A Comparison Of Ten Digital Versions Of Kind Of Blue

DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,129
edited November 18 in Music & Movies
Introduction

msjwal9jic2t.jpg
Figure 1. Arguably the best jazz trumpet recording ever.

This is a follow up to my December 2015 report on a comparison of digital and vinyl versions of Miles Davis' "Kind Of Blue". The prior report is here:

http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/comment/2268611

Now, ten digital file versions of KoB are compared:

1. A 44.1 k/16 bit FLAC file derived from the Columbia/Legacy CD.
2. A DSD64 upsampled file derived from the 44.1/16Columbia/Legacy version FLAC file.
3. A 44.1 k/16 bit FLAC file derived from the Mobile Fidelity CD.
4. A DSD64 upsampled file derived from the Mobile Fidelity version 44.1/16 FLAC file
5. A commercially produced Columbia/Legacy 192 k/24 bit FLAC version purchased via download.
6. A DSD64 upsampled file derived from the Columbia/Legacy 192k/24 FLAC file.
7. A DSD64 rip of the Columbia Legacy SACD.
8. A DSD64 rip of the Mobile Fidelity SACD.
9. A DSD64 rip of the Mobile Fidelity 2 LP 45 RPM vinyl set.
10. A DSD64 rip of the Classic Records 4 LP 45 RPM vinyl set.

DSD64 file format is DSF.

The Columbia/Legacy CD, Columbia Legacy SACD, and Columbia/Legacy 192k/24 download were all remastered by Mark Wilder from the same source tapes.

FLAC rips from CD were made using dBPoweramp CD Ripper software, versions R15.1 and R15.3.

FLAC to DSD conversions were made using JRiver Media Center software version 20.0.131.

DSD64 rips from vinyl were made using VinylStudio software version 8.2.2 and a PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter analog to digital converter.

SACD rips were made using a modified Sony PlayStation3.

Fake News

A question that often comes up in discussions of digital upsampling is "how can upsampling sound better since no new information from the original recording is added?" The answer is that the upsampling algorithm makes a mathematical "guess" (interpolates) about the values of the missing samples. Depending on the quality of the recording and design and quality of the upsampling filter, the interpolated samples can result in a smoother audio presentation.

Another important point is that Direct Stream Digital (DSD) is not a "higher rate version of Pulse Code Modulation (PCM)". DSD is a completely different digital encoding scheme where information is encoded in electrical pulses of the same amplitude (1 bit), but the pulses have varying energy density. DSD is pulse density modulation. PCM (FLAC, wav, mp3, etc.) encodes information in evenly spaced electrical pulses of varying amplitude, where the maximum amplitude of a pulse is determined by the number of bits provided to each sample by the encoder. A 16 bit encoder produces samples that have 2^16 =65,536 possible amplitude values.

The original 16 bit PCM scheme developed for CD's was never intended to be a high fidelity encoding medium. The commercial goal in the mid 1980's was to produce an economical, durable, and portable alternative to cassette tapes and vinyl records. Conversely, DSD was designed to be an archival medium for analog master tapes, vinyl records, and other high quality, high fidelity analog media.

Results

Again, the list of file versions/formats is below. A single song from KoB, "So What", was used for all comparisons:

1. A 44.1 k/16 bit FLAC file derived from the Columbia/Legacy CD.
2. A DSD64 upsampled file derived from the 44.1/16Columbia/Legacy version FLAC file.
3. A 44.1 k/16 bit FLAC file derived from the Mobile Fidelity CD.
4. A DSD64 upsampled file derived from the Mobile Fidelity version 44.1/16 FLAC file
5. A commercially produced Columbia/Legacy 192 k/24 bit FLAC version purchased via download.
6. A DSD64 upsampled file derived from the Columbia/Legacy 192k/24 FLAC file.
7. A DSD64 rip of the Columbia Legacy SACD.
8. A DSD64 rip of the Mobile Fidelity SACD.
9. A DSD64 rip of the Mobile Fidelity 2 LP 45 RPM vinyl set.
10. A DSD64 rip of the Classic Records 4 LP 45 RPM vinyl set.

2 had more depth, more space around sound images and heavier images than 1.

4>2>3>1 with regard to depth, space around sound images, and image weight.

5>4>2>3>1with regard to depth, space around sound images, and image weight.

6>5>4>2>3>1with regard to depth, space around sound images, and image weight. The DSD conversion of the 192k/24 FLAC file exhibited some of the ambient information that I had only heard previously with the Classic Records and Mobile Fidelity vinyl versions and their DSD rips.

The 192k download version beat both of the SACD versions, therefore:

6>5>8>7>4>2>3>1.

To my delight, the DSD64 rip of Mobile Fidelity's 2 LP 45 RPM set sounded better than the vinyl. Further discussion is in my Turntable Retirement thread:

http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/comment/2268945

The DSD rip of the Classic Records 4 LP 45 RPM set was gladiator prime, therefore:

10>9>6>5>8>7>4>2>3>1.

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Figure 2. Versions 10, 9, 6, and 5 provided a sense of sitting at the rear of the recording room. I could hear ambient reflections behind the middle of the chairs on either side of the listening seat.

Associated Equipment

Bryston BDP-2 digital player
dCS Debussy DAC
dCS Puccini U-Clock word clock
PS Audio PowerBase isolation platforms for BDP-2, Debussy DAC and Puccini U-Clock
Black Diamond Racing isolation Pits and Mk IV Cones
Pass Labs XP-30 line level preamplifier
Pass Labs X600.5 monoblock power amplifiers
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver Split Configuration USB cable
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver AES coaxial cable
Revelation Audio Labs Passage Cryo-Silver DB-25 power umbilicals for XP30 and XP-25 preamps
AudioQuest Sky XLR interconnects
AudioQuest Everest speaker cables
PS Audio PerfectWave AC-12 power cords
PS Audio PerfectWave P-10 AC Regenerator
Polk Audio SDA SRS 1.2TL loudspeakers (heavily modified)
Salamander Synergy Triple 30 audio credenza
"So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
"Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
"Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
"Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK

Comments

  • treitz3treitz3 Posts: 12,227
    Let's face it. Great music, horrible recording......regardless of format.

    Tom
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction.
  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,129
    edited November 18
    Why does the recording sound horrible to you?

    There are 282 versions of this album (not counting digital download media). So, I don't doubt that some of them sound "horrible". However, I would not place that descriptor on the relatively few versions that I own.
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • treitz3treitz3 Posts: 12,227
    Old. Noisy. No clarity. Little micro and macro dynamics. Very little realism. Overall, just a bad recording. Limited in so many aspects.

    Not as bad as Adele but not too far off on the whole scheme of things.

    Tom
    In search of accurate reproduction of music. Real sound is my reference and while perfection may not be attainable? If I chase it, I might just catch excellence.

    The best way to enjoy digital music reproduction is to never listen to good analogue reproduction.
  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,497
    ^^ kind of surprised by this as well. I’m not in love with KoB but I did buy it on vinyl, a remastered version, just to see what all the hype is about. It is a remastered version by legacy vinyl, it is remarkably quiet, and really does sound very good. Anything I’ve bought by legacy vinyl is top notch quality.
    2 channel:
    Bryston 4B3, Bryston BDA3, Cary SLP03, Shanling CDT1000SE with parts conneXion level 2 mods, Nottingham analogue ace space 294, soundsmith Carmen MKii, Zu DL103 MKii, Ortofon MC 20 MKii, Dynavector XX2 MKii, Rogue Audio Ares, Core power technologies balanced power conditioner, Akiko Corelli power conditioner with Akiko Audio HQ power cable, Nordost heimdall 2, Frey 2, interconnects, speaker and power cables, Focal Electra 1028 BE 2, Auralic Aries Femto, Black diamond racing cones, ingress audio level 1 roller blocks, JL Audio E110 with Auralic subdude, Primacoustics room treatments.
    Theater:
    Focal Aria 926,905,CC900, SVS PB ultra x2. Pioneer Elite SC85, Oppo BDP93, Panamax M5400PM, Minix neox6, Nordost Blue heaven LS power cables.

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