What is the software that was used to copy the CD? Some of the software that claims "direct copy" really extracts the CD to audio format native to the platform. Then the volume normalization and other adjustments can be unintentionally made by the operating system either during the extraction or burning.
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What is the software that was used to copy the CD?
I used Toast Titanium 5.2.3 (pre-implementation of Jam enhancement) for Mac using the disc-to-disc copy option (Disc-at-once chosen in the preferences) with "error correction" checked. It requires two CD drives at this setting, one with the original and one with the blank. It does utilize a disc cache. I was under the impression that this would yield a verbatim copy of the disc.
I found that burned reproductions of a CD is oft times better than the original.
I too have found that occasionally burned CD's sound subtly better than the original. "Subtly" would be the operative word here: This is not at all a subtle difference, in the case of the Hewitt dual-layer. It is quite profound to my ears, and the gain issue indicates to me that something else may be at play.
Newbee and I have been corresponding a bit on the issue, and he hazarded a guess which I doubt he'd mind if I shared here as I think it is a good one:
IMHO, actually a wild guess, when a multi-channel SACD is made, the two layer playback for Redbook playback might be nothing more than the extant SACD playback of the two front channels in the MC layer. There is obviously different recording techniques used to record multi channel performances than two channels, without regard to whether it is plain 2 channel SACD or Redbook.
Now I don't know that this is a "multi-channel" SACD, as he suggests. I'd thought it was just 2-channel for both layers. Regardless, the difference does sound to me as if the recording were miked slightly different. The SACD sounds almost like the mike(s) are back at mid-hall or back further, while the burned CD version sounds more "in-the-room" immediate...or certainly closer to a front-row seat. Not only is it more immediate, but it is better focused and dynamics are improved.
What still puzzles me, given this or a similar theory, is why the Dual-layer version exhibited the same drawbacks the SACD layer yields on my player, when played on my friend's CD-only player?
It sounds like you have your player set to play back in surround mode but are using a stereo system. It is also true SACD has more dynamic range than CD and will appear to be lower in volume.
Thanks for the suggestions Rwwear! I'll double check all settings, but mine is not a multi-channel player (Modwright Platinum Sig. Sony 999). As I said, no problems like this with any of the few other multi-layer CD's that I've played on it.
As far as the greater dynamic range making it occur lower in volume - I will put a sound meter on a few passages today to check if my perceptions are misleading as you suggest. I'd swear there is at least a 5db difference if not more. I would say, and I think I already have, that the SACD version is lacking in dynamics and impact, whereas the CD version is more immediate, dynamic and impactful (is that a word?) to me.
Rwwear - I went into my SACD player's setup menu and discovered that there are indeed accommodations for surround sound that I had forgotten about. I'd set it up initially and forgotten about it. In my audio setup I have the following settings and options (can anyone help me with adjusting these properly for 2-channel?):
Audio Att: Off/On (I have it off)
Audio DRC: Standard / TV Mode / Wide Range (I have it on Wide Range)
Audio Filter: Sharp / Slow (I have it on Sharp)
Downmix: Dolby Surround / Normal (here's where I may have erred - I had it on Dolby Surround)
Digital Out: on/off (I had it on because I had hooked up a DAC at one point and forgot to turn it off)
I believe I had these settings this way from the previous owner's advice. I'm thinking I should not have had the Dolby Surround turned on in the "Downmix" category. I'll give the SACD a spin now and find out if it changes anything.
Stand by...more to come.
Good idea, but no dice, at least not simply in the Dolby Surround setting. I tried again and the same differences occurred. This time I used a sound level meter. Indeed, as I suspected there is at the very least a 6db difference (probably more as it was pegging the meter beyond +6db at times) between the SACD (dual-layer) and the burned CD. Same issues with sonics occur to me as well. Any further thoughts would be most welcome.
The current version seems to be 9. Is 5.2.3 OS X binary or are you running it in 9.x emulation mode? Universal binary or PPC?
The reason I'm asking these is because OS X seems to provide a number of API for manipulating audio files. JA stumbled upon one while measuring Benchmark DAC, and it was confirmed by Benchmark tech.
If the Toast was running in emulation mode, it's highly likely that the emulation layer was not using proper API when performing verbatim copies.
If you take the CDR copy and make a copy from that, will both CDR sound the same or will the copy of a copy sound yet different?
Thanks, Jylee. I'm using Leopard. The version of Toast I mentioned is compatible and does not require emulation (I don't even have 9.0 emulation on my box). I'll check out the article and try making a copy, but I have never notice any copies sounding any different. Since Toast's disc-to-disc copy is intended as a data-copy option why would any application interface come into play that actually raises the gain of an audio disc? Sorry if I'm a bit slow on the uptake here, but you're going into depths that I am not familiar with. I can certainly copy the copy and see if there's any difference...are you suggesting that may be worth the effort?