For my birthday back at the end of last year I received several Hi-Rez CDs from a couple of friends. They included three 24K CDs from Audio Fidelity (two mastered by Kevin Gray one of which was a HDCD, and one by Steve Hoffman), a K2HD CD from Universal, and four discs from First Impression Music. The four FIM discs were one 24bit Super HDCD black vinyl, two DXD (including the fabulous Sheffield Lab Drum&Track disc) and one of their 32bit UltraHD discs. It's one of the first 2,000 pressings. The reason my friends got together to get me these discs was because they know of my love of SACD and to see if I felt if any of these discs, that are playable on any CD player, were of SACD SQ.
The problem I have is trying to figure out how much the disc format and how much the mastering influences the SQ. I am able to determine that I really like Kevin Gray's remastering of Heart's Greatest Hits. My wife has the original 1998 CD and I was able to directly A/B it against the 24k disc. Which you like better IMO will be determined by personal taste. The original is the much hotter recording. If you like it bright, compressed and in your face then the original is for you. The 24K version is overall about 4-5 dBs quieter yet has greater dynamic range. It's smoother, has better depth, layering, details, and IMO tonality. I feel most of this is due to Kevin's remastering.
The K2HD disc (Lionel Ritchie's Front to Back) sounds excellent. Better than your average stereo SACD but I was disappointed in it's musical content. I suspect the format is responsible for most of it's SQ.
I'm extremely impressed with all of the FIM discs but I don't know how much is due to Winston Ma's production as he is an exceptional masterer.
The black vinyl disc sounds as good as a great stereo SACD. The unique thing about this disc is that it's all black on both sides just like a typical LP. I don't know how that works with the reflective side being black.
I absolutely love the sound of the DXD discs. I would place the SQ of these discs a hair's breath from the finest stereo SACDs I've heard and far better than most. I can't tell you how much I love having the Sheffield disc. It showed me two things. One just how lifelike this disc sounds and how outstanding the sound of my sytem is in many ways. I realise now that many times when I'm unhappy with it's sound it's mostly due to the SQ of the disc that's playing. Also the biggest weakness in it's SQ is due to my subs. I've felt that speakers with better bass (weight, extension) than my K90s are needed. This disc proved me right. Also I discovered that the tonality of my highs and mids are much better than I thought. In fact it's quite exceptional. All of my dedication and tweaking have paid off.
The SQ of the Producer's Choice II UltraHD disc is just fabulous. IMO it can hold it's head up high against the absolute finest stereo SACDs. Even though the musical content isn't what I'd play most often I just love putting it on because it sounds so good. In fact I feel that way about all of the FIM discs. What I'd really like to know is just how close to the SQ of these Hi-Rez discs could Winston Ma get a RBCD to sound. There's no question when compared to the best sounding RBCDs I've heard most of RBCDs sound pretty bad.
What my presents have shown me is how good the overall SQ of my system is and just how poor some CDs really sound. I truly doubt any of these Hi-Rez formats will take off really for the mass market. First they're pretty much audiophile formats without much of any "mainstream" musical content and after some investigating I found they're not cheap. Second I really feel that AFA the mass market goes, physical media is on it's way out. I think there'll always be a niche for it. Especially among audiophiles but the masses are rapidly turning away from it. Yet for audiophiles these formats might do well as a SACD player won't be needed to get SQ of that level._mykl
[ This message was edited by: mykyll2727 on 2012-02-17 01:31 ]
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