"Bang for buck" analogies aside, I certainly do not agree that digital
playback rivals state-of-the-art analog playback & the latter systems while
not cheap are not absurdly priced. The bottom line is the quality of music
reproduction & while some CDs & SACDs are very enjoyable using quality
playback equipment, properly set up analog playback remains closer to the
performance & tonal characteristics of live instruments. It does seem
likely than some of the criticisms with current digital sound quality are
related to playback equipment & only time will tell if these issues will be
resolved before most of us loose our hearing. Of course, if someone can't
hear the differences or simply doesn't care, the whole issue is moot.
This was clearly demonstrated in two setups at T.H.E. Show during the CES
in Las Vegas earlier this month: Herron Audio using their own electronics
& VPIs new rim driven turntable & the Schroder room with their
arm/prototype tape drive turntable combo.
At 07:46 AM 1/22/2008 -0500, you wrote:
>Ya know, this is probably blasphemy to whatever audiophile-types lurk on
>this list, but I think you get a lot more bang for the buck investing in a
>really good CD playback system. More "golden ears" I've met than I care to
>say rail on about how "digital sucks" or "CD's sound terrible." Then, when
>I ask them about their system, it turns out they are using either a
>first-generation CD player from the early 80's or they are using some
>dirt-cheap on-sale DVD/CD player from the local big-box. CD players are
>NOT all the same and furthermore external D-A boxes are NOT all the same.
>If you combine well-mastered CD's with a stable mechanism and an excellent
>D-A unit, you'll push your amp and speakers (and ears) as far as they can go.
>Now, just as in the LP era, the majority of CD product on the market is
>not well-mastered, so the garden-variety CD has a bad rap for sounding
>awful through no fault of the technology. This was the same thing with a
>lot of rock and jazz LPs back in the day. Overuse of dynamics-compression,
>bad EQ choices, and bad mixing or mic-placement choices at the session are
>nothing new. But, the difference with CD's and even more so with
>higher-resolution digital formats, is that there aren't the built-in
>distortions and limits of analog formats. No matter how superb your analog
>setup is, output is audibly different from input. If you like the output
>better -- ie the distortions are euphonic to your tastes -- that's one
>thing. But the truthful assessment is, a well-designed digital system can
>get as close to output = input as the vast, vast majority of ears can hear
>(and certainly the overwhelmingly vast majority of home-listening setups
>If I had the thousands it costs to buy and maintain an ATR Services
>machine, and this were simply for a listening hobby, I'd spend that money
>on a mechanically-superb mid-line DVD/CD player, a top-line DAC and then
>take the other 2/3 of the money and invest in great speakers and room
>treatments so I had a top-rate listening environment. If I already had
>that in place, I'd invest the 2/3 of the money I had left in a diverse
>collection of great listening software, paying attention first to my
>musical tastes and then to sound quality since great music should soar
>above a crappy recording (although it doesn't in all cases).
>This is probably not the answer some want to hear, but I submit that it's
>by far the most bang for the listening-pleasure dollar.
>-- Tom Fine
H. Duane Goldman Lagniappe Chemicals Ltd.
PO Box 37066 St. Louis, MO 63141
v/f 314 205 1388 http://discdoc.com