Die Stereo Hörtest-Edition (Listen and Compare Edition) [TrackList follows] – Acousence Classics ACO-11011, 49:13 [Vinyl+SACD+DVD-A+Hi-Res DVD] (10/1/13) ****:
This is an unusual demo collection, assembled by the German label’s recording engineer and director Ralf Koschincke. He recorded the seven selections here—three of them featuring the Duisburger Philharmonic conducted by Jonathan Darlington and two the Anhaltische Philharmonic of Dessau conducted by Antony Hermus—using a 192K/24-bit PCM format. He used the best mics, highest-quality amps, A/D converters and cables. Then he produced a stereo hybrid SACD from the digital master, plus he cut a 180-gram audiophile vinyl LP. But then he produced two more digital discs, which are included in the set. (3 discs total.) They are a DVD-Audio at 96/24 which also has on it the same thing in FLAC format, plus a CD format disc with 192K/24-bit FLAC audio files on it. There one can compare each of the seven selections six different ways, including the standard CD layer on the hybrid SACD.
What differences did I hear? Well, aside from the duller sound of the standard 44.1/16 CD layer, not much. They all sounded pretty good to me on my system, including the audiophile vinyl. Very little difference between them. I was only wishing the full orchestral selections had been in 5.0-channel surround sound. Yes, most of the notes are all in German, but there is a full 12-inch sheet inserted in the album entirely in English on both sides with details on the Edition and the selections. The notes on each tell you what to listen for and the additional detail which the hi-res sampling rates can provide you. I found the movement from Debussy’s La Mer and the nearly 11-minute Ravel Introduction and Allegro the most enjoyable of the seven selections. There is also the nearly seven-minute first movement of Rodrigo’s lovely Concierto de Aranjuez.
I probably won’t listen to these selections again, but I can imagine it would provide a wonderful opportunity for certain audiophiles to do listening comparisons to their heart’s content. (Be certain your playback gear is up to it if you do that, and I’d recommend good headphones.) I think above all it illustrates the lack of hearable enhancement with 192K sampling and the excellent usefulness of the 96K/24 rate, which only takes up half as much hard drive storage space. Of course if you’re only 20 years old perhaps you’ll hear a very slight improvement at 192K but is it worth it? Some audio experts say 192K can actually cause problems in playback.
TrackList:Emmanuel Chabrier: Espana Espana Claude Debussy: La mer La mer: II. Jeux de vagues Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35: III. Finale: Allegro vivacissimo Richard Wagner: Die Walkure Die Walkure, Act III: Ride of the Valkyries Joaquin Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez Concierto de Aranjuez: I. Allegro con spirito Maurice Ravel: Introduction et Allegro Introduction et Allegro Fryderyk Chopin: Impromptu No. 1 in A-Flat Major, Op. 29 Impromptu No. 1 in A-Flat Major, Op. 29