How an audio technology "grows" and takes hold.



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<font color='#000000'>Interesting article, courtesy of

Masters Anticipate SACD Growth

by Janice Brown

(Sept. 23, 2002) -- With the diversifying of projects being released as Super Audio CDs, mastering engineers are becoming very familiar with the format and are anticipating a great progression in DSD mastering tools. No longer being driven by a particular genre, such as classical recordings or catalog reissues, Super Audio CD releases are reaching out to broadening audiences, and in the case of DSD, mastering engineers are looking forward to their gear wish lists being granted.

According to mastering engineer Stephen Marcussen, founder of Hollywood's Marcussen Mastering, Super Audio CD production has increased across the board. &quot;We've seen an increase from classical sessions for film scores, all the way to rock bands in DSD,&quot; Marcussen offers. &quot;I've seen this both in 2-channel and multichannel.&quot; Marcussen recently worked on Ozzy Osbourne's Live at Budokan in DSD multichannel, and has worked on smooth jazz and guitar virtuoso projects. &quot;DSD is being exposed everywhere as far as I can tell,&quot; he concludes.

David Glasser, chief engineer and founder of Airshow Mastering in Boulder, CO, also notes an increase in SACD projects. &quot;We've done about 80 SACD projects so far,&quot; Glasser points out. &quot;It's been a lot of jazz, some blues, some roots-y music, a little bit of classical, etc. It has been coming mostly from independent labels. We're just now starting to see independent artists inquiring about SACD mastering.&quot; While Glasser admits that SACD production seems to be gathering steam in spurts, Airshow is gearing up for more SACD work, having recently invested in a Genex 8500, a Tascam DS-98, and being in the process of building a new surround mastering room. &quot;We're expecting that the work is going to increase, and we're going after that work,&quot; he adds.

Mastering engineers are also receiving material for mastering in various formats-an element that affects just how the project will be mastered. With a few of the different methods engineers can follow for SACD release, concerns arise over wanting to avoid excessive reformatting of material. There are still limited tools available to work with on native DSD material, so engineers can mix in analog, then digitize to DSD at the end, or they can mix in PCM, and then convert to DSD at the end of the project.

&quot;In every case I've been involved with,&quot; offers Marcussen, &quot;we've gone back to the original master-whether the format was 1/2-inch tape, or was remixed in multichannel for SACD-we've always worked directly from the master and converted it to DSD. We've never up-sampled from PCM. They've all been absolutely pure DSD recordings from the mastering stage.&quot;

In preparing for different formats and budgets, Glasser suggests that facilities be set up for these various scenarios. &quot;We've never converted DSD to PCM to do processing,&quot; he explains, &quot;but we have gotten in a high-res PCM that we've converted to DSD for SACD release. It depends on the project; sometimes we'll keep it pure DSD, sometimes we'll go out analog and do analog processing. If the project (such as some of the blues projects) comes in on 1/2-inch analog, we'll do all of the EQ analog and convert to DSD.&quot;

With the introduction of more DSD recording equipment, aligned with the increasing demand for Super Audio CD releases, mastering engineers are noticing the gear that's missing, and hoping that manufacturers will develop some of the necessary hardware. Marcussen finds the process a &quot;fun challenge,&quot; reminiscent to work with vinyl, where &quot;there weren't all of these 'safety-net tools,' like workstations with peak limiters that prevent you from going over.&quot;

In addition, Glasser asserts, &quot;There are definitely tools I am missing for mastering these SACD projects. We need more native DSD processors, some different workstations, in addition to the Sony Sonoma and Pyramix.&quot; Sony has recently discontinued the Sonoma system, but SADiE seems poised to take up the slack by fulfilling its promise to extend its DSD editing/processing and Super Audio CD authoring platform by adding multichannel capabilities. That would give SADiE the distinction of having the first commercially available multichannel Super Audio CD platform that includes full authoring tools, just as it did with its 2-channel platform. Also on Glasser's wish list are outboard DSD processors and cost-effective DSD-to-PCM and PCM-to-DSD converters.

Marcussen believes that within the next two years, high-resolution audio will turn a corner, during and after which the public will become more familiar with both Super Audio CD and DVD-A, and become enlightened to what these formats can bring to their audio experiences. &quot;People may pick a format to subscribe to, or maybe they'll do both,&quot; suggests Marcussen. &quot;But when the public gets enlightened to the format, it'll kick a growth spurt into all of the people that are going to make the bits and pieces to accompany DSD.&quot;

Statistically, Marcussen can cite his own experience which may give an insight to the future of the Super Audio CD format. &quot;I've seen it expand ten-fold since last year,&quot; he contends. &quot;We're doing quite a bit of it.&quot;</font>

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