High Definition Releases - Reviews

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by Bigerik, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. hjames

    hjames Nabbed ... Subscriber

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    They must have "fixed" it - CD+Bluray is now "unavailable" ...


     
  2. The Shocker

    The Shocker Member

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    Stupid question time...

    I don't see the point to Blu-Ray audio. All the stuff (other than SACD) is just PCM, if it's in stereo. So, all Blu-Ray gets you is more storage space. A double sided, dual layer DVD has the potential to hold 16.8 GB of data. That seems like plenty of space to hold a stereo mix of an album in 24/96 or even 24/192 and a complete surround mix in some lossless format on the same disc.

    Please feel free to correct me and enlighten me if I am wrong.

    TBH, I am way more concerned about dynamic compression than I am hi-res formats. Unless they make these hi-res albums with much quieter masters, I don't think you're going to be impressed with the sound quality.
     
  3. Wildcat

    Wildcat "Boat Wake", 1966 (Pete Turner, R.I.P.) Subscriber

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    I think DVD has the stigma of being a "dead" format. Especially DVD-Audio, which never went anywhere except for those "glory years" about a dozen years ago. It may also have to do with the way BluRay is authored. DVD-Audio used to store files in the AUDIO_TS folder, whereas video was in the VIDEO_TS folder. Yet there can also be audio DVD discs that use the top resolution of 24-bit/96kHz of a standard DVD player (24/48 on older players), so, that further confuses the format. (The packaging would need to say, "Plays in all DVD players.") Classic Records released some in that format. For multichannel in high-res, also, you would need to use MLP, a form of lossless compression (Meridian Lossless Packing, if I'm not mistaken), since the bitrate would be too much for the DVD-Audio format. (This is something you would notice only in the authoring software--to an end user, it makes no difference since the end product plays the way it should but from a technical standpoint, multichannel high-res exceeded the bitrate spec for DVD. There may be a better explanation out there for this issue.) BluRay probably is able to sidestep that bitrate issue as well, due to improved player electronics and the space to store full-blown high-res surround files without having to do any compression.

    Most of us who are into high-res can definitely hear the difference in resolution--I know I can. But like any format, a lot has to do with the mastering and the source tape used. That is probably best discussed in a separate thread though. ;)
     
  4. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    To be clear, do you mean that you hear better resolution from a Blu-ray audio disc than from a 24-bit/96Hz DVD-A? What player?
     
  5. The Shocker

    The Shocker Member

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    That is definitely a topic for another discussion. But you have to also realize a lot of "hi-res" releases are different masters, so of course you're going to hear a difference.

    DVD-Audio can handle linear PCM in 5.1 surround in 24/96. I never really understood how Meridian got their hooks into DVD-Audio and made MLP part of the spec. There are plenty of DVD-A releases that use LPCM that is not encoded in MLP.

    MLP is just a lossless codec. It's no different from FLAC/ALAC/WAV/Wavpack/APE/OptiFROG.

    I just bought the SACD of I Robot by The Alan Parsons Project, and, my god, is it a treat for the ears. But it's a completely new remaster, and that's what makes the difference. The CD layer sounds just as good as the SACD layer.
     
  6. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    Shocker, I have a question; not a challenge. I would love to save money by being able to buy redbooks or download iTunes or MP3 files.
    So in the case of Radttle that Lock. I had a CD, a DVD-A and a Blu-ray audio all at the same time. Three listeners including myself; but only two at a time. The system is an Oppo BDP-95 connected via WireWorld Luna 7 RCA IC from stereo analog out to analog in of Rotel RX-1052 playing through Canton Ergo 1002 DCs.
    None of the three hear a difference between the CD and DVD-A. All three hear more detail and air, deeper bass extension, and wider, higher soundstage from the Blu-ray.
    Is it safe to believe that all 3 discs originate from the same master? If so, why the difference? Does the player handle the formats differently, or is it safe to conclude that Blu-ray is a superior format. What would you expect from a SACD made from the same master?
    Does anyone know of any SACDs mastered in DSD?
     
  7. The Shocker

    The Shocker Member

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    Well, if you want to do a valid test, you need to take the Blu Ray audio and find a way to rip it. I don't know what's involved in ripping a BDA. Not sure if there is DRM there. But once you rip it, you would then use something like Foobar 2000 to convert it down to 16/44.1 lossless with dithering (which is technically lossy, since you're removing data). Once you have that, you can convert that FLAC to the lossy format of your choice, be it MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis etc. Then you can use those files to properly test.

    And, if you really want to do it right with a blind test, you would take the 16/44.1 file and upconvert it back to the same bit depth and sample rate as the original file. The extra hi-res data is already gone. You really just need to upconvert to have the sample rates match, cause when you switch sample rates, sometime it can give away which file is which. If you're not going to blind test, then you don't need to bother with this step.

    Unless you do the conversion yourself, you can never be sure what was done to the file. Does the Blu Ray have EQ applied to it prior to pressing? Is it even the same master?

    In the end, though. If it sounds good to you, then enjoy listening to it. Even if they mess with the Blu Ray in some way to make it sound better (EQ, different master, etc.), that's the only way you're going to get that specific master.

    Something else to watch out for is greedy record labels. Especially when you're buying from HDTracks. I will point out up front, this IS NOT HDTracks fault. There have been a number of "hi-res" releases on HDTracks that were later pulled and monies refunded, because HDTracks was selling a 24/96 and 24/192 FLAC of an album from the mid 80s that was recorded in 16/44.1, using the available digital recording equipment of the time. The one that stands out in my head is Dire Straits album "Brothers in Arms." I have been told by others that HDTracks used to sell Phil Collins early albums in h-res from 16/44.1 masters. In HDTracks defense, they sell what the record labels give them. They have no prior knowledge of these files or how they were made.

    Funny thing is, Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs recently released a new remaster of Brothers in Arms on SACD. I'm sure it sounds great, since MFSL has great mastering engineers, but the "master tapes" are still 16/44.1 files.
     
  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat "Boat Wake", 1966 (Pete Turner, R.I.P.) Subscriber

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    SACDs from Analogue Productions, Mobile Fidelity, Audio Fidelity. BMG's Living Stereo classical SACDs were mastered at Soundmirror, Inc. from original 2- or 3-channel tapes. And it's likely that many of the US Sony discs from the 2000s as they co-developed DSD to be an archival digital format for their own use.

    And I'm bowing out--this is a "review" thread. Hi-res can be debated separately in its own thread. (Maybe the mods can split these posts out on their own?)
     
  9. The Shocker

    The Shocker Member

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    Well, then let's continue with the reviews.

    I highly recommend the new MFSL SACD of I Robot by The Alan Parsons Project. I own all but one version of this album. The one to get was always the DVD-A version that was issued by Classic Records back in 2003. I think this version beats it, hands down. The detail in this version is just amazing.

    The CD and SACD layer are the same master. So, I ripped the CD layer and scanned ReplayGain.value of +2.32, showing this disc is most definitely NOT dynamically squashed.
     
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  10. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    Apologies for digressing and for mis-typing. I meant RECORDED in DSD. I do agree that most of the MoFi SACDs I own are great. The few that aren't is simply due to the content not being very detailed or having a lot of dynamic range to begin with.
     
  11. jayjayjayjay

    jayjayjayjay AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Thanks for showing your audio chain. I am searching AK to see what different chains people are using. Whether it is better to get a dedicated high resolution audio player be hand held or a desktop unit. It seems that we are relying pretty heavily on our laptops while having spent a lot of money over the years on our systems.
     
  12. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    If we agree that it's about the mastering; not the bit rate, I'll nominate release from Red House Records:
    Greg Brown, Covenant
    Probably anything from this small indie label is well produced, recorded and mastered. You just have to find some content you like. I've struck out a few times on content; but never on SQ.

    https://www.redhouserecords.com/store/music
     
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  13. amely

    amely New Member

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    High definition releases are more better than old cd releases. High definition gives good sound quality as well more picture quality.
     
  14. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    Two new ones: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black on Blu ray audio. Excellent! She has a way of making misery sound like rocking out. Sometimes the production is a bit overblown; but her voice is amazingly textured.
    John Hiatt - Master of Disaster SACD. B+, but it's still growing on me.
     
  15. PianotunerNJ

    PianotunerNJ Active Member

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    Recently picked up The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots on DVDA. I don't know how this band slipped by me for so many years, but this album, in my opinion, is a masterwork. My understanding is that it was made specifically to be a surround album and I will say that it will test your system. Crazy high and super low frequencies, massive swings in dynamics and texture. Traditional and acoustic instruments mixed with crazy synth stuff. Not only that, but cool and interesting songs and it's a rock opera type concept album which works on me much of the time.

    Highly recommend!

    Also, I finally got around to picking up Mahavishnu Orchestra, Birds of Fire on SACD 5.1 and it's like meeting an old friend for the first time, a second time. Hearing things I never heard on red book CD, and the surround mix is lots of fun. Great sounding disc of an all time great album.
     
  16. Wildcat

    Wildcat "Boat Wake", 1966 (Pete Turner, R.I.P.) Subscriber

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    I believe that is the old quad mix on that SACD. Some of those were fun! I don't listen to surround often, but the Sony/Legacy Head Hunters (Herbie Hancock) has a neat 4.0 mix also. I may have to grab the Mahavishnu SACD soon.
     
  17. PianotunerNJ

    PianotunerNJ Active Member

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    My mistake, it is one of a few surround discs I have that is a quad (4.0) mix. I guess I'm just in the habit of referring to all of them as 5.1 but in this case I stand (while I sit here) corrected.
     
  18. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    I've been skeptical of the Audio Fidelity brand of SACD releases since I ordered their Joe Cocker and found out they were burned as ordered; but I took a chance and ordered their Laura Nyro compilation. I was pleased to find that it is very good. The layering of her voice(s) on Stony End and Eli's Coming is fantastic and there seem to be 5 of her in the room in 5 diverse locations; not standing at one mic. It is clean and dynamic.

    I ordered the Mofi of Carly Simon's Anticipation. My LP got pretty beat up when I was in college; but it will be nice to compare. I usually don't buy SACDs of LPs I already have and was trying to talk myself into No Secrets; but I can't stand to hear Your So Vain one more time!
     
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  19. Wildcat

    Wildcat "Boat Wake", 1966 (Pete Turner, R.I.P.) Subscriber

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    Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. ;) I only mentioned it since it is not a new surround mix, but one that was done decades ago. You would think that with most labels having released quad titles at some point, there would have been more releases of those old mixes.

    Some of those quad mixes are almost comical. A buddy of mine who is into quad sent me a DVD-A of a quad reel from Japan he had transferred to digital. There is a modern surround SACD compilation that has a couple of the tracks from the album on it. On the quad, it literally was some second-string engineer tossing things wherever it sounded "cool" in the various speakers, with no rhyme or reason. On the new surround mixes, the main combo is up front, vocalist centered, and the "sweetening" (strings, percussion, other accompaniment, and some light reverb) are sent to the rears.
     
  20. 2channel*

    2channel* Well-Known Member

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    My take on Mofi of Carly Simon's Anticipation: Quiet (which mine is not) original release LP > SACD > Redbook. Although there are songs where Mofi improved the spacing, and the kettle drums are awesome, Simon's vocals are more recessed and there is less sparkle to the top end than the LP on my system. I'll miss the vinyl; but it's more enjoyable listening to the SACD and losing the snap, crackle, pop. The red book layer is just fine. Just fine.

    The variables in the system are an Oppo BDP-95 for SACD, NAD C546BEE for red book, a Shure V15 SAS through an Emotiva XPS-1 for phono.
     
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