Directstream DAC vinyl comparison experience


#1

With this longer post I want to provide my experience comparing different listening scenarios between vinyl and digital (DS DAC sr. & Bridge II as mentioned in my footer). I guess there’s only little to be further optimized in a DS DAC setup when using Bridge II.

Maybe it’s inspiring to some, also sharing their experience.

I was always open to digital playback, simply because I love music and a lot of good music is available in digital form only. Since knowing the DS DAC , even as a long time vinyl junkey, I was totally open to the outcome of a comparison. I was prepared to possibly only keep my vinyl for the physical experience of cover beauty and vinyl playback handling as well as for playing some old records only available on vinyl. I also expected that most of the later high quality audiophile vinyl reissues were also available in digital format. What I also thought is, that experiences will be quite similar, no matter if digital sourced or analog sourced recordings were compared, I’m totally open minded to digitally sourced recordings on vinyl if done well.

Althought my vinyl rig is very very good, it’s certainly by far not the most expensive or best available and I read, that the DS DAC, independent of the price, should be one of the best available sources (which it certainly is in the experience I now have). Anyway the outcome of my comparisons were surprising in quite some directions, but first some basic information and history.

My vinyl rig has a value of around 17.000$. Cost allocation in my rig has a strong focus on motor drive/power supply and tonearm, making together ~45% of the total value, the roughly 3000$ cartridge making just another 19%. Timing/pace, accuracy, sharp transients, a controlled bass response and dynamics are very important to me here. This rig is anything else than exceptionally rich or “warm” sounding for vinyl scales. Big price difference to the PS Audio, but we know, the DS DAC is superb for its money and hard to beat. Before the DS DAC, I had a very good one box upsampling CD player with a ~ 13.000$ price tag. Before the DS DAC era, to me vinyl was superior in general, but even those little dated, good upsampling players didn’t have any “digital sound” in terms of brightness, harshness etc. anymore, they had a very solid and full bodied sound, but among others didn’t reach the transparency, dynamics, transient response, extension, ambiance etc. of such a vinyl rig. So vinyl to me never was warmer, richer, more laid back sounding than digital or anything like that (that was long ago with early digital), it always was more accurate, extended, airy, transparent with much better pace and ambiance etc.

Now comes the DS DAC. Connecting it after the previous player was a short story, as it bettered it in any aspect immediately, which I don’t want to detail here. Especially in transparency, transient response, stage depth/width/layering, details, resolution and pace. The same music sounded as if it was played faster on the DS, timing and many other aspects were really vinyl-like in my impression. Little surprising was the really different tonality. The DS sounded much leaner with less body throughout but no lack in deeper bass etc. in comparison. Althought my previous digital player was a little too fat sounding in my opinion and compared to vinyl, I now missed some harmonic weight all around compared to both. But the benefits were much stronger, ambiance being unbelievable. I decided to buy the DS DAC and never regretted, together with the bridge it’s also a great technical concept.

Now I made some serious vinyl comparison and expected the worst for my vinyl habit.

So what I compared with vinyl was only hires digital of DSD or 24/176 or 24/192 quality (no CD quality) to stay fair in the competition:

  1. Vinyl of very good digital sourced classical recordings (amongst others various Reference recordings of later date in 33 or 45RP) with digital files of mainly 24/176 to DSD quality of the same recording on the DS
  2. Vinyl of very good analog sourced classical recordings (amongst others various Reference recordings of early date in 33 or 45RPM) with digital files of mainly 24/176 to SACD/DSD quality of the same recording on the DS DAC
  3. Vinyl of very good analog sourced jazz recordings (amongst others Analogue Productions recordings in 33 or 45RPM reissued as SACD/DSD and vinyl) with digital files of SACD/DSD quality of the same recording & mastering on the DS DAC
Comparing the first recording, a hires sourced Reference Recording Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances was a shock. The hires file sounded clearly more transparent with more ambiance than the 45RPM LP. It’s one of the best recordings in this aspect I know and the DS DAC was incredibly showing it’s strengths in a way, I couldn’t listen to any other aspect here. I repeated this with other later digitally sourced RR recordings (even CD quality in this case) and they always were not as much, but still little better in this regard than vinyl. Some aspects vinyl bettered the DS DAC were not as important to me in this case.Comparing other digitally sourced recordings, Classical or Jazz, showed this superiority in ambiance and stage extension just very slightly, but to a bigger extent showed strengths of vinyl as I will describe later.So I called RR and asked how their digitally sourced vinyl LP’s are produced in comparison to their digital files. I heard, that the digital files were mastered by famous Keith O Johnson on his equipment, while the LP masterings are done on different equipment of another mastering engineer. Bingo. These RR digital files are incredible. If you ever want to show a superiority of hires to vinyl, play a digitally sourced RR recording. But I guess you need a DS DAC for that, at least my old player of double the price couldn’t show this.

Comparing the first analog sourced recordings (various RR recordings of early era, mastered by Keith Johnson for hires and vinyl) I made a different experience. All analog sourced RR had reproducible better ambiance reproduction on vinyl, clearly better harmonic structure, resolution, decay, top extension and body/timbre of instruments from top to bottom. The DS DAC still on an overall level I never heard from digital before in this quality.

Now I compared some of the best analog sourced 33 and 45 RPM Jazz recordings I have, remastered by guys like Kevin Gray, Steve Hoffman, Marino, Grundman etc. for Vinyl and SACD/DSD along with some analog classical recordings. A shock again? (as I feared to loose my interest in LP’s).

This time vinyl, even more than comparing the RR LP’s, was so superior, I couldn’t believe it, as without the vinyl comparison, the DS DAC here also was so much better than previous digital players I experienced and so much closer to vinyl than before, that I thought I could have lived with just that. But here again, and much stronger than on the RR LP’s, vinyl betters the hires files in harmonic structure, resolution, decay, top extension and body/timbre of instruments. Cymbals at the same time sound more extended with more resolution and body. The clear to slight advantage for 3d imaging and stage depth on digital sourced files for the DS DAC now turned around. In a slightly different way, vinyl had audibly better ambiance and hires sounded little blood- and lifeless in comparison with less impact and details less embedded in the sound, but shown too upfront in comparison. To readjust the scale: my old digital source of double the DS DAC’s price would have sounded not anywhere near vinyl in terms of transparency, dynamics, transient response, extension, shape of tonal color, bass extension and control, ambiance and timing, as the DS DAC, but much richer, too rich sounding. Even the DS DAC when not playing over Bridge II but over an (unoptimized) USB Connection from PC, nowhere came as close to vinyl as I described here (in terms of musical flow and pace). Using Bridge II instead brought back vinyl like musical flow and timing.

Those experiences continued like this, comparing various recordings of those categories (same recordings of same (re)masterings vinyl/hires only), so my conclusions were as follows:

  1. By the main focus of my vinyl rig on motor drive/power supply and tonearm with a solid mass concept of the player, the quality of timing/pace, accuracy, sharp transients, a controlled bass response and dynamics is on a very high level. The DS DAC kind of reaches this quality first time for my digital experience and at half the price. Althought digital has better dynamics in theory, the perception is not like that or there are other aspects that lead to a different overall Impression.
  2. The DS DAC (dependent on the recordings source) slightly betters my vinyl rig in terms of 3d imaging and stage depth/width as my 3000$ cartridge with its limited channel separation (compared to what’s available on the market) seems to be not fully in the DS’ league (which is fantastic). As I know how much better a more expensive cartridge sounds in these terms, there’s much room for improvement, most probably even above the DS’ level (with a vinyl rig then at least costing over 20.000$). So I’m not the one telling, a vinyl rig of 6.000-10.000$ betters the DS DAC in all aspects or even in an overall judgement, I guess the DS DAC will win in too many terms unless one’s fixed to major vinyl strenghts)
  3. I’m sure, a vinyl rig of the kind let’s say a reviewer like Michael Fremer is checking out or owning the one or other time, betters any digital source including the DS DAC and above BY FAR in a listeners final perception. But this will be many times more expensive than such a DAC.
  4. What I didn’t expect is, how much better analog sourced recordings of the same mastering (compared to digitally sourced ones) sound on vinyl than on digital. I found no exception among the high quality issues. You can be totally happy listening to i.e. golden era jazz on such a DAC in that quality for the first time, but as soon as you hear it on a high quality vinyl rig, you’ll be just buying this stuff on vinyl. Analog classical, too, as long as the cuttings or vinyl rigs have no mechanical distortion Problem.
  5. A huge number of recordings is only available digitally, therefore the DS DAC is probably by far the best source available anywhere near its price range and above. And everyone without a vinyl rig aside will also be overwhelmed of the quality how the above mentioned analog sourced recordings sound now.
  6. I was surprised how little of the best analog recordings ever are available in the same quality remasterings as on vinyl. I.e. nearly all the Fantasy catalog 45RPM stuff reissued by Gray/Hoffmann, Music Matters Blue Notes LP’s and many other great sounding reissues are only available as more or less inferior, different remasterings on hires if at all (sometimes hardly visible before buying). Without a vinyl rig, you’re loosing really many of the best remasterings available. Only very few of those were done on hires in comparison. Really didn’t expect this. And I now say: analog sourced high quality recordings played on a high class vinyl rig is probably the best overall sound you can get except the original tape (but digital came so very close now)
  7. Very selected masterings done especially carefully and differently for vinyl, even if digitally sourced (i.e. Järvi Beethoven Box by Acousence or Mahler SFS Symphony Box cut by Kevin Gray) sound far superior on vinyl than on DSD. Nearly the same can be said of masterings that were done by a more skilled and/or equipped engineer for hires than for vinyl (i.e. RR digitally sourced recordings being superior on hires)
  8. The DS DAC in my opinion could sound on a much closer level to even a many times more expensive vinyl rig, if it had a little richer harmonic characteristic throughout the frequency spectrum. I experience this mids up & down compared to even a quite tight sounding vinyl rig (even compared to some other digital gear, but those mostly are on a lower level otherwise). I’m aware no reviewer ever mentioned this, but I guess if critical user feedback has a tendency, then it is anything else than “too rich sounding”. If this is achievable by SW update and isn't a general digital character, a development or option in this direction would be my only wish for “after Yale” ;-) Otherwise and generally I’m as lucky with the DS DAC as I never was before listening digital.

#2

Great read! Thank you for putting in the time to compare the formats and give us a writeup.laugh


#3

I still suspect that you might be comparing mastering, not formats or devices. When I’ve recorded vinyl in 24/192 or double rate DSD and played it back it sounds just as rich as the vinyl…


#4

I will be interested to hear your feedback on the new DS firmware once it comes out in the next few weeks. thanks for taking the time to write this.


#5

Am I correct that your vinyl rig is worth $17,000? You are comparing this to a $6000 DAC? Maybe I am reading this wrong, but having been a vinyl fan for around 40 years or so, I am thinking your vinyl rig should have most definitely bettered the DSD DAC by a large margin. I got out of vinyl several years ago and I own a DirectStream DAC. Listening to CD’s through a Sony transport and also USB computer audio, I do not miss th e LP’s at all. Matter of fact, listening to the HD downloads that I have purchased, I can hear music that was not available to LP’s or CD’s. Sold my LP collection of about 1800, no regrets whatsoever.


#6
Ted Smith said I still suspect that you might be comparing mastering, not formats or devices. When I've recorded vinyl in 24/192 or double rate DSD and played it back it sounds just as rich as the vinyl...
Ted, I can't deny this, as there are some aspects speaking for this assumption and some against in my opinion. What I cared for is to compare digital with analog files/vinyl of the same recordings/productions and the same mastering engineers. I'm not sure if there are differences in the production process when let's say an Analogue Productions Marino mastering is used (or should I say produced) for vinyl and SACD.You might have access to mastering engineers who could tell about such general differences in production.

I didn’t make vinyl rip comparisons as my main focus was not to verify the DS DAC’s neutrality, but to hear how such (what I thought to be equally done) productions sound in their different formats at the end.

As I made my experiences throughout the testings without exceptions, your assumption would mean, most/all masterings for digital or in this case hires media have this tendency compared to their vinyl mastering equivalents when played over a neutral DAC. Can well be true, but then it seems I still would have to live with this outcome constantly, not only for some exceptions. Providing that as a mastering engineer I’d generally prefer how vinyl issues come out at the end with its harmonic characterisic, I’d question why then should the digital counterparts be designedly produced in the way they are. But on the other hand it could also be a limitation of the digital production process. Then even neutral reproduction equipment (proven by your vinyl rip test) wouldn’t help/change the final outcome. You’d have to build “colored” DAC’s (or with tubed output stage etc.) to get vinyl like outcome. And not everyone might prefer this.

For your assumption, that masterings by the same engineer differ for vinyl and digital (and let me add: production processes differ) speaks:

  • your experience with vinyl rips
  • the probability, that something in a digital production process might be different (in terms of the finyl outcome) than in the vinyl production process, even when the same mastering is used
Against the assumption, it has nothing to do with the DS DAC's voicing or reproduction speaks:
  • the experience that different digital gear reproduces (i.e. richness and little more limited also harmonic characteristic) differently. And that every product developer swears, his gear reproduces absolutely neutral (which I believe them all) and still the products all sound different at the end (not only in absolute quality). I guess this contrariety will never be resolved.

#7
dabman51 said Am I correct that your vinyl rig is worth $17,000? You are comparing this to a $6000 DAC? Maybe I am reading this wrong, but having been a vinyl fan for around 40 years or so, I am thinking your vinyl rig should have most definitely bettered the DSD DAC by a large margin. I got out of vinyl several years ago and I own a DirectStream DAC. Listening to CD's through a Sony transport and also USB computer audio, I do not miss th e LP's at all. Matter of fact, listening to the HD downloads that I have purchased, I can hear music that was not available to LP's or CD's. Sold my LP collection of about 1800, no regrets whatsoever.
Yes, I made a honest comparison and wrote what I heard. I'm no vinyl/analog preacher and I'm not one of those telling, nearly any record player beats any digital gear. It maybe does in certain aspects, but not overall.

Not every system is able to resolve those differences and I don’t know your comparison environment for the experience you have.

I know many would easily prefer a 6000$ record player to a 6000$ DAC, maybe even the DS DAC. I know how a 6000$ record player sounds as I made many stages of development with different players in the past. In my opinion, a 6000$ record player will also probably better digital equipment for analog sourced recordings in many terms but I think for this price you must either make compromises in ambiance reproduction due to limited budget for cartridge, or compromises in dynamics, transients, control, pace due to limited budget for power supply/motor or compromises due to limited budget for a tonearm, that’s properly adjustable and tracking on a high level. All these areas are served by the DS DAC on worldclass level, which a 6000$ vinyl rig can’t do in my opinion, but it will already show all typical vinyl strenghts. It’s a matter of preferences and compromises at the end.

For me a really satisfactory vinyl reproduction starts at a clearly higher price point than a comparable digital reproduction, both with totally different strenghts/shortcomings.

And yes, what I say is that my vinyl rig, althought in my perception it beats the DS DAC in most terms (in some important ones quite clearly), it falls slightly short in terms of transparency/layering/stage dimension reproduction due to a current 3000$ cartridge limitation, and these aspects in my opinion are the major strenghts of the DS DAC and on an incredible level (also of major importance to me).


#8

A tremendous amount of post-mixing processing/mastering is done to cut an LP which is unnecessary for digital playback. LPs sound very different than their counterpart digital version for good practical reasons.

For example, the dynamic range of an LP is limited. As a result, the engineer adjusts grove pitch (spacing between the cut spirals) to compensate as louder passages create greater excursions. As the medium is physical, there are constant trade-offs as to whether you want to allow the loudest passages to be fully represented or the softest, keeping in mind S/N and cartridge tracking limitations.

As another example, there is a trade-off between stereo image and low frequency information. That is, while the engineer can adjust the groove pitch for loud or soft passages, the maximum and minimum depth of the groove are fixed and constant. Allowing too much low frequency information while trying to capture a wide stereo spread results in deep peaks and valleys in the groove and the stylus will bounce out out of the groove. But turning down the low frequency information collapses the stereo image (too much out-of-phase low frequency information similarly lifts the stylus from the groove, in-phase low frequency information results in wide lateral excursions which is addressed by increasing groove pitch.)

As a result of these issues, and many more, the LP mastering engineer makes many trade-offs in bass response, stereo imaging, dynamic range, etc. when mastering for LP. And the cutting engineer does so as well. The cutting engineer must balance signal processing v. available recording time v. groove pitch. For example, the music is typically dynamically compressed. Often the low bass is rolled-off and a mid-bass peak is added around 200Hz to compensate for the physical limitations of LP.

And there are more quirks. For example, the frequency response of an LP decreases as the stylus moves toward the center of the LP; the stylus moves faster across the outer grooves than the center. To make things worse, tracking distortion increases as well. Thus, the engineer is continually tweaking the high frequency response during cutting, increasing it while the groove moves in, but not too much as to cause tracking issues.

Mixing is often different for LPs as well. To allow for greatest dynamics and frequency response you want to keep as much information identical between the channels as possible. This is because with vinyl, L-R and L+R information is separated off, and you want as little unneeded information on the L-R channel as possible. This is because the L-R signal (up and down in the groove) possesses less dynamic range than the L+R signal. This limits what overall dynamic range can be captured, as well as how much low frequency information can be reproduced to the left and right in the stereo image.

Thus, low bass is mixed to the center. Otherwise, there will be a significant difference between channels and a lot of bass content in the L-R channel. The resulting groove would be both very shallow and very deep. The stylus will thus drift out/bounce out of the groove at the shallow points and wander off. Low bass in the middle is easier to capture on LP. This results in a strong L+R signal which is captured in left/right excursions. All the engineer needs to do is vary the groove pitch to allow for more space between the grooves.

For this same reason, phase differences are difficult to capture well on LP. For example, recordings made with spaced omni microphones are not captured as well on LP as on digital. Phase differences are cut to LP as L-R, up/down which has less dynamic range than the L+R, left/right.

Summary: There is no such thing as an identically mastered LP and digital counterpart. LPs are far from flat. Many love this sound. Imperfect sound for a limited time.

This is also why playing back the LP version sounds different from digital. And why if you record the LP onto digital it will sound just like the LP; digital can capture vinyl, but vinyl cannot capture digital.


#9

very interesting and completely makes sence to me what you write!

Vinyl should sound clearly worse throughout then. I don’t have the background to tell, why listening experience often differs so much from such theory.


#10
Elk said A tremendous amount of post-mixing processing/mastering is done to cut an LP which is unnecessary for digital playback.

. . .

So, you're saying we need to have Ted develop an "LP" filter for the DS that introduces the same errors into the LS signal output as what is created by LP, thereby giving us an apples-to-apples way to compare the two formats?

You game, Ted? :slight_smile:

–SSW


#11
jazznut said Vinyl should sound clearly worse throughout then.
Absolutely not worse, just different. And many like the sound of LP better. For example, global dynamic compression tends to emphasize ambient cues, such as room reverb, as well as adding a certain coherence to the overall mix. Both effects can be very appealing. Analog also has a distinctive "feel" regardless of the recording.
I don't have the background to tell, why listening experience often differs so much from such theory.
First, there is no theory involved; just reality. :)

Second, how does the listening experience conflict with the explanation? There is no way to directly compare LP v. digital playback given the differences in mixing, mastering, and the limitations of LP as a physical media. I also find that the sound of analog playback systems vary much more than DACs do. As a result, some LPs will sound better, some worse, depending on what type of sound one prefers.

It would be fun to compare an LP and digital recording with exactly the same mixing and mastering, something like a string quartet recorded at a reasonable level.


#12

I begin to understand, why it’s probably never possible to add what’s missing for some in digital reproduction. Even if it’s a bunch of shortcomings, what many serious listeners (who really own both a vinyl and digital rig of that quality) prefer for some reason.

Same discussion could take place for solid state vs. tubes I guess.


#13

I’ve not made a study of digitally recording vinyl, but I’ve been there for blind tests and a few direct vinyl recordings on excellent vinyl systems with average digital recorders. I’m not trying to convince anyone that digital is better than vinyl or any such generalization, in fact my experience is that digital from any commercial source rarely sounds as good as a direct digital recording. When JA shows up at shows with his digital recordings, they are amazing, when I hear digital at mastering studios it’s also mostly amazing. For that matter, the master tapes I’ve heard also are amazing compared to the delivered media (vinyl or digital.)

Still my experience is that you can’t even find DVD-As and SACDs that are mastered the same and unlike vinyl and CDs they could easily be. I do think I have enough experience with various systems and SACDs and DVD-As to say that the kinds of differences I hear aren’t due to the tools or the media.


#14

I would not describe it as anything “missing” in digital reproduction as one can record an LP and the resulting digital file is faithful to the sound of the LP. Michael Fremer started doing this years ago and delighted playing his home made CDs of recordings he made of his analog system at electronics shows. He reported that many found them compelling and sounding better than their commercial CD counterparts.

Perhaps most interesting, his recordings were made on a relatively inexpensive Alesis Masterlink available for ~ $1,000. Click here for Mr. Fremer’s 2002 review

My hypothesis is that some very much like the sound of mastering for LP, coupled with the idiosyncrasies of vinyl playback. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. But this is not the result of anything missing in digital, but rather something added in LP playback. This addition can readily be captured in digital if one so chooses.


#15

Sorry, missing/added was the same for me. I can completely live with the fact that something’s added with vinyl playback as long as it leads to a result I prefer and that digital can also capture this. It just doesn’t help if digital can’t add the effect during playback, as then you’d still need everything on vinyl first. So what I meant is “digital can’t add by itself what vinyl does, it can only reproduce or replicate in post-production what’s added by vinyl playback”

And again: the DS DAC is very close to what so far I just connected with vinyl, much closer than I ever heard from digital. Would it have a little richer harmonic pattern (no solely vinyl mannerism, not only compared to vinyl), I’d probably hardly talk about remaining differences.


#16

Interesting thread, interesting info, interesting perspectives.

I thought I had left vinyl way in the dust only visible by my rear view mirror and concentrated on a digital collection and a digital-centric system.

Then about seven years ago, alone again after my wife’s passing, with lots of time on my hands, I started listening to vinyl again. And when I bought a Decware phono preamp, the ZP3, my vinyl listening really started gobbling up hours. Equipment matters, and that phono preamp even with a “modest” turntable (I have a Rega RP3 with Exact2, TTPSU, white belt, and all the Groovetracer upgrades–Delrin platter, Reference sub-platter, counter-weight and record weight, and it sits on VooDoo Cable Iso-Pods on top of a PowerBase) makes three dimensional, beefy sound that I love.

I use my DirectStream for both audio and visual material, and it gets a lot of use. But my vinyl spinning keeps slightly increasing. A lot has to do with the mastering. I listen to a goodly amount of jazz recorded in the 'twenties through the 'fifties and often the mastering of this material on vinyl is (imo) superior to the digital editions. Some amazing sound PERIOD too in this time frame, I have some Columbia LPs of Condon and Ellington material from the 'fifties that I would place against any recordings period for vivid wonderfulness. I spend many hours enjoying vinyl, and many hours enjoying digital, and that’s just how I want it to be.


#17
jazznut said It just doesn't help if digital can't add the effect during playback, as then you'd still need everything on vinyl first. So what I meant is "digital can't add by itself what vinyl does, it can only reproduce or replicate in post-production what's added by vinyl playback"
If you are willing to put a bit of effort into it, you can reproduce the sound of vinyl in the digital realm by using a playback program which recognizes plug-ins. You can then modify EQ, add compression, etc. as you would like. This would get you somewhat close. There are even specific vinyl plug-ins, although they are designed to replicate modest vinyl systems.

I find vinyl and digital to both be excellent, just different, and a enjoy both. Just like I enjoy both high performance cars and motorcycles. Each pairing is simply a different means and experience to the same end.


#18
lonson said I listen to a goodly amount of jazz recorded in the 'twenties through the 'fifties and often the mastering of this material on vinyl is (imo) superior to the digital editions. Some amazing sound PERIOD too in this time frame . . .
This is not surprising. As you know, "remasters" are often sourced from back-up tapes rather than the master, are put together quickly, etc. On the other hand, the original vinyl versions were both originally recorded and carefully mastered to be heard on vinyl from pristine master tapes.

And often they do have spectacular sound. Great tube mics and tube mic preamps, high speed tape, a limited number of microphones and no close micing - thus dynamics and expression are a result of good musicianship, as is the sense of ensemble.

A great line I recently heard from someone who worked in the era: “If you want the sound of vintage vocals, move the mic back three feet and sing harder.”


#19

ELK, with your last two posts about remasters quality and vinyl plugin suggestion for replicating what I mean with vinyl strengths, you kind of destroyed all the constructive trust in your serious vinyl experience I brought into the discussion :wink:


#20

Sorry, jazznut, but I have read your last post many times and I still have absolutely no idea what it means.

Ted Smith said I'm not trying to convince anyone that digital is better than vinyl or any such generalization, in fact my experience is that digital from any commercial source rarely sounds as good as a direct digital recording.
My experience as well. I do not get it. What happens to all of that lovely sound?
Still my experience is that you can't even find DVD-As and SACDs that are mastered the same and unlike vinyl and CDs they could easily be.
Again, while this is my experience as well, I have absolutely no idea why this is the case.