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DVD-Audio, SACD, or both?

 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 650
Registered: Dec-03
I am still searching for a full, honest and critical evaluation of DVD-Audio and SACD from an informed source, with no vested interests, and access to different examples of the same high-resolution material in both formats.

Hi-Fi News is a very good magazine, long established. (My own decision to go DVD-Audio was based partly on my own inferences from articles in the November 2003 issue: by Mike Oldfield on the two formats for "Tubular Bells"; and Martin Colloms reviewing the "Krell SACD Standard" SACD/CD player).

At the moment, Hi-Fi News has an on-line comment Beginner's Guide To New High-Resolution Audio Formats. I recommend it to anyone trying to decide which format to choose, or whether to choose both.

Here is an extract (in italics). Dots are bits edited out by me, but it does not change the message, I think. I recommend the whole thing; decide for yourself. It is only three pages.

CD revolutionalised the way we buy and play music..... At its launch, CD was described by co-inventor Philips as 'Perfect Sound Forever', a description that has come back to haunt the industry.

With the introduction of DVD video in the late 1990s....you could use up to 24-bits, greatly increasing the loudest possible captured sound, while still ensuring that the very quietest parts (where all the crucial details are!) remains preserved. Bandwidth could increase too, that is the range of frequencies that could be recorded....

Rather than unite the industry by adding their combined authority to the fledgling DVD-A format, Sony and Philips, perhaps fearing the drying up of income from their 20 year patent on CD technology, created their own higher-quality CD replacement, which they called SACD -- the Super Audio Compact Disc. This used a wholly new digital encoding system (for DVD-A was just an extension of the PCM system still used today on all music CDs). Sony's DSD (Direct Stream Digital) technology was the basis for the SACD, a system that gives sound quality a little below DVD-A at its best setting quality, but still better than familiar CD.

The sad truth is that the division serves only to confuse the potential buyer, often leading to a postponement of any new purchase, 'until the battle dies down a bit'. Some hi-fi product manufacturers have grasped the opportunity to appease early-adopting (although both formats are over four years old now... ) music enthusiasts by making a machine that will play both types of disc, but these are the exception rather than the rule. One thing that is becoming clearer, however, is that so long as one of the two formats ultimately gains the upper hand, then the record industry will have won the war.

Diversity means choice, as in everything else. In my view there is an obvious analogy with desktop computers and their operating systems. In 1984, just a couple of years after the introduction of CD, one computer company (Apple) introduced the graphical user interface we all now take for granted. Twenty years on, Apple now accounts for about 10 % of sales of desktop computers. Also, the link, for consumers, between software and hardware, is much the same as the link between discs and disc players.

If, in 2020, we have as little as 10 % of the market occupied by one or other of the new audio formats, that will not be such a bad thing; there will still be plenty of choice of recordings in the minority format. And no single company will have total market control.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 127
Registered: Feb-04
John A

Here is a preliminary report from the DVD-A/SACD battlefront. I finally picked up some SACDs to listen to on my new universal player (Denon DVD-2200). The test discs are as follows:

1. Vaughn Williams "Sea Symphony" (Spano, Atlanta SO)
2. Beck, "Sea Changes"
3. Sibelius, Symphony No. 2 (P. Jarvi, Cincinnati SO)
4. Diana Krall, "When I Look in Your Eyes"

First of all, let me say a few things about the SACD format. Not all SACDs are same. The Beck and Krall discs are multi-channel or stereo SACD, no CD layer, thus only playable on SACD players. The Vaughn Williams and Sibelius discs are multi-channel or stereo SACD with a CD layer (i.e., hybrid discs). This versatile format should be the model for all SACD manufacturers. Alas, most of the Sony SACDs at the store were stereo only, SACD only (that's right, no CD layer!) Shame on Sony for short-changing the consumer once again!

SACD vs.CD

The first thing I did was listen to the Sibelius and compare it to a CD recording of the same work by Paavo Jarvi's father, Neeme on BIS. I thought the BIS recording was a reference quality CD. Well, the sound quality of the SACD blew it out of the water. Tons more detail, fuller sound, bigger dynamics, warmer tone, and importantly but hard to put into words, the notes seem to have some "air" around. The ambience seemed closer to listening to live music on the SACD. The sound of the CD sounded more "canned" compared to the SACD. In the final movement, the instrumentation gets fairly dense. On the CD, the orchestral sound became congested at points as if all the notes played by the instruments entered a bottleneck and were fighting to be heard and as a result each part of the orchestra sounded thinner, especially the strings. Not so on the SACD. It offers fullness and detail and still manages air around the notes. SACD is clearly superior to CD. (Footnote: I strongly prefer Jarvi pere's performance to Paavo's. I'm left with choosing between performance and sonic quality.)

SACD vs. DVD-A

The question of which high-res format sounds better is much harder to answer. I found the differences to be barely perceptible; it could have been attributable to the equipment or the source material. Anyway, it requires additional critical listening. So for a later post, I plan on the following comparisons:

Beck's "Sea Change" SACD and Flaming Lips "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" DVD-A. YBtPR is one of the best DVD-As I've heard. Both discs are recent recordings with multi-channel mixes by Elliot Scheiner. (Trivia: On Beck's last tour, the Flaming Lips opened for him and also played as his backing band.)

Vaughn Williams Symphony No. 1 (Sea Symphony) SACD and Mahler's Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) DVD-A. The Mahler disc is also one of the best DVD-As I've heard. Both works have dense orchestral and choral passages that would test any audio equipment.

To be continued...
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 653
Registered: Dec-03
Excellent, Two Cents.

Thanks!

You describe what I hear, too, but on DVD-A, very well.

Two quick additions, that sound almost silly.

1. On DVD-A, I can hear the words.

2. Anyone remember pre-echo and post-echo on LPs? I heard what I thought was a big post-echo yesterday on one track of the Naxos Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky suite. I'd got the impression I was listening to an LP again! What was it? Real echo, that's all. From the back of the hall.

Looking forward to more from you, 2c.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 654
Registered: Dec-03
BTW BIS is one of the best CD labels around; everything they do is reference quality.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 415
Registered: Dec-03
Two Cents--

I attended a Flaming Lips concert in Charleston, SC a couple of months ago. A lot of fun.

As I own both SACD surround discs and DVD-A I find the difference to be mainly limited by the recording quality. Both have resolutions and noise levels that are significantly better than CD when done properly. I don't have a preference over format. A well-engineered and mixed recording on both formats are basically indistinguishable and both are better than a similarly high quality CD.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 121
Registered: Dec-03
so far at this point i am in the same boat with
greg.

as i don't have any sacd that i have the same dvd-a.

so i am not able to make a complete comparison.

but i definatly hear a wider and more clear
soundstage on both sacd and dvd-a than cd.

the one thing that i seam to notice almost every
time i listen (mainly 2 channel) is that all of
the sounds that i hear on the recordings are of
the same level as each other.

meaning the voices and all the instrements are
playing at the same volume without having to
strain to hear a note or a voice.

i notice this on both formats.which makes the
music easier to listen to without having to
concentrate,just let it flow.

now i have never had a very good record player or an
expensive cd player so this is by far the best
reproduction of music i have ever heard on any
of my systems truly an amazing experience.

 

Silver Member
Username: Rick_b

New york Usa

Post Number: 138
Registered: Dec-03
JohnA.,

I am following this thread with great interest, as I am in the market for a replacement DVD player. I'm leaning towards DVD-A at the moment. I think I'll go with a mid-fi unit until the format war is over. I'm considering the NAD533 and the Cambridge Audio 540D Azur. As always my main concerns are sound and build quality.

As far as the CD format goes, I have stated before, I fought it as long as possible. I swear I was the last enthusiast to adopt the format. I never thought it superior. The only ways I found it better was, elimination of background noise, and long term storage. What would you rather store for 50 years, a piece of cake, or the recipe for the cake? I always thought of the CD as the recipe.

Any suggestions? Thanks
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 420
Registered: Dec-03
Rick--

I would recommend getting the Denon 2200, if it is not out of your budget. It does all the formats very well at the most reasonable price. It doesn't make much sense to me to limit yourself to DVD-A, when there are currently quite a few more SACD discs. No one knows if both formats will survive, or not. Since it is not much more expensive to get a good universal player, it is wise to buy one (if for no other reasons than to both hedge your bet and to enjoy a far larger library of music. For $100 more than the NAD unit the Denon unit gives you SACD surround and SACD stereo, plus it has very good cd, DVD-V, and DVD-A performance.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 660
Registered: Dec-03
Rick,

As you know, I warmly recommend the NAD T533. My worry about buzz and hiss has gone completely. I cannot understand or explain where it went (!), so I am holding off further comment until I receiver the Aix test disc I have on order, to see if I can reliably replicate any circumstances under which it re-appears. It never appeared once with a disc in and playing, even silence. On "pause" and only with some discs (?!), it was, even then, just discernible a few inches from speakers at very high amp gain. You see, I am as neurotic as the next man. I would now discount that as a concern.

The build quality if the T533 seems excellent. But you only find that out in time. Quite why it is so much lighter than the Cambridge Audio 540D Azur, I do not know.

For DVD players, the dealer from whom I bought the T533 carries Cambridge Audio, Denon, NAD, Loewe, and Thule.

There is a cheaper Cambridge Audio (DVD-A only): the DV57.

There are three "universal" Denons at sane prices: 1400, 2200, 2900 (ascending order of price). Gregory's estimate of the price difference between the NAD T533 and the Denon 2200 does not apply in my location: the latter is considerably more expensive (factor of 2.33).

I think you are clear that I cannot comment on comparisons of the sound of these players from personal experience. For various reasons, I went with the NAD T533. I am utterly delighted with it. From my previous experience, NAD's reputation for putting sound quality first is well deserved. My guess is that incorporating SACD would have entailed much higher cost, and that NOT on sound quality, but verstaility. I can also attest to NAD's concern for customer satisfaction, even with discontinued models.

If I bought a pup, and there is better sound at the price, I will be astonished, quite frankly.

The thing to do is make a shortlist and try them. My own inclination might also be to consider Pioneer.

I will be most interested to read what you decide, and what you find.
 

Silver Member
Username: Rick_b

New york Usa

Post Number: 141
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory & JohnA,

Thank you for the input. I am going to try to find the time to audition players this weekend. Will add the Denon 2200 to my short list.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 664
Registered: Dec-03
Rick,

My pleasure. Have a good shopping trip. See if you can get a home trial. Let us know what you find.

Best wishes.
 

Silver Member
Username: Rick_b

New york Usa

Post Number: 145
Registered: Dec-03
Hi All,

I went out this weekend to audition DVD players, but wound up having a speaker epiphany instead. I'm still reeling from the experience. I will post a review under SPEAKERS soon, possibly later tonight.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 134
Registered: Feb-04
I just want to follow up on my previous post regarding SACD sound quality. I had a chance to do some extensive listening over the weekend of both SACDs and DVD-As. (There was no further need to compare these formats to CDs, since both are clearly superior.)

At first blush, I thought DVD-As had a slight edge over SACDs. Both provide an incredibly full and detailed sound, but I initially thought that DVD-A had a slightly warmer tone, while the SACD retained some of the stridency of CDs.

After further listening, I had to revise my conclusion. Now I believe that whatever audible difference there is between the formats is attributable to the source material or possibly the player (in this case the Denon DVD-2200, which is reviewed extensively on other threads).

The important lesson learned from this exercise is to choose your discs carefully to get the most out of these hi-res formats. Here are some noteworthy discs in terms of audio quality and multi-channel mixes. These are reference quality discs that can really show off your surround sound audio system:

Mahler, Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection), Mehta, Israel PO (Telarc DVD-A) -- Incredible dynamics, soundstage (effective use of surround and LFE channels), and performance.

Vaughn Williams, Symphony No. 1 (A Sea Symphony), Spano, Atlanta Symphony SO and Chorus (Telarc SACD) -- A majestic choral and symphonic work that is made for hi-res, surround sound.

Beck, Sea Change (SACD) -- This disc replaces Nick Cave's Boatman's Call as my favorite downbeat album. Very moody. Although it's mainly a quiet album, all channels, including LFE, are used liberally to create an involving soundscape of acoustic instruments, strings, electronic effects, and voices. It's so rich that my appreciation of the recording grows with each listening. This album is also available on DVD-A.

Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battle the Pink Robots (DVD-A) -- I've lauded this disc elsewhere. The soundstage is completely unnatural. The music swirls around you, instruments jump from speaker to speaker. It's a wild trip and a beautiful one. Also includes a CD. I consider this the model for DVD-A releases.

Here are a couple of discs that fall short of being among the best for various reasons:

Queen, Night at the Opera (DVD-A) -- I read such great things about this DVD-A, but was ultimately disappointed by the sound quality. A couple notches below the above discs. It offers a great surround-sound mix of this classic album though.

Diana Krall, When I Look in Your Eyes (SACD) -- Outstanding sound quality, but the surround sound mix is off. There are times when the singer's voice is unfocussed (i.e., I couldn't pinpoint her location). This may not be a bad thing for some kinds of music, but not for acoustic jazz. Stereo mix is better. This album is also available on DVD-A.
 

Anonymous
 
dvd-a is 24 bits at higher than cd sampling rate(96-192khz).Sacd is 1 bit at very high sampling rate of 2+mhz.sacd COULD have better dynamics because of higher sampling but the problem is it's still only 1 bit vs. dvd-a's 24 bit.DVD-a is inherently better because it has much more information.The only problem is that most audio systems are probably not of high enough quality to point out the huge differences(including dvd-a players).If either format has a bright future,which is debatable anyway unless the come out with MANY MORE discs,it seems to me dvd-a does because for one thing it is easier to reproduce a full range sound with good bass than it is to reproduce a high end sound with equipment,and from my limited experience it is perhaps only very high end equipment which would benefit GREATLY from sacd's higher sampling where as dvda's increased information can be beneficial on any system it seems to me.Also I can not see after high definition dvd comes out sacd sticking around as at that point dvd-a might be an old format!-but dvd-a's 24 bits of information is the same as analog and digital tape(24 bits)so dvd-a could stick around for years to come(of course a high def. alternative could be invented).But the truth is unless they release many more discs I don't see either format taking off(even dvda)although it should be noted that I BELEIVE many dvda's can be played on non dvd-a machines(in 2ch)if they have 192/24 bit converters.Also ALL dvd-a discs have a seperate dd track to make them compatible with non dvd-a machines which theoretically should make them sell better(assuming they can get this info to the consumer and once again can release more discs).I have heard several pro's say that after hearing dvd-a they have changed their mind that sacd was better.I personally think anyone that listens to both side by side will prefer dvd-a.
 

Anonymous
 
just to add to my comments above-I have briefly used dvda and sacd on mostly mid fi equipment.My admittedly brief experience convinced me that dvd-a is MUCH better.As the reviewer said above you can hear the words better on dvd-a-this is clearly because of the increased 24 bits of information vs sacd's 1 bit.I also listened to a dvd-a on a high end amp and it produced INCREDIBLY deep bass(on a bass heavy track)-not woofy bass but deep bass-I almost felt like if Ai played it real loud for a long time it could fry my speaker-it made my high quality floorsatnder sound like a HIGH END sub.Here's a question-are studio master tapes recorded at a 2mhz sampling rate?answer-no.this suggests that a high sampling rate is not needed and that some of the added definition on sacd's may be "artificial",meaning it is not on the master tape.of course sony may now be recording some artists with sacd 1 bit in an attempt to push their format(of course they will claim they beleive it is better)but I think this will backfire on stupid sony as i think dvd-a will win the "war" if there actually is one.once again sony should give up (which I predict they will with the next gen. dvd players by incorporating dvd-a) because in the upcoming age of high def. dvd I don't think,and I certainly don't want a 1 bit system to survive!
 

Anonymous
 
By the way I have used several different dvd-a players(and one high quality sacd player)and I don't think you need an expensive dvd-a player to get the majority of benefits from the format(including deep bass).I think the only differences between an expensive dvd-a player like denon 2200 and the more inexpensive would be a somewhat smoother presentation and perhaps a bit more definition(note that any dvd-a on any player will sound smoother than cd)---my point is that you should probably only pay $400-$550 for a dvd players dvd-a performance(putting aside video performance etc.)if you receiver or amp costs twice that at least and your speakers are very high quality.Also of note is that in the upcoming year(late 2004 to 2005) several manufacturers are coming out with dual dvd-a and sacd players under $200-such as samsung and toshiba(and pioneer which already has one out in the model 563).
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 139
Registered: Feb-04
Interesting info on the previous posts by Anonymous. I'm not an expert on bits and things electronics, but I just want to share some personal observations.

Before getting a Denon DVD-2200 (list price $630), I was listening to DVD-A on a Toshiba SD4900 (list price $150). While it's true that even on the cheap Toshiba, DVD-A sounded incredible and clearly better than CD played on a dedicated CD player, the Denon offers appreciably better performance than the Toshiba player. The main differences are improved resolution (for example, words sung by a chorus sound clearer), bigger dynamics, and a deeper and better defined soundstage.

One reason I got a universal player is to increase the selection of available titles. This is the most frustrating part of the DVD-A/SACD scene. There doesn't seem to be much support in the industry in putting out software. Right now, it's just a niche market for audiophiles and I see no signs of it spreading to a larger audience.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 681
Registered: Dec-03
"There doesn't seem to be much support in the industry in putting out software." - 2c.

The industry might say "There doesn't seem to be much demand for the software...."; "....it's just a niche market for audiophiles".

Both statements are correct. Now. It will change. Soon. And quickly.

BTW does anyone else stumble, as I do, over using the word "software" for "discs"? The "software" is what's on them, surely....?

DVD-Audio has made me take more interest in going back and listening to LPs. CD was a mistake from an audio point of view, no question. It offered convenience, that's all. DVD-A brings the convenience WITH the sound quality, PLUS surround sound.

It is a new era.
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 190
Registered: Feb-04
Apathy seems to be the word when it comes to DVD-A/SACD. Just go into an audio dealer and start talking about DVD players, surround receivers etc and see if they mention these new formats.

I cannot for the life of me understand why component manufacturers are not promoting these formats. I cannot understand why the dealers are not promoting and I certainly cannot understand why the record producers are not promoting these formats.

One local Hi Fi dealer here now stocks mainly HT gear. Last time I looked he had one integrated amp. Now, if ht and "surround sound" is their main income source why would they not promote DVD-A/SACD to the max. It fits! It makes perfect sense!

Though we are yet to purchase ours, I think we, the enthusiasts, will have to assume responsiblity to spread the news!

Then, if these formats do not become the promised future, we'll just have to retain Hawk to lead a class action against the villains!
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 683
Registered: Dec-03
My Rantz,

Brilliant. I am doing my bit to spread the word....

One main obstacle is terminology. The SACD and DVD-A formats are being pitched in too many different ways, and there is no clear signal getting through. You can see that on this forum. This forum topic is something which will help.

Simple, clear message: DVD-A discs sound much better than CD, and play on any DVD player. Get one and try it!

Not many people seem to know that.

I am not an elitist, but I do not yearn for the day when there are as many DVD-As as there are, now, CDs. There is some advantage in being in a minority, you know, e.g. e-mail was very nice thing before about 1994, now it is a sort of plague of spam. If you have a huge record store with only a small section of DVD-As/SACDs, you don't have to waste time browsing through the whole place! And you learn more from getting things you don't already know you like....
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 197
Registered: Feb-04
"I am not an elitist, but I do not yearn for the day when there are as many DVD-As as there are, now, CDs"

John A, I beg to differ - I'd certainly wish for the variety. If the format sounds as good as you and others say in either 2 channel stereo or surround, I'd wish to eventually replace my favourite cd's apart from experimenting with music to which I'm not so accustomed.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 140
Registered: Feb-04
The way I look at it, having a wider selection usually means having a wider selection of crap. Do we really need hundreds of cable channels or dozens of colas? But it would be nice to get the music we want in our favorite formats. In an earlier post John A mentioned MP-3s, WMAs, et al., replacing CDs for convenience, which I agree with. Hope the powers that be will have something else for those who care about sound quality. What's really needed is a music store that only sells hi-res discs that I like. Oh yeah, Diana Krall and Angelina Jolie would work at that store.
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 198
Registered: Feb-04
"Oh yeah, Diana Krall and Angelina Jolie would work at that store."

Why not Janet Jackson as well or do you think she'd make too many B00Bs?
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 141
Registered: Feb-04
Hehe. Well, if Diana doesn't work out, I wouldn't mind seeing Janet, so to speak ;-)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 56
Registered: Dec-03
I find SACD to be more organic/natural sounding than DVD-A. Both have increased redolution but DVD-A sounds like a digital format.

I have also found that my Arcam CD 92T can hold its own when playing the CD layer of a hybrid disc vs my Pioneer DV-45 and the SACD layer. Somebody mentioned that they had the "Sea Change" SACD. I have the CD which is HDCD encoded and is a fantastic recording. My guess is that the HDCD decoded CD will be close (in 2 channel mode) to the SACD.

The Arcam can also hold its own against some of the DVD-A discs that I have heard ("Harvest" by Neil Young, for example), but I can't directly compare due to lack of hybrids (I have to use the CD). I find it dissapointing that there are DVD-A discs that are 16 bit, 24/48, 24/96, 24/192 DVD-A's. Most of the ones that I have seen are 24/48. Maybe I haven't been impressed with this foamat due to the poor sampling rates associated with much of the catalog.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 143
Registered: Feb-04
Ben,

Do you have a surround system or stereo? Would you be able to compare the "Sea Change" SACD in surround and stereo to the HDCD? I'm just curious.

I used to be a stereo purist, but have changed my mind. Surround mixes offer a totally different listening experience. It's like being immersed in the music. Stereo still offers a more natural soundstage though.

As I stated in an earlier post, the source material seems to make the biggest difference when listening to SACD or DVD-A. I find neither format inherently superior over the other. I highly recommend Flaming Lips "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" as THE full DVD-A surround sound experience. If you like the quirky music of Beck, you might like the Flaming Lips disc.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 57
Registered: Dec-03
My comparisons were stereo. I own Yoshimi, just don't like it enough to buy twice (not their best album).
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 145
Registered: Feb-04
I just came across this 3-page article ripping SACD. (John A., you may be particularly interested in this article. If you've already posted this, my apologies for the redundancy.)

http://www.iar-80.com/page17.html
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 201
Registered: Feb-04
Two Cents

A good find indeed!

John A - now you will be even more content with your T533 decision.

As I have no reason to doubt the validity of the information in the article, it makes one wonder what Sony/Phillips were thinking. They should have scratched the DSD and started again. Has it been improved/redesigned since that article was published or are they just going to pull the wool over the consumers ears?

I'll still get a universal player and will look forward to my own comparison - maybe the SACD sound might be okay providing my ears don't hear over 8000hz. But I'm sure they haven't deteriorated that badly!
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 146
Registered: Feb-04
My Rantz,

I would still recommend getting a universal player to expand your choice of music discs.

When I first listened to an SACD I did detect a slight harshness at high frequencies not unlike the hard-edged sound of CDs, but I thought it may have been the recording or less-than-reference-quality tweeters in my speakers. But this article confirms what I first heard. However, I still think SACDs sound fantastic overall.
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 202
Registered: Feb-04
Two Cents

Agreed - I will get a player with both formats. I like the idea of having a wide variety for choice. It's not expected that both would have similar sonic qualities, but one would think high frequency quality would be a priority in the developement format improvement.

You are most likely correct about hearing a slight harshness and we know from various testers some of their reviews can be a little overstated, so I'll just have to wait to hear the differences.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 686
Registered: Dec-03
Two Cents,

Thank you for that link. It looks like an interesting whole site.

I have read similar things before, but not as clearly stated. Also, I think that report is a bit behind the times. The DVD-A standard has stabilized, now. NAD were waiting until it had done so - they said this on their web site up until late last year.

So, yes, I am reassured by my decision. Thank you!. Yes, I remember "bitstream" (mentioned there), too, and didn't believe the hype for that, either. Once CD players had got sorted out (by about 1987-88 - the first ones in 1982-3 were awful) I think the standard 24 bit was not improved by bitstream and over-sampling.

What I wanted from DVD-A was the best possible sound for my money. I got it! It is rare that something just bowls you over like that. Especially us cynical older guys, whose mottos are "So, what's new?" and "Been there, done that".

The extra cost of incorporating SACD into a player is considerable, and that would be on licensing and changing the drive (to read watermark protection code), apart from needing to process DSD, an inferior format according to that link and other informed sources. All that would have to come out of the manufacturer's budget for DACs, the drive mechanism, and other features that do make a difference to the sound. What's SACD all about? Cast-iron copy protection, I think. Certainly not sound. We should all remember that S-P makes and sells both discs and players, and has a huge vested interest in market control.

My guess is your Denon 2200, 2c, does DVD-A as well as my NAD T533, but an NAD "universal" player would probably have cost twice the price.


My Rantz,

As regards availability of discs, I agree with your reply, and retract. It will be very good to have more titles available. "Audiophiles" or whatever we call ourselves should always remember that the mass market generates the sales that make it a commercial proposition to make better players/discs in the first place.

However, because of the very few discs available in shops where I am, I've bought some things I would not have bought, enjoyed the music very much, and discovered new music. Like Shostakovich, a complete blind spot for me, before. I am looking out now for the Naxos Leningrad Symphony.

I am not sure people get Naxos DVD-As yet in the US or in Australia. They ease the transition by being very cheap - only about twice the cost of their CDs, which is still a lot less than a premium-label CD.

Anyway, I am happy to have gone the DVD-A only route. Other people may want other things. I have absolutely no problem with that. Long may there be diversity, and choice.

All the best.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 58
Registered: Dec-03
I'm not sure how creditible IAR is (go to their home page and read some other things...using analog tweeks to improve CD sound?). Maybe they had some sort of agenda pushing DVD-A. Maybe technology has changed since 1998-1999.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 690
Registered: Dec-03
Ben,

I thought the same thing. It looks and reads like web pages from an amateur enthusiast who also somehow produces a magazine. I cannot see any obvious commercial influence. The review of the Arcam AV8 Preamp Processor, DV27A DVD Player is ecstatic in its praise, but it reads more like he's just fallen in love than been bribed. All that sort of writing should have a date, so you know when it was written. Also, no pictures, none at all!
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 691
Registered: Dec-03
....or else he was high on something, e.g.

"Space itself becomes a character in the plot of the music, the song, the soundtrack, as surely as the musical instruments, voices, and other sounds are characters. Space becomes a protagonist, with a vibrant, tactile, tangibly concrete three dimensional presence all around you."

Personally, I always prefer three-dimensional space, too. It's so much easier to get around than the other sorts.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 436
Registered: Dec-03
As I listen to cd, SACD, and DVD-A--I find that they are dependent on the quality of the recording and whether you want to listen to the soundstage directly in front, or you like the effect of the surround. I have great discs on all 3 formats, although I do very much enjoy the surround effect when done properly. I also have some SACD surrounds and DVD-A surrounds that aren't well recorded--mostly from previously released lp's and cd's that the engineer didn't get right when transferring to surround.

Yes, I think the DVD-A is a smarter implementation, but I can't say that it definitely sounds any better. Obviously, with one bit SACD (regardless of how big the bandwidth), if it doesn't accurately sample the sound on the one-bit, it doesn't matter how big the bandwidth. The main downside on DVD-A is that not all companies using it are taking advantage of the 24/192 KHz capabilities. One generally finds this on some companies trying to do it on the cheap or on transfers from older recordings. But if miked and recorded (and processed) on state of the art equipment and mixed properly, DVD-A should be better, or at minimum as good as SACD. I think there is more margin of error in making a DVD-A disc for someone that has good equipment.

But again, I think if you are interested in surround formats, having both is wise. Sony is certainly going to release its catalogue on SACD. So unless you want to limit yourself to what is released on DVD-A, it really leaves you with little choice----unless you want to wait a few years and see how it all turns out. But even then you will still be able to listen to your SACD and DVD-A discs if you have the right equipment.

Probably the tweako's general fondness of SACD is a mixture of marketting blab and that Sony was first to market and has more discs (though not a lot)that may (or may not) be better recorded. I think it is mostly bias that is nit-picking, as I don't think there is yet an accurate way to really compare the formats by listening. You are far more likely comparing the recording quality and we all have good and bad quality cd's--it is the same with SACD's and DVD-A's.
 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 148
Registered: Feb-04
I read an article in the paper yesterday about blu-ray (Sony,et al.) and HD DVD (Toshiba/NEC). I'm wondering if these new formats are intended to replace SACD and DVD-A as well as DVD-V.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 438
Registered: Dec-03
Two Cents--

The format is meant to replace DVD-V's in both having much larger storage (as the blue laser is much thinner than a red laser)and mainly to put HDTV capable transfers on disc. Current discs are 540 pixel at best. They will be able to put 720p or 1080i on blue laser discs, as it can handle the much larger storage required.

I doubt there will be any audio change.

And ultimately it will be up to the studio's. They are currently very happy with all their regular DVD-V sales. They might feel that the market for HDTV clarity DVD-V's is both limited and very expensive for them to gear up to make and time consuming to transfer.

As we are learning with SACD and DVD-A, there can be all the hardware in the world, but until the providers of viewable and listenable material are sufficiently motivated to provide the high quality video and/or audio transfers--everyone will be held up.

The studio's will undoubtedly decide which blue laser format wins too. And that may rely more on which format they feel has better encryption, besides whether it is monetarily beneficial to them.

Certainly first generation blue laser players will be fairly expensive, unless they are heavily subsidized. Gallium Nitride is much more expensive than silicon and I imagine the discs will be more expensive, if for no other reason than it will cost the disc pressers and recorders more for the equipment and the transfers.

I will wait at least 2 years and see what shakes out before I seriously think about taking the plunge. I want the price of the players to decline and to see if the players are supported with sufficient software. And there is no benefit unless you own an HDTV.

 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 693
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

as the blue laser is much thinner than a red laser

Do you mean the beam? Giving " larger storage"? I don't get this! The beam diameter can be anything you like, at any wavelength you like. Am I missing something here?

Some early CD players used an invisible, near-IR beam. Most now have a visible, red beam. I can't see what difference moving to blue makes.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 439
Registered: Dec-03
John A.--

Yes--red laser beam is much thicker than blue lasers. On the electromagnetic spectrum frequency charts blue light has a higher frequency than red light. A red laser spot's diameter is at best about 800 nanometers; the blue laser's run about 405-450 nanometers. When you consider how many miniscule grooves are being read by the laser, the difference ends up being enormous.

That is why a red laser system can fit at most around 5 GB on a standard disc and a blue laser disc can fit about 20-30 GB.

But manufacturering blue lasers are much more expensive. I know this, because I sell companies high purity chemicals for the process. Companies, such as Cree Research, make Silicon Carbide crystal substrates on which Gallium Nitride is deposited. This is necessary for the creation of the blue laser diode.

Infra-red is huge compared to blue laser. The infra-red may seem miniscule to your eye, but on the atomic level, or even molecular level, it is huge. Red lasers were used because they were relatively inexpensive to make. Besides the blue diodes being much more expensive, the circuitry to handle the feed is more complex.

Blue laser diodes aren't new, but reasonably cost-effective blue lasers are of recent vintage and the ability to make successful circuitry at a price that will allow a commercial venture to succeed are new.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 694
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

Thanks. But 405-450 nm is the wavelength of blue light: 800 nm the wavelength of near infra-red. These are lengths, not widths, and have no physical meaning in terms of distance travelled by, or width of, the beam. I should have thought the spot diameter is determined by the dimensions of the laser itself.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 442
Registered: Dec-03
John-

A shorter wavelength laser is required to focus onto a smaller pit size. The wave is a 3-dimensional movement of energy and it loses power when focused shorter than the wavelength. And there is a limit to how high you can power the laser. For instance, if a red laser was powered high enough to get to a smaller focus (through a smaller aperture), it would burn the unit. No more dvd player. Hence, they had to find a shorter wavelenth to read the smaller pit.

Maybe in the future we will have ultra-violet lasers that can read much smaller pits of data.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 697
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

Thanks. I will have to have a closer look at this. I recall the reflecting spots on a CD are 1000 nm in diameter, so any visible or near-IR light will do. Yes, for smaller spots you might need shorter wavelengths. From your explanation, I think "focus" must refer to the detector focussing on the reflected beam. If the reflecting spot is smaller than the wavelength, you will still get a signal, but a much weaker one than if whole beam is reflected back, I think - it will be impossible to focus on it. Just to defend the reasonableness of my question it is not a question of the size of the laser, strictly speaking!

Thanks for the education, as always.

Any links or further info on this technology?

As with so much in audio, it is easy to extrapolate ad absurdum. Why stop with ultra-violet? I suggest the day will come when the determined audiophile has his own dedicated synchrotron beamline. There is a nice one in Grenoble that will give X-rays at 0.091 nm, diffracting off single atoms, or course. The fact that you need a source 5 km in diameter would not deter those of us truly committed to the sound quality.....

You could only play the disc once. It would be burned up by the X-ray beam. This is not necessarily a disadvantage. It would creat renewed consumer demand for discs, helping to get the industry out of the dolldrums. Also, listeners and disc reviewers could report on a single instance of audio nirvana, safe in the knowledge that no-one else could play the disc.

And hifi manufacturers would be obliged to show aerial photographs of their latest model.

Cool.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 444
Registered: Dec-03
John--

Your question was perfectly reasonable. This is relatively advanced physics. Since I sell various chemicals for crystal growth (including for laser rods) and dopants (elements or chemicals in small quantities that alter the wavelength of a crystal)I know about some of the aspects in the field, which runs from consumer electronics, medical,military, etc.

For instance, I am sure you have seen those red laser pointers, besides the red lasers in cd players. The government places a limit on red laser output (wattage) for pointers to prevent people from blinding themselves or others and doing various other damages. In medical fields they use quite a variety of doped lasers using various wavelengths and outputs for retinal surgery and scoping and cleaning out cartilage in joints and numerous other purposes.

On cd players they have tried making an aperture smaller than the red laser wavelength to get more than standard dvd reading, but they have only been successful when they "pump up the volume"--more wattage and excitation of the red laser. What happens is the aperture gets vaporized among anything that touches the laser light. That is why they have to go to blue laser with the much smaller wavelength, as it can go through a smaller aperture and be focused on a smaller pit on the disc without going to a higher output.

The delay in doing this all these years has been the difficulty in making a blue laser economically and that lasted long enough without cleaving the crystal, which is often made by either having Gallium Nitride deposited atomically on a Silicon Carbide crytal or Sapphire substrate. It seems the shorter the wavelength, the more difficult and more expensive it is to make and control.

The following is a blurb on a course being given:

Gallium Nitride Blue Lasers

Over the past few years, gallium nitride-based (GaN) materials have become the central focus for the development of blue and green semiconductor light emitting devices, and the race is on to develop commercially-viable blue lasers. Once available, blue semiconductor lasers will enable an immediate three-fold increase in optical disk storage capacity over current digital video disk (DVD) technology. This course will give an overview of the development of the blue laser including obstacles overcome in the past few years and the remaining roadblocks. Topics covered will include basic laser theory, fundamental materials growth issues, and device design and fabrication issues necessary to describe the realization and unique properties of GaN-based semiconductor lasers. In addition, the current state of the art for the devices will be overviewed in the context of the performance characteristics required for DVD applications.

BENEFITS
After completing this course, you will be able to:

understand the fundamentals of metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE) growth in the context of GaN materials
distinguish the advantages of MOVPE for GaN epitaxy manufacturing
summarize the unique materials properties of GaN alloys and heterostructures relative to conventional III-V alloys
summarize the basic components required to make semiconductor lasers
identify the unique design constraints required to making a laser in the III-nitride system
compare the characteristics of GaN based diodes relative to more mature technologies
identify the basic fabrication technologies required to make GaN lasers.
INTENDED AUDIENCE
Engineers, scientists and managers who need to develop GaN-based device technologies, or need to understand the unique properties of these devices for their applications. Some prior background in III-V semiconductor optoelectronic devices and materials would be beneficial.


As you see, it can be pretty heavy sledding for most people, unless they have an interest and a scientific/physics background.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 699
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

Many thanks. I am always interested in how things actually work. There is a big gap between the underlying physics and consumer electronics. I was a fairly early convert to CD because I understood in general terms how it worked, and liked the idea. There were a number of "how it works" articles at the time the CD was introduced. I fell for the "perfect sound" propaganda, like many others. I did not know it was a retrograde step, and the 16-bit/ 44 kHz specification was a compromise between estimates of acceptable sound quality, disc size, and playing time. What happened to "laser discs"? They were much larger, if I recall.

I have always assumed the "laser pointer" and the modern CD laser were low-power HeNe lasers at 632.8 nm, though it is not obvious where to check. I remember an early NAD CD player (which I did not buy) had a near-IR laser, possibly 740 nm; it must have been made of something else. I bought a Marantz partly because it had a visible laser. This is irrational, I am fully aware!

Three times disc storage by going to 405-450 nm sounds about right. You could get four times the number of pits if you decreased their size by half for a given area of disc. A visible red laser is not 800 nm, btw, that is near infra-red; we stop seeing at 700 nm, and a laser has a precise frequency - there is no appreciable bandwidth to give a visible component.

I imagine 2c and others might be asking "will blue laser players/discs make any difference?". If you just want an hour of audio in 5.1 off a 12 cm diameter optical disc, I can't see much point. Though I was sceptical about audible improvements over DTS, and was wrong about that, as you may recall. One might, of course, want the same sound off a 6 cm disc.... Or two-to-four hours off a 12 cm disc.

Probably the blue laser discs will be used first for video. Feature length movies in high definition video with DTS now take two DVDs. I suppose there would be some advantage in putting the same thing on one disc.

I really don't think blue lasers are going to render DVD-A and/or SACD obsolete for many years, if ever. Waiting to move until that comes along makes little sense when high-resolution sound formats are already here and with us. If and when blue lasers start to be used, then it will be primarily for convenience again, in the first instance, I think, and even that gain will be fairly marginal. I can cope with getting up to change discs once an hour.

Thanks again for the inside information.

BTW the storage ring circumference of the Grenoble ESRF is only 844 meters, not nearly as bad as I thought; less than a kilometer. Apparently they use bicycles to get around it. There is a nice snap-shot on: http://www.esrf.fr/

At 0.091 nm you could get about 10-to-the-eight more pits (ten-to-the-four, squared) on an X-ray CD. Another way of putting it is that a single X-ray DVD could store about 100 million movies, say a million at at 100 times current sampling frequency.

I only venture into the surreal to indicate the fallacy of "no compromise". There is always a compromise, somewhere. I just wish manufacturers would be a bit more honest about where they draw the line, and why.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 446
Registered: Dec-03
John A.

This does get to be complex if you actually go through the whole science of it. It is truly amazing that through the use of ultra expensive molecular beam epitaxy machines they can deposit by atoms thickness various elements and compounds (like Gallium Nitride, GaN) on a substrate and then have advanced enough circuitry to deal with the output.

Blue lasers will actually have no (or little)effect on SACD or DVD-A, other than the amount of listening they can put on a disc. It should not alter the resolution or the format. In the near term it is most definitely going to be used for HDTV quality discs, which require far more pixel information for a movie than can be put on a standard dvd disc. And I wouldn't hold my breath for the studios to allow copying of HDTV quality on a burner, unless the discs cost $15-$20 (so they can make sure it doesn't cut into their dvd sales of high quality discs and dissuades people from marketting high quality copies). This is not to say that there may not be "hacking" technologies to circumvent this, but I'm not the type to get involved in that sort of thing.

Look how many people are satisfied with playing MP3's. The audiophile market for high quality signals just isn't that important to the majority of people--particularly those that buy disposable pop music. Of course there is rock and pop that is excellent--it is just few and far between and not in that much demand, particularly in very high quality discs. DVD-A and SACD surround may make a dent because the format allows a different way of listening, rather than 2-channel stereo. But if DVD-A and SACD surround become truly successful, it will undoubtedly be that most of the buyers of these discs like the surround and already have a surround system for movies, rather than those that can truly hear and REALLY appreciate the resolution. Sure, there will always be a small and avid group that will buy them for both the surround and the high quality.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 702
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

I think that is completely correct.

Probably the bottom line for others reading this thread is that, as you say, "Blue lasers will actually have no (or little) effect on SACD or DVD-A, other than the amount of listening they can put on a disc".

Playing time is always a factor. The 33 rpm "Long Playing" record is an example. I wonder how much one can read into the name "Compact Disc".

The Naxos DVD-A of "Elgar's" Third Symphony (excellent, imho, musically and sonically) has an art photo from The Lebrecht Music Collection "Elgar and his Gramophone". The caption is "Elgar working on sketches for his 3rd symphony in his study at Marl Bank, Worcester, 1932." He is posing, holding a 78, correctly (by the edges), reading its label, standing at huge HMV gramophone, probably then the state-of-the-art. It has a handle to wind it up (when did they become electric?). Playing time, about three minutes, I think. Maybe listening instead of working was why he never finished the symphony. Maybe listening was working? Anyway, there have been some distinguished audiophiles, and there still are.

I, too, think that surround sound is probably the real news. So a factor may be that it is home movie buffs, mostly, who have surround systems: that will tend to favour DVD-A over SACD.

Neither am I into "ripping" (off?) MP3 files. I thought recording audio cassettes from commercial releases was cheap.

However, who knows if tomorrow's great musicians are not now exchanging low-res files, free, with their friends, in some school playground somewhere.

BTW I have just noticed the Elgar DVD-A even plays on my computer. It even sounds OK. Funny, I hadn't thought of that!
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 447
Registered: Dec-03
Almost every teenage to 30-something year old has an Apple IPod or other MP3 device in the USA. And most of the younger kids were brought up on computers, sharing files, and ripping MP3's or cd's. Even older people I see walking through the neighborhood with IPods and ear-buds blasting. And often these people use their IPods or computers as signal sources for their music systems. An irony sometimes occuring when the same people who are playing the MP3's through their kit, are still asking about the best amplifier, speakers (with the best imaging and resolution) and cd/dvd player that can play the slightest nuances and subtleties for music.

I am undoubtedly being too strict. On familiar music, as long as you aren't totally immersed in your music room, it will often sound very good even on somewhat inferior MP3's and radio, because we already know the recording in our brains. You still get much enjoyment from music you love while working, drying the dishes, or reading the newspaper.

So there really is nothing wrong with even listening to your MP3's hooked up to your kit. But one should always have the best recording and best resolution one can get of one's favorite music--if you can afford it:-)
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 705
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

Agreed, as always. Everyone has his/her own compromise position.

"But one should always have the best recording and best resolution one can get of one's favorite music"

..or anyone else's, for that matter.
 

Paolo
Unregistered guest
I think DVD-AUDIO is far superior. The idea of SACD was just a unilateral decision of Sony and Philips for their $$$, regardless consumers benefits. All audio technology is PCM multibit, while a change to DSD monobit would be a silly move on all front, as brilliantly explained by Lipshitz and Vanderkooy in many AES meetings.

The quality of DVD-AUDIO recordings is always stunning, perfectly natural, with solid presence of sound. The argument that the two formats be sonically equivalent (AND they aren't!) would definitely be in favor of DVD-A, since, in that case, Sony and Philips would have broken with all the DVD-forum, left all the other and went by theirselves, just to impose an equivalent format, not a better one!

The only acceptable motivation for the sacd over the dvd-a, from the consumer standpoint, should only be a great superiority. But, since tha's not the actual situation, sacd deserves to be rejected.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 815
Registered: Dec-03
Paolo,

That is my opinion, too. And you put the case extremely well.
 

New member
Username: Benjwoodruff

Post Number: 1
Registered: May-04
Many of the first DVD-A released in fact have no better than Redbook sound due to the watermarking used.

In my experience, SACD is better than DVD-A for classical music. I also find the somewhat limited selections for my musical taste on DVD-A to be a turn off.

What did I do? I bought a $250 Sony DVD/SACD changer and a Musical Fidelity A3.24 Upsampling DAC. Best of both worlds. Outside of the Esoteric DV-50 and Krell SACD Standard, the Sony players are the best SACD I have heard. Of course a $250 DVD player doesn't have great CD playback, so thats what the MF is for.

So, heres the thing. DVD-A may have technically better performance than SACD. But Im here for the music, and I can't get enough of either format.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 986
Registered: Dec-03
Ben,

Thanks. I understand that "watermarking" degrades DVD-A sound quality, and that some recording companies, notably Warner, do it as a matter of course. Also, though, I read that SACD essentially has watermarking built-in, as DSD, and that this degrades sound quality too, especially at high frequencies.

Now we have "PCM Stereo", too, just to make things even more complicated. (Thread, here: PCM Stereo).

I agree with the sound is wonderful. But the terminology seems wilfully perverse. Perhaps this explains the slow take-up of high-resolution audio formats. Hardly anybody knows what they will be getting. At least people recognise "CD" and think they know what it means: "perfect sound that lasts forever" (sic; Sony/Philips, 1983).

A little more honesty, and plain speaking, would do wonders for the recording and audio industries, in my opinion.
 

Alexander
Unregistered guest
Hi everyone,

After reading a bit on this thread I decided to go ahead and get a DVD-A, after 5 minutes of debating which one to get as Best Buy does not offer a lot of titles, I purchased Queen's "A night a the Opera" maybe is not the best recording available but it really sounded remarkably when I played it and guess what ...I used my $99.00 toshiba DVD player ! (in DTS format). Next week I will be buying a DVD-A player....I can not wait !
Cheers!
Alex
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 516
Registered: Dec-03
John A--

getting back to cd or digital recording opposed to analogue. This is one of the few areas we disagree.

In my opinion, those who think vinyl is ahead of CD are wrong. Now someone may prefer a recording on vinyl, someone may prefer the greater noise level on vinyl, the "white noise" giving the impression of liveness, and someone may just have a belief bias (one only has to read the nonsense bias in many high end audio publications for this).

I can't tell you how many times an LP afficianado has brought his fave LP's over and I informed him after reading the liner notes that it was recorded totally in digital. Hence, the only thing I believe he was responding to was a preconceived bias and enjoying the higher noise level.


The point is that deciding whether a certain recording is better or not is clearly a preference. Deciding which format one likes better is also a preference. However, saying that a delivery technology (analog) is ahead of another (digital) requires some technical basis, which is clearly lacking if one states that "vinyl is ahead of CD"--which it clearly is not on any level.

LP sound is fundamentally "quantized" by the noise on the medium, just like CD is, except the LP noise level is much higher and the ability of LP's to resolve sound is inferior, due to the technology. The following was recently told to me by a 60-something recording engineer--and I paraphrase- Low frequencies on the LP groove take up most of the groove content. This is because the amplitude of the electrical signal produced is proportional to the side to side velocity of the stylus. Given equal velocities, a low frequency wiggle will swing wider than one of high frequency because at low frequencies the cutter will not turn around as often as it does at high frequency. To counteract this effect, the low frequency content of the record is deliberately reduced, and this low end rolloff has to be corrected by a bass boost in the playback system.

The high frequency content is given a treatment opposite to that of the lows. High frequency information is emphasized during recording and reduced during playback. This is an attempt to reduce the noise generated by the roughness (noise level) of the vinyl. That noise is white noise, and as such sounds like a high frequency phenomenon. He said this is why some people like LP's--the white noise and compression give them an impression of a live performance, which has natural background noise. When the playback system reduces the high frequency content to its proper level, the noise in that range is reduced by the same amount.

The combination of bass roll-off and treble boost is the major recording characteristic of LP's, and the complementary response of the playback system is called RIAA equalization--an attempt to make the signals more listenable.

Comparing technical parameters is the right way to compare delivery formats. I often hear LP advocates tell me that "Jitter" adversely effects the digital sound making it worse than LP's. In digital playback on any competent equipment, jitter is multiple orders of magnitude lower than that of its equivalent on vinyl playback equipment(WOW & FLUTTER).

The best cd's I have are far better than the best LP's I own.

Onto a slightly different topic, I think the main reason I love DVD-A (or SACD surround) is less the resolution (although that is definitely better) and much more the separation, the ability to hear the individual instruments better, and when properly recorded the increased sense of "air" in the recording. No doubt this is caused by the engineers use of lesser signals being sent to the surrounds for more ambience. This greater ambience is definitely the aspect that makes me feel closer to a live performance.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1095
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

"In my opinion, those who think vinyl is ahead of CD are wrong."

I am not saying that, is a general rule. I am saying the capacity is there, and vinyl can be ahead. CD can be better, but has an "upper limit" inherent on the format, and absent from analogue - the analogue upper limit is far higher, and the real-world analogue limit comes, usually, from other factors e.g wow and flutter, rumble, tape hiss. You mention some, too. There is even pre- and post-echo, vinyl bubbles, not to mention just mistracking, acoustic feedback, and just rubbish tracking, dust, scratches, etc. etc.

What I think is that the best vinyl LP has more detail, better resolution, than the best CD. That's on my system, too. There trade-offs. There is always some background noise on LPs. CDs can have zero background noise.

"I can't tell you how many times an LP afficianado has brought his fave LP's over and I informed him after reading the liner notes that it was recorded totally in digital."

Digital recording is not the issue. The question is, at what sample size and sampling frequency was that original digital recording made?

DVD-A, to me, proves that digitally-recorded sound can be as good as analogue. I appreciated that, intellectually, before, but now I hear it. What I would say is that I could easily tell the difference between a hi-res master recording ( whether analogue or digital) rendered in analogue, and rendered in digital at "CD-quality". However, if it were rendered in digital at "DVD-A quality", then I think I could not.

Conversely, I would be happy to take a test in which I was given a master recording made at "CD quality", and then given EITHER analogue OR digital rendering of that recording. I believe that they would sound much the same - the limiting factor would be in the recording. I think I might well be influenced, subjectively, and initially, by addition of hiss, white noise etc, to either rendering, but I also think I could subtract for that, after some thought and careful listening. 44.1 kHz/16 bit places an immovable upper limit on how much detail you can hear, no matter how good the rest of your system.

I remember with interest the analogue vs digital debate of the mid-1980s. I was happy to go along with CD; there are many benefits. However, having heard DVD-A, I now go back, and re-evaluate. It is now quite clear to me that some LPs I own from early 60s recordings have a resolution that the best CDs (I have some good ones) do not approach. Whether it is my system or not, I cannot be sure. But, in the end, sound itself is analogue. An original digital encoding can certainly sound as good as an analogue one. But not at CD resolution, whether that limitation is imposed at the stage of recording, or at the stage of playback. It is like putting a photograph through a digital imaging process at limited resolution. It doesn't matter at which stage the limit has been placed: in the camera, in the display, or in the allowed file size/compression algorithm. All you know is that there is something missing. It is less like seeing the original.

"the separation, the ability to hear the individual instruments better" I agree. But that is exactly what you get from increased resolution. The surrounds do not contribute to that. They might contribute a baseline of ambience which you can more easily subtract from the signal, because it comes from a different direction, as well as from the front. But...

1. DVD-A is better even in two-channel alone; you get exactly the same benefit of increased resolution.

2. you still have that sense of separation, "'air' in the recording", even when all channels are filled with programme material. The Tallis DVD-A, in 4.0, I recommend on another thread, is a perfect example of that.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1096
Registered: Dec-03
PS I cannot see the relevance of RIAA equalization. The groove is an analogue of the sound wave. No-one claims the velocity of the stylus has to be in the same proportion to the sound amplitude at all frequencies. It is bound to be more complicated than that, for all sorts of reasons.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 86
Registered: Dec-03
John A,

DVD-A is only superior, in theory. In actuality there are some prety shady 2-chanel DVD-A recordings out there. The current supply is mainly going to benefit somebody who wants 5.1 surround.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1097
Registered: Dec-03
Ben,

Yes. As I think Gregory and I agree, in the end we are in the hands of the recording engineers and also the people mastering discs. This is true in all media. There are bad CDs, bad LPs and so on. I can hear already some of the engineers behind some DVD-A 5.1 recordings do not know what they are doing, especially with that center channel. The increased resolution, detail, is always there, though, in my experience. (So far, about 10 DVD-A discs).
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 523
Registered: Dec-03
John A--

We commonly hear the remark that the digital sound on CD's is inferior, or "inaccurate" to the sound of an analog vinyl LP which is made from a purely analog master tape.
What is said is partially true, the unplayed pressing of a "converted master", that is, an acetate master cut on a mastering lathe, which is plated and that plating used to press the vinyl, and assuming that the vinyl is first quality
v-rgin material, is very close to the master tape (note the phrase "very close"= not the same). Due to the mechanical reality of the process of making the disc, there are artifacts which aren't in the original. That said, the real problem rears its ugly head: there isn't any stylus which can accurately trace the grooves in the plastic record. The cutter uses a stylus which has very sharp corners (not surprising, since its job is to cut the plastic master), and therefore creates a groove which only a like-shaped stylus can trace perfectly. Unfortunately such a shape would simply reform (overcut) the groove into a straight furrow with no audio information remaining after its passing.

So you have a choice of two traditional stylus shapes to use for recovering the audio information from the grooves. One of these has a conical shape, and is usually called "spherical". after the shape of the tip. This shape cannot come very close to following the movements of the cutter at any but the lowest frequencies. The other shape is a stylus which has an elliptical cross section, used with the major axis placed across the groove in an attempt to follow the cutter a bit more closely, but still quite inaccurate at the higher frequencies as well. Worse yet, both styli cause damage to the surface of the plastic inside the grooves. The friction of the stylus in the groove, exacerbated by the downward pressure required to keep it in the groove melts/distorts the plastic and so destroys the information on the sides of the groove. The damage is so severe (many scientists and engineers have examined a lot of records under the microscope) that you can only play the record once with any sort of "high fidelity" with the elliptical point, and no more than 3 times with a spherical/conical.


So what good is vinyl? Obviously there is music only available on LP. But optimal turntables for playing LP's that are truly excellent cost a small fortune, both due to the mechanical difficulties of servoing that much mass and making it silky smooth, (a necessity to prevent rumble) but also due to the fact that only a very few extreme fanatics want them. The pickups are definitely a real-world compromise in their mechanics, and very few are very good, and those few set you back big bucks, as well as introducing additional changes in the sound versus the tape originals. In addition, the resurgence in vinyl pressings seems almost exclusively confined to the "audiophile true believers" and mainly to the Rap/Techno market and is driven by the DJ's in that genre.

I agree that the sample rate chosen for encoding CD's is far too low for the best fidelity, and I believe that the DVD-A rate (and SACD) is infinitely better (if done to 24/192), but at least the CD will always play the same each and every time you put it on the player. I use it for that reason and for portability and convenience. Very difficult to play an LP in a car or a Walkman:-) No doubt, I can hear a lot of things in the music that has been digitized at 44.1k, and in fact I am sure that I hear some, if not all of the artifacts (such as anti-aliasing) that the most vocal critics of the digital media are voicing. All things in the real world require some compromise.

Perhaps eventually some clever engineer will come up with a crossed-laser, non-contact pickup head for reading the vinyl grooves without causing meltdown. Not an impossible task, given the state of the art, but to take advantage of this you will need records that have never been played even once with a conventional pickup.


I would look forward to v-rgin vinyl pressings from great master tapes with this type of format.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 524
Registered: Dec-03
Not to forget--I miss the covert art and liner notes on LP albums. Particularly since I've gotten older and find it next to impossible to read half the notes on cd enclosures. Plus--God save us from the crappy cheap and immently breakable polystyrene cd cases--UGGH. I must have invested a couple of hundred dollars in replacement cases over the years. The companies selling this stuff are so damn cost conscious they refuse to give us quality plastic for a few cents more that won't crack and break so easily.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1113
Registered: Dec-03
I agree, Gregory. Except the number of playings. With an eliptical stylus and 1.0 g. tracking weight, I have many LPs I have played dozens of times with no audible degradation, to me. If you can see wear under the microscope after just one playing, so what? The question is "can you hear it?"

Yes, a good LP sleeve, especially a gatefold, and maybe with some extra stuff inside (like the words/libretto) is a great thing, sadly missed. DVD-A jewel cases are a bit more robust than those of CDs, but you still need a magnifying glass.

What has "opened my ears" is DVD-A. I go back to even my best CDs, and they sound dull. Not so with LPs. Or at least, some. I still enjoy the music. I am slowly getting my "second division" LPs out of storage (meaning I somehow once thought there was a surface problem or something, and kept them away from my stylus).

I pulled out a very old one yesterday; played many times, long ago, on my first, cheapo system (ceramic cartridge; autochanger etc), then filed away as "contaminated", and never, since, played. EMI Concert Classics (a budget label in about 1974). Britten Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (1965 recording); Tippett Concerto for Double String Orchestra (1963 recording). Stunning sound, honestly, and no surface noise at all. Beats any CD I have ever owned of string orchestra. And I am sure I can subtract for nostalgia etc. (not that there is so much with those). I have 1990s CDs of both of those pieces, from other, premium labels/orchestras, and there is just something missing. Even the LP dynamic range was awesome.

When you consider how an LP is made, and played, and all the compromises (tracking angle; anti-skating; etc) that are only zero, even in theory, at one particular point on the radius of the disc, then it seems almost miraculous to me that you can hear anything at all.

BTW the problems I could see with tracking a vinyl groove optically are (1) it's all black; you would have to have something reflected or transmitted on which to focus and (2) the two stereo channels are at different 45º angles to the vertical tracking angle. A read-out-detector's-eye view would be quite a roller coaster ride.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1114
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

All your post make me think. There is a simple experiment. Get a 16 bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo, ADC; play an analogue source; save the files in .aiff format; burn your own audio CD; compare. I think I will try that sometime. I would start with the LP I mentioned above. More fun than recording audio cassettes, too (I once made so many of those wretched things for car journies).
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 525
Registered: Dec-03
John A--

I figure that if the powers that be can make a low powered retinal scan that can read the peculiarities of each persons retina, they most assuredly should be able to make a crossed-laser pick-up that can read the bumps and valleys of an LP.

Admittedly, at this point in technology and consumerism it is highly unlikely that the LP will make a comeback even if that laser pick-up is feasible. The market is too miniscule--and the prices too high. And the market just isn't going to go back to analog--we are digitized, for better or worse.

 

Silver Member
Username: Two_cents

Post Number: 184
Registered: Feb-04
Here's an interesting fact: Whatever the merits of vinyl, it is still outselling DVD-As and SACDs combined by about a 3:1 margin. Here is an article with the stat, admittedly dated:

http://hometheater.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.stereophile. com/shownews.cgi%3F1688
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1116
Registered: Dec-03
Gregory,

Retinal scans are image recognition, kick-started with military applications and investment. Also, they are static images; "just" photographs. For opto-LP, someone would have to invest in a reading device.

I agree it is not going to happen; analogue is not going to make a significant comeback. Maybe a small one. There are always the Luddites who like steam trains, vintage cars, etc. The same people would probably choose an eliptical diamond stylus, anyway.

Have you seen the Blue Pearl Audio JEM turntable? A snip at £49,000. http://www.bluepearlaudio.co.uk/

It is not the obvious route to in-car entertainment, I will admit. You would need a fair-sized truck, and it would need to be stationary.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 88
Registered: Dec-03
They already have a laser turntable.

http://www.smartdev.com/LT/laserturntable.html


http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/viewpoint/0404/aachapter55.htm
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1118
Registered: Dec-03
Ben,

Fantastic. That is exactly what we were discussing.

I was going to point out to Gregory that the stylus also cleans the groove, and a laser beam would not. So I see they also sell a cleaner, to track the groove mechnically, and scrape out the dirt.

I will read the details. Also the review. Does it work? Have you heard one?

$10,500. You could buy one of those instead of a Blue Pearl JEM and have plenty of change.

Thanks again. You score max points.
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 526
Registered: Dec-03
John A--

I think the stylus also grinds in the dirt at that amount of pounds per square inch. Any particle below the elliptical or spherical needle contact point is likely to be ground into the plastic groove.

Obviously retinal scans are static, which is why I had said it would need to be some sort of crossed-laser set-up--which it turns out it is. You need the crossed-lasers for the cross-groove info and to help with servo circuitry reading.

The price of the unit isn't likely to set more than a few fetishists to their audio salon. And I imagine the pleasure of "futzing" with the turntable, cartridge, needle, and cleaning devices is part of the ritual that analog heads love. It is like smokers that tell me when quitting that it isn't only the nicotine they miss--it is the relaxing ritual.

Ben--

Thanks for the article--I love the guys response at one point:---

" On the other hand, with classical music there is a certain rightness in the sound of my setup. More of a feeling of real music in a real hall, or maybe its just that I am so accustom to the sound of my system. I know it is probably mechanical distortions inherent in the groove-stylus-cantilever-cartridge interface, but its an enjoyable distortion much like SET tube amplifiers versus transistors. Don't get me wrong as the ELP, to my ears, sounds far better than any CD playback and better than most SACD and DVD-A recordings I have. I am just an old horn-tube analog Luddite who feels that that sound comes closer to what I have heard in concert halls over the years."
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 527
Registered: Dec-03
Two Cents--

I certainly am not suprised that LP's are currently outselling SACD's ad DVD-A's. There are less than 3,000 of the surround releases with little corporate backing.

I bet the hip-hop/raP disco record scratchers buy the majority of LP's worldwide. They have to be replaced all the time due to the scratching process on the vinyl.

I wouldn't hold my breath long before digital surround formats surpass their dinosaur LP cousins:-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 280
Registered: Dec-03
would you get those dam skipping/popping/noisy
turntables out of hear!

just play your favorite cd's through your dam
distortion pedal and be done with it ggeeeezzzz!!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1119
Registered: Dec-03
One thing I read there, relevant to this thread, is that there were about 100 different equalization standards, to compensate for all the different ways of cutting records, prior to RIAA (Record Industry of America Association) equalization, which became standard in 1954.

This puts the digital "format wars" into perspective!

I wonder, how was standardization obtained? Was there an "RIAA consortium", like the DVD-A consortium, which eventually prevailed over different individual recording companies which claimed their equalizations were better, but also wished to maintain a patent? If so, how? Who were the players, then? I can imagine different technologies from different R&D in different companies and countries.

Where is RIAA, now we need it?

To judge from Google, taking people to court for copying recorded music, not developing and implementing technical standards for sound reproduction.

Was the whole game so different, fifty years ago? If so, how?
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1120
Registered: Dec-03
Kegger,

You always imitate the true analogue sound from a 78 by listening to a CD while hissing loudly and clapping your hands a bit faster than once a second.... Try it. It is fairly convincing, to anyone standing by, who remembers.
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1121
Registered: Dec-03
The key thing I cannot find easily is what is the optical signal from the LT (analogue or digital?) and how does it get transduced to an electrical signal?
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 281
Registered: Dec-03
yu know i thought it was something simular.

thats why those darn records are still used.

i was trying to figure it out!
 

Gold Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 1124
Registered: Dec-03
sss..Thanks..sss..Kegger..sss..pop..sss..are..sss..welcome..sss...
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 560
Registered: Dec-03
i asked this question in the music catagory but i
figured i'd try hear also.


question for anyone who has listened to the pink
floyd (dsotm) sacd.

i find this recording to be flat/not very bright
or dynamic, just plain not very well recorded
compared to other dvd-a's or sacd's. the surround
effects are excelent but i don't find it very
"sparkly or shimmering" .

is it just me?

i know it's an old recording but i thought they
would spruce it up.

i would really appreciate seriuos feedback on this.
as i wonder if it's just my system,but everything
else sounds really good.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kegger

MICHIGAN

Post Number: 581
Registered: Dec-03
never mind it was just me.

i was a little tired last night and forgot/didn't
notice i was on 2 channel input with dtsneo6 on.
uuuhhhhhh yyyyaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!! that didn't work!


anyways dsotm sounds great/excelent, still not as
good as the beck dvd-a but then again that is an
extemely well recorded disk.
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