Denon PCM Encoding in 1970s. Is it different than Sony CD PCM?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Mr Bass, Aug 7, 2016.

  1. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    You make a good point. It's quite possible Sony didn't perceive the defects of their digital recorders because they leaned in the direction that they preferred anyway.
     
  2. Sounds good. I see your link up there. I will consult your thread. Thanks!
     
  3. EddieVanHalen

    EddieVanHalen Forum Resident

    Let's take an uncommon example, the soundtrack for Star Trek The Motion Picture. The original 1979 album was tracked and mixed down to digital. Those same tracks appeared on the film so they are an actual part of the movie soundtrack. The music as it appeared on the film was tracked and mixed down on analog tape, that means some takes were recorded both digitally and on analog tape. In 2012 the soundtrack for Star Trek TMP was re-released as an expanded album by La La Land Records, with the full soundtrack as heard on the film, and the original album from 1979. The original full analog soundtrack was remixed by the original engineer, Bruce Botnick and both remastered by Mr. Botnick also. Guess what version, from the same recording sessions and takes sounds better at least to my ears?: the analog album, the same takes recorded and mixed with Sony early digital equipment is dead silent (aka, high signal to noise ratio) has big dinamics and very deep bass, but its sound is artificial, brittle, harsh and has a limited sound scene. The analog version's sound 'though mixed down to HiRes digital is a beauty, one of the best recordings I have.
     
  4. feinstei9415

    feinstei9415 Forum Resident

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  5. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

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    Mileage - I think the analog version sounds grungy and fake compared to even that early digital recording, which sounds much more like an actual live orchestra. And that's a really well-done analog recording for the era. But you definitely get bits of tape saturation and weirdness going on in the upper midrange and treble thanks to noise reduction. It would be alright if we didn't have a digital recording taken at the same time to compare it to, but when you do the obvious limitations of analog recording at the time become apparent.

    For what it's worth, analog recording has improved considerably since then (Dolby SR, better tape formulations, etc.). But then, so has digital...
     
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  6. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    Just a reminder for people who don't go back to the thread start:

    The focus of this thread is a comparison of the sonics between pre Redbook digital PCM recorders from Denon, Soundstream and Mitsubishi compared with Sony Redbook PCM digital recorders rather than apples to oranges discussion of digital vs analog.
     
  7. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

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    Good point.

    Anyhow, I don't think those early Sonys sound as bad as people make them out to. A lot of classical music was recorded on them if memory serves, and it sounds fine. I suspect whatever issues they have aren't digital so much as analog, as in their analog stages aren't so hot.

    Those early 3M digital recorders sound fantastic, in spite of their known linearity issues (although I think those are more of an issue on the multitracks than on the 2-channel stereo tracks). But they were also said to have some of the best analog stages ever put into studio recorders, so...

    (The soundtrack for the second Trek film, The Wrath Of Khan, was recorded on one of those 3M decks, by the way.)
     
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  8. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    The question that seems to be difficult to answer is why before Sony Redbook there were digital PCM recordings that to my ears and at least some others don't have those negatives? The pre-Redbook recorders were not perfect by any means but to my ears they represent a stage well beyond the regressive Redbook PCM recorders Sony later developed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2017
  9. Tim Müller

    Tim Müller Forum Resident

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    Which Sony are you referring to?

    I think, the Dire Straits Brothers in Arms was recorded on an early Sony 24 track digital, but sounded quite natural (as far as one can stretch that word for pop music...) and "analogue". Only, without all the artifacts of vinyl or analogue tape.

    I also have a 86 recording of Steave Earl's "Guitar Town" , that was recorded on Mitsubishi ProDigi X-800 32 track.

    Sounds pretty cool and "analogue", though.

    I don't get the problems that you have. The recordings sound really natural, without artifacts.
     
  10. For whatever reason, the Sony PCM1630 heralded the complaints of “harsh, thin, brittle” digital sound that many dislike. The Soundstream, 3M, Mitsubishi x-80, and Sony PCM-F1, PCM1600, and PCM1610 recordings and masters did not suffer from these same complaints. (I’m not sure where Sony DASH and Mitsubishi ProDigi fit into the equation).
     
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  11. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

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    Like I said, I suspect the analog stage of the 1630 might be responsible for its much maligned sonic signature.
     
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  12. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    It's entirely possible but it is curious that analog recorders never had that particular sonic signature if so. The 1630 also had digital I/O capabilities so in that case there should have been a different sonic signature. I think analog stages are an important factor in digital sound but I also suspect some undiagnosed problem was introduced with the Redbook circuits that magnified the effect of the analog stages. But that is just a supposition based on my first point.

    Edit: I also think the early versions of the 1630 had rate conversion problems.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
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  13. I recently purchased a sealed copy of Karen Gibbs Window Panes and mint copies of The World of Stomu Yamash’ta and a Denon PCM demonstration disc containing the Side A tracks from Steve Marcus Something (from a PCM master on one side and the same tracks repeated from analog tape on the other). As you probably guessed, they all sound wonderful. It’s crazy that an LP from a 13/32 PCM master sounds great, but it does.
     
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  14. Robert C

    Robert C Forum Resident

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    Just goes to further demonstrate that performance, mic placement, production, and mastering is so much more important than the recording format.
     
  15. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    BB, It's sad and frustrating that Redbook took such a disastrous regressive approach to digital. I realize it wasn't intentional but no one bothered to check the Redbook LPs with those from Denon and Soundstream and see how deficient they were. It took 15 or 20 years to rectify and messed up countless excellent albums with lousy sonics. In terms of midrange I am not sure they ever really recovered.

    As for the sampling rates most of the pre Redbooks were close to CD rates. But it did cause me to wonder if the sampling rate was far more important than the word length.
     
  16. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

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    Was anyone at the soundstream presentation at the most recent AES? I didn’t see it, I went a different day however from what I understand they actually rolled out one of the original recorders and demonstrated it. I’m not sure what was played, if anything, but I would have liked to see that.
     
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  17. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    I didn't even realize Soundstream was still active. Or was this simply a historical presentation? Soundstream modified their digital recorder over the years so one would need to know the specific model demoed.
     
  18. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

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    Long Island, NY
    It was a historic presentation on what was one of the earliest professional digital recording standards and I believe it also went in depth on things which would need to be done to preserve those recordings. I imagine the people on that panel would know which if any CDs were ever made directly from soundstream masters, and how.
     
  19. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    Thanks for the info. Obviously Soundstream recordings made after 1982 were issued as CDs after conversion to Redbook. Some of the pre 1982 Telarcs also came out on CD.

    NB: I list the pre 1982 non -Redbook recordings I could find in the Discography below.
    PRE Redbook Digital LP Discography 1972-1981
     
  20. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

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    As far as I could glean from this conversation over the past couple of years (!) it seems some titles are still under some debate, and it’s not really known how the conversion to redbook was performed or what it entailed. I’d certainly love to learn as much about early digital as possible - any of the people on that panel would provide invaluable additions to these discussions.
     
  21. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    That lack of documentation doesn't surprise me. I discussed this issue in the LP Discography thread mentioned above recently. In some cases apparently Soundstream handed the tapes over to the record label who did what they wanted to it prior to release. That's why I was forced to stop at 1981 in the LP Discography because after that it appears impossible to figure out whether Redbook conversion and editing was done prior to issuing the LP.
     
  22. I still think that is an arbitrary cutoff date. We know that Soundstream strived to contra the entire process from recording to mixing down to the master. For US labels like Telarc, redbook wasn't even a twinkle in their eye until 1983. Some Japanese and European labels started to issue CD's in 1982, but you couldn't even purchase a CD player in most of the world then. I think that a good cutoff point for American labels is 1983.
     
  23. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

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    I don't disagree but I was being super cautious. In any event, there were not that many pre Redbook digital LPs issued in 1982 and 83 so it is a minor problem in the scheme of things.

    FWIW the classical labels like EMI and Decca do have digital LPs prior to 1983 which must be based on Sony digital recorders of some kind. I assume the proto Redbook models.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
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  24. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

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    Are we sure they didn't use 3M's recorder? Those had been in use by about three years at that point.
     
  25. EMI and Decca had their own in house systems. See here for some information:

    http://www.overgrownpath.com/2009/01/music-of-spheres.html
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017

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