Sunlight: Sound Impressions

I am taking delivery of a Stellar Phono Pre in the near future. It may be my last phone pre if the MK II or the TSS live up to Ted’s expectations. To be honest I’ve lost the zen moments I used to get while record cleaning. Now I look at it as a chore.


Just today I listened to the AP 45RPM of Oscar Peterson We get requests. As I do occasionally, I switched to the same Analogue Productions SACD release for a short cross check and was floored how much worse it sounded (much bigger difference than for many other viny/digital comparisons). I then googled and found this for the digital release. OMG, if they’d just make use of pure DSD at least for SACD’s. But something else must have gone wrong, too, for many of the AP SACD releases compared to the vinyl .

“Mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound from the original master tapes to vinyl and PCM. The DSD was sourced from the PCM. George listened to all of the different A/D converters he had before he chose which to use, and he felt the George Massenburg GML 20 bit A/D produced the best and most synergistic sound for the project.”

Qualifier unnecessary in this house.

I have similar thoughts o the subject, maybe not a hard line at 1970. Post 1970’s analog (vinyl) releases by ecm, Black Saint, Soul Note, HatHut releases come to mind regarding jazz and truthful fidelity. For me it gets down to if it is a properly done analog source I prefer vinyl, or reel to reel tape. Some of the most early analog to digital cd jazz transfers just sounded harsh. Between the digital play back available in the 80s, and the transfer method of analog to digital released as main stream CD. More recent digital to digital recordings sound quite good with proper recording, mix and mastering skills. Digital playback equipment has also improved considerably, compared to what was available in the 80’s and 90s, the DSD is a case in point.

I did a comparison on AP’s 45 vinyl of Willie Nelson’s Stardust to SACD to Qobuz and the vinyl was better than SACD which was better than Qobuz. My 192/24 test rip of the vinyl via a PS Audio NPC sounded better than the SACD too.

It sounded as if noise reduction was applied to the SACD and applied several more times to the Qobuz release and robbed the sound of life.

It’d be nice if there was a database of which format of am album is best.


Interesting! Thank you for sharing your experience!

PAAS SQL is your friend.

It turns out the Dynamic Range DB might subtly indicate what I hear… The SACD and CD are more compressed than the vinyl.

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The way I read it, The 2001 SACD and 1985 CD are less compressed than the 1978 vinyl…

The missing open top end of digital also in my observation is the biggest culprit of not reaching a close enough level (and it’s not just due to the typical slight top end rise of many cartridges).

The transformer upgrade showed that 3D can get close enough to be satisfied without a comparison and a fast external PSU cares for a close enough transient reproduction and dynamics. But nothing yet improves the top end openness enough to get even close to vinyl (especially with analog sourced recodings) unfortunately. I will see later how much a better streaming source than the Bridge will do.

A reliable database for formats/masterings would be great, yeah. So fare we’re our own database with our experiences, I compared a lot, as probably some of us :wink:

In my tests, the DAC was the same. The Nuwave Phono Converter outputted SPDIF to the DAC, so I can conclude it was 100% a source issue.

The top end openness was simply missing from the SACD (ripped to DSF) and the Qobuz versions. It sounded like hitting the Dolby NR button on old tape decks.

Mmm. You’re right. I misread the min/max. I suppose it’s not reflective after all.

I use the DR database numbers as a guide…not as a hard and fast indication of what sounds best.

For example, the best sounding CD version of the Boston self titled debut album is the 1986 US release (EK 34188 with Matrix code DIDP 20006 11xx). Yet the 1985 US (Japan For US pressing) has better DR numbers but sounds horrible in comparison. It has better DR numbers but a worse mastering…

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I also have the stereo and mono original vinyl of “We get requests”. They sound interesting in comparison but not better than the 45 RPM, which to my ears sounds really good (it’s quite a well known show piece for that reason)

We’re a bit off topic here, but it’s interesting…didn’t make the comparison to the originals for a long time and will re-check today.

You were right, I just checked, the stereo original sounds clearly better than the 45RPM, even though the latter has some more extension at frequency ends, but that doesn’t help finally, as it seems rather EQ’ed than cut on the original (which quite sure it was, too, as mostly at the time). The Sterling AP reissues are partly hit and miss compared to the Gray, Hoffman, Smith.

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Anyone finding Sunlight a bit too boomy at the bottom end & a bit shouty at the top end? I seem to have lost my lovely midrange post upgrade of my DSJnr?

Quite a few, me included, think that Sunlight bring improvements in cleaner (less distorted) sound, as well as improvements to delineation and sound stage depth, breadth, and height.

However, as with any tweak or component change, there seems to be a need to adjust speaker toe in / out and in some cases, distance from the front wall. In some other cases, subwoofers would need adjustments.

However, some users still think Snowmass firmware sounded better than anything else!

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I’m definitely a little slow figuring the “computer audio settings” but now that I have all my dsf. files upconverting to 256 dsd to say the sound with Sunlight is incredible would be an understatement. Now I have to figure out how to get my PCM files to convert to DSD. I think my standard Roon Nucleus is not powerful enough to convert PCM to DSD.

I could not get it to work in my system… I went back. I kept going back and forth… just would not work for me. I just wanted to post that there is not a “universal” consensus.

Bruce in Philly