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Computer made CDs sound bad


jbsl
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Just for the record, and in an attempt to head off what I suspect will be the next subject of debate!...

MP3 IS one of the iPod's native codec's, all iPod's play MP3's just fine out the box (albeit with some additional software - but why mess with MP3s when ACC is so easy to use?).

But the IPOD also supports its native ACC format that most MP3 players do not. And, if you choose to use the iTunes software (highly recommended), you can choose to rip your CD's into iTunes as MP3's (at rates up to 320 kbps, including MP3 VBR, or variable bit rate) natively. Although AAC is slightly better at compression (with the same sound quality) than the older MP3 codec, the issue of file size with the increasing 60GB+ capability should render much of the issue moot.

But all that being said, I still use CDs given the choice.9.gif

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Oh now you're whipping out a profession quality burner on me! I think you should have to burn using a standard computer CD-ROM since that and the Philips 765 are the only experience I have. I would back off my statement of hi-speed burning with high quality components made specifically for that purpose. But in the interest of a good bet, I will take it anyway. A 10 pack of Maxell XLIIS are about $10-$15 depending on where you find them. But I really just want to make you buy blank tapes. :)

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On 8/2/2005 3:18:55 PM dgb wrote:

Oh now you're whipping out a profession quality burner on me! I think you should have to burn using a standard computer CD-ROM since that and the Philips 765 are the only experience I have. I would back off my statement of hi-speed burning with high quality components made specifically for that purpose. But in the interest of a good bet, I will take it anyway. A 10 pack of Maxell XLIIS are about $10-$15 depending on where you find them. But I really just want to make you buy blank tapes.
:)

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This "professional quality burner" is currently $47 on newegg.com

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16827152047

Previously I used a $55 Lite-On 48/24/48 cdrw... until I got a dvd burner.

Both would fail audio CDs at max speed about 1/2 the time, but every time they'd complete a CD, it would test fine. Furthermore, if I back down to 40X, the failures stop altogether.

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On 8/2/2005 10:59:21 AM dgb wrote:

When you guys did use tape, did you buy Radio Shack Type I tapes or TDK MA metal tapes?

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I used Ampex 456, but it wasn't on a cassette deck.

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Leave the guys alone, Marvel. :-)

I still have a couple of reels of "Grandmaster" around and beaucoups of 407. DBX was almost redundant with that stuff! What sweet sound...great memories of when recording was the province of the Priesthood.

Dave

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Okay finally did the test! Got my Nakamichi cassette deck cleaned up and set up and did some recording from my NAD C542 cd player straight to the Nakamichi. I recorded some songs in two different ways on the Nakamichi using TDK superior high bias 110min tapes.

First the music I used was from my best sounding cds. Of all my cds I have bought the BEST sounding ones are from a recording studio called Putumayo which records musicians from around the world. The quality of these recordings is outstanding!! Anyone who enjoys music from around the world who is into the quality of the recording try them: www.putumayo.com. Anyone interested in trying some send me a email and I will recomend some cds but remember most of the vocals are not in English.

1. I did not use any Dolby noise reduction and made a recording. There were good and bad things about the recording. First people who say that tape cannot sound as dynamic as a cd never had a Nakamichi because when I compared the cd to the tape the tape was damn close to the cd. The tape was the cds equal in every aspect except one important aspect too much HISS. Again I did not use any Dolby noise reduction so the hiss at loud levels was very noticable. But in every other musical aspect that everyone says CDs are better than tape I do not agree. For ease of use the CD big winner over tape.

2. I then did the same recording with Dolby C noise reduction and the hiss was gone but compared to the recording without any noise reduction it sounded more laidback and did not sound as good as a original cd at low to moderate sound levels but still sounded good. It sounded very good at higher volume levels but not as good as a original CD. The tape compared to cds recorded on my computer using Window media was much better. continued below.

Xman

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I also finaly figured out how to use Nero for making a exact copy of a origanal cd and how to save a cd to the harddrive and then reburn it on a disc. So I also did 2 test using Nero.

1. Using a Philips CD-R 700mb 16x and recording at 8x I made a exact copy of the songs I used for my cassette test. I then would put in the copy and listen and then put in the original cd. I wish I had two of my cd players so I could put the copy in one player and the origanal in the other palyer and start them both at the same time and switch back and for to listen for any quality diffrences. But if there were any sound diferences then they were very small. I cannot say if I would be able to pick the original if I did not know which disc was playing.

2. I also saved the songs to my hard drive using Nero. I then recorded the Nero file to a cd. In this case I could hear a very small difference but without a second player I could not compare it to the orginal to be certain.

I already knew before I started this test that a good quality burnt CD using the right software would sound better than a CD recorded onto a very good quality Nakamichi cassette deck. I was not trying to prove that cassette was better. THAT WAS NOT THE REASON I DID THIS TEST. I wanted to find out mainly how to make better burnt cds and with everyones help I know how to do that now. Thanks for all the help I appreciate it!!

For everyone who says CDs sound quality is a huge improvement over the cassettes from a music store I agree totaly!! Now for everyone who says that a original cd sounds better than when it is recorded onto tape you are correct. But with my Nakamichi cassette deck THE DIFFERENCE IS NOT THAT HUGE. If I had some really good cassettes and had to record all my CDs onto cassette tapes I could live with the sound quality they would produce using my Nakamichi.

REMEMBER THIS IS WHAT I HEARD ON MY STEREO WITH MY MUSIC. One thing I think that cassette tapes could help a bad recorded cd is with the Dolby noise reduction. Any cd that is bright,harsh, etc could benifit from the Dolby noise reduction on the cassette deck.

Xman

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jbsl,

You may have a slight alignment problem if the Dolby is deadening the sound, you may need to demag as well. Unfortunately you cannot really do a direct A/B while you are recording with a 2-head deck to really tell what is going on. The RX-202 doesn't have a fine bias control (I don't think anyway) which would go a long way towards getting a little brighter high end. You could try playback tapes recorded at type II settings (70 eq) at type I settings (120 eq). This will brighten the sound. Also the recording level is important, if it is too low the tape noise become more prominent than it should. On that deck with that tape I'd make sure your peaks are in the +3 to +5 level if you are using Dolby C.

I use Dolby C on my decks as a matter of course and have no ill effects playing on my Naks, but they are three heads which generally make better recordings and are easier to monitor and allow higher recording peaks.

But as you note you're still getting good results, so keep on tapin! :)

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1. I did not use any Dolby noise reduction and made a recording. There were good and bad things about the recording. First people who say that tape cannot sound as dynamic as a cd never had a Nakamichi because when I compared the cd to the tape the tape was damn close to the cd. The tape was the cds equal in every aspect except one important aspect too much HISS. Again I did not use any Dolby noise reduction so the hiss at loud levels was very noticable. But in every other musical aspect that everyone says CDs are better than tape I do not agree. For ease of use the CD big winner over tape.

2. I then did the same recording with Dolby C noise reduction and the hiss was gone but compared to the recording without any noise reduction it sounded more laidback and did not sound as good as a original cd at low to moderate sound levels but still sounded good. It sounded very good at higher volume levels but not as good as a original CD. The tape compared to cds recorded on my computer using Window media was much better. continued below.

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I did not use any Dolby noise reduction and made a recording. There were good and bad things about the recording. First people who say that tape cannot sound as dynamic as a cd never had a Nakamichi because when I compared the cd to the tape the tape was damn close to the cd. The tape was the cds equal in every aspect except one important aspect too much HISS. Again I did not use any Dolby noise reduction so the hiss at loud levels was very noticable. But in every other musical aspect that everyone says CDs are better than tape I do not agree. For ease of use the CD big winner over tape.

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Well most CDs are super compressed anyway and at most usually use about 10dB of dynamic range. What you need is to get a good classical recording and try to get it to fit on an audio cassette...you'll quickly find that the quiet passages are drowned out with hiss and the loud passages overload the tape. I think 10dB of range is pushing it with audio cassette...

When doing any CD to tape conversion, I would also employ the use of a good quiet graphic equalizer so that you can EQ the signal being laid on the tape so that it plays back better (which will give you the ability to counter the deadness of the dolby noise reduction).

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I'm not switching back to my cassette deck just was curious about it. On cds that are very bright a tape could help reduce the brightness and make it a little more enjoyable. If you record a classical cd onto tape without any Dolby noise reduction the hiss would be heard easily. But with noise reduction it would sound better than you realize. But like I said it was a interesting experiment but now that i know how to make quality burnt CDs I do not have a reason to use cassette.

Xman

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I recorded Neil Young's Greendale DVD to TDK MA this weekend on my Dragon and got an easy 50db of dynamic range with no problem at all (and that is the max the meter will give you, technically I believe it is around 85db). Slight tape hiss was audible when there was nothing at all going on, but it faded immediately upon the slightest hint of music.

Of course this was a $2500 tape deck with a unique, on the fly azimuth adjusting playback head, the best direct drive motors, components and fully adjustable level and bias controls, not the typical 2 head, single capistan machine most people use. Generalizing tapes decks as you have is like generalizing the phonograph format on hearing a entry level Sony turntable.

Just about any analogue mastered recording is going to have a noise floor the same or higher than the Dragon's "hiss" level.

A dolby unit that deadens the true high end of the sound spectrum is either poorly designed or mistracking (which is a given on every standard auto-reverse deck).

But you are correct that a digitally recorded classical performance will challenge any tape based recording format in dynamic range, but the Freq Response of open reel and top of the line cassette decks is wider than your standard redbook CD.

I was very much of the same opinion of most on this forum until I got to hear some truly well designed and built cassette decks.

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Well most CDs are super compressed anyway and at most usually use about 10dB of dynamic range. What you need is to get a good classical recording and try to get it to fit on an audio cassette...you'll quickly find that the quiet passages are drowned out with hiss and the loud passages overload the tape. I think 10dB of range is pushing it with audio cassette...

When doing any CD to tape conversion, I would also employ the use of a good quiet graphic equalizer so that you can EQ the signal being laid on the tape so that it plays back better (which will give you the ability to counter the deadness of the dolby noise reduction).

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well considering i ran a tape production studio running all sorts of nakimichis (two dragons) + all sorts of other equipment (including some reel to reels), I do have a good idea as to the limitations of audio cassette recordings 2.gif In the right environment I would definetly take high quality audio cassette over something like MP3.

Right now I'm more involved with the process of converting all the old archives into a digital format for a longer shelf life...the project is going to take about 10 years at the rate we're going. 14.gif

But after converting over to a digital based studio, I would claim that digital has cleaner HF material than all the analog gear had (where it would naturally roll off due to all the physical characteristics of the medium). And I'm talking AB comparisons done against the original source of sound.

Anyways, not to trying to discredit audio cassette, just sharing some experiences.

I do on a regular basis use cassette decks to provide some of that warm tape head compression/distortion...something you just can't quite achieve with all the digital effects out there.

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Dr Who,

As far as live recording and from scratch production, I agree that digital can give better results than any analogue method. But in the home recording realm with mass produced LPs and CDs, I just don't hear any great advantage in digital, esepcially when you get into MP3 and other highly compressed formats.

In theory the Redbook CD standard has a lot of advantages over cassette and phonograph, but in reality the format has rarely been exploited to it's fullest. HDCD seemed like a nice step forward, but is almost a stealth technology. It's being used but hardly anyone knows about it. SACD and DVD-A have great potential, but outside of the classical genre, are rarely used.

Unfortunately I think compressed audio for iPods is going to be the next format revolution, and high-fidelity is going to be relegated to specialty stores for us nutty old cranks. :) I think the amout of money production companies can save by releasing internet only "albums" (which are already becoming obsolete) is only a stone's throw away. Of course compressed formats are improving, maybe some 15 year old will come up with the Holy Grail, true high fidelity for the space of a couple kilobytes.

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I would totally agree that very few digital media takes advantage of the medium...sadly, a lot of the issues with today's digital is the result of the freedoms/misconceptions associated with digital. It's like a knife through my heart when I hear someone say "it's ok, we'll fix it during the mixdown...let's lay down the next track". So many people think digital is capable of fixing everything.

Digital storage is also getting incredibly cheaper by the day so we're bound to come to a middle ground where it's cheap/convenient to carry around your entire music collection while maintaining the original fidelity. There are lossless compressions out there that can compress music down to the size of MP3's, but the market just isn't ready for it yet. As long as MP3's keep making money, manufacturers have no incentive to bring out better products...and recording studios have no incentive to producing high quality music.

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DrWho:

Don't get caught up in this digital longevity syndrome as there are huge debates going on as to the longevity of digital discs. Present 2005 realities say some last 1 day, some last 1 year, some last 10 years, and some last 30 years and then only if you buy the $30.00 blank discs. And this would be the commercial pressed discs and not the burned discs. Your in never never land with burned discs. The plastic slowly degrades and forms a pit, and one pit and the glove don't fit. (I had to throw that in there) When analog degrades it stumbles through while playing but digital can jump all the way forward, all the way back and never play properly again. It's like trying to watch a High Def program on over the air television with a weak, varying signal strength which absolutely drives you nuts because you loose the picture and sound completely. It's for all practical purposes un-watchable.

Good luck 10 years from now.

JJK

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ummmm, we're recording directly onto harddrives...and yes, harddrives have a shelf life too (of like 40 years), but you can just transfer to a new drive before the old one breaks and you don't lose any quality...not something you can do with analog (which in the past, we would have to recreate submasters from the masters because they would get worn out from ripping copies).

At roughly $1/GB we're looking at an average of 10 cents per cassette tape.

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On 8/10/2005 5:28:02 PM Jay481985 wrote:

Though it may be up to the final listener. I found this website that claims that black cds sound superior. Though the reasoning is suspect.

It's not a bad read, just to give another aspect

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You know better than that, though!

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