Absolute format? What wins?

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Absolute format? What wins?

Postby Graz on Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:23 pm

Has anybody gone into the various formats to the point where they have collected different formats of the same discs for absolute comparison? If so - what was a regular winner of the formats?

Curious - Graz :)
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby ChrisH on Sun Jul 04, 2010 6:57 pm

Graz

for me, it seems to be 45 rpm lp > sacd > 33rpm lp > cd......but I haven't got more than a couple of tracks on all 4 formats.

But notice this could be an intriguing question...I could quite logically prefer format A over B, B over C and C over A !

Keep it up (is it ever down?)

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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby Vansloneker on Mon Jul 05, 2010 4:52 am

I had several FLAC download dupes from particular songs and often they would have a different sound. Not just a ittle but really blatant different sound. Same song, same recordings, it's weird how a single song can be so different processed on different CD's. Hard to decide then which do delete and which to keep.

When I spot a MFSL or remastered version of a CD I have, either physical or digital, I'll grab it. Remastered is not always best. Most MFSL discs sound better than the original.
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby TexThai on Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:52 pm

I don't know what wins, but I know WHO I hope wins. I hope it is us!!! With "perfect sound forever" letting us down, with the continual wars between formats, with the average consumer plugged into crap MP3 and not even knowing what they are missing, with DVD-A and SACD looking like they will not be around for all that long, the only light I see on the horizon is with the Blu-ray lossless formats. I do very much enjoy multi-channel surround sound, and DTS-HD MA sounds very good to me. Two channel, stereo sounds good on Blu-ray too.
Perhaps IF it became THE accepted high resolution format, and IF more and more recording engineers use it well, more and more good quality music and concerts becomes available, we could hope to find one format we could all use to the best advantage---and enjoy the music.
I have upgraded to an OPPO BDP 83SE for source, and have upgraded my surround speakers to be more full range. Concerts on Blu-ray are sounding MUCH better than ever before to me. My hope is that LOTS of people jump on the bandwagon!!!
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby Allen Wright on Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:08 pm

I agree with ChrisH, but I find fancy LPs and fancy SACDs depend on the mastering quality as to what sounds best. the original SACD only releases from SONY used the ACTUAL master tape as the source, and are better than any vinyl. But often the vinyl has been mastered better than the SACD, whichmay have come from some BS PCM master. The original Nora Jones album is a case in point. The vinyl was made from a 30 IPS analog tape,the SACD was made from the 16/44 RBCD master disc...both cut at the same time at the session.

But a DSD recorded SACD really takes some beating, most vinyl doesn't get close, and RBCD is in another time region, hundreds of years out of date!

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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby centaurus3200 on Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:22 pm

i have my share of dead formats - between vinyl, vhs and laserdisc ;-)

seriously though - i don't know. i do love vinyl - but it really depends on the quality and condition of the pressing. some shit just sounds fricken awful! i bought brandi carlisle's the story on vinyl - it was some of the worst sound i've ever heard on vinyl. yet, i can play some serious noise like girls against boys on vinyl - and RAWK OUT! so, lot's of variables.

my digital front end is old - but it will hammer out pretty listenable music - no matter what i throw at it. it's currently the same old-ass Theta DSPro GENIII DAC, but now i'm using a Pioneer Elite CLD-79 laserdisc player as a transport - being my Theta Data II gave up the ghost earlier this year. the pioneer blows it away anyway - and it absolutely kills the theta as an actual laserdisc player.

mp3's suck balls - but i can deal with them - for house techno or rap. i just burn them to an audio cd for the stereo.

see ya,
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby Zardoz on Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:44 pm

While I always seem to prefer to listen to LP's over anything else, I only have a couple of SACD's, and they are more enjoyable than CD, but I'm not sure they are better than vinyl. It will also depend a lot on your system, I would think. A really revealing system will tell you more about each format, but are each of the front ends evenly matched? If you are using a $8-9K CD player, and a $12K turntable, but a $700 SACD player.....what sounds best may be misleading. If your TT is a >$1K set up, but your SACD is a $5K player, you may feel a lot different than the first scenario.

Tough call, but I vote for vinyl. :D
"When I die, I want to go peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather,
not screaming in terror like his passengers..."
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby artm on Wed Nov 23, 2011 5:17 am

Source material is simply another component in an audio system. The goal is to have a system that is in ideal synergy with all its components - traditional hardware pieces and source material. Is there one amplifier that is best for all systems? One preamp? No preamp? One speaker? Of course not.

What makes one think that all vinyl is better than all CD or SACD or whatever? Rubbish! There are plenty examples of badly mastered source material in ANY format, as there are examples of bad sounding traditional component equipment.

Just enjoy the music as best you can without worrying about it being the best it can be. Tweak a system to sound its best for one combination of components and it will more than likely fail for another. It is a rare system that sounds excellent for all sources.

Finally, I get tired of people universally trashing MP3 and praising vinyl. Listen, if the only option for a particular source is MP3 and I need to listen to it I will; I am not a snob. If the only option for some old recordings is scratchy , noisy vinyl - so be it. Why isn't vinyl equally trashed in that case? Oh, right...because of vinyl snobs.

I remember listening to FM and enjoying it immensely when that was all we had. Comparing that format to others is laughable, when we look at specifications. Was it laughable when we were actually listening to it? No.

I say just shut up and enjoy the music - not the system!

...and that concludes my midnight rant. Now it's off to bed... :)
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby christoph on Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:13 pm

hi art

artm wrote:Source material is simply another component in an audio system. The goal is to have a system that is in ideal synergy with all its components - traditional hardware pieces and source material. Is there one amplifier that is best for all systems? One preamp? No preamp? One speaker? Of course not.

What makes one think that all vinyl is better than all CD or SACD or whatever? Rubbish! There are plenty examples of badly mastered source material in ANY format, as there are examples of bad sounding traditional component equipment.

Just enjoy the music as best you can without worrying about it being the best it can be. Tweak a system to sound its best for one combination of components and it will more than likely fail for another. It is a rare system that sounds excellent for all sources.

Finally, I get tired of people universally trashing MP3 and praising vinyl. Listen, if the only option for a particular source is MP3 and I need to listen to it I will; I am not a snob. If the only option for some old recordings is scratchy , noisy vinyl - so be it. Why isn't vinyl equally trashed in that case? Oh, right...because of vinyl snobs.

I remember listening to FM and enjoying it immensely when that was all we had. Comparing that format to others is laughable, when we look at specifications. Was it laughable when we were actually listening to it? No.

I say just shut up and enjoy the music - not the system!

...and that concludes my midnight rant. Now it's off to bed... :)


there is a lot of truth in your rant :roll:

cheers and good night
christoph (here it's noon)
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby Zardoz on Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:28 pm

I understand what you are saying Artm, and I agree with you, but I think the point of the question was overlooked. I believe all music lovers will listen to whatever is available when there is no choice. I know I do. ;) I have sat radio (MP3 quality) in my car and listen to it all the time, but would never put on sat radio at home (except for background music) when I wanted to listen to some good music. The original question is, what format is the best (overall), not just what is available at a given point or for a given song/album.

I prefer vinyl because over the years I find many more albums with quality sound, than I do CD's (or MP3). While I do have a few CD's that out shine the LP copy I have, I have many many more LP's that are better than their CD counter part. And I find that even not so good LP's to be more enjoyable than not so good CD's. For me, a CD has to be better than a LP (or as you say, the only thing available) to be "worth" listening to for "serious" listening.

So the format I think "in general" is best is vinyl, because I get much more enjoyment from listening to it than from other formats, at least 95% of the time that I have a choice.

So I don't think I am a vinyl snob, because I will listen to whatever is available, and will happily admit when something sounds better, but I do think that vinyl is generally the better format, which is my answer to the question of, what format is best.
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby artm on Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:20 pm

I will not argue that vinyl is best for many But for me, a format which deteriorates with every play is simply not a candidate. I will not invest in vinyl and having angst over when the source has been compromised to the point of affecting the experience.

I also feel that part of this "absolute format" test is convenience and maintenance. Again, here vinyl loses. If we do not consider these criteria then 30 ips tape surely beats vinyl. Let's remember that most MFSL recordings use this as their source.

For me digital has the ultimate POTENTIAL as it allows for the most processing to correct any shortcomings while keeping the source pure.
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby steve_pan on Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:39 am

When it comes to format there are no winners, they all have there pluses and minuses, for me there are only good or bad recordings.
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby EldRick on Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:19 pm

One format consideration has to be availability - if you can't lay your hands on near-studio-quality music you want, the quality and other virtues of the format and media don't matter.

I've recently discovered http://www.hdtracks.com/ where you can get legitimate high-grade albums or songs in FLAC format, with 24-bit sampling and sampling rates as high as 192K. Many are remasters, and as owners of the original direct-to-disk vinyl albums will recall, every session and every re-master sounds a little different. That's reality for you.

I've been very happy with the albums I've bought and downloaded from them. The definition and depth and imaging is Way beyond standard CDs. I feel like I've finally found material worthy of my D-Sigs. To my ear, this is much better than the SACDs that I tried with the same player.

As to playing these FLAC files, my Oppo BDP-83SE (soon to be upgraded by Jenalabs) does not support any lossless format directly, but plays DVD-A disks without issues. (The newest OPPO. the BDP-93, does support FLAC files.)

So I found an Open Source program, "Burn", which takes downloaded FLAC files, and writes them to a DVD-R disk on my iMac in DVD-A format. http://sourceforge.net/projects/burn-osx/
An album at 192K sampling rate can take more than a single-layer DVD-R, and I've had one that required a double-layer DVD-R. The Oppo recognizes these disks and reports the appropriate sampling-rate when playing the disks, and with the file sizes on the DVD-A somewhat larger than the original FLAC files, it is certainly retaining the 24-bit sampling.

To my ear , it's the highest-quality material I've been able to get, for music I enjoy.
Graz/Rich'ed Duetta Sigs, Parasound JC-1s, PS Audio DirectStream DAC, trick wires and all that other stuff.
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby Vansloneker on Wed May 07, 2014 8:36 pm

This is an old topic but I have been giving it some thoughts and I like to share them.
I have some Hi-Res FLACs on computer sourcing from SACD, DVD audio and Hi-Res downloads. I also listened to hardware SACDs with my cousin. I do enjoy them, in general I find they have a more precise picture of what's happening on the stage. E.g. on The Dark Side of the Moon the clocks in Time become more distinguished, it's not just a wall of sound but I can better locate each clock.

On the internet I've been reading about Hi-Res and SACD and it seems to be scientifically rejected. According to Wikipedia the Audio Engineering Society performed blind comparison tests with CD vs SACD where a selected field of test persons would in 49.8% source the music correct, or just as much as when guessing.
They concluded SACD is no better or worse as CD.

Well, if I like most Hi-Res I do not care what tests say. With some I have a better experience as with others, and with some I really can't tell any difference, and the odd few were just crap and deleted.
I base my opinion mostly on subjective experience, when I listen for a longer period of time what do I like best.
So I like Class A amplifying better then AB without being able to tell exactly why and what are the differences.
So I dislike MP3 even when they can sound pretty good and I am totally happy with it outdoors on my MP3 player. But on my Hi-End rig I just miss something.

When reading into it deeper it is interesting that
Despite the fact that no one could hear the difference in playback systems, they reported that “virtually all of the SACD and DVD-A recordings sounded better than most CDs — sometimes much better.” As it wasn't the technology itself that was responsible for this, what was? The authors' conclusion is because they are simply engineered better. Because high-end recordings are a niche market, “Engineers and producers are being given the freedom to produce recordings that sound as good as they can make them, without having to compress or equalize the signal to suit lesser systems and casual listening conditions. These recordings seem to have been made with great care and manifest affection by engineers trying to please themselves and their peers.”


A few paragraphs earlier in the article it is written that
The authors set up a double-blind comparison system in which one position played high-end SACDs and DVD-As through state-of-the-art preamps, power amps and speakers. At the other position, the output from the SACD player was first passed through the AD/DA converters of an HHB CD recorder and then through the same signal chain.
So the test persons did not actually listen to CDs but to the same SACD where the signal has been down sampled to CD. To me there is a difference between a hardware CD and a down sampled Hi-Res signal. And apparently many SACDs are not equal to the CD but carefully remastered and re-engineered. So the test persons have actually been listening to the SACD but through a 16bit channel and that imho is different from a hardware CD.

In the end it all doesn't matter because listening music is a highly personal and emotional experience and not a scientific experiment. All people should listen to what they enjoy be it SACD, CD or MP3 or even the radio. I can enjoy listening to radio!
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby brad225 on Fri May 09, 2014 5:28 pm

The only music I have in different formats is Eagles, Hell Freezes Over. Purchased it as a Redbook first and it was OK not great. I then found it in XRCD format and it was stunning. I used it as a comparison for people how different formats can be.
I have CDs that are wonderful and others that are barely playable. Of the 40-50 SACDs I have, probably 75% sound very good and the rest CD quality or less.
Of the 15-20 XRCDs I have there is not a bad recording among them.
It is annoying that often an SACD starts with a bad master recording and can't really get any better. But yet someone still puts them out there for sale.
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby Vansloneker on Sat May 10, 2014 7:11 pm

I had no idea of XRCD brad225, I remember having seen the abbreviation somewhere but not a clue. Now I looked it up and together with your comment this sound very promising.

Reading about XRCD led me to a piece about record mastering and it is incredible what they do to recordings. I admit, there are very good recordings, but also a lot of crap. But like I said before, Blue Note recorded jazz music direct from the stage onto the master, no multi-tracks, no mixing, no 'mastering' just plain good microphone work and musicians and it works. But I understand also there is pop-music that could not be recorded the way it is without studio techniques.

Back to SACD, I enjoy very much the remastered CD edition of "Forever Autumn" from the "War of the Worlds" with the voice of Richard Burton. I've never met the guy of course so I can't tell what he sounded like in real live but his wonderful -what I would call a little affected- English really hits me. On the equal SACD his voice is very thin. No benefits there.

The Hi-Res music that hit me most so far is the Creedence Clearwater Revival Chronicle album. I have this since the 1970s as a record and always felt sort of deceived by the poor sound quality. When I heard this album particularly "I Put a Spell on You" it was an incredible experience and I closed my eyes and felt as if I was standing between them and hadn't I know I would have never guessed it was a 1968 recording.

To name some more, I also like the Hi-Res recordings of "Don't Fear the Reaper", "More Than a Feeling" and the Moody Blues album "Days of Future Passed". Again a 1967 album sounding as fresh as if it was made yesterday.
And the Hi-Res live editions of the Eagles' "Hotel California" are simply stunning, also because of their musical abilities.
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby brad225 on Fri May 16, 2014 3:33 pm

I purchased this XRCD
http://www.ebay.com/itm/COLOUR-TO-THE-M ... 460d3755df
along with Eva Cassidy "Song Bird". The price was good and as usual the recording/sound quality is great.

I had never heard of Allan Taylor until a friend recommended him to me. Kind of acoustical Folk Music. His voice sounds like a mix of 80% Mark Knopfler and 20% young Johnny Cash.
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Re: Absolute format? What wins?

Postby Vansloneker on Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:37 pm

The Dutch classical label Channel Classics is offering downloads in five quality levels. They go from MP3 via CD quality FLAC to 24/96 FLAC, 24/192 FLAC up to what they claim to be original recording DSD files.

I guess DSD would 'win'. I can't play them, my equipment goes to 24/96. I can play 24/192 but it is downsampled to 24/96.

Channel Classics is a fine music label. I have some sampler CD's and they are a pleasure to listen to.
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