Friday, 19 February 2016

It appears a corner has been turned ...

For years I have been waiting for CD, digital replay mechanisms to be "robust" enough to deliver competent sound, continuously, in raw form. Waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting - 30 years worth of waiting!! There were many false excitements along the way, reports of "magical" new components that had it all ... but the really-hard-to-please crowd would knock them on the head in that somewhat contemptuous way, "very good for digital, but not in the analogue class of performance!".

Yesterday, I came across some personal experiences of diehard vinyl lovers who have heard some of the latest, best, most expensive digital source units - and who are converted. Finally, the top end of the development crowd have worked out enough tricks to get the engineering good enough for so that any limitations, weaknesses elsewhere in the replay system are not accentuated or triggered - and the normal consumer can buy these units, plug them in, and get satisfying sound.

Of course, these components are absurdly expensive, to the man on the street - this is Bentley territory. The old story of how man progresses - first the premium level toys are created for those well off, who are willing to pay silly money to get results - and then the trickle down process starts. It seems that it doesn't really work any other way in some fields ... a grotesquely over-engineered version has to be created, and sold in small quantities, as a proof of concept exercise; then, the engineering types begin to work out what the really crucial aspects of this battleship construction are, to get the results that actually matter - and steadily far more efficient, in terms of materials used, versions are devised ... value for money returns to the equation.

The other method of achieving high quality sound from CD recordings has always been available - that which I use, locating the various weaknesses in the overall system which are the most damaging to getting decent digital sound, and countering them, one by one. Luckily, this is highly effective - and far, far cheaper!! The end results are very similar - ultimately, convincing sound, the conjuring of a rock solid auditory illusion can be made to happen ...

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