Neil Young: This is a low-res world (and the never ending analog vs. digital debate)

hoochmonkey9

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I'm going to weigh in here and not add anything really useful (what else is new!), but all I ask from my audio setup is for it to not be too "tinny." I want the sound to be warm. mp3s are tinny to me, but I tolerate it because of the convenience. it's not my preferred listening format, but on long road trips it's tolerable.

that being said, I've never had a high-end audio setup. I've had a half decent amp, but the speakers were crap. etc. I just bought a Polk Audio speaker setup (came Thursday) and I must say the subwoofer makes a world of difference. especially on jazz from the '40s and '50s where the bass was frequently lost in the mix.

but I I do have a dvd audio version of Kind of Blue and the sound is impressive. good or not, I don't know, but I was impressed.

anyway.
 

cirerita

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Comparing CDs vs Blu-Rays is very tedious and time-consuming. The Dark Side is one of those cases where I did not compare the new CD against the Blu-Ray, but I have done that comparison with other recordings and I can tell you there's usually a huge difference in terms of sound (quality) between most -if not all- new CDs and their equivalent Blu-Ray. Maybe I'm blind or deaf, or both, but I say there's an abyss between CDs and Blu-Rays in most cases.

As to long road trips, FLACs are lossless and they do sound better than MP3s.
 

mjp

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Yes, but last time I looked I couldn't find that info on my CDs or Blu-Rays. You get name of the sound engineer, but there are usually no specifications as to how careful/careless the mastering process was.
If the remaster was done by someone who is well known and respected (and expensive) the studio will generally make sure their name is available somewhere on the disc, because certain people look for things like that. But if "Joe," the guy who does assembly-line masters on the second shift Thursday through Monday did it, you wouldn't necessarily want to draw attention to that.

The recording engineer is (should) not be a factor in the sound of the finished product. The engineer runs cable and twists knobs and starts and stops the tape machine. But they do not pull cables, twist knobs or start or stop the tape machine unless the producer tells them to. The engineer is tech support.

Some engineers are well known and have reputations, and that is due to their skill in getting a certain genre of music down onto tape effectively (Eddie Kramer comes to mind for rock). 40, 50 years ago most recording engineers were old men, and they had no idea how to mic loud instruments. The next generation of guys like Kramer were better at getting modern music down onto tape. But ideally and typically, you will not 'hear' the engineer at all.

Engineers are not producers, and very few producers are engineers.
I can't remember who mastered the old CDs, but I would be surprised if they were poorly mastered.
You shouldn't be. Almost everything was poorly mastered in the early days of CD mastering. Sometimes they didn't even do a separate CD master, they used the vinyl master (which is is EQed for vinyl, obviously, not digital).

I don't want to bore everyone with a description of the processes that go into recording, mastering and duplicating music, because no one really cares. But there's a lot of confusion out there (and in here) about it, and I think that contributes to a lot of the hyperoble and misinformation.
 

mjp

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I just bought a Polk Audio speaker setup (came Thursday) and I must say the subwoofer makes a world of difference.
Doesn't it? When you remove the burden of those low frequencies from your main speakers it frees them up to give you more of that mid/top stuff, and the smaller speakers are made for that. I now divide my life into pre and post-subwoofer eras. ;)
Comparing CDs vs Blu-Rays is very tedious and time-consuming.
Put one in, take one out, put the other one in...that's tedious? If you're talking about using some analyzation equipment to compare and plot sound waves on a graph, then I can see where that would be tedious and time-consuming. Not to mention that shit is meaningless, so it is really wasted time too.
I say there's an abyss between CDs and Blu-Rays in most cases.
Abyss! You must be listening on some very, very expensive equipment. I am jealous.
FLACs are lossless
Not according to the audiophiles. If you care what they think, which I generally do not. But most of them will tell you there is loss in the conversion. But, you know, again, most of them are completely insane.
 

cirerita

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To me it's rather tedious because I'm not really enjoying music when I'm comparing different formats.

Expensive equipments not always sound better than reasonably-priced equipments. They ideally should, but it all depends on quite a few factors, including human clumsiness. A cheap 720p proyector might deliver a better image quality than an expensive 1080p one or even a good old tri-tube. It depends on how well they are all set up.

FLACs are called lossless, but since there's a conversion I kind of agree there's some sort of loss along the way. Whether human ears can perceive that loss or not, that's another story. But FLACs beat the shit out of MP3s.
 

mjp

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Well, you are certainly passionate in your abyss-like differences, which makes me curious to compare myself.

Tho only problem is, none of the nearly 600 CDs I have laying around here have been pressed on Blu-Ray (since it isn't really an audio format yet). So I guess that comparison will have to wait.

I'm not interested enough to buy copy #212,348,405 of Dark Side of the Sleepy Fucking Moon in both versions to compare. Or whatever space age shit Neil Young is selling to bored baby boomers for $300. I'd have to buy a Blu-Ray player too, and I wouldn't want to invest in a good one, so I dunno. I'm convinced the playback hardware makes a difference, but you seem to be suggesting that any old $49 player is better than a top of the line CD transport, so there's that variable...

A 5:1 or quad mix is irrelevant by the way, since no one experiences music that way, unless you are standing on the stage performing it. Quad was a cheap gimmick that died a well-deserved death almost 40 years ago, at the same time 8-track tapes were relegated to the scrapheap. I suppose the ultimate marriage of idiot technologies would be quad 8-tracks...they must sound awesome. Especially when the song fades in the middle to switch tracks. Klunk!
 

nado

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FLACs are lossless
Not according to the audiophiles. If you care what they think, which I generally do not. But most of them will tell you there is loss in the conversion. But, you know, again, most of them are completely insane.
Well, some audiophiles. Other audiophiles know that FLAC's are indeed 100% lossless. A file can be converted from wav format to FLAC format and back to wav and the 2 wav files will be identical in size and even more importantly, identical on a bit by bit basis. The FLAC contains ALL of the information that the original wav file had, but stores it in about 66% of the space, on average.
 

mjp

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I know. But bear in mind that you are talking about people who claim to be able to hear a difference in sound depending on how "clean" the ac power in your wall is. Most of them are delusional. About many things.
 

nado

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Oh. You mean people that night consider buying these duplex outlet covers. http://machinadynamica.com/index.html (See the last item under the Products link). Personally, I have eschewed the Tru-Tone Duplex Covers in favor of the Brilliant Pebbles taped to the input jacks of my preamplifier.
 

mjp

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I think it's pretty cool that they will actually take your money for those things. Why didn't I think of that?
 

cirerita

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Well, that's only one side of the story, right? A lot of people disagree with the "facts" displayed in that piece. In fact, in one of the links provided in the article, you'll find that users point out that the study was poorly designed and the conclusions are pretty much useless: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=57406

It's also interesting that most of the articles cited to support this article date back to 2007 and 2008, ignoring recent developments and studies.

Cherry-picking, anyone?
 

mjp

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A lot of people disagree with the "facts" displayed in that piece.
People disagree about how the human ear works? That's news to me.

But what's funny is I wouldn't be surprised to find some 24 bit proponent on a forum somewhere arguing, "That's not how the ear works!"

Some people also believe that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, and the earth is only six thousand years old because someone told them it is so. And they will cite the "science" that was built up from scratch around their belief to "prove" it's true.

Delusion is delusion. I'm not here to help anyone overcome theirs.

Well, anywhoo.

Yeah...yep.

Man, it was hot here today! Like 80 degrees in Pasadena. Crazy. :)



All I would say in closing is, don't forget to send Neil Young $299 for the Archives (volume 1) Blu-Rays! Audiophile sound at the bargain rate of three times the cost of the CDs! Step right up and buy the magic 24 bit elixir! It will make the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk again!
 

esart

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This just in:

24/192 Music Downloads...and why they make no sense

A must-read for anyone who is still awake and gives a shit. It's long, but it really explains in plain language why all of the existing "high-res" formats are irrelevant when it comes to listening to music with human ears.
This is so interesting! Last week, I basically had an intensive "talking to" by Jonathan Nesmith about all of this and he explained to me pretty much everything that's on that webpage, and almost in that detail. I was impressed with myself that I actually understood pretty much everything he said - even though I had to keep the napkins he was writing on to show me some of the sample and bit rate diagrams he drew (I already know all about the cochlea)....

Anywho, I am perfectly happy with our catalog of CDs now. We have a great stereo set up. And what I listen to these days is so far superior than most anything else (sans listening to the actual masters), and certainly blows away how I used to listen to music when I was a youth... I am fully happy with my music room. Anyone would be lucky to be invited over to my house to listen to tunes.

For me, the rest of this ear hair splitting stuff is horse poopie.

Also, as a side note, I AM one of those Golden Ear people as a matter of fact. And it is a training thing, not a genetic thing. I also have hearing damage, but I still hear the nuances. I just can't listen at higher volumes anymore. I get to thank an asshole sound guy at the Whiskey for that.
 
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hoochmonkey9

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when I buy audio equipment, I do research but I limit myself to CNET and the like. if I went into those AV forums I'd drive myself crazy. I have an obsessive trait to my personality, and I'd end up listening to whatever I bought and thinking "This isn't good enough!" and eventually it would turn into "This guy on tubeamplifiersordeath.net said if I wear a tinfoil cape and balloons on my hands and feet I'd hear more ohms! It's all about the ohms, people! Jesus, how blind we have been! But they have to be purple balloons. Where the fuck are my purple balloons!"

I don't want to be that guy. not yet, anyway. my 3000 cds and 500+ lps and 500+ rotting cassettes (there used to be twice that amount of tapes, but they rotted!) will have to be played on whatever I have. but I'm happy!

I think...
 

mjp

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3000 CDs! You could lose more CDs than we have and not even notice.

You're right though, about staying away from tubeamplifiersordeath.net and the like. I found a few nuggets of valuable information in those parts, but ultimately none of it had anything to do with hardware. If I had a million dollars in my pocket and had to spend it all today I still wouldn't buy a $20,000 turntable or $10,000 speaker cables (yes, they exist!) that those people praise to the heavens.

Mostly what I got was information about and from people who have long been respected in the recording world, and that's what it's all about anyway. Without a good source none of this format shit matters.

And debating sound is like debating religion or politics or which is the best Bukowski book.

Though I think if you told everyone on tubeamplifiersordeath.net that Pulp was superior because of the magic glue used in its binding, they'd all talk endlessly about how they can tell that it's better than the others because the page turning is much deeper, and the text is rich and has a lot of air and detail, and the short words are all tight and well-defined.
 

cirerita

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Blu-Rays not only can deliver higher audio quality than CDs -whether human ears can perceive it or not is, as you can see, a hot topic- but they also can deliver higher video quality -if you care about it, that is. Blu-Rays usually have 1080p content, which beat the crap out of DVDs. Of course, if you're watching/listening to a Blu-Ray in a shitty laptop you won't see the difference between 720p and 1080p, and then you can argue Blu-Rays are worthless.

Not only that, Blu-Rays allow you to listen to music while simultaneously browsing any graphic material (pics, lyrics, articles, etc) in the disc, while DVDs can't do that.

Yeah, don't waste your $$$ on that fucking hoax called Blu-Ray.

Blu-Rays and CDs are outdated anyway, so who cares?
 

mjp

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Yeah, don't waste your $$$ on that fucking hoax called Blu-Ray.
Well, in all fairness, I didn't call it a hoax. I inferred that it is snake oil. There's a subtle difference there. And I was talking about music reproduction. When did we start discussing video? You have to give me a little warning when we switch to a completely unrelated topic.

As far as being able to read and look at pictures while listening to music, that would mean being tied to a computer, or a TV screen(?), wouldn't it? That's not where I listen to music.

I listen to music in my anechoic chamber, which is isolated from the low frequency interference of the movement of the earth's crust, while reclining completely naked (it's an established fact that clothing blocks certain essential frequencies) on an electromagnetically suspended Herman Miller AcoustiCouch.

If you listen under lesser conditions - well, I can't be expected to take your opinion seriously, can I?

in one of the links provided in the article, you'll find that users point out that the study was poorly designed and the conclusions are pretty much useless: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=57406
I just read that thread. You're kidding, right? I see a couple of guys in there picking at nits, but everyone else seems to agree that the test confirms what many of them already knew, and as one person said, "the burden of proof" is now on the "high-res" proponents. That's your example of why this guy is wrong? Maybe I'm an idiot, but that thread seems to support his claims much more than it calls them into question. And of course that thread is nothing more than some dudes on an Internet forum (like us) calling the work of professionals into question. Let's not forget the overall absurdity of that.

And in that thread, again, the topic goes back to mastering (as it always will). If you spent the time and effort mastering a CD that they spent mastering the "high-res" discs, what you would end up with would be exceptional sounding CDs ("These ["high-res"] recordings seem to have been made with great care and manifest affection, by engineers trying to please themselves and their peers"). Unfortunately, only a handful of CD remastering people take that time, so you end up comparing apples to oranges. If "high-res" ever caught on as a widely-used commercial product, you would wind up with the same problem you have in mass-market CD remastering; assembly-line mediocrity.

But more importantly, they say it is going to rain here today, and we could have frost tonight! Imagine that, right after an 80 degree afternoon. It's crazy!
 

esart

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It has just occurred to me (I'm a bit thick so I'm a little slow on these things) that THIS WILL NEVER END!
 
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cirerita

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It's true, it will never end, and it's funny how we can argue endlessly over a series of basically outdated formats.
 

esart

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It's true, it will never end, and it's funny how we can argue endlessly over a series of basically outdated formats.
Last time I checked, I was still able to buy CDs in 2012. ZZZZZING!
 
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cirerita

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I think there are places where you can buy cassettes at a reasonable price, too. Blu-Rays might be new to a lot of people, but they are in fact very old news.
 

mjp

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CD isn't an outdated format until something replaces it. As of this moment, nothing has.

Most people may download their music now, but the physical format will not disappear. If anything, CDs will become a "deluxe, limited" product (similar to how they market LPs now), with the download being the primary seller.

I look forward to that, actually, because then CDs will be produced with the attention to quality and detail that they deserve.

But CD isn't going anywhere (soon, anyway). This isn't Betamax. CD players are everywhere.
 

mjp

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If you think CDs are too expensive, you might want to stay away from the "high-res" music download sites. Unless you want to spend $20 for another copy of Rumors or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

I am taking them up on their offer of free sample downloads, but it's all obscure shit that I won't be able to compare to CD (Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra, Marta Gomez, Harry "Big Daddy" Hypolite, Dave's True Story, Marianne Thorsen and the TrondheimSolistene?).

Hey, I'm trying.

But one great thing I saw on that site - 32 bit audio! Woo! Finally. No more suffering with the limited noise floor and soundstage on 24 bit recordings! I can't wait to hear warm and airy realness and tight, well-defined bass.

4k.gif


Spending four grand on that transport might seem like a bargain, but these might stretch your audio budget a bit:

1050k.gif


I like to have quality things around me, so you know I'm going to be all over the world's lowest jitter clock!
 

mjp

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The first effect - where what your eyes see affects what your ears hear - is the most interesting.

I'd like to put some audiophiles in a room with a turntable and go through all of the motions of playing an LP on an expensive turntable but really play the sound from a good CD player. Then listen to them fawn over how "warm" the turntable sounds.

 
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