MP3 vs CD vs Vinyl etc discussion

Discussion in 'I.C.E & Electrical' started by SiliconAngel, Aug 29, 2007.

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  1. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Not true, actually. If you have a quality encoded MP3 at 192kbs or greater from a good source (original CD, super audio disc, DVD etc) then you will be VERY hard pressed to be able to tell the difference between the source and the copy. However, you will easily be able to notice the difference between quality speakers and budget ones.

    High quality speakers will be able to go much louder, without distorting, and last longer - I have blown up cheap speakers within MINUTES just testing them out! And while you might not listen to particularly loud music, a speaker that can go louder while keeping sharp, quality sound will sound BETTER at low volume as well.

    Also remember that a lot of hearing damage from music is due to distortion. You know that ringing in your ears you get from going to a concert? MOST of that is caused by damage due to distortion in nasty PA loudspeaker equipment. Stage speakers trade off quality for volume, or they'd never be able to get as loud as they are. If you care about your hearing, avoid loud live concerts! Its as bad as sticking your ear next to an angle grinder for several hours...

    High quality speakers have cleaner, crisper distortionless and accurate sound reproduction. Lower quality speakers have more variation, more distortion, die faster, can't handle as much volume, generally sound worse and are damaging your ears while doing it! So even if you're not an audio nut, buying a quality sound package for your car can definitely be worth it if you regularly listen to music while you drive :)
     
  2. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Just to clarify on the MP3 vs cheap speaker thing, converting sound into MP3 or another lossy format loses quality as its clipping parts of the sound out. The theory is its clipping parts out that you can't hear anyway, stuff in the super-audio range well above the ability of human ears to discern (although your dog might be less impressed). When you do that even if you can tell the difference between the original recording and the recompiled version (much more noticable at lower quality settings), you won't end up with worse actual sound - that is, you won't introduce noise or distortion into the recording.

    Cheap speakers, however, do EXACTLY that - they're not as good at reproducing the sound accurately, and thus introduce noise, variation and distortion, all of which are bad.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming... Sorry for going so far off-topic!
     
  3. Sydo

    Sydo Leaving Skid Marks

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    Too late!
     
  4. BuzzPuppy

    BuzzPuppy OZVR4 Ambassador Lifetime Member

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    I'm mostly deaf in the left side of my head (which is quite interesting when you're driving and you turn to your right left to pay attention to the girl when she's talking... completely taking eyes off the road) so I guess I can halve my stereo installation costs :D

    I'm glad that my car's been complianced and mitchy's paid for it. When he gets his complianced soon, I'll be more than happy to foot the bill. I wonder if I could fly up to Brissie and hop in the car in the back of the transport to get a feel for it? Maybe the ride height will be grossly exaggerated, but it'd be AWESOME!
     
  5. VR-04-TT

    VR-04-TT 1 AYC Bar

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    The problem with mp3s is that while most people think they can't hear the frequencies that are cut off (and they are correct), they don't realise that they can hear how those cut off frequencies interact with the ones we can hear. This is what creates Timbre (correctly pronounced "Tamber", too many people say timber lol)

    Most people know what a sine wave looks like, imagine the wave is then covered with hundreds of mini sine waves using the main sine wave as the middle or zero db. These are the frequencies that make up your sound. These are the ones that get cut by MP3 compression. Thus affecting the timbre overall.

    Once you cut those frequencies out, you don't get that interaction anymore and there's lacking quality in what we can hear. Often it's heard as a "sloppy" or "watery" in the top end eg. cymbals.

    Even 320kbps you can hear the difference if you know what you're listening for, but anyway. 320kbps is fine for 80-90% of the population. I don't believe that ANY form of mp3 compression will sound as good as a cd. Full stop. But you can get close.
     
  6. takumi

    takumi Guest

    Lets move this to another section where I can explain that CD quality isn't as good as Vinyl ... and where i can explain that 80% of downloaded MP3's are copied at low kbps. MP3 is a compressed format its not a raw sound file it can't be perfect. Just like a mpeg2 (DVD) is not perfect either. If u read my reply I was stating that I don't listen to high quality mp3's so I don't need high quality speakers.
     
  7. VR4_Psych

    VR4_Psych Guest

    I have a pretty decent stereo and I can assure you that there is an audible difference between 320kbps and lossless. 192kbps is nowhere near decent - I won't listen to it unless it's over 256kbps. Even that it's a stretch.

    Leigh
     
  8. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Potentially, but only with new wax and a new needle. Once the needle's worn it becomes less responsive, and once you've played vinyl a few dozen times you wear out those little micro grooves that give you that high-end frequency reproduction. Comparitively, CD's don't wear out as long as you don't scratch them. But you're right - 16 bit CD audio is a limited audio format, which is why 24 bit DVD Audio should be the way all music is made these days... But try convincing record labels of that :(
    Sorry Paul, I wasn't trying to tell you to upgrade your speakers. But your post suggested that people in general listening to MP3s would be wasting their time with a good audio system, which I don't believe to be true, for the reasons stated above :)

    I agree with Patient Paul's summary also. But to be honest, the vast majority of people who say they can hear a difference between a good 192kbs encoding and the CD (not lossless, as CD is only 16 bit) original are kidding themselves. I've been involved in testing of this phenomenon on very high end equipment (B&W nautilus THX reference speakers) and everyone who participated was very surprised at the outcome.

    What many people aren't aware of is not all encoders are created equal, and some don't do a very good job. If you're using some cheap or free CD ripping program to make your MP3s you might actually be getting a lot lower quality / noisier recordings than you bargained for. Good quality plugins are available for such software as Sony Sound Forge which allow multiple pass encoding, but they can be expensive for people not prefessionally involved in audio.

    And with that I apologise profusely to admins for the terribly off-topic hijacking of the thread! >.<
     
  9. VR-04-TT

    VR-04-TT 1 AYC Bar

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    I moved these posts from the compliance at shogun thread...it's an interesting discussion and I'd like it to continue!! :D

    If you know what to listen for...you can hear differences between 196 and a CD. But, as you said, this could definitely depend on the encoder in question. There's no way I'd remember what encoder I used at any point in time. Except I do have sound forge, never used it to encode mp3's though as it's a pain only doing one at a time.

    But an interesting thing as how you mentioned 24 bit DVD audio. What's more superior is Super Audio CD (SACD). SACD uses a different method altogether, it uses 1 bit streaming.

    So instead of mapping like a 16 or 24 bit, what SACD does is it uses it's current point and uses a binary 1 or 0 for up or down. That is a VERY VERY basic way of explaining it...I can't remember 100% anyway as it was explained to me when I did my music course in 2003 and that was the last I heard of it.

    I do know that they use SACD for masters in most recording studios now and they're clearer than glass masters.

    Anyway...let the discussion continue! :D
     
  10. takumi

    takumi Guest

    Now bit of an exageration on the number of times a vinyl is played there buddy. Maybe a test press can be only played 2 dozen times but a 12inch single can be played over and over for years and years. I think a cd would scratch and be unplayable in around the same time. Vinyl has the full range of sound and u may hear the cracks and pops u will not get a higher hihat and lower bass (that u can feel) from a cd.
    I my opinion,for me, car quality car stereos are a waste of time ... I'd prefer the quality in a movie (7.1 surround setup). And is u think music doesn't interest me ? I did DJ for over 8 years ...
    I recon that being in a confined area of a car and having pounding decibells is not good for ur health ;)
     
  11. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Not trying to be a prick here Paul, but unfortunately that's a misconception I've heard in the past ;) An interesting explanation on the subject can be found here.

    Essentially, SACD is a flawed format, in some ways superior to CD, but in other ways inferior! DVD-A is superior in EVERY way :)

    I read an interesting article about a year ago that said going to greater than 24bit DVD-A has potentially so much clarity that its actually not possible to record sound to match the format! The limitation is in microphone technology that simply can't differentiate enough between sounds to record them any more accurately. Now, some time in the future someone may come up with a better microphone technology, but to be totally honest the only way ANYONE will ever be able to tell the difference would be if you could pipe the music directly into your brain, bypassing your essentially flawed (at this level of clarity) hearing instruments (ears).

    Well perhaps, on the overall discernable impact. However that wear is very real, and it definitely makes a difference... one you can never undo.
    Acutally, as long as you keep it in good condition, never allow it to collect dust and never touch the disc's surface, it should never wear or scratch. Unlike on a turntable, the laser head never comes into contact with the CD :)
    Yeeeaaaa technically you're correct, and its definitely the arguement that audiophiles like to make. But then, they also make the arguement that there's a perceivable difference between the output from a $15 TOS-link optical cable and gold-plated $500 one... And they buy things like this :rolleyes:

    Yes, vinyl can give you a 'warmer', more accurate sound because it can potentially reproduce an infinite number of sounds, where 16 bit audio is limited to a finite number of sounds actually within the human range. 24 bit at 96kHz, however, far exceeds the human perceivable spectrum.

    Its actually a lot like 'square wave' or 'digital sine wave' effects that occur in everything from digital music to power transformation. The lower quality and lower resolution you have, the 'dirtier' the output because it varies so much from the 'clean' sine wave its meant to represent. However, at some point your digital representation of an analogue medium will become so precise that it will become impossible to determine the difference between your analogue sine wave and its digital representation using even the most sensitive measuring devices.
    Ooh, would you like to know how you can get the best audio experience for your home theatre? A friend of mine used to be a theatre designer, and in the course of his work, he noticed something interesting - there is an ENORMOUS amount of sub-channel audio recorded in all five audio channels in ADDITION to the sub-channel data. What does that mean? Well, there's a whole lot of bass sound that's recorded in the front, rear and centre channels that you CAN'T HEAR unless you add a sub on EVERY channel.

    Sounds a bit insane? Well, the purpose of a sub-woofer is to reproduce sub-sonic frequencies. If your mid-range speakers can only reproduce down to around 100Hz, what happens to any sounds from 30 to 100Hz? You simply can't hear them...

    So I understand that most people can't really afford to drop an extra $5k or so on five more active subs for their home theatre... But believe me, if you do (and you balance it right) you'll be absolutely blown away by the result.

    Haha I agree with you there! My current stereo never goes above 40%, 'cause its just uncomfortable. The new stereo I'm intending to put in my VR4 will be more than ten times as loud theoretically, but it will also be that much more ACCURATE, too. That one will probably only get to 5% of max volume!

    Bleeding ears isn't cool, kids ;)

    Taking car over pits tomorrow - have to be up at 4:30am :( need sleeeeep... zzz

    EDIT: Yikes! What a freaken rant...
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2007
  12. VR-04-TT

    VR-04-TT 1 AYC Bar

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    Very interesting read! Thank you! You're not being a prick at all. As I said, my memory of what I was taught was VERY hazy as it was about 4-5 years ago...I think I said 2003 in my other post, but I realised it was actually 2002 when I did the course.

    That's interesting about the microphone thing too!

    Oh and as far as loud stereos go. The last stereo I had in the magna was just Jaycar Response stuff (which is bloody good for the money mind you!) and while yes it could go loud, it was real nice and clear for normal, sane listening levels. Though if I get a sub this time I might just go a 10" for more punch instead of real low frequency response.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2007
  13. takumi

    takumi Guest

    I have a question for u my freind ... How can a cable such as a HDMI cable have different qualities ? Like how u mention the old Gold plated theory. I can understand with an analouge signal, but a digital signal is just 0's and 1's right ?
    I have HDMI outputs on my laptop and PS3 then Digital tos from the LCD to my 5.1 logitech Z5500's. Nice cheap setup. (not too loud but nice and clear).
    Hmmmm ... interesting point about the surround sound setup with bass running to all speakers ... would be interested to see that actually working, thats how crappy cheapo car steroes are. Funny when people go on the cheap and their sub is pumping out a full range of high, mid and bass.
     
  14. SiliconAngel

    SiliconAngel 1 AYC Bar

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    Correct! In my post, I was actually trying to point out that while audiophiles may very well claim that there is a difference between different digital cable qualities, they are, in fact, mistaken.

    Case in point: I have a friend who has worked in audio for most of his adult life. He works for a very prestigious audio electronics store and has been a musician (mostly electronic) for at least 15 years. He did his best to convince me there was a difference between a $15 optical cable and this stupid gold plated $320 optical cable with gold-plated ends he'd bought. He said he 'could DEFINITELY hear the difference'. When I said you can't possibly, its an optical digital signal - if it doesn't get through, you don't get ANYTHING! His response? When bits are dropped, error correction kicks in with a lower quality cable, and while you still get MOST of the sound, you're not getting all of it.

    Sadly, this is totally flawed. Why? Because PCM audio transmission doesn't include ANY error correction! Take a look at the Red Book CD Audio standard, if you like - other than Cross-interleaved Reed-Solomon coding (which is error correction for errors in reading the disc, from scratches and such) there isn't any error correction going on. Same for the DVD audio standards. Once the digital data has been read from the media, if it can't get through from your player to your amp (or whatever other device you're pushing it out to), you'll normally experience nasty popping and clicking, although if you get enough data loss you'll lose the signal altogether.

    As for the gold plating rubbish, sure, that makes the ends of the cable look pretty, but once you plug it into your equipment, you'll never see it anyway. When you're dealing with an optical signal, there is no conductivity involved... hell, those gold plated ends aren't even CONNECTED by anything remotely conductive (for good reason, actually).

    So we agree to disagree on that subject ;)

    The same goes for your HDMI cables... although I'll qualify that slightly by inserting the caveat of 'normal cable length'. If you need to do really long runs of HDMI cable (ie 10m or more) you need to start buying expensive cables... or maybe repeaters. I sorely wish HDMI had been an optical standard, but sadly there's not much I can do about that. MOST people only deal with 2m cables anyway - its just weirdos like me who help design theatres, presentation rooms and multiple remote display setups where a central output runs off to displays possibly hundreds of metres away that care about things like this ;)

    Let me tell you, its amazing. My old housemate had $50k of home theatre (all B&W amps and speakers, except 5 of the six subs) and we watched a number of movies I was very familiar with as well as some CD & DVD-A, and every time it was enough to make you wet yourself with audio bliss - I had to start buying diapers! Seriously though, just to play with it we did a number of comparisons by watching a couple of minutes, then switching all but the dedicated sub off and playing it back again. Freaken amazing difference! If you ever get to hear a setup like that, I STRONGLY recommend taking a listen to the Chemical Brothers track 'The Test'. There's some bass notes in there that you simply can't hear unless you have extremely high quality subs, and at 60db they make the world WARP!

    Hahaha yes, subs are nothing without good frequency isolation ;) Mostly because they get confused, more so than playing any particular sound.

    You see, the cone in a sub takes a LONG time to travel, comparitively speaking. Compared with a svelte tweater its a super-tanker in responsiveness. But then, bass notes ARE big and fat, so that's fine. However, if you try to make a sub push sound out at 100Hz and above (personally I prefer a real sub to only do 60Hz and below, but unless you can afford to stagger speakers that will cause a hole in your audio reproduction, as standard mid-range speakers don't like sub 100Hz) you will be trying to get the sub to move a whole lot faster than its capable of... and then when you actually ask it to push out low frequency sound, it will be busy doing other stuff, which means its responsiveness to play what you WANT it to will be reduced... Because it will be too busy :)

    The end result is lower volume and muddy sound, so crossovers aren't just for eliminating damaging bass from your mid-range or tweaters, kids!
     
  15. takumi

    takumi Guest

    Yeah i gathered that, it was something I was only thinking about the other day when I was in JBHIFI and noticed some stupidly expensive cables in there. Next time I'm there I'm going to ask about the quality difference to see what they have to say .. hahahaha. Should be interesting.
     
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