Due to my busy time, I haven’t written much on this blog. But in next few weeks, some hot entries will come -  as I have purchased some new toys. Wait and see… 😉

Let’s fill the entry with some “light-weight” topic. I bought some CD during my business trip last week. Let’s enjoy some.

Standard CD, although considered as an obsolete formats for many years, but still become a most used audio format until now. We have seen DVD-Audio and SACD were the strongest candidates to terminte Red Book CD Audio. But still, CD Audio maintains its superiority as widely used audio format, until present time. Perhaps we can see the digital storage format like WAV or loseless stored in your giant HDD, someday will terminate the life of the CD Player. But before that time comes, we still enjoy the CD as the main audio source.

I knew JVC recording long time ago. It was XRCD (eXtended Resolution Compact Disc), continued with XRCD2 and XRCD24. About one or two years ago, they release K2 HD format, which claimed to provide better sound at standard Red Book CD Audio, without additional decoder. Could it be?

This is one recommended collection from FIM, contains various artist. All remastered with K2 HD technique.

As you can see below, most of the tracks are very recommended one. From Nah Youn Sun to Esther Ofarim, from Tchaikovsky to Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, and so on.

Since we have some Classic in here, the overall gain of this album is definitely low. I need to at least double the volume compared to most of my other collections – even with the same album (like Autumn in Seattle in this album compared with the original one on XRCD).

Basically, what JVC is trying to do is to gather as many information as they can, from the original tape master into the Red Book CD Audio (44.1 kHz, 16 bit). Although you can see 100 kHz and 24 bit label on the front cover, it doesn’t mean that this is a “special CD”. It’s still a 44.1/16 format, but “specially mastered” in order to match the tape master or the analog source.

Can it be that it was all so simple then… Or has time rewritten every line?

Remember the lyric above? 🙂

All the information about JVC K2 HD seems so sophisticated and a little bit hard to believe. Well, it’s a standard 44.1/16 but “can keep” 100/24 format? According to the inside booklet on this album, during the remastered process, they will add extra information beyond the 20 kHz into the 20 kHz range. How? Well, it’s their own secret I believe. But JVC also reminds that they need a skillful engineer which understands the K2 HD Coding “characteristic” in order to integrate the Coding and the sound output into a good album. So I think, the engineer must exactly understand the music, in order to integrate the K2 HD Coding advantage to produce K2 HD album. Most likely, in my personal opinion, the K2 HD Coding needs a really good engineer to support it. It’s not like MP3 or loseless format which you can just run the preset and everything’s done by itself. So different engineer, different knowledge, actually will produce different K2 HD album “sounds-like”. That’s why for XRCD and similar formats (included K2 HD) must be done on JVC’s own side.

Some presentation inside the CD booklet. You can see above and below.

Straight to the point, how’s the sound?

Well during my short listening session, overall is excellent. But for my subjective opinion, compared with original track on original album, I think it depends track by track. One most important thing is, like I’ve mentioned before, since we have some Classic here, the overall album gain is low (well, we are combining multiple genres, so I understand the difficulty). When I compare it with the original album, I must adjust the volume again which might not be fair for A-B comparison.

For listening Vivaldi Four Season, I believe it’s OK. But to listen Esther on Kinderpiele, I think I just need some more gain. The overall sound quality is excellent, staging is also excellent, wide, a little bit forward on some track with my near field monitor. High is extended, detailed, but definitely not harsh – even at high volume. Overall it’s an analog-like? I can say like that, but not at the level of Vinyl for sure.

The bass also sounds natural, tight, well controlled. Vocal on the Nah Youn Sun also got an excellent resolution and naturality. Complex instruments separation also considered above average of good recording.

But on some parts, I still can feel the “digital sound”. Not much, just consider I’m too demanding 😉

Compare with HDCD/SACD or even XRCD? I think due to this K2 HD mostly depends on the engineer skill and knowledge, and I believe one engineer can’t understand all kind of music, so the result may not be “fixed” for all kinds of music. On some track, I believe this K2 HD is superior, but on some other, I could prefer the HDCD/SACD or even standard good recording one. But once the engineer matches the K2 HD, I believe the result is superior. One of my favorite is on Canon in D (Pachelbel), so enjoyable track! Also not to forget the Swan Lake Duo, Four Season, and some other goodies inside this album.

Oh, don’t forget, this K2 HD (and also most of the other with same K2 HD Coding label) will be priced quite high. Even higher than most SACD label.

Overall I like to add this as my favorite collection, not really a best one on all tracks, but a collectible from a special genre, the K2 HD.

Track list:
01. Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dance No. 1, excerpt 2:57
02. Pepe Romero / Zapateado, excerpt 3:30
03. Jian Jianhua / Left Alone 5:53
04. Respighi / Queen of Sheba Suite / War Dance 2:56
05. Christopher Hardy / Touch 4:58
06. Lift Your Veil / A Rose for Me 7:36
07. Tchaikovsky / Swan Lake Duo 5:43
08. Nah Youn Sun / Heart of Glass 4:55
09. Bruce Stark / Blue Dream 4:45
10. Star Dust 4:19
11. Vivaldi / Four Seasons / Spring 3:15
12. Wei Li / Amazing Grace 5:49
13. Esther / Kinderpiele 3:13
14. Habanera Fantasia From 3:18
15. Tsuyoshi Yamamoto / Autumn in Seattle 5:53
16. Pachelbel / Canon in D 6:47