*The Nightfly* DVD-A is amazing! Or, it's all in mastering, not the sampling rate!

Discussion in 'Music' started by KeithH, Jun 28, 2003.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I've been listening through the stereo track on the Donald Fagen The Nightfly DVD-Audio disc. My reaction: [​IMG]

    The sound of this disc is absolutely incredible. I am stunned. My previous "reference" DVD-Audio discs included Fleetwood Mac Rumours, Steely Dan Two Against Nature and Everything Must Go, and Eagles Hotel California. Well, I think The Nightfly beats them all. And you know what? The Nightfly has the lowest sampling rate of them all, clocking in a "mere" 48 kHz. Upon reading the back insert for The Nightfly, it is so easy to cast eternal damnation on Warner for not going full throttle with a sampling rate of 192 kHz. Well, in a slightly modified form of what Boston said repeatedly with their first album, listen to the disc!

    Now this is what every disc should represent. Not specs., formats, or new-fangled mastering techniques to boost this or hide that. No, just good mastering that delivers good music in all its glory. I view good mastering as how Bill Low at Audioquest views cables. The best mastering is no mastering (well almost). Don't tinker. Just give us the master tape, thank you. I listen to The Nightfly, especially in considering its paltry sampling rate of 48 kHz, and think that they just gave us the music. There is no sonic signature. It's just pure, unadulterated music. Again, I am stunned. Everything is so clear.

    Thank you, Warner. Thank you, Mr. Ludwig. And, of course, thank you Mr. Fagen. [​IMG]
     
  2. Michael_T

    Michael_T Second Unit

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    Yes, this is a great sounding disc. The reason it is 48/24 is because this is an early digital recording, and some believe that upsampling this would do nothing but take up valuable space on the DVD-A and add nothing to ultimate sound quality.

    I believe also that the reason this sounds so good is because it can be mastered to DVD-A in native PCM. Whereas, other discs have to go through an analog to digital transfer, which adds many variables, such as the mastering engineer, the analog tapes machines used to do the transfer, etc. etc. etc.

    Sometimes, the less you mess with something the better off it is. And as you say, it is most definitely "in the mastering" - why do you think that most of everything Steve Hoffman masters sounds like "gold". [​IMG]
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Michael, I agree with everything you said. The fact that The Nightfly is an early digital recording makes the sound of the DVD-Audio disc even more stunning. Of course, we know that Fagen (along with Becker for Steely Dan albums) is a perfectionist in the recording studio.

    By the way, I should add that the video for "The New Frontier" is way cool. Was it released back in 1983 (the copyright date at the end) and shown on MTV? I had never seen it before. I love the part where they are dancing with a Dave Brubeck Time Out LP in the foreground. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Oh, one more thing. That Hoffman guy is pretty good. [​IMG]
     
  4. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    This was 3m Soundstream, with a native 16bit/50K rate. So there was a very good SRC algorithm involved.

    I agree that this is a killer disc for the era, and it makes me wonder how many other "dawn of the digital era" recordings can be improved by a quality remastering. Hopefully a number of them.

    BTW, the Chicago II disc sounds fairly incredible as well -- I've never heard a CD or LP of this sound good, and I'm quite pleased with the results so far on just the Audigy 2 sound card.

    Regards,
     
  5. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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    Of course it's the mastering (and mixing). Higher rates and bit depths are just more forgiving of engineering mistakes.

    By the way, is Fagen's Nightfly album more of the classic rock style of Steely Dan or of the jazzy synthesizer Steely Dan?

    -JNS
     
  6. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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  7. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    John,

    I've been reading great things about the Chicago II DVD-Audio disc, which is very good news since I have not read good things about the remastered CDs. Unfortunately, my local Best Buy store did not have the Chicago DVD-Audio disc today. I'll keep looking for it.


    Jagan,

    I'd say that the The Nightfly has more of a jazzy/synthesizer sound than a classic-rock sound. It's heavy on the female background vocals, so it reminds me of Aja and the last two Steely Dan albums in that sense. Also, it doesn't have the classic-rock sound of Katy Lied. The Nightfly is a great album.
     
  8. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Keith,

    I knew you would love this disc! Yes, the "New Frontier" video was a popular staple back on MTV in 1983. I remember seeing it many times. In fact, when I bought this disc, "New Frontier" was the only track I had heard. Btw, someone on this site had written in a review that they couldn't tell the difference between the DTS and MLP track. I couldn't disagree more. Today I forgot to set my Denon to the external input and ended playing the DTS track. I sat there for about 15 seconds and said that it sounds "different" and not as "detailed" as I remember from a listening session a few days earlier. I switched to ext.in and everything came back alive. So the MLP track is definitely better imho. They actually seem to have different sonic signatures. I do have MUCH better speakers now (PSB Stratus Minis main/surrounds) than the JBL N26. Problem is that they are 4 ohm speakers so I will be picking up a NAD T762 in two-weeks to power them since NAD receivers are great for music and 4 ohm loads. As you told me last year, I am slowly leaving the mass market arena. Not because I'm "uppity," but simply because my listening habits are leading me there.

    Cheers,

    Reg
     
  9. David Coleman

    David Coleman Supporting Actor

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    The 5.1 is a great mix and sounds fantastic. I actually prefer it over the new DAN releases soundwise. However the stereo mix does show the limitations of the original recording. You by this baby for the surround track, not the stereo!
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    David,

    I have not listened to the surround-sound track on the The Nightfly yet, but I bought the disc for the stereo track first. It is exceptional. I hear no limitations. It is far, far better than my West German and Japanese "target" CDs (first pressings) and my current US pressing. No doubt about it.


    Reggie,

    Glad to hear that you are able to upgrade your system. Well done. As for The Nightfly, thanks for the info. on "The New Frontier" video. I watched MTV quite a bit back in the day, but I don't recall the video. Anyway, the video is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0, and it shows. I knew immediately that something wasn't right, and then I checked the on-screen display with the Denon '3800, and that confirmed it. Later on last night, I played parts of the DVD-Audio stereo track and then the video for my fiancee, and she immediately noticed the the video sounded inferior. I obviously just play it for the video.
     
  11. charles white

    charles white Second Unit

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    I must be in the miniority on this one. The DVD-A didn't sound much different or better than the CD, though I haven't heard the surround mix. To me, I feel that my vinyl version of this album beats the DVD-A and the CD.
     
  12. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  13. charles white

    charles white Second Unit

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    I got the regular Warner Brothers domestic vinyl version. It still sounds great to these ears compared to the CD though the
    DVD-A comes very close. MFSL did a OMR edition of The Nightfly
    that may even better. I still haven't figured out how one could do a half speed mastered version of a digitally recorded album.
     
  14. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee,

    I'm going to have to call you on this one:

     
  15. Steve_AS

    Steve_AS Second Unit

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  16. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Well, we are now on the verge of an upsampling debate. [​IMG] Would "upsampling" The Nightfly to 192 kHz for DVD-Audio be beneficial? I guess the closest we could come to doing this would be to compare the DVD-Audio disc to the CD upsampled to 192 kHz. Has anyone done the comparison?

    I am intrigued by The Nightfly on vinyl. Which vinyl release is best? Without trying to start a war here, my concern in the case of The Nightfly is, what sounds closer to the master tape? Vinyl or the DVD-Audio disc? Since The Nightfly is a digital recording, would the LP adequately represent what is on the master tape? I wonder. Of course, the data on the DVD-Audio disc has to be converted to analog.
     
  17. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Keith,

    Unless you're the mastering engineer, you will probably never truly know the answer to your question.

    Pick the one that sounds best to you, and be happy with it. Stop being an audiophile for a few minutes and enjoy the disc already [​IMG]

    Regards,
     
  18. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  19. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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  20. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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