AVS Forum banner
1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Three of us sat down yesterday to compare the sound quality of 19 tracks in the blu ray 5.1 LPCM 24/192 to that recorded on the accompanying SACD disc.


Our first unanimous impressions were that the tracks via Blu Ray had more life and air to them but this preference did not hold for all offerings and our preferences sometimes differed. At times we felt there was too much coming from the rear channels and it was distracting. No notes were taken of reactions track by track as initially we had no intentions of the detailed listening of all of both discs.


The overall impression was that the new Blu Ray formats could offer superior sound but not necessarily as quite a few of the SACD tracks were preferred in these recordings.


This should be regarded as an impressions only post as there were level differences in each pathway and these can affect judgments. The exercise should be repeated with each pathway set to 2Ch and levels better controlled. Next time other audiophiles call around this will be attempted.


A few notes on the equipment used, which, in all modesty, is pretty good. If interested, you can see pics and more details at http://gallery.audioasylum.com/cgi/v...serImages=3758

The front end path for the Blu Ray audio was Panasonic BD35 -> Meridian 621 -> Meridian 861 via MC digital links.

The SACD path was Esoteric UX-1 LE (highly modified by The Upgrade Company, a review of this mod on the player forum generating lots of derision) -> MC analog out -> upsampled MC input on the Meridian 861 for the surround channels but direct to L/R amps via a McInstosh C200 preamp.

The L/R main amps are Halcro DM68's, Centre channel and other surrounds are Plinius amps with custom made mosfet amps powering the 4 subs.

The main speakers are Sound Labs full range electrostatics, the centre channel is 2 similar Sound Labs electrostatics with side and rear speakers also electrostatics. 3 of the subs have KEF B139 drivers (2 in transmission lines) while the 4th has an Alpine driver.


The sobering feature of all this is that Blu Ray players can produce high quality audio much less expensively and often better than high end SACD units. In this exercise we were comparing sound from a sub $1000 player to that from a unit costing many times that. However, in fairness, it should be pointed out that the Meridian 621 was in the chain of the Blu Ray audio and the 621 is credited with sophisticated buffering which minimizes the jitter associated with the HDMI link which carries both video as well as audio. This might be irrelevant in an audio only Blu Ray disc although I'm unsure of this as the BD35 video circuitry would be still active with HDMI processing in operation either end of the cable thanks to HDCP (bless its little heart). Others might have a better idea of where the HMDI jitter nasties are generated.


Bottom line is that Blu Ray does offer the best possible audio and I have been soaking this up in the latest opera and ballet acquisitions. But with an established library of thousands of CDs, SACDs & DVD-As I'm not inspired to further duplicate more audio recording in the collection. A/V discs yes, but I'm not tempted at the moment with more audio only Blu Ray recordings.


John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22,644 Posts
That particular disc has mixed content that was originally mastered for differing formats. For a better comparison it would be better to go with a disc that was entirely created for the format and not variously cross-converted to and from different formats.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes /forum/post/16859266


That particular disc has mixed content that was originally mastered for differing formats. For a better comparison it would be better to go with a disc that was entirely created for the format and not variously cross-converted to and from different formats.

So, if I interpret correctly, your suggestion is to record exactly the same live music direct in BD format AND direct in DSD and then compare. My guess is it would be difficult to tell the difference and it is doubtful if we will ever see that done so we are unlikely to ever know.



IMHO there are more differences in recordings due to mic placement, mixing, and producer/production processing than any due to the format used. I would not argue that the hi-rez formats should sound better than redbook CD but again, done carefully and properly (sadly not always the case), CDs can sound remarkably close to SACD etc.


But, from what I read (and will soon discover personally) the new BD OPPO handles them all VERY nicely.


John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22,644 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tassie Devil /forum/post/16859558


So, if I interpret correctly, your suggestion is to record exactly the same live music direct in BD format AND direct in DSD and then compare. My guess is it would be difficult to tell the difference and it is doubtful if we will ever see that done so we are unlikely to ever know.

Apparently I did not splain this right. The content on this disc comes from a variety of projects that were recorded in different formats and mastered for different formats. Some of it was re-encoded for this release. A better comparison would be to use a release that was ALL recorded in the same DXD format, at the same session by the same people and mastered for that particular release. The choices would be Divertimenti, Flute Mystery (not yet released), Mozart-Grieg or Sonar. You're comparing 2 different audio codecs, it would be better to eliminate any chance that one track or another might sound slightly different due to being transcoded to one format or the other. It also helps eliminate any personal preferences that might relate to the different recordings or material.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,857 Posts
I remember reading Mr Lindberg saying that SACD sounds warmer to him compared to PCM in the studio. So I'm not sure what else is to be revealed in the home setting.


Some tracks in this sampler disc are from the Divertimenti disc which is known to have the intended effect of string players surrounding the listener in a circle, whereas the others are not so this disc should be auditioned separately.


Each format is played back and decoded via separate hardware, one using digital and the other analogue path. So how can one account for or exclude hardware specific differences? It would have been better to have the same hardware for both now that universal BD/SACD players are around.


This experiment compared a low end BD player to a high end SACD player but has not excluded the possibility that an entry level SACD player might perform just as well or better via digital output, thus making the cost factor somewhat irrelevant.


For SACD and Blu-ray recordings encoded originally in DXD 24/352.8, doesn't the production process still involve transcoding and/or downsampling to DSD and PCM? Are these processes problem free? Are we here just comparing the native DSD and PCM formats on their own (direct DSD and PCM recordings would make that possible) or rather are we comparing the effects of transcoding/downsampling from DXD?


As a side note, I have the 'Mozart Grieg' set but the coloured buttons on the remote does not work for audio selection as indicated in the booklet - I've tried both Panasonic and Pioneer players. Since the Pioneer can change audio on the fly with the remote it would have been better if the booklet indicates clearly which track is which and which track is the default. I prefer the disc to autoplay without using the screen menu.


As I don't have a BD/SACD universal player and with the difficulty of A/B switching I haven't bothered to do any comparative listening. I do however, agree with one thing and that is I'm not inclined to double-dip into Blu-ray audio re-releases when I already have the SACD or DVD-A. And a resounding NO! NO! for faked upsampled and upmixed re-releases.


Even for new recordings I'm not rushing out to snatch up BD audio just because it's 24/192 or 7.1. The programme, artists and interpretation have to come first - content over spec. The case for BD concerts and operas is somewhat different for me because the high definition video is a desirable upgrade from DVD but audio is mostly 24/48, which is fine but hardly a quantum leap from DVD's 16/48 and at the same time reinforces my belief that 24/192 isn't such a big deal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca /forum/post/16866862


I remember reading Mr Lindberg saying that SACD sounds warmer to him compared to PCM in the studio. So I'm not sure what else is to be revealed in the home setting.


Some tracks in this sampler disc are from the Divertimenti disc which is known to have the intended effect of string players surrounding the listener in a circle, whereas the others are not so this disc should be auditioned separately.


Each format is played back and decoded via separate hardware, one using digital and the other analogue path. So how can one account for or exclude hardware specific differences? It would have been better to have the same hardware for both now that universal BD/SACD players are around.


This experiment compared a low end BD player to a high end SACD player but has not excluded the possibility that an entry level SACD player might perform just as well or better via digital output, thus making the cost factor somewhat irrelevant.


For SACD and Blu-ray recordings encoded originally in DXD 24/352.8, doesn't the production process still involve transcoding and/or downsampling to DSD and PCM? Are these processes problem free? Are we here just comparing the native DSD and PCM formats on their own (direct DSD and PCM recordings would make that possible) or rather are we comparing the effects of transcoding/downsampling from DXD?


As a side note, I have the 'Mozart Grieg' set but the coloured buttons on the remote does not work for audio selection as indicated in the booklet - I've tried both Panasonic and Pioneer players. Since the Pioneer can change audio on the fly with the remote it would have been better if the booklet indicates clearly which track is which and which track is the default. I prefer the disc to autoplay without using the screen menu.


As I don't have a BD/SACD universal player and with the difficulty of A/B switching I haven't bothered to do any comparative listening. I do however, agree with one thing and that is I'm not inclined to double-dip into Blu-ray audio re-releases when I already have the SACD or DVD-A. And a resounding NO! NO! for faked upsampled and upmixed re-releases.


Even for new recordings I'm not rushing out to snatch up BD audio just because it's 24/192 or 7.1. The programme, artists and interpretation have to come first - content over spec. The case for BD concerts and operas is somewhat different for me because the high definition video is a desirable upgrade from DVD but audio is mostly 24/48, which is fine but hardly a quantum leap from DVD's 16/48 and at the same time reinforces my belief that 24/192 isn't such a big deal.

Very fair comments. Bottom line is that offering the SACD disc alongside the BD really demonstrates nix.


And I agree wholeheartedly the artistry is a no.1 However with the latest technology available for so many works I now find it more difficult to listen to recordings made in the dim dark past. Even reissues friom the 70's can sound a bit flat compared to the latest issues. Conversely some of the recordings done in the 60's & 70's can sound better than more recent ones done with dozens of mics and mixed to a pulp.


So, at the moment, I cannot see audiophiles breaking their necks to buy BD audio discs and with MP3 the standard for many, the industry is also unlikely to jump in with any substantial releases. All very interesting nevertheless. I have another BD "Mussorgsky/Stokowski/Symphonic Transcriptions" on the shelf waiting to be auditioned. The first copy I got was unplayable so I guess it might be time to sample the replacement.


John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
392 Posts
Let me see, I can play my current collection of hybrid and single layer SACD stereo, mono and multi-channel disks in my car, my boat, my PC and my music system and have a smile on my face. If I invest in BR audio I can only play the disks on my audio/video system. I may be dumb but I don't see BR audio in my future.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Feirstein /forum/post/16869217


Let me see, I can play my current collection of hybrid and single layer SACD stereo, mono and multi-channel disks in my car, my boat, my PC and my music system and have a smile on my face. If I invest in BR audio I can only play the disks on my audio/video system. I may be dumb but I don't see BR audio in my future.

Fair comment. And this is the reason DVD-A never had much of a following.



But if they could dual layer or dual side BD so there was the option of at least CD, they might have a chance. Otherwise I agree you are spot on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,857 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tassie Devil /forum/post/16866891


However with the latest technology available for so many works I now find it more difficult to listen to recordings made in the dim dark past. Even reissues friom the 70's can sound a bit flat compared to the latest issues. Conversely some of the recordings done in the 60's & 70's can sound better than more recent ones done with dozens of mics and mixed to a pulp.

Artists from a bygone era are irreplaceable as performance practice and traditions change and to some extent high-end kits do help to get the most out of whatever is available. Personally I still listen to some mono discs. Paradoxically I often concentrate more on the music and not the sound fidelity when listening to old stuff.

Quote:
I have another BD "Mussorgsky/Stokowski/Symphonic Transcriptions" on the shelf waiting to be auditioned. The first copy I got was unplayable so I guess it might be time to sample the replacement.

You do realise that these are remixes (upmixes) of original 5.1 Naxos SACDs and DVD-As. A few are upsampled and are firmly in my No-No category.


The Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky were reported to be unplayable by some and I suspect they are BD9 format on DVD-R and some older BD players can't play them.


I'm interested to know what these sound like but only if you have an original Naxos SACD or DVD-A to compare with. Even if the BD sounds 'better' I'd still stick with the Naxos if I'm interested in the disc, because Jero did not work for Naxos then so he could not have been involved in the original recording and production. Any new remix or upmix is his fanciful creation which I'm not in the least interested in.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca /forum/post/16873464


You do realise that these are remixes (upmixes) of original 5.1 Naxos SACDs and DVD-As. A few are upsampled and are firmly in my No-No category.


The Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky were reported to be unplayable by some and I suspect they are BD9 format on DVD-R and some older BD players can't play them.

Wouldn't you know, just tried the second copy of this disc and it will NOT play on the Panasonic BD35 either so you are spot on.



And yes I did realise it came from the Naxos so is a bit of a fraud.


An OPPO is supposed to land here in the next few days so I'll see if it will play the disc.


John
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22,644 Posts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tassie Devil /forum/post/16894216



An OPPO is supposed to land here in the next few days so I'll see if it will play the disc.


John

The BDP-83 will play it with aplomb. The only caveat being that the DTS decoder chip limits DTS-MA to 96KHz sampling when decoding in the player. It will bitstream any 5.1 up to 192KHz. DTHD will decode to 24/192.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top