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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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 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 Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by WereCatf on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 07:13 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 Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by darknexus on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 12:05 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 Parent Score: 2

RE: I don't like cds but
by unclefester on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 02:39 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 Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by kurkosdr on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 10:17 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 Parent Score: 0

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by daedalus on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 10:25 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 Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: I don't like cds but
by quackalist on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 13:18 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 Parent Score: 1

RE: I don't like cds but
by Jason Bourne on Tue 2nd Oct 2012 22:10 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 Parent Score: 3