Does High Rez PCM (HRP) offer hope for the High End?
I have recently completed a, Hard drive (Musicvault) driven setup that enabled me to make direct comparisons between Red Book, HRP (96, 192 and 178.6) and DSD. While I am still gathering software that is purposed for all these formats for comparison, I'd like to share some early observations to see if others have exerienced similar things.:
192 and 178.6, virtually indistinguishable from each other, have a startly different presentation from DSD and Red Book. Beginning with the easiest, Red Book doesn't hold up even if upsampled to 192. It lacks the information density so crucial to "depth" and low level nuance. The soundstage is relatively big and the instruments and voices float and distort the scale of the event compared to the 192/178.6 material. The latter presents the music with phenomenal depth, seemingly limitless detail and nuance; listening to the decay of notes clearly favors high rez; notes hold on just a bit longer, and ambient information is more palpable in the sound.
DSD is a different matter. IMO DSD has a feeling of integrity and overall smoothness that is quite seductive. There is little space between musicians in the soundstage and in many cases the edges of one instrument blurr, ever so slightly, the space occupied by individual instruments. By contrast HRP presents a more vivid and discrete soundstage. Instruments are slightly better defined with free space separating instruments from each other. Also the scale of the sound is more in proportion with the live event. Using a visual analogy, comparing DSD to HRP is like comparing an impressionist to a Rembrandt; they are each immensely satisfying but quite different.
As expected, extension at either end is comparable between SACD and HRP though I have yet to hear the bass sound as deep and dynamic as the Saint-Saens " Samson and Delilah track from Reference Recordings' "Exotic Dances." I am eagerly awaiting receipt of the SACD version of this disc before long. Tonal balance and large scale dynamics were virtually indistinguishable.
It seems to me that the future lies somewhere between 192/178.6 ans 96/88.2. These formats, being PCM, are computer and internet friendly. While HRP recordings are few and far in between, I suspect that this will become a growth category as computers converge with audio systems over time.
Equipment used for comparisons:
Musicvault (3 TB) music server
DCS Scarlatti DAC
DCS Scarlatti SACD Transport
ASR (Emitter 2 amplifiers)
Nola Grand References
Nordost Valhalla throughout.