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From CD to SACD how much of difference - Page 2

post #16 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
I don't know, guys... to me, there is an obvious difference.
Many CDs sound different than the CD. But that doesn't mean that the format sounds different. The differences are due to remixing and remastering for SACD release. Instead of comparing a legacy analogue title, where mastering can make a huge difference, try a high bitrate digital recording and compare the redbook layer to the SACD layer. You'll need to rip the CD layer and level match it in a separate player. SACD players don't A/B very well.

See ya
Steve
post #17 of 161
First of all, I hear a difference. And to me that difference is significant enough to want an SACD player (actually a universal player) for my home headphone setup, and purchase SACD's (and DVD-A's) whenever possible. Call me crazy. Obviously, there are variables potentially in play that can affect the sound positively or negatively that have nothing to do with the format. But all else being equal, hi-rez wins, ime.

Secondly, I know that on my Denon 3910, the factory default setting for "Source Direct" is set to "OFF". This converts DSD (SACD) signals to PCM (Redbook), which results in inferior sound quality output.

"Source Direct" should be set to "ON" for the best hi-rez sound quality. It's a tricky setting to find, and requires a monitor to view the on-screen menus. There is a substantial difference in the the sound, again imo.

I only mention this because you have a Denon also, and it might be the same for yours as well.

For you Yamaha universal player owners, they've been known to have inferior SACD playback for some reason. Their DVD-Audio is better.
post #18 of 161
None. The reason many SACDs sound better is because the mastering quality is better, not because the format is better (which on a technical level, it is).
post #19 of 161
Hi,

There is a significant difference in quality between 2 channel SACD playback and CD playback, all other things being equal. The advantage of the extra bit depth is noticeable at all listening volumes apart from very low background listening volumes. 24 bits comes closer to reproducing accurate acoustic instrumental timbres on "difficult" instruments such as string and woodwinds. That, combined with the fact that no brickwall filtering is going on at the periphery of the audible spectrum also makes the high end sound smoother, more open and more realistic. I think though that the differences are quite difficult to detect with amplified / electronic music, but pretty obvious with traditional acoustic instruments.

Often the differences between a SACD and the CD layer can be even more stark because of non-integer downsampling. With SACD 2 channel at 24-96 and CD at 16-44, just the downsampling is going to make the CD layer sound even worse again.

I've got a number of high resolution recordings and their 16-44 equivalents and the differences between the two versions are extremely obvious. And they were all mastered precisely the same way, bar the final resampling for CD. I also have a couple of recordings where the live signal was split during the actual recording to both 24-96 and 16-44 in order to avoid the non-integer downsampling process. Again, the differences are very obvious. Acoustic instruments in the 16-44 layer sound synthetic and nothing whatsoever like their real life counterparts. If there really wasn't any difference between CD and SACD quality, then they would sound the same. But they don't sound anything like each other. And to me, that is the acid test - run exactly the same feed from the mixer to state of the art 16-44 and 24-96 AD converters simultaneously. The 24-96 versions goes significantly further they way there, but still isn't anywhere near the quality of a decent analogue source.

All that said, none of them really sound much good anyway. It's just a matter of varying degrees of inaccuracy.
post #20 of 161
ADD, SACD's DSD process runs at 1-bit/2.8224 MHz, not 24-bit/96 kHz (which is a typical DVD-Audio rate), not that it necessarily changes anything else you said. The high-res formats go in different directions to solve the same problem (bit-depth versus sampling rate).

There are multiple ways to decode a SACD stream, and though straight-ahead DSD decoding is the most talked-about method, it's not necessarily the best. For example, some players with built-in DSD decoders use the simple analog filter stage initially specified by Sony, but it was found that they greatly misrepresented the high frequencies and added significant noise in the audible range. In this case, converting to high-res PCM and sending the information to a quality DAC resulted in far superior signal quality compared to the DSD-only method. Believe it or not, this is actually the method that Sony used in their flagship receiver, the STR-DA9000ES:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
How can we play back SACD correctly? We can agree to well-known Russian engineer Dmitry Andronnikov, who expressed the idea to convert the DSD-signal to PCM and then reproduce this signal via multibit DAC...Dmitry's hypothesis is supported by the fact that in the new digital top receiver Sony STR-DA9000ES the entire signal processing is done in the PCM format, the DSD circuits after the DSD->PCM conversion are not used, and the corresponding chip pins are grounded (DSD to PCM conversion is up to SM5819A, which is re-bandged by Sony as CXD9742).

Yellow: DSD decoder + Burr-Brown PCM1738
Blue: DSD to PCM converter + Burr-Brown PCM1704

Check out the article, "SACD vs. DVD-Audio: High Definition Formats Evaluation." It's pretty interesting.
post #21 of 161

I Disagree

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
There's no difference in audible sound quality between CD and SACD for two channel playback. However there are huge differences in the mixing and mastering of SACDs as opposed to the redbook equivalent. Multi-channel sound is also a big difference.

For 5:1, go SACD. For 2 channel, don't bother.

See ya
Steve
I have two (what would be considered lower end) Pioneer universal players.(563a 578a)
I have a decent Yamaha dedicated CD player. I don't know how anyone can say they can't hear the difference between the SACD layer and the CD layer of a Hybrid disc. To me it is like two different recordings. It is true that some of the newer DSD mastered CDs are more comparable to the SACDs, but even given that, I find SACD far more pleasurable to listen to. Detail, lack of sibilance, space between instruments and definition are all benefits of SACD. Perhaps if I had a better CD player it would bring out more from my CDs but I can't afford a dedicated $1000 CD player. I have recently purchased the Dylan SACD set that was put out in 2003 as well as the Moody Blues 7 SACD set put out in 2006 and I gotta say I haven't regretted it for a second. The nuances in the vocals, the extension in the frequency range, (don't get me started!)
I love SACD and I NEVER listen to compressed music. MP3s (and many people's indifference to the higher end recording processes) have nearly killed the availability of decent recordings (other than vinyl). In Europe SACDs are a thriving industry. The North American "Mcmusic" attitude has ended up short changing a wonderful technology. How can 5 times the information not be heard if one sits back and truly listens with attention and decent gear?
post #22 of 161
There is an article in the September 2007 issue of the Audio Engineering Society's journal that found similar conclusions to yours:

Quote:
Audibility of a CD-Standard A/D/A Loop Inserted into High-Resolution Audio Playback
E. Brad Meyer and David R. Moran
Conventional wisdom asserts that the wider bandwidth and dynamic range of SACD and DVD-A make them of audibly higher quality than the CD format. A carefully controlled double-blind test with many experienced listeners showed no ability to hear any differences between formats. High-resolution audio discs were still judged to be of superior quality because sound engineers have more freedom to make them that way. There is no evidence that perceived quality has anything to do with additional resolution or bandwidth.
Remember, audiophile audio is the realm of voodoo and snake oil where people will sell you $2000 "audiophile" power cords and claim they improve the sound, and where there will be a vocal group of users who defend these crooks rather than run to find tar and feathers.
post #23 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitesymphony View Post
There are multiple ways to decode a SACD stream, and though straight-ahead DSD decoding is the most talked-about method, it's not necessarily the best. For example, some players with built-in DSD decoders use the simple analog filter stage initially specified by Sony, but it was found that they greatly misrepresented the high frequencies and added significant noise in the audible range. In this case, converting to high-res PCM and sending the information to a quality DAC resulted in far superior signal quality compared to the DSD-only method. Believe it or not, this is actually the method that Sony used in their flagship receiver, the STR-DA9000ES:
And they also used that method on the PS3.

I also notice a big difference in some SACDs, but not in all as it has been said. For instance, in the YoYo ma plays Enio Morricone SACD, I do notice a huge difference in detail, depth and realism of the cello. This also happens on the "Concierto de Aranjuez" by The Romeros recording.

I am using a PS3 via HDMI to a Yamaha RX-V1700 connected to Paradigm Studio 60 v 2 and to B&W 600 series. One interesting thing though is that if I play the same SACDs on my Oppo, they don't sound close to the PS3. As far as I know, Sony invested a lot of development from the team to SACD playback on their game machine, and it really improved from December.

So as other posters have mentioned, I believe that the type of music and the recording itself are the main factors involved.
post #24 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitesymphony View Post
ADD, SACD's DSD process runs at 1-bit/2.8224 MHz, not 24-bit/96 kHz
Yes, of course this is true but I was referring to the manner in which the recordings are mastered. I can't speak for popular music and all my comments I have qualified as applying only to classical acoustic recordings. In those cases most are still recorded at the original sessions in PCM 24-96 and then transferred to DSD format for final SACD mastering. I believe this is the case for quite a few releases in other genres too, meaning that SACD is 24-96 "at best", since DSD can't put anything in that wasn't there to begin with.

I do know Telarc do infact use DSD for the whole recording chain but other labels such as Hyperion and Linn, upon where I draw my experience, generally use 24-96 PCM masters. I just can't really offer a meaningful opinion on the pure DSD Telarcs, as Telarc have dramatically changed the way in which they mic recordings since the very early days of three mics and I feel this has influenced their sound far more than the technology itself.

I would have thought that DSD would be even more transparent natively than high resolution PCM, thereby making the difference between a "pure" DSD SACD disk and a 16-44 counterpart even more marked. I do know that the Telarc SACD releases, for example, replicate the timbre of acoustic instruments rather well, but it becomes harder to judge these pure DSD releases on account of the aforementioned dramatic differences in mic setup since the "old" 50 khz PCM days.

As I say, I can't speak for popular music. I haven't the faintest clue, but I reckon I'd be extremely hard pressed to tell the difference between a CD and SACD if they were mastered in an identical way. It's just an entirely different matter with classical music, and the whole recording process from session to retail packaged disk is usually very different as well.
post #25 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by majid View Post
There is an article in the September 2007 issue of the Audio Engineering Society's journal that found similar conclusions to yours
I do have to wonder about these tests. Not the conclusions, nor the fairness, nor the methodology. But I do wonder about the participants. Many will say they include professional recording engineers and golden eared audiophiles. My response to that would be "so what?".

From understanding, the question isn't whether most people can't tell the difference. They question is whether humans have the capability of detecting any audible difference at all. So it would only take two humans to prove the point, assuming they do not possess any alien DNA
post #26 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by ADD View Post
I do know Telarc do infact use DSD for the whole recording chain but other labels such as Hyperion and Linn, upon where I draw my experience, generally use 24-96 PCM masters.
It seems sort of strange to make a SACD from PCM data, since that destroys Sony's entire methodology (even though they went on to do that themselves in the decoding step)... But I guess it's another reason to back DVD-Audio, since one could have access to the unmolested PCM data.

In my mind, one of the reasons to get a SACD was to have a closer approximation of recordings made to analog tape (hence its comparison to the vinyl format in reviews and press material), where the information was never recorded in PCM. There are countless recordings from the past on analog tape, both classical and popular, and even some current popular ones (ex. Beck's Sea Change). So, I understand the SACD format's reason for existence, at least until they started converting to PCM.

Some people argued that the noisy nature of the pure DSD conversion accounted for the SACD format's initial regard as a "warmer" or "more musical" format than DVD-Audio. Now that SACDs are being decoded as well as they'll likely ever be, it may be a good time to return to vinyl to get your true near-unlimited-sampling-rate fix.
post #27 of 161
I went to vinyl not only because it sounds much better to me than DVD-A and SACD, but also because there is much more variety than in the digital formats. I actually feel, however, that I would have been reasonably content with listening to Telarc SACDs on a good quality system, but it wouldn't make for much of a collection in terms of diversity.

I wish more companies did do pure DSD processing. I've compared quite a few Linn and Hyperion high resolution recordings to their standard resolution counterparts. I've concluded that in the case of Linn, PCM sourced SACD won't do much at all to save a bad recording except to smooth out the top end just a tiny fraction and add a touch of air and energy to the high frequency extremes, however in the case of Hyperion, they just happen to pick very good recordings for SACD to begin with (which end up being a pretty small fraction of their total output). So the Hyperion SACDs always sound very good indeed.

Somehow I feel that SACD is a bit of an orphan though. I just somehow feel that one has to compromise in terms of collecting what they might truly want, because this, that or the other isn't available on anything other than redbook.

Although I had convinced myself of the worthiness of exceptionally well mastered SACDS such as Hyperions and Telarcs, whether they be PCM sourced or DSD "pure", the concern that my collection would have been largely based on sonic grounds instead of musical ones did nothing to add to the appeal of the format.

And maybe I am in the minority, but I am totally lost on the point of multichannel, unless you have the cash and - more importantly - the sheer living space and know-how to make it happen the way it was really intended to happen. How many people can co-exist with a highly optimised multichannel setup in a domestic living environment? I think most people who do have the fortune to devote whole rooms to multichannel setups these days are more interested in the home theatre concept than they are pure audiophile pursuits. But even so, the vast majoirty of multichannel setups I have come across are apalling. They would barely do CD any favours, let alone SACD. Personally I'd much rather spend the money getting a much better two channel setup.
post #28 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellenback View Post
It is true that some of the newer DSD mastered CDs are more comparable to the SACDs
The quality of the mastering makes the difference.

See ya
Steve
post #29 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by ADD View Post
How many people can co-exist with a highly optimised multichannel setup in a domestic living environment?
It really isn't a matter of space, because 2 channel requires a similar setup for the listening room. The problem is in balance. Just like 2 channel audio, the engineering of 5:1 is all over the map. Trying to maintain the proper meshing of speakers and the balance of back to front requires constant adjustment. When it works, it works great.

See ya
Steve
post #30 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by majid View Post
There is an article in the September 2007 issue of the Audio Engineering Society's journal that found similar conclusions to yours:
Wow, this is shocking... a society of engineers pats themselves on the back and says that only engineers can make SACDs sound good. This is about as genuine as the guy who tells you that only he can clean your carpet correctly, which is why you have to pay him $300 when you can go buy your own cleaner for $150.

Quote:
Remember, audiophile audio is the realm of voodoo and snake oil where people will sell you $2000 "audiophile" power cords and claim they improve the sound, and where there will be a vocal group of users who defend these crooks rather than run to find tar and feathers.
Ooh, that's an original argument that I've never heard before. Thanks for adding something fresh to the conversation.

Remember, only low-fi stereo owners are intelligent, that's why they clean carpets for a living.
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