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thebes

Is it Just Because CD's Are Louder?

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On 6/28/2019 at 7:14 PM, thebes said:

Let's face it no matter how hard you try if you transition from your record player to your cd, or your favorite internet streaming thingy it's almost impossible to have the same sound  level.  The cd is always louder than a properly recorded record.  And gee, what do we all do when we want to impress others with the glory of our sound system?  Yes, that 's right, we turn up the volume!

 

We fool ourselves and call it "concert levels".  What is really is we are cheating in one sense, because secretly in our heart of hearts we know that a record recording is like a  an honest gent driving down the road at the proper speed and observing the road signs, whilst digital is a brash young fool speeding along in a convertible heading straight towards dead man's curve.

 

Oh Thebes you say, "You're just talking about the " loudness wars" and we've already taken that into account in belief that zeros and one rule.

 

I'm sorry, but while there may be one or two cd's out there recorded at the same levels as vinyl, compression aside, the typical cd is always still louder than wax.

 

Now, realize this, turning up the volume is all good and well, until you go a bit too far, and then once the excitement dies down, it's fatiguing and the sound is soon turned back down to normal listening levels.  And that's why, my friends, I think that every cd I've ever heard  comes with built-in distortion.  It's "clarity" is basically an assault. It's something you can feel in your gut. And that's why vinyl rules.  You can make it equally annoying but you have to work at it.

 

 

 

It all depends on the SYSTEM gain structure. It starts with the allowable groove spacing tied to bass content. All of it is modified by the RIAA and INVERSE RIAA curve applied to whatever millivolts are generated by the cartridge (capacitive, moving magenet, or moving coil to various load impedances and capacitance). The latter requires an extra gain stage (tube, solid state, or transformer) in order to ever get close to moving magnet levels. Then after the RIAA curve is applied, how much gain is there in the preamp circuits at the output (at various source impedances) to mate with the power amplifier input (at various load impedances) whose outputs vary by the speaker sensitivities! And now all you can do is complain about the levels not matching after going through TOTALLY different paths to get to your ears?? Well alrighty then!!!

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It all depends on the SYSTEM gain structure. It starts with the allowable groove spacing tied to bass content. All of it is modified by the RIAA and INVERSE RIAA curve applied to whatever millivolts are generated by the cartridge (capacitive, moving magenet, or moving coil to various load impedances and capacitance). The latter requires an extra gain stage (tube, solid state, or transformer) in order to ever get close to moving magnet levels. Then after the RIAA curve is applied, how much gain is there in the preamp circuits at the output (at various source impedances) to mate with the power amplifier input (at various load impedances) whose outputs vary by the speaker sensitivities! And now all you can do is complain about the levels not matching after going through TOTALLY different paths to get to your ears?? Well alrighty then!!!


Excellent post right here. Which is why i said there is no way to compare the two unless you have calibrated sources for both.

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56 minutes ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

It starts with the allowable groove spacing tied to bass content.

 

Not only that, but the signal fed to the cutter may be attenuated to keep the groove spacing down, to allow more time per side. Or the cutting artist may just have a bad day.

 

Quote

All of it is modified by the RIAA and INVERSE RIAA curve applied to whatever millivolts are generated by the cartridge ...

 

And just as every loudspeaker has a different sensitivity, so does every cartridge.

 

Digital formats can be standardized -- the system can be designed so that digital full-scale produces a certain output level regardless of the source. With phonograph, however, that's just not the case, for the many reasons (and others) cited.

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5 hours ago, fastpuce271 said:

So back to this, Audio Nirvana, what is it? has anyone reached it?  Would they even know what it is if they heard it, OR would they always want more?

 

 

 

There's been a lot of discussion in other threads about what terms like “accurate reproduction", or “true high fidelity”, or "audio nirvana" mean.   It seems to me that the $64k question for a hi-hi system is this:  What is your benchmark for the quality of sound you are hearing from your home hi-fi system?

 

My goal for the sound quality of recorded classical music played via my home hi-fi systems is to have the illusion that I’m in the symphony hall or opera house where classical music is performed live, with no electronics involved (i.e., no sound reinforcement system).    I’ll clarify what I mean:

 

  • Classical Symphonic Music vs. Pop Musicians Performing with Orchestra vs. Outdoor Performances

    My local symphony orchestra performs a Classical Series, plus a number of “pop concerts”, and a few outdoor concerts.

    For the Classical Series – which involves classical music performed live in the symphony hall, there is no use of a sound reinforcement system.  I’ve confirmed with the symphony’s Executive Director that the microphones that can be seen hanging above the stage are used solely for recording, NOT for amplifying the sound in the symphony hall.   My local symphony hall has world-class acoustics, and the natural sound is amazing.

    OTOH, when pop music is performed in the same hall, electronics are often used.  An example is when a pop singer uses a microphone to sing.   And for some pop concerts, electric guitars and/or electronic organs are sometimes used.

    And, of course, on the rare occasion when the symphony performs an outdoor concert (e.g., outdoor Memorial Day concert), then of course a sound reinforcement system must be used.
     
  • Opera vs. Musicals

    One of the hallmarks of opera is that the singers do NOT use microphones.  And the orchestra does NOT use a sound reinforcement system.  No electronics are involved when an opera is performed by an opera company in an opera house.

    OTOH, musicals typically involve signers using microphones.

    And, of course, on the rare occasion when an opera singer performs the National Anthem at the baseball park, then they must sing into a microphone.
     
  • Chamber Music

    Chamber music performances generally do not involve a sound reinforcement system.   (I’ve been to one concert by a string quartet that used sound reinforcement because the venue had poor acoustics.    I won’t attend another concert at that venue.)

 

For classical music, the artists are the composer, the conductor, and the musicians - and IMO the “work of art” was the live performance (i.e., musicians performing together in the symphony hall).   I’m using the term “work of art” in terms of what represents a benchmark for the sound quality of the recording when played via a home hi-fi system, not in terms of Intellectual Property law.  The same might be true of other genres that involve natural music performed live, such as some big-band, some jazz, some folk, etc.  I’m not knowledgeable about these genres, so I can’t say.   (OTOH, reportedly some pop music is completely different – particularly if there never was a live performance, and electronic sounds were cobbled together by recording engineers, or deliberately distorted.) 

 

For those of us who regularly attend live classical performances (I attend more than 20 classical concerts each year), we have a pretty good memory of what a violin should sound like – independent of whether we were at a particular recording session.   We have a pretty good memory of what a string quartet should sound like – and a pretty good memory of what a symphony orchestra should sound like – when performing live with no sound reinforcement system.   (Recognizing some variance due to the acoustics of the venue, and the listener’s seat location.  For my season tickets at the symphony and opera, I sit in the first elevated tier, front row, near center of the hall.)  

 

No recording is perfect, and no hi-fi system is perfect.  And my memory isn’t perfect.  Nonetheless, for classical music, my benchmark for the sound quality of music reproduced via one of my home hi-fi systems is based on my memory of the sound of classical music performed live in its intended venue.   

 

I want the inevitable imperfections in the sound from my home-hi-fi to sound pleasant vs. unpleasant.  One of my priorities is for the timbre of the orchestra instruments to sound natural.  (This is why I generally prefer tube amps.)  And I like to achieve dynamic range that approaches the live concert experience.   (This is why I like Klipsch speakers.)

 

Here's a link to one of the relevant discussions: 

 

 

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Hi all

Thank you for your responses on Audio Nirvana, i actually do know the general meaning but I think the responses were spot on. This place is awesome. 

My point I was trying to make is there is no such real measurement of audio nirvana, there is no such real set level. It is each to their own.

I think at the time I wrote it I was thinking how lucky are those who find audio nirvana in a non expensive HTIB, it sure would save them a whole lot of time and a whole lot of money.  But then I think unless they have an amazing HTIB then they could be missing on so much more depending on the quality of the HTIB of cause and the size of the box.

Personally I love presence in speakers.  to me they need to look awesome, they need to stand out, they need to look big, but that is just me..  I like to look at a speaker and even if it is not doing anything I am thinking WOW. 

Thank you again for your responses on the Audio Nirvana and the great responses I am sure it would help others.  It just shows the wealth of knowledge in this place and the willingness to help others.  👍

 

 

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On 6/29/2019 at 9:10 AM, kevinmi said:

Most cd players will put out up to a full 2v , which a turntable will not. This will make the cd output signal louder. My Shanling cd player has a built in output volume control, so I can turn down the output and balance it to my turntable level. Now that I have everything playing at the same level, the vinyl sounds way better. Period.

This is what makes this debate a little odd -- the level produced by an LP is dependent on the voltage output of the cartridge, the gain of the phono stage, the line stage, etc., all more or less related to how strongly things are cut into the LP groove, while the CD output seems to be a function of how much the CDP's electronics amplify the digital signal.  These are industry customs and and design choices.  I suspect that a beefy signal is much easier to come by in the digital realm, than in the very low-level world beset by difficulties in getting a strong signal out of microgrooves and LOMC cartridges which have intense challenges in wrestling with microstyli, groove compression, and electronic noise under amid some pretty severe compromises.

 

Levels are subject to many modes of manipulation for commercial and artistic purposes.  It seems kind of arbitrary in the digital arena, it seems to me. 

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On ‎7‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 11:10 AM, RT FAN said:

The enjoyment of musical reproduction in its various permutations constitutes a pretty big tent. If Thebes, our resident anachronistic curmudgeon wants to listen to acetate & shellac, who are we to begrudge him his indulgences? Personally I cannot afford a vinyl set up that beats a good cd player. So for me, I prefer cds over my collection of records that stretches back to the very early 70s. Most of them have been played to death and the surface noise is more than a distraction.

 The world evolves and is always moving forward, yet there are many of us who are resistant to change, for better or worse. For them, there is a comfort level in the ritual of cleaning the record, lining up the tonearm, gently lowering it into the groove and being transported to a state of musical bliss via reproduced sound. If vinyl hounds find music sounds best to them from a turntable, good for them. I don't criticize them, nor do I expect to be criticized for listening to cds.

 I am given grief from some quarters and called a luddite for listening to cds over streaming. So I guess that turnabout is fair play. Many folks find that streaming from their computer is more convenient than dropping a shiny disc into a player. Perhaps I will head down that road at some point, but for now, I will stay with my 1s & 0s via discs.

Those discs deteriorate with time as well.  Not just from playing like vinyl does, but simply from time.

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On ‎7‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 2:51 AM, codewritinfool said:

 


Excellent post right here. Which is why i said there is no way to compare the two unless you have calibrated sources for both.

 

Except by what you hear.

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The main thing is to enjoy what you can while you can.

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2 hours ago, oldtimer said:

Those discs deteriorate with time as well.  Not just from playing like vinyl does, but simply from time.

 

Yep.  Rip them to flac sooner than later.  I've got some from the late '80s that have deteriorated beyond usability.

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6 hours ago, oldtimer said:

Those discs deteriorate with time as well.  Not just from playing like vinyl does, but simply from time.

 I have heard that but from my experience it has not been the case. My discs are treated accordingly and stored properly, i.e. away from sunlight, not stacked etc. I was told cdrs would have to be replaced after 20 years or so, but the several hundred I have still all play perfectly. My vinyl having gone to a few too many keg parties in college on the other hand....

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Here are a couple of "properly-stored" discs.  A waste of time trying to get usable data off them.  (They're both European, I believe French, not to be slurring those fine folks - I've got a smattering of French DNA myself.)

 

In the second one you can see the TOC area (they read from inner-to-outer) is particularly heinous.

 

IMG_20190710_142204469_HDR_1.jpg

IMG_20190710_142302409_HDR_1.jpg

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Those are manufactured discs, with the aluminum coating and not burned CDs as the release medium?

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Yep.  Manufactured.  And for what it's worth, they are not (never were) as "silver"-colored as most.  A more yellow-to-gold tint to them.  Definitely not archival quality...

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