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ARSCLIST  July 2007

ARSCLIST July 2007

Subject:

Re: New 1-bit recorders, was Re: SACD et al. sales figures

From:

Charles Lawson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 9 Jul 2007 10:22:59 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

At the risk of igniting a giant flame war...

1-bit systems really don't have any significant measurable advantage over
linear PCM--*provided that your PCM sample rate and bit depth are high
enough.*  (Please read that carefully.)  PCM can be made arbitrarily good
and the technology exists now (and will likely be available for a long
while) to record, edit and play back PCM files...even ones with very high
sampling rates and bit depths--without all the inherent noise shaping and
other manipulation required of downconverted 1-bit data.  PCM is more than
good enough for practically all of the material that occupies the typical
interests and missions of most people on this list.

Much has been touted in audiophile (and certain professional circles)
about the inherent advantages of the DSD system (and it *can* sound
exceptionally fine in its native format), but it has limitations beyond
PCM and very few of the SACD discs on the market were truly recorded and
mastered with 1-bit technology.  Many of the discs you see labeled "DSD"
and containing a 1-bit layer were recorded and edited with PCM systems and
converted to 1-bit for final SACD distribution.  I ask you, how can such a
disc be said to possess qualities beyond the PCM recording and editing
software used to capture and manipulate the audio?  The concept of
"signifcant digits" (no pun intended) should leap to your attention
immediately.  Now, comparing an SACD 1-bit layer with the corresponding
16-bit layer should certainly yield significant audio differences
*provided that the original material was actually recorded and mastered at
a higher sample rate and bit-depth than the Red Book layer*.  But a DSD
version of a PCM master should not sound any better than the PCM...and, in
fact, may sound worse.

Many people are enamored by the idea that DSD is more analogue-like since
it is a sort of "analogue digital"--theoretically exhibiting the best
attributes of both recording systems.  Reality and theory diverge here,
though, and there seems to be a GREAT deal of snake oil on sale.

Like you, I love the concept of an archival format that is "future proof"
by being of a basic quality that is far superior to the standard playback
of today and which can be downcoverted to any prevalent format of future
generations.  However, I don't believe that DSD is it for us.  You should
examine this issue very closely and very thoroughly before you jump into
this murky pond.

If Korg or anyone else would like to demonstrate to me via properly
designed double-blind experiments why I should invest in their proprietary
format, I will be more than happy to participate.  I do want the best
possible format for my projects and will change my tune if there is a real
scientific reason to do so.

Best of luck to us all...

(Flame shield made of Krell adamantine metal deployed...and "Krell"
doesn't refer to an audio manufacturer!  See "Forbidden Planet.")

--
Charles Lawson <[log in to unmask]>
Professional Audio for CD, DVD, Broadcast & Internet
(Not affiliated with any particular product or manufacturer so no axes to
grind or posteriors to smooch)

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