Which medium has given you the highest sound quality?

We all know which medium “Mr. X” thinks you should use to get the highest sound quality but a curious question about that:
From what/which medium have you got the absolute highest fidelity?

I can say some of mine.

  1. HDCD
  2. SBM* CD
  3. Unsure which so I say both LP and DXD-SACD om third place.
  4. Just a plain CD

SBM* Sony’s Super Bit Mapped


To clarify, I’m not interested in your opinions on which format that should sound best if they were just recorded and mixed in the most ultimate way for that format but just which format/formats that has sounded best for you in your life, live performance excluded of course, if I wasn’t clear enough the first time.


I couldn’t resist.


Sorry, I don’t get it.

She’s a Medium. Though I’m unsure if the plural for her is Media or Mediums.:stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

I think they’re all good, and worrying about which is superior is putting the cart before the horse, IMO. I’ve heard #4’s that made me double check WTF I was listening to. But that usually requires a system/front end that favors that, as well as a great recording mastered properly for Redbook.


I second @badbeef comment that there are many great recordings in different formats. That’s one reason I’m sticking with vinyl despite all the effort. When you can only get the best version of a recording in a particulate format it’s great to have choices.


That is a whole 'nother deal - I just had an interesting conversation about vinyl. There is no doubt that digital has gotten really good lately (arguably only took, what…three-four decades😝) but there is just Something about a good analog format.

And I will admit that the participatory aspects of it cannot be removed from the equation and the Experience. Swiping and tapping is an utterly different deal than looking through 12"x12" physical media - and you tend to make different choices. Well, OK. Different Library entirely🤷🏻‍♂️

And CD fans - Don’t try to tell me using your CD library is anything remotely close to using a vinyl library. We may have gained “Perfect Sound Forever” (Ahh-hahahaha) but the loss to the physical format experience was brutal to me, IMO, YMMV.

Threw away all of my Jewel Cases (as so many of them had broken anyway). Even invested in SACD-type cases for my favorite discs and delivery of Shiny Disc Media to clients at one point.

But as with Digital Formats, I think They’re All Good🤠

(not meaning to sidetrack your thread here, Birg)


@mrbeef, you nailed it IMO, mastering plays into it heavily and one’s system is likely tuned to a specific format, knowingly or not. :cowboy_hat_face:


I would agree Weed, but would hasten to add that I used “Mastering” as a shorthand for a Plethora of Production Possibilities that affect the outcome. If you hand Gus a POS mix to master, he cannot make the proverbial silk purse out of it.

And the mix is the end of the line of a chain of stuff where you could say the same thing, working backward to the Song.

Also skipped over the fact that there are representations of a given album on a given media that are entirely different, due to any number of factors, so that the music that is on one or the other may just always shine over another, independent of medium, assuming all other things being equal. Which they rarely are.

Not unsure on which. Vinyl LP still reigns supreme in casa owlsalum.


I am thinking similarly, production values and all that goes with it. I too continue to have a soft spot for vinyl. Primarily as that is where it all began and continues for me. My vinyl collection has a certain autobiographical element to it regarding the conditions I selected it, played it and shared it. Many times my early vinyl acquisitions were influenced by friends and economics. CD more impersonal, and streaming other than convenience for-get-about-it! Regarding different “CD” formats, hard to compare nose to nose IMO, as each has been re-mastered to a degree.

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I feel this, even though I listen to lots of digital still. On the top level - just gimme some dang tunes.

As I get older, I tend to value a visceral connection to the music more than an intellectual one* (frankly, come to think of it, just as I did In The Olden Days Before Digital, when Dinosaurs Walked the Earth, and we had no idea what was coming) and vinyl tends to deliver that with more frequency. For me. But that does not mean in any way that I eschew digital. Why would I? It is not a competition in my mind.

No doubt at some point the World will have been digital long enough that Analog Formats (in the sense we’re talking here) will be simply a Story about the Past. We are all of us here astride a transition. But AFAICT, if we’re talking humans making and listening to music, it will remain Analog at the beginning and the end of the process.

Arguably (or maybe inarguably) the price of entry for vinyl is higher at this point. Leaving out the need for active participation in the process.

  • This extends to components. Visceral experience of subjective “rightness” along with system synergy trumps specs and so on. Though there can indeed be a correlation between specs and performance.
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It’s currently a tie between vinyl LP and downloads from Octave Records. Digital streaming from Qobuz and Tidal comes after that. CD’s are last, although still very enjoyable.

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At the risk of being repetitive to the point of annoyance, I’ll say again that I have samples of most currently available formats that outshine samples of all the others. It just comes down to the recording in question. But if the OP’s intent was to frame this as a question of what format the very best in our individual collections happens to be, I still have to give the nod to vinyl. But across the board that doesn’t happen often. If I had to “average” the quality of all of my recordings, the nod would go to SACD. And if we only considered CDs released in the last 10-15 years, I’d say standard Redbook would come close to tying with SACD. And again, its worth saying that applies only to my albums played on my equipment, and perhaps most importantly, heard by my ears.

Having said all that, I’ll admit that anymore I don’t listen to vinyl that much. I’ve been plagued by poor record QC, and it seems no matter how much care I take with them, pops and ticks become inevitable. It bothers me way more than it did when all we had was vinyl. It now becomes so discouraging that I’m happy to take a 0.5% hit in sound quality (if that much) to avoid the risk and audible outcome of that kind of damage. Add into the equation that my vinyl storage space is limited to about 100 LPs unless I get rid of books, and I place a very high value on my books.


All good observations.

Leave that to me.:cowboy_hat_face:


One of the things I’ll have to say for streaming is that when I’m listening to vinyl, nobody gets up and says, “Y’know - if you enjoyed THAT, you may want to check THIS out” and pulls from a global library and puts it on for me.

But again, apples and orangutans.

Many apologies Birger, and back to the topic of SQ.


For me it’s digital discs as my cd and SACD playback is better than my turntable and phono preamp playback.

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Its all about the recording quality (first) and the musicality (second), in my experience.

The media and the “resolution” captured on the media are a distant third, fourth, fifth, etc. in importance.


It’s more about the quality of the mastering than it is the resolution of the recording. I have CDs that sound better than DSD256 and 24/192 releases.

Having said that, SACDs (ripped) generally sound the best to me all other things (the mastering) being equal.

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It’s all in the mastering. A poor recording is not going to be any better on a different form of media. It is still the same poor recording.


Vinyl by a huge margin. Never had a DS… SGCD/Strata, now Bifrost 2 for Dac. I like the Bifrost the best but none of my digital has ever sounded live like vinyl.

Also pair with Aegir class A amp and full range Zu speakers… this is the closest to realistic drums and guitar i’ve heard.