MP3 & Higher-end Audio

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Camp, Oct 7, 2002.

  1. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    We now have receivers capable of decoding MP3 (not sure how useful that is) and we have lots of hard drive, network devices, and DVD players capable of playing MP3s. However, the higher-end world of separates has yet to acknowledge the existance of this handy compressed format.
    I wonder how long we'll have to wait until a pre/pro is released with some acceptance of the MP3 format. In my opinion this could be done in several ways:
    1. A simple source button labled as "MP3" or "Network". Even if the button is linked to traditional analog inputs it would still constitute acknowledgement of the format. I know I have no use for that ancient "VCR" button on my AVM-20 (of course I re-mapped it to MP3!).
    2. MP3 decoding built-in. I don't know how effective this would be as most PCs output an already decoded signal. However, it would be a strong indication of the MP3 format being recognized by the higher end of audio.
    3. Hard-wire network inputs & include build-in software to access your PC network. This would be the ultimate: a pre/pro that can access the mp3's off your network and display the name/tag data in the display. Something similar to the SliMp3 unit http://slimp3.com/ built into a pre/pro.
    4. A hard drive built in to a pre/pro. I don't think we'll see this as these units are better served as disc players. I'm not sure how audiophilles would take to having moving parts inside their pre/pro. It would also add more to the cost of a pre/pro than the above options.
    Again, I'm only wondering how long it will take for a pre/pro manufaturer to recognize the mp3 format by one of the above methods. I'm not intending to start a debate over which of the above methods is best.
    The mid-fi & high-fi market might not want to associate itself with a compressed digital format but I think the market will warrant it at some point.
     
  2. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    I agree that those features would be nice. In the meantime, I use an Audiotron w. digital output. This meets or exceeds all my needs for casual listening.
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Camp, I could see companies like Sony, Harman/Kardon, Denon, Yamaha, and the like including MP3 decoding in its high-end receivers, however, I am not banking on high-end companies including MP3 decoding in pre/pros. There obviously is a bias against compressed audio from the audiophiles that these companies are catering towards. If I were the head of a company like Anthem, Lexicon, or the like, I might considering adding MP3 decoding, but I would be hesitant to be the first to jump in for fear of backlash from my intended clientele and the audio journals that this clientele read.

    I would like to see more high-quality digital audio servers, but my interest would be for use with uncompressed, PCM audio, not MP3s.
     
  4. Dave E H

    Dave E H Supporting Actor

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    I'm just going to get a slim3 - to me, I'm fine with having a device that plays MP3s and not have it done in my receiver. I'd rather my pre/pro manufacturer focus on things other than network connectivity/hard drives etc . YMMV - for me, I don't think I would ever consider it a reason to buy a receiver, but I could see in the low end - perhaps in mini systems, that this could be compelling.
     
  5. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    I don't know...I think if the feature set of the Slimp3 were integrated into a mid to low-end pre/pro it would sell like mad (assuming it delivered on all other points).

    I just thought it's a feature no one has really exploited. It would certainly set one pre/pro apart from the others. Why add another box (Slimp3, Audiotron, etc.) if your mega-buck pre/pro could do it for you?
     
  6. DonT

    DonT Stunt Coordinator

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    the reason is simple...compressed audio does not sound as good as uncompressed audio. i dotn even download mp3s anymore because i dont like the quality of even the best ones compared to a wav file pulled off a cd. thats why you probably wont see high end equipment worrying about mp3s because mp3s are not high end worthy. again, IMHO.
     
  7. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    'cause mp3s sound terrible.

    Let's prey that it doesn't get introduced into gear, just when we're starting to introduce godsends like SACD.

    For goodness sake, please prey that we don't go backwards and produce MP3 gear.

    -edit- please replace prey with pray. Been watching too much discovery channel again. :b
     
  8. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    John, we should pray that SACD will prey upon MP3 (and CD) and become the dominant format. [​IMG]
     
  9. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    LOL!

    Nice one Keith.
     
  10. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    There are only a few things I'd like my pre/pro (Lexicon MC-12) to do that it doesn't already. Bass management in analog bypass mode and room correction come to mind, but MP3 decoding certainly doesn't.

    To be honest, I've never actually heard MP3, but I can't imagine it would be worthy of high-end audio. I've abandoned my 600+ title CD collection for SACD because SACD sounds so much better.
     
  11. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    High end audio exists because people are striving for better sound reproduction. MP3's exist for reasons of convienence and cost.

    If high end audio begins to accept MP3's as a viable musical format, those seeking better sound are certainly in trouble.

    Let's hope that doesn't happen.
     
  12. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    Unfortunately, it's answers like these that contribute to high-end audio's "snobbish" image.

    I want a pre/pro (or a receiver for that matter) to manage all possible audio sources in a eloquent manner. I want it to sound as good as possible and I want it to make control over my various sources as intuitive as possible.

    Why would the addition of mp3 be incongruent to those goals?

    Can mp3 be compared to SACD or DVD-A? Of course not. However, it is a viable audio format in todays world. Properly encoded it can sound as good as CD.

     
  13. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    Camp,

    Maybe the reason is when folks get into hi-fi less is truly more. I generally don't want any features at all, just provide a volume control. No DSPs, no digital chips at all...just a volume control.

    The manufacturers generally cater to that need. Do one thing and do it well as opposed to do everything mediocre.

    But maybe there is another reason? Do hardware MP3 decoders change frequently or are there constant revisions to it? That my be another reason why.

    Heck, the perfect solution would be some kind of ethernet jack or a USB port. Tap into that big computer full of MP3s, run some sort of jukebox program on it that is controlled by the pre-pro complete with on screen display of ID tags. Really doesn't seem that hard to do.
     
  14. Geno

    Geno Supporting Actor

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  15. DanielN

    DanielN Stunt Coordinator

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    I personally am going to set up an MP3 jukebox so I can play all my music from my server upstairs (I wired the house with CAT 5).

    Will the quality be as good as CD or SACD? Of course not...but when I have everything setup I will be able to play a 75 GB hard drive full of MP3's on my HTPC with the touch of a mouse button.

    I guess is question of quality of music vs convenience...I am choosing convenience because it best suits my situation. For others it will be different of course.
     
  16. Tom.le

    Tom.le Agent

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    It's the question of quantity vs. quality. MP3 for quantity, SACD for quality. If you want both, then you'll have some storage issues.

    Since MP3s are not high-end, they shouldn't be included into anything that is. But to have it as part of a receiver would be nice. Why not have an optical/digital in on a receiver to decode the MP3 digital stream in then amplify the audio. They have it for Dolby Digital and DTS, why not just add MP3 to it also, since MP3 decoding seems to be a fixed process, there are no revisions constantly being made to it.

    I have a computer as part of my livingroom. I've recently bought a video card with video-out to go to my receiver. So I'll just switch video modes in order to choose the songs I want to hear.

    Something I'd like to see as a consumer is an MP3 car deck with a small hard drive and wireless capabilities with a very limited range. So when I drive into my garage, it makes a connection to my home LAN and acts like a normal shared drive. So I can drag & drop any new MP3s straight to my car. Hop in and drive off listening to the new music with just a few clicks of a mouse. But this is a bit off topic anyway.
     
  17. Jonathan M

    Jonathan M Second Unit

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    I personally find it amusing that there is such an anti MP3, pro SACD attitude among many self-confessed audiophiles.

    I wonder just how many of these people understand or have even endeavoured to understand the technology behind these formats?

    SACD is often heralded as the best format, but from what I have found through reading the research of respected audio engineers, it's not as good as DVD-A. (Woooooops did I slip that in!)

    MP3's are often maligned for no good reason. Yes, the quality of almost everything downloadable is pretty average, but it doesn't have to be that way. Excellent quality MP3's can be had at bit rates as "low" as 192kbit/s if you take the time to encode using something like LAME.

    The main advantage of MP3 is ofcourse the size - many more MP3's can be put on a single CDR or Harddisk than can PCM or even lossless compressed schemes. The decoding process is fixed, so is easily implementable in hardware. The main problem currently is that nothing much is putting out an MP3 datastream - everything is being decoded first.

    Cheers
    Jonathan
     
  18. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Well, I'm sorry but I don't want a format that almost sounds as good as the original. That sounds like a step backwards.

    Yes, for background music it makes sense, but current analog connections are more than adequate for that task.

    MP3 on my preamp or prepro, probably not because it would probably mean I'm not getting something else I really do want.
     
  19. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    Camp,
    I apologize if I came across as snobbish. That wasn't the intent. I guess I just don't understand the whole MP3 thing. To quote Geno
     
  20. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    It would be a very disturbing trend if MP3 were to become the major standard of music overtaking the CD.

    Vinyl is still the king of sound. It has its quirks and inconveniences but the sound is still tops although the margin is getting slimmer and slimmer with advancements in CD and the new DVD-A and SACD formats.

    CD took over as the major new format because it was easier, more convienent, portable and supposedly "perfect sound". Soundwise however it WAS a step back no matter how they marketed it to be otherwise.

    Now here we are 20 years after the creation of CD's and 100 or so years after the creation of reproduced music, and we are tetering on the edge of sound taking a back seat to convienence once again.

    ...I need to just get a turntable.
     

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