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Higher Fi, The Story so Far

Discussion in 'Music & Music Streaming Services' started by uncle eric, Apr 19, 2002.

  1. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    As many will know, I bought the Pioneer 747 around six weeks ago and have been constantly experimenting since.
    Having bought various SACD's (two channel and Multi Channel) together with a fair number of DVD-A discs, I would like to make a few comments re my findings so far.

    First, let me just say, this is not an SACD v DVD-A contest.
    At this stage, I dont have nor know any title that is available in both formats therefore cannot make a truly accurate comparison, hence my reluctance to enter format wars.

    Instead, I want to have a look at some of these recordings and give you some insight of their worth.

    Isley Brothers 3+3 on SACD (Multi Channel)
    This disc includes classic hits like, 'Who's that Lady', and 'Summer Breeze'. In a word, this disc sounds 'eerie'. I'll try and explain that. Its like everything other than the vocals and music has been surgically removed. You might say, what else is their other than vocals and music on a recording. You've got me on that one, I dont know. Something, maybe warmth, presence is missing. If I could compare this recording to anything, I'd say its like tasting just plain old boiled water instead of coffee. Bland.

    John Denver (Best of Live) on SACD (Two Channel)
    Another weird one here.
    Mainly vocals of course with some good guitar work thrown in (JD was a regular one man band). JD's voice comes across very smooth on this one. Hits like 'Country Roads' and 'Annie's Song' are beautifully clean and clear without being clinical like the Isleys 3+3 recording. A small gripe is that whilst this is a lovely disc on the whole, it could have done with a little more substance. JD's voice just lacks that certain amount of depth that was present in his country voice.
    Now, back to the weird. I've never had leanings one way or the other regarding how music should be recorded. Two channel and Multi channel wars always flew over my head.
    Apart that is when engineers get silly with Multi Channel stuff and percussion starts coming from over the right shoulder and vocals from the left etc. Recorded right, meaning using the surround channels mainly for things like ambience and applause, Multi channel can be a 'being there' experience.
    Similarly, Two channel music, recorded well can be a wholly enjoyable experience. I've heard many a superb soundstage in my system with just the L/R speakers in action. If you have some degree of controlled reflection in your room, you will in fact get ambience as part and parcel of the listening experience. So far so good.
    In the case of live recordings in two channel things start getting strange. I don't have a problem when JD is singing away to his hearts content. Where I do have a problem is when the audience starts applauding. The whole listening experience falls appart. Why you might ask. Simple. The audience seems to be on stage with JD because thats where the applause is coming from.
    The audience's applause and cheers should be coming from 'around' where I, (another member of that audience) am sitting and not from the front soundstage.

    Now a look at a couple of DVD-A discs,

    First up, a classic album in its own right,
    Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' (Multi Channel of course)
    I, like countless others of my generation owned the LP of this great album. Having these tracks etched on my mind did help a little. I was expecting first and foremost some great dynamics from this disc and I wasn't dissapointed. Percussion, guitar work and other instruments sounded just incredible. Punch with grace would be a great way to discribe the effects of instruments played in Rumours.
    And now for the bad news. Vocals. In a word, terrible. What a waste. I love the voices of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie but they sounded thin and miles away. While the 'music' soundstage was right in front of me, the vocals where far off in the distance. If they were brought forward so as to be on the same plane, and given substance, what a recording this would be.

    Finally, Al Greens greatest hits on DVD-A.
    What would this be like. Well, in a word, the best sounding 5 inch disc of any format I've heard so far.
    Holy $hit, this is just awsome. The music just hits you in the guts. A lot of Brass is used in Greens recordings and they sound so incredibly dynamic and rich its almost beyond belief.
    Al Greens brilliant voice is, well, in the room and right in front of you. Every aspect of this recording is so perfect I can't even begin to describe it. If I was narrow minded I'd say, forget SACD just give me plenty of this. I'm sure there are SACD recordings in the same league as this but I've not heard one that comes even close.

    In the meantime, I will carry on with my crusade and keep reporting to anyone who will listen. Thanks for reading.

    Eric
     
  2. Ian J

    Ian J
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    So don't waste your money on SACD just yet then, being the moral of the story.

    Do you have any duplications of SACD and CD to compare ?
     
  3. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    Ian,
    Sadly not. Maybe I should try and buy something to compare.

    Eric
     
  4. Chip

    Chip
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    Eric,
    What a shame you couldn't find any DVD-A/SACD software that is the same title. A comparison here would have been really handy as I plan to venture into this territory myself soon.

    Chip
     
  5. MarkB

    MarkB
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    Very interesting Eric, please keep your findings coming!
    Mark
     
  6. Ian J

    Ian J
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    I had the pleasure of visiting Eric and his family over the weekend and in between the eating and drinking found the odd few minutes to listen to the tracks that Eric mentions above.

    To summarize, I think that the sound engineers on the Fleetwood Mac and Isley Brothers discs should be castrated (or worse) as considering the expensive equipment at their disposal they have made a real mess.

    I don't know how much of this would be apparent on ordinary equipment but it was very noticeable on Eric's set up.
     
  7. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    Mark,
    As long as you guys keep reading, I'll keep 'em coming, regards.

    Ian,
    Hope you and Julie enjoyed the day.
    I think the this shows something very true. I've learnt that what 'really' matters, above all other factors is the recording itself.

    Eric
     
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    Unless I missed it, what's the picture of the 747 like?

    Any chance of your views or perhaps point in the direction of your post if you have already reported.

    Thanks
     
  9. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    George,
    Its pretty good. Even though it has the chroma bug and de-interlacing is done better by some, I would still give it around 7 or 8 out of 10 in both interlaced and progressive performance.

    Regards
    Eric
     
  10. Garrett

    Garrett
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    3 + 3 Isley Brothers, Al Green, and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours! Man of my taste.
    The Rumours, you will have to go a long way to beat that album it has to be one of the best engineered and pressed albums ever along with Fleetwood Mac/Fleetwood Mac. SACD would have been a good format to better them.
    Al Green what a sweet voice, have you ever tried any Walter Jackson albums?
     
  11. Guest

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    Eric,

    Many thanks for the prompt response. Which machines are better with the croma bug (or lack of) and de-interlacing in your experience and why did you not choose one of those in preference to the Pioneer.

    Regards

    George
     
  12. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    George,

    In the Mid price bracket,

    The Panasonic RP 91 is a good progressive player without the Chroma bug because Panasonic use their own mpeg decoder. De-interlacing is better than average (just). This machine is also capable of average DVD-A playback

    The talk of the town at the moment is an updated version of the Phillips Q50, the 962SA. Whilst there is a hint of Chroma bug its hardly troublesome. The de-interlacing is superb thanks to the use of the Faraudja FLI2200 Chipset with DCDi. This machine is an average SACD playback performer.

    Both the Panasonic and Phillips set for around the 500 USD mark.
    www.hivizone.com are based in the far east and have a good reputation. You might want to give them a try. Dutys from the far east are around 14% plus of course 17.5% for VAT.

    In answer to your last question. As I already have a video solution, I needed a player that would play both SACD (Two and Multi Channel) and DVD-A, so that I could start trying and comparing both formats. The Pioneer 747 is currently the only machine that can achieve this.

    Eric
     
  13. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    Garret,
    No I haven't but will give WJ a try.
    Because I don't 'cubby hole' my music, most of my friends think I have weird taste as I like anything from Pink Floyd to John Denver.
    We have some close friends who think its trendy to bash mainstream music. When they come over, I play stuff like 'The Corrs' :devil: and throw a little Don Mclean in for good measure.

    Another pair of friends only like Rock and Roll, I like to play a bit of Louis Armsrong when they are around :devil:

    Ian can count himself lucky as I spotted the cold sweat on his brow when I reached out for my John Denver SACD and stopped just in time. Usually I show no mercy :D

    Regards
    Eric
     
  14. Ian J

    Ian J
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    As a Steelydan lover I asked Eric if he had any of their work and he produced a "Best of DTS" or whatever it was called featuring a track by the maestros.

    Unfortunately it was a recent work and they haven't aged well. The voice is still there but by God, Walter Becker looks ugly and I hadn't even digested my lunch whilst I watched it.

    If you must buy this disc, switch the picture off whilst they are playing.

    PS The depth charging scene from U571 sounds rather interesting on Eric's setup, and that's the understatement of 2002
     
  15. Garrett

    Garrett
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    Hi Eric

    Walter Jackson has one of those voices that if he sang a telephone directory he would make it sound good to my ears.
    My music taste is varied (thank you God) from classical to Nat King Cole, to soul (big, big fan), Pink Floyd, and stuff like Edgar Winter/Frankinstien not forgetting a little Jazz/funk like Bob James, Grover Washington Jr, etc. But my choice in music started to dwindle in the late 70’s and hardly find any thing I like these days not that I do not have any more up to date stuff, I like the Corrs and Secret Garden.
    I hate the new rap as 1: I can hardly tell what they are saying,. 2: Not bothered what they are saying when I can understand what that are saying. 3: Sound all the same unless they rip off some one else’s tune. On the other hand I could be missing out on something big, and fans of it may think my taste also weird.
    PS Steelydan’s ‘Get Back’ is one of my top favourites.
     
  16. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Eric

    I have the same performance on a DVD A and SACD discs, if I posted them to you would you run then through you 747 and post results?
     
  17. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    Nic,
    Yes of course,
    Regards
    Eric
     
  18. JSW

    JSW
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    Hi Eric,

    I know your mainly trying out DVD A and SACD but could you also let us have your oppinions on DTS CD's too :)

    The reason being the Catalogue for DTS CD's is pretty good.

    I have only just got into them and only have Eagles - Hell Freezes Over and Sting - Ten Summoners Tales on DTS CD, Which I find both to be exceptional.

    Having just upgraded my DVD player to a Tosh SD900E I am now going to try the DVD A format and have Just ordered The Corrs - In Blue and Bjork - Vespertine, I will let you know when i have auditioned them.

    Cheers
    Bry
     
  19. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    Bry,
    I wouldn't go there.
    It pretty much goes downhill from 'Hell Freezes Over'.
    If you listen to Stings voice carefully on this DTS CD, it has severe simblance. The Eagles disc is the best DTS CD that I've heard and I own quite a few.

    Regards
    Eric
     
  20. JSW

    JSW
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    Thanks Eric, I will steer clear of DTS cd's unless you come across any other good ones.

    OK Got Bjork - Vespertine on DVD A yesterday and tortured myself through all 12 tracks :(

    I cant say too much about it really as I didn't like it at all.
    Some strange electrical instruments are being played and they do nothing except detract from getting any enjoyable listening from this disc :(
    All 5.1 channels get a workout and the sound never jumps from one to the other but flows very well. Bjorks voice never seems to come from any particular speaker, she sounds as if she is just in front of your face no matter where in the room i look.
    Its as if they want the listener to feel as though they are right in the middle of the stage with Bjork while the musicians are circled around you. If this is how its going to be it will take some getting used too.
    There are 1 or 2 tracks that I could listen too again but that leaves 10 I couldn't.

    I will have another listen later in 2 channel to see if that makes it more bearable, but somehow i doubt it.

    If any bjork fans out there with DVD A looks like I have one too trade.

    Cheers
    Bry
     
  21. wflem007

    wflem007
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    though they are right in the middle of the stage with Bjork while the musicians are circled around you. If this is how its going to be it will take some getting used too.


    Bry

    In a good or bad sense ? - i'm tinkering with the idea of multi channel but not if it means feelin' unsettled or uneasy.
     
  22. JSW

    JSW
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    It is only the Bjork disc I'm un happy with and its only because I dont like the instruments being played.

    Out of the half dozen discs I have I dont find any of them unsettling in fact i'd say they can be quite relaxing.

    Also dont forget the fact you can listen to them in AR 2 channel too.
     
  23. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    Bry,
    I brushed passed the silly cow in Covent Garden a few weeks ago. The few homeless people you see on the sidewalk looked more tidy than she did.

    Regards
    Eric
     
  24. JSW

    JSW
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    You don't want it then Eric :D
     
  25. JSW

    JSW
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    Eric, I'll send it to you as you could probably give a much better opinion of this disc than I ever could.

    I would be interested in your comments.

    Just return it after you have had a good listen.

    PM me your addy.

    Cheers
    Bry
     
  26. sofaboy

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    I have to agree with JSW I have a DTS CD.... dont laugh but its BOYS II MEN (no i didnt think it was a delivery service mr respctamonkeeee...ha ha)

    I think the choice is very poor, hardly heard of many of the discs, and no offence JSW the Eagles are not really my thing, but I bet it sounds quality..as does my boys II men, jimmy jam and terry lewis producing.. the sound is amazing with harmonies and drums comming from all over

    A music DVD i can reccommend is the Maddonna Live in concert... really quality, Ray of light and music superb....

    Later all:D
     
  27. uncle eric

    uncle eric
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    Bry,
    Thanks for the offer (very kind) but I can't bear to listen to Bjorks endless wailing.
    For me, the sound of chalk screeching on a blackboard sounds better :eek:

    Regards
    Eric
     

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