Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 00:05 UTC
Multimedia, AV "On October 1 1982, Joel's sixth studio album, 52nd Street, was the first commercially released CD album... Which means CDs are 30-years-old today. It's worth noting here that 52nd Street wasn't a new album - it was launched initially in 1978, but it was selected for relaunch on the new digital audio disc, rolling out alongside the first CD player - the Sony CDP-101 - in Japan. But of course, the CD didn't spring up overnight - the road to launch started long before 1982." I'm still 100% CD when it comes to music. The act of physically holding a new album in your hands for the first time and gently placing the disk in the tray can't be matched by pressing a download button behind a computer.
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Comment by kwan_e
by kwan_e on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 00:08 UTC
kwan_e
Member since:
2007-02-18

The act of physically holding a new album in your hands for the first time and gently placing the disk in the tray can't be matched by pressing a download button behind a computer.


But it can be matched by the feeling that you've saved yourself some money. A $100 billion to be inexact.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by kwan_e
by UltraZelda64 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 00:16 UTC in reply to "Comment by kwan_e"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

I'll take a physical disc, immediately ripped by myself in the FLAC format, any day over a download of the same album. If I want MP3 files, I'll encode a set from the master FLAC files. Ogg Vorbis? AAC? Same. No DRM, no technically imposed restrictions. Just the data that I bought and paid for, able to be used in whatever way I want, and a physical backup copy in case something goes wrong.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by kwan_e
by WorknMan on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 00:23 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kwan_e"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

There's a new audio format in the works:

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-09/30/neil-young

I heard about this on a podcast... one of the record labels (don't remember which one) is remastering their entire catalog for this. However, I don't know if the format is open and/or if there will be DRM involved. Of course, the files will be larger.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by kwan_e
by Soulbender on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 00:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kwan_e"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

There's a new audio format in the works:


Because there aren't enough of those already...
I don't see why they'd need to create a new format for that device when we already have FLAC and others.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by kwan_e
by WereCatf on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 01:13 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kwan_e"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I don't see why they'd need to create a new format for that device when we already have FLAC and others.


Especially since us normal people can't tell the difference anyways.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by kwan_e
by UltraZelda64 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 01:29 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by kwan_e"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Because choice is good for those of us who want it? Audio quality itself is not the *only* reason for choosing one audio codec over another.

Certainly it was the least of my concerns when switching from Monkey's Audio, which I originally ripped all of my audio CDs into in the early 2000s, to FLAC, which I began using in the mid-2000s.

There are a lot of things to look for in an audio codec. Features, performance (CPU usage, encoding/decoding speed), compression ratio, software support, cross-platform OS support, hardware support, openness/patent-free, activity (still maintained and improved or not), etc.

Edited 2012-10-02 01:47 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by kwan_e
by kwan_e on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 03:35 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by kwan_e"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Because choice is good for those of us who want it?


It's a constant battle between choice and convenience. I like choice, but if the choice makes something less convenience, then the choice isn't really one.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Comment by kwan_e
by UltraZelda64 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 03:46 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by kwan_e"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

What? I'm not sure I get what you're saying. If you don't want to use an audio format, don't--just stick with what you've got. But how does that in any way relate to convenience? Unless you choose use some codec or buy a song that you have no decoders for? In this case, no one ever forced you to buy that version of the song, if that's what you're implying.

Convenience might be sticking with a format you know. The choice to try another doesn't necessarily add inconvenience, and it's certainly not something that you would have to do.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by kwan_e
by some1 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 02:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kwan_e"
some1 Member since:
2010-10-05

Of course, the files will be larger.

..the equipment and content will be more expensive, and the actual quality will be worse: http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: Comment by kwan_e
by Richard Dale on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 12:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kwan_e"
Richard Dale Member since:
2005-07-22

"Of course, the files will be larger.

..the equipment and content will be more expensive, and the actual quality will be worse: http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
"

Oh gosh someone on the internet has written a rant about 24/192 digital music - it must be true!

Reply Score: 0

RE[5]: Comment by kwan_e
by rjamorim on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 13:44 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by kwan_e"
rjamorim Member since:
2005-12-05

Not just "someone", Monty is the creator of Ogg Vorbis. He surely knows more about digital audio than you can ever hope to understand.

Reply Score: 5

RE[5]: Comment by kwan_e
by some1 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 19:54 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by kwan_e"
some1 Member since:
2010-10-05

someone on the internet

If you don't know who Monty is this tells more about you than about him.

has written a rant

Your comment is rant. Monty's piece can be published in a respectable journal.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Comment by kwan_e
by Richard Dale on Wed 3rd Oct 2012 11:00 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by kwan_e"
Richard Dale Member since:
2005-07-22

"someone on the internet

If you don't know who Monty is this tells more about you than about him.

has written a rant

Your comment is rant. Monty's piece can be published in a respectable journal.
"

Of course I know who the guy is, and he certainly knows a lot about lossy codecs. But he's hardly the best guy to have an unbiased opinion about HiRes uncompressed digital audio. The are plenty of good technical reasons to believe why Red Book 16/44.1 isn't good enough and why 24/192 is better. For example, CD needs a 20Khz brickwall filter to work which has side effects well into the audio band at half the frequency.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Comment by kwan_e
by some1 on Thu 4th Oct 2012 03:03 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by kwan_e"
some1 Member since:
2010-10-05

But he's hardly the best guy to have an unbiased opinion about HiRes uncompressed digital audio.

That's news to me. So I guess we have to rely on the objective opinion of recording companies and Monster Cable Inc.

The are plenty of good technical reasons to believe why Red Book 16/44.1 isn't good enough and why 24/192 is better.

And you are prepared to prove that in an ABX test?

For example, CD needs a 20Khz brickwall filter to work which has side effects well into the audio band at half the frequency.

You didn't read his article, did you? He addresses this issue specifically: http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html#toc_o
As anyone with half a clue about CDs will tell you, brick wall filters were not used in CD players since 80s.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by kwan_e
by OSNevvs on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 06:20 UTC in reply to "Comment by kwan_e"
OSNevvs Member since:
2009-08-20

I have long abandoned the CDs and I take all my music on the psy-music forum. I don't see any quality difference, and I get all I need instantly. I can dispose what I don't like, which is not the case of a CD that you usually buy before knowing if it's good or bad. Oh, and I wouldn't be able to buy so many CDs every month.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by kwan_e
by WereCatf on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 07:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kwan_e"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I have long abandoned the CDs and I take all my music on the psy-music forum. I don't see any quality difference, and I get all I need instantly. I can dispose what I don't like, which is not the case of a CD that you usually buy before knowing if it's good or bad. Oh, and I wouldn't be able to buy so many CDs every month.


My problem with CDs is that there's usually only 1-3 songs that I like and the rest is crap, plus I don't listen to music per album anyways; I listen to it all in random shuffle mode, all in one, large collection and no playlists whatsoever. As such CDs just don't fit my usecase.

Also, I'm one of those people who doesn't really get attached to physical objects. Every time I move I just slap half of everything I own in the trash and I would have absolutely no qualms about just throwing it all away if I could afford to buy the basic necessities all over again. Therefore I get no more satisfaction in owning a physical disc than I get from owning a digital copy.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by kwan_e
by OSNevvs on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 11:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kwan_e"
OSNevvs Member since:
2009-08-20

100% agreed!

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by kwan_e
by kaiwai on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 11:48 UTC in reply to "Comment by kwan_e"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

But it can be matched by the feeling that you've saved yourself some money. A $100 billion to be inexact.


In New Zealand you save no money at all and in many cases you're paying more for the downloaded version in an inferior compressed format than if you bought the physical CD. Thanks to the US centric nature of the music industry the US RIAA has given the world consumers a giant 'fuck you' in response to wanting more services besides iTunes.

Reply Score: 3

I don't like cds but
by darknexus on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 00:26 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Until either most albums are mastered with a compression codec in mind or else we see lossless download services, I'll still buy them and rip them to lossless. I'm one of those oddballs that can actually hear the difference between a cd and a compressed file (note though that cds themselves are compressed, just to a lesser extent). The exceptions are some of those new albums mastered for iTunes, those sound damn good coming from studio masters through an optimized AAC encoder. You can make most modern formats, compressed or otherwise, sound really nice if the mastering is done correctly and the encoding parameters are optimized. Sadly, however, most commercial download services are not doing this which is why I'm glad to see at least one of them start making this move. Then again, most commercial download services other than iTunes are using mp3 (sometimes in a drm-protected container) and you can't make mp3 come close to cd quality no matter how you master it. AAC and Vorbis most definitely, but not mp3 which I do not consider a modern format and desperately wish we'd never see mp3 again.

Reply Score: 1

RE: I don't like cds but
by ilovebeer on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 01:42 UTC in reply to "I don't like cds but"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

Until either most albums are mastered with a compression codec in mind or else we see lossless download services, I'll still buy them and rip them to lossless.

It should be noted that compression used in the recording chain is not the same type of compression used in typical data compression. In that regard you will never see masters with data compression applied.

I'm one of those oddballs that can actually hear the difference between a cd and a compressed file (note though that cds themselves are compressed, just to a lesser extent).

Redbook audio (which is whats used for a cd) is not compressed. That is why audio cds have a strict size/playtime limit directly related to the size of the disc itself.

The exceptions are some of those new albums mastered for iTunes, those sound damn good coming from studio masters through an optimized AAC encoder. You can make most modern formats, compressed or otherwise, sound really nice if the mastering is done correctly and the encoding parameters are optimized.

The above is only (mostly) true because most modern formats share similarities in key parts of their encoding algorithms. It should also be noted that the optimal encoder settings are on a per case basis. In other words, what works well for one piece make not for another.

Mastering is the polish applied to whats already there. The only way to have great audio is to provide the mastering engineer with something great to work with. Mastering can't work miracles -- the real magic needs to happen during recording and mixing.

Sadly, however, most commercial download services are not doing this which is why I'm glad to see at least one of them start making this move.

This is a little misleading. The best `itunes music` is the product of masters produced specifically for their encoding process. Those masters wouldn't be of much use any other way. The point is that Apple doesn't have some magic encoder settings they use -- they get source material designed for their encoder chain.

Then again, most commercial download services other than iTunes are using mp3 (sometimes in a drm-protected container) and you can't make mp3 come close to cd quality no matter how you master it. AAC and Vorbis most definitely, but not mp3 which I do not consider a modern format and desperately wish we'd never see mp3 again.

You're commonly misusing "quality" in this way. Whether or not you can decode an mp3 and have it sound `like a cd` depends greatly on the source. Quality isn't something that can be quantified with "mp3", "cd", or any other other medium used to present audio data. "CD" audio can sound great or it can sound like shit. The same is true for mp3s and everything else.

For anyone who truly cares about audio quality or who boldly labels themselves as an audiophile (most of which aren't), I strongly urge you to learn what mastering really is, and how audio is produced for different delivery/presentation methods. It's a complex topic with many sub-topics. That the reason why so many people mistakenly say things like `cd quality`.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by WereCatf on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 07:13 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't like cds but"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Redbook audio (which is whats used for a cd) is not compressed.


I believe he is confused between compression of levels and actual data compression -- those two are indeed not even nearly the same thing. The kind of compression he refers to when he mentions CDs is typically called 'loudness' yet he goes on to compare it to algorithmic compression of data streams. That is a mistake not a single, true audiophile would make.

Here's two links about loudness: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness

The above is only (mostly) true because most modern formats share similarities in key parts of their encoding algorithms. It should also be noted that the optimal encoder settings are on a per case basis. In other words, what works well for one piece make not for another.


Indeed. The encoder isn't actually modified in any way or form as the OP seems to believe, the whole "mastered for iTunes" is all about guidelines for mastering the content for the average iTunes - user. All the work is done by the professional behind the master, there is no magic about the encoder.

Another link to share: http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/04/does-mastered-for-itunes-matte...

For anyone who truly cares about audio quality or who boldly labels themselves as an audiophile (most of which aren't), I strongly urge you to learn what mastering really is, and how audio is produced for different delivery/presentation methods. It's a complex topic with many sub-topics. That the reason why so many people mistakenly say things like `cd quality`.


Heh. I'm far from an audiophile -- I can barely hear the difference between a loud fart in the forest and Sibelius' Finlandia -- but atleast I know what mastering means and how one master fits for one case and why but not another.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by darknexus on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 12:05 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't like cds but"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Redbook audio (which is whats used for a cd) is not compressed. That is why audio cds have a strict size/playtime limit directly related to the size of the disc itself.

My apologies, I used the wrong word. That's what I get for being awake for thirty-five hours at a stretch ;) . I meant to say cds are lossy, not compressed, and they are. They are downsampled from the original recording in order to fit on cds and also to maintain compatibility with most consumer cd players. What you get on a cd is 44.1 khz/16 bit audio, vs the 96 or even 192 khz/24 bit audio that most studios are using these days. There is often mastering done on the audio before it is downsampled as well to polish it up so it sounds good in the new format, not dissimilar to what's being experimented with using some modern lossy formats.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: I don't like cds but
by ilovebeer on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 16:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I don't like cds but"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

My apologies, I used the wrong word. That's what I get for being awake for thirty-five hours at a stretch ;) . I meant to say cds are lossy, not compressed, and they are. They are downsampled from the original recording in order to fit on cds and also to maintain compatibility with most consumer cd players. What you get on a cd is 44.1 khz/16 bit audio, vs the 96 or even 192 khz/24 bit audio that most studios are using these days. There is often mastering done on the audio before it is downsampled as well to polish it up so it sounds good in the new format, not dissimilar to what's being experimented with using some modern lossy formats.

Yes and no. What you said is true in some cases but untrue in others, it's really a matter of what the producer wants to do. You have people who believe the higher the rates, the better, but that really only shows benefit when you're doing a lot of processing. You have others who believe keeping the audio as close to the intended output rates is best because it takes the least amount of processing to get there. The "right" recording rates depend on what you're recording and what you intend to do with it. Some people believe mastering and then converting is best, while others believe converting first and then mastering is best because what you hear is the end result.

Every single recorded work is an individual piece of art, no different than a painting. With a painting you make decisions about colors, type of paint, type of canvas, type of brush, etc. With audio you make decisions about type of mic'ing, type of recording method, type of processing, etc. That's why blanket statements are so easily opposed. The same is true for video as well, but that's a whole other can of worms.

Reply Score: 3

RE: I don't like cds but
by unclefester on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 02:39 UTC in reply to "I don't like cds but"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

I'm one of those oddballs that can actually hear the difference between a cd and a compressed file (note though that cds themselves are compressed, just to a lesser extent).

Like all "audiophiles" you think you can tell tell the difference. The fact is that properly controlled tests show you can't.

Even professional concert violinists can't tell the difference between a $2 million Stradivarius and a $10K violin when the player is behind a screen.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by kurkosdr on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 10:17 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't like cds but"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

"I'm one of those oddballs that can actually hear the difference between a cd and a compressed file (note though that cds themselves are compressed, just to a lesser extent)."

Switch your consumer electronics player with a PC with a good audio player installed and you won't be able to tell the difference. Any real audiophile or videophile always plays things on a PC, and preferably with open-source software. For some reason, open-source players offer the highest precision. Proprietary software players and consumer electronics a)take shortcuts in the decoding part and b)distrort the audio or video to give average Joe a "more impressive" version of the content.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: I don't like cds but
by daedalus on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 10:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I don't like cds but"
daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

Eh, are you for real? Find yourself a good CD player and amp and, while they will have options for shaping the sound, it will always have a direct through setup, so the sound from the source is unaltered (except by amplification) as it passes through the amp.

Besides, inside the average PC is one of the most horrible, electrically noisy environments you can get. That's why they usually put them in metal boxes - to screen the rest of the world from their nasty electrical interference. If you really wanted to be seriously audiophilic about your PC, you'd probably want to be using an external Firewire sound card. Anyway, you'll still need to put it through an amp and speaker set, and therefore risk misshaping your sound anyway.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: I don't like cds but
by kurkosdr on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 11:14 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: I don't like cds but"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

"Besides, inside the average PC is one of the most horrible, electrically noisy environments you can get. That's why they usually put them in metal boxes - to screen the rest of the world from their nasty electrical interference. If you really wanted to be seriously audiophilic about your PC, you'd probably want to be using an external Firewire sound card."

If you have a seperate DAC for every device (in plain english, if you are using the noname DAC that's inside each device/computer), instead of driving all sound to a trusted standalone DAC sitting on your rack (using digital connection), then you are doing it wrong. Having a PC for decoding and a seperate DAC is the best option IMO.

PS: And by "DAC" I mean both a stereo one and those 5.1 "home cinema systems". Just make sure you get one of the good ones.

Edited 2012-10-02 11:22 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: I don't like cds but
by daedalus on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 12:53 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: I don't like cds but"
daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

If you have a seperate DAC for every device (in plain english, if you are using the noname DAC that's inside each device/computer), instead of driving all sound to a trusted standalone DAC sitting on your rack (using digital connection), then you are doing it wrong. Having a PC for decoding and a seperate DAC is the best option IMO. PS: And by "DAC" I mean both a stereo one and those 5.1 "home cinema systems". Just make sure you get one of the good ones.


Now you're going back to talking about consumer electronics being the way to go. You sound like you're going around in circles there, but it was indeed the same point I was making about using an external DAC (The Firewire soundcard) for the PC.

I don't see however, how using the DAC in my amp is going to be any more "pure" WRT the original sound signal than using the one in a decent bit of sound kit, especially since the amp is going to reshape the sound far more, and since the decompression artefacts will probably be far larger than any difference in DACs. PCs are obviously a big exception, but I can't hear the difference between an MP3 playing across good analogue cables from my dedicated MP3 deck, and the same file playing on my PC but using the DAC in my amp. (And yes, I know using analogue cables is silly if you can use digital, but I wanted to test it myself.)

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: I don't like cds but
by darknexus on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 12:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I don't like cds but"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Switch your consumer electronics player with a PC with a good audio player installed and you won't be able to tell the difference.


What? I mean I can take a cd, rip to lossless, encode it to a lossy format, decode the resulting file on my pc, play the new file and hear the difference. Way to go making assumptions. Also note that I do not claim to be an audiophile, but I'm able to hear the difference. I can only hear the difference on my computer for the most part, as you are correct that most consumer players have crap hardware. You're assumptions match the opposite of what I was saying though, as it's on such crappy players that I can't tell the difference precisely because the hardware and software driving them are crap, often intentionally so. The worse the hardware, the less likely you are to be able to hear minute artifacts from either data compression or recording glitches. Of course, on the flip side, such players often introduce artifacts of their own into the audio while playing it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by daedalus on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 10:25 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't like cds but"
daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

Well, it depends on the compression (level, quality, type etc.) Of course you'll hear the difference between a 96kbps MP3 and a CD - most people should be able to. My limit is around 192kbps for MP3s - some songs at that bitrate I can tell are missing something after the encoding, others I can't. When you get to 256kbps or 320kbps, it's pretty indistinguishable to me. It also depends on the equipment - I can tell the difference on some tracks using headphones or my home stereo, but not on my car stereo for example.

What is nasty though is transcoded audio. I've come across some music encoded at 192kbps which sounds like 96kbps. It seems to be caused by someone taking an already compressed version and transcoding it to MP3. That sounds awful compared to the same track encoded at 192kbps from a CD.

Bottom line is there'll be a threshold where the difference becomes so small it can't be detected. This threshold will change from user to user, from track to track, from equipment to equipment and from situation to situation. You can't make a blanket statement like nobody can tell the difference, just as much as you can't say that everyone can always tell the difference.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: I don't like cds but
by ilovebeer on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 16:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I don't like cds but"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

Well, it depends on the compression (level, quality, type etc.) Of course you'll hear the difference between a 96kbps MP3 and a CD - most people should be able to. My limit is around 192kbps for MP3s - some songs at that bitrate I can tell are missing something after the encoding, others I can't. When you get to 256kbps or 320kbps, it's pretty indistinguishable to me.

No, no, no. Bitrate is only one part of the equation. The very first piece is the source material. If 96kbps is enough to represent the source accurately, you will not hear any difference with a 192kbps, 256kbps, or 320kbps encode. Bitrate is not a representation of quality!

It also depends on the equipment - I can tell the difference on some tracks using headphones or my home stereo, but not on my car stereo for example.

Yes, yes, yes. Headphones vs. non-headphones matters because of how the audio arrives at your ear. A speakers ability to produce accurate frequency counts. Converts in amplifiers counts. Every piece of hardware & software in the signal chain has the ability to alter quality.

What is nasty though is transcoded audio. I've come across some music encoded at 192kbps which sounds like 96kbps. It seems to be caused by someone taking an already compressed version and transcoding it to MP3. That sounds awful compared to the same track encoded at 192kbps from a CD.

Using the wrong encoder settings (for the piece) can produce a bad result in the same way cooking food with poorly matched ingredients and quantities can result in something that tastes terrible.

Bottom line is there'll be a threshold where the difference becomes so small it can't be detected. This threshold will change from user to user, from track to track, from equipment to equipment and from situation to situation. You can't make a blanket statement like nobody can tell the difference, just as much as you can't say that everyone can always tell the difference.

The main reasons people can't tell the difference are a result of any combination of the following; Bad recording technique, bad mixing (especially over-compression), bad mastering, bad playback equipment. If any of those are crap, you're going to get crap out. Every single step has the potential to ruin great audio, and once it's ruined there's very little you can do from that point on to fix it outside of redoing what ruined it in the first place.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by quackalist on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 13:18 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't like cds but"
quackalist Member since:
2007-08-27

Hmm, the Strad v 10k violin story is not quite as it seems and certainly not applicable to the "debunking" of those oddballs who think they have golden ears.

Actually, just about anyone including "oddballs" can distinguish between a CD and it's MP3 if it's bit rate is low enough for compression artifacts to be evident. The bit-rate in which music is transparent to even "oddballs" has come down over time as MP3 codecs have improved and most, probably, would be surprised if they did a proper double-blind test on how low this is.

True, the occasional, probably overstating the issue, sample can still cause problems which is why MP3 codecs are still being worked on. There are also other codecs and you can get some rally remarkable quality at low-bit rates with Opus, for example: http://opus-codec.org/

Nonetheless, I'm an old-fashioned kinda guy and nobody gets any monies out of me without giving me a thing (the CD) in exchange and when I encode it I firstly do so to lossless for backup and thence to VO MP3 (belt & braces, just in case even if I know it's largely a waste of space) for playback.

"Oddballs" can think themselves golden eared and pay a fortune for cables if they so care...

Edited 2012-10-02 13:20 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: I don't like cds but
by Jason Bourne on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 22:10 UTC in reply to "I don't like cds but"
Jason Bourne Member since:
2007-06-02

Until either most albums are mastered with a compression codec in mind or else we see lossless download services, I'll still buy them and rip them to lossless. I'm one of those oddballs that can actually hear the difference between a cd and a compressed file (note though that cds themselves are compressed, just to a lesser extent).


Compression at mastering stage refers to take advantage of the room you have for loudness on the recording. So you bring loud parts and quite parts near each other - causing it to become squashed or brickwalled.

Compression used in lossy codecs is a total different thing. Their purpose is to remove data that humans can't hear and make the file smaller.

You are confusing these notions. And I really doubt you can ABX a WAV file vs. LAME -V0 or AAC at 256 kbps VBR. So you can drop right now the "optimization talk" about masters and lossy codecs.

What is actually happening is that some artists store (Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds comes to mind) were selling lossless FLACs that were merely sourced from lossy files. So you can't actually trust online FLAC store just yet. Being that way, the CD is still a better deal after all.

Edited 2012-10-02 22:10 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by some1
by some1 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 02:01 UTC
some1
Member since:
2010-10-05

At least you do not insist on lipstick-red vinyl disks.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by some1
by Soulbender on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 02:51 UTC in reply to "Comment by some1"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

lipstick-red vinyl disks.


Those were the best!

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by some1
by BluenoseJake on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 03:08 UTC in reply to "Comment by some1"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

I totally misread that at first, must be overtired. :-)

Edited 2012-10-02 03:08 UTC

Reply Score: 2

I still play vinyl...
by truckweb on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 02:37 UTC
truckweb
Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, download may be all the rage, but when I have time, I still prefer to play vinyl on my Stanton. Say what you want, but I prefer the warmth of analog (wich some people refer to as low quality).

I have tons of CD and I still buy some. And I still buy vinyl.

Reply Score: 3

RE: I still play vinyl...
by zima on Mon 8th Oct 2012 01:20 UTC in reply to "I still play vinyl..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

CD can fully reproduce the "warmth" of vinyl - CD has far superior capabilities of sound reproduction than vinyl, so you can just put a recording of vinyl on a CD for the same effect... (you wouldn't be able to ABX it, to differentiate in a properly controlled blind test)
Even better: keeping a FLAC copy on HDD (and backups).

Oh, and all that without wearing down the LP during every playback.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by evilrich
by evilrich on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 04:15 UTC
evilrich
Member since:
2006-07-06

The act of physically holding a new album in your hands for the first time and gently placing the disk in the tray can't be matched by pressing a download button behind a computer.

For physical gratification of the medium itself, for my money, vinyl can't be beaten - the weight of the disc itself, the size and detail of the artwork on the sleeve, ...

Reply Score: 4

Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 05:07 UTC
MOS6510
Member since:
2011-05-12

When CD's arrived word was you could jump on them and they wouldn't break and even still play, unlike vinyl records. Lucky no one I knew actually tried that.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by MOS6510
by kwan_e on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 05:28 UTC in reply to "Comment by MOS6510"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

When CD's arrived word was you could jump on them and they wouldn't break and even still play, unlike vinyl records. Lucky no one I knew actually tried that.


At least with vinyl records, you can still play them if they're scratched.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by MOS6510
by MOS6510 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 05:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by MOS6510"
MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

Some even like to scratch with them.

Talking of which...

I had this Public Enemy album on tape and later I bought the CD. I thought one track was remixed, but it turned out it was a little scratch making the CD player go crazy over it.

Reply Score: 4

error32
Member since:
2008-12-10

What I like best about CDs is that it is one of the last strongholds of our old Dutch money. The hole in the centre is the same size as our old 'dubbeltje' ('dime') ;)

Reply Score: 2

all home music systems are crap
by unclefester on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 05:21 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

About 10 years ago I read an article about audio "systems" owned by famous Australians. The most interesting point was that none of the professional musicians (jazz, classical etc) interviewed owned expensive home stereo setups. One jazz singer only owned a basic clock radio. They all said that expensive gear was a waste of money as it was impossible to make authentic sounding recorded music.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 08:41 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

They still make those?
I thought everybody had switched to vinyl...

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by Soulbender on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 11:51 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Vinyl? Puuhleeeze.
In order to experience music they way it was meant to be you gotta go wax roll.
Friday night, a glass of wine and a couple of good wax rolls; that's living life to the fullest.

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Comment by Drumhellar
by unclefester on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 23:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Drumhellar"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

I'll stick to tin foil thank you. None of those new fangled wax rolls for me.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by No it isnt on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 19:52 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

I remember when CD-ROM was the future.

Reply Score: 2

Celebration
by wocowboy on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 10:39 UTC
wocowboy
Member since:
2006-06-01

I have one of those Billy Joel CD's, guess I'll have to get it out & stick it in my CD player and celebrate by listening to it.

Reply Score: 1

It's the same thing all over again...
by Mark0 on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 17:58 UTC
Mark0
Member since:
2005-08-11

... like when the CD come out (and today, still), and many kept on using the LP.
It just means that you are old! :-)

Reply Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The situation is quite different now, WRT the core goal of audio systems...

See, LP is absolutely lacking when it comes to faithful sound reproduction. Cassettes are also severely lacking. There was no good reason to keep using them (except for other factors: like the portability, low price, and ruggedness of walkmans)

But with CD it's not so any more, it has more than good enough quality for human hearing apparatus - you cannot really improve on it. The primary task is complete. Remaining factors are of secondary nature in many cases (or even work against what consumers might want - like this feel of new physical CD in your hand, vs lack of that with digital downloads)

Reply Score: 2

My opinion....
by Jason Bourne on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 21:09 UTC
Jason Bourne
Member since:
2007-06-02

I agree with Tom, it's nicer to have a physical copy of your favorite albums. However, the music industry always played tricks on us, and on top of that there are some considerations to be made on Compact Disc:

- Record companies, through the ongoing album vs. singles market, always played tricks on us, splitting good songs accross singles, so that the collector needs to own dozens of formats with multiple redundancies. Just notice any Mute Records catalogue to see what I am talking about. Closer look on Depeche Mode discography will reveal many golden b-sides only available on some obscure single. Last DM batch of studio tracks had 5 of them included specifically on a 4-disc boxset that costs an eye and an arm. Although this practice from recording companies is kinda smartie, it will have consumer revenge when they get the option to choose.

- The compact disc is much more fragile than LP. Although LPs are technically inferior to CD, you can easily render a CD unusable if you scratch it or if it undergoes some heavy usage. I had bought a CD from The Verve (Urban Hymns) in 1999 and I recollect that the whole CD fell apart in 2003. It didn't survive some normal usage, small scratches, etc. On the other side, I still have almost mint condition vinyls acquired around 1988. I don't play the vinyls but they are pretty much the same - they may have balancing issues by now but in terms of *MATERIAL*, the LP lasts longer than a CD. If only CD was more robust, it would be more worth to spend your precious money on it and the paranoia about ripping it to preserve it would be nil. One reason that people just stopped getting them is their short lifetime. (I know it can last 100 years but normal usage has proven that it will never reach that without some damage to the surface).

- Loudness race has been applied to CDs as a mandatory rule. CDs helped to diminish the quality of sound since you could compress the dynamic range to full scale, so in a way, it's not wise to say "CD all the way for me" these days. Since this technique can't be applied to the maximum levels on vinyl, there are still people who are acquiring vinyls because it sounds better than CD for that reason (not for any other particular reason such as "vinyl is just better because you can hear more frequencies"). Check Metallica's versions of Load on CD and on LP. LP will be much quieter and better. But if the CD was still mastered like in the 90's it would certainly be better than vinyl by all means. Today the ideal is to have best sounding media - AS IN MASTERING - as the media itself, CD is enough.

- Mobility killed the CD. Can you imagine yourself or anyone using a Discman? Swapping discs every 40 minutes? What about if I need to make a 6 hour trip, how many CD's do I have to carry and manage to swap in order to keep listening? And what about if I want to listen songs randomly? I will only have the skip option with 1 CD at a time. The need for portability and mobility was necessity since day 0. It was just a matter of time to become true.

- Nothing is going to replace that beloved ceremony of getting a new CD and laying comfortably on your couch and turn on your stereo to enjoy it. Reading the covers, lyrics, the art. There's some magic in it and digital files kinda stolen that. Today it's much of an industrial behavior, collect hundreds of Gigs to the point you don't know which song you start off with. Everyone is its own radio station. (Radio stations helped killing music too, e.g. loudness rate, charts, etc).

- What I am managing right now is not to "own" a particular CD but to own a "pressing", digital, vinyl or CD. The pressing became the important thing to consider because in many cases you may have 8 issues of a particular album and just 2 of them sound good and mastered according to acceptable audiophile demands. Example: Tears For Fears - Songs from the big Chair - How many pressings of this record are out there? Do you know which pressing is particularly the best? Is it worth getting reissues or "remastered" butchered jobs? For SFTBC I'd say there is just one pressing I like which is the one from "PBTHAL vinyl rip" on the net. Metallica's Black Album is much better in the LP remastered form from Warner 2008 (511.830-1) pressing.

When I finish my second graduation, I will be able to tinker my sound room the way I like. Then I will have CD shelves and a nice sound system, because I know what Tom is talking about. Nothing can really replace that feeling we used to have when we used to go out and buy records.

Reply Score: 2

RE: My opinion....
by ilovebeer on Wed 3rd Oct 2012 05:09 UTC in reply to "My opinion...."
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

- Record companies, through the ongoing album vs. singles market, always played tricks on us, splitting good songs accross singles, so that the collector needs to own dozens of formats with multiple redundancies. Just notice any Mute Records catalogue to see what I am talking about. Closer look on Depeche Mode discography will reveal many golden b-sides only available on some obscure single. Last DM batch of studio tracks had 5 of them included specifically on a 4-disc boxset that costs an eye and an arm. Although this practice from recording companies is kinda smartie, it will have consumer revenge when they get the option to choose.

The music industry exists simply for the purpose of selling for-profit products. Naturally the entities who participate always have interest in minimizing cost while maximizing return.

The music industry is not about creating the best product possible, it's about having good quarterly reports and staying in business. Period.

The compact disc is much more fragile than LP. Although LPs are technically inferior to CD, you can easily render a CD unusable if you scratch it or if it undergoes some heavy usage. I had bought a CD from The Verve (Urban Hymns) in 1999 and I recollect that the whole CD fell apart in 2003. It didn't survive some normal usage, small scratches, etc. On the other side, I still have almost mint condition vinyls acquired around 1988. I don't play the vinyls but they are pretty much the same - they may have balancing issues by now but in terms of *MATERIAL*, the LP lasts longer than a CD. If only CD was more robust, it would be more worth to spend your precious money on it and the paranoia about ripping it to preserve it would be nil. One reason that people just stopped getting them is their short lifetime. (I know it can last 100 years but normal usage has proven that it will never reach that without some damage to the surface).

As long as only the plastic has been damaged, scratched cds are easily repaired. When vinyl is damaged, that's it. When it comes to wear from play, vinyl is far more susceptible. Vinyl has a far lower tolerance to heat which means you are going to warp vinyl long before you warp a cd. Vinyl performance and durability is directly affected by the quality of the needle you are using on it. Not to mention, every time you play vinyl, you are causing a small amount of surface damage, which, over time adds up. Play both a cd and a vinyl album 100 times and see which one still sounds like it did on the first play. It won't be the vinyl.

- Loudness race has been applied to CDs as a mandatory rule. CDs helped to diminish the quality of sound since you could compress the dynamic range to full scale, so in a way, it's not wise to say "CD all the way for me" these days. Since this technique can't be applied to the maximum levels on vinyl, there are still people who are acquiring vinyls because it sounds better than CD for that reason (not for any other particular reason such as "vinyl is just better because you can hear more frequencies"). Check Metallica's versions of Load on CD and on LP. LP will be much quieter and better. But if the CD was still mastered like in the 90's it would certainly be better than vinyl by all means. Today the ideal is to have best sounding media - AS IN MASTERING - as the media itself, CD is enough.

It's true that many works are mixed and mastered for loudness rather than quality, but the cd isn't directly to blame for this. Several factors played into that shift, and more than anything technology in general is most responsible.

Although you didn't actually make this claim, it's absolutely false that vinyl has better frequency response than cd. A properly mixed and master cd can easily beat out vinyl in terms of quality. Also, those who claim that vinyl gives more "warmth" are stuck in the early days of digital recording. Once upon a time that was true but the more technology & techniques working in the digital domain evolved, the more of a myth that claim became. These days it's just plain silly.

- Mobility killed the CD. Can you imagine yourself or anyone using a Discman? Swapping discs every 40 minutes? What about if I need to make a 6 hour trip, how many CD's do I have to carry and manage to swap in order to keep listening? And what about if I want to listen songs randomly? I will only have the skip option with 1 CD at a time. The need for portability and mobility was necessity since day 0. It was just a matter of time to become true.

You've got this completely backwards. Mobility is largely responsible for the success of cds. People here probably can imagine themselves using a Discman, carrying around a cd case on their person or in their car because most people here probably did exactly that. The cd did not kill itself. What really dealt a death blow to cds was portable mp3 players. It was all downhill once those hit the scene. The cheap price of an mp3 player coupled with the convenience of using digital files you can easily move between different devices. The high compatibility factor.. And the storage capacity.. That's what actually did the real damage to the cd market.

- Nothing is going to replace that beloved ceremony of getting a new CD and laying comfortably on your couch and turn on your stereo to enjoy it. Reading the covers, lyrics, the art. There's some magic in it and digital files kinda stolen that. Today it's much of an industrial behavior, collect hundreds of Gigs to the point you don't know which song you start off with. Everyone is its own radio station. (Radio stations helped killing music too, e.g. loudness rate, charts, etc).

Radio is still a driving force in sales today. Radio absolutely did not kill music and it's not responsible for the `loudness` problem. The music that gets sent to radio is not the same product you buy. Radio uses completely different mastering guidelines than retail.

- What I am managing right now is not to "own" a particular CD but to own a "pressing", digital, vinyl or CD. The pressing became the important thing to consider because in many cases you may have 8 issues of a particular album and just 2 of them sound good and mastered according to acceptable audiophile demands. Example: Tears For Fears - Songs from the big Chair - How many pressings of this record are out there? Do you know which pressing is particularly the best? Is it worth getting reissues or "remastered" butchered jobs? For SFTBC I'd say there is just one pressing I like which is the one from "PBTHAL vinyl rip" on the net. Metallica's Black Album is much better in the LP remastered form from Warner 2008 (511.830-1) pressing.

Reissues and repressing often come from the same master. Remasters are something entirely different. Labels simply don't spend money going back over and recreating works unless there's huge demand & profit potential -- and by that I'm talking about artists who are in the 100+ million sales club. If you want to compare a reissue or remaster against an original from your run of the mill artist, don't expect a lot of effort spent on improving it.

All that being said, yes certain issues do sound better than others. But, the availability of significant reissues and remasters is mostly reserved for those artists who have a massive following.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: My opinion....
by Jason Bourne on Wed 3rd Oct 2012 16:06 UTC in reply to "RE: My opinion...."
Jason Bourne Member since:
2007-06-02

Right. I actually agree with all your points. But my point have some deal of truth in them as well.

- Record industries can maximize whatever they want, but their business model have an impact on consumers. The day consumers found out they could get everything from the internet, guess who is running out of money. That wouldn't happen if you bred a very loyal consumer base with fair prices and quality products. That's what happens in other markets, and it's no different with music industry.

- You're right when you say I didn't claim you can hear those high frequencies in vinyl - i really didn't and I doubt anyone could hear it. I find arguments like the "warmth" of vinyl quite ridiculous. It's only a matter of current mastering practices that would justify preference for vinyl over CD in 2012 (and only if you own a really good equipment like a Technics kit).

- I think the duration of both media are questionable, you brought more downsides of vinyl which I missed, but I was mostly talking about the materials of vinyl plastic etc and polycarbonate, not audio preservation under normal conditions. I also didn't mention a thing called CD-rot which happens often. When the CD has scratches on the top label, you can forget it too. Scratching deep on surface read is something. Scratching deep on the label side is completely another.

- I think the MP3 Players were created exactly to maximize portability and dismiss the handling of many CDs. The CD did not kill itself but the need for more portability killed it, hence why people are getting more players with flash storage and iPods.

- Radio had its play on loudness race. I often see interviews in which artists are asking why their songs on CD are much quieter than in the radio.

- I didn't confuse remastering with repressing. I know they are different things. In a collection of 480 albums and singles, I do know that there is at least 30% of material available as remastered or repressed and there are subtle differences.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: My opinion....
by ilovebeer on Wed 3rd Oct 2012 23:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: My opinion...."
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

- Record industries can maximize whatever they want, but their business model have an impact on consumers. The day consumers found out they could get everything from the internet, guess who is running out of money. That wouldn't happen if you bred a very loyal consumer base with fair prices and quality products. That's what happens in other markets, and it's no different with music industry.

While the music industry has experienced declines in revenue, make no mistake, it's still a multi-billion dollar a year business. Something else that doesn't get reported often is that when the big fall in cd sales was happening, there was a massive boom in digital sales happening. People love to give the impression that piracy has killed/is killing the music industry -- absolutely not! Just 10 years ago the thought of a 360 deal was nearly unheard of. Today, it's common place. The majors are are raking in cash like they always have. The only thing that's really changed is what cookie jars their hands are in, and how many cookies they're grabbing at a time.

- I think the MP3 Players were created exactly to maximize portability and dismiss the handling of many CDs. The CD did not kill itself but the need for more portability killed it, hence why people are getting more players with flash storage and iPods.

The rise of MP3 players was driven by opportunity rather than need/demand. The cd was doing just fine when the MP3 player market was emerging. Once consumers experienced the convenience of MP3 players, they took off. You could get new music without ever leaving your house. That along with the ability to buy single songs (that you like) at a much lower cost instead of only full albums at album price really fueled the shift.

- Radio had its play on loudness race. I often see interviews in which artists are asking why their songs on CD are much quieter than in the radio.

Again, radio has had no impact on retail product. They use completely different mastering profiles and have totally different methods of delivery. When I mentioned technology in general was to blame, I was referring primarily to working in the digital domain, including people without the proper knowledge & experience to do so. Retail loudness is the result of abusing technology either knowingly or due to inexperience. Radio loudness is a whole other can of worms that relates to competition -- that's why you see very similar practices happening in radio and tv both.

- I didn't confuse remastering with repressing. I know they are different things. In a collection of 480 albums and singles, I do know that there is at least 30% of material available as remastered or repressed and there are subtle differences.

That may be, it all depends on what works your collection consist of. But as a whole counting artists who have sold at least one million units, you won't come even remotely close to 30%. The number is only a sliver in the lower single digits at best.

One thing I'm happy about is the shift moving back towards quality. It's going painfully slow but I like to believe it's the little engine that could. The people signing the checks need to start caring and agreeing higher quality if worth more investment, and a lot of education needs to happen with present day & future engineers (of all types) so they actually learn how to get high quality results from the digital domain. Simply being digital is no magic what-so-ever.

Reply Score: 2

SACD
by kenji on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 22:10 UTC
kenji
Member since:
2009-04-08

Does anyone remember (or still use) Super Audio CD's? I remember listening to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" on SACD and it was spectacular, but it's pretty spectacular on any format. It was a neat idea that didn't catch on, much like quadraphonics.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Audio_CD
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadraphonics

Reply Score: 1

RE: SACD
by Jason Bourne on Wed 3rd Oct 2012 21:49 UTC in reply to "SACD"
Jason Bourne Member since:
2007-06-02

SACD is a format that failed. There are no audible benefits of DSD compared to Red Book PCM. What may be the factor that some SACD will "sound better" than CD is the mastering factor, not anything special about the media. Being that said, the same mastering could be used for a common CD.

As far as more than two channel mixes go, 4.0 and 5.1 music will never leave its tiny audience nich.

Edited 2012-10-03 21:51 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: SACD
by ilovebeer on Wed 3rd Oct 2012 23:58 UTC in reply to "RE: SACD"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

As far as more than two channel mixes go, 4.0 and 5.1 music will never leave its tiny audience nich.

100% right. Most music is heard in an environment completely unsuitable for anything other than 2 channel stereo. It makes no sense to invest into it when you know you're going to be in the red doing so. You can always do (cheap) surround simulation but the quality is bad (horrible by comparison to a proper/real surround mix), and as you said the market is extremely small anyways. Music (not attached to video content) in surround looks good on paper but it's a near complete waste in practice.

Reply Score: 2