DSD to Vinyl Versus Analog Tape to Vinyl

spiritofmusic

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cjfrbw

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I don’t know about a “test” but Steve Hoffman did this comparison himself and posted his opinion at the SHForums. He actually preferred LP to tape, and each to DSD, with PCM formats least preferred. However, that opinion was orginally posted many years ago (2014?) and opinions would likely differ today
I think I remember that one as well. Did he have a direct to disc cutter vinyl cutter, and used that as a recording medium?

I think that hierarchy placed direct to disc vinyl recording on top over tape. That does not represent a real world vinyl situation though, because it bypassed the recording/editing/mass media vinyl printing process used for commercial records.

I have heard that a direct cut vinyl record can even beat high IPS analog tape, but never having heard such I wouldn't know.
 

spiritofmusic

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Atmasphere

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I have heard that a direct cut vinyl record can even beat high IPS analog tape, but never having heard such I wouldn't know.
It can beat tape with ease. Vinyl has the widest bandwidth of any format commonly available (typically to 40KHz on older cutters like mine). Its noise, dynamic range and distortion are both lower than that of any tape format (although to get the benefit of that the playback apparatus really does have to have its ducks in a row).

We've done some work with direct to disk and had both analog tape and digital backup. So I can tell you that direct to disk is by far the most difficult medium to record since a single mistake means you have to start over. But if it all goes well its very difficult to beat.
 

Bruce B

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no. don't agree at all in any way, shape or form......that performances that are dsd sourced make better vinyl pressings than analog sourced vinyl pressings.
.

Yeah..... what Mike said.....
 
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Ultrafast69

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Hello All - whether DSD to vinyl or Tape to Vinyl is more dynamical for playback, how does one really ever know they hear this in a home setting and does it really matter?

Meaning how do you know your system is really capable of playback that measures up to what is said or thought by a very few?

I’m just asking in a respectful manner as just when I think I begin to understand, I start to think and bounce back to square one.
 

Mike Lavigne

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Hello All - whether DSD to vinyl or Tape to Vinyl is more dynamical for playback, how does one really ever know they hear this in a home setting and does it really matter?

short answer. you don't really "know" about which source makes the best sounding reproduced music. it does not jump out.

it's large sample sizes where the feeling and honest truth of format differences such as recording source start to become evident. hundreds or thousands of pressings. or maybe you happen to also experience different pressings from different sources from the same mic feeds. these are anecdotal events but might reinforce your feelings from those larger listening experiences.

you read about what others think about this. but then go through the learning curve yourself. it's part of the discovery fun of the hobby.

it matters because with vinyl there is such a high amount of information in the grooves everything matters so much and the differences make such a difference to what we hear.

it matters because the knowledge guides system building and library building and optimizes your listening experiences. then you do 'know'. it's still not a 'proof' situation......there is never proof.....that's for measurement folks. this is enjoyment of art.

you realize that vinyl offerings that are all analog sourced and mastered might be one's you pay more attention to. or direct to disc. over time you understand why this makes better sounding recordings, possibly even not just because they are all analog, but because that approach typically means that the recording and mastering process was done with more care and a more minimalist approach. you find reliable sources for those pressings.

Meaning how do you know your system is really capable of playback that measures up to what is said or thought by a very few?

I’m just asking in a respectful manner as just when I think I begin to understand, I start to think and bounce back to square one.

again; there is no proof up front that your system, or the one you happen to be listening to, is capable. it's experience over time, comparing formats in that same system, and doing both in other systems over time that builds up your ear for your own listening references, then building confidence in what your ears tell you. you gravitate toward better performance and make progress.

it's a never ending process of information input and realization and skill development. you play around with different pieces of the analog chain and see and hear how it goes. typically never a single 'ah-ha' moment.
 
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Kingrex

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I get Mikes point of large sum samples. Some of my vinyl is great. Some ok and a lot ahhhh, take it or leave it.

Same with digital. Although I find more and more albums that are pretty darn good on digital now.

Tape is tougher for me. It's so expensive I have too little to judge. I don't even have a dolby unit yet to know how good my Barkley Crocker are. I have some quality tapes that are pretty stellar. I also have tapes that have issues.

In the end it comes down to what music do I like. I'm sorry but I spend 0 time listening to a track that is designed to make me attentive to my gear. I only listen to music I love or like alot. And I spend a good amount of time scanning for new music which puts me to digital. If I really like something I go search it out on vinyl. But that does not always end well. I found 2 Oscar Peterson on digital I loved. I found them mint on vinyl. They were both so bad I returned them and stopped looking. I just stream them and all is great.
 

Atmasphere

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Meaning how do you know your system is really capable of playback that measures up to what is said or thought by a very few?
Who are the 'very few'?? and who cares what they think? Since I have a recording studio and have made on-location recordings, I only care about how true my system is to that experience. Don't worry about what others think- its your stereo not theirs!
 
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Ron Resnick

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Very interestingly, Paul McGowan posted on his PS Audio blog today seemingly a response either to my original comment to him or to some of these questions here:

Vinyl Best​
In my earlier post, Audio Pedigree I waxed on about how nice it would be to know the true origins of our music’s recordings. Remastered vinyl “improved” by digital enhancement from the original analog tape is rarely as good as the original and often worse.​
This prompted a few juicy questions about our own Octave Records process as we move into vinyl. While we’re completely transparent as to the recording methods and source materials, it would seem to some that vinyl mastered from DSD falls into a similar category as the aforementioned digital remasters I do not like.​
Not so.​
The ultimate quality of vinyl is achieved by what we used to call Direct-to-Disc recording. Where the long-ago norm was to first record on magnetic tape then transfer to vinyl, a few labels skipped the tape recorder altogether. Artists would play live while vinyl cutting engineers went direct to the lathe. These direct-to-disc recordings were amazing but not because of any superior cutting techniques.​
What made direct-to-disc recordings sound so great was the elimination of the magnetic tape recorder. That was it. Tape recorders have limited dynamic range—less than what’s possible on a vinyl disc.​
So the problem is in the recorder, which is why it seemed to make sense to record digitally. Digital recorders have dynamic range capabilities that far exceed the limitations of vinyl. Thus, with digital, it should be possible to obtain the same performance as we got with direct-to-disc. And while that is true when it comes to dynamics, it isn’t true when it comes to sounding like the live event.​
This is where we draw the line between PCM and DSD. PCM can often sound artificial while DSD in the right hands sounds analog-live.​
A new era is upon us. It is now possible to create direct-to-disc quality vinyl without requiring the musicians to play live.​
Stay tuned.​


* * *

The assertion which strikes me most strongly is:

"It is now possible to create direct-to-disc quality vinyl without requiring the musicians to play live."

1) But doesn't this assumes that the DSD ADC process has zero deleterious effect on the sound?

2) Previously Paul posted that direct-to-disc to vinyl was the best and purest technique, and that the DSD recording to vinyl was second best. Now Paul seems to be suggesting that they are equal in resulting vinyl sound quality.
 
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PeterA

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Who are the 'very few'?? and who cares what they think? Since I have a recording studio and have made on-location recordings, I only care about how true my system is to that experience. Don't worry about what others think- its your stereo not theirs!

Ralph, one reason to care what others think is if you have less experience and are hoping to learn something from those with more experience. In some cases, I have learned quite a bit from visitors who have heard my system and shared their opinions.
 

Carlos269

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Who are the 'very few'?? and who cares what they think? Since I have a recording studio and have made on-location recordings, I only care about how true my system is to that experience. Don't worry about what others think- its your stereo not theirs!

Ralph well stated.

Meaning how do you know your system is really capable of playback that measures up to what is said or thought by a very few?

I’m just asking in a respectful manner as just when I think I begin to understand, I start to think and bounce back to square one.

The only meaningful datum for your system’s performance is your ideal of what musical sound reproduction should sound like; it helps if you are a musicIan, are familiar with the sound of acoustic un-amplified instruments or record your own source material. As your system‘s performance converges or approaches your ideal sound or “personal preferences“ your enjoyment of the system increases and you enjoy, focus and get immersed in the music to a greater degrees and no longer listen for areas for improvement. System enjoyment is a key performance indicator of system performance. The more you enjoy your system, the more the ”audiophile nervousa“ fades into the background or disappears all together.

I am one of those who believes that the more exposure to high-performance precision systems that you experience or listen to, will develop a greater understanding of what is possible in this hobby and how far you can expect to take your system. While I find that the differences between top systems more subtle than most make them out to be, the systems that sound best to you will be the ones that best aligns with your “personal preferences” because you will enjoy those systems more.

The only fly in the ointment with listening and experiencing the more capable systems is that when you hear another system that best or betters your system at it’s own game = your “personal preferences“ and then you will not be able to get that experience out of your head and ”audiophile nervousa“ will set back in in full effect.

A word of advise, if your Primary objective or desire is for a physically immersive sound experience, then you may want to consider assembling a high-performance home theater system for music playback as you will find that the synthesized 9 to 17 channels can provide an experience beyond what I have found the highest performing two channel systems can deliver. I came to this personal understanding due to the current COVID pandemic; since my wife and I have been spending more time at home because of the current state of affairs, I went “whole hog” in redoing our home theater system for my wife with some of my highest caliber electronics and speakers, including Orpheus Labs, BSC, Genesis Technologies, LampizatOr, Mark Levinson, Plinius and Electron-Kinetics electronics with Wilson Audio and Verity Audio speakers and subwoofers. I assembled this system to stream movies and shows with my wife, but when my wife was not available or interested in watching I began watching Blu-Ray and DVD concert videos and ultimately streaming Tidal and playing CD’s, DVD-Audio, SACD and Blu-Ray Audio discs and testing the music with the different synthesized sound profiles and to my surprise the experience has been not only high-quality, not unexpected given the high caliber of gear used, but the immersive experience definitely adds to the overall enjoyment of the music as there is just not only a frontal image to focus on or video to be distracted by. It is a more casual and enjoyable listening experience as opposed to the more formal critical listening approach with my two-channel high-end systems. it has turned out to be a fun project that is more inclusive, with the wife and family, than my reference 2-channel systems will ever be. I know that years ago this would have been blasphemy and utter heresy, but I have nothing to prove and no one to impress.

“Nothing can stop me now,
as I don’t care anymore.......
nothing can stop me now as I just don’t care
nothing can stop me now I don’t care anymore
nothing can stop me!!!!”


Just another poem and this one is also not mine. Just another song that I listen to in my head when I read some of these posts.
 
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cjfrbw

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Direct to disc or not, I have trouble shaking the belief that R to R recording and mastering with tubed electronics don't produce the most desirable vinyl end product. It is cumbersome way to record and make records, but many of the 'classics' that are most loved by audiophiles from the 50's and 60's were done this way, and few recordings since seem to have that same 'magic'. It was the abrupt loss of this magic with solid state and digital that left a kind of wound for a decade or two in sound quality. That wound is hard to forget and forgive, but finally digital products are quite good.

Pragmatically, the trade off in sound quality these days using DSD and hi rez digital to vinyl isn't so terrible, and these digital modalities sound very good and have a few advantages of their own.

I guess there are a limited few recording studios that try to replicate the salad days of tape/tubes etc., but I don't know how commercially successful they have been.

Direct to disc is a one-take without mastering, and that is a pretty limiting paradigm.

It does seem like a good premise for updated shoot outs, for whatever they are worth. Maybe it would just ignite more 'range wars' and controversy.
 

cjfrbw

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Carlos269 wrote: "A word of advise, if your Primary objective or desire is for a physically immersive sound experience, then you may want to consider assembling a high-performance home theater system for music playback as you will find that the synthesized 9 to 17 channels can provide an experience beyond what I have found the highest performing two channel systems can deliver."

I wouldn't waste your time. Weaning audiophiles from two channel sound into surround and ambience is a Don Quixote tilting at windmills exercise. I have used surround sound routinely since the late 70's, but you'll never convince two channel hard core audiophiles. I ceased attempting the explanations long ago.

If it doesn't fit into the two channel hard core audiophile paradigm, it won't launch with the vast majority of philes. It seems to be a matter of honor.
 
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Mike Lavigne

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It does seem like a good premise for updated shoot outs, for whatever they are worth.

i do these 'shoot-outs' daily. no need for an update, just the daily listen. i'm always acquiring pressings from all sorts of source recordings.

recently.....the last few years......40/60 analog/digitally sourced, with occasional direct to disc. most digital being PCM but some dsd sourced.

it's easy to recognize they are not shoot outs......where the capabilities are unknown or in question. one shoots the other the same every time. a few tennis balls are thrown back occasionally.

and btw; it's rare i don't enjoy any of the ones i buy regardless of source format. this is not a good-bad thing, just a good--better-even better thing.

of course, maybe others are hearing it differently.
 
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Carlos269

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Very interestingly, Paul McGowan posted on his PS Audio blog today seemingly a response either to my original comment to him or to some of these questions here:

Vinyl Best​
In my earlier post, Audio Pedigree I waxed on about how nice it would be to know the true origins of our music’s recordings. Remastered vinyl “improved” by digital enhancement from the original analog tape is rarely as good as the original and often worse.​
This prompted a few juicy questions about our own Octave Records process as we move into vinyl. While we’re completely transparent as to the recording methods and source materials, it would seem to some that vinyl mastered from DSD falls into a similar category as the aforementioned digital remasters I do not like.​
Not so.​
The ultimate quality of vinyl is achieved by what we used to call Direct-to-Disc recording. Where the long-ago norm was to first record on magnetic tape then transfer to vinyl, a few labels skipped the tape recorder altogether. Artists would play live while vinyl cutting engineers went direct to the lathe. These direct-to-disc recordings were amazing but not because of any superior cutting techniques.​
What made direct-to-disc recordings sound so great was the elimination of the magnetic tape recorder. That was it. Tape recorders have limited dynamic range—less than what’s possible on a vinyl disc.​
So the problem is in the recorder, which is why it seemed to make sense to record digitally. Digital recorders have dynamic range capabilities that far exceed the limitations of vinyl. Thus, with digital, it should be possible to obtain the same performance as we got with direct-to-disc. And while that is true when it comes to dynamics, it isn’t true when it comes to sounding like the live event.​
This is where we draw the line between PCM and DSD. PCM can often sound artificial while DSD in the right hands sounds analog-live.​
A new era is upon us. It is now possible to create direct-to-disc quality vinyl without requiring the musicians to play live.​
Stay tuned.​


* * *

The assertion which strikes me most strongly is:

"It is now possible to create direct-to-disc quality vinyl without requiring the musicians to play live."

1) But doesn't this assumes that the DSD ADC process has zero deleterious effect on the sound?

2) Previously Paul posted that direct-to-disc to vinyl was the best and purest technique, and that the DSD recording to vinyl was second best. Now Paul seems to be suggesting that they are equal in resulting vinyl sound quality.

Paul never said or implied that the DSD ADC processs has “zero“ effect on the sound. The DSD ADC process is subject to implementation and Grimm Audio, dCS, Meitner, Digital Audio Denmark, Mytek, Prism Sound, Neve, Genex and Korg DSD ADC‘s all have their own sound.

I think that Paul is just stating the DSD ADC process is the best available for cutting existing recordings, as opposed to new recordings.

Interesting that Paul approached his response similarly to my reply to Mike, albeit his is obviously not as technical as mine.
 
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Carlos269

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Carlos269 wrote: "A word of advise, if your Primary objective or desire is for a physically immersive sound experience, then you may want to consider assembling a high-performance home theater system for music playback as you will find that the synthesized 9 to 17 channels can provide an experience beyond what I have found the highest performing two channel systems can deliver."

I wouldn't waste your time. Weaning audiophiles from two channel sound into surround and ambience is a Don Quixote tilting at windmills exercise. I have used surround sound routinely since the late 70's, but you'll never convince two channel hard core audiophiles. I ceased attempting the explanations long ago.

If it doesn't fit into the two channel hard core audiophile paradigm, it won't launch with the vast majority of philes. It seems to be a matter of honor.

Not trying to convince or convert anyone, just sharing my experience.I’m not leaving the 2-channel stereo camp either, but just like I own multiple Porsches, and I do have my favorite, I like and enjoy them all, as I do my varies music systems, I even enjoy my Amazon Echo Studio next to my bed tremendously.
 
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Atmasphere

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Thus, with digital, it should be possible to obtain the same performance as we got with direct-to-disc. And while that is true when it comes to dynamics, it isn’t true when it comes to sounding like the live event.This is where we draw the line between PCM and DSD. PCM can often sound artificial while DSD in the right hands sounds analog-live.A new era is upon us. It is now possible to create direct-to-disc quality vinyl without requiring the musicians to play live.

The thing here is that the dynamic range of the LP is rarely explored! A silent groove cut in a lacquer is so quiet that it easily rivals the noise floor of Redbook. Until the last few years, it wasn't possible to take advantage of that, since most pressing plants make noisy pressings even though the lacquer is silent. But QRP (the plant owned by Acoustic Sounds) has developed a process that prevents vibration while the pressing is in the stamper, and their pressings can rival Redbook for noise floor too.

But the simple fact is most digital release recordings employ some form of DSP compression, as there is an expectation that the recording might be played in a car. Because of this, LPs often have greater dynamic range even when a digital file is the source (because the file used doesn't have DSP in it). I've never had to use any compression mastering an LP; usually the reason for using it is to save time and money on the project. So honestly I'm doubting that DSD is bringing anything serious to the table; to do that the culture of compression and processing will have to be overcome (don't hold your breath!) so its likely to only be realized in select recordings.
 

Carlos269

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The thing here is that the dynamic range of the LP is rarely explored! A silent groove cut in a lacquer is so quiet that it easily rivals the noise floor of Redbook. Until the last few years, it wasn't possible to take advantage of that, since most pressing plants make noisy pressings even though the lacquer is silent. But QRP (the plant owned by Acoustic Sounds) has developed a process that prevents vibration while the pressing is in the stamper, and their pressings can rival Redbook for noise floor too.

But the simple fact is most digital release recordings employ some form of DSP compression, as there is an expectation that the recording might be played in a car. Because of this, LPs often have greater dynamic range even when a digital file is the source (because the file used doesn't have DSP in it). I've never had to use any compression mastering an LP; usually the reason for using it is to save time and money on the project. So honestly I'm doubting that DSD is bringing anything serious to the table; to do that the culture of compression and processing will have to be overcome (don't hold your breath!) so its likely to only be realized in select recordings.

Ralph you are speaking with generalities while Paul is addressing Octave Records and it’s transfer process specifically. The caveats that you identify above are precisely the ones Paul is attempting to exploit with this endeavor.
 

Atmasphere

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Ralph you are speaking with generalities while Paul is addressing Octave Records and it’s transfer process specifically. The caveats that you identify above are precisely the ones Paul is attempting to exploit with this endeavor.

Yes. What's weird about this is apparently he reported that the bandwidth of the digital recordings was messing with the cutters. Since that literally can't happen, it makes me wonder what's going on.
 

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