Third Visit Notes (25 December 1999)
Very recently Osman made two major changes on
the digital front end. He replaced his Mark Levinson 31.5 CD Transport
with Burmester 979 belt drive CD Transport, his Mark Levinson 360S
D/A Converter with dCS Elgar and his dCS D/D Converter with dCS
Purcell which is basically a D/D upsampler (up to 24 bit / 192 kHz
sampling max.). The digital combination works as follows: Burmester sends
the poor old "Red Book" 16 bit / 44.1 kHz signals to Purcell which upsamples
them to 24 bit / 192 kHz and sends to Elgar (which is one of the rare converters
handling such signals) for conversion to analog signals. Another novelty
is the NBS Statement power cables which feed the above digital units.
I was already very impressed with the sound I
had heard during my previous visit (see the Re-Visit notes above) and had
even suggested that Osman should not touch anything. The sound I
heard today seemed to have more resolution, still it wasn't bright or edgy
but very silky and sweet. There also seemed to be an increase in the degree
of effortlessness, the sound was even more relaxed and untiring.
I was unable to judge which component had made
the biggest contribution (as I was hearing the whole) but Osman said that
Burmester CD Transport made an unbelievable improvement! This time I used
my own evaluation CD's (the same ones I had used in London Hi-Fi Show).
We tested the impact of the Purcell D/D
upsampler by first bypassing it and sending the 16 bit / 44.1 kHz signal
directly to Elgar D/A Converter and then by putting it back to the signal
path. Yes, I can one more time confirm that the upsampling has definitely
a positive influence. Without it the sound gave the impression of having
slightly more grain and being less fluid (or should I say more digital).
It's inclusion is taking the sound much closer to analogue or maybe beyond
it (?). In fact Osman (who was always a strong defender of analogue's superiority)
claimed that after the recent changes CD sound surpassed the LP. This statement
automatically took us one more time to LP / CD comparison.
We used the following material (that Osman possessed
both in CD and LP):
All of these CD / LP's were pressed from analogue
masters and therefore gave an edge to LP.
Katz Band / Crescent Crawl
Fagen / The Nightfly
Conclusion: The comparison gave mixed results.
On some tracks our panel (Seyhun Agar,
Tunc Bozoglu, Osman Tumay, Can Elgiz,
and myself) agreed on the superiority of one or the other mediums and on
some other tracks disagreed. To my ears analogue continued to be more musical
and more liquid but Osman's recent changes had seriously reduced the gap.
CD was more dynamic, more detailed, cleaner and rather polished. By getting
close to LP's musicality it was becoming easier to prefer it on some tracks
(like "Black magic Woman" by Santana).
I will try to relate the (a slightly distorted
version ;->) chat we had BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the CD / LP test (just
CE: "I'm sure CD will sound better."
OT: "These LP's are all very special cuts
and the recordings are all analogue, but still..."
AA: " We'll see."
CE: "No, no, CD will definitely sound
better, I have no doubt."
Pak Tumay is Osman's wife): "Have some of my cookies, they will improve
AA: "No, thank you, we already spend enough
cash on the hardware with our restricted hearing, I can't imagine what
will happen if we start to hear any better."
OT: "OK, now first we'll listen to the
LP, please be quiet."
DURING the LP Auditioning
CE: "It sounds distorted, is this a guitar?
CD will definitely sound better, you will see."
AA: "The distortion is in the recording,
come on, this is Carlos Santana, not John Williams."
TB: "We have to try to change the direction
of the rotation of the LP, it sometimes gives excellent results."
SA: "Hear the clicks and pops, CD's don't
AA: "Can you fast forward to the next
track. Oops sorry."
OT: "If that's enough, I will now switch
CE: "Yes, it's more than enough, let's
now hear some music!"
DURING the CD Auditioning
CE: "It's clean, dynamic, more detailed.
It's definitely superior."
SA: "This is more like the 'real thing'.
For the first time CD sounds better."
OT: "I agree."
AA: "For this track, I also agree, but
on previous ones LP sounded more musical."
TB: "Upsampling to 1536 kHz will solve
this issue forever."
CPT (thinking): "I wonder when this
crazy bunch will be out of here, we have to get ready for this evening's
reception. They think they're music lovers but all I can see is that they're
listening to cables and sampling rates (whatever that means). Whew, looks
like they're leaving. BYE, come again soon!"
Bravo, Osman, you did it again. I will look forward
to my next visit.