Sunday, November 17, 2013

SACD of Wish You Were Here

I waited and waited for the 30th Anniversary SACD of Wish You Were Here.  It was promised in 2005, but by that time Sony, who was then the owning label of this recording, was deep into a format war (DVD HD vs Blu Ray) and had just dropped it's involvement with SACD like a hot potato.  Sony had ruthlessly promoted SACD at the beginning (refusing even to include DVD-Audio capability in any of its DVD players), then, when it becomes useless to the company's grand strategy to rule the world, it drops it in a flash.  No new SACD players were being introduced by Sony, and no new SACD recordings either.  I'm not certain that the Blu Ray format was technically superior to the other, in fact I thought it was the other way around, but Blu Ray prevailed, largely through Sony's relentless singing of deals with movie studios.  Meanwhile, and despite being declared dead many times, SACD soldiered on mostly through audiophile recordings on small labels.  DVD-Audio, which had been my preference to SACD, simply because I believe in high resolution PCM over 1-bit-like systems, has also continued, the latest knockout for the format being the 40th anniversary release of Lark's Tongue in Aspic (which is fabulous, fabulous!) which appeared a year or two ago.

Meanwhile, the 30th Anniversary SACD of Wish You Were Here was not appearing.  By 2008 or so I had given up looking.

But next thing I knew, I saw it being closed out in a famous online recording store (can't remember whether it was Elusive Disc or Music Direct).  So I immediately ordered a copy.

And let me tell you again, as with the Lark's Tongue in DVD-Audio, the SACD of Wish You Were Here is fabulous, fabulous, maybe even beyond fabulous.

This recording sounds incredibly analog like when played on my Denon 5900 (redigitized by a Lavry AD10 for digital processing in my system).  There seems to be zero grain at all, just pure smooth infinite resolution.  I remember this from my LP's of this recording, but here it is far cleaner as well, so you can really hear the infinity.

I have never heard this utter grainlessness on a regular CD, though my Mobile Fidelity Gold Disk of Meddle comes pretty close, thanks to fidelity to the master tapes (no added compression).  Most of the differences heard with audiophile versions seems to be differences in the mastering as opposed to differences in the formats themselves.  Still there may be ultimate advantages to the advanced resolution formats, and I've come to believe that SACD, despite my earlier misgivings, is one of them.  Despite the questionable nature of what is going on in the highest frequencies, above 10,000 Hz, there is measured to be 20 dB less noise in the midband, and SACD recordings do often seem to have very clear midrange.

Wherever the clear superiority of Wish You Were Here in SACD comes from, I am grateful to have it.

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