Presto has been one of my top three Rush albums from the moment I first heard it - it's a brilliant combination of the melody of their late 80's synth period and the heaviness of the more guitar-based albums that were to follow, and it features some of Neil Peart's finest lyrics, particularly on "The Pass" and the title track.
This album has just been remastered and released on SACD, and buying the new version didn't require a moment's thought. However, in retrospect, I should really have paused and considered it for a second or two...
"Presto" was recorded at the tail end of the 80's, in the early days of CD. What's more, it was a DDD album - digitally recorded, mixed and mastered, using the relatively primitive technology of the day. This tended to give a slight harshness to the sound and a noticeable thinness in the bass, and "Presto" certainly suffered in this respect. Unfortunately, the SACD still has the same problems, but on thinking about it, this is hardly surprising.
The DSD encoding used on SACDs is designed to avoid the distortions caused by traditional PCM digital recording - but to get the benefit, you have to record using DSD, mix using DSD and then master onto an SACD disc. If at any point the signal is converted to PCM, the advantage of DSD is lost forever. Well, as above - this was a PCM digital recording, so the damage was done back in 1989 in a fashion that can't subsequently be fixed. I suspect the only point at which DSD is used on this disc is the final mastering to SACD, at which point it is far too late to hope to gain any sonic advantage.
Every Rush fan should own "Presto" - it's excellent. But save your money and buy the standard CD - it doesn't matter how good your system is; the SACD isn't worth the extra money.