Oh Ye of Little Format

Tonight our group of 13 people held a blind A/B/C  test comparing

Formats of CD, SACD and Apple Sound.

We listened to one minute three formats of five different cuts

ranging from Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Santana

Celine Dion, & one other.


The cuts were removed from the same CD using different layers.


Bottom line- Nobody zeroed in on anything! The Apple Sound actually

was slightly the favorite. Try it yourself.


Sound leveling software was employed and were the services 

of sound engineer. 


I always thought SACDs were nothing special. 

Now if an XRCD had been included I think it would have been preferred

but you can perform the same test using XRCD due to the way

it is recorded.


The fun never stops here...






I can only speak from a very limited experience on this as I only did anything like this once and it was last week. I do not use apple play so I cannot speak for that. However, I can speak for standard CD, MOFI-CD, Hi-Res (24-192) digital download, and Amazon HD music (so they claim). On my desk top I have a TMS T300MKll mini tube amp and a pair of Klipsch RP-600Ms. I used two "albums"for the comparison, Allman Brothers first album and Crosby Stills and Nash CSN as I have both of these in the formats listed above. From ABB I played It's Not My Cross To Bear, from CSN I played Run From Tears. Hands down the Hi-Res download versions were the clear winners in overall sound quality, to my years. Especially disappointing was the CSN-Mofi recording. When I get some time I will do the same comparison on my listening room set up. Rogue M-180s, Rogue RP-7, Panasonic DP-UB-9000, NAD C658 DAC, and Focal Kanta No.2s.

99 bottles of beer on the wall

99 bottles of beer

Take one down pass it around

See how it sounds

98 bottles of beer on the wall...

Interesting result.  Most importantly, sounds like a fun time listening to music with friends

I am an engineer, manufacturer and a importer. The attempts to compare formats analogue to digital in whatever forms they may take is difficult at best. You need to consider how the music was recorded, the engineer who did the work, the equipment, and the studio for the original event.

I have been fortunate enough to here some music recorded on analogue equipment from the '70's which was remanufactured with audio grade components. The recording were made in a studio where the sound stage was a separate building on the inside of another building with separate foundation piling and the studio was constructed on top of isolation platforms. Just as much attention was done on the power, cabling, mics, .... The analogue recorder was added to the recording system which is 384kz 32 bit. The recording controls in the control room are analogue. No post mix down!

Lacquer's were made from both the digital and the analogue. Hard to tell which lacquer was which by the ear test. Hard to tell the difference between digital, analogue tape and lacquers. The tests got the same results with all that auditioned the test material over the 3 months I was there.

On the other hand, there are plenty of recordings which were made with cheap equipment, cabling, mics, in only a so-so studio. Add questionable skill level of the person in control of the recording and you end up with not the best sound quality by the time it gets to the user. The beginning of the CD era actually made this issue worse, in my opinion. On top of this is what is the intended audience and what equipment was it likely to be played on and you end up with some music that only sounds good in a car, in my opinion.

In conclusion I would like to say this; my search is for great recordings of great music, format is optional. When given the opportunity, while helping a client. I ask them to introduce me to the music they like. Always a great experience. I also enjoy my music collection which is not the best recordings. For me, it is more about the music, when you get to the bottom line.

I’ve done the same test and we were all over the place with our answers. So many albums are poorly recorded, so it doesn’t matter what the format. “you can t make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.”

All the best.