[78-L] Recording Quality - a relative term

Don Cox doncox at enterprise.net.invalid
Thu Jul 3 01:42:19 PDT 2014

On 02/07/2014, DAVID BURNHAM wrote:

> DSD is an improvement in storage.

It is primarily an improvement in analogue to digital conversion. Once
the conversion is done, the data can be converted to PCM if convenient,
and the improvement persists.

>  The ealiest SACDs that SONY released
> were reissues of analog recordings from the '70s and earlier. The
> superior quality of these analog recordings is what permittled the
> SACDs to shine so impressively. The Mercury Living Presence SACDs were
> audibly clearer than the earlier CD releases and they were recorded in
> the '50s and '60s. RCA's Living Stereo SACDs were also from recordings
> from as early as 1954. The demonstratable fact is that the skill of
> capturing a performance had been mastered by around 1960 and the only
> thing left to be improved was the technology required to store that
> performance for future generations.

There are also plenty of CDs around that were transferred using DSD, and
they also sound better than earlier transfers.
> The SACD was a superior product both for the industry and the
> consumer. 

The problem with SACD is that it needs a special player. Blu-Ray audio
gives the same high quality without this problem.

> For the consumer because of the clearly apparent superior
> sound from a carrier as easy to use as a conventional CD and for the
> industry because this quality could not be copied illegally without
> great difficulty. SONY, not for the first time, gave us a superior
> product and then marketed it so poorly that it was not able to take
> off. They had previously done this with BETA. In the late '90s they
> introduced the single layer SACD. The discs had the capacity of a
> standard LP, they only issued analog material from the '70s and
> earlier - usually each disc only carried the contents of a sinle LP,
> they charged twice as much for them as standard CDs and you needed a
> special player to play them. This after they had been telling
> consumers for over 15 years that the CD was perfect. What was going to
> motivate a move towards these new discs? There was no need for them to
> be more
> expensive, in fact they should have been cheaper, because the DSD
> process is simpler than 44.1/16 bit technology. Most importantly, the
> capacity of an SACD is actually several hours. They could have easily
> put 5 or 6 LPs worth of music on a single SACD without any loss of
> quality. BIS issued an SACD with the complete concertos of Mendelssohn
> on a single disc, (4 or 5 hours of music), and another set with the
> complete organ music of Bach on about 5 discs instead of the almost 20
> CDs required for the same recordings. Hybrid SACDs solved one problem
> - they could be played on a normal CD player, introduced the
> advantages of surround sound, but they removed the ability to contain
> the large quantity of program because they were limited once again to
> the capacity of a CD.
> But now things have fallen apart. We have experienced perfection in
> sound reproduction but it has largely been taken away from us.
> Consumers are largely no longer concerned with quality of audio
> reproduction, the priority instead has become how to store 18 hours of
> music on something the size of a dime or smaller. Record stores are
> closing all around us and the persuer of pristine audio quality has
> little or no product to feed their priority.
There are still a few SACD discs being published every month.

Don Cox
doncox at enterprise.net

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