Why did it take so long


For digital to finally come of age. It seems that we are finally extracting the full potential of digital. Why did it take over thirty years for them to realize it wasn’t the failure of the cd, but the failure to properly recover all the information off it correctly?
goldenear1948
Digital filter performance got better and better with advancements in DSP chip design and manufacturing. Not different than comparing the quad core processors of today to the 80286 of the 1980's.

Because the information recovery was never the problem.

These were the problem and still are in many cases: 

1) Jitter in the digital signal, particularly from CD transports

2) Digital filtering technique in the DAC

3) Accuracy in the D/A and signal-to-noise ratio

It not only took many years to wrap our heads around these, it took many new technologies, protocols, techniques, new passive parts and interfaces to improve on them, including:

Low-jitter oscillators

Asynchronous USB interfaces

DSD and MQA

Improved digital filters in D/A chips, Apodizing filters and other custom digital filters

Ethernet - DLNA and RAAT interfaces

Teflon and polystyrene capacitors

Faster logic families for gates and flip-flops

Techniques for more accurate R2R resistor networks

Techniques for lower noise, faster-reacting voltage regulators

Upsampling and hi-res formats

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

I think the cd was released before it was ready for prime time.  All Sony could see was those $ signs.  I think digital will continue to improve for a long time to come.
Weaning off all the hardware associated with the disc itself and recording direct to memory of one form or other currently seems like it might be the next step - no more lasers and player mechanisms, etc helps...if we can actually get to the point of having a complete record/playback chain without all that anyway. Not there just yet generally, but we're getting closer...but, for that, copyright issues remain in the foreseeable future.
The scattered background laser light getting into the photodetector is still an issue. They are either unaware of the issue or choose to ignore it. And seismic vibration is still an issue obviously.
Wow... thank you for all of your answers and especially thank you audioengr!!!
Sitting here listening to U2 streaming through the Quad VA-One and reading a thread where OP asks if there is any way to have quiet vinyl and thinking YES,it's called digital!!!

Some evidence that digital still doesn’t retrieve all the information that’s in the “grooves.” Not by a long shot. You’ve come a long way, Baby! But you have a long way to go! 🤠

A. Demagnetizing interconnects, CDs and power cords, e.g., Walker Talisman.

B. Ionizing CDs, interconnects and power cords or Anti Static spray.

C. Applying CD treatments, I.e. Auric Illuminator, Liquid Resolution (RIP), whatever.

D. CD edge beveler/angle cutter.

E. Green Pen for outer edge of CD, Black Pen for inner edge.

F. Silver Rainbow Foil.

G. CD mats such as Marigo.

H. Getting the CD absolutely level during play (as opposed to level of top of chassis).

I. Using a green or turquoise tray instead of black.

J. Isolating the CD player.

K. Freezing or cryoing CDs.

L. Freezing or cryoing the CD player.



I can only agree with freediver. Geoff, you are not providing evidence, just voodoo.
I believe there is more problems on the digital recording than the CD player , Dacs, transports, even when xrcd showed up the sound really got better , highend recording like xrcd, gold cd mobile fidelity, dcc, maple shade proves it, my o.2 cents.
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I am not in a position to on the latest PS audio digital products, but I do employ Machina Dynamica Promethean Springs (among other MD products), and recently upgraded my Oppo 105 with IEC wire loom (OppoMod) and Linear Power Module (ZeroZone). Those 2 really upped my playback enjoyment

I think the original question posed by the OP,  in itself proves the point that its taken a long time for digital to get on par with a good analog playback. Outside of listening to music live and unless you had a mastering quality reel2reel in your living room, for most of us oldtimers the baseline and the frame of reference for sound quality has always been vinyl sound. So, it is true that it's taken many years for digital to win the competition with analog and in some respects win it. Moving parts always cost more so it'll take a lot more money to build an analog rig that can compare with a digital one in terms of sound quality.


willemj
I can only agree with freediver. Geoff, you are not providing evidence, just voodoo.

Nevermind, willemj. It wasn’t really for your ears anyway.
A/D is still a mess, so it's a dog before it even starts to walk through the door.

Nevermind playback.
teo-audio....why are you SO angry???

Some evidence that digital still doesn’t retrieve all the information that’s in the “grooves.” Not by a long shot. You’ve come a long way, Baby! But you have a long way to go! 🤠

A. Demagnetizing interconnects, CDs and power cords, e.g., Walker Talisman.

B. Ionizing CDs, interconnects and power cords or Anti Static spray.

C. Applying CD treatments, I.e. Auric Illuminator, Liquid Resolution (RIP), whatever.

D. CD edge beveler/angle cutter.

E. Green Pen for outer edge of CD, Black Pen for inner edge.

F. Silver Rainbow Foil.

G. CD mats such as Marigo.

H. Getting the CD absolutely level during play (as opposed to level of top of chassis).

I. Using a green or turquoise tray instead of black.

J. Isolating the CD player.

K. Freezing or cryoing CDs.

L. Freezing or cryoing the CD player.

This is only evidence that jitter from a CD transport can be reduced with tweaks. Nothing to do with the integrity of the data reads.

The same thing can be done by simply adding a Synchro-Mesh reclocker in the S/PDIF cable. None of these tweaks will have any effect on jitter once you do this. It’s only about reducing jitter.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

I am not in a position to on the latest PS audio digital products, but I do employ Machina Dynamica Promethean Springs (among other MD products), and recently upgraded my Oppo 105 with IEC wire loom (OppoMod) and Linear Power Module (ZeroZone). Those 2 really upped my playback enjoyment.

Again, jitter reducing tweaks, but you are spending your money in the wrong places and getting tiny improvements.  These tweaks are only going to have a minimal effect on jitter.  The way to reduce jitter to 20psec is to put a reclocker like the Synchro-Mesh in the S/PDIF cable.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

A/D is still a mess, so it’s a dog before it even starts to walk through the door.

Nevermind playback.


I agree, but from good studios it’s not as bad as you think. Google Bluecoast recordings in SF.

The problem is the proliferation of cheap "pro" hardware and cheap mixing software that many studios use. If they all recorded analog multi-track and mixed it down analog and then transferred to disk, it would sound like Bluecoast recordings do.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio


Reducing jitter and improving data reads. What’s the difference? There seems to be a lot of overlap. Besides, scattered background laser light is clearly in the latter camp. So is obtaining absolute level of the disc during play. The Silver Rainbow Foil and the demagnetization we’re not sure. 😛

Those tweaks are only going to have a minimal effect on jitter? That sounds an awful lot like wishful thinking. I would call the effects subtle. Subtle but powerful.
Reducing jitter and improving data reads. What’s the difference?

I'm surprised you are asking this.  The difference is obvious. 

Jitter is the variation in the periodic presentation of data bits or data words over time.

Improving data reads means the ability to read data without errors is improved.

There seems to be a lot of overlap. Besides, scattered background laser light is clearly in the latter camp. So is obtaining absolute level of the disc during play. The Silver Rainbow Foil and the demagnetization we’re not sure.

There is no overlap.  You can get perfect reads, but deliver high jitter.  You can also deliver low jitter with lots of errors in the data.  They are two different aspects.

Those tweaks are only going to have a minimal effect on jitter? That sounds an awful lot like wishful thinking. I would call the effects subtle. Subtle but powerful.

Subtle is right.  The only tweak that I found that actually reduced jitter significantly for a CD is to coat the top surface with a thick rubbery compound to reduce vibration.  I used to do this for customers 12 years ago.  You could also buy rubbery rings you could glue-on, but these were not as effective.  I have tried every thing on the list, so I know the relative level of improvement.  They have minimal effect, period.

Even the anti-vibration coating holds no comparison to the jitter you get with a Synchro-Mesh reclocker after the Transport.  Not even remotely close.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Steve, Sorry to hear you haven’t had much luck. I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles. 🍪 Good luck in your future endeavors.

Nothing to do with luck.  CD tweaks are minimally effective.  Reclockers make a huge difference.  The measurements prove it.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Really? How did you measure the Silver Rainbow Foil? The Green Pen? Demagnetizer? Just curious.
Steve, have you experimented with putting the SM device between a streamer ( with s built in DAC) and an external DAC? If so, what was the result?

Really? How did you measure the Silver Rainbow Foil? The Green Pen? Demagnetizer? Just curious.

You are not just curious, you want to disprove everything I say here.  I'll respond anyway:

I have the same disk here with and without treatments, including most of these tweaks, but even more important, I have the same disk with the rubberized coating and without. The one that makes the biggest difference. I can easily hear the difference and measure the difference.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Steve, have you experimented with putting the SM device between a streamer ( with s built in DAC) and an external DAC? If so, what was the result?

Yes, the Sonos is such a device and widely used.  See these plots:

http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=154310.0

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Digital digital does indeed sound better now than at it’s inception but should that be such a surprise?  LP playback improved, and continues to improve, throughout it’s lifetime

Geoffkait: “Really? How did you measure the Silver Rainbow Foil? The Green Pen? Demagnetizer? Just curious.”

To which Steve replied,

“You are not just curious, you want to disprove everything I say here. I’ll respond anyway:

I have the same disk here with and without treatments, including most of these tweaks, but even more important, I have the same disk with the rubberized coating and without. The one that makes the biggest difference. I can easily hear the difference and measure the difference.”

>>>You did an excellent job of avoiding the question. I’m not trying to disprove what you say. Prove and disprove are such strong words, don’t you think? I only presented evidence that digital has not really “arrived” as the OP suggested. By the way, Silver Rainbow Foil and Cream Electret, for example, have nothing whatsoever to do with laser reading of the disc OR jitter. Ditto many of my products, clock, Teleportation, Intelligent Chip, among others. Scattered laser light has everything to do with laser reading of the disc, I.e., data retrieval, so tweaks such as Green Pen, Green tray, CD edge beveler actually address data retrieval.