The Deluxe Led Zeppelin series on Masters is the best I have Zeppelin - drums are much clearer than other versions.
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My system is only "Mid-Fi" (e.g. turntable is just a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC), and my vinyl collection is still quite small, so with that said - my experience is also all over the map. To date I mostly favor hires digital (FLAC). And ripped CDs are often surprisingly good, if well produced.
Regarding Tidal, I'm a bit irked that many times I can't find a copy of a of "masters" level album to listen to for subscription, but it is available for purchase (pricey). Do love it for the ability to play music that, otherwise, I never would've heard!
I have started to rip my vinyl to DSD128 via a Korg DS-DAC10-R. My front end is a refurbed Technics SP 10 MkII with Basis Vector arm and Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC through a Tom Tutay tube phono preamp.
My streaming front end is a Lumin A-1...So I have had the opportunity to do a little comparison of the same albums that are Ripped [email protected] DSD128 vs MQA vs High Res Download. I have only done this for 3-4 albums so my sample size is small. The albums I compared were:
Norah Jones - Come Away with Me LP vs MQA 24/192 vs HD Tracks 24/192
Beck - Morning Phase LP vs MQA 24/96 vs HD Tracks 24/92
Oscar Petersen - We Get Request 45RPM vs MQA 24/26, vs HD Tracks 24/96
In all three of those cases my order of preference was Ripped vinyl,
MQA, High Res Download. The MQA seemed more focused than the high res download...Sort of like someone used a fine focus on a camera lens. The ripped vinyl just seemed a little more real and 3-D than the MQA...although I can image MQA being preferred in many cases. I really love the MQA version of Yello - Toy...It is killer good fun.
I forgot to mention a comparison to direct vinyl. I have found that my rips at DSD128 are as good and sometimes better than playing the direct vinyl. Since my Lumin A1 does not play DSD128, I have Minimstreamer transcode to 24/384. But since when I rip vinyl I go from the Phono preamp directly to the A/D there is no potential for acoustic feedback. Given I have two subs that go pretty low (15Hz ish) the bass seems cleaner and better defined (slightly) when I play the rip, expecially at higher volumes even though my turntable is on a wall mounted 3 inch maple shelf sitting on Stillpoints.
BTW - the rest of my 2 channel system is TRL Dude Preamp, TRL Samson amps, Green Mountain Audio Continuum 3 speakers
with a pair of Seaton Submersive subs crossed over (low pass only) via DBX PA2 drive rack.
Thanks for sharing such a clearly articulated comparison. Never thought of ripping vinyl to DSD to avoid the physical limitations of the system. I recently joined Tidal and share the frustration of limited Masters. I am really impressed how well a plain old CD sounds when done right. But vinyl reigns supreme as far as overall ability to articulate the emotions, feeling and sound stage. MQA would be second, followed by DSD/Hi-RES, CD, then FLAC.
If you check out the CSV file on this Meridan website of the listing of MQA albums you will see the list contains over 11K entries...
There are some duplicates as there a multiple resolutions listed for some albums (24/96, 24/192, etc)...I use this list to find the MQA albums in Tidal as their "Masters list" is not a complete list by any stretch