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Mark Waldrep/Sound Liaison/DSD vs PCM part 2,(Mark answers computer audiophile.)


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The narrowing down of the comparison to DSD64 only is, to me, yet another example of his rather obvious bias towards the format he sells, i.e. 96/24.

 

Hi YashN,

 

In all fairness, one might consider the fact that it isn't a bias to a format he sells, but simply a matter of him selling a format he likes better. Folks tend to be a little jaded on Internet audio fora. (No! Really?!? ;-})

 

I'm pretty confident that if Mr. Waldrep preferred DSD, that is the format in which he would be recording and that is the format he would be selling. A lot of us make records because we love making records. A the small, independents tend to be labors of love. (Anyone think Mr. Waldrep is getting wealthy doing this?) As such, the proprietors are doing things the way they *want* to do them.

 

Of course, I'm speaking for myself but I have a strong feeling all this applies to Mr. Waldrep and others doing similar things in record-making. So, "obvious bias"? Absolutely. But not at all because he sells it. He sells it because that is how he feels it will be best heard.

 

I know a lot of folks who love the format. Like Mr. Waldrep, I'm not one of them. This is a sonic motivation, not a commercial one. (Soundkeeper, my label, already offers different formats in addition to my favored 24/192 .aif. It does *not* offer flac files as downloads, which would certainly add to the bottom line. Nothing is on iTunes either.) Sometimes folks are in this crazy pursuit because they love music and sound and that is all the motivation they require.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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Hi Lighthouse,

 

...I believe he made several comments regarding 24/96 vs 24/192 (basically, he admits his studio equipment is not up for real 24/192, as well as pointing out humans really can't hear diff between 96 and 192.)...

 

Really? I've never seen him make this comment. (Doesn't mean he hasn't of course. Just that I've never read this in anything I've seen from him.) Well, I suppose one can take *any* particular position regarding anything in audio (or anything else) and *someone* somewhere on the web will make that declaration.

 

For my ears, the differences between 24/192 and 24/96 are greater (and more important) than the differences between 24/96 and 16/44. I believe Keith Johnson has said something similar. For me, properly done 4x rates cross a threshold. Where 24/96 can sound "very good" (something I consider a coloration), properly done 24/192 (or 24/176.4) has the potential to sound indistinguishable (at least to my ears) from my direct mic feed. This is something I've never heard before with any other format-- no analog format and no other digital format.

Put another way, to my ears, 24/96 sounds closer to 16/44 than it does to 24/192.

 

Note I keep saying "properly done" because my experience has been that a good many converters actually sound *worse* at 4x rates than they do at 2x rates. I attribute this to the significantly increased demands on clocking accuracy and on analog stage performance at the wider bandwidths. Apparently, it is much easier to put the number "192" on a spec sheet than it is to design a product that fulfills this potential.

 

Just my perspective of course.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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'In all fairness' would require him to fairly evaluate each format and write fairly about each. This isn't the case, and I base my opinion on reading his posts carefully.

 

His bias is then rather obvious.

 

Hi YashN,

 

Why would you think someone as interested as he did not evaluate each format?

I would think he did. At the same time, I don't think he is obliged to write about everything he's listened to.

I certainly don't feel that way. (How much are folks willing to pay for someone's time? Outside of that, they write about what they feel like writing about. Just like anyone else.)

 

Of course he's biased. He chose the format he wants to work in. So did I. I'm biased too. I prefer formats that don't make me grit my teeth. ;-}

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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Barry, you sell what you love and believe in (as well as giving it away, for example instructions for economical isolation), but you do not try to tell others what they can hear or should enjoy. I see that as a difference between you and Dr. Waldrep. Something else I see as a difference is that my perception of the reason Dr. Waldrep does this (tell others what they can hear or should enjoy) is to intentionally foment controversy in aid of marketing.

 

I remember way back when I was buying my first high end stuff, the guy who had the best "ear" and sold the best sounding equipment was also the guy who didn't criticize other dealers. When I'd walk into a shop and hear more about what and from whom I shouldn't buy than what was good in that guy's shop, it inevitably was accompanied by a disappointing listening experience.

 

I'm not naive enough to think products sell themselves, but dissing others' products shows me you lack confidence in the ability of yours to compete on their own merits.

 

Hi Jud,

 

If that is the case, then I'd respond to your post by saying "fair enough."

Perhaps I just misread his words. I took them to say he doesn't like the sound of DSD, not anything about what I or anyone else would hear or enjoy (or *should* hear or enjoy).

 

I know Mr. Waldrep doesn't consider analog a high res medium. I feel otherwise.

We all hear differently, with different sensitivities to different aspects of sound.

 

Could be some of my reaction is that I've seen folks post similar things about me (maybe in this very forum), suggesting the reason I advocate 24/192 is because I sell it. No consideration whatsoever for the fact that just maybe, the reason I sell it is because I think it is the best way to make a record. No consideration for the fact that there would be considerably more sales if I offered flac downloads and distributed via Amazon and iTunes too.

 

I fully agree that a lot of folks lack the confidence to simply speak in terms of their own experience. I don't know that that is happening here but again, perhaps I just misread it. I tend to give folks the benefit of the doubt (futile as that often turns out to be on Internet audio fora ;-}). Innocent unless and until *proven* guilty.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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He isn't interested.

 

Hi YashN,

 

I'm curious as to what would make you think this.

I believe anyone with a small, independent label is interested. Money certainly isn't the motivation.

 

I'm no fan of DSD either. I've listened extensively and made a decision.

Not interested? I'm *fascinated* and (if you ask folks who've worked with me) perhaps somewhat fanatical.

 

Folks have different ears, different sensitivities, and reach different conclusions.

Unless you *know* he refuses to even listen, I wonder how a "not interested" conclusion might be reached.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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I don't know how much can be attributed to his preference for the sound of PCM as opposed to what he sees as considerable 'extra work' with DSD for editing, etc. He has been on an anti-DSD crusade for some time. I can't see how it is a marketing 'plus' for him because it rubs a lot of people the wrong way. I have spoken to and exchanged emails with Mark. He is not getting wealthy doing this. For a long time, his site required that you download each file of an album separately because he did not have a proper downloader. He couldn't afford to do what larger online sellers have done by purchasing one from JRiver. I know he was working on one and he may have it now. You are correct that he does not view analog as a high resolution format. He does not consider well produced analog tape masters to be a standard against which to measure digital sound quality.

 

Hi Allan,

 

I can't speak for anyone but myself of course (nor would I want to) but I'm no fan of DSD either. As to "extra work" for editing, I wouldn't care in the least if I thought it offered sonic benefits I wanted.

 

Is it a crusade? I don't know. Sometimes any opinion offered on the audio-related Internet might be interpreted that way. We certainly have some folks here at CA that seem to be on their own crusades - either for DSD, anti-vinyl, anti-cables, etc..

 

Lastly, while I differ from Mr. Waldrep in that I believe well done analog tape is most definitely a high resolution format, I *do* agree that analog tape should *not* be the standard against which to measure digital sound quality. Good as it can be, I have never heard any analog tape, even the very best in my experience, that I found to be indistinguishable from the input signal. To me, seeking gear that "gets out of the way", the standard should be nothing other than the *input signal*. Always.

 

I don't want digital gear that sounds "analog" though I understand many folks do. (There is a whole school of DACs to satisfy these folks. To me, sounding "analog" is as much a coloration as sounding "digital" - even if the former might be less toxic in some ways.) I want my gear to *not* "sound." I want the sound to come from the event being captured in the recording.

 

Bottom line as I see it is the man has an opinion and he's entitled to it. Just as much as any of us is entitled to our opinions.

I think that is fine...as long as someone doesn't try to give me *my* opinion. ;-}

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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I have already replied to that. Read my few posts above, and Jud's.

 

Hi YashN,

 

I see a reply but not an answer.

The man has an opinion. Some folks don't like it.

I don't see *any* data from which one might logically conclude he isn't interested. Or more clearly, *why* he might not be interested. Neither do I see anything that would suggest he has not listened and drawn his own conclusions.

 

In any event, I maintain the man has an opinion. So what? I do too. And, I'm pretty sure so do most if not all of us.

We're not all going to agree. In fact, I find it remarkable when there *is* any sort of consensus in this pursuit.

 

I understand you might reach different conclusions. That's what makes the audio world go 'round.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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Money is involved because evaluating is expensive, buying bunch of converters costs quite a bit and making parallel recording with number of different converters simultaneously takes some effort too.

 

Technology also marches forward, especially on the DSD front, so one needs to re-evaluate at least yearly. (to evaluate new converters, etc)

 

Hi Miska,

 

To be clear, when I said "Money isn't the motivation" it was in reference to why folks would spend their time running small, independent labels.

 

As to evaluating gear, this can often be accomplished without purchase. The only definite cost is time and effort (a relative bargain in exchange for keeping up). Colleagues will demo products for other colleagues and run tests together. (Folks I know do this regularly.)

Evaluations are practically constant.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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Good if it is possible there, but certainly not here. Distributors or dealers don't have the more expensive gear on stock, they order it when someone wants to purchase it. Same goes for manufacturers of more specialist gear. For proper evaluation of A/D gear you need to make parallel recording with multiple devices... Gathering all the stuff together at once is challenging without owning it.

 

Took almost four months to get my new amps, and it wasn't still anything special.

 

Have you evaluated for example Merging Horus/Hapi already? I'm also curious if you've compared your current gear with DAD AX24/AX32 in parallel?

 

Hi Miska,

 

Definitely parallel input to multiple devices. This is exactly what was done not too long ago among some folks I know where over a dozen different A-D converters were used to capture three different analog masters (classical, jazz, and pop). Files sets got arbitrary names and no one knew which converter did what until we all reported our findings.

 

I have not heard the Horus/Hapi (yet). Have you? If so, what was your experience?

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hi barry what do you think of this statement from Keith Cleversley;

High Sample Rates De-Mystified - WaveFront Mastering

 

Hi oso,

 

I've never heard of Mr. Cleversley before and don't know anything about him, his work, or the gear he's using.

He is certainly entitled to his perspective of course. I have a different one.

 

In my experience, word length (i.e. # of bits) will effect what I call "vertical resolution." To my ears, a 24-bit delivery format allows for *much* better delineation of low level information that is either coarsened or entirely obliterated with a 16-bit delivery format.

 

I refer to sample rate as "horizontal resolution" and as I've often stated, with a converter that can do 4x rates properly (the number of which appears to be far fewer than those claiming this on their spec sheets), I find the improvements over 2x rates to be more significant than the improvements in going from 1x to 2x rates. My reason for feeling this way is that, as I've said elsewhere, a threshold is crossed and the results no longer sound "good" but instead, for the first time in my experience, the results sound like the input signal.

 

So I say why choose one plane of resolution over another? Put another way, all I can think is that if folks don't hear *significant* differences in the sample rates, either the converters, the monitoring, the listener or some combination of these is just not sensitive to the differences. To me, they are profound. Properly done 24/192 sounds, to me, like the input signal. I can't think of a higher compliment to offer. 24/96 can sound good but even the very best I've heard does not sound like the input signal. This is why I consider sounding "good" to be a coloration. (This is just me of course. A lot of folks *want* something that sounds "good".) For me, the goal is to not "sound" at all.

 

If the differences between 16-bit and 24-bit are "night and day," I'd say the differences between the best 2x PCM and properly done 4x is "Heaven and Earth." ;-}

 

As always, this is just my perspective.

Ask three audio folks a question and you will receive at the very least, four different answers. ;-}

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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Not Barry, but I note Cleversley's remarks completely ignore the details of what happens inside nearly all DACs. This seems an odd thing to do. There is also the old trope about "If you hear differences, it means your DAC is broken." Yep, just like speakers or cartridges or amps, if you hear more details, it's broken. Oh, wait....

 

Hi Jud,

 

Personally, with regard to this particular characteristic of a recording, I don't think the DAC's action matters as it is really about the ADC. The DAC will either let us know what the ADC captured or it won't, but it is the ADC--along with the analog stage that precedes it--that is doing the capture. (And I'm not talking about oversampling as one can apply it all they want to a 44.1k recording, using any converters you like, and never, ever, in my experience, get within a galaxy of what proper 192k can do.)

 

I do know what you mean about the gear being "broken." I've heard this time and again when speaking of differences in the sound of cables or between a .flac and the raw PCM source file: "must be an issue with the playback chain" -- to which my response is that I am unfortunate in that my gear is not "good" enough to obscure the differences. ;-}

(And my taste buds must be "flawed" too: Night Train just doesn't taste like Dom Perignon.)

 

There is something I'd want to add to my last post, with regard to "vertical resolution" and word length, where I said " To my ears, a 24-bit delivery format allows for *much* better delineation of low level information that is either coarsened or entirely obliterated with a 16-bit delivery format." That is that what 24-bit offers is real dynamic range. I've often said that the signal-to-noise ratio of 16-bit (~96 db) is often erroneously used to describe its dynamic range. These are not the same thing, simply because at the lower levels, 16-bit can no longer exhibit a clean signal: instrumental harmonics are bleached, spatial information is clouded, and reverb tails simply die an unnaturally short death. Contrary to claims from some quarters (not from folks who are actually listening), dither doesn't help. Dither is down at the least significant bit but the issues with 16-bit occur high above this in level. To my ears, 16-bit doesn't really have an *honest* dynamic range of more than 20 or 30 dB and *that* is only when one isn't listening "seriously" (at which time the limitations will come in even sooner).

 

So I certainly agree with Mr. Cleversley's assertions about the importance of longer word length. Where I differ is that I find the higher sample rates at least as important, not less so. Please note, here again, I'm talking about the *recording* not what the DAC is doing during playback. The latter can, in my view, only determine how much of what was originally captured we get to hear (or not).

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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