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Thread: Audio Formats

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    Default Audio Formats

    Could someone enlighten me of the difference in the audio formats. I'm aware of Dvd-Audio and SACD, but I have read they are analog and not digital like CD. I would have thought DVD-Audio was just a DVD without pictures (taking it to the basics). Do you recommend DVD-Audio (I don't have anything that plays SACD. If this is the wrong place to post this, I'll take it elsewhere, but I would appreciate suggested listening on alternative formats (oh, I don't do vinyl). I'm into classic rock, alt. rock, post-rock...thanks. NeilGabriel<--says it all!

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    DVD-A & SACD rock!

    However, good luck finding many rock titles. They seem to think that only classical music is worthy of the formats. Now you can get a couple of Eagles titles. Hell Freezes Over & Hotel California.

    There are others who will pop in with titles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGabriel View Post
    Could someone enlighten me of the difference in the audio formats. I'm aware of Dvd-Audio and SACD, but I have read they are analog and not digital like CD. I would have thought DVD-Audio was just a DVD without pictures (taking it to the basics). Do you recommend DVD-Audio (I don't have anything that plays SACD. If this is the wrong place to post this, I'll take it elsewhere, but I would appreciate suggested listening on alternative formats (oh, I don't do vinyl). I'm into classic rock, alt. rock, post-rock...thanks. NeilGabriel<--says it all!
    DVD-A and SACD are indeed digital formats. But because of copy concerns, both were disabled for normal digital transmission to receivers. That meant that either you had to have a proprietary digital link like Denon has etc. or you had to let the player do the decoding and pass it over the analog outs to the receiver. So that's where the analog part comes from. Now that we have hdmi which is a secure digital interface, it's possible to get digital transmission to a receiver in a standard link.

    Both formats have higher sample rates than regular cds so they are higher definition formats in addition to being multichannel. DVD-A is definitely not the DD or DTS track of a DVD movie. It must be heard to be truly appreciated. When CDs first came out, they didn't compare favorably to the warm, full sound of analog LPs. Despite the pops and hiss on LPs, they sounded warmer 'cause despite their imperfections, they contained more audio information. CDs compress the heck out of their digital signals at low sample rates losing a lot of the original sound information in the process. The DVD-A and SACD formats tried to reverse that by the higher sample rates with very good results. They sound much closer to the original audio masters in many cases putting the listener in the middle of a rich and realistic sound field.

    If you are a music fan, you really owe yourself a listen. But the formats never took off with the general public and remain a niche in the market.

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    Thanks a lot cheddar. So, if I play a DVD-Audio on my DVD player, does it output through the 2 channel analog outputs (I assume not optical audio since it has been converted) or is this where I used the 5 channel outputs on the back of the DVD player?

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    This is where you use the 5 channel outputs, and make sure you change the receiver to Ext out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGabriel View Post
    Thanks a lot cheddar.
    No Prob. Once you hear the real deal, you'll notice just how much you've been missing with CDs. Ironic that stuff like mp3 wins out over quality...

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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGabriel View Post
    So, if I play a DVD-Audio on my DVD player, does it output through the 2 channel analog outputs (I assume not optical audio since it has been converted) or is this where I used the 5 channel outputs on the back of the DVD player?
    Your DVD player must be able to decode a DVD-A disc. Not all will. If it does not you are getting a standard redbook or DVD playback...not the high-rez DVD-A format. Same with SACD.
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    yeah, what shack said
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    Both SACD and DVD-A are great formats. Problem is vintage rock titles are very limited.
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    I get the differences in the formats, but am I really going to hear a difference? I have an H/K 125 AVR with Monitor 10s for the mains and Monitor 4s for the rears in the HT rig. I also have a joke of a 2 channel system with an older Sony AVR and Norman Lab Model 10s. I've been kicking around buying an SACD source, but I don't think I'm going to appreciate it until I have equipment 2 or 3 levels higher in the food chain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmwest1970 View Post
    I get the differences in the formats, but am I really going to hear a difference? I have an H/K 125 AVR with Monitor 10s for the mains and Monitor 4s for the rears in the HT rig. I also have a joke of a 2 channel system with an older Sony AVR and Norman Lab Model 10s. I've been kicking around buying an SACD source, but I don't think I'm going to appreciate it until I have equipment 2 or 3 levels higher in the food chain.

    Gear does make a difference, but don't forget the media itself in that equation. I have heard both hi-rez formats sound like a** and the redbook CD sound great. It really is a crapshoot that deserves some research to find the best the formats have to offer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Gardner View Post
    Gear does make a difference, but don't forget the media itself in that equation. I have heard both hi-rez formats sound like a** and the redbook CD sound great. It really is a crapshoot that deserves some research to find the best the formats have to offer.
    I totally agree. One of the best dynamic Cd's I have is Dire Straits BIA. It is not so much the media as it is the recording placed on the media. I wish there was some where that would review Cd's based on SQ. I belong to YourMusic.com, and it is a crap shoot trying to get good Cd's. I also have a Billy Joel SACD that sounds real bad. It is way overly bright, and very unnatural.
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    also have a Billy Joel SACD that sounds real bad. It is way overly bright, and very unnatural.
    which one?

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    Can someone explain "redbook." I checked out a definition a few days ago and it wasn't clear to me. Thanks.

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    Redbook is just a standard cd, someone correct me if I'm wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dudeinaroom View Post
    Redbook is just a standard cd, someone correct me if I'm wrong.
    "Red Book" as explained at wikipedia

    But don't forget....

    Yellow Book (CD-ROM and CD-ROM XA)
    Orange Book (CD standard) (CD-R and CD-RW)
    White Book (Video CD)
    Blue Book (Enhanced CD, CD+G and CD-Plus)
    Beige Book (Photo CD)
    Green Book (CD-i standard) (CD-i)
    Purple Book (DDCD)
    Scarlet Book (Super Audio CD)

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    One of the best dynamic Cd's I have is Dire Straits BIA. It is not so much the media as it is the recording placed on the media.
    The redbook issue pales in comparison to the XRCD, which in turn pales to the SACD issue. It's night and day.

    I've found that even poorly recorded media generally sounds better on SACD. The exception being that you may notice how poorly the recording really is when played back on SACD because redbook hides some of the nasties.
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    I have found that Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a great sounding DVD-A......
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    All of the Elton John titles are very good in SACD.

    I still see people thinking SACD and DVD-A are only multi-channel formats, they are also 2-channel formats, some SACD called Hybrids will play on any player, although only the standard layer will play on a non-sacd player.

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    Forget all that nonsense and get a turntable and get your ears on the REAL format!!!:D :p

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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    The redbook issue pales in comparison to the XRCD, which in turn pales to the SACD issue. It's night and day.

    I've found that even poorly recorded media generally sounds better on SACD. The exception being that you may notice how poorly the recording really is when played back on SACD because redbook hides some of the nasties.

    You need to try the Weather Report "Heavy Weather" SACD. It is worse than the CD, LP, and even cassette versions that I own. I can't even bring myself to play it and that is after I couldn't wait to try it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    The redbook issue pales in comparison to the XRCD, which in turn pales to the SACD issue. It's night and day.

    I've found that even poorly recorded media generally sounds better on SACD. The exception being that you may notice how poorly the recording really is when played back on SACD because redbook hides some of the nasties.
    XRCD is not a format; XRCD is just a well-mastered and well-pressed CD. It's still a "red book" disc. JVC is the company behind XRCD and it controls everything from mastering to pressing of the CD, which contributes to the quality of the CD.

    There are excellent sounding example on every audio format. On the other hand, not-so-good-sounding recordings can also surface on any format. I've heard a XRCD sounding worse than an ordinary CD and same with SACD. Formats such as SACD and DVD-A have the potential to deliver the best digital sound reproduction, but that also take skills in engineering and mastering.

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    What is your general opinion on the availability of media in these formats? I confess I haven't done much music shopping of late--Are SACD and DVD-A titles easy to find? Are they found in separate sections of music stores? Or are you all shopping online?

    I'm at a point where I'd like to devote more time/money to music, and buying a new disc player is certainly on the agenda.

    Thanks for any replies.

    Jay

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    Danny, that's very true just as HDCD is still redbook. However, I was mearly comparing the 3 issues of that recording on the silver disc and didn't mean to imply that XRCD was a format. I'll also compare the issues previously mentioned to the vinyl format and say that I definitely prefer the SACD best.






    Jay, to answer your question.......availability is very limited in stores, online is limitless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by agfrost View Post
    What is your general opinion on the availability of media in these formats? I confess I haven't done much music shopping of late--Are SACD and DVD-A titles easy to find? Are they found in separate sections of music stores? Or are you all shopping online?

    I'm at a point where I'd like to devote more time/money to music, and buying a new disc player is certainly on the agenda.
    The action for SACD/DVD-A is happening online. sa-cd.net has the most comprehensive listing of SACD released. However, a number of these releases are considered out-of-print, such as the Rolling Stones SACDs, so not all titles listed will be easy to track down. Online retailers will definitely give you an advantage with locating certain titles. Not to mention the availability of imports, such as the just-released Genesis SACDs.

    Brick-and-mortar stores, including retailers like Best Buy, aren't doing much to stock these formats. At my local Best Buy, there's a small section dedicated to SACD/DVD-A but there're still titles stuffed amongst the regular CDs.

    Even with the relatively limited number of available titles, I think hi-rez is well worth it.

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    I personally love the SACD format...especially for jazz and classical. On-line is about the only way to buy SACD. Unfortunate because it is simply an awesome music format. I suspect Blu-Ray may incorporate a capable audio format that rivals SACD in the future. It simply has to be commercially successful to be supported. Luckily, SACD titles are being produced. I have a lot of SACDs from TELARC and many of them are fantastic.

    BUT...as with any format...the recording engineer can make or break what you hear. I don't care how good the technology is...if the engineer came to work hung over...you're gonna get garbage.

    Aside from copy protection issues...the reason for analog out on SACD is that the standard digital interface (ie, fiber optic) could not handle the bandwidth of SACD. That's why everyone is migrating to HDMI 1.3. This will be the digital interface to handle high bandwidth audio.

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    Aside from copy protection issues...the reason for analog out on SACD is that the standard digital interface (ie, fiber optic) could not handle the bandwidth of SACD. That's why everyone is migrating to HDMI 1.3. This will be the digital interface to handle high bandwidth audio.
    That's the first time I've heard that about fiber optic. I mean the phone companies are toting FiOS as the second coming, able to handle anything they throw at it. Do you have a link with info backing your comment?

    Anyway, I'd never use fiber optic or HDMI for audio, good old analog cables are far better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by F1nut View Post
    Anyway, I'd never use fiber optic or HDMI for audio, good old analog cables are far better.
    I'm Sorry Jesse, but Optical cables for audio are far superior to copper. I can hear the diffrence between copper and optical. All of my digital sources are connected with fiber for the audio.

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    It all depends on the d/a.

    I'm not a fan of light either, if I use a digital cable, it's good old TRUE 75ohm coax.

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    +2

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