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Steely Dan's Gaucho.... why SACD? (1 Viewer)

John Kotches

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I'm curious why the choice by Universal to release Steely Dan's Gaucho title on SACD when the production work was done in 24/96K.

It seems to me, the best utilization of this would be DVD-A....

Something to ponder after reading this article from Surround Pro's website.

Rgards,
 

Rachael B

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Well Universal did say that they aspired to put out 500 SACD's this year. I doubt they'll make it but they are keeping busy. Best wishes!:)
 

John Kotches

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Nope -- I don't think 500 SACDs are viable for this year either.

Not knowing their accounting schedule, I can't say if they'd make it by the end of their fiscal year.

I just found it interesting that the work was done for this disc at 24/96K, and is being released as SACD.

Regards,
 

Justin Lane

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Very interesting article. It makes no sense to do this as an SACD if they are working at 96kHz. Maybe Scheiner felt the 96kHz provided better audio quality then a pure DSD master, or maybe he is just more comfortable with working with that particular rig. This could mean DSD is harder to work with then advertised, and without Sony's help on releases, this could easily be a new trend developing. Of course Universal could also decide to put this disc out on DVD-A as well later in the year so they decided to only do one master.

Whatever the case may be, if a master is done originally in PCM, thats how I want to hear it. Or in this case, if a new master is being made for a SACD, do it in DSD please.

J
 

LanceJ

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The Surround Pro article doesn't mention the reason for the 96kHz format either. In fact, I didn't see DSD mentioned anywhere for that matter either. Hmmmm.............

Maybe 96kHz is what the favored mixing equipment was limited to? There doesn't seem to be a lot of (any?) 192kHz-based post production stuff available yet.

And, I've read many times now how many people (consumers & professionals) think 192kHz is only a little better than 96kHz sampling.

Sumthin' weird is happening here :confused:--a dual hi-res format release??

LJ
 

Lee Scoggins

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I just found it interesting that the work was done for this disc at 24/96K, and is being released as SACD.
It is clear that Universal is testing the waters. On any pre-existing material in PCM, there will be a DSD conversion which is not as good as an original DSD source and used pure throughout the chain.

However, Chesky has found that PCM masters can sound very good in SACD. Take my album of McCoy Tyner. The SACD still is a big sonic improvement over the original CD, even the rare discs I have from the original session.

I suspect, however, that we will hear more of the master tape than previous versions. The release has two things going for it: (1) general improvements in mastering that have occurred since the last version and (2) benefits from a DSD transfer. For instance, sometimes jitter is reduced due to the SACD encoding process.

One question: Given the vintage, it seems likely that an analog master existed? do we know for sure that an analog to DSD was not done?
 

Lee Scoggins

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Does it bother anyone else that Scheiner used the Dolby SR process for the analog transfer?

...and that he brags about it?

Dolby processes always introduce a layer of noise...

On a more positive note, the magazine talks about the new Genex recorders that can do 48 channels of DSD. Apparently the pro gear makers continue to roll out lots of DSD gear to meet demand...
 

John Kotches

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Lee,

I have concerns as to whether you carefully read the article.

One question: Given the vintage, it seems likely that an analog master existed? do we know for sure that an analog to DSD was not done?
Here's another question that indicates you haven't read very carefully the article, since it clearly states the analog masters went straight to 24/96K after baking, followed by mixdown.

Why would they bother with DSD, if they are happy with the results of PCM? They have new analog and digital masters to work with, so they could always create DSD from the analogs if they wanted to down the road.

Universal has a nice budget, and obviously could have financed the project to be done entirely in DSD, yet have made a conscious choice not to do so. That doesn't say much for DSD IMO.

It's an added and apparently unnecessary expense for the record label and/or the artist, since they have final say over what tapes exist.

It also makes me wonder how many of the Universal SACDs so far have been captured in DSD from the original analog masters or directly to DSD in studio? How many came from intermediate (or initial) PCM recordings?

It's not like Universal spells out the recording heritage on the titles.

Regards,
 

Felix Martinez

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It makes no sense to do this as an SACD if they are working at 96kHz. Maybe Scheiner felt the 96kHz provided better audio quality then a pure DSD master, or maybe he is just more comfortable with working with that particular rig. This could mean DSD is harder to work with then advertised
The industry standard for hi-res, multi-channel tape transfers and mixing is PCM (ProTools, Nuendo, various software plug-ins and hardware gear, etc.), so it's just more common for projects to be tackled in that format, particularly catalog titles that require some work and restoration.

Of course, there are also the numerous digital recordings made during the 80s and early 1990s, which were also PCM (mostly 16 bit and no more than 50khz).

Cheers,
 

Rich Malloy

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I think maybe we're allowing ourselves to become caught up in issues that have little to no relevance as to why a disc is released in one format or another. The ultimate deciding factor, I'm certain, is market penetration and the degree to which a studio has already backed a particular horse. But I don't think one can rule out the possibility of dual DVD-A/SACD releases of this title considering it's coming from Universal.

My question is why 24/96? Why not 24/192? Is the added resolution simply not significant?
 

John Kotches

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Rich,

This is an excellent question:
My question is why 24/96? Why not 24/192? Is the added resolution simply not significant?
Certainly it is technically possible to do a sample rate conversion from 192K to 96K.

Perhaps the tools that Scheiner (et al) required are not capable of 192K resolution.

What isn't said is when work started on this project. The availability of 192K capable gear might not have been there when the project started. Or perhaps the people involved felt there was a negligible difference between the two sampling rates.

It's hard to say since it isn't addressed within the article.

Regards,
 

Lee Scoggins

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Is the added resolution simply not significant?
Good question...answer: when done right 192khz adds a lot of musical information and approaches that of DSD and live mic feeds. I am anxious to hear the AIX 192 recordings.

Faster sampling rates capture more of the note transients which create a more natural and less fatiguing sound.
 

Jack Gilvey

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Further, to ensure future playback, he adds, “There were analog copies made for the library, on the request of Universal Music, of all seven masters after they had been transferred digitally. We went back and made 2-inch analog transfers, 15 ips, Dolby SR.” The transfers were made on a Studer 827 machine to BASF 900 tape. “We wanted to be sure that, in another 10 years, we can deal with this — when we come to the next level of migration of sample rates and bit depths.”
That's my favorite part. When you really need to have it right, go to analog...get ready for the next great wheeze. :)

OT: What does baking the tape do?
 

Felix Martinez

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OT: What does baking the tape do?
Sometimes it's discovered that the glue binding the master tapes’ iron oxide to the plastic has absorbed moisture over the years and has broken down. The effect of “binder breakdown” is that the oxide layer begins to shed almost immediately: basically, the master tapes fall apart as they are being played. This is a common problem with tapes from the ‘70s and early ‘80s, and an ingenious solution was discovered - to reactivate the binder, the tapes are “baked” in an oven at a low temperature, and the tape transfers are successfully completed.

Cheers,
 

Justin Lane

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I don't know but I am glad it is SACD. Another good question would be "why not create a DSD master from the analog tapes?" Then you get the full benefit of Super Audio.
I unfortunately cannot say the same thing. I would be glad this disc was a SACD if they took the analog master and encoded it in DSD, but doing it brand new in PCM first then downconverting to DSD really makes no sense. Approximations of approximations should be avoided whenever possible.

I think this shows where DSD encoding is lacking at this point in time, from a usability standpoint with the engineers involved. In the future the tools should become more mature, and easier to use, but until then we will probably continue to see PCM to DSD monkey business on new recordings.

J
 

Lee Scoggins

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I think this shows where DSD encoding is lacking at this point in time, from a usability standpoint with the engineers involved.
Justin, I remain amazed for an SACD fan how much you speculate that DSD editing is a problem. In fact, I have seen two recent sessions where the engineers had DSD editing machines and said it was easier because the new workstations are technology designed from the ground up with better features than industry standard PCM machines.

There is a real tendency here to speculate to the entire market what one reads about on a single release. It is simply not good practice. It may boil down to Scheiner not having the right DSD gear in his studio for this session, or not being comfortable in DSD mastering fully, or a whole variety of things...
 

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