You may have heard the comment before that vinyl is better than CD and there is some valid reasons for that. Having said that the bigger issue with CD is the mastering and not necessarily the limitations of the format. Since the CD came out there has been ongoing "loudness war". To understand this you you have to understand the volume on your stereo just controls the overall volume. In an audio track the volume or amplification can go up or down. For example on the Division Bell from Pink Floyd the first track called "Cluster One" is an instrumental that starts out with nothing for 15 minutes and slowly builds over the entire track. At the very end the high peaks you see in this waveform are from a guitar with a lot of amplification. Understand it's the guitar itself that is louder compared to how loud the other instruments are.
What's happened with the mastering of a lot of music is they are driving up the amplification across the entire track. This is "Master of Puppets" from the S&M Disc which has to be the "loudest" CD I have heard:
Huge difference in the dynamics, to accomplish this they have to compress the peaks. You may not notice this unless yu're doing some side by side comparisons but when you compress the peaks what happens is you lose all the nuance and dynamics of the music, the music becomes flat sounding and even distorted. On the other hand Grunge and those genres actually use this to their advantage and it helps produce the sound they are looking for. Probably the best example of how this effects the music is the difference between the CD version of "Death Magnetic" and the one on Guitar Hero:
It wasn't always like this, here is an example of the original CD compared to the remastered CD of Dire Straits "Money for Nothing" which is often used by audiophiles as a benchmark because it's a very dynamic song
This is the major reason why the CD sucks compared to vinyl. That said there is limitations to CD format and it is not the equal of vinyl. CD is 44kHz/16 bit, the 44kHz is the sample rate, it produces a different sound at the rate of 44K per second. The bits determine how accurately it can reproduce those sounds, in this case 16 bit equates to about 64K different sounds.
DVD audio and SACD are far superior to CD. Note that's DVD Audio and not audio on a DVD video disc. The DVD Audio format is just like a CD, it's all audio. DVD audio can be as high as 192kHz/24 bit. That is sampled at rate of 192K times each second and bits are exponential, 24 bit audio can accurately produce nearly 17 million sounds. When you consider how accurately a CD can produce sound what do you thing a format that is 260 times as accurate at 4 times the sample rate can do? These formats have never caught on because of the popularity of the CD that was "good enough"
I can't finish this post without mentioning compressed formats like MP3, this is really a whole other topic in itself. There is no consideration for file size in CD and DVD Audio, it's a set rate and is really large files. MP3 and other compressed formats use techniques to get rid of data they don't need and they kind of average things out to produce really small files compared to uncompressed formats like CD. It's not quite the same as the comparisons between CD and DVD Audio.
The irony of all this is we have exchanged quality for convenience. CD is "good enough" but downloads are crap especially if they are really low bitrate downloads.
One final thing to note, if you're listening to music on your Ipod or some crap stereo you can ignore all this.
Right everything is done for MP3's MP3's suck, they remove half the audio. I had and still have old Carver gear, when CD's came out it just was not the same, yeah no pops and hiss but I really did notice a difference. That was before MP3's. And the kids today all buy from itunes. What a scam..
grumpy wrote:Right everything is done for MP3's MP3's suck, they remove half the audio.
Grumpy they aren't necessarily getting rid of half the audio. What they are doing is getting rid of unnecessary data and repeated data. Where the problem starts with the MP3's or any compressed media format is it's sliding scale of quality you can choose from. A 320kbps MP3 is not going to be much different than the CD it was ripped from, that produces a fairly large file. Most people are using 192kbps or <gasp> 128kbps. The other thing is 128kbps sounds pretty damn good on a ipod or small radio.
Another issue is if the music is recompressed, instead of creating your 128kbps from the source CD it is created from a 320kbps and that produces terrible results compared to compressing from the source CD.
Avoid WAV as they are huge. They have lossless formats that use a form of compression that doesn't alter the audio. They are smaller files than WAV but much larger than MP3. One of the considerations you have to make here is support on the playback device hence the reason for the popularity of MP3. As long as you have the codec installed on your computer you can play any format you want. That's not the case for audio devices.
FLAC is common lossless format, WMA for Windows has a lossless option too.
Keep in mind Grumpy this only applies to audio you're sourcing from a CD or other original source. If you download a MP3 just leave it as MP3.
I love vinyl and luckily a lot of the artists I like still release their music in vinyl. I do have one of those USB turntables so I can convert my albums to digital. I bought record lots on ebay of artists I like real cheap, then convert them and listen to them at work. But I still listen to the LP's at home. Nice sound and now I know why. Thanks for posting the info.
LONG time indeed! Used to subscribe to magazines and such techy stuff. Still have my vinyl and a couple of players. Wife wanted to toss it in the move but they are over in storage. I will have it all set up again someday.
Here is an article discussing the differences and relative merits of CD, DVD-Audio and SACD formats: CD vs. DVD-Audio vs. SACD. It's about 10 years old, but still relevant and quite enlightening.
The original CD format dates from the 70's, I believe, so obviously heavily influenced by the lack of computing power of the day. DVD-Audio has the promise of being a vastly superior format, but in a replay of the Beta/VHS wars, the SACD format seems to have been the "winner".
Nevertheless, CD can sound VERY good if it is mastered correctly. I build all my own audio equipment, and while I prefer vacuum tubes, I use solid state where it makes sense. I have CDs that sound absolutely spectacular, and some that are almost unlistenable. It amazes me how "perfect sound forever" can be so horridly done. One particularly good album is from early in the digital age - 1983, Joe Beck "Relaxin'". The fact that he is my uncle (R.I.P.) isn't important - the album is very well recorded, undoubtedly made easier by being a jazz trio. But, it was recorded direct to digital using a Mitsubishi X-80 recorder and post-processed very little.
I also have Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms" on CD that I bought in the 80's, and I agree that it's a very well done mastering job. I have a copy of Miles Davis "Kind of Blue" that is excellent, and the 14 minute live cut of "Down by the River" on the "Best of Buddy Miles" CD is spine chilling - you are sitting right there with the audience.
Richard S. wrote: One of the considerations you have to make here is support on the playback device hence the reason for the popularity of MP3. As long as you have the codec installed on your computer you can play any format you want. That's not the case for audio devices.
I should probably point out if you're going to go through the trouble of ripping an entire collection the best thing to do is use a lossless format. Keep them as source files and you can always create new files like MP3 or whatever format you need as a batch. The key is having the lossless files as source because they are as good as the CD and you want have to go through all that work.
warminmn wrote: I do have one of those USB turntables so I can convert my albums to digital.
Assuming it's decent one and has some high quality formats available that is ideal because you're converting directly to digital. Having said that you can do this with any turntable by plugging it into the MIC or AUX jack on your computer and then use something like Audacity to record. There is adapters for anything whether it's for the heaphone output or the RCA jacks.
You need to convert the phono signal to line level, then use the aux inputs. It is way different than mic or straight aux levels. There is a special frequency curve and de-emphasis that phono preamps use and if you want it to be correct and sound like it used to sound, use a phono preamp. You can probably do it in software but why not do it right the way it used to be made. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization I used to do this a very lot but ran the turntable into a old Marantz receiver (2252b) then from the line out i would go direct into a cd audio burner Phillips CD Recorder CDR775. Some vinyl records were never released on CD, some Black Sabbath, some Pink Floyd, comes to mind. You had to buy "audio" cd blanks, they had a royalty paid on each blank, regular blank cd's will not work. Now you can go from the phono preamp into your sound card.
I like rekkids, I like CDs, I like my reel to reels but it's awful hard to listen to them while riding. For that I'll take my ipod and it's paltry 128Kb. At speed it doesn't matter much anyway, I'm concentrating on other dummies driving.
There is still nothing better than a cocktail with a rekkid spinning. You ought to see my nephews stop and stare when the reels are spinning!