Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Which format is closest to the master: vinyl, CD, DVD-A, or SACD?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Which format is closest to the master: vinyl, CD, DVD-A, or SACD?

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
What do you think?

Supposed a well-recorded analog master tape with good bandwidth is used -- which of the following formats will come closest in sound: vinyl, redbook CD, DVD-audio or SACD? Provided that state-of-the-art equipment is used for cutting/pressing (vinyl) and A/D conversion as well as for the corresponding playback systems. I just hope that the formats themselves will outshine the sonic characteristics of the concerned electromechanic and electronic components. Has such a comparison ever been made?

Although I haven't heard DVD-A so far and never heard a real high-class turntable in my system (I don't think my Thorens TD 321/Linn Basik/Shure Ultra 500/Creek OBH-15 can count as such), my guess is that it will be something like the following scenario:

- Vinyl will sound most beautiful, organic and smooth of all formats -- but least similar to the original. Overall a bit too euphonic and warm and lacking the last bit of transparency and attack. The complicated recording/reproduction processes with incorporated electromechanical transduction have their price.
- Redbook CD will unmask itself as being coarser than the original, show a tendency towards smeared overtones and have a glassy timbre.
- DVD-audio (24 bit/192 kHz) and SACD will sound quite close to the master tape. Hard to predict which is more similar. If I had to bet, it would be SACD, while DVD-A will sound a tiny bit more sterile.

Of course that's just guessing. Other opinions and guessings are welcome.

post #2 of 64
Ok, here's what I guess:

Vinyl would sound most different from the original master tape (yet many would find the sound the most pleasing, of course).

Cd, SACD and DVD-A would sound practically identical and at least very similar to the master tape.

I have been thinking about getting a Pioneer DV-575 "universal" player. One of the first things I would do is to run the analog SACD output through the 44.1 kHz/16 bit conversion of my sound card and see if I can hear any difference.


Regards,

L.
post #3 of 64
Hi Marcel,
I think a good vinyl rig will come very close to the original. SACD too. That's a tough question cuz there are a different criteria to judge by. I'll continue to buy vinyl, SACD and redbook (probably in that order) and continue to ignore DVD-A cuz I just don't need another format at this point!
I've been doing some A/B between identical titles w/ my vinyl and SACD/redbook player and (after gain adjustment) they both sound very good but different. The CDs seem to have an edge in the highs but can also sound harsh in complicated passages. Some of my vinyl sounds much worse I'm sorry to say.
Other tiitles sound better on vinyl. As to which sounds more like the master tape... Who knows? I don't have any!
CPW
post #4 of 64
vinyl is closest because it is never converted to digital.

I think changing a soundwave from a physical medium to 0's and 1's is a pretty big change.
post #5 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimSchirmer
vinyl is closest because it is never converted to digital.

I think changing a soundwave from a physical medium to 0's and 1's is a pretty big change.
I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but our whole genetic code is being reduced down to numbers and discrete bits of data. I used to think that way but I now would never doubt the reality of digital overtaking analog in quality, it's just that current dac technology may not be the vehicle. Still, the whole universe is essentially measurable (and certainly vibrating), but I'm getting off-topic and theoretical and over my head which I don't think it what the thread is about so I'l stop.
post #6 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpw
As to which sounds more like the master tape... Who knows? I don't have any!
Hi Lewis

I can imagine other people are in a similar situation.


Quote:
Originally Posted by TimSchirmer
vinyl is closest because it is never converted to digital.

I think changing a soundwave from a physical medium to 0's and 1's is a pretty big change.
Interesting perspective and not completely implausible. Although not too likely: A fine enough data grid must allow a curve indistinguishable from the original analog signal. Comparable to a scanned picture.



Quote:
Originally Posted by stryker
I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but our whole genetic code is being reduced down to numbers and discrete bits of data. I used to think that way but I now would never doubt the reality of digital overtaking analog in quality, it's just that current dac technology may not be the vehicle. Still, the whole universe is essentially measurable (and certainly vibrating), but I'm getting off-topic and theoretical and over my head which I don't think it what the thread is about so I'l stop.
I like this kind of off-topic excursions...


post #7 of 64
vinyl.
Analogue sounds like analogue.

I've not heard a mastertape but I've read accounts, as the high-rez digital formats make these comparisons topical. The general agreement is that vinyl within a top system comes very close to the master.
What about reel to reel tape?
post #8 of 64
I would think a top-notch vinyl pressing, played back on a optimized vinyl playback system, will come closest to the master tape.

I would think a reel-to-reel deck, when set up correctly, will also come close to the master tape.

Then that would be followed by SACD/DVD-A.

But happens when the recording is done digitally? Or direct to DSD?
post #9 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by stryker
I'm not necessarily disagreeing, but our whole genetic code is being reduced down to numbers and discrete bits of data. I used to think that way but I now would never doubt the reality of digital overtaking analog in quality, it's just that current dac technology may not be the vehicle. Still, the whole universe is essentially measurable (and certainly vibrating), but I'm getting off-topic and theoretical and over my head which I don't think it what the thread is about so I'l stop.
I agree. Digital has the potential, it's just not terribly good right now. Not even sacd and dvd-a are what I would consider truly high-res formats. Something like 128-bit 1000khz would be a real alternative to analog; it just takes a high capacity medium. We are lucky to live in an era where high capacity digital mediums are rapidly evolving
post #10 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundboy
But [what] happens when the recording is done digitally? Or direct to DSD?
The recording is supposed to be purely digital and DSD in the case of SACD (that's implied in the term state-of-the-art). I've chosen the analog tape as source program to have a relatively «neutral» sound characteristic without digital artifacts as reference. BTW, it wouldn't have made sense to choose an orchestra as reference, hence the analog tape.

Note: this thread is not about good or bad sound, but about the deviations from the original caused by the different formats.

post #11 of 64
Vinyl always must go through a mastering stage where the master tape has curves and filters applied to it so the needle will stay in the groove, and the pressing will unencode as close to flat as possible. On top of that, considerations were made in the actual lathe process to accomodate longer sides.

A digital reproduction (cd/sacd/dvd-a) has its own problems, but it is at least a faithful reproduction of the final master tape without any external compromises. When engineers and producers heard the first production cds early in the life cycle, there was a general consensus that the cd was essentailly a perfect reproduction of the master.

Today, reproduction is even better, and almost all final mastering is done to digital sources to avoid dbx and other tape artifacts, even in an analog environment.
post #12 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geise
Something like 128-bit 1000khz would be a real alternative to analog
Wow, frequency range up to 500 kHz and 768 dB dynamic range! Didn't know analog is that good.


Regards,

L.
post #13 of 64
BTW, anyone know of the average recording specs of a typical digital recording? (bits, frequency, ect) I'd imagine it would have to be re(sampled?) to a lower quality to be played back by a cd player, right?
post #14 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geise
BTW, anyone know of the average recording specs of a typical digital recording? (bits, frequency, ect) I'd imagine it would have to be re(sampled?) to a lower quality to be played back by a cd player, right?
I think 96 kHz 24 bit is quite common. But - AFAIK - the bit depth is rather theoretical: in practice the converter chips do not offer true 24 bit resolution (and even if they did the rest of the recording / reproduction chain would act as a bottleneck). And yes, the high-rez recordings must be downsampled (and dithered) for cd.


Regards,

L.
post #15 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geise
BTW, anyone know of the average recording specs of a typical digital recording? (bits, frequency, ect) I'd imagine it would have to be re(sampled?) to a lower quality to be played back by a cd player, right?

most of the newer classical recordings happen in a 24 bit format from where it is remastered for different mediums.

On the side I will say that a properly setup digital system can be absolutely awesome in its presentation.

Vinyl is to CD as tubes are to Solid state.
Both have there strong points and both have their merits.
It is upto you to decide which one suits the taste better on the listener's behalf.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › Which format is closest to the master: vinyl, CD, DVD-A, or SACD?