A former SACD fan comes over to DVD-Audio

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark_Waldrep, Mar 2, 2003.

  1. Mark_Waldrep

    Mark_Waldrep Stunt Coordinator

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    Last weekend I received a very encouraging phone call from a self-professed SACD advocate that had just experienced one of our jazz trio DVD-Audio products. As the moderator of the Home Theater Talk.com disc forum, I was particularly intrigued by his comments...the gist of which I quote below,

    "I just finished listening to the AIX recording of The Paul Smith Trio. I decided to debut it in full 5.1 DVD-A. And I'm very glad I did. Finally someone has done multi-channel to a level that exceeds the finest stereo recordings that I have experienced. Seamless soundstage with a stereophonic placement of the instruments, with none of the collapse or stifling of the imaging that you tend to get with a center channel. Zero distraction from the rears, and an intensity of sonic presentation with a powerful richness to the individual instruments that had me fully riveted to the performance. This is simply the best recording I own on any format."

    He followed his preliminary comments with the following:

    "I listened to my second AIX DVD-A last night; The Latin Jazz Trio. Again I was floored by the level of audio resolution and the soundstage dynamics coming from this recording. The percussion on this one was about as "present" and accurate, musically, to the live instrument as I've heard on any of the media that I own.

    What I find most intriguing about these recordings is how they create such a potent and seamless soundstage. The sound is so transparent, in that you can't locate your speakers in the mix. Very much like what you get in the way of imaging from a superior stereo mix. But better in that the acoustics are more vivid and life like. You do need a center speaker that is of the same quality as your mains, as there are "pans" across the front soundstage with piano and chimes that will show any mismatch in speaker quality. You also need a sub that blends well with your speakers. My Velodyne HGS matches my Dyn's so well that the only way to tell that it's working is to turn it off. At that point I hear a loss of bass depth from my center and mains, though not the loss of an audibly locatable sub speaker itself.

    I have, up until hearing these AIX recordings, been more of a proponent of SACD as my media of choice. I simply felt that SACD sounded closer to the real deal than PCM based material. With these two recordings (The Latin Jazz Trio & The Paul Smith Trio) AIX has shown me what can be achieved with DVD-A, and it is very impressive; sonically superior to anything I've heard on SACD. Admittedly though, these recordings were mastered specifically for the DVD-A multi-channel medium, with recording equipment that is state of the art. And I doubt we'll be seeing much of a software selection, at this level of recording quality, in DVD-A, or for that matter SACD. As such these recordings are definitely rare gemstones, so to speak, one's to be collected and treasured."

    I spent so much time working on these things that I just wanted to pass along a few of the comments that make me keep doing it. Today, I'm mixing the Laurence Juber project...finger style guitar, bass and percussion.
     
  2. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Mark,

    I almost hesitate to reply since you have a history of dropping provocative little "bombs" like this and then offering few replies thereafter.

    [​IMG]

    Nevertheless, I have some questions:

    1. What sampling rate is the Paul Smith album - 96 or 192?

    2. What was the friend's playback system?

    3. What discount can the HTF membership get on the Laurence Juber disc - that sounds like a gem? [​IMG]

    Perhaps you would like our work on Badi Assad's debut album on Chesky.

    My guess on DVDA is that really fine recordings like AIX on a good Meridian rig can sound very good even with all those microphones. [​IMG]
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Mark, sounds like you made some good discs there. [​IMG] I still need to get your sampler disc.
     
  4. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Lee, I believe that the recorded sampling rate for all AIX discs are 96, to preserve continuity with the recorded product, since they are geared towards surround high-res play (96/24 being the best one can offer in that format at this point).

    I'm sure Mark will correct me if I'm wrong.

    It is so true that the DVD-A is very rarely heard. I can only point to a few DVD-As as being sonically amazing.

    To be fair, the same can be said about SACD- there is a world of difference between an SACD of an older recording and one that was recorded in DSD.
     
  5. Mark_Waldrep

    Mark_Waldrep Stunt Coordinator

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    Lee,

    Unfortunately I don't have a lot of free time to survey this forum...although I do enjoy it and appreciate the civility of the group. I see that you post often and usually advocating for SACD and so I thought this posting by the modertor of another forum might prove interesting...and yes provocative. It's not intended to incite yet another round of aggressive debate, I just particularly enjoyed hearing a fervent SACD fan acknowledge the edge that well-recorded PCM can have over DSD. This is by no means definitive but it was a very welcome comment from an informed audiophile.

    Now to the answers to your questions:

    1. The sampling rate on all of our titles is 96 kHz. The newest ones, including the Laurence Juber, will also have a dedicated 192 kHz 2-track made through the Model-2 of Euphonix/Pacific Microsonics...a wonderful box.

    2. John, the moderator at HomeTheaterTalk.com's Discovery forum, indicates he's using Dynatech speakers and a Denon 3800 DVD-Audio player. Beyond that, I don't know.

    3. The Juber is glorious, perhaps my favorite recordings to date (although as a guitarist myself...I'm partial). The HTF folks can get this way ahead of others...I'll let you know.

    I would be very interested in Badi's work. David is an acquaintance and has always done first rate work.

    That's all for now...back to the studio for some more mixing.

    Mark
     
  6. Michael_T

    Michael_T Second Unit

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    I purchased "Nitty Gritty Surround Sound" because of all the positive reviews I read and to my ears I would say that if you didn't know that you were listening to a DVD-A, you might just think it were an SACD, it is THAT GOOD. It really blew me away.

    And I don't me to infer that SACD is better than DVD-A on the face of things. It is just that I have heard so many more SACDs that sound better than almost all my DVD-A discs.
    (I own hundreds of SACDs - and close to 80+ DVD-A discs.)

    I have a "soft spot" for both hi-rez formats, as an owner of a DVD-Audio player (Techincs DVD-A10) and 3 SACD players (all Sony - 333ES, CE775 and an XA777ES).

    It would be a more comfortable audio world if there could be one fully agreed upon hi-rez digital format - but since there isn't - I intend to enjoy both.
     
  7. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    I believe he uses a Marantz 8260 which is a decent SACD player but of course has no level controls when one wants to listen to multi-channel so it needs to be accomplished some place else. I also believe he uses smaller speakers that are not full-range. So much depends as well on the source material and the care in the recording chain. With the AIX care in the bass levels vs. most other recordings, I'm sure this contributed to the preference. I have recordings in both formats that are excellent but none produced to do a direct comparison since with different players, it would not serve much purpose. I have had numerous machines in my system from both formats and people are more often amazed by the quality of CD playback. On most (virtually all) of the inexpensive to moderate Hi-Res players I've stuck in my system (usually someone has usually brought it over), the CD playback was preferred when comparing 2-channel recordings. With an expensive DAC and transport it is not astonishing.

    I judge material based on various factors that don't include format as a positive or negative. I also don't judge a format based upon what an audiophile label might do such as AIX or Chesky, which have their own niche market and rightfully so. The majority of discs purchased are of mainstream artists on mainstream labels and for the general public (vs. us nuts) who don't buy those at all, price vs. CDs and the availability of mainstream software will decide such battles and not someone like me or the person noted in the original post. This forum should also be used to exchange ideas and software vs. a semi-advertisement/promotion for ones own products. I have noted the quality of AIX discs to others and have recommended them, including to Lee when he posted looking for DVD-A demo material. SVS in their pop-ups posts review comments by John Kotches which is perfectly understandable vs. including indirect or implied advertising in their posts. I want information in posts that is informative (as would a complete post indicating the entire system used and the results as Lee posted) vs. seeing what appears to be more of a product advertisement.
     
  8. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Thanks for relaying this information Mark. DVD-A can provide stunning results and your recordings are a testament to this fact. I am looking forward to the Laurence Juber disc you are currently working on. Any information on some other titles you guys have in the pipeline?

    J
     
  9. Mark_Waldrep

    Mark_Waldrep Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm going home after another typical weekend of mixing and capturing the high-resolution files that we're recording. The Laurence Juber project is one very close to me but we've got others that are already recorded and simply await the time to produce them.

    Cheryl Bentyne and her quartet were recorded back in January...she's the tall redhead from Manahattan Transfer. A really wonderful singer. Jennifer Warnes has agreed to do a project with me in mid-year...I can't wait. The goal is to finish another 20 projects before Christmas.

    I just pulled up the new tracks we did with David Garfield and his Retro/Funk Quintet. He's played on the Latin Jazz Trio and now has his own project. It's definitely the loudest thing I've recorded to date...electric bass, Fender Rhodes, drums, sax and trumpet. Very cool drumming and the sound the the RCA 44 mics on the brass is the same as on our Jim DeJulio title.

    There are others coming but I am very sensitive to the notion of advertising on this forum...I'm really trying to bring information to the readers but cannot help but be excited by the things that I'm working on. I won't do it 7 days a week if I didn't believe in it.

    Thanks for the inquiry.
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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  11. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    Well, let me know when and if you convince Hometheatertalk.com's head guru Mike Knapp that the multi-channel music was done right. If memory serves Mike has a well known dislike for multi-channel music as a gimmick. I recall he liking music in stereo only. This is what I recall, however, I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.
     
  12. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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  13. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Kevin said:

     
  14. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Phil A,

    The MSRP of the Marantz 8260 is US$1050, the MSRP of the Denon 38000 is US$1200. We aren't talking about radically differing price points. One would expect comparable performance on their respective high-resolution formats at comparable price points.

    Given that the Denon also includes a very good DVD-Video section, one could easily say that it has less funding allocated to the Audio section.

    Lee,

    Just go look at the thread at HTT. You're registered over there -- read it for yourself.

    You have no problem touting SACD at the drop of a hat, but I supppose that's different, because it's SACD.

    Regards,
     
  15. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  16. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee,

    Not germane to the discussion, and I notice that neither Gary or Perry has responded to you, and that's their call.
    As I've said, I have no input on editorial policy at the magazine. I have also suggested that you contact them directly, and given you e-mail addresses.

    I know their current intent is to have surround music demonstrations of both formats sometime later this year, although the last I knew, no firm dates had been given.

    With respect to AIX, why do you have to give a back handed compliment (emphasis mine)?

     
  17. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  18. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    John, I did not mean to imply a particular piece of equipment (or speakers) for a format was either in a lower category or higher category, just indicating it was of good quality. It is helpful in the context of a review to know more about the system as a whole and combined with what one knows about the reviewer's preferences one can reach a reasonable opinion based on their own preferences and experiences as to whether they might have the same, a similar, or a different opinion of the review such as: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=124819

    AIX makes high quality recordings that sound good on almost anything I've heard. However, John, if someone makes a comment that you interpret as being negative you seem to have a problem that all things have positive and negative qualities and someone else might feel that the negatives with regard to a particular item are greater than something else. This does not have to turn into a DVD-A vs. SACD thread as they all seem to do. The title indicated flat out that the person is no longer a fan of SACD, not necessarilty a true statement. The person might very well still enjoy both formats. Example of stuff I've seen here and on other forums is that there is no video monitor required on any DVD-A player anywhere to be able to access what is on the disc. Other silly statements I've seen are that SACD machines have software problems on some machines and DVD-A does not. I can tell you that the DVD-A side of the AIX sampler does not play on the Toshiba 4800 I bought for my brother. It is these kind of absolute statements about anything being all good or bad that make it silly.

    The post also came across more to me as a self-advertisement more than a non-biased review as I did above. I don't set the rules here but I would hate to see the forum turned into everyone promoting their own products whether they be cables, equipment or software done in a negative manner towards someone else's products, including sponsors who support the forum. There is nothing in my review that imparts negativity towards any format or label.

    Lee, you seem to want to do comparisons. I love to do comparisons and do them all the time. I do think you are putting John on the spot for something he does not have the final say over on that one and frankly I don't expect many more mainstream publishers willing to take that issue on with sponsors of hardware and software on both sides of the fence.

    John, since we seem to have gotten on to the usual format war discussion, I recall seeing that you had both versions of "Soular Energy" and don't recall seeing a review of the playback in your system and differences you noted. That would be much more constructive as we can have a comparison based on your equipment, ears and preferences and that would be much more useful to someone like me anyway. I don't criticize people for their preferences or opinions or imply that that they are inferior in any way if I have different ones.
     
  19. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Phil,

    In your post I was responding to, you offered up a number of reasons that the test was biased towards the DVD-A player.

    A competently designed multi-channel player will have at an absolute minimum, channel level matching tones useful for all formats being played back. It hardly seems to be too much to ask to include this.

    For an additional $150 the Denon unit offers up: DVD-Video, Channel Level Matching, Time Alignment and even fixed 80Hz Bass Management for all sources.

    The lack of inclusion of basic features in the modestly less expensive Marantz unit is a serious disappointment IMO.

    With respect to comparisons of SACD / DVD-A....

    Any conclusions I have come to with Soular Energy, would be considered biased towards one format. Since you asked, and without looking at my notes which are a few hundred miles away at the moment (IOW, it's strictly off the top of my head):

    I find that Ray Brown's bass is slightly warmer on the DVD-Audio version, with some emphasis on the midrange harmonics which really gives the bass that full bodied wooden sound. By contrast, the SACD provided less warmth.

    In a couple of instances (half tempo Take the A Train is what I remember the best) I found the piano presentation to be slightly wider with SACD than DVD-Audio.

    Drum work, most notably cymbal crashes, were clearer on the DVD-Audio version. The SACD lacked clarity after striking, the combined splash/ring is more pronounced in the DVD-Audio version contained.

    I give a small edge to the DVD-Audio version, but a fan of the material will be satisfied with either one as doing justice to the original masters.

    Comparison pieces were not on equal footing:
    DVD-Audio:
    Meridian 598DP -> 568.2MM (All digital) (max 96k digital out)
    Kenwood DV-5700
    Toshiba SD-4700


    SACD:
    Philips SACD 1000
    Sony SCD-CE775
    Sony DVP-NS500V

    Regards,
     
  20. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

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    I was going to post an opinion about these ongoing format wars and address them to specific people. However, I didn't want it to come across as a personal attack.

    I've been following the various SACD vs. DVD-A threads with great interest. I don't know nearly enough about the formats so I don't feel comfortable joining the discussion on the merits of either one.

    I just wanted to point out that it's disappointing when these threads turn into 'Format Wars'. It's gotten to the point where I don't really need to read the various posts from specific people (I do anyway) because I already know what's going to be said. All of the main players in these discussions are obviously extremely knowledgeable and offer a lot to this forum. I just wish the rhetoric didn't get in the way.

    Just my opinion and not an attack.
     

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