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I wanted to open a discussion on all the various digital media available, starting with the redbook CD as the benchmark and moving into the various formats listed above. And for the sake of this discussion I'm interested mainly in 2 channel stereo, not 5.1 surround sound....

In order for this comparison to be fair, one would have to compare all the various formats utilizing the same DAC.

I've heard that SACD, DVD-A are indeed better than CD in most cases as long as the mastering is done right. MJ's Thriller on SACD I've read from various sources sounded worse than the 2001 remastered CD....not as rich sounding, more rolled off bass. A shame as this was a wonderful album to work with...

I'm looking to get a universal player that plays all these formats, then connect to a nice outboard DAC. Lately I've been fantasizing about a nice DAC....:)

BTW, the SHM-CD (super high quality material CD) I've heard rave reviews....it's a Japanese produced CD that works in all CD players. Why all CDs can't be manufactured to this higher standard, I don't know....

Steely Dan Aja CD SHM-CD

I've opened up the LP vs. CD debate numerous times, but however you feel about that I think it's time 26 years after it's introduction that CDs take a step up in their technology.

Just like BluRay (and HD-DVD at one time) has taken over, it's time to see the higher quality players take over!
 

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Like you said, it's all in the mastering. I'm not sure it really matters what format you use. I would love to have a large collection of SACDs, but I don't think it's worth switching over unless I had money to burn. The redbooks I have heard that were made from the same remasters as their SACDs are fabulous in their own right. I'm not sure how much better the SACD could be. I think the main reason SACDs sound better is because they were remastered properly. I have a few HDCDs and XRCDs and they sound great, but again, it's because they were remastered properly, not necessarily because of the disc.

The only way to be sure is buy a hybrid disc or the redbook versions made from the SACD masters.
 

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You can talk about the technology all you want... none of these has succeeded in giving me a selection of music which I will actually buy and listen to, so it's pretty much academic. Might as well through DAT on there... more bandwidth than CD.
 

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From my non-perfect comparison of the formats. In my order of preference I would rank as follows:

Vinyl
7 1/2 ips reel-to-reel
SACD
DVD-A
15 ips reel-to-reel
CD
Cassette

The way that I would describe SACD is a more analog sounding digital format. It has a very vinyl sound to it and I believe it is because of the filtering going on to push the dithering out of the audible realm.

DVD-A sounds just like a higher quality version of CD.

If you prefer digital sound you will probably prefer DVD-A, if you prefer analog you will probably prefer SACD. It has nearly all of the magic of vinyl without having to worry about dust to the same degree.
 

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For a digital medium, I think blu-ray will become the next high-quality "standard". With blu-ray becoming so popular, it is very accessible, which is key for any medium. Also with how much it can hold, file data does not have to be sacrificed from the master. Will it sound like analog, probably not. But it is coming closer than a cd ever will. Artists are already beginning to release catalogs or albums on blu-ray at a full-bit resolution. I have yet to listen to them, but I would bet they are better than dvd-a or sacd.

If not blu-ray then downloads and having everything on a computer (currently my choice.) It is still the same files one way or another. At that point it is just the transport of the ones or zeros. I prefer a computer due to its convenience amongst other things. Traditionalists probably will never convert to a computer based system though.

-Matt
 

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You are correct bballer123 in that traditionalists will never convert. I am slowly trying to get my LP playing abilities back (so I can be back in the "dark ages" as my wife calls it). Currently I run an Oppo 983 for all of my CD,SACD,DVD-A playback. I do lack a high quality DAC so I can not be as critical as others. From the Oppo signal goes to a B&K AVR507 Series2.03 then to a pair of Speaker Art Super Clef monitors. I will say that the SACD seems to "trail off" at the high end where the CD or DVD-A do not. A good CD or DVD-A seem to be right on par with one another but the edge does go to the DVD-A bringing a more "spacious" effect to room. The SACD adds more detail in the mid-upper midrange than the other two though. I know that this hasn't been very detailed of a comparison, but I also do not have the test equipment to measure FR in my house and my beatup ears can only pick up so much.
 

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That is a decent description, but what you are experiencing has more to do with the mixing and mastering behind the SACDs. When all is said and done, it is the space and capabilities of the disc that matters. CDs are a failed technology. I will probably get heat for this, but they are a terrible technology in regards to sound quality.

-Matt
 

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CDs are a failed technology. I will probably get heat for this, but they are a terrible technology in regards to sound quality.

-Matt
You're absolutely right, Matt. The market has decided to move to low-quality MP3s- obviously making CD the failure it has been for the past 2 decades.

It's like Stephen Colbert says about global warming - it IS real - because Al Gore's movie made money, so the market has spoken.

Are you implying, Matt, that if the engineers defining the CD audio standard back in the day could have done better than they did, given the state of the art?
 

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Are you implying, Matt, that if the engineers defining the CD audio standard back in the day could have done better than they did, given the state of the art?
Given state of the art then, it was very impressive. Looking at a sound quality standpoint, it was a sacrifice even back then, but it was cutting edge. You could now have a portable, digital way to listen to music. There was still "lossless" analog back then... But the cd's focus was never for sound quality, it was created with convenience in mind.

Looking forward to today, the cd sucks for a sound quality reference BECAUSE it was never intended to be used as a reference medium. Just my .02

-Matt
 

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"lossless" analog? Certainly not vinyl, almost all of which was high passed.

There is no such thing as "lossless', only degrees of loss.
 

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Given state of the art then, it was very impressive. Looking at a sound quality standpoint, it was a sacrifice even back then, but it was cutting edge. You could now have a portable, digital way to listen to music. There was still "lossless" analog back then... But the cd's focus was never for sound quality, it was created with convenience in mind.

Looking forward to today, the cd sucks for a sound quality reference BECAUSE it was never intended to be used as a reference medium. Just my .02

-Matt
Is that based "IMO" or do you have specific scientific sources to back that up?
 

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I would have to say a bit of both. I would suppose, of course, that my statements from experience would weigh very little in your mind.

-Matt
 
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