The Redbook specification for Compact Discs doesn’t allow for any additional improvements to fidelity through any of the hocus pocus mentioned below. This is a product page taken right from the Elusive Disc sales website. You’re buying a $40 CD.
“Numbered, Limited Edition Ultra High Definition 32-Bit Mastering Import CDs Produced Using PureFlection Process! This Ultra HD 32-Bit Mastering CD will play on ALL CD players!”
There is no such thing as an “Ultra High Definition” CD! Compact Discs are ALL standard definition.
“A Better CD Production Process – The Pure Reflection (PureFlection) Process:
FIM UHD CDs now sound undeniably better than ever! (Did they suck before?) FIM’s first priority is to locate a factory that offers the latest technologies throughout its entire production chain, from the best A-grade polycarbonate materials, to testing and accurate quality control tools. The factory must produce a detailed specification sheet which ensures the discs produced demonstrate the same quality as the original recording.”
UHD CDs sound better than what measure? Better than a standard CD…that’s impossible. If the original master is a high-resolution file then the UHD CD will, in fact, sound worse than the original. This sort of double speak is embarrassing.
“To assure us of the best results, FIM has enlisted the help of one of the most experienced mastering engineers in the industry to craft the glass disc for the final replication process. Winston Ma continually maintains close rapport with him, as well as the original recording engineers, the mastering engineers and the manufacturer to achieve consensus regarding musicality and the sound spectrum.”
The job of the mastering engineer at the replication facility is to make a glass master (which is verified by a machine as containing all of the right bits) and then replicate copies of the master. There are no additional fidelity issues happening at the plant. The discs either meet the specifications of a CD or they don’t. Fidelity is not a factor if the discs are correctly replicated.
“FIM’s glass mastering-disc engineer maintains expertise in the latest technologies: he currently uses a special blu-ray recordable mastering thermal process technique to create small smooth grooves which result in precision fidelity. He is meticulous in ensuring the best track pitch and the distance between the spiral of the pits, to reduce the amount of noise the tracking servo in the drive picks up from adjacent tracks, thus ensuring the best parameters on Cross Talk (XT) by minimizing the servo noise of the Drive during playback of the replica results.”
I promised to talk about this. Here’s the lowdown. I have a BD-R recorder in my shop as well. In fact, I have a few of them. And they do use a “thermal process technique” to burn the data bits into the surface of the media…but ALL optical disc burners do this. Nothing special to brag about here. The “track pitch” and “the distance between the spiral of the pits” are the same thing…how far apart are the data paths on the surface of the disc? On a CD they are farther apart than a Blu-ray disc. Wouldn’t this make the chances for the mythical “cross talk” on the BD-R higher than that on a CD? Remember, all we want to get is the correct digital information off of the disc. There is no impact from servo noise.
“To further ensure the best quality, FIM stipulates the most extensive test specification requirements. Pure Reflection (PureFlection) discs show in every CD booklet the full spectrum of specification of a given CD in the following categories:
BLER (17 items), BERL (9 items), Physical (6 items), Jitter (6 items), E22 Graph and BLER Graph
The concept of UHD 32-Bit PureFlection is the transformation of a superior sound into something truly exceptional, enhancing the experience without interfering in it. Sit back, relax and listen to the new sound of a UHD 32-Bit PureFlection CD!”
I’m sorry but I just don’t believe you! How is your 44.1 kHz 16/-bit standard CD “transformed” into something superior if we both rigidly meet the Redbook specification? Making up words and processes like Pureflection or E.S.E. or UHD CD doesn’t allow you to put more data on the disc or raise specs.
“Ultra High Definition 32-Bit Mastering!
Ultra High Definition 32-Bit Mastering is a proprietary ultra-high-quality mastering system. This leading-edge system has achieved unprecedented sonority and musicality, reproducing as closely as possible the sound of the original master tape! This format employs what is currently the highest attainable resolution bit depth (word length) in the professional audio field, i.e. 32-bit. 32-bit resolution makes possible maximized, undistorted dynamics, and the lowest noise floor, allowing even the quietest musical information to be heard more clearly. This breakthrough results from the development, through years of experience and application of advanced digital technology, of a sophisticated A/D and D/A processing system.”
Too bad that Sonny Rollins’ recording wasn’t made using 32-bits. In fact, 32-but ADCs are exceedingly rare in any studios. What happens when you place 10-12-bits dynamics into a 32-bit container? You don’t get 32-bit dynamics, that’s for sure. So all of those wonderful qualities in the previous paragraph are pure BS. Good sales and marketing but without impact to the fidelity.
“Ultra HD 32-Bit Mastering does not specify a sampling rate; this allows flexibility in meticulously choosing the appropriate bandwidth for a particular recording. The higher the sampling rate — for example, 192 kHz — the greater the bandwidth. However, merely employing the greatest bandwidth may not guarantee the ultimate sound. With some recordings, a lower sampling rate — 96 or 176 (sic 176.4) kHz — may offer better musicality and more homogeneous harmonics. This determination requires careful and discerning auditioning and professional judgment. In the end, the human being’s hearing and emotions should be the final arbiter, rather than the print-out of testing equipment or technical measurements.”
We’re getting back to “touchy, feely” descriptions. A digitally converted file does have a native sample rate and if you convert to something else, the sound quality can suffer. Choosing a sample rate based on “hearing and emotions” should never be the final arbiter. They’ve got this all backwards.
“Recognizing these variables, FIM nevertheless tries to use 32-bit depth and 192 kHz bandwidth whenever the original analog master is at hand. Alternatively, if the original recording is on 24/96, the 32/96 may eventually be used to maintain the integrity of the sonority particular to that recording. With this flexibility, First Impression Music believes that preeminent sound is only achievable when the chemistry of the recording, mastering, glass-stamper making, replication, and quality control is right. As always, listening is believing.”
A transfer of an analog master tape requires a state-of-the-art analog tape machine, careful engineering, and first rate analog to digital conversion. Using 192 kHz/24-bits is overkill but I wouldn’t argue too much against it. Hard drives are cheap.
“This recording has been mastered by the new Ultra High Definition 32-Bit Mastering process, which creates an unbelievable sound surpassing other formats!”
Wishful thinking, I think. What other formats are they talking about? Certainly not high-resolution formats. What would you rather have…the 192 kHz/24-bit original files right from the analog master (which will be about 10-12 bits of dynamics and stop at around 25 kHz) or an “Ultra HD 32-bit CD master”? There should be no question.
“The benefits of Ultra HD 32-Bit Mastering:
• Ambience of Analogue Sound [NOTE: Complete falsehood – marketing spin!!]
• Higher Resolution [NOTE: Higher than what? Not a standard Redbook CD…it is a Redbook CD!]
• Undistorted Dynamics [NOTE: Were they distorted before?!! Not true!]
• The Lowest Noise Floor, allowing even the quietest musical information to be heard more clearly! [NOTE: The noise floor was determined by the original analog tape…using 16-bits or twice that number makes no difference]
• Richer Sound Field [NOTE: BS – marketing spin!!]
• Master-Tape Quality Sound!!! [NOTE: I can endorse this statement…it does give you the master tape sound.]
• Delivers what musicians originally intended! [NOTE: If the musicians could have recorded to HD specs they would have preferred that.]
• Numbered, Limited Edition (Only 1000 Copies)
• Produced using PureFlection (Pure Reflection) Process
• Ultra HD Mastering
• Beautifully packaged
• Playable on ALL CD Players!”