The topic of digital versus analog has been covered at Audigon many times, and is sure to draw fire from music lovers on both sides. I have both a state of the art turntable, and the new Sony 9000 SACD player. The analog has the endearing liquid and complete sound that I personally think only this format brings to music. The SACD is much better, at least when playing SACD material, than my standard CD's. Of the music that I own in both (or all three) formats, the LP is the consistent winner in my system. However, many of these SACD titles began their life as an analog master, and are just re releases of older material. As new artists are originally mastered in the SACD format, there should be a huge improvement in the quality of this format. On the future of SACD, I think it depends greatly on the marketing of Sony and Phillips. If they produce popular artists software that is competitively priced, they have a chance. If they insist on clinging to the $24.95 asking price, and fail to draw other record companies into producing releases in this new format, it will not survive. I would very much like for it to become a success, it would be nice to have an additional choice in the digital format for the tens of thousands of new releases that are NOT being issued on LP. My final word concerns money, the issue that effects us all. My turntable, cartridge, connecting or power cables, and phono stage retail for more than $38K. This new kid, the $1075.00 Sony is pretty amazing for one thirty- fifth the price. I hope it gains support and has a shot at offering us a choice. Best to you!
My TT (Rega) cost a little less than my S9000ES, but my S9000ES delivers more dynamic and accurate sound than my TT with CDs or SACDs. It has also improved the audio on my DVDs. I have a HT system. I love my S9000ES and SACD.
There are so many formats right now: LP33, LP45, CD, HDCD, XRCD, DVD-V, DVD-Audio, 96/24 DADs, MP3, Windows Media, and SACD to name the most common. I do not think that any one will completely dominate. I do believe that there's obviously an interest to move away from CD (first generation). That's why we have so many formats. It's approaching 20 years old.
SACD has the highest quality and many recording studios are buying DSD/SACD equipment to replace 96/24 and analog equipment. It will be with us for some time.
As for the next great format, there are four contenders.
1. DVD-Video. With DVD's you get audio, multichannel options, video, and many hours of playback per disc. Shortcoming is that the audio is similar to CD quality and can't play in a CD player.
2. Next generation MP3 (MP4?) or Windows Media. MP3 does not have enough quality, but the next generation might. With the internet speeding up and memory becoming cheaper, the next generation could be it. Still, it probably will be near CD quality.
3. DVD-Audio. Great sound, but requires a DVD player. Can't play on normal CD equipment (e.g. in your car). Software not yet available.
4. SACD. Best sound. Most analog like sound. But some record companies are not supporting right now. Can be played in CD players. Sony has announced a $400 player this summer and that it will be on all their DVD players in the future. Also have promised to reduce software prices. Sony knows they need to do this if they want to increase volume. Sony is a high volume manufacturer--not low volume high-end.
Bottomline: I do not believe anyone knows what the next great will be, but you will receive opinions.
SACD. Best sound. Most analog like sound....
Why using it when you have the real McCoy(analog sound from LP)????
I hope SACD will be around for a long time because I am buying the Sony 9000 SACD player today. If it sounds like I read, the Goldmund turntable is out the door with about 5000 records.
Edle, because you don't have to wash you cd's every time you play them, they don't warp (under normal conditions), they sound the same no matter how many times you have played them, and last but not least......they are shiny.
My impressions are similar to Mr. Porter's. SACD is probably getting you closer to the master tape, and as such has certain advantages, but still doesn't have the warmth or intimacy of vinyl. It is a clear step above CD. I tend to get the same let-down when I switch back to most CDs from either vinyl or SACD, but I still prefer a record on the turntable when I really want to get totally immersed in the music. Fat Albert, if most of those LPs are classical or 60's-70's rock and in good shape, I hope you like the 9000ES! As far as the future of the format goes, Sony is finally going the right route on the hardware, getting out cheaper units and combining them with high quality DVD players, so they're getting units in the hands of consumers. Now they have to get their act together on the software, both price-wise and with new releases using a full DSD recording and mastering chain. I hope the format makes it, as it's what a lot of us have been wishing digital could be.
Comparing my $1600 Sony SCD-777ES with a similarly-priced SOTA vinyl rig and using the same program material, SACD sounds, to my ears, more "there." More expensive vinyl rigs may be better.
Speculating about the future of SACD is in one sense a crap shoot, but, for what it's worth, Classe and Krell have both indicated that they will produce (very pricey) SACD players...suggesting they see a future, at least in the niche market. At the same time, Sony indicates it will release even cheaper players (down to $299 list) at some point...so that suggests something more than "niche."
In addition to Sony, Telarc, Audioquest, Groove Note, Hyperion, Vanguard Classics, DMP, and Water Lily Records, EMI, Virgin, and BIS have released or will release some SACD's (Virgin's "Tubular Wells" is already on the market), while some other record companies "wait and see."
Whatever its sonic merits, SACD stands little chance of becoming a mass-market technology, and without that the major labels aren't going to release on it. That means program material on a par with what's out on vinyl today (but without all the old stuff!). SACD could survive as a niche market, the way laserdisks did on the video side. I don't even think multichannel music-only disks (SACD or DVD) will capture the mass market. (I'd love to see a survey of how many people who've bought DVD video players actually have all five channels hooked up to speakers placed in appropriate places.) And I doubt that both DVD/A and SACD can survive as niche markets. Caveat emptor.
I kind of agree with Jostler3 about SACD and DVD/A being small niche markets that may not survive. Certainly if the bulk of major recording companies do not support either format then they will die -- that's what will ultimately decide the issue. That said, I will offer this: I'm having a very good time watching and listening to standard video Music DVDs using a cheap Pioneer DV-333 DVD player into a NAD 3020 integrated amp and 2 cheapie 12" bookshelf speakers. THe sound quality is really impressive and I have no inclination to go to multi-channel surround sound at this juncture -- especially not with a cheapie receiver. In my experience those sub-$500 units sound dreadful. This brings up my BIG complaint about DVD, which is that some movies are only available in widescreen and even on my 43" Hitachi I don't like the narrow image. Worst of all, many DVD titles don't state clearly which versions are included on the disc. So you have to buy the stupid things and pray that you get lucky. Since my standard cable is delivered full screen I don't feel inclined to go to a wide screen only format. Are others bothered by this???
Why SACD when we have LP? I have more LPs and CDs, and only about 12 SACDs (and 4 on order). I probably will die with my LPs, but CDs and SACDs have many advantages over LPs.
1. Longer playing time.
2. Don't have to flip them at the half way point.
3. Can skip forward/backward with a remote.
4. CDs are more durable.
5. Prices are typically cheaper.
6. Can play them in your car, boombox, or walkman.
7. Less sensitive to vibrations.
8. Equipment is cheaper.
SACD is improving CD's biggest shortcoming--the quality of the sound. It also has multichannel and video options. After almost 20 years, it's time to move away from digital's first generation--the CD.
Oh, above I meant to say, "I have more LPs than CDs."
Let me repeat, it's time to move away from the 20 year old first generation--CDs. I do not understand those who support, "CD sound forever!"
I have a 9000 and bought it first and foremost as an sacd player and decent cd player,although the dvd video and audio are topnotch.A salesman at a local hi end shop tells me that the 9000 is the hottest selling item in the store and has been for over six weeks.He also said that 95% of the buyers of this player are interested in sacd playback.They sold out of the 777 and i have encountered music retailers that are selling mainstream sacd releases as fast as they can get them in.now if the rest of the general public hears about sacd and mainstream titles are released faster and cheaper.Who knows how far sacd can go.
Sony can not give up a reveiw sample of the 9000es to positive feedback magazine because of the demand for the player.I was just reading this on the Audio Asylum board.I am not suprised as i had pretty much given up on cd before the advent of sacd.
Tmartinjr@erols.com, you did an excellent job of listing the reasons I hope the SACD format will survive. Consider the performance offered by the original CD players and software when introduced over 20 years ago. If the SACD format can evolve even half of what the original format has, it could become a true audiophile source. I have about 6000 LP's, maybe 200 CD's and 6 SACD's. If all the music that is currently available on CD were suddenly offered on SACD, I would immediately buy at least 300 titles. I have pent up desires for new music that has not been made available on LP. There is everything to gain and nothing to lose if this format succeeds. Even though it is not perfect right now, at least the technology is based on a level of resolution and bandwidth that has a chance of becoming really wonderful.
I remember when CD's came out. The cheapest players were $1500 and there was little software. I bought 2 CDs a year before I bought my first CD player. It was almost 3 years until you could buy CDs in normal record stores, and then it was a small section in the back corner.
The same was true with DVD. I bought my first DVD player in early 1999. No stores in the Wash. DC area sold or rented DVDs. Even now the selection of DVDs in many rental stores is too small. Just two months ago, my neighbor told me that DVD won't make it. The equipment and software is too expensive and its not recordable. I'm sure if I asked, he would have also told me that CDs and VHS would remain top sellers into the next century.
Tmartinjr, as an owner of an SACD player, I hope you are correct, although in each of the cases you mention the new medium was a considerable step up in convenience (CD vs. LP, DVD vs. Laserdisc) or quality (in the case of DVD; perceived quality with LP, due to the apparent clarity and the lack of ticks and pops). Here, the disc is the same size as a CD and to the masses who only want MP3 quality sound the sonic improvements are not as noticeable. Nonetheless, with 6-channel SACD players and discs becoming available, perhaps that is what will help the software catch on with the masses. Having just listened to the Delos Mahler 2 SACD last night with its silky, analog-like strings and stupendous dynamic range, it's clear to me we have a format that is worth supporting; let's hope the record companies and the general music-buying partners agree.
Not all changes need to be radical. Sometimes the changes are smaller, like the move from 78's to 33's. Or in HT, the move from Dolby Prologic to Dolby Digital to DTS.
Right now, the only radical change I think possible would be a change to a format like MP3 or Windows Media. I do not believe MP3 has reached CD quality, but the next generation might. I see that the newer players have options to decrease compression. There is value to having players with no moving parts. Digital files also are easy to duplicate so the record companies will continue their legal battles. I do not foresee a high-end version of MP3 this decade, but MP3 could negatively impact CD sales.
I own both a SONY SCD-1 and an Oracel Delphi MK V SE turntable. For me , the issue is not which of the two formats is better. I simple terms, the SCD-1 with its superb playback of regular CDs and its SACD capabiltiy, allows me to enjoy the music without focusing on the technology. I now can listen to digital for hours without any irritation as I have been able to do with my Oracle front end. That is the bottom line. I still buy regular CDs and LPs with the music that I enjoy
as an owner of the marantz sa-1, the linn cd-12, and a basis 2500/graham 2.0/koetsu/aesthetix vinyl rig i enjoy each format. i have 3000 cds, 2500 lps, and 125 sacds. sacd and 33rpm vinyl are neck and neck in sound quality overall. the enjoyment level of vinyl is higher with the aesthetix io phono stage which the marantz sa-1 can't quite match even though it has a more resolution. this is not a software issue but an analogue output issue. when sacd devices have reached the maturity of gear such as the aesthetix io my belief is that it will leave vinyl in the dust. 45rpm vinyl is definitly better than sacd as the additional resolution shines thru.
in the last 6 months i have bought more vinyl than sacds so that kind of shows where i'm at.
[quote from widescreen reveiw]i beleive this to be the sister to the absolute sound magazine and this quote comes after trashing dvd-a sound[SACDis the greatestleap forward in audio fidelity to come along in years,perhaps the biggest leap ever.The open natural soundof SACD is light years beyond the bottled up sound of conventional compact discs.It rivals the natural,musical sound of analog records without the surface noise and tracing distortion inherent in that medium and it has better bass.SACD offers high fidelity at its best,in my opinion.[quote unquote]Don't get me wrong i think vinyl is superior to cd my self,but i am too lazy to mess with it.My records just gather dust.
to ears & fat albert - perhaps ewe could send me a list of the winyl y'all wanna sell? ;~)
currently this question has only intellectual interest for me, nothing that i could make any practical use of - there's yust way to few titles awailable on sacd, & way-many awailable on winyl for me to consider an inwestment in sacd hardware presently. if/when sacd becomes as common as current redbook cd, then isle take the plunge - surely, it's gotta be better than cd! :>)
Fat Albert and ears--remember me for that list as well!
I will let you know but i do not have anything except classic rock and none of it is from exotic labels.Kind of like the brand new at-ml-150 cartridge in my kitchen cupboard i never really put big money in vinyl.Got any sacd's you want to trade?
I'll never get rid of my records. There's too many good memories even with the clicks, pops, surface noise, limited play, and flipping that occrus too often. I have about 500.
But I'll never buy another.
I'll never get rid of my CDs. I'm still a BMG member and will buy certain CDs. Probably have 200-300.
Over the past year, I have bought about 20 concert DVDs, and I'll continue buying them. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of high quality concert DVDs to date.
I own one DVD-Audio--Aaron Nevelle's Devotion.
I really want to buy SACDs. I have about 12 with 4 on order. I have a list of about 25 more I plan to buy. I'll probably average buying 4-6 a month for the forseeable future. That's a lot for me, but I love my SACD.
I'm not sure my problems with digital sound are the same ones that plague other audiophiles. I say this because of glowing reports regarding some CDs that I find unlistenable.(The Telarc "German Requiem" is a prime example: Although widely used by some reviewers as a standard when evaluating equipment, I simply can't listen to it beyond about the first minute because of the accompanying noise---like a worn out stylus on an LP, or overmodulated signals on radio.)
In short, are we all talking about the same "deficiencies" when CDs are criticized?
What I find objectionable is an overriding "noise" that accompanies massed voices, violins, trumpets----any other instruments in that same range of frequencies----in protracted passages. Short sounds are not that noticeable, except for an extra artificial "crispness" on leading edges. It's hard to describe what I hear, but I know it's not supposed to be there, and it's not a consequence of my system.
An analogy that comes to mind is particularly true of violins in their upper registers: I'm reminded of looking at stars which appear to "twinkle". Violins on a digital recording tend to twinkle, but in an auditory manner, if you get my drift. Other times I can visual the fiddles being played using hand saws! Gadzooks! The basic problem is that, once noticed, it's difficult to get the notion out of one's head.
I was somewhat heartened by recent praise of SACD, and in particular by the encouraging fact that SACD machines are dropping in price, with the new Sony 9000ES as a good example, with cheaper models supposedly to be introduced this summer(?). Buoyed by this news, I recently visited an audio "salon" to audition the Sony, only to discover that the only classical disc they had was one of Glenn Gould at the piano (Is this, perhaps, the handwriting on the wall as to what's heading where?) -----I have no problem with an ordinary CD of piano! I was unable, therefore, to determine whether or not SACD is the answer to my prayers.
I have since bought three SACD hybrids---to cover me for now, perhaps to be used on "the next great thing" ("MORE perfect sound forever, AND BEYOND"? Shades of "Animal Farm"! heh,heh) if/when I decide to go that route. One of the three is the Water Lily Acoustics "Nature's Realm", which has been widely praised in all of the audio rags as the greatest thing since perforated-toilet-paper-on-a- roll, and yet I hear the same noise, albeit, of course, when played on my lowly Wadia 830. Does the noise go away when it's played on a proper SACD machine? I guess I'll have to schlepp over to the same "salon" and give it a proper hearing on the Sony. I strongly suspect I'll hear the same noise, however. From what I've read lately, SACD's biggest contribution is extended frequency response----or am I missing other attributes? Is the hand saw truly replaced by a proper bow? Do the violins no longer twinkle? Does the midrange no longer sound like a jackhammer? I tell you, it's gonna hafta be a BIG change to convince me that SACD is truly better. If it's not, I'm betwixt de Debill and da deep blue sea, because there's not much selection in new analog recordings, and I find most of the remastered LPs rather disappointing, both from the standpoint of dated performances, really not that great sonically. I've already reduced most of my listening to works involving small chamber orchestras and string/piano trios, quartets, quintets, etc., which I can enjoy on good CDs. (I must say, however, that I've also truly enjoyed the hybrid disc of Stokowski's "River/Plow That Broke the Plains", on Vanguard. I don't remember Vanguard being that good back in the '50s/'60s!. Maybe there is more tolerable stuff out there, but how does one know, prior to actually making a purchase? I learned long ago that reviewers can't be trusted. I strongly suspect they don't listen to half the stuff they "review", merely feeding off each others' "reviews", or paying off a debt of some sort (free review copies, anyone?)! (A good example in recent memory was an Everest CD of Stravinsky's "L'Histoire du Soldat", praised in "Fi" as I recall. Although it's one of my favorites, the only recording I then had was an old mono LP. So, as a result of the review, I bought the CD, only to discover that it starts in midstream!----an entire phrase was omitted from one of the movements!
I've made modest improvements in my analog equipment, because I'm up in the air regarding where this will all shake out. I'd like to think that SACD, if really good, will win out over DVD-A. Since I'm almost exclusively into classical music, I shudder to think what will happen to the already-meager selection of classical repertoire if DVD-A wins out. I get the feeling that scheme will concentrate on HT and youth-orientated pap.
I'd be very interested in hearing comments from others. Are we all in this together, or am I hearing some objectionable stuff exclusively through my ears alone?
914nut, you have a dual layer disc so you are hearing the conventional "cd" layer when played on the Wadia.(nice player by the way) Take the disc and demo it at your retailer, let us know what you think.
I am fully aware of the dual layer concept, and I realize I am hearing a conventional CD when played on the Wadia---I didn't just fall off a beet cart, heh,heh! Please re-read my initial post.
My point is that it's hard to believe the WLA sound will be sufficiently improved as a SACD, since it's pretty dreadful to start with, at least to my ears. BTW---that particular disc was auditioned by R.E. Greene (as one of his "Recommended Recordings") in all three digital forms in TAS, with brief comments in issue 124, with a detailed review promised in a future issue.(Nothing has appeared in later issues. As with many things promised by TAS, I'll believe it when I see it!) His initial reaction was that DVD is superior. He found some "high frequency anomalies" (wonder if that's what I'm hearing as an ordinary CD as well?) in the SACD version.
It's true that extended frequency response is a (the?) main attribute of SACD. However, even playing SACD from my 9000ES into my Rotel 985 pre/pro (which immediately converts the analog signal to a 48K/24bit digital signal, processes it, and then reconverts it to analog) which probably doesn't have frequency response beyond 22K, I experience greater definition and smoother transits with SACD recordings than with CD.
IMHO, it's better to sample music 2.8 million times/second than 44K or 96K times per second--even when the signal is converted to 48K sampling. The CD was developed about the same year as the original IBM PC. I think it's time for a change.
P.S. I'm studying options to keep the SACD signal analog on my system.
914nut--your post raised many interesting points, some of which I'll try to address. Your short question was if we're talking about the same deficiencies of CDs. My experience, having listened to SACDs for the past four months, is that SACD offers the following principal improvements over what I consider deficiencies in CDs:
1. Strings and high frequency instruments and ambience are much smoother and more natural. CD sound in this area has always been hashy, rough and harmonically thin to me; while perhaps there is more energy apparent on CD, it has been rough and artificial. Best example I can give is to listen to the 3rd movement of the Delos recording of the Mahler 2nd, both CD and SACD layers; the difference in the strings at the start of the movement is obvious and much better on the SACD layer.
2. On SACD, piano is much richer harmonically. If you compare a good piano recording on SACD (try Periah's Goldberg Variations on Sony) to a normal CD (save perhaps for the VAI reissues or good analog transfers) the CD will sound thin and brittle in comparison.
3. Dynamics--SACD makes CD sound compressed dynamically.
4. Openness--it's tough to describe, but there is an ease and openness to SACD which rivals good analog. CD sounds to me like it's in a box, albeit, on good CD recordings, a very large box perhaps. SACD removes that box.
I'm not sure if these are the problems you have with CD. While I too have not been that impressed with the Telarc Brahms German Requiem disc, feeling it sounds "muddy" or congested, part of that stems from a 200 voice chorus, Brahms' rich scoring and the hall, as well as perhaps Telarc's early bass-heavy tonal balance. I don't know if that's your overriding "noise". Have you tried the recent Reference Recordings discs with the Minnesota Orchestra (Mephisto & Co., Bernstein, Copland, or Bolero)? I hear very little of what bothers me on the Telarc disc on these recordings. Your "twinkle" with violins might sound better as noted in point 1 above, although part of the problem may lie with close miking of the instruments, at least with solo instruments.
Your point on remastered LPs being disappointing, however, makes me wonder if you'll ultimately like SACD. I've found the Classic, Testament and Speakers Corner reissues, on the whole, to be excellent, but clearly different from the originals in that they are closer to the master tape and have less of the warmth (and lack of focus) of the originals. I was stunned at how close the SACD and Classic Records reissue of the Bruno Walter Brahms Fourth sounded to each other. You will NOT get the warmth of vinyl on SACD. You WILL get closer to the sound of the master tape, but with older or poorly made recordings this may turn into a mixed blessing and you may not like it.
I'd suggest a couple of SACDs--the Vanguard you mentioned (the problem with Vanguard's vinyl stemmed in part from their pressings), the Hyperion SACD of the Floristan Trio playing Faure and Debussy, and the Delos Mahler 2 referred to earlier, all hybrid discs. I have found all three to be excellent recordings, and good illustrations of the differences in the formats. If you live in the NYC tri-state area, I invite you to hear them at my home if you'd like (not everyone demos with these recordings). If you continue to be bothered by them, unless your system is a partial culprit (the Wadia sure isn't, it's a fine player) I'm not sure that SACD or 24/96 digital will be the answer to your prayers. Sorry for the length of this post (and I hope the spacing works like I typed it, or it may look funny), but you asked some interesting questions that got me to thinking. Hope this helps in some way.
Rcprince----points well taken, and I thank you for your response. As for the matter of equipment, my complaints would be the same if I were listening on a Bose Wave Radio:
Some CDs sound great, while others are trash----and some of the "trash" is praised to the Heavens in the audio rags. My system, BTW, while modest, is a bit above the aforementioned Bose, consisting of the Wadia, ARC LS2 preamp, Bryston 4B-ST pwr amp, Sound Lab A-3s. Analog is Rega Planar 3, Sumiko BPS, Camelot Lancelot phono amp. So I don't feel what I'm hearing is equipment-related, since some sources please while others irritate.
I have the Florestan Trio disc, and it's great, but most ordinary CDs of small chamber groups present no problem to my ears.(The Eroica Trio discs are superb, in my estimation. With mastering by Nickrenz/Aubort, I'd be truly astounded if they were anything less! I value their LPs on Nonesuch/Turnabout above most in my collection.) It's the big symphonic/choral works that really get to me----massed violins, trumpets, male voices, etc., sound as if someone is accompanying them with a coffee can full of gravel. As I said before, once heard it's impossible to ignore.
I've found most---but not all---Delos/Eargle efforts to be quite listenable. Tremendous selection also.
You mentioned Reference Recordings, and I find most of them very enjoyable ---almost entirely devoid of the anomalies I'm hearing on other CDs.
That one Telarc of the Brahms Requiem has me baffled, however, to the extent that I wonder seriously if my ears are the only two that have this severe a problem. (I suffer from tinnitus---severe at times, hardly noticeable at others--- and I've wondered if perhaps there is a reverse synergy as a result of induced distortion (intermodulation?)in my auditory system. As I said before, that disc has been held up by several reviewers as a good reference for use in evaluating equipment. A friend suggested that perhaps I simply got a bad disc, which I find hard to believe. I've been under the (false?) impression that a CD either plays, or it doesn't. (It's either "perfect forever" or it's mute, heh,heh.)
Your comment regarding the "box" sound reminded me of my first impression of the WLA "Nature's Realm" hybrid SACD. Admittedly, I've only listened to the ordinary CD layer so far, but within the first minute, it sounded as if my glorious transparent, open-as-all-outdoors Sound Labs had themselves been packed into boxes! The SACD layer has its work cut out if it is to correct that.
It's obvious to me that the only thing I can do for now is to make a trip to the nearest Sony dealer (in Nashville), armed with my three hybrid SACDs, and decide "yes! 8^)" or "no. 8>(". If "no", I'll simply forget about the 9000ES; if "yes!", I may buy that macchina diabolo, (and then wonder what I'm gonna listen to, however!). I've been into audio, admittedly sporadically, for some fifty years, and I cannot recall having to make some of the decisions with which I'm presently confronted. I'm obviously not a cheapskate when it comes to equipment purchases, but I hate to throw good money after bad. I never thought I'd see the day when equipment, in particular speakers, outstrips the available "software"! Maybe the problem is that some present-day equipment is too revealing of the software's faults.
I appreciate your response, and thank you for the invitation to audition discs in your home. Since I live in the middle of TN, that would be a bit inconvenient for me! I am grateful for the invitation, nevertheless.
Jim: Well, it sure isn't your system, unless it's too revealing! I must admit having similar feelings about both the Brahms and parts of the Nature's Realm discs as you, although my characterization of them, as I mentioned before, is congested. Sometimes when the tonal balance of a disc is tilted towards the bass as it is at times in those recordings I feel, when the whole orchestra is playing at a loud level, as if everything is congealing and becoming more opaque. However, I can also get that experience with analog as well, though perhaps not to the same extent. Maybe both of us are showing our age? I do suggest you bring that Florestan Trio disc with you if you trek to Nashville, it is a treat on SACD in the smoothness of the strings and the richness of the piano; I'm not sure SACD will help that much on the WLA, though, as it is such a dry recording venue you may be disappointed. See if they have the Delos, it's a showpiece sonically and very natural sounding, particularly in its ambience retrieval. And thanks for the Eroica Trio reference, I don't have enough of them and am going to have to get some of their records. Good luck!
Rcprince--- I guess "congested" (constipated? heh,heh) is a good characterization regarding the WLA disc. I have no sense of air or imaging with the disc---almost as if I had a single Patrician, or Voice of the Theatre, sitting in front of me (Those go back a few years, eh?).
My other hybrid SACD is the Vanguard Stokowski/Virgil Thompson, and I really enjoy it. It's amazing for a 40 year
old recording to have the soundstage/imaging it has. It does sound a bit artificial in places,however, at least on my rig, what with some percussion and banjo sounding as if they were spotlighted at the front of the stage. Of course, with Leopold's reputation for the spectacular, he may well have placed them there. I never would have thought He would have allowed anyone to upstage Him, however! 8^)
I now have three of the four, I think, Eroica's. I've got several analog and digital recordings of the same pieces they've done, including four versions of the Shostakovick Piano Trio #2, but when I see those lovely gals on the jewel case, I can't resist buying (what a sexist thing to say!). As far as I'm concerned, they are top-notch musicians, regardless of the bad press they received in one of the audio rags recently---the guy must be the prototype
male chauvinist pig!. I think it proves the paraphrase: those who can play, play/those who can't play, criticize those who can!
914nut--You're showing your age with those old speakers! With respect to the Thompson, Analogue Productions has re-released it on vinyl, tube remastering so it sounds quite nice. Definitely spotlighted some of the instruments, that's clear, and I don't doubt the esteemed conductor had something to do with that. The other Vanguard SACDs sound quite good too; while SACD sounds its best for demonstrations with DSD masters, good analog recordings (and not all of the old Columbias that have been released fall into that category) can also sound excellent. I would say that I could live happily with either the vinyl or SACD versions I've got of the Vanguards, which says a lot for the SACDs. As far as the WLA disc goes, it does have quite good string sound, and I'm willing to take their word for it that the hall sounds like that, and I do like the Dvorak performances (I prefer Kertesz on Decca, though), but I just don't enjoy listening to it that much. Much too dry an acoustic. I don't need overly reverberant recordings either, but I would like a little more than what's on that disc.
I invited two audio-dry-files to grab a listen to my most enjoyable system. Opened with cd's. They sat. Crouched forward. Looked for something. Politely asked "Where's the body? Where's the bottom end?" It's there You analytical dip. Why don't you just enjoy the music. These words I mused, but irrepressibly stated "It's offering fine music". Bach's Suite for Cello, no.5; "Shalom Alechem" from Statman/Grisman; Prince's power driven "There Is Lonely" from the Vault cd; their own selections. They knew this system should kick, but no label or genre was scratching their itch. Neither had heard sacd. "Want to hear it?" They figured what the hell, it can't be more disappointing and I is here already. Threw on Hancock's "Headhunter". A little boot shaking goin' on. Spun cuts off of Sony's sampler. They were definitely more responsive. Drawn in to the emotion of the music. After listening to the first cut on Ellington's "Blues In Orbit" I offered to run the same on my Clearaudio TT. As open and extended as the sacd presentation was it was levels below the vinyl. Can't say it any plainer. When convenience(as eloquently stated by others)is desired cd, or better sacd is fine; but when involvement is required, vinyl is to be played.
Rcprince---- I manage to learn something new everyday, in spite of myself! Case in point:
Tonight I picked up the lengthy booklet that accompanied the WLA "Nature's Realm" hybrid and actually read the blurb (by none other than the Robert E. Greene I mentioned previously).
Turns out that the recording was made using the Blumlein mike method, in which two mikes are used, with one directly facing the orchestra (M),the other facing away by 90 degrees(S). Left signal is derived as M+S, right as M-S. The angle established by the listener to the speakers must then be 90 degrees. A-3s being rather hard to move, as suggested in the booklet I simply repositioned myself to establish that angularity, and the soundstage/imaging opened up rather nicely. It's a new experience, listening in the nearfield---some 3 ft. from the line of the speaker fronts!---but it's the best I can do with my present arrangement. I imagine it would be pretty good with a room big enough to establish the proper relationship at a normal distance.
I never thought I'd again see the necessity of reading instructions for playing a record! Reminds me of the old (here I go again, showing my age!) Cook recordings, especially the VERY early stereo jobs with a complete track for left, and another one for right, and a special tone arm with two cartridges, which were the very devil to synchronize!
Anyhoo----I now have more respect for the WLA recording, and I also know why Greene is so high on it----he was instrumental in making the damned thing!
Live and learn.
Ilove to read reveiws that are unbiased,and much like the widescreen reveiw article,positive feedback tells it like it is.The war is over and sacd has [one].Ihave heard the future and the future is sacd.No question the format war is over and sacd is the winner.The sonic performance of this systym is far beyond even the best analog recording systyms.If you read or hear people that say sacd is no big deal,you must ask yourself if they are deaf,if they have a mediocre audio systym or if they have a hidden agenda.Only these reasons could explain why anyone wouldn't be absolutley shocked by the beauty of sacd.There is more were this came from at www.positive-feedback.com