Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms": XRCD vrs SACD
Last weekend, K.O. and I listened to the title track of these two CDs back to back in order to hear the differences between them, if any.
This was on the following equipment: EMM labs / Meitner digital running into Lamm ML2.1 amps on the Triolon speakers, Stealth INDRA interconnects and Shunyata Anaconda Alpha powercords, HRS isolation bases and nimbuses, the CDSD transport resting on an Acoustic Dreams rack.
We both agreed that we liked the SACD version better.
Of course there was more detail on the SACD version, but it also had more suspense, which I found to be an unexpected difference. Or maybe one can call it anticipation. This refers to that feeling you get, which this album does so very well, at the end of a loooong drawn out note when …you …know …the …next …note ..is …coming… …it …is …almost …here… …YES!
Imaging was also better and there was more solidity and presence.
Everything was better, though stepping back from the music a bit, mentally, one might say they was a slight artificial taint to the whole thing. That the ‘whole’ was not blending together as it might.
My interpretation of this was to reflect that the XRCD, being a very smooth, almost tube-like presentation, was also just as artificial, it is just that most of us are used to it because we grew up with that kind of artificiality.
This implies something interesting about the younger CD / DVD / MP3 / SACD generation, but I do not think I care to speculate right now on what that ‘something interesting’ may portend. No reason to think about tomorrow’s problems, we got enough right here today, thank you very much.
By the way, in the past we have compared the LP version to the XRCD version – and the LP was laughably (or very distressingly, depending on your point of view) better. It so out-classed its digital counterpart that I really felt ripped off that I had paid the $35 for the XRCD. Oh well. I think the day of the XRCD is over – it was great when most CDs and CD players had a strident edge . Now most CDs sound pretty good and the playback equipment either rolls off the treble a little or just plain sounds pretty darn good [or at least the playback equipment no longer sounds so bad as to require CDs like this that roll off the midrange and treble in order to make the music halfway listenable].
I guess we should next compare the SACD to the LP, but I am thinking that altough the SACD is closer now to the LP in quality, it will still be no match. Well, when the new HRS MXR equipment rack gets here (gloss black, ahhhhhhhhhhh. Yes, like that pictured in the post below this one. Oops, can’t let Neli see me drooling all over the keyboard or she’ll never type on this thing again) we will move the Brinkmann Balance upstairs and try this very thing. You want to be here for this, K.O.? 🙂