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Reclocking USB signals - significant improvement !

Discussion in 'audio' started by cpg, Feb 1, 2020.

  1. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr pfm Member

    Tony, yes, I've noticed that SACDs need a tweak of the volume control, I attributed it to the wider dynamic range, in the same way that well-recorded classical and jazz CDs need turning up, when coming from playing rock and pop recordings.

    The benefits of SACD, for me, are partly the greater sense of ease, partly the greater solidity and definition to the image, but also quite often better timing. I suspect those attributes are probably more to do with format than mastering.
  2. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I actively collect very early Japanese and West German CDs as they tend to have the best available masterings of so many titles, so I’m starting from a different perspective to many people. The thing that was so great about early CDs is the record labels needed to get their huge back catalogues into the shop racks as soon as possible. As such these CDs tend to be beautifully lazy in that all the mastering engineer did was thread the master tape up, set the levels to a ‘safe’ setting, press play and record and stick the track gaps in. No revisionist EQ, bass-boost or compression for shitty little modern speakers, no dreadful digital noise removal techniques etc. Just the master tape transferred flat to 16/44.1. A lot of them have yet to be beaten to my ears.

    Basically in theory yes, high resolution is better as it gets the digital filter far further up and away from the audio band, but in practice both mastering decisions and the gradual decay of the original analogue masters means many of those early-80s CDs are the best we are ever going to get. As an example take a ‘70s rock band like Steely Dan. When the first CD issues came out in the early ‘80s their oldest album was only a decade old, the more recent ones only a couple of years. The tapes hadn’t decayed to the point they need ‘baking’ to play, the tape oxide hadn’t started to shed or delaminate, any splices hadn’t fallen out etc. Now those tapes are all but lost. The early Japanese CDs are the best digital we are ever going to get. Same with jazz, and that is before even considering the huge Universal fire that destroyed the Impulse back catalogue amongst many other pinnacles of human culture.

    Mastering > format. Every time.
    Dave J, westsea and poco a poco like this.
  3. Gaycha

    Gaycha pfm Member

    ..and this is already more than adequately addressed with coax.
  4. Gaycha

    Gaycha pfm Member

    I have done the same with 16 to 24 bit files and with mixed results. Of course I want them to sound better/different but i am not sure that's they do. I totally get the more headroom argument, but as mentioned many times here, you have to be mindful of mastering which can differ 16 to 24 bit, and can have a more profound effect on sonic pleasure, than bit rate and depth. Then there are the 24 bit 'masters' that actually aren't, and they are a marketing con. Hawkwind s Space Ritual is a case in point.

    So its not straightforward.

    As an aside, I also stream from Qobuz and purchase/download from them. I hear no discernible difference 16/24 same track streamed or purchased and parked on NAS box.

    Main System - WD NAS/Qobuz/Spotify>Squeezebox Touch/iFi Clean SMPS>Benchmark pre DAC2 HGC>Dynaudio focus 110a+Velodyne Ultra 800. Not the be-all but respectable and revealing of didgital source material.

    What I do is make a playlist of 1-2 known tracks, from stream and from NAS and in 16 and 24 bit. Then i put it on shuffle. I really struggle to differentiate. They all sound great!
  5. Fourlegs

    Fourlegs Trade: WAVE High Fidelity digital cables

    can you elaborate please?
  6. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr pfm Member

    Out of interest, have you done any subjective comparisons of your tracks against CD versions of the same, in your system? My experience has been that once you get above budget CD player level, the CD version is invariably more engaging and musically satisfying to listen to. It's like the difference between CD players from the first ten years or so, and players from the mid-'90s onwards when some of the issues were better understood and had been addressed.

    Streaming is getting there, but in SQ terms, my subjective impression would put it somewhere around CD at 1993 or thereabouts, ie now acceptable, but not inspiring.

    <ducks for cover>
  7. clivem2

    clivem2 pfm Member

    I'd say your view on streaming depends on which streamers you've heard. Those that believe all digital kit sounds the same will only need single streamer to audition. I've tried several steaming devices, all had their own sound characteristics. I'm happy now that I have some options which compare well with my vinyl setup.
    Dave J and AndyPW like this.
  8. Heckyman

    Heckyman pfm Member

    I totally understand where you're coming from, but I think that says more about the relative ability of your CD player vs your streaming set up.

    IME it's actually quite hard to get streaming sounding as good as a very good CD player. And it involves the kinds of tweaks that many folks, understandably don't wish to entertain and/or quite expensive servers. Though on the plus side, advances in DACs tend to appear first in the standalone units whereas the choice for new CD players is quite limited.
    Sue Pertwee-Tyr likes this.
  9. notevenclose

    notevenclose pfm Member

    Absolutely. I have about a dozen albums in hi-res format where I also have the 'vanilla' RedBook CD. In every case I slowly came to realise I preferred the CD via decent transport to the hi-res versions (which were sourced from either HD Tracks or Qobuz) via my Melco server.

    The hi-res tracks are sometimes better in some respects with regard to 'hifi' aspects but the CDs are 'more there.'

    Can't actually remember the last time I played anything file-based for 'proper' listening.
    Sue Pertwee-Tyr likes this.
  10. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Hawkwind are a real minefield in any format as they have no discernible quality control in what they allow to be released. The best digital versions of all the UA stuff (the only era I’m personally interested in) is the ‘This Is Your Captain Speaking, Your Captain Is Dead’ box set, annoyingly it is deleted and LOLprice now, I paid under £30 for mine. The Space Ritual in there sounds very much like the original vinyl (i.e. ‘right’) and is not extended/expanded with any bonus tracks etc. The studio albums sound excellent too, though 1999 Party and the singles/outtakes comp are pretty compressed and naff sounding.
  11. mattgbell

    mattgbell Stop worrying!

    The moment I got the merits of CD was hearing the Maazel/Vienna Phil/Battle recording of Mahler 4 when it came out in 1990. It had a dynamic range that vinyl could only dream of. It's still an exemplary recording. Play the 4th movement through big speakers that don't compress the signal too much (ideally horns with 12"+ woofers) and you'll see what I mean. It shows (to me at least) that 16/44.1, when mastered with a light touch, is really all a good hi-fi system needs.
  12. notevenclose

    notevenclose pfm Member

    In other words, it's a complete pain in the arse. I had a Damascene 'what the f*** am I doing?' moment 2 or 3 years back while trawling through wifi logs looking for errors which might help explain some of the replay errors I was getting.

    Turned out the solution was pretty simple, go and spend a few grand on a decent CDP. All problems solved.
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Agreed. ECM jazz is another really good example.
  14. Sue Pertwee-Tyr

    Sue Pertwee-Tyr pfm Member

    Agree. Quite a few jazz labels seem to take mastering very seriously, I'd add Enja and ACT to that list, not to mention many classical labels like Hyperion and Telarc, to name two of many.
  15. Del monaco

    Del monaco pfm Member

    Chandon also made some great recordings.
  16. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    The reference '0dB' level for SACD has to be about half the nominal max range theoretically possible. This is because a weakness of 'one bit' is the risk of 'latch up' if the signal pattern gets too close to actual clipping. This can therefore affect the level chosen, and help avoid an idiot mastering engineer clipping the result.
  17. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Annoyingly, however, in some cases they didn't then put in track markers where they would have been useful. I have at least one early CD of classical music that is awkwardly lacking in track markers. Decca IIRC.

    I also bought some of the early Denon CDs of recordings made in Russia by them. Poor use ot track/index markers, and text in japanese (sigh) but stunning sound. They clearly just put up the mics, set the levels during rehersal. Then ran like that when recording. Superb example of what Russian brass, etc, sounded like.

    The annoyance against this is that some of the early adcs (and some of the mixing then done) was technically lousy compared with today. So the plain ability to record well was often ruined before the result got onto a CD. EMI, you know who I'm looking at!.. or would if you'd deserved to survive.
  18. notevenclose

    notevenclose pfm Member

    I don't really have much experience with SACD, so not much for me to say about that. I think I own 2, but have never possessed an SACD player (other than an old Yamaha one size fits all job which was really for video duty only).

    Generally I'm not often hugely enthusiastic about remastered reissues, it's a bit hit or miss IME. I think the worst I've encountered was a remaster of the first two Martin Stephenson albums a decade or so back, both of which I threw in the bin in disgust.

    I have though just ordered a blu-spec CD issue of Prefab Sprout's 'Steve McQueen' which should be interesting. 2013 Japanese version. Fingers crossed.

    I have a remastered version from about a decade ago which is (inevitably) louder, but arguably not any better than the 80s original - attraction for me was the accompanying album of Paddy's acoustic versions. I notice that Sony has since remastered it again last year, but that doesn't hold any appeal.
  19. Blackmetalboon

    Blackmetalboon pfm Member

    I don’t use a streaming service but I do stream files from my music server. In my set up there is no audible difference between the CD and the ripped file.
    booja30 and Shadders like this.
  20. Heckyman

    Heckyman pfm Member

    Sure, in this case your CD player is of equal quality to your music server ;-)

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