SACD purchasing question
Jul 23, 2002 at 7:49 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

Mic

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I'm looking to buy some SACDs. What I want to know is that I'll be getting a higher fidelity sound than Redbook by buying software in SACD. So, obviously, for titles that record explicitly in DSD, they will be better than Redbook. What about "remastered" or titles that you know are more than a few years old? What exactly is involved in the "remastering" process anyway and how does that change the quality? Or, does it merely transfer the same recording, albeit at a lower fidelity, to a hi-fi format such as SACD? How will the sound on SACD compare to Redbook? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.
 
Jul 23, 2002 at 10:29 PM Post #2 of 13

markl

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Hi Mic,

"What I want to know is that I'll be getting a higher fidelity sound than Redbook by buying software in SACD."

Of course, you need a new player in order to play back an SACD. A single layer SACD will not play on a Redbook-only CDP (you probably already know this, but it wasn't clear from your question)

There are now dual-layer SACDs that have both a Redbook and an SACD version of the music on the disc. You CAN play a dual layer SACD on a Redbook only player, but you're listening to the Redbook version, not the SACD. However, there is a good chance that the new Redbook version encoded on the dual layer SACD will sound better than an old 80's or early 90's version of the same album as it will have been re-mastered in 2000+ with today's superior technology.

"So, obviously, for titles that record explicitly in DSD, they will be better than Redbook. "

Anything actually recorded in native DSD and played back on an SACDP will represent the best fidelity available on planet earth today (of course, the recording itself has to be good, but, "duh"!)

"What about "remastered" or titles that you know are more than a few years old? What exactly is involved in the "remastering" process anyway and how does that change the quality?

In the years since CD was first introduced, the equipment that transfers the analog master tape to digital format have improved dramatically. That's why newly remastered CDs (say '98 to present) sound so much better.

"Or, does it merely transfer the same recording, albeit at a lower fidelity, to a hi-fi format such as SACD? "

An analog tape transferred to SACD and played back on an SACDP will sound superior to the same analog recording transfererd to a Redbook CD and played back on a CDP.

"How will the sound on SACD compare to Redbook?"

Again, the SACD version of any recording, even if it's an old analog jazz tape made in the 50's (Miles, Billy Holiday, etc.) will sound better the Redbook version. SACD has higher resolution and contains more informantion than a CD.

Good questions!

markl
 
Jul 23, 2002 at 10:42 PM Post #3 of 13

markl

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One more thing--

There are some recordings that are so bad, there's no way for SACD to make any appreciable difference. You can't "add back" information that was never recorded in the first place.

So, for example, if they release early Lois Armstrong stuff from the 20's on SACD, don't expect it to sound any better than the CD vesrion! Well, maybe the pops, clicks, skips and hiss will be even clearer
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.

markl
 
Jul 24, 2002 at 1:25 AM Post #4 of 13

Mic

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Thanks Mark, my fellow SACD afficionado. I do actually have an SACD player, if you'd take a look at my profile
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. Let me put things another way. Say if an album was released in the 80s on Redbook, will I be able to discern a difference between that CD and say the remastered Redbook? Will the SACD layer sound the same as the remastered Redbook? I guess it all where the bottleneck on fidelity typically lies, on whatever media they keep the "ultimate" master on, the "master", or the consumer discs. Assuming that the media of the original is good enough, then I presume that I will hear a better "remastered" master and thus the consumer discs. But, is that really true?

It's kind of like saying that making a CD out of your old cassette won't sound any better than your old cassette. I'm just wondering whether this is the case for many of the "old" but SACD titles available today, i.e. those not recorded in DSD.
 
Jul 24, 2002 at 4:02 AM Post #5 of 13

CaptBubba

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Well, it depends. On some cds you will see a little box with a combination of three "A"s or "D"s in it, for Analog or Digital. This will tell you how the album was produced. The first letter tells how it was recorded (either on analog tape or DAT), the second tells how it was mixed, the last tells how it is distributed (all cds have a D in the last posistion).

If it is an earlier digital recording, it may have only been recorded at 16/44.4. This means that there is no data in the master that couldn't be put on a cd, so a SACD should in theory not be able to sound any better, but more care may be put into the remastering process to make the SACD sound better, but a remastered cd should be able to sound the same, unless some processing was done to the music to try and replace the missing samples. If the first letter is an A, then a SACD should sound better than a CD because more data can be extracted from the analog master.

I don't know exactly when DATs moved to a higher sample size/rate, or even if they have yet.

I don't think that awnsered your question, but it may be usefull. It also may be wrong, but I'm reasonably sure it isn't.
 
Jul 25, 2002 at 1:15 AM Post #6 of 13

GregR

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I sent Markl a PM, let him know that I just picked up Boston on SACD single layer. Let me tell you that for sure I can tell the difference between the redbook copy and the SACD version.
I have not heard a 2000+ recording on SACD, so I can't say.
We will have to wait to see if someone (artist) is willing to sell in dual layer.....how about that, those with redbook players can still play SACD dual layer...and we have our cake and eat it too.
 
Jul 25, 2002 at 4:12 PM Post #7 of 13

Videoshielded

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What I know about SACD you could write with a wax crayon on one of the discs.

But in a related experience, I have one LP that was mastered digitally (Donald Fagan, The Nightfly). The difference between listenting to this LP and listening to the CD version is revealing. Typically, the vinyl version of a recording will have much better presence, soundstage (width & depth) and somewhat better image than the CD. In the case of the Nightfly, all I hear is a little bit wider soundstage, but it's still pretty flat. I think the digital master ate something.

It would be interesting to see if SACD two-channel can wring something more out of contemporary digitally-mastered recordings.
 
Jul 25, 2002 at 9:59 PM Post #8 of 13

yage

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In regards to mastering technology, I compared the DSD remastered (Japanese import) 'Kind of Blue' with the domestic remastered version released by Columbia.

The DSD remastered import had slightly tighter, more tuneful bass, less white noise hiss on cymbal strikes and a bit more body and presence to the brass. The import sounded more 'mellow' than the Columbia reissue.
 
Jul 27, 2002 at 8:41 PM Post #9 of 13

kelly

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Man, I guess lucky me but I haven't heard a "bad" SACD yet. The only complaint I could possibly issue at all is that Boston SACD mentioned earlier in the thread maybe has a little too much texture for its proper place in space but I gotta tell you, that's an odd thing to find myself complaining about.

Of what I've heard, the Telarc stuff has been the best and the newer recorded stuff (ie, DSD master) has been the absolute best of that.

I imagine most of what we see coming to SACD for the immediate future will be either new stuff that was mastered in DSD or remastered stuff. I doubt we'll see much that's just "ported over" like some of the crappy 80s compact discs were.
 
Aug 9, 2002 at 5:13 AM Post #11 of 13

elambo

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I think I should clear something up about remastering. It seems many people feel that older recordings are stuck in the past sonically - this is not true. Just because you buy a CD, which is 16bit/44.1KHz, don't think that the album was recorded at 16bit/44.1. This is just the delivery method. For the past couple decades 16bit/44.1 CDs have been the best way to 'deliver' the album to the public, but it's not equal to the analog tape that the album's final mixes were most likely recorded to. If you listened to a 1/2" analog tape running at 30 inches/second with the original mixes of Dark Side of the Moon, then compare that to the CD of the same mixes you'll see just how much room there is to improve on the CDs technology.

This is where SACD comes in. An ideal remastering project will go back to the original album mixes stored on the much better sounding analog tape and reencode them into DSD for delivery on SACD. This should be a mojor improvement in sonic quality. But, if you simpy go back to the CD and upsample into SACD you're not doing the SACD technology any justice. It will actually be an improvement in sonics but not near as much as a full remastering would be if the original tapes were used.

This is one of the problems with the initial rollout of SACD. Some record companies are cutting the corners and simply using the 16bit/44.1 CD sources and upsampling them to SACD. Very easy, but it doesn't do much to help sell SACD to the general public because it's not much of an improvement. It's lazy and greedy and might contribute to the demise of SACD. Would you invest so much money in hardware and software if the sonic improvement was fractional? I wouldn't. The reason I got into SACD is because of the truly remastered albums and original recordings directly into DSD that make my equipment seem to disappear, replaced by the sense of actually being there live. CDs never did this entirely, neither has an upsampled SACD.
 
Aug 10, 2002 at 5:34 PM Post #12 of 13

jpelg

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Quote:

The reason I got into SACD is because of the truly remastered albums and original recordings directly into DSD


Makes perfect sense.

How can a consumer tell how a particular album has been transfered before buying the SACD (assuming this info is even in the liner notes somewhere)?
 
Aug 11, 2002 at 7:28 PM Post #13 of 13

elambo

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I haven't found a good way to tell yet. Unfortunately, it takes a little research to figure that out.

One clue is to look at the date the session was recorded. If it was over two years ago the odds are that it's remastered from other sources - which source is another question. Even the most modern fidelity-prioritized recordings aren't necessarily DSD.

Telarc's website has helped me determine how their SACDs are produced, but most other SACDs I've seen don't clarify.
 

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