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2 thoughts on “MAX-D: Give Me Everything

  • January 6, 2014 at 7:29 pm
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    Hi Mark,
    Very interesting posts…a few comments. First, I imagine there are many companies out there that realize the business of software “enhancers” is potentially VERY profitable but competitive, so they have to exaggerate their language and use “HD” whenever possible…too bad the consumer is more often disappointed or misled.

    Also on a different topic, after considering this topic of “HD or not” I’d have to agree with you that for a piece to be accurately labeled high definition or high resolution, the entire signal path from recording to final mastering should cover at least 96kHz/24bit. After following your posts and other article these last months, I will agree that anything that is originally recorded on analog shouldn’t be considered truly HD (though of course they still have the potential to sound amazing). I confess that I do enjoy vinyl. Though I’m still trying to figure out what the particular quality is that is appealing? Is it the fact that the sound path is (usually) removed from digital domain or is it more the physical medium itself, the vinyl that imparts a unique tonal character.

    Ok well digress a bit, the question I thought of after reading your article is assuming care was taken to make true HD digital recordings and if that source material was produced for a vinyl album, could the physical medium support 120dB of dynamic range and > 25 kHz? For instance, many of Morten Lindberg’s projects from 2L are offered on either Bluray or vinyl (Direct Metal master) derived from the same DXD recording. There are many high quality tonearms as well as cartridges that have needles with specs into the ultrasonic range, so my inclination is that with a quality recording and turntable/hardware, ultrasonics may be present. The real question then is the dynamic range once the digital recording is translated to analog on the vinyl medium?

  • January 7, 2014 at 12:31 pm
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    Mark,

    I stopped being a fan of standard analog tape and vinyl LPs back in the 70s, when I started waiting impatiently for consumer digital technologies to become available. The first generation of standard 44.1/16 media and equipment was an improvement over analog tape and LPs, at least for anyone without an almost unlimited budget, but it clearly was not yet HD-Audio. I agree with you that none of these formats can be HD-Audio, but I believe that your statement “That means that analog tape, vinyl LPs and standard resolution digital (CDs, DSD 64 and all compressed formats) do not qualify.” is a bit too strong.

    As you have shown, the current analog tape standards do not support HD-Audio, but that does not mean that a new analog tape standard that does support HD-Audio, 96/24 equivalent, could not be developed and implemented using modern technology. A new completely HD-Audio analog tape technology could be developed, but after significant development time and expense, all you would have is an analog technology that still isn’t any better than current digital technology and still doesn’t rescue those old less than HD-Audio analog tapes. I believe that Todd’s question about vinyl LPs has the same answer. Yes, an HD-Audio version of vinyl could be developed, but it wouldn’t offer any improvement over current digital technology, and it couldn’t rescue old vinyl LPs that never had the frequency and dynamic range required for HD-Audio encoded in the vinyl. Actually there already is an analog disc technology that could probably be adapted to support HD-Audio, but that technology, Laser Disk, has almost disappeared due to the superior digital technologies that replaced it.

    For standard digital formats, there have been efforts to make improvements while still living with 16 bits. I am interested in your opinion of two of these improvements.

    The first is HDCD. By changing the encoding method HDCD increases the dynamic range, but it introduces noise when played on a player without HDCD decoding. I believe HDCD is a possible marginal candidate for HD-Audio.

    The second improvement is Sony SBM. I acquired a Sony PCM-R500 DAT (with SBM) in 1997 and used it for years to record solo piano and chamber music. While SBM on the PCM-R500 is not HD-Audio, I had the opportunity to compare DAT recordings of the same source with and without SBM, and with the same amplitude the 16 bit SBM recording always sounded better. Looking at the waveforms on a computer, the SBM waveforms looked smoother, less jagged.

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