Of Digital Audio and Lettuce Leaves Letters part 2

Sam hit the nail on the head

Editor: As usual, Sam Tellig hit the nail on the head in his February treatise on digital audio software ("Of Digital Audio and Lettuce Leaves"). As I write this, I am listening to the Columbia/Legacy remaster of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. To quote Sam from an excellent disc review in the same issue, "buy this CD...and you'll know why I don't give a shit about SACD or DVD-Audio."—Jim Huebner, jmhuebne@att.net

The best he's read

Editor: Sam Tellig's discussion about format changes and about the possible improvements to the current CD format—"Sam's Space," February—is quite possibly the best thing I have ever read in Stereophile. It is an honest and forthright description of the current SACD and DVD-Audio woes and the problems associated with the adoption of any new format that provides little for the masses.

Mr. Tellig also believes, as many of your readers do, that the current CD format still has much room for improvement with such new technologies as upsampling. His suspicion that the new formats are simply Trojan Horses for multichannel is dead on. The industry—including this industry suck-up magazine—is not going to be happy until we are forced to buy all those additional unnecessary and unwanted channels.—Lonnie Smith, L_Smith48@msn.com

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Editor: Let me be as diplomatic about this as I can possibly be: Sam Tellig is wrong, wrong, WRONG!

Listen to what he says ("Sam's Space," Stereophile, February 2001, p.37): "I lived through the quadraphonic fiasco of the early 1970s—one of the sorriest eras in the history of hi-fi. LP pressing quality turned to shit and, with more channels to get wrong, recording engineers mucked up the sound as never before."

If LP pressing quality turned to "shit," it was not because of quadraphonic recordings. And while it might be true that recording engineers mucked up the sound, it was not (with a few notable exceptions—such as the music-in-the-round Bartók Concerto for Orchestra) in the classical division; if they mucked it up, it was in popular recordings, which were and are so mucked up already that a little more ain't gonna hurt nothin'.

Now, you may say that that is merely my opinion, but I can support it with the opinions of such august publications as Stereophile, The Abso!ute Sound, and others. During the 1970s, EMI imports were held up as the model of high-fidelity sound reproduction. Many, if not most, of those recordings were pressed in compatible stereo/SQ quadraphonic format.

So think about that, Sam. You, along with about a zillion other stereo puritans, maintained that quadraphonic recordings must be eliminated because they ruined the sound. At the same time, a zillion other stereo puritans, and perhaps you, were hailing the quality of some of these same quadraphonic recordings. Is that really logical?—Paul A. Alter, Pittsburgh, PA, palter@juno.com

What a bargain!

Editor: "Sam's Space," February 2001: "Bitch and moan as some of us might..." Well, Mr. Tellig sure did his share in that one. In the future, please have him write something worth reading.

By the way, Sam, take this into consideration: The Sony SACD machines might be great CD transports for feeding those upsampling DACs you love, and they play the superior SACD format. What a bargain!—Steve, Roosevelt, OK, hifi@intellisys.net

What a mess

Editor: I've just read ST's February screed exhorting us to save the CD. Combined with the review of the $27,000 Accuphase SACD player in the same issue, this has crystalized my reaction to SACD: I'm with Sam.

I have another reason to add to his. I intend the next upgrade to my system (high Class C to low Class B) to be digital room correction. Companies like TacT and Perpetual Technologies are finally making this option affordable. Based on material published in Stereophile and on other information, I think this is the most practical thing I can do to improve the sound I get at home. The encrypted datastream used by SACD would make that impossible.

I was shocked to read at an Electronic Frontier Foundation site how bad this threatens to be. I respect intellectual property. I also think I have a right to digitally process, for my own enjoyment, the material I buy and pay for. I will never spend a dime on any format engineered to take that right away.—Jonathan Goldberg, Jonathan_Goldberg@mastercard.com