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DVD-A and SACD may not be audibly distinguishable from 16/44.1 - Page 4

post #46 of 66
I think it's well established at this point bigshot that you can't hear differences between mp3s and cds, so I'd be pretty shocked if you COULD hear differences between SACDs and cds. Especially on a decidedly lofi player.
post #47 of 66
First of all, the difference between MP3s and CD depends on the encoding used. While I could certainly tell the difference at 64, I doubt I could hear the difference at 320 LAME. I doubt you could either if you decided to put your ability to hear to a fair test. Secondly, the Phillips 963sa is not a "lofi player". It's a well reviewed player, both for redbook and SACD. Look it up.

Do you have anything of value to add to this discussion? Because if this is all you've got, I'm going to cheerfully ignore you as someone who "talks without knowing of what they speak".

See ya
post #48 of 66
Thread Starter 
An update on the experiment, more details.

post #49 of 66
Originally Posted by sejarzo View Post
Interesting comments, ADD.

I'm not a musician nor a recordist, but friends who are both seem to be of one opinion--that going from 16 to 24 bit depth at 44.1k is a far more obvious improvement than increasing the sample rate on 24 bit up to 88.2/96k.

Only problem is that the recordings of which they speak exist only as their ProTools projects, not on CD or DVD-A!
I would largely agree with what they are saying, however in my own experience the sweet spot seems to be 24-48 or better. I think perhaps some of the reason why I can hear improvements with 24 bit is that all the music I listen to is classical - it often contains a lot of extremely quiet passages and with 24 bit they seem to my ears to be better defined (as in more accurate to real life), clearer and warmer sounding. I tried some blind listening tests with popular music and quite honestly with popular I can't tell the difference between bit rates whatsoever.

Even with classical music, if it were not for the fact that the most subtle nuances of violin sound are burned into my sound memory (as a violinist for 30 years), or the fact that there are very quiet passages (and I listen at realistic volumes), I'm sure I could not tell the differences at all between CD and high res.

Not to go off on too much of a tangent though, it will always remain a mystery to me as to why acoustic violins almost universally sound more accurate to me on vinyl than any digital format regardless of resolution.
post #50 of 66
Originally Posted by ADD View Post
it will always remain a mystery to me as to why acoustic violins almost universally sound more accurate to me on vinyl than any digital format regardless of resolution.
I have a theory on that...

Last week, I took a trip to Bakersfield, CA to visit Buck Owens' Crystal Palace theater. I saw Ray Price perform. Even though, I've been a huge fan of classic country music for many years, I had never heard a Western Swing band live before. When the band started playing, I was struck at how smooth and full the violins sounded compared to my recordings. At first, I thought it was just unidiomatic playing, but the soloist was very good. I cupped my hands around my ears, and the sound of the violins sharpened up to the crisp, sharp sound I was used to. When I listened without my hands around my ears, the violin tone softened up and filled out again.

The acoustics at the Crystal Palace are phenominal. I suspect that the kickback from the room was a big part of how the violin section sounded. It didn't make much of a difference to the other instruments. I think this is an area where, depending on the sort of room you have your speakers in, accuracy may not be what you're looking for. Close miking and sharp resolution may be making the sound less real, rather than more real sounding.

See ya
post #51 of 66
Interesting comments again, re violins.......

I traded PM's about a year ago with a fellow who was looking for a headamp/can combination that would provide a very "immediate" violin sound. Turned out that he was an accomplished violinist, but until I mentioned it, he'd never considered that the mic perspective on a given recording might not be from that "immediate viewpoint", but rather from further out. And thus, a playback chain that rendered all recorded violin as if it were from that "player's perspective" would almost certainly sound rather edgy on most other material!

Recordings are more like paintings than they are digital photographs, I like to say. The real performance wasn't just a fixed phenomenon, but was potentially very different to each listener in the space. So trying to make that "painting" sound just like your personal experience is often an exercise in futility.

I do agree that solo violin is often unrealistically edgy on CD, with massed strings tending to be better, if done well.

Frankly, though, if not for CD's, I think I would have given up on classical listening. As bigshot has noted in another thread, the quality of LP's when I got into this insane hobby in the mid-late'70's basically hit the low point. The noise level on some (DG and Phillips included) was just way too high to tolerate in the quieter passages. At least CD's fixed that!
post #52 of 66
Remember those Canadian DGG records?! Whoo boy they sounded rough.

See ya
post #53 of 66
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
Close miking and sharp resolution may be making the sound less real, rather than more real sounding
I agree. To make a more detailed comment on violin sound, I have always despised recordings by both Jascha Heifetz and particularly Itzhak Perlman. The reason is that the violin sound is just far too close (sounds more like the "under the ear sound" I had as a player - only even more so - like the sound is being forceably drilled right into my head). On the other hand, in live performances they have always been wonderful players and have sounded very natural in the concert hall. Even Perlman himself has stated that Heifetz sounded much better from the listener's perspective in the concert hall than he did in any of his recordings regardless of the quality of reproduction equipment used. But it's funny that he (Perlman) should talk, because he is by far a much worse offender than Heifetz ever was in my opinion. If you want the ultimate in Perlman sin, you just need to listen to a two CD set he put out of classic movie themes. It's a wonderful way to enjoy the abrasively un-natural sound from a violin "f" hole 2 inches away from your ear canal with the rest of the orchestra ten miles from your head.

Perhaps Heifetz had a reasonable excuse - back in the 1950s and 60s, hifi equipment really flourished with that sort of forward balancing recording technique - and the resultant balance actually seemed a bit more natural with the reproduction characteristics of those old speakers, valve amps, etc. But Perlman does not have such an excuse - but interestingly his earlier recordings up until the dawn of the digital age don't suffer these problems to anywhere near such an extent. He made an analogue recording of the Berg Concerto for DG some time back in the 1970s and his tone was actually very faithfully rendered on the original LP and even the CD reissue - even though it was still too forward in the mix. Everything seemed to go downhill sonically after that in terms of the fidelity of his recordings, even though his actual playing didn't.

But I actually feel there is a third factor as to why many older analogue recordings of violins sound "better". I think it has to do with strong choice. Back in the day the main choices of string for orchestral musicians and soloists were Pirastro Eudoxa or Olive, plus there were American strings by Kaplan. To my ears, these strings have always presented a sound more akin to my traditional expectation of violin sound. You got more overtones with these older wound gut strings, they were warmer, the response and attack charateristics were different and they required a more subtle bow technique. And the more subtle bow technique also had it's own influence on the sound.

In all those old Mercury, Decca and RCA recordings from the 50s and 60s, it's not modern synthetic strings you are hearing - it's most likely wound gut - or in Heifetz's case it was a metal "E", plain gut "A" and "D" and a wound gut "G". This string choice also helped shape in a small way Heifet'z unique sound, as did the metal "A" that Oistrakh was famous for.

The most accurate recording I possess as regards violin sound is actually a modern redbook recording of young Ann Fontanella playing some solo pieces. One can quite obviously tell the equipment used was nothing special (there is even some power supply hum!). But perhaps the simplicity of the recording process, together with the fact that she uses plain gut strings on the lower three strings helps account for this natural sound. Of course, she is a superb player too and I find her "old school" sound very endearing.
post #54 of 66
Originally Posted by sejarzo View Post
The noise level on some (DG and Phillips included) was just way too high to tolerate in the quieter passages. At least CD's fixed that!
Yeh...I'm in the early stages of experimenting with vinyl again - not so much on sonic grounds (though that is some of the reason) but because there has been a explosion of interest in classical vinyl. I can get far more of what I want on new vinyl now than I can on any currently available digital format. I'm really looking forward to comparing some new "audiophile" LPs I have on order and comparing them to my redbook CDs. I am not looking forward to the surface noise and rumble, though clicks and pops won't worry me in the slightest

I half expect to be disappointed though and may thus end up settling for a good quality CD player and just being extremely selective about the redbook titles I buy. I've certainly seen no evidence at all thus far that SACD or DVD-A / DVD-V would be more enjoyable in the real world - the small improvements I can hear are far less subtle than the improvements brought about by a really good recording and mastering process. And that's a view which I know at least one very well known classical recording engineer shares. Infact that same engineer has stated outright that a microphone 6 inches out of place will have more impact on the quality of a recording than the ultimate high resolution gear versus the humble 16-48 DAT recorder. I guess that helps explain why to my ears those high resolution Linn classical recordings just don't sound particularly life-like (they are far too aggressive from the upper midrange upwards). But something like Hyperion's Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto on SACD sounds absolutely stunning...it depends on who controls the whole process.
post #55 of 66
Classical LPs are dirt cheap. It's a buyer's market if you are willing to go vinyl. Choose pressings from the early 70s and earlier, and you can find some great sounding stuff.

See ya
post #56 of 66
What a fascinating thread! I will also agree that microphone placement has a big impact on the sound.

I was doing some critical listening to "Defying Gravity" from the 'Wicked' cast album. What I initially thought were problems with my headphones/lack of amp turned out to be the fact that Elphaba is practically right on top of her microphone.

Also, I am a cellist and when I played with the Michigan State University orchestra, we made a recording of an Ellen Taafe Zwilich horn concerto; the recording sounds nothing like what I remember from the recording sessions, primarily because the horn is mic'ed so close and up front that it is not a sound anyone even in the first row of the hall would have heard. I can understand from the perspective that in a horn concerto, you want to hear the horn over the orchestra. This is especially true of something like a cello concerto. However, there are times when even someone like Yo-Yo Ma can be covered by the orchestra. But you probably won't get that experience from a recording of said concerto because Yo-Yo will have his own mic.

It seems like the days of single-microphone Mecury Living Presence recordings are gone.
post #57 of 66
Not every engineer records with close mics. Chesky generally records with stereo pairs of microphones, for example.
post #58 of 66
You can still get in a bit too close even with just two microphones and the effect is often worsened by a deliberate peak built into the frequency response of modern microphones. You might not close mic much of the orhcestra with two mics only, but you are still going to give the violins an inaccurate and edgy sound.

I've got a relatively recent TACET recording of Beethoven's 7th and 8th Symphonies. It was made in 2004 and they employed only two Neumann M49 microphones. Even still, I felt this recording was bit too forward sounding and the violin section doesn't sound like a violin section does in real life.

So I think there is often something else at play with recordings - the hall acoustics are nothing like they would be when the hall is packed with an audience. If you have a basically empty hall, then even with some acoustic treatment it is going to produce a harsher sounding recording than what you would hear as an audience member when the hall was full. It seems to me that the only modern digital recordings that don't suffer excessively from this "empty harsh hall" syndrome are the Telarcs.

It's interesting to note that TACET also made this very same recording with an analogue tape recorder onto LP as well. I might buy the LP at some stage and see if the edgy string sound is still there or not.
post #59 of 66
Case in point:

I won't try to make any objective claims here, but speaking from experience....one of my favorite albums of all time is the incredibly densely-layered Remain in Light by Talking Heads. I have this album on vinyl, CD, and the remastered CD/DVD DualDisc. IMO the DVD DualDisc bests the older CD and the CD flip side, and I don't believe it is primarily a function of mastering, in that its improvement is most evident in the authenticity of the instruments. More liquidity and touch-sensitivity. Less seams. It is by no means a night-and-day difference, but I'd take the blind taste test any day, at least on material I'm familiar with.

The vinyl is still my favorite by a long shot, even though my digital setup is of higher caliber than my very humble turntable rig. This is an endless source of frustration for me. The record industry has a niche with the truly hifi devoted, but they drop the ball each and every time. In blind devotion to the black backdrop, they sacrifice reality. That is, when remastering analog material to digital, then impose noise-reduction to eliminate all tape hiss and clamp down on instruments for maximum separation and "wow" factor, but in doing so kill the presence, the breathe, the naturalness of the live recording. What was, in analog, organic and present becomes, in digital, antiseptic and detached.

If "they" would revise this practice for DVD/SACD releases, I'd throw all my CDs, and maybe vinyl, on craigslist.

Who's with me? No one? Thought so.
post #60 of 66
Hmm .. Lets see CD was introduced in approx. 1982 and SACD and DVD-A in 2000. Why would we think that if it took 20+ years for the mastering engineers and hardware manufacturers to give us discs and players that can extract the full measure of what is possible from a CD, that it would only take them seven years to do it with SACD and DVD-A?
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