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Thread: Amir, A Few BIts About Bits Please

  1. #1
    Site Founder And Administrator Steve Williams's Avatar
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    Question Amir, A Few BIts About Bits Please

    Amir

    Here is another question that I must ask.

    Most every audiophile always has many versions of the same album whether it be CD, tape, vinyl, XRCD, SACD etc. They all sound different

    Now pertinent to only XRCD 24 vs SACD and using the same album my ears always takes me back to favoring in virtually 100% of the time XRCD 24. Most everyone else prefer SACD.

    Is this my imagination?

    I remember in other forums that you once had a wonderful discussion re "bits" and how many we need and if we increase to 24 what that does and do we even hear them all?

    We all hear differently. I did a very random test involving a few members of our Bay Area Audio Society several years ago. I played the identical track from SACD and XRCD 24 at same volume level with almost the same results.

    BTW, I always enjoyed XRCD but it wasn't until XRCD 2 showed up that for my ears there was a difference. XRCD 24 is even better.

    Now Winston Ma has his K2HD and DXD all redbook variations. I have almost all of these and they are spectacular

    If anyone collects Jazz At The Pawnshop Winston has IMHO the very best digital version I have ever heard, so much so that when I played it for a friend he looked around and asked when I got a TT and where is it. It was the most expensive CD I have purchased but for arguably the best Jazz Album it was worth the $130

    So is it just me re the XRCD 24 vs SACD sonics and what is it about all of theses Redbook variants.

    Steve Williams
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    WBF Technical Expert (Pro Audio Production)/Member Sponsor Bruce B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Williams View Post
    Now Winston Ma has his K2HD and DXD all redbook variations. I have almost all of these and they are spectacular
    Thank-you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Williams View Post
    If anyone collects Jazz At The Pawnshop Winston has IMHO the very best digital version I have ever heard, so much so that when I played it for a friend he looked around and asked when I got a TT and where is it. It was the most expensive CD I have purchased but for arguably the best Jazz Album it was worth the $130
    Winston will start offering his catalog in hi-rez downloads soon!
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  3. #3
    Site Founder And Administrator amirm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Williams View Post
    Most every audiophile always has many versions of the same album whether it be CD, tape, vinyl, XRCD, SACD etc. They all sound different

    Now pertinent to only XRCD 24 vs SACD and using the same album my ears always takes me back to favoring in virtually 100% of the time XRCD 24. Most everyone else prefer SACD.
    I like to say that people like SACD the same way they like tubes . It is probably less accurate but may be what people like to hear.

    Why is it less accurate? Go and ask most people who produce SACD whether they do their mixing and processing in SACD. The answer is usually no, they use PCM 24-bit!!! So at best, SACD can match the performance of PCM in that situation. At worst, it is changing the sound which may be more pleasing to people but it is not how the original was heard.

    Worse yet, is when people listen to SACD from a chain that converts it to PCM to send over HDMI ala PS3. Nothing is more absurd in my book than starting with PCM in mastering, going to SACD on disc, and then back to PCM to the DAC! What the heck???

    Is this my imagination?
    In my experience there are audible differences due to conversion to DSD.

    I remember in other forums that you once had a wonderful discussion re "bits" and how many we need and if we increase to 24 what that does and do we even hear them all?
    I will have to repost it here some time. But briefly, there is no DAC that reproduces better than 20 bits. The rest of the bits are noise and cannot be reproduced.

    BTW, I always enjoyed XRCD but it wasn't until XRCD 2 showed up that for my ears there was a difference. XRCD 24 is even better.
    Let me first clarify that XRCD process is not reproducing 24 bits in your home. But rather, it is a careful chain that takes 24-bit material and produces 16-bits out of it.

    It is counterintuitive but if you take 24-bit samples and chop them off to 16 bits, the result is worse than if you started with 16 bits! "More is not better" as I said in the other thread.

    The right application adds noise in the form of dither to get rid of the distortion caused as a result of this conversion (same thing occurs in the SACD process by the way but much more extreme since we are going down to a single bit there). What algorithm you use here can have sonic differences so perhaps JVC has some secret sauce here.

    So is it just me re the XRCD 24 vs SACD sonics and what is it about all of theses Redbook variants.

    I think it can be argued that CD in all of its variations is slightly imperfect. If the sample rate was 20 to 30% higher, we perhaps would have never needed anything higher resolution! But it is not. So in that sense, I can see people considering SACD to sound superior since it has > 2X the bandwidth of CD.
    Amir
    Founder, Madrona Digital Audio, Video, Home Automation
    Contributing Editor, Widescreen Review Magazine

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