A very kind HiFi Family member generously sent me a few Sheffield Direct to Discs. These treasures are hard to find and I was extremely grateful to have received them.
Upon playing the Lincoln Mayorga and Friends disc I was reminded of just how direct and dynamic they were. There's a clarity here that you just don't find on even the best vinyl products.
That clarity comes not so much from the direct to disc mastering process but rather from the lack of the tape recording process.
Tape recorders have a softening effect and every generation of tape gets softer and softer. Cutting out the tape and going direct to disc, while a pain in the keester to make happen, really demonstrates just how soft tape can be.
We get that same softening when we run our audio through analog electronics. Each pass through the circuit rounds off ever so slightly the transient edges, blurring the lines just enough to hear it.
It turns out one of the main advantages of digital is the elimination of the softening effect. No matter how many copies or generations of digital we never lose any resolution.
Tape was an essential medium. Without it we'd never have gotten to where we are today. But I am reminded of how much I do not miss its softening effect.
I prefer the direct dynamics found in the music—regardless of how they got there.