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

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

  1. Damien DiAngelo

    Damien DiAngelo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I'm pretty sure that in discussion on this board previously, it was determined that these CDs of the digitally recorded Denon albums from that era were sourced from an analog tape made during the mastering sessions.
    I could be wrong, I'm no expert. I'm sure I read that here, somewhere.
     
    Plan9 and Mr Bass like this.
  2. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    Thanks very much for that info. I will try to verify. Of course out of necessity they had to do a Redbook conversion on the tape even if it was an "analog tape" of the PCM recording.
     
    Damien DiAngelo likes this.
  3. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    This was a joint recording venture between Supraphon in Czechoslovakia, and Denon/Nippon Columbia in Japan. A definitive performance of these compositions, and a truly superb sounding recording on this LP and the CD version is also wonderful. I love the Smetana Quartet's work for both labels. A classic! P.S. Denon used a 1" video recorder for storing their digital data from their PCM processor. And the CD is mastered digital from the PCM master sample rate converted if I recall correctly.
     
    kevinsinnott and Mr Bass like this.
  4. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    If that is the case there might be a transparency problem depending on the issue date. In the last few years such rate conversions are apparently fully transparent but earlier they were not unless evenly divisible rates were converted eg 88.2k could be converted cleanly to CD but 96k could not.
     
    Billy Budapest likes this.
  5. Damien DiAngelo

    Damien DiAngelo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Here is the thread I was thinking of.
    Sounds like I was partially right. Some of them were from tape, some were digital, according to the info in the thread.
     
    Mr Bass likes this.
  6. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    Thanks I just found it myself. Yes they probably just did whatever was easiest at that moment.
     
    Damien DiAngelo likes this.
  7. I agree, however Steve's work on the Phil Collins and MFSL's Brothers In Arms seem to indicate that at least some of that flavor came from mastering practices at the time. Not all though, and I definitely prefer analog to that early digital multitrack sound. Now I think I'd be hard pressed to tell analog from digital, most of the time.
     
    gabbleratchet7 likes this.
  8. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    Mastering certainly can play a significant role. However in the cases cited, improved recent gear was used to maximize transfer from the original tapes. The situation with the Denon PCM LP production is particularly interesting because those digital LPs were produced in an era when computer capabilities and gear were more limited than even 10 years later.
     
  9. That info was probably wrong and was speculation by one forum member. If the SPARS codes are to believed, the CD's were derived from the correct digitally recorded tapes (i.e., the CD's are all marked "DDD").
     
    McLover likes this.
  10. It was the ubiquitous use of the SSL 4000 series console--an ANALOG desk--that was responsible for the 80's "flavor" you speak of.

    See here, for example:

    SSL 4000 series »
     
    Shak Cohen likes this.
  11. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    Thanks but respectfully disagree. The console was introduced in the 70s and there are many late 70s and even early 80s analog LPs that do not possess the digital flavor of the Sony era. Perhaps the console amplified the least favorable aspects of the Sony digital era encoders. Even Sony later admitted their 80s digital gear was flawed but that is sort of beside the point. The issue I'm concerned with is the reason the Denon PCM LPs have a more realistic sounding midrange than later digital LPs.
     
  12. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    The trick is, you never heard the original recording or sat at the console before the project was recorded, so you have no real idea how or if the recorder was changing the signal. All this does is boil down to a "perception" that something is changing. In truth, most of this stuff is pretty damned neutral. I have been in a position where I took my own recordings (made with my own microphones) and took the digital files through different D/A converters, and I found the differences were very teeny-tiny. They did exist, but were extraordinarly small. In my case, I found that the later 2002 converters I tried using Burr-Brown converters were better than the 1996 converters I had been using, mainly in terms of distortion and S/N ratio, and I could even visually see the difference on waveforms. The newer ones were "smoother," for lack of a better term.

    But again, this with comparing the original file vs. D/A #1 and D/A #2. #2 was absolutely better, and I would up liking it enough that I bought it.

    Yes, the SSL 4000's had a definite sound. There were also issues with some where the 15.75kHz "whine" from the CRT built into the console got back into some of the channels due to capacitor leak, but they eventually fixed that. The later SSLs didn't have that problem.
     
  13. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    I haven't repeated myself in every post but I acknowledged that I couldn't be sure where in the recording process this effect is occurring and even noted in one post that it might be due to LP mastering although I doubt that can be the whole explanation. Yes these differences might at some level be small compared to something major like outright distortion or frequency range restriction. However what are the differences that make one performance emotionally involving and another one flat? They often are relatively subtle. Classical music is particularly prone to those distinctions given that everyone plays the same notes.

    All I can say is that the Denon PCM LPs I have are more involving than other later digital LPs and I am curious as to why that is. It certainly is not due to some extraneous factor or attachment to Denon. And some other members here have a similar perception.
     
  14. quicksrt

    quicksrt Forum Resident

    Location:
    City of Angels
    It could have been something as simple as EQ during recording, bumped up right at a certain sweet spot.
     
    sunspot42 likes this.
  15. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    That early 3M multitrack recorder - used on albums like Christopher Cross and The Nightfly - was amazing. Those are still some of the best sounding records I've ever heard - detailed, layered, crisp, smooth.
     
  16. EddieVanHalen

    EddieVanHalen Forum Resident

    I think a good example of how early Sony digital recordings sound and how they "colored" the sound is the soundtrack for Star Trek The Motion Picture from 1979, recorded on Sony digital equipment. It sounds clean, dinamic but also sterile, dull, lifeless and agressive at times. BUT all the recording sessions were also tracked to analog tape using Thomson's TelCom noise reduction. The 2012 release of this soundtrack uses the analog multitrack tapes instead of the digital ones, which were mixed down in 192 Khz/24 bit in ProTools by Bruce Botnick. On this 3CD release both the original79 digital recording and the new analogue to digital mix are included so both can be compared. They sound like night and day.
     
  17. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    In my case, I am noting this effect with Denon's classical records where we know what the instruments sound like. I find something more involving in classical music recordings when it sounds more like live sound. I agree that on a pop recording with all kinds of signal processing various EQ adjustments are hard to disentangle since we don't know how something sounded in the studio.
     
  18. 56GoldTop

    56GoldTop Forum Resident

    Will do. I've the next couple of days off. :goodie:

    1-bit converters in old CD players probably wouldn't be classified as "audiophile"; but, if I have to have a CD player from that period, I sure do prefer the 1-bit units (ie. JVC PEMM or Technics MASH, etc.) I guess to me ears, distortion that smooths everything out is less annoying than distortion that grates like cheese.
     
  19. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Mileage. I have the same soundtrack reissue. I love it, but the digitally-recorded tracks sound exactly like a live orchestra to me, while the analog have that typical grainy, muddy, slightly-compressed analog sound. It's great for the era, but it's clearly an analog tape recording of a symphony.

    In fact, if anything sounds "dull and lifeless" to me, it's the analog recording. The problem is especially noticeable with ambiance, which gets fuzzed out, as is common on analog recordings of large ensembles. I'd imagine the noise reduction schemes of the era didn't help matters much in that regard. There's noticeable grain that's totally absent in the digital recordings, which are smooth as glass.

    There's a reason why most classical listeners rapidly embraced the CD. On the other hand, that kind of merciless accuracy often doesn't do pop or rock music many favors. Like an aging sexpot, they can benefit from soft focus and a bit of Vaseline on the lens...

    These days of course, state of the art analog recordings are probably pretty comparable to state of the art digital recordings. Even as long ago as the mid-'90s, it was hard to tell the difference between a CD and a recording of a CD on a 3-head cassette deck with Dolby S, and that was format that started life as a consumer dictation medium.

    Then and now, production choices are far more important than the recording medium, provided their specs are roughly comparable.
     
  20. EddieVanHalen

    EddieVanHalen Forum Resident

    I think right the opposite about the Star Trek soundtrack and its 2012 release, the digital recording sounds unnatural to my ears, agressive, bright, a sound I describe as "clumsy" as if the digital media was strugling to reproduce sound. I know the analog recording of the same album sounds (among otherthings) fatter which is an artifact typical on analog recordings. And beware, what you're saying regarding this recording and your preference of the digital recordings can be no more but a placebo effect as not all the tracks on the original album (included on this release) were full digital recordings, some tracks are, some were tracked to analog and mixed down to Sony digital...
     
  21. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Yes, I'm well aware of that. But the tracks which are digital recordings sound far more like a real symphony in a real hall than the analog recordings.

    In fact, I posted my thoughts on this disc right here on this forum when I got a copy back in 2014:

    Star Trek-TMP soundtrack.Analog or digital? »
     
  22. testikoff

    testikoff Forum Resident

    Here is an example of Denon's 1978 PCM recording made with DN-034R recorder & released on CD (with pre-emphasis) in 1984, which I posted in another thread. Tell me how good that sounds... ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
  23. I think it's the second generation of Sony converters (forgetting the name, PCM1200, maybe, and the DASH) that sound "not great." The first generation--called the F1, I believe--was the sonic equivalent of the Soundstream, 3M Digital Mastering System, and Mitsubishi (called K80, maybe), and all of them sounded quite good.
     
    Mr Bass likes this.
  24. Ah, the sound of flyback transformer squeal. I know it well.
     
    Vidiot likes this.
  25. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    Thanks for the info. I will try to research the very first Sony converters. I thought they were all of a piece. But maybe they and everyone else took a wrong turn later.
     

Share This Page