Ooooo, Does this Audiophile rant boil your blood?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Scott L, Jan 17, 2002.

  1. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    First of all, I don't even consider myself to be a real audiophile, just an enthusiast (especially when you consider my bank account), but this little rant from www.r3mix.net just makes me mad. I can't seem to link to it directly so just go to the website and click Myths on the left.
    Just some of my arguments:
    2) Vinyls can sound better than CDs simply because they have a freq responce of around 30 Khz. Of course you'd want a pretty good turntable with maybe a diamond or gem tipped head, and a relatively new Vinyl. It was thought that since humans can't hear anything above 20 Khz, recording anything past that frequency was just a waste, which is why Red Book has a brickwall filter at 22.05 KHz.
    5) Music is paid more attention to because it is usually recorded in million-dollar studios with a controlled environment. Everything from the walls to the floor have to be acoustically treated. And then there's the mics and 8-bit DSD Master recording equipment...
    BS right off the bat...
     
  2. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

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    Sounds like a bunch of crap allright.
     
  3. Graeme Clark

    Graeme Clark Cinematographer

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    I really don't know much about the subject, but the "Reality Check" is enough to make me want to hate the guy.

     
  4. Marty Christion

    Marty Christion Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with r3mix on most points (especially the two you cited). However bad you think his arguments are, you really misquoted/ misrepresented what's on that page.

    You only cite a theoretical frequency response for vinyl's ability to "sound better". But here, on planet Earth, in the year 2002, if you compare the production/reproduction chain of "audiophile" vinyl to the same "audiophile" CD, I would pick CD over vinyl any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

     
  5. Jason Handy

    Jason Handy Second Unit

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    I actually think this guy made some sense in his article. The issue for me is whether the definition of perfect is meant to reflect a measurable criteria or a perceptual criteria. Sorry folks this is long - and it may not be entirely correct, but have a read and think COMMON SENSE.
    If perfect is determined based on measurable criteria then CD's are inferior. Why? Because any digital recording breaks every signal down into discrete packets of information at a particular bit-rate. In contrast analog recordings have no "bit-rate" to speak of because it is one continuous recording. That being said it it important to point out that analog generally sounds inferior to CD because of limitations in either (a) the recording equipment, or (b) the playback equipment. This problem is not suffered so severely by CD's because there is no physical contact between the media and the pickup, whereas the analog equipment relies upon a pickup head to read information directly off the media. In theory, it is possible to get much better analog sound reproduction if you have top of the line analog equipment, but nobody has that.
    From a perceptual standpoint I dare anybody to, in a blind sound test, pick analog playback to be superior to CD audio. Given equipment of similar quality, the digital reproduction will sound better than analog. Forget about the numbers like frequency cut-offs and sample rate and think about the human ear as a filter in and of itself. If the cut-off specs do not exceed that which our ear can respond to then we are none the wiser for it.
    Sorry this was a bit of a rant, but from an experiential perspective, I got my first CD player in 1990. It was a Sony bookshelf system, not much power and probably pretty inexpensive. Well, I also got the George Michael "Listen Without Prejudice" album which was recorded, mixed and mastered digitally. It sounded SO GOOOOD I thought I was in nirvana. The crisp dynamic range of the sound, the complete lack of hiss during the quiet parts (I could even hear the light spinning of the CD in the player...wow!). It was awesome.
    In contrast, some of the older CD's that were digitally remastered from analog recordings retain some of the analog artifacts of the equipment. I am thinking of Led Zeppelin's Runes album (not the box set, the actual album). I can hear some of the analog artifacts, and it is because the recording was originally analog. It is not very perceptible, but there is certainly a difference from true digital production.
    Today's completely digital recordings are of higher value from a perception standpoint, even if some weenie with $20,000 analog equipment can hook up a waveform analyzer and say that his first-press Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" successfully captures the 29 kHz dynamic range better than the CD. I say, if the human ear can't hear it, it ain't there!
    Please wait while I put my flame suit on [​IMG]
    OK...open fire
    Jason
     
  6. andrew markworthy

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    The best response to hi-fi arguments I've ever heard was told me by a studio engineer, and it's this.

    The majority of classical musicians have middle-of-the-road hi-fi systems. Now of course, these guys don't know a *thing* about music, do they? On the other hand, hi-fi experts, who obviously know far more about music than anyone else on the planet, spend tens of thousands on systems.

    Hi-fi, be it vinyl, CD or wax cylinder, can never totally replicate the sound of live music-making, so why bother spending thousands on a system which can never reach perfection? Just buy a system that plays without obvious distortion and spend the rest on more worthwhile things (e.g. going to the occasional concert).
     
  7. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    First of all if CD is "perfect sound forever", then what are SACD and 24/192 DVD-A? extra-extra perfect?
    Again, not really a valid statement. Studies have been performed and shown that while the Human ear cannot perceptibly hear sound in the upper Khz range, some part of the brain is still stimulated when it appears. A popular study done not so long ago showed increased brain activity when the subjects were exposed to sound in the upper 20's and lower 30 Khz range. In fact most of the sonic energy of a Cymbal lives well above 20kHz and nobody will ever claim that any recorded cymbal sounds exactly like a live cymbal strike...there's just something missing.
    In my opinion SACD and DVD-A prove that CD isn't "perfect sound", or else how could you improve upon it?
     
  8. SteveA

    SteveA Supporting Actor

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    Given that most people don't have top-quality gear, the vast majority will get better results with CD than with vinyl - even though vinyl has the potential to sound better.

    DVD-Audio and SACD will bring EVEN BETTER sound quality to the Joe-Sixpacks of the world.
     
  9. NathanP

    NathanP Supporting Actor

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    Did I miss something?

    Hmm.

    Anyway.

    I hang around alot of muscians..

    Dad's a muscian, he has his own band.

    All of my Uncles and Aunts are musicians and a few of them even went to Nashville to try and live "The Dream"..

    So, I'm kinda figuring that musicians know what they're talking about, especially after being a musician for a very long time and going to music school.

    You know what they all tell me?

    "Cd's are crap. I don't care about the pop and hiss, give me a record player!"

    And the hearts of all the teenie-boppers break because their terrible music is recorded on crap.

    I say:

    Go for it, records are fine..

    I only have a problem with people spending many thousands on a single record player.. that's what I think is a waste..

    But, I know how they feel, I spend many thousands on HT stuff.

    Nathan
     
  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I used to be into so-called high-end audio. I stupidly bought into all its religious dogma, and sunk tons of money into vacuum-tube preamps and amps, moving-coil cartridges, and tonearms counterbalanced by mother's milk.

    Yeah, I fell for all that snake-oil nonsense.

    Then I discovered the real bang-for-the-buck world of home theater, and I have been better for it ever since.

    One thing, though: I have yet to hear a standard CD that sounds as good to me as some of the best-engineered vinyl recordings did--especially half speed-mastered stuff pressed on to imported vinyl. Also, those old direct-to-disc "audiophile" recordings from the later '70s sounded awesome.

    But now we have, as has been noted, SACD and DVD-Audio. The game, as they say, is wide open.
     
  11. Jason Handy

    Jason Handy Second Unit

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    Great posts - I am by no means an audiophile. I was just trying to get a handle on the whole idea of what "perfect" means in a sound reproduction.
    Mostly it is subjective. Some people have ears sensitive enough to notice subtle differences that 99.9% of the population can't. As far as digital vs. analog, I think that for the consumer (not the audiophile who spends thousands and thousands on components), CD technology has raised the bar compared to tapes and records.
    It is the recording industry's fault for not maintaining high recording standards on the front end, and I think that this translates to problems on the listening end. I also never said that CD's were perfect, just superior in some ways to analog - sorry if I implied otherwise.
    I agree that high-end analog equipment can capture a more complete picture of the recording, but I am thinking in the context of what is reasonably available to the consumer, and what is perceptible. Your Muddy Waters example is solid (I have never heard it myself, but take your word for the quality), but here is the point - very good care was taken to make it a near-perfect recording. From good original material, an analog copy will be better, by the numbers. You may hear a difference, but many people will not. By the way, how does vinyl stand up to repeated listenings? I know that audio tapes begin to sound like crap after awhile, and I can only image that if your turntable stylus is not perfectly balanced then you will have some quality degradation after many plays.
    And, how many examples like Muddy Waters are out there? Lets consider our discussion to be confined to the realm of what is commonly available. Just because the Beastie Boys released "Ill Communication" on vinyl as well as CD, does that mean that the vinyl sounds better?
    As far as the DVD-audio and the SACD, I am a little skeptical. I have not heard them first hand, but I wonder if there is a law of diminishing returns here. Just because you can capture that little extra dynamic range and it is a higher bitrate, does one notice a difference? A few early reviews I read (PFs Dark Side of the Moon, I think), said that the difference was quite minimal. Now you are all going to hit me with the fact that, regardless of how perceptible it is...there is still a difference.
    Bottom line, I do not think DVD-A and SACD will revolutionize home audio like the CD did. The jump from tapes to CDs was enormous.
    Once again, let me put my flame suit on [​IMG]
    Jason
     
  12. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    from a slightly 'non-audiophile' viewpoint:

    i'm old enough to remember vinyl quite thoroughly. i have a pretty large LP collection. although it definitely sounded different, i cannot say whether it sounded better.

    unfortunately, i'm pretty sure i don't have golden ears...

    so for me, the digital format wins for other reasons: it doesn't wear out, it's compact, non-linear access, etc.
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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  14. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  15. Chris Lynch

    Chris Lynch Stunt Coordinator

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    I do not think SACD and DVD-A are going to shake the world either, most people will not notice the difference in sound quality. As far as numbers go, the signal to error ratio is better, the sample rate higher, the trained ears will hear it, but not most. One complaint I have with CD is the brittleness of the high end. As the sound approaches the Nyquist Frequency (22.05 kHz-half of sample rate), a pure sine wave cannot hold its shape and starts to distort into a square wave. This sounds rather nasty, IMO. This happens because if you have a sample rate of 44.1k, in order to represent a wave you need at least 2 samples, and with only 2 samples per wave it is impossible to represent curvature in the wave. Theoretically, this is supposed to be remedied with the Low Pass filters in the D/A conversion. But it can't give you back the curves. When you all critically listen to DVD-A or SACD for the first time, pay special attention to the high end, I find it to be a little more organic. Those waves can smooth back out with a higher sampling frequency.
    One thing I like, and the one thing that Joe Sixpack will notice, are the 5.1 mixes of the music. A well done surround mix of music is reeeeaaaalllllyy nice. Everyone should notice the difference there. Some nice 5.1 music mixes are out there already, either on DVD-A or SACD, or if you are on a budget, check out some of the DTS music CDs. Regular CDs with dts encoded, they sound good. Plus most DVD-A discs feature a DD layer also so they'll play in your DVD-V players. Sure, its not "Audiophile quality" but it is fun to listen to. FWIW, a sound engineer first recommended the dts CDs to me, and I enjoy them quite a bit.
    If the new platforms are to succeed, they need to market the 5.1 to J6P, IMO.
     
  16. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    No, were just asking you to please reserve your speculation and uninformed opinions until you've actually experienced what you are commenting on. Would I be qualified to comment on what riding in a Maserati feels like if I've never done it?
     
  17. andrew markworthy

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    DaveF, I rest my case.
     
  18. Jason Handy

    Jason Handy Second Unit

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    Yep some people really get incensed about this stuff. Sorry dude that I am not a "hyper-informed" citizen - I am just a guy who has an interest in music and having a discussion.

    You sound like a real music expert, so I won't argue any further. Once again I apologize for offending anybody in this thread.

    As an analog to this argument however, there was this french chemistry professor that decided to try to figure out if all this wine snobbery was true or not. So he rounded up 50 of the world's finest wine tasters, and had them rate various red wines. What he would do is tell the tasters that "oh this wine is supposed to have a rich oak flavor, but not too heavy on the tannins, eased out at the finish with a smooth gooseberry", or some such crap, and whaddaya know the tasters noticed the flavor as well. Unfortunately, the catch was that he had simply added red food coloring to white wine for some of the samples. 50 out of 50 tasters did not pick up on the difference between red wine and white wine that had been colored red.

    In conclusion - is that REALLY a difference you can hear, or is it just something that another person told you was there? Personally I do not know, but it is interesting - about the wine, that is...
     
  19. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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  20. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I have known many professional musicians over the years, and none of them have owned high-quality sound systems. As was suggested elsewhere in this thread, a key reason for that is that they could not afford high-end equipment. They simply did not have the funds available after living expenses and professional expenses (instruments, etc.). Also, many of the musicians I have known have regarded recorded music as "canned music" and have not had the interest in spending much money on it. They would rather spend money on instruments, sound rooms, recording equipment, and attending live performances than sitting around and listening for every last detail on a CD or LP. Finally, musicians have the ability to create the live experience anytime they want, so why should they spend big money on trying to re-create it with recordings in their own homes, even if they have the money?
     

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