I don't own the Emmlabs combo, but as good as the DCC2/CDSD combo is on redbook playback, what I think you're discussing here is SACD vs CD.
The Kind of Blue is a famous recording. A big part of the magic of the performance is listening to the subtle things that the artists do. While I do think the SACD version brings further clarity to the performance, it's hardly a showcase disc.
What you need to do is compare the best SACD recordings to the best redbook recordings that exist. I think you'll find that SACD is quite a bit superior. On a good Hybrid SACD recording, I find that the redbook layer frequently has an electronic warmth that at first seems to be more pleasing. When I compare the SACD layer with the redbook layer, I always get the feeling that the SACD was more digital sounding (high resolution) while the redbook layer was more electronic sounding (think a well recorded MP3). To me, the redbook layer, in comparison is like defocusing a projector to hide the projector's flaws or at times like instruments miked and being played through speakers at a live concert. Some people say that PCM is more fragile and I do find that the sound breaks up at frequency extremes more often than not. I sometimes prefer the redbook layer myself as it can sound softer and warmer can so it's easier to listen to.
I own the CDSD/DCC2 combo, and, until very recently, my CD collection consisted of all redbook CDs. I have recently picked up a few SACDs, several of which are on the TAS list of what are supposed to be some of the best SACDs available (from a quality of sound perspective). I have found that, while lesser quality SACDs offer very little if any sound quality improvement over their redbook cousins, the finest examples of SACD outperform the redbook format by a significant margin.
I would surmise that there are a few things at work here:
1. Many SACDs are simply not engineered in a way that exhibits the potential of the format and, therefore, offer only marginal improvement over the redbook format.
2. The Meitner gear does an excellent job with redbook CD and turns it into a reasonable facsimile of a pure DSD format. So an SACD needs to be engineered very well in order to surpass the redbook sound by a noticeable margin.
3. I believe that the relative complexity of the music has a lot to do with whether a particular SACD significantly outshines the same recording in redbook format. I have found that complex acoustic music (e.g., orchestral/vocal/chorus recordings) allows the SACD format to exhibit its virtues more dramatically than simpler forms of music.
I would highly recommend the Channel Classics SACD of the Bach Christmas Oratorio (The Netherlands Bach Society, CCS SA 20103). It was the first disc to really open my eyes to the potential of the SACD format. I understand that most of the Channel Classics SACDs offer excellent sound quality.
I wanna grow up and be you guys.
Bill- Play your cards right and you might just get that lucky ;) WHAT are you doing posting, go enjoy France!
I agree with Cincy_bob when listening to "good" SACD there is no comparison, however, there are some black sheep in the herd. Some people hear these fair at best SACD's on a mid-fi SACD players and they are ready to protest the format all together. Most all SACD's, to my ears, are better then the same recording on redbook and some are much, much better. There's a smooth, refinement to the sound that has great dynamic contrast and analog like texture and body, redbook comes close at times but never can match the level of well recorded SACD.
At cruising speeds, a bigger engine tends to be quieter than a smaller engine. When accelerating lightly, you also tend not to notice a difference in power. Many times the car with the smaller engine will be much more comfortable to drive because you won't have the car lurching ahead when you happen to apply a bit more pressure than usual to the gas pedal. But when you need to accelerate quickly, you'll feel the smaller engine working harder and straining in comparison.
In music, a musician is never called a virtuoso unless they have absolute command and control throughout the entire range of their instrument. When redbook CDs stay within their comfort zone they can sound very good. But SACD's simply have a broader range of control, whether in frequency or in volume.
I would also have to agree that the difference between cd & sacd on a (dual layer) SACD is not that great. I find that EMM's magic in the converting of the PCM to DSD really pushed the cd quality to a level that when switched to the sacd layer it is very close in sound quality. The sacd layer will give you a deeper and wider soundstage. It also sounds a touch more harmonic/natural and seems to separate the instruments with more air than the cd layer. The cd layer seems to have a more dynamic punch to it. If you listen the Norah Jones sacd "come away with me" and then put in the regular cd and listen, there is a bigger difference between the two in my system. CD has come along way in the last 10 years and sacd is just starting. There is no doubt that sacd can out perform redbook cd if it is allowed to mature and the recording engineers perfect their techniques but, will sacd survive in the long term? I came up with the idea of "Music Squares" 8 years ago, storing music on memory chips but at the time the largest memory chips only held a few seconds of music but it sounded killer (no moving parts). You will see this technoloy in the next few years, postage stamp size albums in full fidelity! Remember where you told it first! Too bad I couldn't get investers interested, they all thought I was crazy!
To answer my own post after two weeks with the DCC2/CDSD combo: Break in with SACD is as crucial as with CD. The sound I'm getting now with SACD is aaaaamazing. It reminds me of the EXPLODE command on a computer program I use i.e. PCM exploded; bass, timbre, air etc.....left, right, front, back ...every where. I'm at the point where I can say I am finally satisfied with the sound of my system, limited only by the quality of the recording. Associated equipment: DCC2 & CDSD, ARC VT100 MkIII, VALHALLA IC & SC, KIMBER PK-10 PALLADIAN PC's, AUDIO MAGIC ECLIPSE Conditioner, VERITY AUDIO SARASTRO.
Yes you've finally come to your senses! :D SACD does the holographic surround effect with 2CH that redbook can't match. Not sure whether that's realistic but it's fun nevertheless.
Howie thanks. Right on. I was listening to DAVE BRUBECK's TIME OUT, what a difference!! (even KIND OF BLUE). The reason IMHO that CD "seems" more dynamic is because there is so much more detail & timbre to the music with SACD, which seems to "diffuse" the sound. But at higher volumes the dynamics and detail reveals itself.
Jjwa, I am curious what break-in ritual you used for the SACD playback functionality of your CDSD and DCC2. I went through an extended break-in ritual for the redbook CD aspects of my CDSD/DCC2 combo, but I have logged minimal SACD hours. Did you use a full frequency range SACD played on repeat to break-in the SACD functionality? How many hours of break-in were required for SACD to sound its best to you?
Hi Cincy Bob. I did not use any break-in-ritual. I just continuously played the approx. 20 new SACD's I accumulated over my four month wait for the CDSD. It was discouraging to say the least because the sound was flat and constrained, just as it was initially for redbook. But now it just sings.......approximatey 200 hours.