It sure ain’t all the same
Yesterday we sharpened our understanding of why the multitude of digital storage mechanisms sound different despite the fact they produce the same data. What we learned is that while the data may be identical, its timing, noise levels, and quality presented to our DAC is not. In the same way we likely would not question why different turntables do not produce the same results, despite the fact they spin at the same speeds, it should not be too great a surprise when our digital systems produce unique sonic signatures.
So the question I would next ask myself is this: what’s the best storage and delivery system for me? And the answer is a tough one to give in clear form, because the truth is that none are perfect and all have their issues. For example, using a memory player like our own PWT narrows the differences between optical storage media and hard or soft drives to the point of near confusion. But the PWT can be bettered by the proper implementation of a soft drive in the right computer setup, and the opposite is easily true.
Here’s the bottom line: digital storage mediums, like their analog counterparts, are completely at the mercy of connected equipment to produce a final outcome. Thus, no blanket statement can be made unless it includes the entire chain. We all want the silver bullet: this drive sounds better than that drive but the truth is more elusive than that. The bullet does not exist alone in a vacuum.
We are getting set to release our first album and we are excited. But how shall we present the data to our customers so they might hear it in all its glory? Downloads? Specially mastered CD? DSD high resolution? SACD? DSD or PCM? You get the point. For some who have optimized their CD based systems, the answer is obvious. For others, who have managed to produce stunning results from their solid state drives and computers, their solution is different again.
Bottom line? We have to be open to producing media in enough formats that makes the choice to optimize performance an easy one for those of us that have grown comfortable for which is better. And so far, for me, the physical disc reigns supreme.