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The high end revisited!


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With most of my favorite lp's, I record them to tape (reel to reel). In many case the result is better than the lp recording. I do this also with cd's. The play back, imo, is superior than the original cd recording.

So then, according to what you say, a recording is better than the original performance. That is a ridiculous assertion.

With most of my favorite lp's, I record them to tape (reel to reel). In many case the result is better sounds different than the lp recording, but I prefer it anyway. I do this also with cd's. The play back is superior different than the original cd recording and I prefer it.

Erroneous statements corrected.

Response:

So then, according to what you say, a recording is better than the original performance. That is a ridiculous assertion.

That is what you think I said. What I hear, coming through (in most cases)my gear, sounds (and feels) better. Technically, the specs on the digital recordings would make on think it is far superior in sound reproduction, but what I hear in most cases is less than what one would expect. I don't see my opinion as being a "ridiculous assertion."

Secondly:

With most of my favorite lp's, I record them to tape (reel to reel). In many case the result is better sounds different than the lp recording, but I prefer it anyway. I do this also with cd's. The play back is superior different than the original cd recording and I prefer it.

I stand behind my original statement and I'll steal Dave's quote on his page. "If it sounds good, it IS good!" ( Duke Ellington). Additionally, my opinion is that it results in better and superior quality when played back on my gear. I would like to think that my gear makes it possible for some pretty accurate recordings to be auditioned.

Also, I think it is pretty clear that all of this is based upon my opinion. Your editing of my post is somewhat over-the-line.

Guys,

Lets use EQ adjustments to tone down what we don't like. I take everything down 2.5db from 500 up and digital sounds fantastic to my ear. Does that mean my vinyl setup is poor from 500 up? I doubt it as I find myself doing the same thing on some records. Rip it well to digital and forgo the mechanical problems and cost of analog sources. IMHO.

And don't forget to enjoy the music, not the equipment. (Most of us don't need to be reminded.)

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You haven't experienced it because its not true in any real world serious LP users situation... the level that a properly setup or even mildly improperly setup cartridge/arm setup lays down on a LP is very small...the type of degradation they are referencing is in the land of old $15 record players that children used years ago. Us serious LP listeners do not use setups like that and are very careful with our music collection.

Heck I spent a good percentage of 3 days setting up my latest cartridge/arm/table setup... I think playing the record actually improves it's sound!

Hogwash. When I played records years ago I was very careful to set everything up properly and keep the records and stylus squeaky clean, ultimately to no avail. No matter what I did the records got noisier the more they were played. The noisier they got, the less I enjoyed them. Vinyl is not the most stable polymer out there and will eventually degrade over time. Maybe then you will think the sound improves even more. Enjoy.

Don, how exactly did they get noisier? Surface noise, clicks and pops type of noise? I'm being serious when I say I've never experienced that in 40 years of listening to vinyl. Do I have albums that have noise, clicks and pops? Absolutely I do, and they have had that noise from the very first time I played them. But the noise never increased over time. At least not to my ears...

Mike

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Don, how exactly did they get noisier? Surface noise, clicks and pops type of noise? I'm being serious when I say I've never experienced that in 40 years of listening to vinyl. Do I have albums that have noise, clicks and pops? Absolutely I do, and they have had that noise from the very first time I played them. But the noise never increased over time. At least not to my ears...

Years ago one of the magazines (Audio?) ran tests on records that clearly showed loss of high frequencies and worsening noise over time due to normal playback. Once a record gets scratched each playback digs the hole a little deeper. When that happens playback only gets worse, never better. It happens gradually so the ears get used to it and it is unnoticed.

The same sort of thing happens when someone gains weight. The weight gain is gradual and the person doesn't see it if they look in the mirror every day. Then they step on a scale and the weight gain becomes obvious. Those in denial will say the scale is wrong, but that's precisely why the scale is used. It has no emotional involvement in what it weighs, and does not even know what it is weighing. It simply reports the weight of whatever is on it.

So it is with test equipment. When a piece of test equipment shows a change and a listener reports no change, what are you going to believe? In the case of vinyl playback I have to believe the instrumented test, especially when my ears agree with it's results.

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In the case of vinyl playback I have to believe the instrumented test, especially when my ears agree with it's results.

The physics would agree with you. And in the case of discs sounding better, I believe the repeated playing is removing dirt and also manufacturing debris allowing better tracking of the signal.

However, back to our original discourse. As with the mechanical interface problems of vinyl, CDs also suffer from the same ailments manifesting themselves in different ways. And as you said, test equipment will verify increasing levels of error correction being induced as players age and discs pickup microscopic pieces of dirt.

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I think playing the record actually improves it's sound!


My father who is a huge collector of classical album (25,000 and counting) claims that to be true. If often plays new (to him) purchases through a couple of times to "clean out the grooves."

I've experienced that. But I wonder if it is psychological adaptation. The clue is I've also experienced it -- a few times -- on digital media! Tape, too.

On the other hand, the record companies do send out Lps with gunk in the groves, especially in the bad old days, when we used Diskwashers and Dust Bugs before even thinking of playing the disks.

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Guys,

Lets use EQ adjustments to tone down what we don't like. I take everything down 2.5db from 500 up and digital sounds fantastic to my ear. Does that mean my vinyl setup is poor from 500 up? I doubt it as I find myself doing the same thing on some records. Rip it well to digital and forgo the mechanical problems and cost of analog sources. IMHO.

And don't forget to enjoy the music, not the equipment. (Most of us don't need to be reminded.)

Points well taken, However, often times part of the fun is "enjoying" the equipment (experimenting, learning, etc...). That is part of the total experience. And for certain, this is my opinion...
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Guys,

Lets use EQ adjustments to tone down what we don't like. I take everything down 2.5db from 500 up and digital sounds fantastic to my ear. Does that mean my vinyl setup is poor from 500 up? I doubt it as I find myself doing the same thing on some records. Rip it well to digital and forgo the mechanical problems and cost of analog sources. IMHO.

And don't forget to enjoy the music, not the equipment. (Most of us don't need to be reminded.)

Points well taken, However, often times part of the fun is "enjoying" the equipment (experimenting, learning, etc...). That is part of the total experience. And for certain, this is my opinion...
Indeed. I stand corrected. We need a balance of enjoying the music and working with components. Then, might we stipulate and debate the subjective attributes of what is good music? No we shouldn't. Instead we should enjoy sharing our opinions. As long as we recognize there are those amongst us whose observations are more valuable than others. Take mine for instance. My tin ear and hours of listening under the influence qualifies me as a recognized go to expert on music, high end equipment, speaker design objectives etc. WAD [;)]
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Guys,

Lets use EQ adjustments to tone down what we don't like. I take everything down 2.5db from 500 up and digital sounds fantastic to my ear. Does that mean my vinyl setup is poor from 500 up? I doubt it as I find myself doing the same thing on some records. Rip it well to digital and forgo the mechanical problems and cost of analog sources. IMHO.

And don't forget to enjoy the music, not the equipment. (Most of us don't need to be reminded.)

Points well taken, However, often times part of the fun is "enjoying" the equipment (experimenting, learning, etc...). That is part of the total experience. And for certain, this is my opinion...
Indeed. I stand corrected. We need a balance of enjoying the music and working with components. Then, might we stipulate and debate the subjective attributes of what is good music? No we shouldn't. Instead we should enjoy sharing our opinions. As long as we recognize there are those amongst us whose observations are more valuable than others. Take mine for instance. My tin ear and hours of listening under the influence qualifies me as a recognized go to expert on music, high end equipment, speaker design objectives etc. WAD Wink
[Y]
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However, back to our original discourse. As with the mechanical interface problems of vinyl, CDs also suffer from the same ailments manifesting themselves in different ways. And as you said, test equipment will verify increasing levels of error correction being induced as players age and discs pickup microscopic pieces of dirt.

The big difference in digital and analog sources is... there is no error correction for a damaged vinyl record. There are devices that can remove pops and clicks but the audible consequences that result are truly horrible. OTOH, digital error correction can completely and perfectly restore the digital data. CIRC, checksum, and parity do an amazing job and if the damage is so severe so that isn't enough the system can interpolate. All an analog single ended NR can do is remove an offending sound along with the music located near that defect.

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digital error correction can completely and perfectly restore the digital data. CIRC, checksum, and parity do an amazing job

The man whose name is on the masthead would have a word (or is it 2 words) for that.

:-)

Digital error correction makes an assumption of the data that is missed based on the pre and post bitstream. There is no actual restoration, it's a best guess. And like all guesses, its' accuracy is affected by a number of external factors including the amount of data missing and the quality of the system replacing that data. "Perfectly" would imply that 100% of the missing data is replaced by identical 1 and 0's. This can never be the case.

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Let's clear the decks here as we seem to be following each other down the digital vs. analog rabbit hole which was not the point of this thread.

I have nothing against digital audio systems per se. I use them daily and could not begin to imagine life without them. However, all digital is not created equal and we cannot make blanket statements that accurately describe all the various formats, types and qualities.

Likewise with analog. Another sweeping term and again we need to be sure we're comparing apples to apples. A good turntable and signal chain is capable of stunning results and an old changer is not.

In the end of the day, it's what you prefer. There is no "bad" gear or "good" gear. There is gear better suited to certain environments and listening conditions. There is gear that appeals to certain tastes and musical preferences. Nobody is wrong and everybody is right. A friend loves hearing background music throughout her house, her Bose Lifestyle set up is absolutely perfect for her. My father listens exclusively to classical music with a penchant for early 20th century recordings. A set of Spendors and Quad amplification is the perfect pairing. And so it goes on...

I call it the Tao of Audio and sometimes I wish everyday life was this simple.

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Digital error correction makes an assumption of the data that is missed based on the pre and post bitstream. There is no actual restoration, it's a best guess.

Not so. Interpolation is the third or fourth step in dealing with damaged data and is known as error concealment. CIRC along with checksum and parity can do a completely accurate restoration of data, if the damage is not too severe:

"Before being written to the disc, the LPCM audio data is divided into 12-sample frames (six left and right samples, alternating) and subjected to CIRC encoding, which segments and rearranges the data and expands it with "parity" bits in a way that allows occasional read errors to be detected and corrected. 8 bits of subcode data are added to each frame. The resulting 291-bit frame data is EFM-modulated, where each 8-bit word is replaced with a corresponding 14-bit word designed to reduce the number of transitions between 0 and 1, thus reducing the density of physical pits on the disc and providing an additional degree of error tolerance. 3 "merging" bits are added before each 14-bit word for disambiguation and synchronization."

Complete data correction is achieved to a limit of 4000 data bits.

Maximum interpolation correction, worst case, is 12,300 data bits.

The information on an audio Compact Disc is more than a stream of 16 bit digital words, and is designed to handle misread or missing data. It is quite an achievement, especially when compared to analog storage media which have absolutely no way to deal with damage, except to live with it.

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Lets use EQ adjustments to tone down what we don't like. I take everything down 2.5db from 500 up and digital sounds fantastic to my ear.

I've tried that. My treble control has virtually no effect below 1.3K Hz (fine with me), so I miss your "500 up" cut by about an octave, but a 2-3 dB cut farther up filters out some of the hardness that digital seems to have (and analog lacks). Sometimes it works, but sometimes I mourn for the sparkling highs I'm missing and turn the treble back up to flat (or part way back up). Some CDs require very careful fine tuning. I hate having to do that. In my system, I'm starting with a room curve that is flatish, thanks to Audyssey FLAT (I don't like the rolled off Audyssey), so I may have more high treble to begin with than most people using the same speakers and similar rooms. Some processors offer a dip at about 2K, to attenuate harshness. The ones I've heard of restore flat response something like an octave higher.

Here is something weird. In the early '90s a recording engineer said (in one of the magazines) that the finished CDs he had mixed could usually be made to sound better than the Lp version (played on a horrifically expensive turntable) if the following EQ was was applied to the CD during playback: moderate bass boost, and moderate treble boost, from about 4K on up, if I remember correctly. ??? I know that some of the best moving coil cartridges of the '70s, including the Klipsch, had treble elevation above 10K with as much as 5 dB up toward 15-20K. Perhaps his treble boost was an attempt to imitate those cartridges. All this makes me wonder if good digital EQ would consist of a cut centered on 2K and a slight boost up toward the top. ????

I'm not saying that digital is not flat, but that distortion of certain kinds (including that which is unnamed and unmeasured) may be especially grating at about 2k.

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All this makes me wonder if good digital EQ would consist of a cut centered on 2K and a slight boost up toward the top. ????

I would love to hear more on this subject. I used to think flat was where it's at, but I have learned that thoughtful and subtle EQ can add to enjoyment. A thread on this subject with the skill, knowledge and experience of posters to this forum could develop tips I would love to try.[:P]
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I saw an interesting docu on the making of Fleetwood Mac - Rumour. They said during the mixing they noticed at the end that something was missing from the high end and the drums sounded dead and realized this came from the degeneration of the master tapes since they heard them so often. They decided to redo all of the drum parts to bring the livelyness back into the songs. A guy sat there with headphones and a vso with the "new" drums on one ear and "old" drums other had to manually adjust the speed so both were in takt. That guy was a maestro in analog engineering in my book.

Here a link to part one

Here is where the speak about the drums, starts at around 2:50

Very interesting docu and I never knew there was so much going on with them during this album.

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All this makes me wonder if good digital EQ would consist of a cut centered on 2K and a slight boost up toward the top. ????

I would love to hear more on this subject. I used to think flat was where it's at, but I have learned that thoughtful and subtle EQ can add to enjoyment. A thread on this subject with the skill, knowledge and experience of posters to this forum could develop tips I would love to try.Stick out tongue

My guess is that flat would be where it's at if CDs were recorded flat and with minimal distortion. Too many aren't. The first time I play a CD, I play it without EQ (except for Audyssey FLAT for speaker and room correction); later I find that the vast majority of CDs benefit from a bit of EQ. I also toggle between Audyssey FLAT and Audyssey OFF, and, so far, always prefer Audyssey FLAT .... but with additional tone control EQ to fit the quirks of the individual CD.

Years ago, the founder of Stereophile wrote an article called Down With Flat! As I recall, his main complaint was that flat response would often seem too bright and edgy. IMO, sometimes that can be neutralized with bass boost, instead of turning down the treble. A matter of balance. Many, many CDs I have are bass shy. DVDs and Blu-rays of movies that were made in the last few years are not at all bass shy when played on the same equipment! Sometimes the latter have too much bass. I've just about given up trying to understand all of the above, but I just EQ away.

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realized this came from the degeneration of the master tapes since they heard them so often

Always been a problem with analog tape in the studio. Imagine that master going back and forth thousands of times, particularly when "punching in" vocals and other overdubs. The cause is both oxide shedding and the residual current in the 3 heads (erase, record, playback) slowly wiping the masters.

One solution applied on lengthy album projects is to mix 48 track using two 24 track machines locked together. You do a submix of your basic tracks onto a 2nd tape and then do the extensive overdubbing only on that reel (in the case of one album I remember ending up with 4 reels that had to be submixed to 2 reels!). Once mix time comes, you lock the original master to the overdub master and enjoy pristine tracks.

Rumors is the subject of a book "Making Rumors" by Ken Callet. For another real glimpse inside the control room I suggest Ken Scott's "Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust." His narrative traces the evolution of record making from the early days of multitrack through to the rock odysseys of the 70s.

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Years ago, the founder of Stereophile wrote an article called Down With Flat!

Yes! Flat is not a good thing. Even given all the tools to make it so live, we never do.

Listening to a pair of Meyer HD-1s if you can. Probably the flattest frequency and phase response of any monitor out there. You'll be amazed at the detail you can hear and horrified that it sounds so uninteresting.

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Rumors is the subject of a book "Making Rumors" by Ken Callet. For another real glimpse inside the control room I suggest Ken Scott's "Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust." His narrative traces the evolution of record making from the early days of multitrack through to the rock odysseys of the 70s.

Thanks for the tip!!

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