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  • A2D or D2A?

    Al and I were talking on the phone today and we somehow got on the subject of digitizing tapes or LPs (in retrospect, it probably arose because we both felt digital sourced from analog generally sounds better than pure digital). In the course of the discussion, the topic of which is more important in the digital chain and has the biggest bearing of the final sonics came up:

    The A-->D conversion;

    The D-->A conversion;

    Or are both equally important?

    Anyone have any thoughts or experiences to share?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

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  • #2
    I believe the conventional nomenclature is D/A and A/D.
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    Comment


    • #3
      When I did my massive ripping project, the logic told me that if I didn't get the A/D the best I could, then no D/A could fix that. On the other hand, one could start with a not so good D/A and improve the results with a better D/A purchased later as long as the A/D part was done well. So I splurged on what I felt (determined by a big shootout) was the best A/D around at the time (in 2009/10), and may still be the best (PCM at least), a Pacific Microsonics Model Two (using Pyramix software). DSD's didn't exist at the time, and certainly didn't allow for any complex post processing of vinyl.

      Larry
      Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
      Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
      Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
      Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
      Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
      Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
      Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.3KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

      Comment


      • #4
        A/D is the most important. You only get one chance to get it right!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Bruce as you are one to lead this brigade how important was a Not many years ago mytek and maybe still now we're being used to encode to dsd .? My question is how much better is your choice of today compared to a few years back like mytek . Just dsd as I feel it has less effect than PCM did .
          I own a boatload of vinyl rips my first was the mytek , now a hi end msb . While there is improvment its not what I thought it would be. Some thoughts please .
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          • #6
            I think they are both equally important.
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            • #7
              IMO, D/A conversion can sound no better than the initial A/D conversion from analog.

              I am currently trying out my PS Audio Phonoconverter with older Roxio software to rip some old and irreplaceable cassettes at 44.1. Practicing on less valuable tapes my results sound good, and the result is certainly convenient. Since I am relying on a laptop for playback I cannot really comment on what sound quality is ultimately achievable even at 44.1.

              Higher resolution tests with LPs will have to wait until acquisition of both more advanced software and a D/A converter capable of higher resolution. I would like the software to have advanced filtering/equalization capabilities.

              Comment


              • JCOConnell
                JCOConnell commented
                Editing a comment
                If your laptop has a usb port, one of those dragonfly dacs could be an inexpensive way to get high resolution dac

              • Rust
                Rust commented
                Editing a comment
                One of the options I am considering. There are several highly regarded DACs in my price range. But the next purchase will be software which will handle editing of tracks, filtering, click and pop removal and equalization. I've been doing a bit of research however can find no clear consensus as to which is superior for archiving. I don't care if it handles extensive meta-data or not, handles Wi-Fi, blue tooth or whatever. Sonic functionality is the primary requirement and being simple enough for an idiot (me) to fumble through.

            • #8
              As some digiphiles swear its possible to get high end sound from redbook CDs if using state of the art playback gear (DACS). Then it would be safe to assume the A/D technology is way ahead of the the D/A tech and is not as critical because it is so good generally.
              Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

              Comment


              • Rust
                Rust commented
                Editing a comment
                I have a CD of selections that were ripped some years back from first gen safety masters of some let's just say less than commercially successful tapes. Unknown yet quality recordings. Even at 44.1/16 the sound is exceptionally good. To me this indicates that really bad sounding CDs are the result of poor quality source material, less than capable equipment in the A/D chain, tone deaf incompetents operating the equipment or a combination of all of the above.

                In contrast I have a commercial recording of the Wailing Jennys Live which is quite excellent, especially the cut "Bring Me Little Water Sylvie" by Huddy Ledbetter. It approaches being sublime. Small labels seem to be concerned with quality, large conglomerates the bottom line with no concern for art.

            • #9
              Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
              As some digiphiles swear its possible to get high end sound from redbook CDs if using state of the art playback gear (DACS). Then it would be safe to assume the A/D technology is way ahead of the the D/A tech and is not as critical because it is so good generally.
              Seeing no smiley at the end of your post, I assume this is a serioius comment. I'm pretty sure that the digiphiles do not say that all CD's provide high end sound from SOTA DACS. Knowing what Winston Ma did to get what many think are the best sounding sounding redbook CD's around, experimenting with different A/D's and using only a few, with very specific protocols, I would say the choice and use of A/D is very critical to get the best. Bruce can comment from his experience. For me, we did a shootout of six top end A/D converters, run by Grammy winning mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine, and differences were not subtle which led me to my choice of A/D. I wish they all sounded the same. I was hoping not to have to spend so much on my A/D.

              Larry
              Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
              Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
              Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
              Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
              Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
              Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
              Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.3KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

              Comment


              • MylesBAstor
                MylesBAstor commented
                Editing a comment
                Could you both be right? I know what JC is saying eg listening to RBCD thru the Pacific Microsonics--or others with say the Trinity DAC--is far better than expected. One thing though JC. The 16/44 playback was with digital files, not CDs.

            • #10
              Originally posted by astrotoy View Post

              For me, we did a shootout of six top end A/D converters, run by Grammy winning mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine, and differences were not subtle which led me to my choice of A/D.

              Larry
              What were the six A/Ds and when was this done?

              Comment


              • #11
                Originally posted by RandyRobinson View Post

                What were the six A/Ds and when was this done?
                Back in 2010, before DSD was generally available. I'll PM you with the names. They were assembled by my consultant, and my memory that long ago is not that great. Larry
                Analog- VPIClassic3-3DArm,SoundsmithZephyrII+MiyajimaZeroMono, 2xAmpex ATR-102,Doshi3.0,Merrill Trident Master Tape Pre,Herron VTPH-2A
                Dig Rip-Pyramix,IzotopeRX3Adv,Mykerinos,PacMicroModel2
                Dig Play-mchNADAC, LampiPac, Roon, HQP, Oppo105
                Electronics-Doshi Pre,CJ MET1mchPre, Cary2A3monoamps
                Speakers-AvantgardeDuosLR,3SolosC,LR,RR
                Other-2x512Engineer/Marutani Symmetrical Power, AudioDiskVinylCleaner,AirTightRecordFlat, Scott Rust Interconnects,
                Music-15KRecs(90%classical),1.3KR2Rtapes,50TBrips

                Comment


              • #12
                Originally posted by astrotoy View Post

                Seeing no smiley at the end of your post, I assume this is a serioius comment. I'm pretty sure that the digiphiles do not say that all CD's provide high end sound from SOTA DACS. Knowing what Winston Ma did to get what many think are the best sounding sounding redbook CD's around, experimenting with different A/D's and using only a few, with very specific protocols, I would say the choice and use of A/D is very critical to get the best. Bruce can comment from his experience. For me, we did a shootout of six top end A/D converters, run by Grammy winning mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine, and differences were not subtle which led me to my choice of A/D. I wish they all sounded the same. I was hoping not to have to spend so much on my A/D.

                Larry
                I have about 1500 CDs and I am well aware that many of them sound bad no matter what playback gear is used. But I don't necessarily blame it on bad A/Ds most of it is just poor mastering.
                Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

                Comment


                • #13
                  Originally posted by astrotoy View Post

                  Knowing what Winston Ma did to get what many think are the best sounding sounding redbook CD's around, experimenting with different A/D's and using only a few, with very specific protocols, I would say the choice and use of A/D is very critical to get the best. Bruce can comment from his experience.
                  Larry
                  Winston was very particular about what A/D converters we were using. We even went as far as doing a shootout at MikeL's place using a DAD AX24 and a PM2. A few of us agreed that the DAD was truer to the source. The PM2 had great bass, but we felt it was slightly exaggerated. For the longest time, the PM2 was Winston's reference A/D converter. When the higher sample rates became more available (ie: DXD, 384kHz and DSD), Winston jumped on the Merging Tech bandwagon.

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Originally posted by Alrainbow View Post
                    Bruce as you are one to lead this brigade how important was a Not many years ago mytek and maybe still now we're being used to encode to dsd .? My question is how much better is your choice of today compared to a few years back like mytek . Just dsd as I feel it has less effect than PCM did .
                    I own a boatload of vinyl rips my first was the mytek , now a hi end msb . While there is improvment its not what I thought it would be. Some thoughts please .
                    PCM over the last 2-5 years has slowly progressed, but not as much as the higher sample rates of DSD. DSD converters are changing every month it seems. For the D/A side, I think there is a DAC of the week club now, but for the A/D side, manufacturers were slow or even late to the party. Some manufacturers fought tooth and nail, like Benchmark, Ayre and others. Some even dug their heels in and said anything over 24/96 is waste of time! (Dan Lavry). Thanks to the pioneers and forward thinkers like Andreas Koch, Merging Tech, MSB and the folks from Korg, we can now say A/D converters are getting harder to distinguish from the source. The new Pinot, you'd be hard pressed to determine what is the source and what was recorded. Anecdotal evidence points to digital was actually chosen over tape! MY GOD!!!

                    Comment


                    • #15
                      Originally posted by Bruce B View Post
                      The new Pinot, you'd be hard pressed to determine what is the source and what was recorded. Anecdotal evidence points to digital was actually chosen over tape! MY GOD!!!
                      Very true. Andreas Koch had a demo at AXPONA where he challenged audience members to tell the Analog Tape source from the DSD recorded with the Pinot. It was very difficult to tell them apart.

                      "Playback Designs connected a Studer-Revox PR99 Analog Tape Recorder/Player to their audio system along with the Pinot ADC and did an A/B test of the same music through the Studer and recorded and then played back through the DAC at DSD 256 in real time. There was a very, very slight difference between the two. I found it to be so subtle as to be basically identical. Very impressive."
                      http://positive-feedback.com/show-re...t-axpona-2016/

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