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Jerome Sabbagh – Vintage – Pure analog production - Comparison between Digital files 24 bits 192 kHz, vinyl limited edition AAA and copy master Tape

Jean.Francois

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Hello,
Jérôme Sabbagh’s album “Vintage” is a celebration of jazz music, recorded entirely in analog to capture the essence and warmth of this musical tradition. Released by Sunnyside Records in 2023, the album features a quartet of exceptional musicians including Jérôme Sabbagh on tenor saxophone, Kenny Barron on piano, Joe Martin on double bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. The choice of analog recording reflects Sabbagh’s desire to create a listening experience that is as authentic and faithful as possible to live performances.
Vintage - Small .jpg



For this review, you will find 3 versions tested: Digital File (rom code included with the vinyle, numeroted vinyl record AAA and Tape (master copie). I’d like to thank François Saint-Gérant of Ana Mighty Sound for the opportunity to test his master copy tape on his Studer A80 magnetophone.

We find a dynamic production, far from loudness war, as shown in the waveform of the tape recording below.
waveform - Vintage - Tape -- small .jpg



The same dynamic range can be found on vinyl records, but with the following problem, beyond 15 kHz (red zone), there’s an accentuation of almost 15 dB (16 kHz) followed by a drop of 25 dB (17 kHz), this accident in the bandwidth will have an impact on the higher frequency range. This has unfortunately been a feature of Bernie Grundman’s vinyl cuts for several years now. What's going on at Bernie Grundman for lacquer cuts?
Spectrum - Vintage - Vinyl (white) vs Digital (blue) -- small  .jpg

Spectrum Ed 2 Vinyl – 2023 (white) vs Ed 1 Digital File – 2023 (blue)

Superb work on this Jerome Sabbagh record, with the implementation of a pure analog chain, from recording to final master on 1/2-inch tape at 76 cm/s (30 ips). The master tape copy provides the closest analog rendering to the master. The vinyl disc remains the simplest and most affordable solution for pure analog support, with the added bonus of a high-resolution digital version (24-bit 192 kHz).

You can find samples to listen to and compare the 3 editions, as well as all the measures here.

Jerome has announced a new album, “Heart”, also produced in pure analog. We'll talk more about it when it's released.

Enjoy listening
 
to capture the essence and warmth of this musical tradition.
Whatever that means... Sometimes it means a mid-bass boost (that's what I used t think it means) and sometimes it means "pleasing" distortion. Either of those are easy to add in a controlled way as effects rather than relying on the limitations of analog. Maybe it means something else to other people... Maybe it means noise to some people... The warm crackle of vinyl???

The choice of analog recording reflects Sabbagh’s desire to create a listening experience that is as authentic and faithful as possible to live performances.
Nonsense - Tape noise and possible frequency response variations doesn't make it better than digital. ;) And there is generation loss when secondary masters are used for record cutting, plus more generations if there is any tape copying for mixing/processing/editing, etc. And tape deteriorates over time and with repeated plays.

At 30ips it probably sounds identical to digital recording but not "better". It's technically an inferior format. Pro analog tape was very good by the end of the analog days but we we didn't get anything like that at home. And vinyl is still significantly inferior to digital. Some people like the sound of vinyl and for them it's truly "better". But technically, digital is superior in every way (noise, distortion, and frequency response).

but with the following problem, beyond 15 kHz
It's common to cut the lowest & highest frequencies for vinyl. The lows are reduced to prevent mis-tracking. I'm not exactly sure about the highs, but probably mis-tracking too, sibilance?

You might hear a loss of bass. But the highest frequencies probably aren't an issue. Even if you can hear to 20kHz with loud tones in a hearing test, with music those highest frequencies are usually masked (drowned out) by other not-as-high frequencies and they are usually very-weak harmonics to begin with, and our ears are less sensitive to the highest frequencies. So we usually don't hear a difference when they are filtered out.

Note that the vinyl cutting & playback process changes the wave shape and it often increases the measured "dynamic range" (crest factor) without changing the sound of the dynamics. That's why the vinyl has a DR of 13 compared to 12 on the original tape. It's not really better. The vinyl surface noise actually makes the dynamic range worse on the "quiet side" (not included in the DR measurement).

The same thing happens when you make an MP3 (for different reasons), also "improving" the DR measurement. I believe this effect is more-exaggerated with highly dynamically-compressed audio (most modern recordings). MP3 actually has wider dynamic range capability than CD, and obviously more dynamic capability than vinyl or tape (because of noise). Of course, MP3 has other limitations so overall it's not as good as CD.
 
Whatever that means... Sometimes it means a mid-bass boost (that's what I used t think it means) and sometimes it means "pleasing" distortion. Either of those are easy to add in a controlled way as effects rather than relying on the limitations of analog. Maybe it means something else to other people... Maybe it means noise to some people... The warm crackle of vinyl???


Nonsense - Tape noise and possible frequency response variations doesn't make it better than digital. ;) And there is generation loss when secondary masters are used for record cutting, plus more generations if there is any tape copying for mixing/processing/editing, etc. And tape deteriorates over time and with repeated plays.

At 30ips it probably sounds identical to digital recording but not "better". It's technically an inferior format. Pro analog tape was very good by the end of the analog days but we we didn't get anything like that at home. And vinyl is still significantly inferior to digital. Some people like the sound of vinyl and for them it's truly "better". But technically, digital is superior in every way (noise, distortion, and frequency response).


It's common to cut the lowest & highest frequencies for vinyl. The lows are reduced to prevent mis-tracking. I'm not exactly sure about the highs, but probably mis-tracking too, sibilance?

You might hear a loss of bass. But the highest frequencies probably aren't an issue. Even if you can hear to 20kHz with loud tones in a hearing test, with music those highest frequencies are usually masked (drowned out) by other not-as-high frequencies and they are usually very-weak harmonics to begin with, and our ears are less sensitive to the highest frequencies. So we usually don't hear a difference when they are filtered out.

Note that the vinyl cutting & playback process changes the wave shape and it often increases the measured "dynamic range" (crest factor) without changing the sound of the dynamics. That's why the vinyl has a DR of 13 compared to 12 on the original tape. It's not really better. The vinyl surface noise actually makes the dynamic range worse on the "quiet side" (not included in the DR measurement).

The same thing happens when you make an MP3 (for different reasons), also "improving" the DR measurement. I believe this effect is more-exaggerated with highly dynamically-compressed audio (most modern recordings). MP3 actually has wider dynamic range capability than CD, and obviously more dynamic capability than vinyl or tape (because of noise). Of course, MP3 has other limitations so overall it's not as good as CD.
Hello,
Indeed, , I agree with you, technically, an analog tape recording can't compete with a digital DXD recording like on the "Mozart & Poulenc Double & Triple Piano Concertos" album.
But using analog machines has its charm, and brings a particular sound.
I was amazed at the quality you can achieve by listening to a master on a legendary machine like a Studer J37 - it's simply amazing!

As far as vinyl is concerned, it's true that there are constraints when it comes to mastering vinyl, with mono bass, and care is taken in the high frequencies, but it's not a clean cut either at the bottom of the spectrum or at the top, as can often be seen when you look at what's actually done, and you can see that vinyl can have a beautiful bandwidth, as I've seen on hundreds of analyzed records.
Here, it's another problem: we can clearly see a distortion of the signal with a very pronounced peak and trough above 15 kHz, which is not normal for a quality record, but which is common, as we can also see in the reissue of Dark Side Of The Moon cut by Bernie Grundman!

As far as the DR is concerned, there can be fluctuations, and a deviation of 1 is not indicative of the roundings made. But vinyl, like tape, can indeed modify the DR of what we record.

But I respect the work that's been done, and I find that using tape recorders, even knowing that they're not the best technically, has its charm in terms of realization and also in terms of listening.

Enjoy listening,
Jean-François
 
Are these so-called high-resolution files really better than CD format? Considering the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem ?
 
However, I have an excellent converter (if its measurements are accurate), the 3D Lab. Nano DAC V5 & also a Micromega Mydac (which has the advantage of being a little cheaper, around ten times). And two headphones, a Pro Ject and a Sennheiser HD 203. But really, it's "mission impossible" to hear a difference that's probably too subtle for me.
 
Hello,
Jérôme Sabbagh’s album “Vintage” is a celebration of jazz music, recorded entirely in analog to capture the essence and warmth of this musical tradition. Released by Sunnyside Records in 2023, the album features a quartet of exceptional musicians including Jérôme Sabbagh on tenor saxophone, Kenny Barron on piano, Joe Martin on double bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. The choice of analog recording reflects Sabbagh’s desire to create a listening experience that is as authentic and faithful as possible to live performances.
View attachment 373897


For this review, you will find 3 versions tested: Digital File (rom code included with the vinyle, numeroted vinyl record AAA and Tape (master copie). I’d like to thank François Saint-Gérant of Ana Mighty Sound for the opportunity to test his master copy tape on his Studer A80 magnetophone.

We find a dynamic production, far from loudness war, as shown in the waveform of the tape recording below.
View attachment 373898


The same dynamic range can be found on vinyl records, but with the following problem, beyond 15 kHz (red zone), there’s an accentuation of almost 15 dB (16 kHz) followed by a drop of 25 dB (17 kHz), this accident in the bandwidth will have an impact on the higher frequency range. This has unfortunately been a feature of Bernie Grundman’s vinyl cuts for several years now. What's going on at Bernie Grundman for lacquer cuts?
View attachment 373899
Spectrum Ed 2 Vinyl – 2023 (white) vs Ed 1 Digital File – 2023 (blue)

Superb work on this Jerome Sabbagh record, with the implementation of a pure analog chain, from recording to final master on 1/2-inch tape at 76 cm/s (30 ips). The master tape copy provides the closest analog rendering to the master. The vinyl disc remains the simplest and most affordable solution for pure analog support, with the added bonus of a high-resolution digital version (24-bit 192 kHz).

You can find samples to listen to and compare the 3 editions, as well as all the measures here.

Jerome has announced a new album, “Heart”, also produced in pure analog. We'll talk more about it when it's released.

Enjoy listening
Interesting comparison, thanks for posting. Of course I would also like to see THD and noise comparisons as well, that's where each format would show more of its own characteristic.
 
Interesting comparison, thanks for posting. Of course I would also like to see THD and noise comparisons as well, that's where each format would show more of its own characteristic.
Thanks, It's a very good idea to compare the background noise, I'll try to add it. For THD, it's more complicated on a musical signal.
 
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