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Positive Feedback ISSUE 65
january/february 2013


Evolution of Hi-Res PCM from DAD to PONO and Recommended Recordings
by Teresa Goodwin


With all the excitement regarding DSD downloads I thought it would be a good time for a survey of what started the high resolution digital revolution: 24-bit two-channel stereo PCM. Since I listen in two-channel stereo, only the high resolution two-channel stereo program is evaluated on stereo/multichannel discs. The resolution given is for the two-channel stereo program. In the case of DVD-Audios with stereo programs at 24/192, the multichannel program is usually 24/96 since that is the maximum allowed for DVD-Audio in multichannel.

After the description and history of each format I will list my favorite recordings. For those I have reviewed in the past I will give a link to my Positive Feedback review. For the others I will give a brief description of their performance and sound quality.

24/96 DADs and SADs

DADs and SADs are high resolution two-channel stereo uncompressed LPCM (Linear pulse-code modulation) 24-bit 96kHz recordings on 'audio-only' discs made using the DVD video standard without a video program except for a still frame giving the album name, track playing, and sometimes a picture of the disc cover. These were designed to be played without the use of a television monitor, and none is needed.

Among the first of these were 24/96 discs from Classic Records featuring great classical and jazz analog recordings mostly from the golden age of stereo, called DAD, short for "Digital Audio Disc" as opposed to DVD, short for "Digital Video Disc." Since then, more additional uses for the DVD format, including many non-video applications such as computer text data, were invented so the definition for DVD was changed to "Digital Versatile Disc".

Chesky's recordings were from original 24/96 PCM masters, and they called their 24/96 DVDs, "Super Audio Discs," not to be confused with the later "Super Audio Compact Disc" (SACD) format which is based on DSD rather than PCM.

There were also 24/96 audio-only DVDs in the DVD-Video standard released from Arts, Music, and WaterLily Acoustics.

All of these 24/96 discs offered greatly improved sound quality over 16/44.1 CDs, with greater dynamic range and extended frequency response, plus sonic realism and ambiance that almost has an analog feeling. Their best attribute is their ability to be played at full 96kHz resolution on nearly all DVD players, only a couple of first generation DVD players down-sampled to 48kHz. I called it high resolution for the masses since nearly everyone has a DVD player.

For me, these 24/96 discs proved incorrect one of the most used talking points of CD supporters, that LPs only appeared to have more ambiance and warmth than CD because of LP's distortions and RIAA inaccuracies. In addition, the CD supporters claimed that the timbre was correct on CD and incorrect on LP. Now that we were able to hear more accurate higher resolution PCM, it proved the pro-CD crowd's arguments were dead wrong, as when using higher sample rates PCM not only has a lot of the ambiance, warmth, and realism of analog, but the timbre accuracy as well. Sadly, to this very day many music listeners still cling to low resolution CD digital.

This sub-format never caught on with the major labels, as there was no copy protection. With the major labels now offering DRM-free 24/96 downloads I'm sure they wish they had supported this format when it was new.

My Favorite 24/96 audio-only DVDs (listed alphabetically)

ANTILL, Corroboree / GINASTERA, Panambi Suite
Eugene Goossens, London Symphony Orchestra
Analog to 24/96 - Everest / Classic Records DAD 1029

One of the most realistic sounding orchestral recording ever, superb sonics! Very exciting tribal classical music.

Recording Together for the First Time and The Great Reunion on one disc
Analog to 24/96 - Blue Note / Classic Records DAD 1031

Sachmo and the Duke together in what are two of the best jazz recordings of all time, this is a must have, superb sonics!

BLOCH, Concerto Symphonique for piano and orchestra, Scherzo Fantasque for piano and orchestra, Concerto Grosso No. 2 for strings
Micah Yui, David Amos, London Symphony Orchestra
Analog to 24/96 - Laurel Record / Classic Records DAD 1030

Great sonics with deep realistic bass. The Piano is right in the room with you and the strings are velvet smooth.

DAVE'S TRUE STORY, Sex Without Bodies
24/96 Master to 24/96 - Chesky CHDVD 174

One of my favorite newer bands, really cool music with superb sonics!

DAVIS, ART, A Time Remembered
Analog 2 Track Ampex ATR102 recording to 24/96, produced by Bernie Grundman & Mike Hobson.
1995 Original Jazz Planet / Classic Records DAD 1001

A rare breed, a new analog recording from the 1990's, Musically and sonically Superb!

GERSHWIN, Complete Works Orchestra and Piano and Orchestra
Jeffrey Siegel, Leonard Slatkin, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
Analog to 24/96 - Vox / Classic Records DAD 1018 (2 discs)

The finest Gershwin collection ever, excellent performances in state-of-the-art sound!

GRIFFITH, NANCI, The Last of The True Believers
Analog to 24/96 - Warner Bros. / Classic Records DAD 1040

Very lovely country music, though not to quite the high sonic standards set with Classic Records remastering on their other 24/96 DADs, however since I find the music of such a very high level of enjoyment I recommend it. This is of course better than any CD version could be, it's just that Classic Records set such a high standard with their other 24/96 DADs that I thought a slight warning was appropriate.

Analog to 24/96 - Virgin / Classic Records DAD 1007

Great blues album with excellent sound.

HORNER, Glory - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Analog to 24/96 - Virgin / Classic Records DAD 1008

Extremely realistic sound and great soundtrack.

HUNT, LORNA, All In One Day
Analog to 24/96 - Classic Records DAD 1015

Great music in SOTA sound.

Analog to 24/96 - Arista / Classic Records DAD 1042

Excellent acoustic recording and great music.

Liszt, Les Preludes / Dvorak, In Nature's Realm, Carnival Overture, Othello Overture
Wolfgang Sawallisch, Philadelphia Orchestra
Tube analog to 24/96 - Water Lily Acoustics WLA-WS-66-DVD

Superb performances and very realistic sound in a slightly dry hall.

PERCUSSION XX - Jonathan Faralli
24/96 Master to 24/96 - Arts Music 47558-6

Very realistic percussion disc and the performances are quite enjoyable.

PHILLIPS, SAM, Cruel Inventions
Analog to 24/96 - Virgin / Classic Records DAD 1013

Excellent sonics and great music

PHILLIPS, SAM, Indescribable Wow
Analog to 24/96 - Virgin / Classic Records DAD 1009

Not as good as 'Cruel Inventions' which I recommend trying first. However 'Indescribable Wow' is quite enjoyable.

PULSE, Works for Percussion and Strings
John Cage/Lou Harrison, Double Music for Quartet
John Cage, Second and Third Constructions for 4 percussionists
Henry Cowell, Pulse for percussion ensemble of 7 players
Harvey Sollberger, The Two And The One for amplified cello & 2 percussionists
Lukas Foss, Percussion Quartet
New Music Consort
Analog to 24/96 - New World Records / Classic Records DAD 1002

This is a combination of two albums, very exciting and realistic sounding percussion!

RACHMANINOFF, Symphonic Dances, Vocalise
Donald Johanos, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Analog to 24/96 - Vox / Classic Records DAD 1004

A very exciting disc, soundstage very wide and deep in a slightly dry acoustic setting with warm deep bass.

RAVEL, All The Works for Orchestra
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Minnesota Orchestra
Analog to 24/96 - Vox / Classic Records DAD 1015 (2 discs)

This has been my favorite Ravel since the In Sync Laboratories "real time" duplicated cassette versions came out in the 70's.

SARA K., Hobo
24/96 Master to 24/96 - Chesky CHDVD 177

Really cool music with excellent sound, it has my favorite cover of Peter Green's Oh, Well.

WEAVERS, Reunion at Carnegie Hall
Analog to 24/96 - Vanguard / Classic Records DAD 1041

Carnegie Hall has produced a lot of very live sounding recordings. This one, in my opinion, is one of the finest, the sonics are perfect, just like being there!

Analog to 24/96 - Messenger Records / Classic Records DAD 1010

Excellent music and sonics.

24/96 DVD with Video

There are only four high resolution 24/96 audio DVDs with full motion video that I am aware of. David "Honeyboy" Edwards on Analogue Productions, which I can't recommend as he "buzzes" the frets too much. He is advanced in age, and I am sure he doesn't have the strength to hold down the strings as well as he did when he was younger. If I live that long I hope I can still play my guitar. Sadly, it's just not enjoyable. Mickey Hart's Planet Drum "Indoscrub" single on Rykodisc sounds excellent, but the video quality is atrocious.

Chesky Records released two of their two-channel 24/96 Super Audio Disc DVDs with full motion video, on one side is NTSC and on the other PAL, playable at full resolution on nearly all DVD players. The concerts listed below are great, and it's a shame this didn't catch on! Now that we have Blu Ray, we have high resolution multichannel and stereo PCM with video.

My Favorite 24/96 DVDs with Video (listed alphabetically)

MANGIONE, CHUCK, The Feeling's Back
24/96 Master to 24/96 - Chesky CHDVD 194

Excellent video and sound. A most enjoyable Chuck Mangione recording.

SARA K., No Cover - A Live Recording
24/96 Master to 24/96 - Chesky CHDVD 195

Sara K. Live in concert is another excellent recording visually and sonically. Sara K. is one of my favorite singers.


The DVD-Audio sub-format of DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) offers both high resolution two-channel stereo at sampling frequencies from 44.1kHz to 192kHz, and multichannel audio with up to six channels at sampling frequencies from 44.1kHz to 96kHz.

Most DVD-Audios use Meridian Lossless Packing which is how the format is able to accommodate multi-channels, as it saves space on the disc. Its packing and unpacking is similar to that used by SACD and computer audio (FLAC, ALAC, etc.) It remains -bit perfect, and thus there should be no loss of quality, this is debatable (see the 24-bit audio downloads section below) thus some two-channel DVD-Audios use uncompressed LPCM instead of MLP.

DVD-Audio was to have premiered before SACD, however two students in Europe broke the copy protection encryption codes. When DVD-Audio was finally released it was mostly a surround sound format with many DVD- Audios having no high resolution stereo track. Thus two-channel stereo listener's DVD-Audio players would down mix two-channel stereo from the multichannel program, usually providing less than perfect results. Another problem DVD-Audio never did completely overcome was it has to use a TV monitor to access the menu to find the two-channel program, not exactly user friendly.

Some DVD-Audios included music videos but with lossy Dolby Digital or dts, as the DVD-Audio specification didn't offer high resolution audio and video together. For two-channel listeners DVD-Audio has a rarely used maximum current PCM resolution of 24-bit 192kHz which offers very analog like sound near equal to SACD.

You will need a TV at least on the first playing of a DVD-Audio disc to find the two-channel high resolution mix. Some listeners write down the path used to navigate the disc's onscreen menu, which was never standardized, on an index card and put it in the case of the DVD-Audio. However I turn on the TV as I like to play the bonus material such as music videos first. I like the visual confirmation, as I don't entirely trust my hands or remote without visual confirmation. Then I find the two-channel high resolution mix, turn off the TV and enjoy the music.

Some Warner Bros. and Rhino DVD-Audios have the Surround and two-channel programs reversed on the onscreen menu; however the "Audio" button on my remote displays the correct program on the TV screen. On a few Warner Bros. and Rhino DVD-Audios both the Stereo and Surround menu buttons select Surround and I usually can use the "Audio" button on my remote to select the two-channel program, again confirmed on the TV screen. Don't trust what the disc menu says, double check what your player actually says. I now hit the "display" button to ensure I am actually playing the Advanced Resolution stereo program, and not the multichannel program folded down.

My Favorite DVD-Audios (listed alphabetically)

Analog to 24/96 - Concord / Hi-Res Music HRM 2009
Wonderful sounding guitars and excellent sonics!

AMERICA, Homecoming
Analog to 24/192 - Warner Archives / Rhino R9 74367

Very good music but not my favorite America album, sound quality is excellent.

THE BRAND NEW OPRY, Another Time Vol. 1
24/96 Master to 24/96 - AIX 80043

Excellent bluegrass/country acoustic recording with very realistic sonics. Two sided disc, one side has the high resolution stereo and multichannel programs in the DVD-Audio format while the other side has a video of the recording in the DVD-Video format.

Analog to 24/96 - Nonesuch 79478-9

Excellent music and sound, this is the real music from Cuba.

Analog to 24/96 - Rhino R9 73841

Very good music and sound, case claims 24/192 for the high resolution stereo program, it is wrong, it's 24/96.

Analog to 24/88.2 - Reprise 47966-9

Excellent Eric Clapton recording with a killer version of "Travelin' Light", excellent sonics!

Analog to 24/96 - Warner Bros. 48429-9

Funky jazz and my favorite Miles Davis recording, very good sound.

DOOBIE BROTHERS, The Captain and Me
Analog to 24/192 - Rhino R9 74384

Not one of my favorite groups, but I bought this because it was 24/192 and it does sound excellent, so recommended to Doobie Brothers' fans

Analog to 24/88.2 - Elektra 62612-9

A very nice Doors recording in very good sound, however the new DVD-Audio version in the Perception set at 24/96 is even better see the listing below under "DVD-Audio + CD"

EAGLES, Hotel California
Analog to 24/192 - Elektra 60509-9

Another DVD-Audio I bought for the 24/192 stereo program, never one of my favorite groups but this sounds better than I ever heard the Eagles sound and it does help me enjoy their music more. I'm still not quite of fan, but boy this is sound nice.

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER, Brain Salad Surgery
Analog to 24/96 multichannel only "no stereo program" stereo will be downsampled from the multichannel by your DVD-Audio player. Rhino R9 75980

One of my favorite ELP albums, fantastic music and the two-channel sonics are excellent despite being down-sampled to stereo by my player. Your results could vary depending on the down-sampling algorithms of your DVD-Audio player. There is a bonus high resolution song "Lucky Man" from ELP's first album, and it is one of my favorite songs of all time and sounds fantastic. In the extras section of this DVD-Audio there are some cheesy old ELP music videos with bad video quality and poor sound that are not even worth watching once.

Analog to 24/96 - Warner Bros. 48083-9

Great songs and very good sound however skip their later "Say You Will" DVD-Audio Reprise 48394-9. I found the sound quality and music abysmal.

GLASS, PHILIP, Koyaanisqatsi
Digital 24/96 - Nonesuch 79506-9

This is a digital remake of the movie soundtrack with the same forces, it sounds excellent.

GRATEFUL DEAD, American Beauty
Analog to 24/96 - Warner Bros. / Rhino R9 74385

One of my favorite rock albums of all time with excellent sonics, although I do prefer the MFSL LP version from the 1970's, one of their finest sounding albums, this one is very close!

GRATEFUL DEAD, Workingman's Dead
Analog to 24/96 - Warner Bros. / Rhino R9 78356

Great music with great sonics, the finest sounding version of this recording I've heard.

HART, MICKEY, Over The Edge & Back
Analog to 24/96 - Rykodisc DVDA 10494

Fantastic music and excellent sound.

20/48 Master to 24/96 - Hi-Res Music HRM 2001

Great music, up-sampled from lower resolution PCM sounds great though! This release proves that up-sampling does increase "apparent" resolution and gives a more comfortable feel.

B.B. KING & ERIC CLAPTON, Riding With The King
Analog to 24/88.2 - Reprise 47612-9

Historically great music and excellent sound!

RAITT, BONNIE, Nick of Time
Analog to 24/96 - Capitol EMI 99316-9

Excellent music but the sound is a little bright and lean in the bass. The four bonus videos are excellent.

Analog to 24/192 - Elektra / Asylum / Rhino R9 78341

One of Rhino's best sounding DVD-Audios and the music is great.

Analog to 24/192 - Rhino R9 74384

Another one of Rhino's best sounding 24/192 DVD-Audios and the music is fantastic.

PAUL SIMON, You're The One
Analog to 24/88.2 - Warner Bros. 47844-9

Excellent music, however the sound quality is not up to the high bar Warner Bros. set with their other DVD-Audios, despite that I still recommended it.

24/96 Master to 24/96 - AIX Records AIX 80026

Great and smooth sounding big band recording, superb imaging! Two sided disc, one side has the high resolution stereo and multichannel programs in the DVD-Audio format while the other side has a video of the recording in the DVD-Video format.

T. REX, Electric Warrior
Analog to 24/96 - Reprise / Rhino R9 76111

Excellent hard rock music in very good sound, case claims 24/192 for the high resolution stereo program, it is wrong, it's 24/96.

24/96 Master to 24/96 - Chesky CHDVD 221

Excellent sampler with some of the best music from the Chesky catalog in 2-channel, 4-channel, and 6-channel stereo and extensive test programs for both DVD-Audio and DVD-Video formats.

THE WHO, Tommy
Analog to 24/96 - Geffen B0002103-19

The Who's rock opera Tommy is some of their finest music and it sounds really nice. The DVD-Audio offers 17 out takes and demos including many songs not on Tommy, such as a killer version of "Young Man Blues". The second DVD-Audio has a 30-minute video with Pete Townshend.

WILLIAMS, JOHN, A. I. Artificial Intelligence
Analog to 24/88.2 - Warner Sunset 48096-9

Very good sounding soundtrack.

YES, Fragile
Analog to 24/96 - Elektra / Rhino R9 78249

Excellent music in very good sound, however I would pass on Yes's later DVD-Audio "Magnification" Rhino R9 78250 I didn't find the music or sound quality up to the sound quality of "Fragile"

YOUNG, NEIL, Harvest
Analog to 24/192 - Reprise / Warner Bros. 48100-9

This is Neil Young's masterpiece and it has never sounded better, like an audiophile LP with no surface noise! It isn't in the standard DVD-Audio super jewel case, instead it comes packaged in a mini gatefold cover miniature replica of the LP with a thick spine with an inner sleeve for the disc. The DVD-Audio disc label looks like a 45 rpm LP, cool all around!

24/192 HDAD DVD

HDAD is short for High resolution Digital Audio Disc. HDADs are two sided discs, however unlike DualDisc it is only 1.2mm thick. One side is 2-channel 24-bit 192kHz DVD-Audio playable only on DVD-Audio or Universal players the other side is 24/96 DVD-Video, playable at high resolution on any DVD player.

The Classic Records HDADs are 2 sided discs with 2 programs. The Red label side is 24-bit 192kHz two-channel stereo for DVD-Audio players, and the Blue label side is 24/96 two-channel stereo for DVD-Video players. You just put in the side you want and hit play twice, no TV required! There are also some 3 channel stereo HDADs which I haven't tried yet.

My Favorite 24/192 HDADs (listed alphabetically)

ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, Turn of A Friendly Card
Analog to 24/192 and 24/96 - Arista / Classic Records HDAD 2006

Superb rock music, excellent sonics!

Analog to 24/192 and 24/96 - Arista / Classic Records HDAD 2003

Even better than the MFSL LP!

Analog to 24/192 and 24/96 - Colgems / Classic Records HDAD 2007

This one has long been an audiophile favorite. It is lots of FUN, I love it!

Analog to 24/192 and 24/96 - Blue Note / Classic Records HDAD 2009

Excellent jazz with "you are there" sonics

TOWNSEND, PETE, Who Came First
Analog to 24/192 and 24/96 - Track / Classic Records HDAD 2004

A very different album of very good music, superbly recorded.

WATERS, MUDDY, Folk Singer
Analog to 24/192 and 24/96 - Chess / Classic Records HDAD 2008

Really sweet and pretty acoustic music, this really sound like a REAL acoustic guitar!

WILLIAMS, JOHN, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Analog to 24/192 and 24/96 - Arista / Classic Records HDAD 2005

Excellent music and sonics.


DualDisc was a format introduced in 2003 to better compete with SACD/CD hybrids. Since the CD option is not part of the DVD specifications it was not possible to put the SACD and CD layers on the same side of the disc, so it was put on the reverse side, many called this a flipper. The CD format, unlike the DVD format, is a single-layer format, thus this was a compromise as the CD layer didn't conform to CD Redbook specification, the laser hits it at the wrong angle. I wish that the DVD-Audio supporters emphasized the Dolby digital and dts surround sound compatibility with all DVD players instead of introducing this ill conceived DualDisc flipper, which I believe was responsible for nearly killing the format.

Until the release of Playstation 3, which made allowances for additional thickness, most manufacturers advised not to play DualDiscs in their players, and many said doing so would void their warranties. Thus, I was never brave enough to actually try a DualDisc, and that is why this section has no recommended recordings. Most modern players manufactured since then do account for the additional thickness. It must be pointed out that although the Playstation 3 could play Dual Discs it would not play any DVD-Audio content.

Also a DualDisc's DVD side could be DVD-Audio and/or DVD-Video. The Sony DualDiscs were in the DVD-Video format offering Dolby digital or dts for surround sound and high resolution two-channel stereo 24-bit PCM at 48 or 96kHz. The reason for this is Sony's invention of the competing SACD format.

DualDisc compatibility problems

From the September 1983 issue of the compact disc (CD) specification: Disc thickness: 1.2 mm.

DVDs use a substrate that is 0.6 mm thick, compared to 1.2 mm used in CDs. A 0.6 mm substrate is not physically strong enough, and so it is necessary to bond two 0.6 mm substrates together to form a 1.2 mm disc. This adds a bonding step in addition to the steps that are required to form the 1.2 mm substrate used in CD media.

The SACD/CD hybrid is read from the same side: CD layer on bottom (from non-label read side) and SACD layer on top. Thus the laser shines through the translucent SACD layer at a different angle and thickness to read the CD layer at the 1.2mm CDs require. Total disc thickness is 1.2mm.

The DualDisc is 2 sided, so the DVD Side is 0.6mm and the CD side is 0.9mm thus the laser hits at the wrong angle, CD specs require 1.2mm and very excessive error correction is needed to play the CD side. Total thickness is 1.5mm.

DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD, and CD equipment are designed to play 1.2mm discs, they are supposed to have a tolerance of -0.1mm +0.3mm due to irregularities and slightly defective discs. Because of this tolerance, it is physically possible to play perfectly flat DualDiscs on machines designed to Redbook specification, however even the slightest warp will surpass the maximum tolerance of the equipment. In addition, up until the invention of DualDiscs many players didn't allow the full tolerance, as it has never before been needed.

DVD-Audio + CD

After the DualDisc fiasco we welcome the return of real DVD-Audios, however most now include a bonus CD. Problem is the yearly number of new releases is extremely small. In addition, because I don't feel right paying for the extra CD I would never use, I have not purchased many of these. Instead I look to other high resolution formats when possible; still there are some that I couldn't resist. Whereas Warner Bros. and Rhino priced their original DVD-Audios they same as CDs, these newer DVD-Audio + CD are considerably more with a retail of $24.95 per disc. Some of the multiple disc sets, however, are less.

My Favorite DVD-Audio + CD (listed alphabetically)

Analog to 24/96 - multichannel only "no stereo program" stereo will be downsampled from the multichannel by your DVD-Audio player.
Apple / Capitol 79810-2

Great music with excellent sonics despite being down-sampled to stereo by my player. Your results could vary depending on the down-sampling algorithms of your DVD-Audio player. A mishmash of some of the Beatles most famous songs, some in alternate versions. I was wary during first listening, but now I enjoy this recording a lot, although it will not replace any of my MFSL LPs of my favorite Beatles albums. The music on track 21 "Back In The U.S.S.R." ends at 2:35 and plays the first note of Track 22 "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" but continues to count down time with no music, I went as far as 30 minutes and gave up. I was not able to fast scan or fast reverse during track 21. So at the end of track 21 I have to click 'next track' to play track 22 without a forever of silence. I couldn't send mine back as I bought it used. Some other listeners have reported this same quirk, but it plays perfectly for most. I was not able to confirm if it was a bad batch or player firmware related. So, if you hear silence at the end of track 21 just press the next track button.

THE DOORS, Perception Box set with 6 DVD-Audios and 6-CDs
Includes the following albums: The Doors, Strange Days, Waiting For The Sun, The Soft Parade, Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman.
Analog to 24/96 - Rhino / Elektra R2 77645

All six of the great Doors albums with excellent sound at an excellent price.

MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER, Fresh Aire 8, Eight Topics of Infinity
Digital 24/96 - AG9888-7 (2 sided DVD-Audio / DVD-Video disc + HDCD CD)

The DVD Audio side offers superb music and sonics. The DVD Video side is a beautiful movie of Fresh Aire 8 based on the nature of infinity, each scene representing each movement using actors, dances, nature's wonders, and beautiful photography, plus really cool and expensive looking special visual and sound effects. This movie is a feast for the eyes and ears. In the bonus material the professor's notes covers in detail many of the philosophical subjects of Fresh Aire 8, Chip Davis's creative vision for the audio and visual performance of Fresh Aire 8. This set has a total content of over 4 hours, a great recording all around.


Blu-ray is an optical disc designed to replace the DVD format. The disc is 120 mm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick, the same size as DVDs and CDs. The name Blu-ray refers to the blue laser used to read the disc, which allows information to be stored at a greater density than is possible with the longer-wavelength red laser used for DVDs.

Blu-ray has greater storage capacity so it can offer high definition video up to 1920×1080 resolution at the same time as high resolution audio up to 192kHz, this is something DVD-Audio couldn't do.

In addition to uncompressed LPCM it also offers two new lossless codecs:

  • LPCM (uncompressed)

  • Maximum Channels (Sampling Frequency): 8 (48kHz, 96kHz), 6 (192kHz) bit depths: 16, 20, 24

  • Dolby TrueHD (Lossless) and DTS-HD Master Audio (Lossless)

  • Maximum Channels (Sampling Frequency): 8 (48kHz, 96kHz), 6 (192kHz) bit depths: 16, 24

Blu-ray is the perfect release format for companies such AIX Records who make videos of their recordings. Previously in AIX's DVD-Audios one would have the high resolution 24/96 audio on one side of the disc and the video in lossy Dolby digital and dts on the other side. With Blu-ray their discs contain the entire album in multiple high resolution multichannel mixes as well as high resolution two-channel stereo, and they feature the accompanying high definition video, which was shot during the recording sessions, together at the same time!

24-bit audio downloads

24-bit PCM along with DSD downloads are where I believe the future of music is headed and what I listen to most of the time. I find uncompressed 24-bit PCM music audio files (AIFF and .wav) to sound the best on my computer, even though losslessly compressed music files (FLAC and ALAC) are -bit perfect when uncompressed in real time while playing. After extensive comparisons I no longer believe that "Lossless is Lossless" and "bits are bits". My current opinion is that it is the process of unpacking the lossless compressed music files in real time while the music is playing which negatively affects the sound, at least on my computer.

.WAV has an ease of presentation and ambiance that sounds very lifelike, AIFF is very close. Both .wav and AIFF have a larger soundstage and a lifelike attack of high percussion instruments that was somewhat subdued with ALAC (Apple Lossless), although it sounded excellent otherwise and one would not know what was missing if it was not played right after a .wav or AIFF music file. For more information see: .wav vs. AIFF vs. ALAC and Other Computer Shenanigans

I prefer 24-bit PCM music files at sampling frequencies at 88.2kHz and above. Most of the music on my computer is from SACDs, DVD-Audios and LPs, however I do have a few computer downloads I can recommend.

My Favorite 24-bit audio downloads (listed alphabetically)

BOLCOM, Lyric Concerto; Symphony No. 8 for chorus and orchestra
James Galway (Flute) James Levine, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Chorus
BSO Classics 24/88.2kHz download

Eiji Oue, Minnesota Orchestra
Reference Recordings 24/96 download

MAHLER, Symphony No. 6
James Levine, Boston Symphony Orchestra
BSO Classics 24/88.2kHz download

RAVEL, Daphnis et Chloé
James Levine, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival Chorus
BSO Classics 24/88.2kHz download

SHAKESPEARE'S TEMPEST, Sullivan & Sibelius
Michael Stern, Kansas City Symphony
Reference Recordings 24/96 download

24/96 individually "burned" DVD-Rs

Like the early 24/96 DADs and SADs that begin this article, these are high resolution two-channel stereo uncompressed LPCM (Linear pulse-code modulation) 24-bit 96kHz recordings on 'audio-only' discs made using the DVD video standard. The difference is these are individually slow-burned from the hard disk DVD master instead of pressed, this is said to offer superior sound quality to traditional mass-produced stamped discs. Also all of these are available as 24-bit audio downloads, see the links to the reviews for which formats each recording is available in.

Unlike the other recordings in this article High Definition Tape Transfers (HDTT) are not derived from professional master tapes, but are from 7½ IPS pre-recorded consumer reel to reel tapes in either 2 or 4 Track from the "golden age", the mid 1950s to the 1960s. HDTT releases are in the public domain, out of copyright and are perfectly legal; this is explained on their website.

My Favorite 24/96 audio-only DVD-Rs"burned" (listed alphabetically)

AMERICAS, Paul Beaudry & Pathways
24/96 Master to 24/96 - Soundkeeper Recordings SR4004

CONFLUENCE, Jason Vitelli
24/96 Master to 24/96 - Soundkeeper Recordings SR4003

DEBUSSY, La Mer & Iberia
Manuel Rosenthal, Orchestre Du Theatre National De L'opera De Paris
Analog to 24/96 - HDTT HDDVD 107

EQUINOX, Markus Schwartz & Lakou Brooklyn
24/96 Master to 24/96 - Soundkeeper Recordings SR4002 - 24/96 audio only DVD-R $30

FRIEDMAN plays Violin Showpieces
Chausson: Poème / Ravel: Tzigane / Saint-Saëns: Havanais / Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen / Wieniawaki: Légende
Erick Friedman (Violin) Malcolm Sargent, London Symphyony Orchestra
Analog to 24/96 - HDTT HDDVD106

MacDOWELL, Piano Concerto No.1 - List, Chavez, Vienna State Opera Orchestra / Piano Concerto No.2 - Cliburn, Hendl, Chicago Symphony
Analog to 24/96 - HDTT HDDVD123

MILHAUD, La Création du Monde - Charles Munch, Boston Symphony Orchestra / DEBUSSY, Khamma ballet, Rhapsody for clarinet and piano or orchestra - Robert Gugolz (Solo Clarinet) Ernest Ansermet, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Analog to 24/96 - HDTT HDDVD146

LALO, Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra - Henryk Szeryng, Walter Hendl, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, Capriccio Espagnol - Kiril Kondrashin, RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Analog to 24/96 - HDTT HDDVD124

OFFENBACH, La Vie Pariesienne; Orphee aux Enfers; Monsieur et Madame Denis; La Belle Helene; La Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein; Barbe-Bleue Hermenn Scherchen conducts The Vienna State Opera Orchestra / DELIBES, La Source Ballet - selections
Analog to 24/96 - HDTT HDDVD 145

Chapi, El Tambor De Granaderos, La Revoltosa / Chueca: Cadriz / Gimenez: El Baile de Luis Alonso / Paso: Benamor / Usandizaga: Las Golondrinas / Dominguez: El Bateo / Gimenez: La Tempranica / Vives: Boheminos, Serrano: La Venta de los Gatos
Analog to 24/96 - HDTT HDDVD 149

WALTON, Façade Suite for Orchestra / LECOCQ, Mamzelle Angot
Antole Fistoulari, Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden
Analog to 24/96 - HDDVD152

24/96 Master to 24/96 - Soundkeeper Recordings SR4001

High Resolution Audio 24-bit DVD-R data discs

These are computer DVD-data discs with .wav music files, and cannot be played in regular DVD players or DVD-Audio players. Usually one puts these into their computer DVD-R drive and copies them to their hard-drive, however there are now a few Universal players that also play .wav files from DVD-R data discs such as the OPPO BDP-93 and BDP-95.

My Favorite High Resolution Audio 24-bit DVD-R data discs (listed alphabetically)

OPENING, Mathias Landæus Trio
176.4/24 - MA Recordings M081A-HR

RACHMANINOFF, Symphonic Dances, Vocalise and Études – Tableaux
Eiji Oue (conductor) Minnesota Orchestra
24/176.4 - Reference Recordings HRx HR-96

24/96 - MA Recordings M052A-HR

24/176.4 - MA Recordings M062A-HR

PONO 24/192 portable music player

Neil Young's PONO will offer digital music files at exactly the same resolution as the masters and analog master tapes converted to 24/192 PCM. No mention if it will do DSD natively or convert to high resolution PCM. Neil Young says it will play all current digital formats. Warner Bros. has 8000 titles converted to 24/192 for PONO, and Neil Young is in talks with Sony and Universal.

Pono is Hawaiian for 'Righteous'. PONO has a website and Neil Young hopes to launch his high resolution music player in summer 2013.

He says "when you compress music you lose the soul, you lose the feeling. You lose what makes you feel good, what makes music live." He worked on Bob Dylan master tapes of Highway 61 Revisited and Freewheelin, with Dylan's full blessing, to make them Pono-based. This is how Pono will succeed, as the music artists want 100% high-resolution audio representation of their music heard, not the 5% sound that gets scrunched by MP3.

Neil Young says "The Pono player will be playing the best quality of music you can get." However details of Young's project remain closely guarded. It's not clear how his system improves on existing technology such as FLAC or SACD. Young had been in discussions with Steve Jobs before the Apple CEO's death, the singer has said he now plans to "force iTunes to be better".

Mr. Young is using a 1978 Cadillac El Dorado as his demo-on-wheels for Pono. Last year, he invited several musicians into his antique car for a Pono presentation and recorded their reactions for a potential marketing campaign, according to his book. Tom Petty, Beastie Boys' Mike D, Kid Rock, and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers were among those consulted.

In 2013 Pono will release a line of portable players, a music-download service, and digital-to-analog conversion technology intended to present songs as they first sound during studio recording sessions. In his book Waging Heavy Peace, Young writes that Pono will help unite record companies with cloud storage "to save the sound of music."