I hear you. If only 90125
would be released on DVD-Audio. Geez, I'd be happy with Warner would release a remastered version of the CD. For now, I am contemplating the purchase of the Japanese HDCD.
There are a lot of reasons why an SACD or DVD-Audio disc (or a CD, LP, etc.) might be interpreted as sounding good or bad, and I'm sure all of the reasons have factored into opinions thrown around here. For one thing, there is the quality of the original master to consider. Some recordings are simply outstanding, and the CDs of these recordings sound great. Some masters, on the other hand, are not very good. I have don't have the CD or SACD, but I have read several negative opinions regarding the sound quality of Aerosmith Just Push Play
. It has been said that the CD sounds lousy (typical heavy processing and dynamic compression used in today's music) and that the SACD sounds only marginally better.
Personal preference and/or personal experience certainly is a factor. I'm sure one's enthusiasm for the music in question can in some ways shape his or her reviews of sound quality. Regarding experiences, some people may not have a good basis for comparison to the SACD or DVD-Audio disc. Perhaps some people in reviewing an SACD or DVD-Audio disc are used to sound quality of the recording on a lackluster CD. For example, I feel a better CD for comparison to the Eagles Hotel California
DVD-Audio disc is the DCC gold CD as opposed to the original Asylum Records CD from the '80s.
For people really in tune with the music industry (pardon the pun
)), the individual doing the authoring to SACD or DVD-Audio could shape opinions. I have always spoken highly of Steve Hoffman because his work has always impressed me. If I see his name in the credits, I expect the sound to be top-notch (with limitations of the source tape taken into account). Many people speak very highly of Hoffman, Bob Ludwig, David Chesky, and Mark Waldrep (and others). On the other hand, some folks are very critical of certain mixing engineers. As with any business, some individuals have a reputation for doing their job well, while others have a reputation for doing it poorly.
For me, it is difficult to assign the kudos or place the blame on one factor regarding the sound quality of any recording. If an SACD sounds great, for example, a version on CD may sound great too. The master tape may be of excellent quality. There may be a winning combination of a quality master, excellent personnel behind the authoring, and excellent technology in this case. Quite a novel concept, which unfortunately, is not always evident.
Segue... If an SACD sounds lousy, it could be due to the master being lackluster or because of a poor job of authoring. Perhaps both are at play.
For my next point, I have to admit upfront that I am at times guilty. We should take caution before declaring a high-resolution recording as the epiphany of our lives after comparing the SACD or DVD-Audio version to a CD. Remember that in some cases, we may be using a CD that in no way communicates the best the format can offer for that recording. Perhaps we are listening to a CD originally released in the '80s or early '90s that has not been remastered. Given the fact that high-resolution software is often marketed for its excellent fidelity and, in turn, is marketed to audiophiles, great care is often taken to locate original masters and mix them for the high-resolution release. This same care may not have been taken in preparing the CD some ten years ago or more.
As an example, let us consider a scenario where the Rolling Stones SACDs had been released as single-layer SACDs. One might have been tempted to compare the single-layer SACDs to the 1986 ABCKO CDs and declare SACD as an ephiphany. (People do this with the hybrid discs upon comparison to the original ABCKO CDs anyway.
) That would be an erroneous conclusion. To say that the 1986 ABCKO CDs are sub-optimal renderings of what the CD format can offer is a gross understatement. Point blank, the 1986 ABCKO CDs sound like dung. Now, in my opinion, a far better comparison is the SACD and CD layers on the hybrid discs. The CD layers sound far better than the 1986 ABCKO CDs, and these CD layers are derived from the same masters as the SACD layers. In my opinion, the SACD layer on Hot Rocks 1964-1971
is markedly better than the CD layer. From this comparison, which I consider to be a fair one, I consider SACD to be an epiphany.
Note that I have not compared the SACD layer to the original London LPs. Let's not open that can of worms.
I will conclude this diatribe for the time being. In short, there are a number of reasons for why a recording is interpreted as good or bad.