Can Redbook CD equal the best Analog?

Lampie519

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The best analogue to my mind is 15ips 2 track tape, particularly production or safety masters. Those are used to make digital copies, including CD's which come from analogue sources.
This i guess is not available in an online store plus without a tape recorder (not just any) you will not be able to get the pleasure of hearing any of these.

So when getting the best copies on CD we could get very close....

He does use DAC chips, but for reasons of linearity he uses industrial precision chips (AD5791 BRUZ), normally used for medical and military precision applications,

I think "Metrum" did the same some years back..... Not sure if this means anything for audio, sounds more like a marketing story.... For me the current source DAC's are best sounding still (Philips multibit).... but again i like to be convinced otherwise if it can be better as i am like many here are straving for the best....
 

bonzo75

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The best analogue to my mind is 15ips 2 track tape, particularly production or safety masters. Those are used to make digital copies, including CD's which come from analogue sources. They are also used to master LP's which come from analogue sources. Every safety master I have heard when compared with the digital version is better.

There may be some digital copies that exceed the analogue originals, with the right mastering engineer, working his/her magic. Winston Ma had some of the finest mastering engineers working for him producing his CD's which are the best CD's that I have heard. When I worked with him on my Decca book, he had two multi-Grammy award winning mastering engineers doing the four CD's that accompanied the book. Tremendous amount of back and forth between Winston (as producer) and the engineers (Michael Bishop and Robert Friedrich).

Larry

How are you enjoying the rips played back through your digital
 
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Ian B

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One note and you will know LOL...
We try to compare analog to digital here so SACD falls short in every way.... (as stated earlier i am willing to accept my defeat in case....)
What I can say here is that I used work in professional recording studios, and occasionally oversee mastering sessions. When we would capture 2" 24 track tape mixes or transfer 1/2" 30ips 2 track masters to digital, DSD (SACD format) was close to identical to the source. 24/192 was respectable, 24/96 was good, and 16/44.1 wasn't even close with any set of converters.

This is where it is hard for me to follow Audio Note's counterintuitive logic, if in the studio and in my home DSD sounds closest to the analog tape source with conventional design converters, how can Red Book, which sounded worse, compare better with an analog format? I have no doubt they and some others figured out a way to make it sound good, and perhaps their designs are optimized best for 16/44.1 sources. But this would have to be a very different presentation than what the recording or mastering engineers heard.
 

Ian B

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I strongly suspect even terms of raw detail resolution, the best of current CD playback beats the SACD players around the turn of the milennium, about which all the hifi magazines raved at the time. We just didn't know how much sheer information was encoded on those humble silver discs until decades later.
All digital audio has improved over the decades, including SACD/DSD playback, and the gap is still significant.
 

Lampie519

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When we would capture 2" 24 track tape mixes or transfer 1/2" 30ips 2 track masters to digital, DSD (SACD format) was close to identical to the source. 24/192 was respectable, 24/96 was good, and 16/44.1 wasn't even close with any set of converters.
Then you know that when recording, this is important but when mastering the dynamic range can be reduced to 16bit without loss. This has nothing todo with the DAC's used only digital headroom. So as long as we stay in the digital domain this is no issue....

Now the audio quality of the DAC's used in a studio is debatable especially the low bit versions.

I had exactly the same discussion with a friend who is a distributor of high end record players some years ago. He stated at that time that all new records produced where digital files converted to analog and even then sounded better then same recording on a CD or SACD.

So we figured that this studio must have a very good D/A converter to do so.

Because of this "fact" i started to work on my converter (usually pro converters are multitrack mono converters) so i also build mono converters and found that this could be "it" ....

I also work in the "pro" industry and many friends are building studios but state that what we can accomplish at home can be better in so many ways (most studios use off the shelf gear).
We are not talking about the recording side as this is not the hobby we discuss here...

Best wishes,

Frank
 
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Ian B

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Then you know that when recording this is important but when mastering the dynamic range can be reduced to 16bit without loss. This has nothing todo with the DAC's used only digital headroom. So as long as we stay in the digital domain this is no issue....
That's the pop sci version of the math, but in reality every downconversion from 24 bit to 16 bit, or DSD to 16 bit, is quite audible (and depressing), as are sample rate conversions. This is even at lower volumes where the popular understanding says there should be no difference. If you have a good ear you can even hear the signature of each dither or noise-shaping scheme used in the conversions. They do not sound the same, hence the existence of hi-res downloads and discs.

Of course, there are engineers that insist otherwise, but IMO most of them rely on textbooks, and visual displays, don't use their ears, and often aren't open to new information.
 

Al M.

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I think "Metrum" did the same some years back..... Not sure if this means anything for audio, sounds more like a marketing story.... For me the current source DAC's are best sounding still (Philips multibit).... but again i like to be convinced otherwise if it can be better as i am like many here are straving for the best....

No, it's actually not a marketing story, but an engineering story. The AD5791 BRUZ has considerable zero crossing glitch energy, which is why it's not recommended for audio. Moffat had to find a technical work around outside the usual sample and hold, which he thinks sounds bad (I won't quote his exact words). The designer of the chip was surprised that Moffat could make it work for audio (that is documented in a forum post by the designer).

The first version of the DAC produced a 1 kHz sine wave at -90 dB where you still could see traces of the glitch energy at zero crossing, the same measurement for version 2 is clean.
 

Lampie519

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The AD5791 BRUZ has considerable zero crossing glitch energy
Yes, i know and also how to solve this but it does not tell anything about the audio capabilities at all just "protecting" purposes as most don't like to use this kind of dac anyway (as these are not easy to copy LOL)... Everyone loves the TDA1541 as there so much info to be found, and if you just through all ideas in a bucket you will end up with what is now found on the market.... and everyone claims that they have invented it LOL....
Nothing new... just check the diyaudio forum about this chip and you will find all the so called "new" ideas (more then 10 years ago , so you must dig a bit to find it haha).
 
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Richard Austen

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That's the pop sci version of the math, but in reality every downconversion from 24 bit to 16 bit, or DSD to 16 bit, is quite audible (and depressing), as are sample rate conversions. This is even at lower volumes where the popular understanding says there should be no difference. If you have a good ear you can even hear the signature of each dither or noise-shaping scheme used in the conversions. They do not sound the same, hence the existence of hi-res downloads and discs.

Of course, there are engineers that insist otherwise, but IMO most of them rely on textbooks, and visual displays, don't use their ears, and often aren't open to new information.

I noticed that Steve Hoffman - a rather famous mastering engineer for SACD who has worked with some of the biggest artists in the industry owns an Audio Note CD player and DAC (4.1x) and seeing Audio Note gear, in general, creeping into a few recording studios - Damian Quintard (Emmy winner for sound) uses this stuff to make Dolby Atmos recordings. It's kind of off to see SET amplifiers for such a purpose. I think there is something being missed - it is not so much the CD format or DAC chip but everything else involved. Back around the year 2000 I remember someone noting to me that if I had not heard Audio Note CD replay then I had never heard CD done properly. So the fact that SACD or DSD sounds better than a Naim CD player or a Sony CD player is one thing - but the AN CD players are another animal. Over 25 years with NOS No digital/analog filters - I have seen a vast amount of "copiers" from Zanden at the high-end price range to Border Patrol, and several others trying to get in on that non-oversampling no filter approach.

Martin Colloms often does double-blind level matched sessions and AN's top DAC took apart all other DACs including all the hi-res models. So even with down-conversion the AN Fifth Element was winning out. It makes no logical sense - crappy measured performance and not playing natively - so it must come down to the inherent design and perhaps the output stage. But all the yacking about all this stuff is worthless for the most part because this is an experiential hobby. There is too much informational/sight/price/prestige/measurements, etc bias out there that influence listeners.

If a person believes tube amps are flabby and slow then that is what their brain/eye interface will "hear" when they listen to a tube amplifier just as 16 bit will be "heard" to be inferior if the listener holds that belief before they listen.

Peter wrote an article in the 1990s called Comparison by Contrast where if one is looking for the most accurate piece of gear - that piece of gear should have the highest degree of contrast. So in a CD player the player that makes 10 albums sound the most different from each other has more of a chance of being the most accurate because there is no way for the consumer to know how all the albums were recorded (but we know they were all recorded differently).

I had always felt that way when listening to gear (without the article) but PQ put it to words. I remembered listening to a Magnepan Speaker and I thought - these are pretty cool but everything kinda sounds exactly the same. I put on Beethoven, Lady Gaga (the Fame), Jackson Browne Acoustic and I thought the "sound field" presents it all the same. There is very little contrast - nice as the speakers are at what they do well - they didn't separate the compressed pop album all that different than the superior acoustic or classical album. As someone who listens to all genres - the speakers and Quads and MLs are not for me - neither are single drivers. Neither are a lot of CD players that do the same sort of thing.

I noted when listening to Audio Note's 1.1x (an affordable one-box CD player) that it presented some albums thin and bright others warm - on the Pulp Fiction Soundtrack you could hear the shifts - with the Sim Audio Player (which used the same Philips L1210 transport mechanism) presented everything flat. It was a strange thing because at first, we all liked the Sim Audio player better because of that flatness and even keel sound - all tracks sounded homogenous and there is comfort in that. The AN player did not. It required the listeners to work a little bit - one comment in the room was that at least it held his interest even if it sounded a bit rougher.

 

LL21

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Very interesting commentary. As a 14-year owner of Zanden digital, it is the longest single running component in the system...20 consecutive years of CJ represented 4 different preamps (PV14L, ACT 2, GAT 1, GAT 2)...12 consecutive years of Gryphon were the Antileon, Colosseum, Mephisto. The Zanden was basically an earlier iteration of their 5000S DAC and then the latest spec version and Transport...so 14 years straight.
 

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