Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd May 2008 13:02 UTC
Multimedia, AV Many of us grew up with the idea of the component audio system. A receiver (or a separate preamplifier and amplifier), tuner (radio), record player, tape deck, and later on a CD player. If you were into more fancy stuff, you had a DAT or MiniDisc deck as well. While some of us cling on to this mindset like there's no tomorrow, the real world seems to favour a different method of consuming music. According to Erica Ogg (what's in a name), the component audio system is on its way out - thanks to the iPod and the commoditisation of music.
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Can't say I am an audiophile but..
by WereCatf on Fri 23rd May 2008 14:58 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

Can't say I am an audiophile but I do enjoy high-quality sound. I have no iPod nor am I going to buy one either: if I am on the go I rather just upload music to my phone and listen to it through the crappy earphones, that way I have one less gadget to carry with me. At home though I have a 100W (cheap) Sony surround-sound receiver and a pair of 4-way 100W Pioneer HPM-110 and the sound quality difference is really noticeable. No way I would settle for some dockable pair of commodity speakers if I had a choice.

As for the topic at hand..I am still young enough to remember the 80s commercials and all when people used to gather lots of different audio equipment and try to build The Ultimate Home Audio System. It's rather sad that those are memories now, haven't seen anyone in years doing that anymore.

Reply Score: 3

drewunwired Member since:
2005-07-06

Ahh, the HPMs were a good series. My dad finally retired his Pioneer HPM-70s after nearly 30 years.

I myself am not an audiophile by any means, but I do cringe at bad sound everywhere. I run a Yamaha HTR-5940 powering some Polk Audio Monitor 70s for the front channels, a Polk center channel speaker whose model I don't remember, and a couple of their bookshelf speakers as the SR & SL channels. My next investment will probably be a new HDMI-compliant receiver so I can get the full DTS-HD experience from my PS3 and Blu-Ray. I wonder how some people can tolerate spending thousands of dollars on a 50"+ HDTV and listen to the sound on a sub-US$200 home theater in a box...

Reply Score: 2

Phloptical Member since:
2006-10-10

I was doing that until my kids were born, starting 5 years ago. Now my "high end" system sits and collects dust. I had a nice system going, Polk Audio speakers, Onkyo receiver. Bose (early 90's boxes) surrounds. Now it all sits unused, and unloved. Shame....

As it were, component stereo will never go away. For one, movies will always require discrete electronics for surround. HTIB sound sucks. The iPod is only as good as the resolution of the track it's playing.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by virek
by virek on Fri 23rd May 2008 14:58 UTC
virek
Member since:
2005-10-30

Thom,

For once I wholeheartedly agree with you there. I have a much more exotic (READ: exprensive) system and the "test" always produces the same results.

Take one MP3 (AAC/Ogg whatever you like), one CD and one record (vinyl) of the same song/album. The winner is ALWAYS vinyl.

Then there's the physical aspect to it you don't get with downloads. I'm not against MP3s, I just want the others too. The iPod is great and sounds good too, but it sounds like shite next to vinyl. Try it!

Reply Score: 6

RE: Comment by virek
by Peter Besenbruch on Fri 23rd May 2008 21:58 UTC in reply to "Comment by virek"
Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

Take one MP3 (AAC/Ogg whatever you like), one CD and one record (vinyl) of the same song/album. The winner is ALWAYS vinyl.

Not so. Well cared for, clean records, that were good pressings to begin with can sound very good. A well engineered CD will sound better.

I'll be a little more specific. I have a $1000 dollar, Music Hall MMF7 turntable, along with a cheap Sony DVD/CD player (roughly $80 when I bought it). I have two recordings on CD and LP. The first is lute pieces by Kapsberger played by Paul O'Dette. I ended up digitizing the LP, because it lacked the rather metallic overtones of the CD. Moral: Good LP beats crappy CD.

The second is a recording of the Corelli Concerti Grossi, Opus 6 directed by Nicolas McGegan. The LP is very nice and quiet, but the CD impresses with the noise floor dropping out completely, and with a greater dynamic range (quiet passages are quieter, loud passages are louder). You feel the orchestral attacks in the gut when listening to the CD. Overall coloration in both recordings is the same. My conclusion, if mixed well, Moral: Well done CDs win every time.

Then there's the physical aspect to it you don't get with downloads. I'm not against MP3s, I just want the others too. The iPod is great and sounds good too, but it sounds like shite next to vinyl. Try it!

I have converted many LPs to MP3, and when I am done, the MP3s sound better. You want a reasonably good bit rate; a variable one helps. The 128kbit rate offered by the iTunes store is good for the iPod earphones, but not for better headphones, or a good home stereo.

When it comes to recording LPs to MP3s, I like Lame's --preset-standard. It produces overall bit rates in the 170-190 range when ripping CDs. That rate climbs past 200 when digitizing LPs. Why? Simple, Lame works harder to digitize the various distortions inherent in LPs. The noisier the LP, the higher the resulting bit rate.

I might also add that Amazon seems to use something like Lame's --preset-extreme setting for their MP3 store. Usually, the MP3s they sell are above 220kbits.

Finally, I like Lame in part, because it shows a quick and dirty breakdown on what bit rates it uses as it encodes. Often you get a large simultaneous spread. The same instant of music may get encoded in simultaneous rates of 32 through 320. If a cymbal strike needs a high bit rate, Lame's --preset-standard will provide it.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Comment by virek
by Machster on Sat 24th May 2008 02:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by virek"
Machster Member since:
2007-05-15

MP3's sound absolutely horrible and with their sharp rolloff below 15khz they can hardly even be considered hi-fidelity. If you think they sound better than LP's something is wrong with your analogue playback equipment. If you want to digitize your LP collection you should be using something like Flac or Apple lossless. A copy can never sound better than the original.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by virek
by bousozoku on Sat 24th May 2008 18:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by virek"
bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23

MP3's sound absolutely horrible and with their sharp rolloff below 15khz they can hardly even be considered hi-fidelity. If you think they sound better than LP's something is wrong with your analogue playback equipment. If you want to digitize your LP collection you should be using something like Flac or Apple lossless. A copy can never sound better than the original.


Below 15 KHz or above it or below 15 Hz?

Since most humans hear in the 20 Hz to 20 KHz range, a rolloff in the audible range would be horrible indeed.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by virek
by unclefester on Sun 25th May 2008 12:44 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by virek"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Most middle aged humans can't hear above 15KHz anyway.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by virek
by Peter Besenbruch on Sat 24th May 2008 18:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by virek"
Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

MP3's sound absolutely horrible and with their sharp rolloff below 15khz they can hardly even be considered hi-fidelity. If you think they sound better than LP's something is wrong with your analogue playback equipment. If you want to digitize your LP collection you should be using something like Flac or Apple lossless. A copy can never sound better than the original.

Stuff and nonsense. A straight 256kbit stream is virtually indistinguishable from the original source. Countless double blind tests have shown that in practice that no-one could hear the difference. At 160, the differences are small. Here is a good article on the subject:

http://www.mp3-tech.org/tests/pm/index.html

The executive summary is this: a 128kbit stream goes to 16kHz, before abruptly rolling off to zero. It also suffers from what the author says is a pruning of low intensity content (think the harpsichord in the sample used). At 160kbits there is a falling off at 16kHz, but it is gradual. Low intensity content is restored. At 256kbit, the frequency response matched the original. The original went to just beyond 20kHz.

A couple of things to remember:

1) There is little, or no real content beyond 15kHz on an LP.

2) When using the presets on Lame, you are getting significantly better results per nominal bit rate. As I said elsewhere, when needed, Lame's --preset-standard (nominally 180-190) will use 256kbits, or even 320 to capture certain passages. For LPs, a final encoding of -preset-standard is plenty; in fact, it's overkill.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by virek
by Machster on Sat 24th May 2008 21:11 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by virek"
Machster Member since:
2007-05-15

Stuff and nonsense. A straight 256kbit stream is virtually indistinguishable from the original source. Countless double blind tests have shown that in practice that no-one could hear the difference. At 160, the differences are small. Here is a good article on the subject:

http://www.mp3-tech.org/tests/pm/index.html


This is hardly a good reference. It is the opinion of one man from a site that dedicated to the development of MP3. So it can be completely discounted due to its lack of objectivity. For a better comparison see here:

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,1560793,00.asp

If you yourself can't tell the difference, then you lack the discerning ear necessary to be included in the group described here (or should it be h-e-a-r?) as audiophile.

The executive summary is this: a 128kbit stream goes to 16kHz, before abruptly rolling off to zero. It also suffers from what the author says is a pruning of low intensity content (think the harpsichord in the sample used). At 160kbits there is a falling off at 16kHz, but it is gradual. Low intensity content is restored. At 256kbit, the frequency response matched the original. The original went to just beyond 20kHz.

A couple of things to remember:

1) There is little, or no real content beyond 15kHz on an LP.


More proof that your playback system is faulty. LPs can have frequency information far beyond 20khz, which is the limit of CD's. This is the major reason LPs are vastly superior in sound quality to CDs let alone lossy copies.

2) When using the presets on Lame, you are getting significantly better results per nominal bit rate. As I said elsewhere, when needed, Lame's --preset-standard (nominally 180-190) will use 256kbits, or even 320 to capture certain passages. For LPs, a final encoding of -preset-standard is plenty; in fact, it's overkill.


Double stuff and double nonsense. If you are unable to hear the differences yourself, read objective surveys which have all concluded that MP3 is the least capable audio codec to use for serious music reproduction while AAC @ 256kbits is OK, but no more than OK. Personally, I like Musepack as well. But for anything serious I use Apple Lossless or Flac.

Edited 2008-05-24 21:17 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by virek
by smashIt on Sat 24th May 2008 22:09 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by virek"
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

More proof that your playback system is faulty. LPs can have frequency information far beyond 20khz, which is the limit of CD's.


you are aware that 20kHz result in a 18µm wavelength on the outer edge of a 12" 45rpm vinyl?
additionaly these 18µm are read with a needle of aproximately the same diameter.
please tell me where these "far beyound 20khz" come from

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by virek
by Peter Besenbruch on Sat 24th May 2008 22:27 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by virek"
Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

http://www.mp3-tech.org/tests/pm/index.html [/q]

This is hardly a good reference. It is the opinion of one man from a site that dedicated to the development of MP3. So it can be completely discounted due to its lack of objectivity. For a better comparison see here:
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,2845,1560793,00.asp


The reference I gave was a good reference, in that it gave a very good illustration of MP3 encoding and frequency response. That is what I was discussing. The reference you gave does not address this, neither does it define what variable bit rate was used. Second, no-one is arguing that 64kbit streams should be used for music of any quality on any codec. I stand by my assertion that a 128kbit stream is good for an iPod with the original headphones. Spend just a little money on replacement headphones, and 128kbit streams aren't.

I also appreciate that the presets in Lame were arrived at via double blind listening tests.

If you yourself can't tell the difference, then you lack the discerning ear necessary to be included in the group described here (or should it be h-e-a-r?) as audiophile.


This is classic audiophile doublespeak. When confronted with facts, they respond that the person's equipment isn't good enough, or they have a tin ear.

More proof that your playback system is faulty. LPs can have frequency information far beyond 20khz, which is the limit of CD's. This is the major reason LPs are vastly superior in sound quality to CDs let alone lossy copies.


The assertion of amazing frequency response on LPs is one that has been made repeatedly, and never backed up. I do not deny that phono cartridges can resolve high frequencies, but what I am saying is that such frequencies are not part of the original audio source. They are distortion and groove noise.

Double stuff and double nonsense. If you are unable to hear the differences yourself, read [i]objective surveys which have all concluded that MP3 is the least capable audio codec to use for serious music reproduction while AAC @ 256kbits is OK, but no more than OK. Personally, I like Musepack as well. But for anything serious I use Apple Lossless or Flac.[/i]

Such assertions ignore repeated studies that show MP3's shortcomings at low bit rates vanish at higher rates. If you want to use a lossy codec for music, you should probably use OGG. Again, however, at high bit rates the differences go away (and Lame has gotten a lot better over the years). I like Flac because of its good compression, and that along with OGG, it's an open standard.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by virek
by Machster on Sat 24th May 2008 23:37 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by virek"
Machster Member since:
2007-05-15

The reference I gave was a good reference, in that it gave a very good illustration of MP3 encoding and frequency response. That is what I was discussing. The reference you gave does not address this, neither does it define what variable bit rate was used. Second, no-one is arguing that 64kbit streams should be used for music of any quality on any codec. I stand by my assertion that a 128kbit stream is good for an iPod with the original headphones. Spend just a little money on replacement headphones, and 128kbit streams aren't.

I also appreciate that the presets in Lame were arrived at via double blind listening tests.


In the index, under methodology, you would find that the rates used were 64 and 128khz, one of the most common used today. There are other surveys available, just google.

Please keep in mind the entire purpose of the article: the discussion of the "true audiophile". Such a person would not be listening to an iPod with the original earbuds in the first place.

If you yourself can't tell the difference, then you lack the discerning ear necessary to be included in the group described here (or should it be h-e-a-r?) as audiophile.


This is classic audiophile doublespeak. When confronted with facts, they respond that the person's equipment isn't good enough, or they have a tin ear.


Doublespeak? Not really. One can develop or attune oneself to the senses so that they are much more sensitive or aware than other people. This is neither good or bad (except, perhaps, bad for the wallet).

More proof that your playback system is faulty. LPs can have frequency information far beyond 20khz, which is the limit of CD's. This is the major reason LPs are vastly superior in sound quality to CDs let alone lossy copies.


The assertion of amazing frequency response on LPs is one that has been made repeatedly, and never backed up. I do not deny that phono cartridges can resolve high frequencies, but what I am saying is that such frequencies are not part of the original audio source. They are distortion and groove noise.


People who have claimed to look at the grooves using a spectrum analyzer, say that the rolloff could end at 30-35khz. I am not in a position to prove or disprove the frequency limits. I am a former (well, not quite) audiophile not an engineer.

Double stuff and double nonsense. If you are unable to hear the differences yourself, read [i]objective surveys which have all concluded that MP3 is the least capable audio codec to use for serious music reproduction while AAC @ 256kbits is OK, but no more than OK. Personally, I like Musepack as well. But for anything serious I use Apple Lossless or Flac.[/i]

Such assertions ignore repeated studies that show MP3's shortcomings at low bit rates vanish at higher rates. If you want to use a lossy codec for music, you should probably use OGG. Again, however, at high bit rates the differences go away (and Lame has gotten a lot better over the years). I like Flac because of its good compression, and that along with OGG, it's an open standard.


We agree then about Flac, but I gave up OGG and started using AAC and Apple Lossless. I like AAC better than OGG and it is more convenient with the iTunes and Apple setup. To each his/her own, I say. Enjoy your MP3's, virek. Remember, there is no right or wrong here, no black and white, just opinions.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by virek
by melkor on Sun 25th May 2008 04:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by virek"
melkor Member since:
2006-12-16

I wouldn't say that mp3s sound horrible, muted is what I'd say. Remember, most cheap speakers attached to PCs (even expensive ones) have crappy top ends, so they mate rather well to the muted top ends of mp3s. There's a difference in reproducing high frequencies with spatial information, and not doing so.

For those using iPods - you do *realise* that the earphones that Apple ships with them are both bad for your ears (actually very bad), but are also detrimental to the overall sound quality? The human ear uses the pinnae to distribute information about high frequency pitch and spacial location, direct in the ear canal phones bypass this entirely. The human ear is not designed to take direct noise down the canal, and I think you'll find in 15-20 years that hearing damage will be on the MASSIVE rise. I prefer open design headphones, sure they leak a bit of music to others, and sure you can hear what's going on around you more frequently (not a bad thing imho), but the sound quality will be better imho, and it's a lot safer for your ears.

Dave

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by virek
by FurryOne on Sun 25th May 2008 03:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by virek"
FurryOne Member since:
2006-01-23

The LP is very nice and quiet, but the CD impresses with the noise floor dropping out completely, and with a greater dynamic range (quiet passages are quieter, loud passages are louder). You feel the orchestral attacks in the gut when listening to the CD. Overall coloration in both recordings is the same. My conclusion, if mixed well, Moral: Well done CDs win every time.


A little Company called dbx makes equipment that can bring back the compressed dynamic range of an LP pretty close to what it was recorded at.

I've had a pair of dbx 117's since they came on the market in the 70s, and a 3bx which I need to repair and attach to my preamp. I've just put my stereo back together, and while CDs are nice, I enjoy listening to LPs. Mine were used a lot, so an SAE 5000 takes most of the pops out. You can keep your CDs and digital amps. I'll stuck with all analog - maybe because there's just something there that makes listening to it more enjoyable than digital. Yeah, when I'm out walking, I'll use earbuds and my iPhone/MP3s, but for real listening pleasure, its all analog - even when driving my ancient electrostatic headphones.

Reply Score: 1

Music is best...
by aperh on Fri 23rd May 2008 15:21 UTC
aperh
Member since:
2007-01-03

...when your equipment smells vintage.

I collect vintage equipment as well as records. Theres nothing better than playing some vinyl after coming home. The equipment is a hobby in and of itself. Taking care of it takes quite a lot of time between recapping speakers and troubleshooting component issues (one of my receivers is currently burning out its fuses ;) ). Audiophiles are still going strong, they have just become more of a niche communit than they used to be.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Music is best...
by irbis on Sat 24th May 2008 01:11 UTC in reply to "Music is best..."
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

Audiophiles are still going strong, they have just become more of a niche community than they used to be.

Exactly. Portable and digital music players give consumers new extra toys to choose from but they don't automatically kill old solutions, especially if the old solutions still work well too. Some people may prefer the old toys some the newer ones. Some even use old C-cassettes still too.

There will always be audiophiles and music lovers who are ready to invest in good quality sound and equipment because they want the best audio quality they can afford. For them MP3 may be a step backwards and they may not be huge lovers of portable music players in general either.

Personally, I have never had a portable MP3 player and I'm in no hurry to get one. I just rather listen to my favorite music in the peace of my home using good equipment than on some noisy train using lousy tiny headphones... Really, the analogue sound of old vinyls listened with good equipment at home beats the audio quality of MP3s listened in noisy traffic any time.. ;) Besides, if I can choose, I also prefer to get my digital music in some better quality format than MP3.

The quality of MP3 files can vary a lot. Too often MP3 producers (and consumers?) seem to care more for small file size than audio quality. I suppose crappy quality may be ok if the goal is just to consume latest hits for a short moment like you would consume candies. However, to lots of people good music is still more than just factory made candies to be chewed for a minute and then forgotten. Unfortunately major part of the music industry seems to care less and less for lasting musical quality and more for easy money only.

Maybe it is just that most current "music" from commercial entertainment factories does not even deserve anything better than to be consumed as short-lived MP3 background muzak for some other more important activities and then forgotten. Portable MP3 players may serve that purpose very well.

Reply Score: 2

yeah but
by bullethead on Fri 23rd May 2008 15:29 UTC
bullethead
Member since:
2005-07-10

I to have spent over $30,000 USD on audio equipment for just a 2 channel setup (the whole thing, vinyl, tubes, SACD, CD, and PC Audio).

I don't have anything against digital downloads except the mass market lack of quality. Recently I have been seeing 24bit 96khz FLAC downloads become available from Linn recordings and even Nine Inch Nails.

My question is what is a good real time low latency Linux distro to use to play back these files through my USB DAC? You can get excellent sound from the PC if done correctly...

Reply Score: 2

vinyl?
by bolomkxxviii on Fri 23rd May 2008 15:30 UTC
bolomkxxviii
Member since:
2006-05-19

OK, I admit I am not a true audiophile, but I do like my music and have 5 full stereo setups in my home. I really don't get the vinyl thing though. Playing Enstrausfest in my Denon CD player through my Sony receiver into my Altec Lansing speakers sounds awesome. My Teac Open reel tape recorder sounds better than most MP3s though.

Reply Score: 3

Hmm...
by 1c3d0g on Fri 23rd May 2008 15:35 UTC
1c3d0g
Member since:
2005-07-06

...very interesting read. I don't think there's much we can do about the mass switch to digital downloads (except maybe require online stores to offer Ogg Vorbis-encoded music files), but in the speaker department there's still a few amazing manufacturers left. I know at least one of them (OrbAudio) which makes most of their equipment by hand. Pretty impressive in this day and age, if you ask me.

http://www.orbaudio.com/

Reply Score: 2

RE: Hmm... - electrostatics
by jabbotts on Fri 23rd May 2008 17:16 UTC in reply to "Hmm..."
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

My speaker tech knowledge is lacking so I'm sure there's something cooler but the most interesting I've seen are a set of electrostatics at an audiophile friend's house. It's just wierd to see these two rectangle sheets of metal screen with no magnet well behind them but the sound quality from them speaks for itself. I was just pondering what a 7.1 setup with six of those and a good woofer would be like; geekly cool overkill for a computer though.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Hmm... - electrostatics
by Richard Dale on Fri 23rd May 2008 19:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Hmm... - electrostatics"
Richard Dale Member since:
2005-07-22

My speaker tech knowledge is lacking so I'm sure there's something cooler but the most interesting I've seen are a set of electrostatics at an audiophile friend's house. It's just wierd to see these two rectangle sheets of metal screen with no magnet well behind them but the sound quality from them speaks for itself. I was just pondering what a 7.1 setup with six of those and a good woofer would be like; geekly cool overkill for a computer though.


I've got a pair of Audiostatic DC1 electrostatics that I drive with a pair of Radford tube/valve amps with four EL34s per channel and they indeed do sound great. But the total cost is about 10000 euro or so.

I can't fit that system into the small flat where I now live and at the moment I'm using a pair of modified Tandy Genexxa LX5s, and a battery powered modified Trends TA10.1 tripath chip amp. The little Tandys aren't electrostatics, but they have an exotic 'Linaeum' film tweeter which certainly has much of the magic of my big electrostatics in the treble and midrange, although they do lack bass.

You can get Tandy/Radioshack speakers for about $100 on ebay. Then you need to rewire them (I used Chord Rumour), change the inductor and capacitor in the crossover to higher quality parts (total cost another $50), stuff the ports with drinking straws, and add more foam padding inside the box. Google for instructions.

The basic Trends amp is about $150, and you can get a modified one with battery power supply from Audiomagus (http://www.audiomagus.com) for about $450 dollars. So for a total cost of $600 or so you've got a potentially really exotic system. Add some more little Tandys and a subwoofer, driven by some more tripath digital chip amps and you can build your dream 7.1 system for a relatively low cost.

The iPod is actually a high quality source, although the DAC in the current models isn't as good as the Wolfson in the previous generation. So you can use that as a main source for your system and still be an Audiophile. Buy an older Wolfson based iPod, and get it tweaked by Red Wine audio, and you have a seriously exotic source.

Other great amps/speakers that are cheap include the Glow tube amp ($500), or the Nuforce Icon-1/S-1 amp/speaker combination, the John Blue JB3 speaker ($300) or Hornshoppe horns ($800). The new trend for highly efficient full range crossover-less speakers means that you only need a low power amp to drive them.

I think these new cheap super quality components are a new golden age of affordable Hi End, and I'm having as much fun as I ever have, while spending very little money.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Hmm... - electrostatics
by jonsmirl on Fri 23rd May 2008 20:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Hmm... - electrostatics"
jonsmirl Member since:
2005-07-06

Tripath is a Class-D PWM amp. PWM amps are digital right up to output FET which is hooked to the speaker wires. They have made up a Class-T but it is just a Class-D PWM amp with a feedback line. The feedback line is important. It allows the amp to compensate for things like ripple and droop in the power supply. Digital plus the feedback loop is why Tripath amps sound so good. BTW Tripath is close to going under, a similar amp is the TI TAS5706.

Tube and analog amps are very vulnerable to power supply issues. That's why they have those giant toroidal transformers that weight 50lbs. A 50lb toroid trys to stabilize the power supply.

In the long run the digital amps will win. It is simply much more efficient to use a feedback loop to compensate for power supply variance than it is to build a power supply that doesn't vary. They are lot more power efficient too consuming up to 50% less power to generate the same music volume.

MP3s don't represent all of digital audio. MP3s sound bad because a big chunk of the music has been thrown away in the compression process. Better compression schemes like AAC sound better. No compression sounds best. 192K/24b audio contains more information than the ear can hear.

Speakers are the most critical component. No matter what the amp does it still has to move air for you to be able to hear it. Speaker placement and room acoustics are key. Make sure your subwoofer has enough low end range.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Hmm... - electrostatics
by jabbotts on Fri 23rd May 2008 20:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Hmm... - electrostatics"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I've a friend who swears by tubes. He also restors any tube amp he can get hands on, prefering 50s models, though it's no mystery why. I think his prefered amp for the gittar collection is stamped with a production number under ten.

Digital will likely win out eventually due to production costs but I expect tubes will still be around for those willing to pay.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Hmm... - electrostatics
by jonsmirl on Fri 23rd May 2008 20:17 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Hmm... - electrostatics"
jonsmirl Member since:
2005-07-06

It's just nostalgia. If you use test equipment good digital amps are clearly better at reproducing the signal. Modern digital hardware is also way more accurate than our messy biological ears. Compare 24b resolution to the simple effect of having someone else in the room altering the acoustic paths simply by the presence of their body.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Hmm... - electrostatics
by ChrisV on Fri 23rd May 2008 21:07 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Hmm... - electrostatics"
ChrisV Member since:
2006-11-13

I've a friend who swears by tubes.


Same here. Got hooked on tubes about 15 oder 20 years ago, and never looked back.

Wouldn't want to have them drive 'stats though due to their lack of "omph." Usually, that combination sounds too flat.

Edited 2008-05-23 21:13 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Digital is pure
by shyouko on Fri 23rd May 2008 15:35 UTC
shyouko
Member since:
2005-12-31

Well, I'm not quite sure how this related to OS of any kind, anyway.

Those analogue vinyl lovers seems to me that they are bare fetishist.

I don't understand how you can enjoy music with all those pops and cracks. Or spend the time calibrating your turntable, washing the vinyl before you can start listening to music.

Digital media are clean, clear and undistorted. Your vinyl must have at least gone through 2 equalisation processes, and it is very likely they don't match each other perfectly and got distorted.

Give me a reason why SACD should lose to a vinyl in producing a recording faithfully. I really have no idea.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Digital is pure
by hobgoblin on Fri 23rd May 2008 17:02 UTC in reply to "Digital is pure"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

bah, that osnews is being used for the editors personal rants is nothing new. but i cant say i find any quick indicator that this is a editorial and not a news report...

as for audiophiles (or mediaphiles in general), good riddance. my experience is that they are similar to religious fanatics. unless your using the exactly correct equipment, you should be burned on a stake. or so the mentality seems to be.

if your going to listen to digital audio, it must be max bitrate flac minimum (preferably raw pcm or higher), or your peeing on the holy symbol. if its digital video it should be as close to the sensor signal as possible with as high a resolution as technically possible. "good enough" is the name of the devil.

Reply Score: 10

RE[2]: Digital is pure
by ari-free on Fri 23rd May 2008 18:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Digital is pure"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

Enough with the food and wine critics. McDonalds and Coke for everybody!

Reply Score: 1

RE: Digital is pure
by aperh on Fri 23rd May 2008 17:15 UTC in reply to "Digital is pure"
aperh Member since:
2007-01-03

Get a good receiver and a good turntable with a good cartridge and a good pair of speakers and you will get your reason. Yea you have to adjust your setup and set the tracking force, anti-skate, and other things on your turntable, but what you end up with is a fine-tuned system set up just the way you like it that will sound just the way you want it to. Basically it is something that you will not understand unless you are into it, so in some ways yes, it is a fetish.

As for the crackles and pops, they dont show up on good records with a well-tracking cartridge. If you take good care of a record it will live just as long as a CD. This is where cartridge alignment and tracking force are very important. If it tracks too heavy it will eventually gouge the vinyl out of the groove leading to data loss.

A lot of the alure of analog recordings lays in the fact that the distortion it introduces actually sounds good for most people. Remember, analog media for analog creatures ;)

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: Digital is pure
by shyouko on Sat 24th May 2008 03:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Digital is pure"
shyouko Member since:
2005-12-31

Get a good receiver and a good turntable with a good cartridge and a good pair of speakers and you will get your reason. Yea you have to adjust your setup and set the tracking force, anti-skate, and other things on your turntable, but what you end up with is a fine-tuned system set up just the way you like it that will sound just the way you want it to. Basically it is something that you will not understand unless you are into it, so in some ways yes, it is a fetish.

With the cost of all your "goodies", I can buy a decent sound card that outputs digital signal to a good DAC. Must be cheaper to build, easier to maintain, more faithfully it can reproduce.
And the cost difference between the two systems will let me buy tones of CDs to really enjoy music other than dealing with machines. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Digital is pure - analog vs digital
by jabbotts on Fri 23rd May 2008 17:20 UTC in reply to "Digital is pure"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

MP3 has a set quality limitation. Though there are lossless audio formats, they are still not as flexible as a good analog original source. Keep your audio on vinyl as originals, keep the digital library in flac or similar lossless and keep your player copies in whatever form works best for each gadget.

Some people also prefer the warmth that comes from those pops and whistles along with the more natural processing from rutt to output horn.

I haven't touched a turntable in years mind you, I've just recently been looking at ways to make my audio library more centralized and flexible.

Reply Score: 2

Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

I haven't touched a turntable in years mind you, I've just recently been looking at ways to make my audio library more centralized and flexible.

I faced that problem, too. I'm luck in one respect, my house is wired for networking. I have a file server that sites in one room, and computers that sit on other rooms. That includes the the master bedroom, where the shelf stereo system sits, and the living room. The living room has a good set of speakers wired to the stereo in the bedroom.

The setup works like this: I log into the bedroom computer from anywhere in the house (but mostly from the living room) using RDP or VNC. The bedroom computer has a media player that connects to the file server. Music files stream from the file server to the bedroom computer, and go out to the stereo via an M-Audio 24/96 card. It sounds fabulous.

To keep this OS centric: All the machines run Linux with KDE desktops, and the media player is Kaffeine.

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

If I owned my house, it would have wire run everywhere too. It sounds like a nice setup you have and with VNC, you could even use an old PalmOS with the VNC client as a universal remote.

In the past, I've kept a single IDE drive in a budget NAS box. Loosing my network accessed files every six months or so when that drive box burns through another hard drive lost it's novelty though. I'm living in some dark days without a central storage on my network but it's only temporary until the left overs from last upgrade go into a proper groupware and NAS box. I want to build a Tivonix of some sort for the media centre but that comes after I get the back end cleaned up again.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Digital is pure
by tyrione on Fri 23rd May 2008 17:53 UTC in reply to "Digital is pure"
tyrione Member since:
2005-11-21

Well, I'm not quite sure how this related to OS of any kind, anyway.

Those analogue vinyl lovers seems to me that they are bare fetishist.

I don't understand how you can enjoy music with all those pops and cracks. Or spend the time calibrating your turntable, washing the vinyl before you can start listening to music.

Digital media are clean, clear and undistorted. Your vinyl must have at least gone through 2 equalisation processes, and it is very likely they don't match each other perfectly and got distorted.

Give me a reason why SACD should lose to a vinyl in producing a recording faithfully. I really have no idea.


Go to a Pink Floyd Show and be near the PA System. Then go home and play the songs for a string Digital Experience. You discover you're missing a lot in that open space found in the Analog format.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Digital is pure
by Peter Besenbruch on Fri 23rd May 2008 22:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Digital is pure"
Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

Go to a Pink Floyd Show and be near the PA System. Then go home and play the songs for a string Digital Experience. You discover you're missing a lot in that open space found in the Analog format.

It's been "a few years" since one could go to a Pink Floyd show. I suspect that the PA system might have an advantage or two over an LP. The first is bass response. LPs tend to roll off at 50 Hz or higher. By 20 Hz there is little left. The PA system could probably beat 20 Hz by at least an octave. A CD at least, can reach 20 Hz without rolling off.

On the high end, an LP audiophile pressing might reach 20kHz for the first several playings (I'm being generous). Standard LPs roll off sharply at 14-15kHz. If played often, you lose even that. CDs reach 20kHz.

If you go to rock concerts and stand next to the PA system, then these high frequency issues are moot. Your ability to hear anything like a high frequency is shot, anyway.

Finally, there is the issue of dynamic range. Pink Floyd was one of those loud groups that sometimes played softly. An audiophile LP might achieve a 70db dynamic range, a decent standard pressing, 50. CDs can exceed 90db. That's regular, bog standard CDs.

LPs degrade over time, meaning the noise floor increases the more it is played. CDs (and LPs) may also be badly engineered. Popular music listeners sometimes complain that the CDs they buy use a heavily compressed dynamic range. Everything sounds loud, in other words. That's a reflection on the engineering of the CD, not on what the CD is capable of. Mercifully, classical music has largely been spared this.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Digital is pure
by marbiol on Sun 25th May 2008 10:20 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Digital is pure"
marbiol Member since:
2006-01-20


It's been "a few years" since one could go to a Pink Floyd show.


November last year - no current dates though...

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Digital is pure
by phlegm on Mon 26th May 2008 16:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Digital is pure"
phlegm Member since:
2008-05-26

I'm not sure if that would classify as Floyd. I saw Waters after they broke up when he toured with Clapton playing Floyd songs. 5 man band. It was amazing. Then I saw Gilmore later when he toured with his Floyd. 20 musicians on stage. So much processing you couldn't even who was playing what. Definately didn't feel like a Pink Floyd show other than the lights and sound system.
My 2 cents.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Digital is pure
by emission on Fri 23rd May 2008 21:54 UTC in reply to "Digital is pure"
emission Member since:
2005-07-21

Give me a reason why SACD should lose to a vinyl in producing a recording faithfully. I really have no idea.


Well, the key here is that you're comparing to SACD, which is hardly mainstream.

The big problem with today's CDs etc. is not the technology, but the way the audio is (on purpose) dynamically compressed (not data compression) on many, if not most, CDs. This is done to provide a more easy listening experience in suboptimal environments (the car, the IPod etc.), but it really destroys the music.

If you can find the same recording on both vinyl and CD and perform measurements on them, you will often find that the vinyl recording contains A LOT more dynamic detail.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Digital is pure
by tyrione on Fri 23rd May 2008 22:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Digital is pure"
tyrione Member since:
2005-11-21

"Give me a reason why SACD should lose to a vinyl in producing a recording faithfully. I really have no idea.


Well, the key here is that you're comparing to SACD, which is hardly mainstream.

The big problem with today's CDs etc. is not the technology, but the way the audio is (on purpose) dynamically compressed (not data compression) on many, if not most, CDs. This is done to provide a more easy listening experience in suboptimal environments (the car, the IPod etc.), but it really destroys the music.

If you can find the same recording on both vinyl and CD and perform measurements on them, you will often find that the vinyl recording contains A LOT more dynamic detail.
"

Is there a reason you only have one point in voting on your comment, other than Truth is something people can't stand?

Edited 2008-05-23 22:59 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Digital is pure
by kaiwai on Fri 23rd May 2008 23:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Digital is pure"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

"Give me a reason why SACD should lose to a vinyl in producing a recording faithfully. I really have no idea.


Well, the key here is that you're comparing to SACD, which is hardly mainstream.

The big problem with today's CDs etc. is not the technology, but the way the audio is (on purpose) dynamically compressed (not data compression) on many, if not most, CDs. This is done to provide a more easy listening experience in suboptimal environments (the car, the IPod etc.), but it really destroys the music.

If you can find the same recording on both vinyl and CD and perform measurements on them, you will often find that the vinyl recording contains A LOT more dynamic detail.
"

Hmm, if you're interested in re-issues and re-mastered old music; I've found a good many have actually upped the quality of the recording - but that does come at the expense of having to spread it over 2 cds. Given the cheapness of cd's these days, there should be no reason why one can't have high quality recordings spanned over 2 cds.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Digital is pure
by melkor on Sun 25th May 2008 04:13 UTC in reply to "Digital is pure"
melkor Member since:
2006-12-16

Crackles? Bah. Sure, if you listen through an el cheapo $99 plastic turntable that comes with undampled cheap, plastic tonearm and an el cheapo ceramic cartridge, coupled to 2nd hand vinyl from the 80s that did not use virgin vinyl, and was not of a good pressing quality.

However, if you listen to vinyl LP on a quality turntable, using a quality tonearm and cartridge, using quality pressed vinyl, you'll be amazed at how good it can sound. Oh, and you need a decent phono amp (or preamp/amp with a decent phono stage) to do the RIAA equalisation.

Digital isn't bad sounding at all, in fact, in a good setup, it can be just as good as vinyl. Good setups take time, and cost money, it's an unfortunate aspect of this expensive hobby.

Just remember - nature is analogue. You don't seen digital sound signals in nature. It's analogue. I don't think man is good enough to better nature whatsoever. Pretty much explains why as we become more and more technologically advanced, we end up screwing more and more up.

A dedicated audio system costs a lot, but does (generally) sound good, very good. How good? How much better than an iPod etc? Probably not by a huge margin - there's the good ole fashioned law of diminished returns that comes into play - the more you spend, the less the increase in quality you will gain.

I'm a transistor guy myself, but I do admit that the good old thermionic valve setup (usually single ended 300bs or 211 triodes) can sound very very good.

I've got a system that's worth more than most people's cars, although truth be told I'm too lazy to use it these days because I simply cannot set it up as it demands (speaker placement etc).

Dave

Reply Score: 2

AdamW
Member since:
2005-07-06

http://www.head-fi.org

music going more portable doesn't mean the death of the audiophile, it just means the equipment changes...

it's not that surprising for speakers from the 1980s to still work. Speakers aren't inherently particular prone to breaking through normal operation. I wouldn't be surprised if most cheap boomboxes bought today still work in 30 years, there's just not a lot to go wrong in there. My dad's speakers are from the early 70s, I think.

Even for non-portable systems, I don't think people are necessarily spending less on components, it's just that the components change. The drop in separate CD players is just as I'd have expected. Aside from the really loony ones, even most audiophiles recognize that just about any CD player with a digital output of some kind will do. Yes, you can argue about timing issues and error correction and a ton of other theoretical bullcrap, but frankly, in the end, you're going to get much the same stream of 1s and 0s out of the $20 off-brand drive in your PC as you would out of a top-end, $5,000 'transport', much as the loonyphiles would want to believe the opposite. So, of course people don't buy separate CD players any more, as almost everyone has something that'll do the job already.

Then you look at the next stage - amplification. If you looked at the numbers, I bet you'd see sales of traditional hi-fi two channel pre-amps and amps are down, but I also bet if you go over to the 'home theater' numbers and look at sales of combined surround sound receivers / amps, they'll be way up. And that makes sense too. Most people spending a reasonable amount of money on audio equipment these days will probably be watching movies as well as listening to music. Why buy equipment that can only do one of the two?

Overall, I suspect the same (fairly small) percentage of people as always really care about the quality of sound they get, but these days, those people are just as likely to own a top-end pair of headphones and another pair of IEMs, and / or a Blu-Ray player and a home theater receiver, as they are to own a 'traditional' set of hi-fi components. That's certainly what I have: Spitfire Audio headphone DAC and amp, Grado HF-1 headphones, Etymotics ER-4p IEMs; then an HTPC and a PS3, a Pioneer home theater receiver, Paradigm Mini Monitor fronts and Titan rears, a Velodyne sub and Energy center channel. All (relatively) expensive audio equipment, only the speakers really traditional 'hi-fi' stuff.

Reply Score: 6

kejar31 Member since:
2006-01-08

I couldn't agree more with AdamW.

Edited 2008-05-23 20:28 UTC

Reply Score: 1

OMFG CHANGE!!!!!!!!!!!
by zombie process on Fri 23rd May 2008 15:50 UTC
zombie process
Member since:
2005-07-08

NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooo..........

Reply Score: 4

Things changed some thats all...
by Nex6 on Fri 23rd May 2008 16:34 UTC
Nex6
Member since:
2005-07-06

back in the days, I was a real huge audiophile. got really into it. as I got older, and my hobbys and life/Career changed. having all this equipment, all over the place. became less important. and, Computer sound cards start getting pretty damn good. you could now, hookup stuff to your PC... and later your ipod.

i, in the end just gave all my old style sound systems to my brother. and just migrated to smaller devices and PC based listening.

but; there where many factors, in getting rid of it. space being a major factor.

Reply Score: 5

Tom:
by sergio on Fri 23rd May 2008 16:52 UTC
sergio
Member since:
2005-07-06

AMEN

Reply Score: 0

RE: Tom:
by hollovoid on Fri 23rd May 2008 18:18 UTC in reply to "Tom:"
hollovoid Member since:
2005-09-21

I second that.

I am on my 3rd setup right now, and there is really nothing better than quality components, Adcom amp, Paradigm Monitor speakers, Nakamichi Tape deck (kinda just for show, its 30 years old and still works perfectly) Denon cd player, Harmon Kardon pre amp. Its amazing the subtle details you miss listening to "average" sound systems. My only complaint is with a digital collection it exposes how terrible even the highest bitrate mp3's sound. Which influenced my buying of cd's more than anything.

Reply Score: 2

My Brother In Law
by phoehne on Fri 23rd May 2008 16:52 UTC
phoehne
Member since:
2006-08-26

He's a serious audiophile. He's main system is a tube amplifier based system, connected to a pair of massive speakers he bought when some classical music concert venue upgraded its speakers. He spends a lot of time getting this just right, with the cleanest sound possible. My sister, his wife, tolerates his very space unfriendly hobby.

When I was a teenager boom-boxes sounded like crap. Headphones sounded very tinny. Cassettes really deteriorated in quality. Vinyl sounded great if you had/could afford a nice record player. I remember shopping for speakers 20 years ago and looking at paying $300 for each speaker. I think I paid something like $500 for the CD player. Now, those 20 year old speakers sound only marginally better than the (external, powered) speakers attached to my computer.

When my brother in law puts a CD in his setup I smile and pretend I can hear the difference, but I can't. Frankly, it sounds about the same as it does coming out of anything with a decent set of speakers. How do I know a record is playing as opposed to a CD? With a record you get odd "pops" as crap goes by under the needle. People say the sound is warmer from a vinyl record, but I really can't hear the difference.

Is audiophile dead? No. I still like to listen to music, sometimes doing nothing else but just listening. Sometimes I'll listen to the same piece, over and over again, trying to really pick it apart. However, a lot of equipment that's low end or built into other devices (such as PC's) has gotten 'good enough' that most people can't hear the difference. I know, intellectually, that the compression used by iTunes knocks out some of the quality of the music compared to a CD. I just can't tell the difference.

To put it another way. When I listen to Glen Gould playing the Goldberg Variations, my first real stereo was an ear opener. Compared to a boom-box or a walkman, I could really hear all sorts of other sounds (even breathing) and much richer tones. When I play the Goldberg Variations on my laptop with external speakers, it really is hard to tell the difference between that and my stereo.

Edited 2008-05-23 17:07 UTC

Reply Score: 8

It's digital anyway
by chmeee on Fri 23rd May 2008 17:56 UTC
chmeee
Member since:
2006-01-10

Most new recordings, even on vinyl, are recorded digitally, then transferred to vinyl, so they sound virtually identical to CDs, maybe even worse, since CDs can be digitally enhanced, while the vinyl must go through the A-D conversion before being enhanced.

Older recordings, on the other hand -- those done before the 1990's, will sound better as vinyl, as long as you buy originals, and not remasters. Remasters have been sitting on a digital shelf, and have been recopied to vinyl, so are digital anyway, and probably lost a lot of their original sound properties in that process. Still, older vinyl beats newer CDs any day simply because of the music on them -- the new stuff is just plain crap, the older stuff is golden.

Reply Score: 3

RE: It's digital anyway
by bousozoku on Sat 24th May 2008 01:10 UTC in reply to "It's digital anyway"
bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23


...
Older recordings, on the other hand -- those done before the 1990's, will sound better as vinyl, as long as you buy originals, and not remasters. Remasters have been sitting on a digital shelf, and have been recopied to vinyl, so are digital anyway, and probably lost a lot of their original sound properties in that process. Still, older vinyl beats newer CDs any day simply because of the music on them -- the new stuff is just plain crap, the older stuff is golden.


A lot of the early conversions to CD were poor and they gave audiophiles a reason to complain about digital technology.

Remembering the first two digital recordings using the SoundStream system, the vinyl had to be produced outside the U.S.A. because of the harsh chemicals involved. The typical U.S. vinyl had poor dynamic range and limiting killed most recordings. I have one of those Telarc recordings and it's much better on CD. In fact, almost everything is better on CD--it's a matter of care taken during re-mastering.

There is that whimsical notion that analog components provide atmosphere. They do. They usually hides the fact that there are major flaws. Your ears fill in the gaps, just as your eyes do with bad t.v. If it sounds warm, you feel warm, just like most people feel about their first text editor.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by stestagg
by stestagg on Fri 23rd May 2008 18:26 UTC
stestagg
Member since:
2006-06-03

The other point that has been missed here, is that in the past, cheap audio equipment sucked. big time. The audio quality of a tape[compression/noise], or a cheap deck [compression/artefacts]was so awful, that it drove people to buy better systems. And as long as you're investing money in something, you might as well see how good you can get, right?

Nowadays, the base level of quality is so good [mp3 artefacts included] that most people really are satisfied with what they've got. So there is no incentive to start the money-sucking quest for audio perfection.

And for those who say that Stereo Viynl always wins, buy a surround-sound SACD system for about the same price as a good quality Decks system, and then do a blind test. The SACD will win every time.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by stestagg
by StephenBeDoper on Sun 25th May 2008 00:26 UTC in reply to "Comment by stestagg"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

The other point that has been missed here, is that in the past, cheap audio equipment sucked. big time. The audio quality of a tape[compression/noise], or a cheap deck [compression/artefacts]was so awful, that it drove people to buy better systems.


Exactly. (Warning: anecdote ahead) A few years back, I chipped in on a new stereo for my dad's birthday - to replace a decent-but-aging component system.

Physically, just a *single* speaker from his old system was at least 2-3 times larger than the entire new stereo. And yet, the new system produces noticeably-better sound quality - from the same media. He still has the old speakers today - he uses one of them as a table/stand for the new stereo.

IMO, the opinions of "audiophiles" have always been influenced mostly by sentimentality, affected snobbery, and cognitive dissonance. Most of the typical audiophile pretensions don't hold up to even the most basic scrutiny (E.g., double-blind testing).

Reply Score: 3

Audiophile? Not at 128kbps
by truckweb on Fri 23rd May 2008 18:26 UTC
truckweb
Member since:
2005-07-06

With the advent of iTune, Napster, downloadable music in general, who can say that they are truly audiophile?

Maybe iTune Plus services, witch give you 256kbps files in AAC is better than most other music you can download but please, don't say that 128kbps is enough and if you find it good enough well, you're not an audiophile.

I'm not going to start a debate on how good sounding are MP3 players, or if Creative is better than Apple, but in the end, they are all crap compared to real audiophile equipment with lossless CD, SACD, DVD-Audio or high quality well maintained vinyl/turntable.

Even if you store non compressed music on your MP3 player, the quality of the device is far from what you can get with a good Hi-Fi setup.

Today, music is like fast food, people just don't care about quality, they just want to listen to music. Case in point, XM or Sirius, both sound awful far from "near" CD quality.

Convenience over quality....

Reply Score: 3

The decline...
by kaiwai on Fri 23rd May 2008 21:48 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

The decline in stereo's has been around for a long time. I remember back when I grew up my parents bought a Philips kit with record and cd player (bought separately). This was back when you bought a stereo, the speakers were at least 1.5 metres high and a good bass pounding number could result in the feel of vibrations through the floor boards.

Then we had the rise of these crap 'mini-systems' with their crappy sound, their muffled audio - and what is worse, I was horrified when I heard people listen their music through these awful contraptions and couldn't even notice just how crap the audio sounded. I really wondered, when seeing people enjoying audio out this awful device, whether their hearing had be ruined at some point in their life.

Then the further decline was the rise of manufactured garbage such as Britney Spears, the numerous 5 boy (and girl) bands coupled with the now homogenous sound of what seems to be the same 'beat' that's used over and over again. I mean, to truly see the decline - just take a look at Neowin members debating over the 'decline' in quality of Madonna's music - as if there was ever a high point. Its commercialised pop music designed for the uneducated, lowest common denominator, unwashed masses who are easily persuaded by the 'oom cha oom cha' beat.

Sorry to say folks, but music and its equipment is going to continue to decline. Its going to decline because most people don't know what good music and a good stereo sounds like. When you have to reference point to compare it to, then one assumes that it must be good.

Reply Score: 5

RE: The decline...
by blitze on Sat 24th May 2008 01:55 UTC in reply to "The decline..."
blitze Member since:
2006-09-15

Get off ya high horse on the decline of music. Just because the commercial channels are clogged with crap doesn't mean there isn't any good stuff being produced.

Oh and answer to Mandonna's highlight, I think her Confessions on a Dance Floor was the best but that was due to the producers used and some of the musical ideas they ripped off earlier artists.

Commercial music has been stagnant for a few decades now but that's what happens when you get music being pushed as a product.

As for systems, they change but I run my audio through my PC controlled by an Echo Gina3G which works well on Windows Vista and Linux and I believe there is also BeOS support for it as well. Very good 24/96 solution then running to a dual channel power amp and 2 biwired bookshelf monitor speakers. Serves me well and has done so for many years. Might take the amp in for an upgrade and if I want I can get more base with a matching sub but for appartments it's fine.

Needing anything more I run my AKG headphones from the Echo's breakout box.

My music is usually compressed with Ogg Vorbis @ 192bit rate or setting 6. Pity there is no alternative to that Russian MP3 store that allowed you to encode your music purchases in any format you wanted. That was a great concept and would work well if not stomped on by the West. Just gotto make sure some of the income gets to the artists but not the RIA.

Reply Score: 2

RE: The decline...
by netpython on Sat 24th May 2008 05:40 UTC in reply to "The decline..."
netpython Member since:
2005-07-06

A good reference point would be imho a live concert.

Edited 2008-05-24 05:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: The decline...
by AdamW on Sat 24th May 2008 06:37 UTC in reply to "RE: The decline..."
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

What, a live *rock* concert? Where the traditional method of getting sound from the band's own small integrated amps/speaker units to the venue's PA system - "grab a microphone and stick it as close to the grille as you can" - is still the state of the art at most venues? Um, yeah, THAT'S high quality audio.

A live jazz or classical concert in a well-tuned concert hall? Sure. But most live rock shows (and badly set up live classical or jazz shows, for that matter) sound, in a technical sense, terrible. They're hugely enjoyable for other reasons, but they're not a good reference source for quality sound.

Reply Score: 3

What's in a name... ?
by BSDfan on Fri 23rd May 2008 22:24 UTC
BSDfan
Member since:
2007-03-14

Thom, I think you're trying to say "What a name!", please learn English.

Thank you... ;)

Reply Score: 0

RE: What's in a name... ?
by Doc Pain on Sat 24th May 2008 00:49 UTC in reply to "What's in a name... ?"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Thom, I think you're trying to say "What a name!", please learn English.


Maybe he's refering to the OGG format as a container (for video and audio data, Vorbis or Theora - OGG/Vorbis and OGG/Theora -, for example), so he's asking what's in the name of Erika Ogg because she's got the same name as the famous OGG container format, maybe. :-)

Reply Score: 4

RE: What's in a name... ?
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 24th May 2008 03:38 UTC in reply to "What's in a name... ?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Thom, I think you're trying to say "What a name!", please learn English.

Thank you... ;)


Please learn literature.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: What's in a name... ?
by BSDfan on Sat 24th May 2008 04:40 UTC in reply to "RE: What's in a name... ?"
BSDfan Member since:
2007-03-14

Poetry is for dweebs.. ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: What's in a name... ?
by Havin_it on Sat 24th May 2008 11:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's in a name... ?"
Havin_it Member since:
2006-03-10

Poetry is for dweebs.. ;)

Umm, try drama, mate. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare. Ring a bell?

Being ignorant to one of the most famous quotations from the most famous playwright of the English language is no crime in my book. Even being unaware that this is also an extremely commonly-used turn of phrase in said language is even forgivable, but these facts do seem to damage your credibility when you attempt to lecture another on the correct use of the language.

Next time you contemplate making a public posting that serves no other purpose than to attempt to belittle the author, please pay some mind to the risk of being exposed as an ignorant and hypocritical, as well as just a horrifically arrogant, ass-hat. Kthxbai ;)

Reply Score: 5

3 reasons for the decline
by Machster on Sat 24th May 2008 03:06 UTC
Machster
Member since:
2007-05-15

1. The iPod (and the computer).
2. The growth of serious video systems.
3. The outrageous pricing of equipment put most systems out of the reach of ordinary individuals including would be audiophiles.

Reply Score: 2

RE: 3 reasons for the decline
by ChrisV on Sat 24th May 2008 11:51 UTC in reply to "3 reasons for the decline"
ChrisV Member since:
2006-11-13

3. The outrageous pricing of equipment put most systems out of the reach of ordinary individuals including would be audiophiles.


Actually, no.

While it's true that you could easily spend $1k on a 3 foot speaker cable, you do not have to.

You can spend, say $2k, on a combination of Myryad, Cambridge and Duetto or Castle and come away with a very decent stereo that would qualify as 'audiophile.'

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: 3 reasons for the decline
by Machster on Sat 24th May 2008 13:51 UTC in reply to "RE: 3 reasons for the decline"
Machster Member since:
2007-05-15

While it is possible to to put together a decent system (i.e. better than mass market, Japanese made such as Sony, Pioneer, Denon, etc.) that costs $2k, it would hardly be considered "audiophile" grade. And once someone starts to look into purchasing good equipment, if his ears are able to tell the difference, and they should, watch out for the inevitable upgradeitis.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: 3 reasons for the decline
by ChrisV on Sun 25th May 2008 07:54 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: 3 reasons for the decline"
ChrisV Member since:
2006-11-13

While it is possible to to put together a decent system (i.e. better than mass market, Japanese made such as Sony, Pioneer, Denon, etc.) that costs $2k, it would hardly be considered "audiophile" grade.


I know, that's why I put it in quotes. However, considering mass market crap you can buy (especially Sony) it does qualify as audiophile.
It does not, when you compared it to, say Yves Cochet amps or Isophon speakers.

And once someone starts to look into purchasing good equipment, if his ears are able to tell the difference, and they should, watch out for the inevitable upgradeitis.


Absofrigginlutely.

Reply Score: 1

It's not a farewell, merely a change...
by bb_matt on Sat 24th May 2008 06:43 UTC
bb_matt
Member since:
2006-01-04

My brother was an Audiophile when we were growing up, choosing expensive cable to hook up his speakers, placing the speakers on plinths at optimum projection height, choosing the best equipment he could afford.

We would spend hours listening to his records, kept in immaculate condition.

Despite this, these days, I still find that a modern, decent mp3 player with high quality headphones provides a better music experience.

It's akin to the first time I listened to a Sony Walkman, some 24 years ago - that totally blew my mind, such was the novelty of a truly portable music device.

Yes, I'd agree, the days of the towering Hi-fi stack with it's monolithic speakers has gone, but look at what has replaced it - the home entertainment system.

Instead of a tower dedicated to sound, we have a tower dedicated to all types of media. Movies, music, games - they are all now in the same location as our beloved Hifi's used to be.

So cry to the decline of the Audiophile if you must, the rest of us will simply embrace this digital age and mark it down as inevitable change.

Reply Score: 2

The real enemy of the audiophile
by Meridian on Sat 24th May 2008 07:08 UTC
Meridian
Member since:
2007-12-18

The audiophile's greatest natural enemy is marriage. Trust me on that.

Reply Score: 3

Audiophiles bring out the worst in people
by dlundh on Sat 24th May 2008 08:19 UTC
dlundh
Member since:
2007-03-29

Audiophiles are like a small hivemind cult, opinionated, faith-based and secretive know-it-all snobs.

Face it, if you're still holding on to vinyl or any other physical medium as your source of music, you're a dinosaur (and probably a fetishist). It oozes of repressed sexuality when people describe how they polish their vinyls and tend to their record players. Seriously.

It's like those sad people who go through the trouble of buying a NES to play NES games when the system can be emulated on pretty much anything these days.

The world moved on, so should you.

Link is very related, it backs up my statements with cold, hard truth:
http://www.randi.org/jr/121004science.html#11

Reply Score: 1

emission Member since:
2005-07-21

Face it, if you're still holding on to vinyl or any other physical medium as your source of music, you're a dinosaur (and probably a fetishist).


Ask your local fetishist to give you a demonstration of the virtues of vinyl recordings, with mid/high-end equipment. If you still think he/she is a dinosaur after that, then fine.. it's nobody's loss.

Reply Score: 1

stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

Ask your local, technically competent, fettishist to play you a SACD on a good system, then you will understand how technology has changed.

* p.s. do, at least, a blind test.

Reply Score: 2

truckweb Member since:
2005-07-06

The problem with SACD or DVD-Audio is that they are not common, and most of the time, only for classical music.

On the other hand, you can buy almost every new album on vinyl, made mostly for DJ that still use them on their turntable. They are of good quality because of that.

I DID a blind test, with a friend that is a true audiophile, using Pink Floyd "Division Bell", song "High Hope". On vinyl and CD and to my taste, vinyl won...

Reply Score: 1

The Seventh Taylor Member since:
2008-05-24

Of course vinyl wins from CD. If you're into Pink Floyd, you really should try the SACD of 'Dark Side of the Moon'. You may want to compare it to CD and vinyl, but make sure you listen to it on a multichannel setup.

By the way, though many DJs still use vinyl, many others have switched to CDs, HDDs or use a mixture of media. And though a lot of stuff still gets released on vinyl, I doubt much of it ends up on DJs' turntables. A lot of music doesn't lend itself to playing in the sort of venues where DJs perform. These records, most likely expensive 180grams discs, probably make up the other vinyl segment: audiophile.

Reply Score: 1

emission Member since:
2005-07-21

Ask your local, technically competent, fettishist to play you a SACD on a good system, then you will understand how technology has changed.


I do, since I have both a good turntable and an SACD player. SACD is superb, I know that.

Reply Score: 1

dlundh Member since:
2007-03-29

I grew up with vinyl. Nothing of value was lost when we moved on to CD and again when we moved away from physical media. The whole ZOMG LISTEN TO THIS VINYL thing is so passé it's not even funny. I'm actually unsure if you were just trolling or really meant it.

Reply Score: 1

Richard Dale Member since:
2005-07-22

Audiophiles are like a small hivemind cult, opinionated, faith-based and secretive know-it-all snobs.

Face it, if you're still holding on to vinyl or any other physical medium as your source of music, you're a dinosaur (and probably a fetishist). It oozes of repressed sexuality when people describe how they polish their vinyls and tend to their record players. Seriously.

It's like those sad people who go through the trouble of buying a NES to play NES games when the system can be emulated on pretty much anything these days.

The world moved on, so should you.

Link is very related, it backs up my statements with cold, hard truth:
http://www.randi.org/jr/121004science.html#11


You seem to be a bit of a moron. Why do you need to be so utterly rude about a harmless hobby? 'repressed sexuality' huh?

Since when does this lying two faced Randi guy know anything whatsoever about audio, or physics for that matter. He doesn't. 'Cold, hard truth' from an illusionist and magician?

Reply Score: 1

Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

The whole reason Randi has any credibility for detecting scams is because he's a magician. Most people are too credulous, or just not trained to detect trickery. Harry Houdini made it his business to expose frauds as well.

And your proof that he's lying is...?

Reply Score: 2

Richard Dale Member since:
2005-07-22

The whole reason Randi has any credibility for detecting scams is because he's a magician. Most people are too credulous, or just not trained to detect trickery. Harry Houdini made it his business to expose frauds as well.

And your proof that he's lying is...?


No proof need because he hasn't actually carried out any sort of listening test, double blind or otherwise on expensive High End audio systems. Nor have all the people being rude about audiophiles on his blogs - the whole bunch of them have absolutely no real world experience whatsoever.

When Michael Fremer the Stereophile journalist appeared to actually know what he was talking about the 'Great Randi' bottled out of the comparison. He blamed Michael Fremer for wanting to use MIT speaker cables which have a capacitor/inductor network built into them to correct the inherent electrical properties of the cable itself. The guy is just a publicity seeking liar and that's all there is to it.

I used to own a $500 dollar cable that I used to drive my Valve amp/full range electrostatic loudspeakers. I replaced the cable (bought from Audio Consultants of Camden, London who sold me the speakers), for Nordost Red Dawn (c. $1600) and there was a massive improvement. A non-audiophile friend said she found the system was much, much better - you didn't need any sort of blind test, the improvement was massive and obvious. Even non-subjective factors indicated that there had been a large improvement - some tracks that had caused a resonance in the bass now played fine.

On the other hand if you base you system on highly efficient horn speakers, then cables make much less of a difference. Any improvements are very system dependent, and if I had owned a very efficient horn based system with a single full range crossover-less driver then it is quite possible that there would have been no point in upgrading to the Nordost cables.

Reply Score: 1

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

...A non-audiophile friend said she found the system was much, much better - you didn't need any sort of blind test, the improvement was massive and obvious.

Yeah, right. I was just recently reading about a study investigating the use of fish oil for the control of seizures. The anectdotal evidence was *extremely* promising. Many seizure sufferers claimed that fish oil had helped them greatly.

The study itself was in two parts. The first studied people's reported incidence of seizures in a noncontrolled way. All the participants got fish oil and reported whether their incidence of seizures had increased, decreased or remained the same. This part of the study showed that fish oil had substantial benefit.

But then next part of the study moved to a more rigorous double blind method. And the effect of the fish oil completely disappeared.

For obvious reasons, I find your anecdote unconvincing.

Reply Score: 2

Richard Dale Member since:
2005-07-22


But then next part of the study moved to a more rigorous double blind method. And the effect of the fish oil completely disappeared.

For obvious reasons, I find your anecdote unconvincing.


WTF has a test about fish oil got to do with listening to a HiFi system. You either accusing me of being deaf, gullible, un-scientific or not telling the truth or all of those. For obvious reasons I don't give a toss about your opinion.

Did you miss the bit about the bass resonance problem in the speakers being cured? Why exactly would I need a double blind test to notice that?

I've learned from the posts on this article the following:

* All CD players sound the same
* All wines taste the same
* All speaker cables sound the same

I assume we soon be told all coffee tastes the same, and that all amplifiers sound the same too. Do you use double blind tests to choose your girlfriends/wife? Do studio engineers use double blind listening tests to choose microphones and their positioning? I think not.

This obsession with double blind testing as the 'One True Way' is just silly. It is a perfectly valid technique to use for reviewing/designing HiFi equipment, but it has problems of its own. For instance, if you use short pieces of music and rapidly switch between equipment options, that the users aren't familiar with, then the results tend to not be very reliable. You brain needs time to settle down and relax, and the usual atmosphere of a double blind test makes that harder.

Reply Score: 1

MP3 is to blame
by JCooper on Sat 24th May 2008 11:45 UTC
JCooper
Member since:
2005-07-06

When everyone had 56k connections, but wanted to steal music, MP3 provided the perfect medium - people got the music they wanted, that sounded OK at the volume they wanted to play it on their PC.

Nowadays, broadband is everywhere and storage is cheap. It's a shame the online stores only sell MP3s (albeit at reasonable qualities) rather than FLAC - audiophiles would return in droves if you could buy the odd tune here and there in FLAC (I know I might consider it).

At least CDs are cheaper nowadays ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: MP3 is to blame
by lydgate on Sat 24th May 2008 13:56 UTC in reply to "MP3 is to blame"
lydgate Member since:
2006-12-30

Used vinyl (even in excellent or near mint quality) is about 1/5 the price of new releases of the same stuff.

Obviously that excludes rarities, but I can pick up 4-6 LPs for 10 pounds here in the UK; it's hard to find a single CD that cheap, at least in stores. (Of course used CDs are cheaper, but I've not found a good source of these yet...)

Reply Score: 1

Vinyl
by h3rman on Sat 24th May 2008 12:15 UTC
h3rman
Member since:
2006-08-09

Vinyl, a well-mastered recording, actually does sound great. The problem is it stops sounding great after having played it a bit too often. That's what the vinyl fans often forget to mention.

Reply Score: 2

Audiophiles are alive and well...
by _yc_ on Sat 24th May 2008 13:12 UTC
_yc_
Member since:
2007-04-03

Older components are simply being replaced by newer, more modern components. I for one prefer the higher end systems and I think it is because I have gotten used to it. Once you get used to higher end systems you really miss the details and sound stage that the higher end stuff gives you. Although I must admit that I have heard some great sound from very inexpensive setups these days.

I rarely play CDs anymore, I have an AppleTV and a SqueezeBox that streams most of my music from a huge ReadyNAS disk, not to mention my iPod ;) . I currently have a 3 zone system. My equipment includes Paradigm AVM 30 pre-amp, MCA-50, pva 7 and pva 5 amps, I use paradigm v3 studio 100 and 60 speakers and some older jm-lab electra and cobalt speakers. I have gotten those over the years and it may be time to upgrade. They really sound great and I know many people who really appreciate the difference in the sound. For portability I think the iPod is really nice.

Most people are happy with some very decent sound that you can get inexpensively these days. But once you listen to the high end stuff, you will notice the difference and you will not want to go back. ;)

It's like HDTV vs Standard Definition TV. ;)


ciao

Edited 2008-05-24 13:20 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Maybe I'm old-fashioned
by lydgate on Sat 24th May 2008 13:53 UTC
lydgate
Member since:
2006-12-30

But I'm 23 years old, don't own and do not intend ever to own an iPod, have a vinyl collection, and am planning to build a component audio system once I've saved enough money... I'm not an audiophile, I just prefer vinyl. The turntable I have now is pretty cheap but I like it.

Reply Score: 1

Speakers ???
by wayne1932 on Sat 24th May 2008 15:33 UTC
wayne1932
Member since:
2005-07-06

I bought my first HIFI speaker in 1957, a Jim Lansing 12 incher. When stereo came along and I got out of college and could afford it, I bought a second one. I'm still using them, and they play just fine. The wife complains about the big enclosures, but they were here before her, so what the hay!!!

Reply Score: 1

the reality of audiophilia
by unclefester on Sat 24th May 2008 22:56 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

The reality is in blind tests the audiophile can't tell the difference. Even professional orchestral musicians can't tell the difference. Fencing wire used to connect speakers sounds exactly the same as very expensive oxygen free copper. All CD players sound the same when connected to the same speakers and amplifiers.

By middle age human hearing is so badly deteriorated that a great deal of sound can't even be heard. Most adults can't hear above about 16kHz but audiophiles insist on speakers that can produce 28kHz sounds.

Wine buffs are similar. In blind tastings they can very rarely even identify the grape variety accurately let alone the actual vintage.

Even professional concert violinists find it almost impossible to tell a Stradivarius from any other good quality violin when it is played behind a screen.

Reply Score: 1

RE: the reality of audiophilia
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 24th May 2008 23:07 UTC in reply to "the reality of audiophilia"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The reality is in blind tests the audiophile can't tell the difference. Even professional orchestral musicians can't tell the difference. Fencing wire used to connect speakers sounds exactly the same as very expensive oxygen free copper. All CD players sound the same when connected to the same speakers and amplifiers.

By middle age human hearing is so badly deteriorated that a great deal of sound can't even be heard. Most adults can't hear above about 16kHz but audiophiles insist on speakers that can produce 28kHz sounds.

Wine buffs are similar. In blind tastings they can very rarely even identify the grape variety accurately let alone the actual vintage.

Even professional concert violinists find it almost impossible to tell a Stradivarius from any other good quality violin when it is played behind a screen.


The fact this discussion deteriorated into rambling on about blind tests just goes to show how little people care about music these days. So what if someone can't tell the difference between a mass-produced violin and a Stradivarius? If that someone prefers to listen to a Stradivarius because it makes the total listening experience more enjoyable, than who gives a rat's ass about blind testing?

That fact that many here seem incapable of understanding that just goes to show how little you care. Music is about emotion, not science.

Scientific research has produced a woman's face that is scientifically proven to be the most attractive female face.

She was ugly as sin.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: the reality of audiophilia
by sbergman27 on Sat 24th May 2008 23:32 UTC in reply to "RE: the reality of audiophilia"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

That fact that many here seem incapable of understanding that just goes to show how little you care.

About what? The mechanics of the reproduction of the music? Bragging rights on equipment ownership? Placebo effects resulting from false expectations? Or the music itself?

I used to care about the equipment reproducing the music and had a nice component system. Now I'm older and have a different perspective. I care about the music itself and have a portable ogg player. I'd never go back. And my headphone plug isn't even gold plated. Audiophiles are amusing. :-)

Reply Score: 4

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Somehow Joe Audiphile can tell the difference between pieces of equipment that an elite orchestral conductor can't. This means either the conductor is totally incompetent or the audiophile is a total tosser. In fact the whole audiophile experience is a really just a placebo effect based on snobbery. Audiophilia is almost always a male obsession and it is about boasting rights rather than an appreciation of music. The audiophile is very rarely an expert on music or a capable intrumentalist. They are much like the golfer with a 20 handicap who spends thousands of dollars on new clubs and is still a hopeless player.

Reply Score: 1

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

In fact the whole audiophile experience is a really just a placebo effect...

Yes. Very much so.

Worse yet, the "audiophile experience" is divorced from the actual appreciation of music. Mozart can be appreciated better on an ipod than on an expensive rig if the rig itself, rather than the music, has become the focus.

That said, there are times that the right equipment can enhance the experience. For example, I enjoy listening to my Benny Goodman on my 1942 Magnavox, which has been in my family for 66 years, more than on more modern equipment. It feels pretty cool knowing that it was playing Goodman back when the music, and it, were new. :-)

Edited 2008-05-25 02:17 UTC

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

The fact this discussion deteriorated into rambling on about blind tests just goes to show how little people care about music these days.


...what? Your premise does not support your conclusion - and the premise isn't so hot either.

So what if someone can't tell the difference between a mass-produced violin and a Stradivarius? If that someone prefers to listen to a Stradivarius because it makes the total listening experience more enjoyable,


If there's no discernible difference, then how does it make the "listening experience more enjoyable"? That's a hell of a large price-premium to pay for the "warm-and-fuzzies."

Music is about emotion, not science.


Then why place such a high degree of importance on the playback equipment?

Reply Score: 2

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

There is a very highly regarded violin maker in Sydney Australia. He charges around $20k for a violin. A famous concert violinist visiting Sydney a few years back tried one of his violins and freely admitted it sounded as good as his $5 million Stradivarius. The violinist said there was an enormous amount of snobbery and that top performers were expected to use very expensive instruments. Often concert goers go to a performance just to listen to a particular 'famous' violin.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

If there's no discernible difference, then how does it make the "listening experience more enjoyable"?


Because music is not just about the music. The fact that you don't seem to understand that says it all, really.

Reply Score: 1

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Because music is not just about the music.


So it's about the equipment you use to play it back...?

The fact that you don't seem to understand that says it all, really.


The passive-aggression really doesn't do much to help your argument.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

So it's about the equipment you use to play it back...?


It's about the TOTAL EXPERIENCE. If someone feels that the equipment used to play the music aids in bettering the experience - who are you to argue?

Reply Score: 1

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

It's about the TOTAL EXPERIENCE. If someone feels that the equipment used to play the music aids in bettering the experience - who are you to argue?

And if they claim that they hear voices in their heads, telling them that the end of the world is nigh and that only they are the chosen ones... who are we to argue?

Reply Score: 2

StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

It's about the TOTAL EXPERIENCE.


And could you possibly condescend to explain what that TOTAL EXPERIENCE consists of?

If someone feels that the equipment used to play the music aids in bettering the experience - who are you to argue?


That's a blatant red-herring/widening-of-the goalposts. I've not stated any objection to individual, personal preferences - and you know it.

Personal preference is one thing. It's something else entirely when try to inflate personal preference to the level of an absolute/imperative, a la "if you don't use _____ equipment, then you don't care about/appreciate music."

The former is a valid, personal preference. The latter is just self-serving, pseudo-intellectual wankery.

Reply Score: 2

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

I think you are saying that sitting down to a cup of tea served in a delicately ornamented bone china cup on matching saucer is more enjoyable enjoying the same tea in a regular old tea cup from local retail shop. I can see some truth in that.

Of course, it depends upon one caring about the bone china.

If one only cares about the tea, then of course it doesn't make any difference.

I used to care about the bone china, but later decided it was silly.

Reply Score: 2

Peter Besenbruch Member since:
2006-03-13

If that someone prefers to listen to a Stradivarius because it makes the total listening experience more enjoyable, than who gives a rat's ass about blind testing?

That fact that many here seem incapable of understanding that just goes to show how little you care. Music is about emotion, not science.


If people cared about music, they wouldn't care so much about the equipment, Thom; they would care about the music. Again and again, I have met audiophiles who go nuts about the latest tube amp or turntable, who make wild claims about vinyl, but whose appreciation of the music is nil.

Reply Score: 1

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

I have met audiophiles who go nuts about the latest tube amp or turntable, who make wild claims about vinyl, but whose appreciation of the music is nil.

Yeah. Audiophilia is a dick waving contest for snobs. ;-)

Reply Score: 2

bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23


If people cared about music, they wouldn't care so much about the equipment, Thom; they would care about the music. Again and again, I have met audiophiles who go nuts about the latest tube amp or turntable, who make wild claims about vinyl, but whose appreciation of the music is nil.


So true. I spent an afternoon with some self-proclaimed audiophiles listening to expensive speakers and switching speaker cables and all the while, none of the combinations produced the clear sound that allowed me, a pianist with experience playing a variety of pianos, to discern which piano brand and model were being used. They seemed quite happy to congratulate each other on noticing the atmosphere in each recording.

I think it's more of an effort to play the pieces live than to be able to tell which cable is being used.

Reply Score: 2

emission Member since:
2005-07-21

I have met audiophiles who go nuts about the latest tube amp or turntable, who make wild claims about vinyl, but whose appreciation of the music is nil.


Indeed, there's quite a large group of audiophiles who care more about the equipment, or about feeling like connoisseurs by proclaiming the virtues of tube amps and vinyl. However, as I see it, if there is any real development in the world of audiophilia (referring to the initial subject of this thread/article) it's that the listening experience has become much more important in the last 5 years, and the gadgetry and/or snobbery is less important and only matters to a fringe group of audiophiles. It is "kosher" now to say that CDs are great and that "digital" amps rule.

On another note, for me the greatest amount of listening pleasure still comes from vinyl recordings played on really good equipment. Why? I don't care so much. It may be due to harmonic distortion, lack of digital artefacts or whatever. I personally think it's more about the amount of love and effort that's gone in to the production of the record, transferring the music from the studio into the listeners living room. For me, this is the area where development really has gone backwards.

Reply Score: 1

I like my Home Stereo System
by macprohawaii on Sun 25th May 2008 03:49 UTC
macprohawaii
Member since:
2008-05-25

While I am one of the millions who own an iPod and devices used to connect them to, I also maintain my home stereo component system which consists of a 1980s era Sony Digital Receiver, a 1980s era Technics turntable, an early 1990s era Optimus Stereo Cassette deck, a Realistic stereo mixer from 1984 and a Sony 5 disc CD player from the late 1990s. I have some nice speakers all connected to this and of course an iPod dock hooked into the mixer.

It's not the world's best but has serviced me well in my home for more than 20 years.

Sad to read that home audio component systems are following their older console stereo systems into oblivion.

Reply Score: 1

I for one am semi audiophile
by Haicube on Sun 25th May 2008 07:20 UTC
Haicube
Member since:
2005-08-06

My equipment is in the cost range of 10 000$, however doing comparisons with systems costing up to twice as much I really fancy my own set-up better in terms of how it sound.


Regarding sounding "identical", I'm running a Tube amp which obviously has distorsion, but produces sound which is brilliant. Looking at facts is one thing, but hearing the actual sound is something else.

I'm seriously concerned with quite a few things in audiproduction. One of them is that producers on modern records add far to much gain which kills the middlerange in the music. Bad compressed music is another.

Why would one use MP3s when there is FLAC which is superior in almost all aspects of it except for storing space. However, storing is not a problem anymore.

And concerning Hi end HIFI equipment is on the way out, I'd contest the quite contrary. What is on the way out is the mid-end equipment. Anyone buying a whole set-up for 500$-1000$ is simply something which will soon end I believe. This is actually where the MP3/Ipod combo hits (basically Sony is the ones suffering, not Linn, Krell, Boulder, McIntosh, MBL and others). The real high-end is only a question of marketing to be honest. Anyone going to a high end hifi store sitting down listening to some music (especially classical) will simply consider listening to an iPod as _noise_ and be convinced what to buy when they have money.

That's my 2 cents...

Reply Score: 2

audiophile hearing tests
by unclefester on Sun 25th May 2008 12:53 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

I would love to see a large group of audiophiles undergo proper audiometric hearing tests and musical listening skills. My guess is that most can barely hear above 12-15k. I bet very few have accurate pitch. I'm sure quite a few are even tone deaf.

Most people think they are far better than average drivers. However when they are tested under controlled conditions they a usually very poorly skilled. Audiophiles are just the same.

Reply Score: 1

Not done yet
by abraxas on Sun 25th May 2008 13:42 UTC
abraxas
Member since:
2005-07-07

What is really funny is that just the other day I read an article about how vinyl is making a comeback. For the past few years vinyl sales have been increasing and labels are taking notice releasing more and more on vinyl. Indie bands have been releasing vinyl for quite a while and the trend is starting to take hold in mainstream music now.

Reply Score: 2

Honk! Honk!
by Weeman on Sun 25th May 2008 19:27 UTC
Weeman
Member since:
2006-03-20

This topic opened a can of worms just as expected.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Honk! Honk!
by sbergman27 on Sun 25th May 2008 19:47 UTC in reply to "Honk! Honk!"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Why do some people have so much trouble with using meaningful and useful subject lines? When "Honk! Honk!" and "re: Honk! Honk!" show up in the "Recent Comments" box, it is impossible to tell what the thread is about without actually pulling it up. Not a show stopper, but needlessly inconvenient.

Using a meaningful subject line is a common courtesy that I, and many others, try to extend to other readers whenever possible.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=site%3Aosnews.com+%22H...

Edited 2008-05-25 19:59 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Honk! Honk!
by StephenBeDoper on Mon 26th May 2008 04:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Honk! Honk!"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

When "Honk! Honk!" and "re: Honk! Honk!" show up in the "Recent Comments" box, it is impossible to tell what the thread


You mean this *isn't* a thread about Harpo Marx?

Unfortunately, it's probably a hopeless battle. It's almost enough to make me check if Usenet is still a cesspool of spam and cross-posted trolling. Almost.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Honk! Honk!
by Weeman on Mon 26th May 2008 10:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Honk! Honk!"
Weeman Member since:
2006-03-20

Why do some people have so much trouble with using meaningful and useful subject lines? When "Honk! Honk!" and "re: Honk! Honk!" show up in the "Recent Comments" box, it is impossible to tell what the thread is about without actually pulling it up. Not a show stopper, but needlessly inconvenient.

A proper implementation would show the topic title as subtitle, because even proper comment titles often don't tell me what the topic's about.

Reply Score: 1

Ogg Audio
by portamenteff on Sun 25th May 2008 20:17 UTC
portamenteff
Member since:
2008-05-25

When you said "Erica Ogg (What's in a name)" I found it funny. Ogg Vorbis is an open source audio file format. I happen to find it a funny coincidence since the article is about audio.

Reply Score: 1

Today's Recordings
by tech10171968 on Mon 26th May 2008 01:25 UTC
tech10171968
Member since:
2007-05-22

I keep hearing from audiophiles about more modern mediums losing headroom or "space", but I sometimes wonder if the fault doesn't really lie with the recording industry. Over the years I've seen a lot of albums being recorded at ridiculously high compression levels because, somehow, music execs keep thinking "louder=stands out on the radio=more sales". The problem with this well-documented issue is that the sonic "ceiling" keeps getting lower and lower, which means that the music doesn't really have a chance to "breathe". I would imagine then that, if the source itself is crap, no amount of vinyl pressings is going to make up for that. In all fairness, most sound engineers I know would consider today's high-compression trend to be an abomination but, since their arms are being twisted by those same music execs, they have no choice but to do the devil's bidding.

Edited 2008-05-26 01:26 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Today's Recordings
by sbergman27 on Mon 26th May 2008 01:55 UTC in reply to "Today's Recordings"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Over the years I've seen a lot of albums being recorded at ridiculously high compression levels because, somehow, music execs keep thinking "louder=stands out on the radio=more sales".

Are you speaking of classical and/or symphonic sound tracks? Or do people really spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment to listen to Celine Dion?

Tell me it ain't so! ;-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Today's Recordings
by AdamW on Mon 26th May 2008 03:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Today's Recordings"
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

It's a continuum, not a dichotomy like that. It affects bands like, say, the Smashing Pumpkins. Take Gish and Siamese Dream, then take Machina. Aside from the fact that Machina's not a terribly good record, it's also hideously mastered; compressed up the wazoo. Apart from the fact that Gish and Siamese Dream are great records, they're also very carefully recorded and mastered, and have great dynamic range. There's lots of bands who are sufficiently 'commercial' or 'rock' to have fallen victim to the compression craze, but who are also good enough to benefit from good listening equipment.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Today's Recordings
by StephenBeDoper on Mon 26th May 2008 04:17 UTC in reply to "Today's Recordings"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

I've noticed that even within the discography of individual bands. CDs from the late 80s / early 90s are noticeably more quiet than stuff released in the last 10 years or so.

Reply Score: 2

Portable digital audio can sound excellent
by 3rdalbum on Mon 26th May 2008 07:19 UTC
3rdalbum
Member since:
2008-05-26

If you were really passionate about the best possible audio quality, you would mostly go to concerts rather than listen to recordings.

Digital audio gives more accurate higher frequencies than vinyl, full stop. When the digital recording hasn't been compressed, the digital version sounds much more faithful to the original than a vinyl recording. I've been to classical concerts that have been recorded, and my first thought was "Wow, this sounds like a CD!". Of course, it's the other way around.

Don't be disparaging of portable audio, either. I bought a Sony Walkman MP3 player and was blown away by the audio quality with even just earbuds. High frequencies were lovely and sharp, low frequencies loud but not distorted. A higher bitrate MP3 (256kbps) sounds amazing on it. Best yet, it clips onto my belt and doesn't disturb anyone else with my non-credible taste in music.

I have no idea what's going on with people who say that vinyl is better than CD. It must be an American phenominon, as America seems to be behind us down under in many respects.

I will say that better audio cables probably do give noticably better results. I know that better antenna cables do result in higher signal strength for digital TV because cheap cables do break inside and cause low signal transfer. It's not beyond my imagination to think that better audio cables will give a better result.

Reply Score: 1

re
by netpython on Mon 26th May 2008 10:15 UTC
netpython
Member since:
2005-07-06

Oh well perhaps the car analogy will do the trick.

A porsche 911 turbo or a Audi RS4 are nice driving vehicles.

But driving them doesn't make you a F1 champion alone.
Neither does listening to piano music on expensive equipment makes you a pianist.

Reply Score: 2

I don't mind
by B. Janssen on Mon 26th May 2008 11:38 UTC
B. Janssen
Member since:
2006-10-11

It gives me plenty of opportunity to make snarky comments ;)

Reply Score: 2

components
by gfx1 on Mon 26th May 2008 12:54 UTC
gfx1
Member since:
2006-01-20

As long as I have a computer it has always been connected to a decent amplifier (in my case marantz) and a pair of decent speakers (vifa) it sounds so much better than any kind of plastic computer stuff. There is also a cd-player connected so I can listen to music uninterupted by dualboot.

One comment on speakercable: it just copperwire and if you don't use the really thin stuf you don't have to feel bad about it.

Reply Score: 1

Always the same....
by mnemonics on Mon 26th May 2008 19:47 UTC
mnemonics
Member since:
2006-04-21

There are two kinds of idiots, those who think a thing is good because it's old and those who think a thing is good because it's new.
(feel free to choose your side)

Music is Art.

The so-called "Audiophiles" should learn a bit of music history and musicology instead of spending large amount of money for nothing IMO.

Reply Score: 2