Octave Records: two 45-rpm selections

My two favorite Octave DSD downloads are: Say Somethin’ and Temporary Circumstances (which btw is an album of Clandestine Amigo, the band of Jessica Carson, director of Octave Records). I use them as references for any change I make in my system.

I want to directly compare Octave’s DSD and vinyl versions of these recordings, to further explore the difference in SQ between my DAC setup and vinyl setup.

Well, it turns out that Octave sees these albums as special too and has produced the vinyls at 45 rpm. I understand that these are the only 45-rpm Octave vinyls.

They arrived today instead of next Tuesday.

Also arriving today is the 180-gram vinyl, The Best of Eva Cassidy, from Blix Street Records, her recording label.

A fun work/appreciation-day of these 3 vinyls is in store.

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the 2 record set for The Best of Cassidy had a surprise…a CD version of the album

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If you want to compare digital front end with analog front end (and not digital with analog format & front end), using a DSD or Hires PCM based recording is the right strategy imo, especially if you can be sure both media were direct transfers without varying mastering, which seems to be the case with Octave recordings.

However imo the Mervine recording (which I like) sound wise doesn’t have the full potential for comparisons.

I’d take an MA Recordings title like the Sera una noche albums or the Mathias Landaeus/Opening album, an Ozella albums like Helge Lien Trio 10 or Inwardness/Space Jazz or something different like the the Jamie Saft / You don’t know the life album.

But best is probably Mofi”s Stevie Ray Vaughan / Couldn’t stand the weather and the new Wagner / Solti / Ring Abbey Road half speed reissues from a new quality of hires tape transfers.

Unfortunately this wasn’t done AAA for vinyl, but that makes it great for this test.

Are you saying Octave’s finished master recording is different for what is sent to the cutting lathe for vinyl production from that used to produce the sold dsd product?

Is this a fact or assessment?

What shortcoming does the Mervine production have?

Is anything AAA?

I think you misunderstood me.

I said Octave uses the same master file for DSD and Vinyl transfer with no difference.
I said AAA vinyl productions wouldn’t be useful for a pure HW front end comparison.

Is anything AAA?
Yes, AAA vinyl exists (sure you knew that), but I just named digitally sourced examples for the reason above.

What’s the sonic shortcoming of the Mervine recording imo?
I like it, it sounds balanced, dynamic and fine, but for best possible comparisons it lacks optimal openness, 3D and extension imo. Probably newer/other Octave recordings sound superior.

What I have is as deep down the rabbit hole I will go

Opinions and probabilities would require superseding validated information for me to go further in my dsd vs vinyl SQ exploration

I have enough endless enigmas in my life already

That’s fine. You just have to care for equal transfers to both media.

If that’s a too deep rabbit hole, you shouldn’t make such comparisons as the results then might have nothing to do with what you wanted to find out.

I have published dozens of peer-reviewed scientific studies

I have no intention of making my small, leisurely comparison a definitive analysis, but rather I am trying to find a dac that approaches the tonality richness of vinyl. I will be content with appreciating the differences

The only input I have received that would accomplish my goal would be a $115,000 dac with a $60,000 server

If this is the case, I will go there

I think you said Octave does so, which is what I assumed for purchasing the dsd and vinyl versions of 2 Octave productions

Yes, definitely a good choice for that reason and I guess that’s also true for probably all DSD recordings in general that made it to vinyl and probably even for most (but not all) PCM recordings.

Finally I have to strongly recommend one recording for HW (not recording format) comparisons, which is the best DSD recording I have heard so far and made it to LP unremastered and unedited:

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I’ve been comparing formats and hardware since the 1970s: live music, my own band and orchestral performances, vinyl, cassette tapes, though skipped 8 track, mp3 etc, flac etc, cd, sacd, and this year adding free-standing dsd files…and a large range of playback devices from mid-fi to hi-fi.

Digital streaming has its appeals of convenience and breadth of content, though would like to approach the tonality of vinyl. (my dsd/vinyl comparisons to date have consistently revealed the the richer tonality of vinyl; the dynamic range superiority of dsd to me has been a disadvantage for listening to a piece without gain riding the remote)

I will look for the La Stavaganza vinyl and dsd, though no plan to fill my shelves much further (famous last words).

I read you use an SME arm with a Koetsu cartridge.

Speaking from my own experience, having owned an SME V with a Koetsu Vermillion for a very short time decades ago (didn’t work at all, I assume you use an older, better matching SME arm), I’d say it’s difficult to find a DAC matching the special (I don’t want to go deeper) Koetsu tonality if you like that. Doesn’t even have to be that expensive I’d say, maybe a NOS/ vintage chip DAC, there seem to be quite some who like that. I think most very expensive DAC’s go in a different direction. Of the better ones maybe a Lampizator?

Would be interesting what you find at the end!

My Koetsu Onyx was supreme but alas requires a $5k refurbish, making do with a Shelter and Basis pre-amp…which exceed tonality of any DACs I have heard…have not accessed the $50,000-plus club

My SME 309 is 20 years old, flawless

I came across your comments in July 2022 regarding the MOFI debacle thread

You posted that vinyl is better than digital, which is what I am saying here and have been saying for decades

Certainly, however, a good dac may surpass a bad cartridge/arm/turntable

My search if for a dac that will equal a good analog setup

Previously, I posted…

Well today I can confirm and extend my remarks, comparing the 2 45-rpm Octave vinyls with Octave dsd versions of these recordings.

My 20-year-old analog setup is simply superior to top ESS-chip dacs.

Confidence, strength, clarity, transient response (notably in drum kit strikes of various drums and cymbals), wider frequency delivery, enhanced subtle sounds, enhanced presence…

And the most important variable to me: enhanced instrument/voice character and individuality (I played trumpet, clarinet, sax, electric/double bass, and tuba…I know what they sound like in front of me or at my side, a few feet away, dozens of feet away, and hundreds of feet away.)

The Octave music was simply more beautiful, rich, and complete in my comparison…a dsd recording produced in vinyl vs a dsd file played through top ESS dacs.

Remaining for my audition is a PSA DSD MkII and the ultras like MSB, DCS, and others. Hint, hint…anyone with such a dac close to Sarasota?

My objective is to acquire a dac that will virtually eliminate the difference between hi-res digital and good-or-better analog playback.


Re La Extravaganza, have found a dsd with nativedsd

Not yet found the vinyl version with that cover picture


My amp exudes more heat with vinyl, meaning its doing more work. Undoubtedly because there is more there to play.

And, my other arrival yesterday, The Best of Eva Cassidy, in 180g vinyl is also exquisite.

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can’t find how to purchase