In their first application of this technique, Philips reduced the bit resolution only a slight amount, from 16 bits to 14 bits, and they offset this slight resolution loss by oversampling by 4 times, at 176 kHz instead of 44 kHz. This was an equitable tradeoff of information content, with 4 times less resolution traded for 4 times geater bandwidth (although not a perfect tradeoff, since the time averaging failed to offer genuine 16 bit resolution at music's highest frequencies).


end of part 1 (part 2 in next post: I couldn't post the complete text, I got an error that it was more than 15 kilobytes)
 

nout
Unregistered guest
part two

Then, some years later, Philips was trying to find a way to build really cheap CD players for budget consumer systems. They came up with a really cheap chip set by reducing the bit resolution from 16 bits all the way down to 1 bit, and they called it Bitstream. With such a large reduction in bit resolution, the oversampling should have been increased to 32,000 times, if they wanted to preserve an equitable tradeoff of information content (to preserve basic information content, the sampling rate should be doubled for every bit dropped from resolution). But Philips didn't do this. Instead, they increased the oversampling to only 256 times the nominal 44 kHz (thus providing 1 bit sampling at 11.3 MHz). Why such a compromise, of only 256 times oversampling instead of 32,000 times oversampling? Remember that this Bitstream system was intended only for the cheapest consumer CD players. It was not intended to even replace Philips' own more expensive multibit consumer CD players. And it was most certainly not intended to become a studio mastering and archiving system. Note that this was over 10 years ago, when the state of the digital art was far more primitive than it is today, and digital media did not have the large storage capability to support the high sampling rates that today's media do.
So, before we go forward, remember and keep this key fact in mind: over 10 years ago, when digital was primitive and storage media limited, Philips designed a compromised 1 bit system for only the cheapest consumer CD players, and they still gave it 256 times oversampling as a sampling rate.
Now let's fast forward to the present. Now we have more sophisticated digital systems, and digital media with much higher storage capability and faster transfer rates, so we can engineer and we can afford higher sampling rates than we could 10 years ago. Now we see Philips and Sony collaborating on a new digital standard which is not intended as just a compromise for the cheapest consumer CD players, but also for the best consumer CD players, and also even for the holiest of holies, studio mastering and archiving of music for generations to come (which obviously merits the very best possible fidelity, without compromise).
Naturally, from all these considerations, one would expect that this new standard would have a much higher sampling rate than the compromise system developed 10 years ago only for the cheapest consumer CD players. One would expect therefore that DSD-SACD (also a 1 bit system)would oversample at some rate much higher than the 256 times of that ancient Bitstream cheap consumer compromise.
So, how much higher, how much better, than 256 times oversampling, is the oversampling that Sony and Philips have put into DSD-SACD, the modern new mastering standard for the ages? Is it perhaps 512 times oversampling, twice as good? Is it 1024 times oversampling, 4 times better?
No.
It's actually 64 times oversampling, which is 4 times worse!!! DSD-SACD, the modern new mastering standard for the ages, samples music at only 1/4 the sampling rate used 10 years ago by Philips' own Bitstream, intended only for the cheapest consumer CD players of those primitive ancient times. Bitstream's 1 bit system sampled at 11.3 MHz, but DSD-SACD samples at only 2.8 MHz.
Remember that Bitstream's 256 times oversampling was already a compromise for cheapness. If Bitstream were to have preserved the same information content as the 16/44 multibit CD player, it would have to have been given an oversampling rate of 32,000 times.
You'd think that any move toward mastering quality, and/or toward modern digital standards and capabilities, would require an oversampling move to a higher number that would at least equal this 32,000 times (which would make it the informational equivalent of 16/44 multibit). But Sony-Philips didn't make DSD better than Bitstream, or equivalent to 16/44 multibit. They didn't even make it equal to Bitstream. Instead, they made it worse than Bitstream. Four times worse! What a travesty!
No wonder DSD-SACD has such problems mangling music's high frequencies! It's a giant step backwards in sampling rate, down to a sampling rate that is simply too low to accurately capture music's fastest waveforms with a 1 bit system


 

Bronze Member
Username: Shokhead

Lakewood, CA USA

Post Number: 25
Registered: Jan-05
How much over 8000Hz can i hear?
 

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 1368
Registered: Aug-04
20000hz is supposedly the top limits for the human ear - at a certain age. This figure progressively (on average) lowers with age. I believe I read where the top frequencies heard by humans, on average is around the 14000 -16000 hz mark.

Regading Nouts article above, I have read that same article a long time ago and I don't know how credible it might be , but as far as I can tell, I have never heard any evidence to support the claim that with DSD recordings, that distortion occurs above 8000hz. To me, sacd is a truly wonderful format that brings out the best I've heard in music. I feel the same about DVD-A, but lately, I think sacd pips it at the post.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Shokhead

Lakewood, CA USA

Post Number: 28
Registered: Jan-05
I know what i hear and what i hear with SACD that i dont with cd's are the singers taking a breath,the fingers hitting the strings,much more backdrop stuff.
 

New member
Username: Ipsofacto

New Delhi, Delhi India

Post Number: 5
Registered: Jan-05
Somewhere we have lost the consideration that DVD-A and SACD and HDCD Cds are all two-layer discs with the so-called superior sound layer rendered uncopyable with the physical barrier (copy-protection). The hype about sound may be to get people around to this copyrighted form(s).
 

New member
Username: Gm7cadd9

Hollywood, CA United States

Post Number: 2
Registered: Mar-05
As for the oversampling debate. Oversampling was a part of bitstream to make consumer players appear to sound better. Oversampling is like dithering or aliasing in video. So SACD uses DSD, and is the first digital format to not use LPCM...and that is a huge benchmark.

The LPCM system is flawed, and has been flawed since day 1. It almost doesnt matter what sampling rate you get to, or what bit depth you get to. Bit depth is a measure of voltage, and it is relative to volume. Thus more bits, means more dynamic range...good? BAD! The quiter a signal is, the lower the bit depth, this system is fundamentally flawed...this is why in digital recording...even on an HD rig they want to record the "hottest" levels to tape to maximize the bit depth...sure nevermind dynamics...its things like this that have KILLED dynamics in modern music...not to mention MP3s, but thats another story.

So DSD offers a solution, a 1 bit Direct Stream where as the volume has nothing to do with voltage and bit depth. You make it out as if SACD uses 1-bit LPCM, when it fact 1-bit DSD is NOTHING AT ALL like 1-bit LPCM. Oversampling takes a filter and reads between the lines of the sampling rate. if it is 44.1k then its taking 44,100 pictures per second of the waveform...oversampling imagines more and connects the dots between the samples. DSD samples AT 2.8Mhz, its not sampling AT 44.1, 48, 96, or even 192k...it is sampling AT 2.8Mhz...no oversampling is needed.

Go ahead, sample a square wave, it should look like a "square" but in digital it comes out like a jagged sine wave...DSD is the best way to sample any signal...so long as there is no bottleneck...like recording on 44.1 then converting to DSD.

Sony/phillips can be bitchy about their proprietary things. Ask mastering engineers what they prefer, they have the best ears and the most esoteric gear. Bill Ludwig of Gateway Mastering is one of the worlds best and he chooses SACD as is format of choice. That doesnt mean you should too...but it does mean you should give it a shot. too many people have read that SACD causes higher noise in the upper register and it only oversamples 64 times etc... but everyone fails to see it is not using LPCM and the dynamic range is huge. And as someone mentioned earlier...turn off the TV for once, and sit back and listen to music.

One final note. I have both formats, and I do enjoy both, I just prefer SACD slightly. But one note...there are WAAAY more DVD-As out than SACDs, but most ALL SACDs are amazing quality while DVD-As are so cheap to make, they just pump them out. The argument goes for many things like gaming systems. Some people hate gamecube, but they do release quality games. Playstation has its fair share of good games, but playstation also has a billion titles that suck. Computers...Apple vs. PC....well there are some amazing PCs, but modern day Apple...well no one else makes them, and if you buy one you KNOW you are getting an amazing machine, with a PC you could buy a piece of crap.

Thats all for now, friendly debate/discussion.
-Royboy
 

New member
Username: Black7

Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

Post Number: 5
Registered: Nov-04
The SACD vs DVDA debate will go on until one of these formats is dead - and nothing will be proven as they both sound wonderful.
I can't figure out why more people are not into the high rez formats other than the discs are a little more money and the assortment is obviously still in the growing stage.
I can tell you this - I have been listening to both these formats for a few years now and will continue so long as more music is being released. I'm now on my 3rd multi player (Denon 2910)and those who have not been impressed to this point should try listening to Roxy Music "Avalon" or Beck "Sea Change" on SACD - you will be blown away - and from my experience, the player makes a huge difference - more so than any other componenet in this format.
Elton John is now releasing everything on SACD and for those from that era (actually, everyone), will be impressed. This technology is not going away - however, your redbooks will be soon be stacked up next to your vinyl with your tube gear.
 

Unregistered guest
I have a SACD player could you please answer me whether it can decode HDCD's or not?
 

Gold Member
Username: Myrantz

Qld Australia

Post Number: 1641
Registered: Aug-04
Listen son, if I've told you once - I've told you twice - read your manual!

Just kidding son.

The manual should tell you under the specifications list if your player is equipped with a HDCD decoder. If you don't have a manual or a spec sheet look up the brand and model on the internet.

 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 173
Registered: Feb-05
Most SACD players do not decode HDCD, my Marantz does not. My NAD C542 CD player does.
 

Unregistered guest
Ok! Thank you very much My Rantz and Arthur Kyle
Now I understood my Philip 763SA doesn't decode HDCD's. However, I have never tried a SACD player before so I don't know the diffrences in sound quality if:
- a CD player play HDCDs and normal CDs
- and a SACD player play the same HDCDs and normal CDs

I'm sorry for my English
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3053
Registered: Dec-03
Venkata Arni has a point (Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 07:22 am). I have successfully copied some DVD-A discs, but a copy protection system, not in the "red book" is now applied to many DVD-A discs, and players have to contain an updated set of de-cryption keys in order to play them. In contrast, SACD/DSD was designed for copy protection from the beginning. As discussed on other threads, the superiority of SACD is claimed by the same companies who marketed CD as giving "Perfect sound that lasts forever".

None of this means that DVD-A and SACD do not sound better than CD. What it does mean is that one should not believe claims of manufacturers, and also that they may indeed have a hidden agenda.

DS and D Carter make good points. I was initially blown away by DVD-A. For the time being I am back to stereo, and find it difficult to choose two-channel DVD-A to make a direct comparison with CD.

Like Frank L, January 24, I have an NAD T533, and it certainly delivers oustanding DVD-A mutichannel. The few 96 kHz DVD-A discs I have sound better than the 44 or 48 kHz ones.

SACD seems to have the advantage that it is less complicated than DVD-A to play and set up, and seems to be a natural step for people interested mostly in listening to music. Also, there are certainly more titles.

Thanks also to Roy Burns. Except I read that recording, mastering and editing is easier and there are no losses with high-res LPCM. DVD-A is simply that plus MLP to decrease file size without loss. I think one of the problems with DVD-A is that disc manufacturers have had to go for "plays on any DVD player" which is fair enough, but instead of putting hi-res DVD-A on one side, and Dolby and DTS (DVD-V) formats on the other, they have mostly shoe-horned all three formats onto one side of a disc, and traded off resolution.

Finally, "your redbooks will be soon be stacked up next to your vinyl with your tube gear." (D Carter).

You know, there are informed people on this forum who swear that vinyl and tubes are superior to digital and solid state.

Whether or not we agree, we should not throw away our CDs. I do think Sony were hoping to get everyone to do that with SACD - which was originally two-channel only - in the way people once "upgraded" to "perfect sound" by replacing their LP collections with CDs.

There is certainly a lot of hype in all this. It is distinguishing false claims from true ones that is probably the main obstacle. Most people don't care, don't believe any claims, and can't be bothered the wade into all this. The industry is hardly in a position to complain, or to write people off as not interested in improved sound quality.
 

M3UBERALLES
Unregistered guest
SACD has some major disadvantages that you you guys are overlooking. For instance, you cannot and will never be able to play SACD's on a computer. nor will home recording studios be able to record in that format. souncards don't support the format nor do any software. DVDA on the other hand can be played on a computer and the audio standards are supported by lots of software and hardware on both Mac and PC. There is software available for people to author their own DVDA recordings on their Mac or PC. SACD is way too proprietery and limited. I hope it fails the same way Sony's Minidisc and ATRAC fiascos have. Not to mention the fact that there are Car stereos available that play DVDA but none available that play SACD. There is of course the possibility that a 3rd format will emerge from the new Blu-ray Disc format. But for now my money is on DVDA. I am in the process of putting together a private recording studio and we will be mastering our audio in 24bit 192khz DVDA format on Macintosh computers. We will be using RME Fireface 800 firewire rackmounted Soundcard which fully supports DVDA and DVDA Discwelder for mac. You just can't do this in an SACD solution.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3568
Registered: Dec-03
I have not overlooked that, M3U - I have been making the same point. My argument is that SACD was designed primarily as a form of audio data encryption, to try to safeguard sales of packages of recorded music. It was a response to people being able to burn their own discs and being able to share audio files on networks.

All good wishes with your project. If ever you need to convert to DSD at some time in the future, and can afford the huge licence fees, you can go from DVD-A to SACD with no losses, but you cannot go the other way. You are doing the right thing! Professional broadcasters use the same platform. "Sonic Solutions" is one of the preferred programs for editing. Blu-Ray is just a way of getting more information on a disc. It is not, as I understand it, another format.
 

Silver Member
Username: Stu_pitt

NYC, NY

Post Number: 375
Registered: May-05
I've read this thread and similar ones to it. I find them interesting. I don't have anything to add that hasn't been said from a technical standpoint.

My opinion on the subject is the most convenient format will most likely win out. The best sound quality will most likely have nothing to do with it. The masses want convenience.

Why are mp3 players so popular right now? Convenience. mp3 is easily the worst format I've ever heard. mp3 players doesn't skip, you can store 100's of songs on a player that is smaller than of a pack of cigarrettes. You can put an insane number of mp3 songs on a single cd (300?). Even the highest bitrate recorded songs sound like garbage.

Why did cassette beat out lp's? Convenience. They could go anywhere, fast forward, rewind, were small, didn't skip, and were indestructable (at least marketed that way). If that wasn't enough, they were recordable. Everyone started making their greatist hits tapes. Cassettes didn't sound as good or better than lp, it was just more convenient.

Why did cd beat out cassettes? Convenience. You don't have to rewind and fast forward for a few minutes to find your favorite song, your machine won't eat your cd like cassette players did, sound quality doesn't degrade over time. Their were some tape decks still around for a while after cd became mainstream. After cd recorders became cheap, the cassette recorders became almost extinct. How many people have tape decks in their car any more? Most tape decks in cars that are still being used are used to put an adapter cassette that plugs into an mp3 player. CD's did reduce a lot of hissing though. But with good filtering, a good quality tape and recording, hiss really wasn't a major factor. The latest players and tapes (when they were relatively new) addressed tape hiss very well.

For the longest time, DJ's wouldn't give up their vinyl. I hardly see any dj's lugging their countless milk crates full of lp's anymore. They generally have their music stored on a computer hard drive.

Now the debate is SACD, HDCD, or DVD-A. If I were to bet, I would bet on the most convenient one, hands down. But their isn't really a most convenient one, because they all have their pros and cons. SACD (and HDCD I think) can be played on red book players. This is a big thing. People don't have to run out and get a completely new source for their home and car. They can get a home player that will decode it, and still listen to it in their car. DVD-A on the other hand loses this one. Most people don't have DVD players in their cars (they are becoming a lot more common though), but they have them at home. If they can't easily listen to them in their car without spending a lot of money, it may lose.

I haven't even got into recording yet. I think all of the new fromats have some sort of anti-recording feature. If people can't make their greatist hits compliations or record the music to redbook to make their compliations, then it will most likely fail.

Other media have had their format wars, and 99% of the time the most convenient won. VHS vs Beta, Laser Disc vs DVD, and so on. In fact, I can't remember a single instance when one format won over another strictly because of sound or visual quality.

In my opinion, if sound quality were the primary focus of which were to win, LP would still be the dominant format. People would use cd or mp3 for cars and personal players, but only because lp's wouldn't work for these applications. But for the most part, sound quality isn't the main concern. It's not all about the music, it's all about convenience. Then there are us who actually care how it sounds, and will even put up with "inconveniences" to get that high-fidelity sound.

In fact, once I get home, I'll listen to a little Santana on my turntable. I've got the same album on cd too (for my car and minidisc player). But there's no comparison. If you think there is, you haven't listened to vinyl in a long time...
 

Silver Member
Username: Stu_pitt

NYC, NY

Post Number: 376
Registered: May-05
To add to my previous post - History has a strange way of repeating itself...
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3576
Registered: Dec-03
I agree with that, Stu Pit. And it is well said.

A small detail where I disagree is that you can easily record DVD-A - or at least high-resolution LPCM, which is the same thing but with slightly larger file sizes. The file compression, MLP, is the copyright part. MLP is usual, but not obligatory, on DVD-A. MLP is the only PERMITTED form of compression with DVD-A.

Also, I have successfully made disc images and burned copies of commercial DVD-A discs. This ability is perceived to be a problem from the disc manufacturer's point of view, so there is a copy protection system, CCPM, slapped on to some more recent DVD-A discs. This is an afterthought - it was not part of the original specification, as it was in SACD. You can record and copy DVD-A that is "in the clear" with no degradation of sound quality.

Another very small point. CD came in in 1982-3. At that time, a quality record store still only had 20% or less of audio cassettes, and the rest was LP. Cassette was rightly thought to be a "convenience" format, not a sound quality format. For recordable quality you would choose reel-to-reel, and pre-recorded open-reel tapes were also sold in more direct competition with LP.

I think the thing that has prompted SACD and HDCD is networking. Provided the record companies can make the files unable to be streamed and copied, they feel secure that they can hold on to selling the content in packages which no-one can replicate.

So these two formats, SACD and HDCD, came in soon after consumer CD burners and large hard discs became common place, and to some extent at least as a response to that. When CD launched, no-one had this sort of technology; it was too expensive for all except commercial concerns. Copying was not a problem.

That is my two cents'.
 

Silver Member
Username: Stu_pitt

NYC, NY

Post Number: 384
Registered: May-05
John - You also bring up good points. Right before CD's caught on - a few years after the format was released and players were affordable- stores had maybe 10-20% lp's. Maybe it's my memory, the area I grew up in, or the US. I can't say for certain. For a while, I remember about 80% cassettes, 10% lp's and 10% cd's (not exact numbers, and not researched). I thought cassette brought the demise of lp, not cd. Again, I could be wrong.

From what I remember and what I've been told, reel to reel was very expensive. It wasn't soemthing that was in every home. I remember seeing a few when I was a kid. I've heard from some people that this was a better medium than lp. I haven't ever seriously listened to reel to reel, so I can't comment. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on one though.

With the new formats being non-recordable (except a few earlier ones as you've pointed out), I don't see them becoming the next big thing. As I said earlier, it's all about convenience, and not being able to record isn't too convenient. Maybe I'm wrong, but only time will tell.
 

Silver Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 272
Registered: Dec-03
My computer will copy HDCD. I don't believe that it is a dual layer format. There are 4 extra bits encoded in the 16. What I feel has stunted the HDCD growth is that Pacific Microsystems (now owned by Microsoft) did not license their technology. So manufacturers of encoding and playback equipment must buy Pacific Microsystems chips.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3578
Registered: Dec-03
Stu Pit,

Agreed. Reel-to-reel is a bit before my time, too, but it has it had loyal followers, and still does. Before tape cassettes it was the only way to record, but most tape recorders were not really hifi. I certainly remember commercial pre-recorded open-reel tapes in shops, in big boxes. There is a reel-to-reel system, conveying no-compromise sound for the super-rich, in a sequence in the movie Pulp Fiction, but maybe is was put there to be deliberately retro.

Ben,

Thanks, too. I remember reading the spec about HDCD and formed the impression it could not be done on computer. This was clearly my mistake.
 

New member
Username: The_big_mc

Pittsburgh, PA USA

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-05
The problem with SACD is that it has no repeatability. The same waveform can be reproduced twice differently. I, along with a partner, wrote a paper that discussed every audio format known to man (practically) and then did a blind listening test. Not only did DVD-A beat SACD, but so did CD and everything else. Its definition goes to crap in busy passages and there is this presence, a pressure on the ears if you will, from the ultrahigh noise. SACD, quite frankly, sucks when it comes to transients, which is a large part of music. If you look at the fact that it takes a doubling of sampling rate to double the musical information, but only an addition of 1 bit to accomplish the same, CD is even a mathematical winner. I will gladly email the paper to anyone who wants to read it. I wrote about 75% of it. I will warn you, it is long (13,000 words) and very technical. Not an easy read in any way.
 

Silver Member
Username: Stu_pitt

NYC, NY

Post Number: 731
Registered: May-05
Very interesting...

Did you include vinyl, cassette and reel to reel in your blind listening? If so, how did you find they stack up against the other media types?
 

New member
Username: The_big_mc

Pittsburgh, PA USA

Post Number: 2
Registered: Nov-05
Vinyl was included and fared very well. We felt it wasn't as technically brilliant as CD, but it had its other qualities that made us really pull a tie. We loved CD for its detail (we found, after alot of listening that alot of Vinyl's "detail" is really just distortion-- but very musical distortion) and cleanness, but vinyl did have slightly better imaging and a warmer, inviting tone. But to be completely honest, DVD-Audio was quite alot better than Vinyl. More of everything that is good came from the DVD-A version of "Everything must go," than the imported LP. Reel to reel was not tested as we couldn't actually get any recordings of what we were comparing. As I said earlier, I will be more than glad to send anyone the paper. Cassette was not included, as we figured it did not stand a chance. I will say that even the Dolby Digital version of "The look of Love," beat the SACD in blind listening. SACD does have a very warm, immediately inviting sound. However, we grew tired of the downmixing noise, lack of transient attack, and the crappiness of the cymbals (More of an initial appearance of the sound followed by a burst of white noise-- clearly showing the pattern finding algorithm that is used to reduce noise). I know that what I say is controversial, but I stand by it and will enter into intelligent debate on the topic if anyone would like to.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Plato

Woodbury, NJ

Post Number: 14
Registered: Oct-05
Cory, can you email me your paper? Very curious to read it. cegio@inwind.it
Thanks
 

New member
Username: The_big_mc

Pittsburgh, PA USA

Post Number: 3
Registered: Nov-05
Max Roma,
You've got mail!!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Queuecumber

Pound Ridge, NY United States

Post Number: 21
Registered: Sep-05
SACD format specification, from what I read, lacks the bandwidth to give all 6 channels of a surround system high resolution all the time in complicated musical pieces, while DVD-A does. I think I read this in a stereophile article, but I don't remember.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Queuecumber

Pound Ridge, NY United States

Post Number: 22
Registered: Sep-05
HDCD just increases the bit resolution not the sampling rate, so it doesn't really belong in these comparisons. SACD and DVD-A also increase the resolution to around 20-22 bits (theoretically 24 bits - but there is a problem with making the resolution this high; there are lots of articles out there about it) but their real point of interest is the highly increased sampling rate from 44,100 samples per second to 96,000 samples per second.

This website has some very useful compacted info: Website w/ google highlights ;)

Remember that just because something is on a SACD or DVD-A doesn't mean it was transferred correctly or that it actually has more samples, unfortunately there are a lot of crappy recordings and/or cheapskates out there just moving it to another format instead of remastering the originals first.
 

New member
Username: The_big_mc

Pittsburgh, PA USA

Post Number: 4
Registered: Nov-05
Well, I will give HDCD the fact that there have been many studies done that show that the human ear can not really hear any better than 20 bits.
Given that, what I am about to say might make you change your mind, as this is only a valid point until 2 KHz. The sampling rate could be higher as 48 KHz only gives you to about 2 KHz before the less acurate reconstruction filter must be used, whereas DVD-Audio not only moves that up to 8 KHz, but also gives the reconstruction filter data that is 16 times more accurate to start with, given the additional 4 bits. This means that after 2 KHz, DVD-Audio can still go another 6 KHz with near perfect accuracy, yet once it hits its point of reconstruction filter use, it is 16 times more accurate at every point. Goes to show just how incredible the format is. Now, SACD can go the full spectrum without a reconstruction filter but as a one bit system, this is completely nullified by the other problems it has.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3802
Registered: Dec-03
Cory,

Please send me a copy of your paper.

I have had some correspondence on DVD-A and SACD on this forum.

I have DVD-A, but it the discs I have are mostly multichannel only, and at present I have to set them to down-mix to stereo, where the result is not outstanding. Also, I have to switch on the TV to navigate the menu, even to choose between stereo and surround, which is a pain.

Mostly, my disc purchases are in the minority 5%, and I particularly like live recordings. I notice SACDiscs seem to be increasing in sales in this niche market, while DVD-A are not, but have still not heard SACD.

Things have changed a bit since the 2001 article linked by Jeff (thanks!). For one thing, SACD is now touted primarily as a surround sound format. The industry itself seems to have forgotten about the increased resolution which was its original marketing pitch from 1999. As I have written many times, this itself betrayed dishonesty or clinical anmesia by Sony and Philips who seemed sure, in 1983, that nothing could ever be a better source than CD.

My best source at present is stereo FM radio, where I think the standard studio digital recording format is 24 bit 96 kHz Linear PCM, the same as "PCM Stereo" and most two-channel DVD-A, minus MLP.
 

New member
Username: The_big_mc

Pittsburgh, PA USA

Post Number: 5
Registered: Nov-05
Mail sent
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3803
Registered: Dec-03
And received. Thanks!
 

New member
Username: Hartley_zodiak

Chitenanger, Yes Guamm

Post Number: 7
Registered: Dec-05
Very interesting discussion.
A few historical notes. Prerecorded reel to reel was commonly available throughout the 60s and was not too much more expensive than an LP, perhaps $10, to the best of my recollection. The sound was vastly superior to an LP. A good reel to reel tape had much better high frequency response than an LP and could go beyond 20 khz. You were getting sound that was close to the original master recording, perhaps closer than on any other medium since. And a good master reel to reel tape went beyond 25 khz. A decent tape deck started around $150 (I think the basic Sony tape deck cost that in around 1965, though it may have been a play only model - cheap reel to reel was what made Sony famous in the US); a great tape deck cost more like $800, such as a Crown. The playback response of the prerecorded tape was much superior to one you recorded yourself.
The main problems were two: background noise and print-through. I believe the SN ratio was about 65 db without Dolby. Dolby B boosted it to a very decent 75 db, making it virtually insignificant. DBX brought it up to close to 100 db, though, making it competitive with CDs, which were coming out about the same time. (DBX survived, and is used for noise reduction on hifi VHS, and on broadcast tv stereo, I believe.) A reel to reel with DBX was definitely superior to a CD at the time.
The other fundamental problem with reel to reel was print-through. A loud passage would show up as a pre-echo because of magnetic transferrance between layers of tape.
I have always found the diatribes about the superiority of LPs a bit bizarre given that they were never the superior medium during their heyday.
As to HDCD, I happen to own one (count em, 1) CD that is HDCD encoded, as far as I can tell. I got a Marantz receiver with HDCD decoding, and that one CD lit up the little red light. So I compared the receiver's digital HDCD decoding to the CD's analog signal, which is otherwise superior to the receiver's AD. And the HDCD sound was noticeably better.
As many audiophiles have noticed, CDs sound pretty good with expensive DAs. The problem is compression of dynamic range. That's where those DVDs blow CDs away. The HDCD does make a signicant boost to the CD, and I hope it catches on. I recently saw a drugstore chain selling a $20 DVD player with HDCD decoding, so something is going on. Now if they will only show up on CDs. But if the recording companies want to push copy protection, perhaps they won't. On the other hand, Microsoft, has no such vested interest.
I happened up an interesting analysis on the web of CDs vs SACD vs DVD-A that looked at the amount of compression on issues of the same original analog recording. The author found less compression of the loud transients on the SACD recording, but that the recording was made at a lower volume, which might lead some listeners to prefer the DVD-As.
If only the recording engineers would stop riding the gain on all the recordings, they would sound better to people with good gear and good ears.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

LondonU.K.

Post Number: 3835
Registered: Dec-03
Great post, H Zod. Many thanks. I wonder how many people still use reel-to-reel tapes.

I wonder if "DA" is "digital to analogue converter" in "CDs sound pretty good with expensive DAs."....? Can't think what else.
 

Silver Member
Username: Nuck

Parkhill, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 858
Registered: Dec-04
H Zod, very good post! If only the recording engineers would stop riding the gain on all the recordings, they would sound better to people with good gear and good ears.

They dont made them for us, the recordings are finished for people with infinity car radios and Bose/Yamaha HTIB stuff.

Pity
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