Scott Wilkinson, the host of the Home Theater Geeks podcast on the TWIT network had the legendary Mark Levinson on the program several weeks back. Scott posted a more in depth segment on the Secrets of Home Theater web site here in two parts (Part 1 and Part 2). Both parts are a great read for any audiophile, however it’s part 2 that I think is the real gem.
Mark goes in depth to talk about analog vs. digital and especially PCM and DSD, which is the format for SACD. The interview overall is fascinating and this segment in particular is incredibly eye-opening. What I didn’t know was the conversion process between PCM and DSD that many engineers used, which ultimately yielded no better fidelity than a plain old CD. In Mark’s own words:
In some cases, the audio was recorded in DSD but converted to PCM for editing. In fact, that was common because Sony didn’t make any tools like EQ or compression for DSD. So engineers recorded in DSD, converted to PCM for processing, then back to DSD for the final SACD. This wiped out the advantage of DSD; it was a travesty.
The interview then goes into interconnects and cables and how Mark has noticed a difference between cables but the differences have been both minor but also measurable. I found it refreshing that his new company, Daniel Hertz, offers both interconnects and speaker cables but only in silver, in a Litz construction, and in one model!
The interview also delves into new mastering software that Mark will be releasing that will hopefully address mastering issues and the ironic problem of digital fidelity. Nevertheless, if you care about music, this interview is thoroughly refreshing and spot on. Every time I’ve had the opportunity to listen to Mark Levinson’s insights into the industry, I’ve appreciated the genius of the man more and more. My hat’s off. The interview is a must-read for any audiophile.