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The best 'source' for music? Download 24 bit? Vinyl? Or ?

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19 hours ago, Chris A said:

In my demastering of this recording, I remember having to use a significant amount of EQ to tame the extreme mastering EQ used on the original release (...and therefore all subsequent releases of this track by default...).  I believe that all issues regarding the sound of lossless digital tracks is due to poor mastering practices and culture.

 

As far as lossy digital formats (and I don't know if you were listening to any of those on HD FM), my experiences with real-life mp3s, etc. has been awful.  However, I've also experienced mp3 format applied to CD tracks (carefully and at high quality for the demonstration) and the differences were much less pronounced in terms of sound quality.  The difference: how the conversion software was used and its  settings.

 

So the bottom line that I've found: it's the people and their processes that really determine what you are hearing, not so much the formats (with the exception perhaps being the phonograph format).

 

Chris

 

I've been doing a little non-scientific experimentation to see if I can find a media format that consistently sounds better to me. I am an admitted vinyl fan and collector, and I prefer vinyl for some recordings, usually pre 90s stuff. I think your point is good that it's the people and processes that really determine how it sounds, more than the format.

 

For example, I have a treasured near-mint, not played much, original 1969 pressing of Led Zeppelin II that will damn near bring me to tears it sounds so good. I also have a copy of the new vinyl reissue, which is remastered by Jimmy Page himself (although I wonder what role he really had in it). The reissue sounds like crap. Flat, no range, just dull. So the vinyl format itself is not the golden key. I also have a Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) copy of Led Zeppelin II that was pressed in 1982 (if I recall correctly). MFSL claims to use the original master tapes played at half speed to create the analog vinyl master cut, and the highest quality vinyl material. The MFSL copy sounds good - I'd say as good as the original 1969 pressing with any differences chalked up to condition of the vinyl. 

 

I'm curious why the reissue vinyl sounds worse. Is it the remastering? Did they use the CD master as a source? Is it the new vinyl pressing equipment? What did they change in remastering? Why didn't they use the original master tapes as they were? Are the original master tapes still good or have they degraded? 

 

Another example is Dire Straits Brothers in Arms album. I have it on original vinyl and CD. The CD sounds as good as the vinyl, maybe even better because it is clean and there is enough clear open sound in many of those songs where clean clear silence makes a difference. Also, that album came out in 1985. It was one of the first all digital albums (DDD) and was intended to be issued on CD, along with vinyl. But that was before the CD loudness wars and I can only assume the mastering wasn't customized for CD. The CD sounds as good or better than the vinyl to me. So again, it isn't the format that makes or breaks the sound. 

 

I think for new music I prefer a high-res digital audio source, with a few exceptions. But if I wanted to showcase the best sound from my 2-channel setup, I'd go to some vintage, good condition vinyl.

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5 hours ago, sixsigma said:
  1. I'm curious why the reissue vinyl sounds worse. Is it the remastering?
  2. Did they use the CD master as a source?
  3. Is it the new vinyl pressing equipment?
  4. What did they change in remastering?
  5. Why didn't they use the original master tapes as they were?
  6. Are the original master tapes still good or have they degraded? 
  1. "I'm curious why the reissue vinyl sounds worse. Is it the remastering?"
    In all of the 1000+ digital discs that I've demastered to date, I can definitively say that "remastering" is the problem.  There is a culture in all the audio-only record companies and their supplier/contractor cultures that has never changed: they all believe that louder versions are better, as long as the effects of compression//loudness can be successfully "hidden". 

    This is the problem--in my opinion--and it's existed since at least the 1940s.  What's changed over time is the ability of the companies to make their recordings even louder.  In every case that I've seen, "remastered" equals "louder", and that's about all the difference that can be discerned between older versions of recordings and their "remastered" versions. 
     
  2. "Did they use the CD master as a source?"
    This is a point that most fail to acknowledge or perhaps understand.  Nowadays for essentially all new recordings--the "vinyl master" is derived from the same master that's used for CD production--i.e., it's a digital master.  And because vinyl has much less latitude than CD format, the vinyl master always undergoes further processing (vinyl mastering) to limit low frequency loudness below ~100 Hz, make the bass mono, limit the loudness by adding further track attenuation (or using less compression/limiting during mastering) so that the needle will stay in the groove of a "typical" turntable/arm/cartridge setup, and apply the 40 dB RIAA EQ curve.  So when you buy a phonograph record made new since the mid-1980s, it's a digital recording that's been squeezed onto a phonograph record.
     
  3. "Is it the new vinyl pressing equipment?"
    Elsewhere, you'll see that many/most current phonograph record pressing factories are built from used equipment wherever possible (because it's less expensive), and often that equipment is far into its useful service life (i.e., nearing wear-out).  "New" pressing equipment is somewhat of a misnomer--since it seems as if most of these small pressing plants seek older equipment that's less expensive.
     
  4. "What did they change in remastering?"
    "Remastering" started occurring in the early 1990s by a few labels, but gained full momentum by 1999.  Basically, the techniques used are:

    a) increased compression (nonlinear amplifiers), and
    'b) limiting (clipping). 

    The major goal is a louder mix--and that's basically it.  There are a few "secret sauce" inferences in the liner notes, but when you look at the tracks, 95% of what you see is more compression+limiting.  There are other tricks used to decrease dynamic range (yes--they've intentionally decreased dynamic range for earbud users).  Some use of linear phase filtering (i.e., FIR filters) apparently began to be used to limit the effects of phase distortion about when DAWs began to be widespread among the home-studio crowd. 
     
  5. "Why didn't they use the original master tapes as they were?"
    Then the studios couldn't say "new and improved".  Remember the rise of the mp3 players during this time period, and most earbud users don't really like dynamic range in their playback libraries.
     
  6. "Are the original master tapes still good or have they degraded?"
    Both.  Some masters have be archived for the long haul, many have not.  Chances are that when you see an advertisement for a remastered version--it's because someone found an archived copy of either the original mixing console multi-track tapes (like in the case of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon), the original mix-down tracks that were sent to the mastering labs, or some good "glass master" or "vinyl master" that survived somewhere relatively unaffected by the processes which degrade analog tapes and digital masters perhaps archived on DAT formats.

Chris

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3 hours ago, Chris A said:
  1. "I'm curious why the reissue vinyl sounds worse. Is it the remastering?"
    In all of the 1000+ digital discs that I've demastered to date, I can definitively say that "remastering" is the problem.  There is a culture in all the audio-only record companies and their supplier/contractor cultures that has never changed: they all believe that louder versions are better, as long as the effects of compression//loudness can be successfully "hidden". 

    This is the problem--in my opinion--and it's existed since at least the 1940s.  What's changed over time is the ability of the companies to make their recordings even louder.  In every case that I've seen, "remastered" equals "louder", and that's about all the difference that can be discerned between older versions of recordings and their "remastered" versions. 
     
  2. "Did they use the CD master as a source?"
    This is a point that most fail to acknowledge or perhaps understand.  Nowadays for essentially all new recordings--the "vinyl master" is derived from the same master that's used for CD production--i.e., it's a digital master.  And because vinyl has much less latitude than CD format, the vinyl master always undergoes further processing (vinyl mastering) to limit low frequency loudness below ~100 Hz, make the bass mono, limit the loudness by adding further compression/limiting so that the needle will stay in the groove of a "typical" turntable/arm/cartridge setup, and apply the 40 dB RIAA EQ curve.  So when you buy a phonograph record made new since the mid-1980s, it's a digital recording that's been squeezed onto a phonograph record.
     
  3. "Is it the new vinyl pressing equipment?"
    Elsewhere, you'll see that many/most current phonograph record pressing factories are built from used equipment wherever possible (because it's less expensive), and often that equipment is far into its useful service life (i.e., nearing wear-out).  "New" pressing equipment is somewhat of a misnomer--since it seems as if most of these small pressing plants seek older equipment that's less expensive.
     
  4. "What did they change in remastering?"
    "Remastering" started occurring in the early 1990s by a few labels, but gained full momentum by 1999.  Basically, the techniques used are:

    a) increased compression (nonlinear amplifiers), and
    'b) limiting (clipping). 

    The major goal is a louder mix--and that's basically it.  There are a few "secret sauce" inferences in the liner notes, but when you look at the tracks, 95% of what you see is more compression+limiting.  There are other tricks used to decrease dynamic range (yes--they've intentionally decreased dynamic range for earbud users).  Some use of linear phase filtering (i.e., FIR filters) apparently began to be used to limit the effects of phase distortion about when DAWs began to be widespread among the home-studio crowd. 
     
  5. "Why didn't they use the original master tapes as they were?"
    Then the studios couldn't say "new and improved".  Remember the rise of the mp3 players during this time period, and most earbud users don't really like dynamic range in their playback libraries.
     
  6. "Are the original master tapes still good or have they degraded?"
    Both.  Some masters have be archived for the long haul, many have not.  Chances are that when you see an advertisement for a remastered version--it's because someone found an archived copy of either the original mixing console multi-track tapes (like in the case of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon), the original mix-down tracks that were sent to the mastering labs, or some good "glass master" or "vinyl master" that survived somewhere relatively unaffected by the processes which degrade analog tapes and digital masters perhaps archived on DAT formats.

Chris

sometimes they only get the digital

mixdowns...it's a easier or cheaper.

to have the latest remaster.. 

 

as a result it's a nonlinear source..

for vinyl.. missing some of the musicial information...that's why

vintage vinyl sounds better...

or a great copy of used vinyl..

mainly first pressings...

 

and that's way vintage vinyl can

commands big $$$...or some

people call the hot stampers..

 

it seem everyone forgets what PKW as spoke about..and they have a better anwser..

 

 

 

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Just now, dirtmudd said:

it seem everyone forgets what PKW as spoke about..and they have a better anwser..

You take the prize on that one: no one has yet accused me of forgetting what PWK wrote in his audio papers. :emotion-21:  Perhaps I'm mellowing in my old age...;)

 

Actually, there is an explanation that doesn't blame the medium: phonograph records from 35+ years ago (i.e., before CDs were introduced in 1982) typically didn't have the horrible mastering EQ that followed on CDs in the 1980s-2000s.  When you demaster that EQ, what you hear is truly amazing.  It's not "nonlinearities" that cause those early CDs to sound bad--it was bad mastering EQ--in every case that I've seen.  And it's completely reversible without introduction of noise.

 

Nowadays, the best released albums get a little less mastering EQ than they did in the 1980s-1990s, but what you get instead is more than 7 dB in compression and limiting that is harsh sounding (i.e. odd HF harmonics due to limiting) and LOUD music tracks.  After demastering, there are some real jewels in the rough out there, I've found.

 

Chris

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2 minutes ago, Chris A said:

You take the prize on that one: no one has yet accused me of forgetting what PWK wrote in his audio papers. :emotion-21:  Perhaps I'm mellowing in my old age...;)

 

Actually, there is an explanation that doesn't blame the medium: phonograph records from 35+ years ago (i.e., before CDs were introduced in 1982) typically didn't have the horrible mastering EQ that followed on CDs in the 1980s-2000s.  When you demaster that EQ, what you hear is truly amazing.  It's not "nonlinearities" that cause those early CDs to sound bad--it was bad mastering EQ--in every case that I've seen.  And it's completely reversible without introduction of noise.

 

Nowadays, the best released albums get a little less mastering EQ than they did in the 1980s-1990s, but what you get instead is more than 7 dB in compression and limiting that is harsh sounding (i.e. odd HF harmonics due to limiting) and LOUD music tracks.  After demastering, there are some real jewels in the rough out there, I've found.

 

Chris

I bought some Nick Davis remaster

genesis ..on vinyl..it sucks...but

he did bring out some subtleties

I'm some of the mixes....

 

But the lamb lies down on broadway.. is a great remaster !!

I think it's because on that album.

genesis change their sound...

do to brian eno....

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It's always easy to find exceptions to those general rules of thumb but the fact of the matter is that there were a lot of really great sounding phonograph records in the 1970s and early 1980s--and they sold like hotcakes.  Those are the ones I choose to remember--not the poor ones.  But if you go look at the re-release CDs from in the 1980s made from those same good phonograph record albums in the 1970s, you'll hear the bad EQ, almost without exception.  But, it doesn't take a lot to fix all that...and say goodbye to the ticks and pops, etc.  Used CDs from the 1980s are cheap on Amazon Marketplace--usually $0.01 plus $3.99 shipping. 

 

Chris

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17 hours ago, Chris A said:

It's always easy to find exceptions to those general rules of thumb but the fact of the matter is that there were a lot of really great sounding phonograph records in the 1970s and early 1980s--and they sold like hotcakes.  Those are the ones I choose to remember--not the poor ones.  But if you go look at the re-release CDs from in the 1980s made from those same good phonograph record albums in the 1970s, you'll hear the bad EQ, almost without exception.  But, it doesn't take a lot to fix all that...and say goodbye to the ticks and pops, etc.  Used CDs from the 1980s are cheap on Amazon Marketplace--usually $0.01 plus $3.99 shipping. 

 

Chris

those were direct from the vinyl

masters....and not digital masters...

 

unless it was all ready recored in digital...Some late 70's classical

recored to digital for vinyl...

 

And some of the early digital recordings..for vinyl sounded great...like donald fagen nightfly

or Billy Cobham warning..and thats

before the loudness wars......when

home systems where getting smaller...and I lose where the norm..

 

and every thing after this is a cheap

imitation...

 

then you have over processed music.

listen to the doors first 2 albums..

recored live in the studio.

 

no plug in's to the board... just the

the mics in the room and in front

of the amps...and very little or no

overdubs...

https://www.google.com/search?q=The+Doors+and+The+Elektra+Records+Sound+Part+1&sourceid=silk&ie=UTF-8

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Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs published a gold plated version of The Who’s “Tommy.”  They advertised that their CD’s were from the original master tapes.  Hopefully not a tape that had the RIAA equalization used to cut vinyl.

 

There was a story that Daltry and Townshend each walked out of the studio with their own versions of the master tape(s).  The MFSL version reportedly had a version of “Eyesight to the Blind” with the Daltry vocals.  My conclusion it that the MFSL CD was made from Daltry’s tape.  That song cut is certainly is different than the original vinyl and caught my ear at first playing. I don't have the ear to comment on overall quality except to say I like it.

 

MFSL made many other gold CD's and if Chris has run into them I'd love to hear comments.

 

WMcD

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I have been buying remastered Bernie Grundman records. So far, Jefferson Starship and Fleetwood Mac. They sound incredible. Turntable is a very highly upgraded Rega with an Ortofon Quintet Blue. Vinyl has always been my format of choice. I have some very good sounding CD's and brief experience with SACD. Since analog is the complete waveform, vinyl is the only way to experience it now that reel to reel is not as popular(I am not going to say 'gone' as we have seen the resurgence of vinyl). This is just my opinion. I don't want to engage in 'format wars'.

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22 hours ago, sixsigma said:

Led Zeppelin II

I've bought  this album 7 times. 8 track, cassette X 3, CD, remastered CD ( terrible ! ), the new remaster ( great ). I want a new format that is big, cool, substantial, and collectible, like vinyl. Sound great, of course. It needs to be low maintenance, something I thought I was buying in 1988. It was called the Laserdisc...

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11 hours ago, PhxJohn said:

I have been buying remastered Bernie Grundman records. So far, Jefferson Starship and Fleetwood Mac. They sound incredible. Turntable is a very highly upgraded Rega with an Ortofon Quintet Blue. Vinyl has always been my format of choice. I have some very good sounding CD's and brief experience with SACD. Since analog is the complete waveform, vinyl is the only way to experience it now that reel to reel is not as popular(I am not going to say 'gone' as we have seen the resurgence of vinyl). This is just my opinion. I don't want to engage in 'format wars'.

there is a resurgence in r2r...

it is the closest to the master tapes.

but it is cost prohibited to us regular

folks..

https://www.theverge.com/2015/10/5/9409563/reel-to-reel-tape-retro-audio-trend

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3 hours ago, PhxJohn said:

My tastes in turntables are getting prohibitive. SOTA. The big ones. LOL..

where talking new tapes

http://tapeproject.com/product/linda-ronstadt-heart-like-a-wheel/  

 

http://tapeproject.com/product/creedence-clearwater-revival-willy-and-the-poor-boys/ 

 

http://tapeproject.com/product/robert-cray-false-accusations/

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and there this posted in the lounge

courtesy of Schu.  

 

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7 hours ago, dirtmudd said:

 

Interesting and very expensive. I think Mat (owner of VPI) had a reel to reel at the Thailand HiFi show. I don't doubt that these tapes sound spectacular. I mean, you are so close to the actual master. And at 15 ips, there will not be much wow or flutter. Rumble does not exist with tape although it is vanishingly low with a good turntable.For me, tape is not an option as it is sequential access rather than random access.     

Edited by PhxJohn
missing words

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19 hours ago, dirtmudd said:

and there this posted in the lounge, courtesy of Schu.  

 

It's kind of like acknowledging the elephant in the room, I'm afraid to say.  While this particular thread is really about fidelity of recorded music and the various storage formats, to me the subject that really hits the hardest in that video has been the skinnying down of musical timbres and instrumentation, along with the dumbing down of compositional complexity over the past 25 years--a statement which really should be extended back another 35 years. Pop lyrics have always seemed to me to be the worse kind of doggerel...at least since the 1960s.  None of this has been polite to bring up in mixed company.  Some folks tend to get very upset when you say anything about "their music" (the connotation being that they take personal offense...like a jealous boyfriend). 

 

But the problem with these more recent "replacement genres" is that the notion of hi-fi pretty much disappears, to be replaced by statements like "if it sounds good to me, then it's good".   What can one say?  "Have you seen the weather forecast lately?"  I have to say that my own background in setting up hi-fi for many years hasn't been much of an asset when considering the "top 40" charts over the past 25 years.

 

Chris

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

 

"What about 16 bit vs. 24 bit audio?

It's true that 16 bit linear PCM audio does not quite cover the entire theoretical dynamic range of the human ear in ideal conditions. Also, there are (and always will be) reasons to use more than 16 bits in recording and production. None of that is relevant to playback; here 24 bit audio is as useless as 192kHz sampling. The good news is that at least 24 bit depth doesn't harm fidelity. It just doesn't help, and also wastes space."

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to sum up crap recordings are crap. Good music is good music and can be appreciated by the listener under multiple recording methods.  If we assume we have a good recording method and a recording which is great music which is dynamic enough to show the difference, then In my opinion, FLAC audio files of 3000+ kbps/96 Hz played via a file on a hard drive (No Jitter) via a decent DAC sounds the best.  The DAC manufacturer is not the most important assuming they handle 96.0 Hz and are properly functioning (mp3 vs FLAC 96.0 Hz is way more important than a $400.00 DAC vs a $3500 DAC) , but in that area of the music listening chain, I think for me its been the best.   Top Notch

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JB,

 

How are things since Pluto was downgraded?  Things have not been frequently Top Notch in your absence.  @jacksonbart

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