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SACD sounds worse than their redbook counterparts!

Please participate in this discussion:

Level wrote on Fri, 05 November 2004 23:34
I have CD's that clearly outperform the SACD counterparts.

*Toto IV. CD wins. Not a narrow margine either. The SACD is painful and has no punch at all. Even with bass boost, the bottom is just not there.
*Bob James "In Hi Fi" Although this is a "greatest hits collection" the tracks I have on CD are Superior to the SACD. Cleaner, more dynamic, better stereo spread and better overall balance.
*Dave Brubeck "take five" This one is closer but the redbook version I have is more realistic and so is the vinyl. The sax sounds artificial on the SACD. "Squaky and "honky" Drum solo lacks the "slam" on the SACD unless you add eq. Should not have to.
*Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" My original CD and the Mobile fidelity UHQR vinyl simply sounds better. The 6 channel layer of the SACD is remixed and remastered. Alan Parsons did not care for it either overall. It has its moments but not compared to the MF-UHQR or the Japanese DSOM CD or the mobile fidelity "Gold" CD or even the original Harvest. The SQ 4channel vinyl is to die for.

A direct DSD gives the SACD's the "best chances" but they should NEVER sound worse than the redbook.

I have dozens of examples where SACD MASTERING failed to make its mark.

Reasons anyone?'

Best Regards


anonymous Mon, 11/22/2004 - 21:06

re: SACD quality

Well, for one thing SACDs tend to have a higher crest factor (ie not as loud) than their PCM counterparts. The technology is only now emerging (or Merging nod, nod, wink, wink) to do things like "look-ahead" multiband compression. Processing has, therefore, often been done in the analog domain with SACD which makes sense seeing how many of the sources you mention are analog.

The result seems to be that reissues might have gone through less digital processing on their way to SACD than PCM.

This leads to the question, were you manually equalizing the loudness between PCM and SACD when you were doing your comparison?

Also, many engineers claim that DSD has audible timbral properties. Maybe you don't like timbre of DSD (that certainly isn't a crime).

I would suggest comparing some classical stereo releases; there is often a striking comparison....


anonymous Wed, 11/24/2004 - 08:27

Comparing SACD and PCM

Sorry Henrick, I didn't realize that you weren't involved in the comparisons.

But sound quality analysis and preference testing has everything to do with loudness. Several decades of psychophysics has discovered that you can't make timbral comparisons without having first equalized the perceived loudness. Otherwise the listener is just comparing apples and oranges.

Most of the SACD layers I have heard are not as loud as the PCM layers, so when informally comparing the 2 I usually have to turn it up a bit when listening to SACD. This is true when using high quality converters like Meitners.

At a lecture I asked Bob Ludwig why there is often such a difference in loudness - his reply was that for SACD mastering he rarely uses PCM based look-ahead compressors. Also, he said that there was a different aesthetic involved in mastering for SACD. I have never mastered for this format, but I have done several experimental DSD recordings which have not been released.

SACD is a newish medium. There isn't anything wrong with it sounding different. Most of the SACDs I have heard have sounded very good. I have sometimes been disappointed with bad surround mixes (a best of the Police disk comes to mind), but not with the quality of the sound or mastering.

I really, really like the Peter Gabriel "Up" hybrid SACD. ALL of the layers sound great, and ALL of them sound different (stereo Audio CD, Stereo SACD, Multichannel SACD).

In my opinion, MEs who dismiss the potentials of DSD are making a bad mistake. I think that there is room for several formats.