Can any DAC make 16/44.1 sound as good as 24/192?

I disagree. The work of the recording engineer is most important.

The mastering engineer cannot take drek from a bad recording engineer and turn it into a great recording.

But superb work by a recording engineer can make a mastering engineer superfluous. The best mastering engineers know this and will do nothing, or next to nothing, when handed a superlative recording.

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But, isn’t the quality of the sound of a recording based both on the quality of the performance AND the quality of the engineering? It sure is in my book.

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I think we’re talking about two different, but obviously related components of a recording.

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We are writing a bit at cross purposes.

Certainly the total experience of a recording is the performance, plus the quality of the sound captured on the recording.

In this thread however we are discussing whether digital formats sound different. We are also discussing the recording itself as a recording.

The sound of a piano, beautiful recorded, will be the same gorgeous sound whether a wonderful pianist plays or if I play. While you will not want to listen to my playing, the sound itself will be equally stunning on both recordings.

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I fully agree with you. Take one of the best piano, the sound can be tremendously different based on the touch of the pianist. Just listen to a duo with Hank Jones and John Lewis or four hands recordings (same piano, players switching place and the piano sounds completely different). A great sound engeneer can’t add anything to the original sound, but he can have been faithfully recorded, a bad one can completely spoil a recording.

The act of playing music is one type of action.

The act of recording, engineering, mastering and publishing are other types of actions.

All is related, but they are different activities. We can discuss whatever part of that chain we like. One part does not exclude or contradict the other part.

But they are different activities.

Another way of looking at it is yes, the quality of the piano matters in the terms of instruments. But the quality of the piano is irrelevant when trying to determine if there’s any inherent meaningful difference between CD, high res pcm, or DSD. The reason being is that the same high or low quality piano would be used in each recording. Therefore negating the piano’s significance in figuring out which recording format is better.