I sat down in the Playback Designs room to listen to a system featuring Playback’s MPS-8 SACD player/DAC ($25,000 plus $2400 for the Stream_X option) and Stream-IF streaming interface ($3300), both from the company’s Dream series, with an Playback IPS-3 integrated amplifier ($14,000), these all sitting on an English Lateral Systems 4-shelf rack ($4100), driving Verity Parsifal Anniversary loudspeakers ($25,000/pair) and wired with Kubala-Sosna Emotion interconnects and Fascination AC cord and speaker cables. Playing was the DSD256 file of “Let There Be Love,” copied from an analog Ampex 468 ¼” tape running at 30ips that had been recorded in parallel with Lyn Stanley’s new direct-to disc album London With a Twist: Live at Bernie’s.
Recorded by Allen Sides at Ocean Way Studios, with Bernie Grundman operating the cutting lathe for the limited-edition LP, the DSD file sounded as good as this pedigree would suggest when halfway through the song Ms. Stanley’s voice was doubledbehind me! It was Lyn singing along with her recording.
“Do you want to hear a comparison?” she asked me. “As well as the DSD copies of the analog tape, we made a DSD64 needledrop from the test pressing. Let me play you ‘You Never Can Tell’ from both versions.”
As good as the DSD copy of the analog tape sounded, the needledrop had greater low-frequency weight and projected Ms. Stanley’s voice more forward in the soundstage. I preferred the analog tape dub for the quality of the voice and piano reproduction but the needledrop for the double bass. Purchasers of the forthcoming SACD of London With a Twist will be able to do this comparison for themselves as the 12 songs will first be presented from the needledrop, then from the analog tape dub.
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