Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A DVD-Audio winner

Finally got back to listening to discs, a nice previously unwrapped HDAD+ version of De Falla's The Three Cornered Hat.  This is a classic recording remastered from the original master tapes to produce a DVD-Audio with 24 bit resolution.  If you have a DVD-Audio player (like all my Denon's) you can play the DVD-Audio version with 192kHz sampling rate.  If you only have a DVD-Video player, you can still play the version with 96kHz sampling rate, still with 24 bits.  A CD (16 bit) is also included, I plan to copy that to the hard drive used by my Sonos system.  I think that all good music should be distributed like this, with both CD and "advanced resolution."  (Note while the disc includes some pictures, it is not a video disc, there is no reason to listen with monitor on.)

This disc is incredibly liquid, dynamic and theatrical, a treat to listen to.  The incredible dynamics do not seem to be weakened much by just a tiny bit of noise, probably coming more from the microphone amplifiers than the 35mm recording.  Other than the noise, it sounds so good, one wonders if maybe it sounds extra good because of the noise.  Often modern noise-free recordings just don't quite have the depth of this recording.

Classic Records makes these HDAD+ packages and also regular HDAD which do not include the CD.  Before coming up with the HDAD package, Classic Records made DADs which would play on all DVD video players at 96Khz, and I have quite a few of those.  (PULSE is one of their best, btw.)

My feeling is that 96Khz is all that's needed, 192Khz may even be generally inferior for technical reasons (see essay by Lavry).

In my system, I cannot play 192Khz as well as I can play 96khz, because my Denon 5900 cannot output 192Khz digital directly.  So if I need to play a 192Khz disc, I take the analog output of the Denon and convert it back to digital with a MSB PAD-1 analog-to-digital converter which operates at 96khz.  Either way, digital gets fed to my digital equalization preamp and digital crossover.  But no doubt some noise is added when I have to convert analog to digital, as I do with 192Khz discs, DVD-Audio discs in general (which usually suppress the digital output at the highest resolution, even if it's only 96khz), HDCD's, and SACD's.

So in the case of this disc, I could choose either the direct digital output at 96Khz (and 24 bits resolution), or the analog output at 192Khz converted back to 96/24 digital by the MSB PAD-1.  One would think bypassing the conversion would be the best, though sometimes I have liked the converted higher nominal resolution versions, which can reduce harshness a bit (useful for Red by King Crimson).  Last night I only bothered to listen to the direct digital at 96Khz.

The MSB is also connected to my preamp using AES/EBU over balanced wire instead of spdif.  But since my preamp has only one AES/EBU input, I need to make a connection change to switch from the Lavry (currently used for FM radio) and the MSB (currently used for high resolution discs).  I've decided the simplest and most effective way to switch XLR is to have short XLR cable that can connect to one of other cables that actually connect to the equipment in question.

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