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John Mayer Heavier Things SACD vs. Dual Disc - any opinions?


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#1 of 24 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 03 2005 - 05:07 AM

I ask because I do like this album, and I want to buy a hi-res version. Yes, I know about the lossy hi-res dual disc fiasco, but I have to admit that the James Taylor Beacon Theater DVD, which is only DD5.1, sounds pretty damned good to my ears.

And Heavier Things adds a new wrinkle. For those who own the CD (like me) we noticed that it's recorded very "hot". When the SACD came out, some who bought it (I didn't have an SACD player at the time) reported that it was still "hot", perhaps more a product of how it was recorded.

So my question is: did they remaster it for the DualDisc 5.1 side so that it's not so hot [or overcompressed]? If so, I may go with the DualDisc version. If not, I'll probably pick up the SACD version or even stand pat with the CD version since if it really was recorded that way, hi-res'ing it will help very little.

Please let's not turn this into a DualDisc vs. SACD/DVD-A thread. I realize that I would rather have SACD/DVD-A than Dual(y)Disc. Posted Image But I want this particular album in the best sounding format possible, and if the SACD is still hot/overcompressed, but they remixed or remastered it better for the Dual(y)Disc(o) version, then for this one album I will buy that format.

Thanks!

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#2 of 24 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted March 03 2005 - 09:01 AM

Carlo,

Being a huge JM fan, I have extensive experience with this CD and I agree, it sounds compressed and somewhat "hot" as you say. Rest assured, that is not the case with the SACD. In fact, I think it's one of my better sounding SACDs. From what I recall, I do think there is still some sibilance on JM's vocals, but it's not half as bad as what's on the CD. AFAIC, the CD sounds horrible. One listen to "Split Screen Sadness" on SACD and you'll be convinced.
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#3 of 24 OFFLINE   Lee Scoggins

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Posted March 03 2005 - 09:24 AM

I agree with Ron. It is compressed on the Red Book. SACD is better.
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#4 of 24 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 03 2005 - 09:36 AM

Just to make sure, you both are speaking from first-hand experience right (with regards to CD vs SACD for this specific title)? The only thing that worried me was that old JM thread that dealt with the CD and oft-delayed SACD, and when the SACD came out I thought I remembered reading that it was overcompressed and hot just like the CD was. I'll try to do a search on it later.

But if you both have this title and vouch for the superiority of the SACD over the CD, then that's good enough for me.

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#5 of 24 OFFLINE   ElevSkyMovie

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Posted March 03 2005 - 09:50 AM

Carlo,

You're right because I asked the same thing. I think Lee said there wasn't much improvement over the cd, so I didn't bother getting the SACD. I could be remembering wrong, though.

#6 of 24 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 03 2005 - 10:15 AM

Okay I found the original thread. My problem was I kept searching for Heavier Things SACD and when I finally just searched Mayer SACD I found it.

Here's some quotes from it:

Ron Reda said
Quote:
***This is for the stereo version of the SACD layer only.*** This disc finally came out Tuesday and, for once, I'm glad they delayed it and got it right. It's a DSD recorded disc and it sounds superb to my ears; it easily crushes the redbook CD. The lower level details in the recording are a lot easier to hear and the soundstage is deeper and wider. The improvements were most evident in "Split Screen Sadness". There are several parts of the song where John is singing over some ambient sounds and electronic beats and you can really hear the three-dimensional quality that the format brings. A friend of mine (a John Mayer and all-around music fan, but definitely not an audio guy) said that the vocals were so vivid and life-like, that not only did it sound like he was in the room, but that he could almost "see" him singing. If you're a JM fan, it's a must buy!

Rob Benton noted:
Quote:
I was horribly dissapointed in this. It claims it is a 5.1 sacd but its basically just stereo. The rears are used for lame reverb at best. They could have done so much with this. If they wanted it to be stereo they should have just released stereo only rather then calling it 5.1. I wouldn't have wasted my money if I thought I was going to get a poor 5.1 mix!
And then the thread degenerated into hi-res bickering, before getting back on track...

Rob Benton notes again:
Quote:
From my casual listening the horibble compression is still there.. in songs like "something's missing" it is still harsh to my ears and horribly compressed.
but I now realize this was in response to my question as to if the CD layer on the SACD was better than the stand-alone CD release, **not** an indicator of the SACD layer! [hence my confusion]

Then the thread reverts back to bickering for another 30 posts or so...heck, now that I think about it, don't click on the link above, just read what I've quoted. I would spare you all that grief Posted Image

Looks like I should just pony up for the SACD and take a shot. If anything, I can at least post back in here about my own personal opinions about it. Since I have a 5 disc SACD/CD player, I can even load the original + SACD and play them one after the other! Posted Image

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#7 of 24 OFFLINE   ElevSkyMovie

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Posted March 03 2005 - 01:46 PM

Quote:
From my casual listening the horibble compression is still there.. in songs like "something's missing" it is still harsh to my ears and horribly compressed.


Is he referring to the cd or sacd (regular cd versus cd layer on sacd or cd layer versus sacd layer)?

#8 of 24 OFFLINE   ElevSkyMovie

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Posted March 03 2005 - 01:47 PM

The only other sacd title I have much interest in is the Wallflowers' "Red Letter Days", which I think is a very well recorded cd. If anyone has a comment on the sacd, I would appreciate it. Posted Image

#9 of 24 OFFLINE   Paul.S

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Posted March 03 2005 - 08:43 PM

And a little more sauce for the goose: although we've heard (from Ron and Lee) that one layer or another on the SACD sounds better than the CD, we still don't seem to have heard comparative comments from someone who has both the SACD and the Dual.

Re JT at the Beacon Theatre: FWIW Carlo, Frank Filipetti's engineering on that recording is so outstanding (I'm sure you've read the DVD box which notes his Best Engineered Recording Grammy for Hourglass) that it's not quite fair to think of that as typical of what Dolby Digital is capable of. At least at the time, that recording and mix are thought of as reference standard. This is the guy 10,000 Maniacs went to after Massenburg did the stupendous In My Tribe but apparently wasn't available to record the follow-up, Blind Man's Zoo.

In a situation such as this, wherein there are issues with the original recording of Heavier, I don't think any amount of remastering can bring the SQ up to Beacon level. As you note in your original post, the opposite can sometimes be the case.

I'm interested in a verdict in the Heavier case as well: I don't have any copies of the album, want it, and am leaning towards the SACD. The vid content of the Dual--as usual--hardly sounds compelling. Anyone who has it feel otherwise?

-p

#10 of 24 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted March 04 2005 - 01:49 AM

Quote:
Just to make sure, you both are speaking from first-hand experience right (with regards to CD vs SACD for this specific title)?

Yes, indeed (at least I am)!

Quote:
but I now realize this was in response to my question as to if the CD layer on the SACD was better than the stand-alone CD release, **not** an indicator of the SACD layer! [hence my confusion]


Carlo,

You are exactly right...I was referring to the SACD's ***hi-rez stereo track only*** and not commenting on the quality of the CD layer's sound. If you are a JM fan, pick it up...it's well worth it. Now I just wish they'd put out "Room For Squares" on SACD!Posted Image
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#11 of 24 OFFLINE   dpippel

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Posted March 04 2005 - 02:19 AM

Quote:
The only other sacd title I have much interest in is the Wallflowers' "Red Letter Days", which I think is a very well recorded cd. If anyone has a comment on the sacd, I would appreciate it.
To my ears the stereo SACD layer on this disc sounds absolutely fantastic. It's also a great record - more "commercial" than Breach, but the boys are in fine form. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

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#12 of 24 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 04 2005 - 04:43 AM

I can also vouch for Red Letter Days SACD; but I've only listened to the SACD Stereo track (moving my SACD player to the 5.1 system requires not just moving equipment, but unplugging my RP91 DVD-A player, so I haven't because I'm lazy! Posted Image )

Of course, I haven't heard the original CD so I can't say "the SACD is better than the CD" but I can tell you the SACD stereo sounds great! Of course, if the CD was very well recorded, and depending on equipment, you may/may not think it's a great improvement.

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#13 of 24 OFFLINE   dpippel

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Posted March 04 2005 - 05:24 AM

Carlo - From what I understand the Red Letter Days hybrid SACD includes the same Redbook layer as the CD only release, and it's pretty good.

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#14 of 24 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted March 14 2005 - 04:44 PM

Carlo,

Did you ever pick up HT on SACD?
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#15 of 24 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 15 2005 - 07:27 AM

Yes I did, and have been listening to it for the last day or two (evenings when I get home, no SACD @ work).

It's recorded at still a fairly high volume (SACD Stereo is all I've listened to, not the 5.1 mix as that would require moving my player from the bedroom to the living room), but it does feel less fatiguing to listen to it. The bass, while powerful, now goes deep and doesn't feel rumbly and overblown. There is a definite improvement over the CD version as while the overall volume is high, it doesn't feel "as overcompressed" as the CD. I can't really quantify it in words, but it's easier on the ears, is what I can really say about the SACD stereo layer.

Haven't done a true A/B though (and no I never picked up the Dualy-Disc version either). If I get a chance I'll post a follow up on any A/B I'm able to do. I did get the SACD for $13.50 ($14.99 - 10% off at Best Buy) so I can't really complain.

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#16 of 24 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted March 15 2005 - 10:21 AM

So, do you give it a Posted Image ?
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#17 of 24 OFFLINE   Gary Burdick

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Posted March 15 2005 - 12:49 PM

Question: If a dualdisc is coming out with 24-bit audio on the dvd side, what format is it most likely to be in?

Also did anyone else find Any Given Thursday to be poorly mixed?

#18 of 24 OFFLINE   ElevSkyMovie

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Posted March 16 2005 - 12:20 AM

Also did anyone else find Any Given Thursday to be poorly mixed?


I don't have the cds, but I listen to the audio from the dvd a lot and I think it's mixed pretty well. The highs are a little hot, but it isn't over compressed like HT is. RFS wasn't over compressed, so why does Sony mastering feel the need to over compress HT? Doesn't make sense.

Of course, the AGT cd may be over compressed, but I can only comment on the audio on the dvd (which is 24/48).

#19 of 24 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 16 2005 - 06:59 AM

Kyle, probably because RFS was not expected to be a hit, and thus they left well enough alone. But HT was supposed to be a megahit, and had to have heavy radio play, so they probably decided to kill 2 birds with one stone: overcompress for radio friendliness and use those for the album.

Just my guess.

And yes, I'd give HT SACD a provisional Posted Image, at least until I have a chance to A/B it properly. It's nowhere near as crystal clear a difference as the Aimee Mann Bachelor #2 SACD/CD comparison.

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#20 of 24 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 16 2005 - 07:00 AM

Quote:
If a dualdisc is coming out with 24-bit audio on the dvd side, what format is it most likely to be in?
Do you mean what sampling rate? Usually it's 24/48, based on a dualdisc I own and a couple of reports I've read. It won't be DVD-A, though, it should be PCM and playable via all DVD players.

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