Don't click or your IP will be banned


Hittin' The Web with the Allman Brothers Band Forum
You are not logged in

< Last Thread   Next Thread ><<  1    2  >>Ascending sortDescending sorting  
Author: Subject: The Death Of High Fidelity

Universal Peach





Posts: 6009
(6064 all sites)
Registered: 1/19/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 11:17 AM
Good article from Rolling Stone Magazine of all places on "The Death of High Fidelity". Truth is, many people have never heard music on a dedicated sound system that would allow the music to sound like what the artist heard in the studio. To many people are content to listen to their music, on I-pods or through computer speakers, listening to MP3 files and unfortunately are missing out on a lot of the inner details that is on a recording, and that really gives life to the recording. Unfortunately, many in the recording industry are not helping matters by their overuse of compression and other digital effects on recordings. Compare many recordings today, with well-recorded music from 20, 30, even 40 years ago, and you can easily tell the difference, and it doesn't really matter whether you're listening to vinyl or CDs. Recording engineers and producers back then, really did know how to "capture the music", instead of "merely recording it", as so many do today. Anyway here's the article.

quote:
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The Death Of High Fidelity

The Death of High Fidelity
Appeared on Rolling Stone issue 1042/1043 (Dec. 27, 2007 - Jan. 10, 2008), the following is an article I agree with completely.

The Death of High Fidelity
In the age of MP3s, sound quality is worse than ever
By Robert Levine

David Bendeth, a producer who works with rock bands like Hawthorne Heights and Paramore, knows that the albums he makes are often played through tiny computer speakers by fans who are busy surfing the Internet. So he’s not surprised when record labels ask the mastering engineers who work on his CDs to crank up the sound levels so high that even the soft parts sound loud.

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered -almost always for the worse. “They make it loud to get [listeners’] attention,” Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue.

“I think most everything is mastered a little too loud,” Bendeth says. “The industry decided that it’s a volume contest.” Producers and engineers call this “the loudness war,” and it has changed the way almost every new pop and rock album sounds. But volume isn’t the only issue. Computer programs like Pro Tools, which let audio engineers manipulate sound the way a word processor edits text, make musicians sound unnaturally perfect. And today’s listeners consume an increasing amount of music on MP3, which eliminates much of the data from the original CD file and can leave music sounding tinny or hollow. “With all the technical innovation, music sounds worse,” says Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, who has made what are considered some of the best-sounding records of all time. “God is in the details. But there are no details anymore.”

The idea that engineers make albums louder might seem strange: Isn’t volume controlled by that knob on the stereo? Yes, but every setting on that dial delivers a range of loudness, from a hushed vocal to a kick drum - and pushing sounds toward the top of that range makes music seem louder. It’s the same technique used to make television commercials stand out from shows. And it does grab listeners’ attention - but at a price. Last year, Bob Dylan told ROLLING STONE that modern albums “have sound all over them. There’s no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like - static.” In 2004, Jeff Buckley’s mom, Mary Guibert, listened to the original 3/4" tape of her son’s recordings as she was preparing the tenth-anniversary reissue of Grace. “We were hearing instruments you’ve never heard on that album, like finger cymbals and the sound of viola strings being plucked,” she remembers. “It blew me away because it was exactly what he heard in the studio.”

To Guibert’s disappointment, the remastered 2004 version failed to capture these details. So last year, when Guibert assembled the best-of collection So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley, she insisted on an independent A&R consultant to oversee the reissue process and a mastering engineer who would reproduce the sound Buckley made in the studio. “You can hear the distinct instruments and the sound of the room,” she says of the new release. “Compression smudges things together.” Too much compression can be heard as musical clutter; on the Arctic Monkeys’ debut, the band never seems to pause to catch its breath. By maintaining constant intensity, the album flattens out the emotional peaks that usually stand out in a song. “You lose the power of the chorus, because it’s not louder than the verses,” Bendeth says. “You lose emotion.” The inner ear automatically compresses blasts of high volume to protect itself, so we associate compression with loudness, says Daniel Levitin, a professor of music and neuroscience at McGill University and author of ‘This Is Your Brain on Music: ‘The Science of a Human Obsession. Human brains have evolved to pay particular attention to loud nQises, so compressed sounds initially seem more exciting. But the effect doesn’t last. “The excitement in music comes from variation in rhythm, timbre, pitch and loudness,” Levitin says. “If you hold one of those constant, it can seem monotonous.” After a few minutes, research shows, constant loudness grows fatiguing to the brain. Though few listeners realize this consciously, many feel an urge to skip to another song. “If you limit range, it’s just an assault on the body,” says Tom Coyne, a mastering engineer who has worked with Mary J. Blige and Nas. “When you’re fifteen, it’s the greatest thing - you’re being hammered. But do you want that on a whole album?”

To an average listener, a wide dynamic range creates a sense of spaciousness and makes it easier to pick out individual instruments - as you can hear on recent albums such as Dylan’s Modern Times and Norah Jones’ Not Too Late. “When people have the courage and the vision to do a record that way, it sets them apart,” says Joe Boyd, who produced albums by Richard Thompson and R.E.M.’s Fables of the Reconstruction. “It sounds warm, it sounds three-dimensional, it sounds different. Analog sound to me is more emotionally affecting.”

Rock and Pop producers have always used compression to balance the sounds of different instruments and to make music sound more exciting, and radio stations apply compression for technical reasons. In the days of vinyl records, there was a physical limit to how high the bass levels could go before the needle skipped a groove. CDs can handle higher levels of loudness, although they, too, have a limit that engineers call “digital zero dB,” above which sounds begin to distort. Pop albums rarely got close to the zero-dB mark until the mid- 1990’s, when digital compressors and limiters, which cut off the peaks of sound waves, made it easier to manipulate loudness levels. Intensely compressed albums like Oasis’ 1995 (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? set a new bar for loudness; the songs were well-suited for bars, cars and other noisy environments. “In the Seventies and Eighties, you were expected to pay attention,” says Matt Serletic, the former chief executive of Virgin Records USA, who also produced albums by Matchbox Twenty and Collective Soul. “Modern music should be able to get your attention.” Adds Rob Cavallo, who produced Green Day’s American Idiot and My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade, “It’s a style that started post-grunge, to get that intensity. The idea was to slam someone’s face against the wall. You can set your CD to stun.” It’s not just new music that’s too loud. Many remastered recordings suffer the same problem as engineers apply compression to bring them into line with modern tastes. The new Led Zeppelin collection, Mothership, is louder than the band’s original albums, and Bendeth, who mixed Elvis Presley’s 30 #1 Hits, says that the album was mastered too loud for his taste. “A lot of audiophiles hate that record,” he says, “but people can play it in the car and it’s competitive with the new Foo Fighters record.”

Just as CDs supplanted vinyl and cassettes, MP3 and other digital music formats are quickly replacing CDs as the most popular way to listen to music. That means more convenience but worse sound. To create an MP3, a computer samples the music on a CD and compresses it into a smaller file by excluding the musical information that the human ear is less likely to notice.

Much of the information left out is at the very high and low ends, which is why some MP3s sound flat. Cavallo says that MP3s don’t reproduce reverb well, and the lack of high-end detail makes them sound brittle. Without enough low end, he says, “you don’t get the punch anymore. It decreases the punch of the kick drum and how the speaker gets pushed when the guitarist plays a power chord.” But not all digital music files are created equal. Levitin says that most people find MP3s ripped at a rate above 224 kbps virtually indistinguishable from CDs. (iTunes sells music as either 128 or 256 kbps AAC files -AAC is slightly superior to MP3 at an equivalent bit rate. Amazon sells MP3s at 256 kbps.) Still, “it’s like going to the Louvre and instead of the Mona Lisa there’s a 10 megapixel image of it,” he says. “I always want to listen to music the way the artists wanted me to hear it. I wouldn’t look at a Kandinsky painting with sunglasses on.” Producers also now alter the way they mix albums to compensate for the limitations of MP3 sound. “You have to be aware of how people will hear music, and pretty much everyone is listening to MP3,” says producer Butch Vig, a member of Garbage and the producer of Nirvana’s Nevermind. “Some of the effects get lost. So you sometimes have to over-exaggerate things.”

Other producers believe that intensely compressed CDs make for better MP3s, since the loudness of the music will compensate for the flatness of the digital format. As technological shifts have changed the way sounds are recorded, they have encouraged an artificial perfection in music itself. Analog tape has been replaced in most studios by Pro Tools, making edits that once required splicing tape together easily done with the click of a mouse. Programs like Auto-Tune can make weak singers sound pitch-perfect, and Beat Detective does the same thing for wobbly drummers. “You can make anyone sound professional,” says Mitchell Froom, a producer who’s worked with Elvis Costello and Los Lobos, among others. “But the problem is that you have something that’s professional, but it’s not distinctive. I was talking to a session drummer, and I said, ‘When’s the last time you could tell who the drummer is?’ You can tell Keith Moon or John Bonham, but now they all sound the same.”

So is music doomed to keep sounding worse? Awareness of the problem is growing. The South by Southwest music festival recently featured a panel titled “Why Does Today’s Music Sound Like **** ?” In August, a group of producers and engineers founded an organization called Turn Me Up!, which proposes to put stickers on CDs that meet high sonic standards. But even most CD listeners have lost interest in high-end stereos as surround-sound home theater systems have become more popular, and superior-quality disc formats like DVD-Audio and SACD flopped. Bendeth and other producers worry that young listeners have grown so used to dynamically compressed music and the thin sound of MP3s that the battle has already been lost. “CDs sound better, but no one’s buying them,” he says. “The age of the audiophile is over.”

Get the Most of your iPod.
1. Increase the bit rate: Higher bit rates = better sound. Set your iTunes to rip at 192 kbps, or better - we recommend jacking it all the way to 320. (AustinVegas recommends always 320 for MP3 but you can always rip straight to WMA)
2. Ditch the white earbuds: For an upgrade. try higher-end earphones from Shure. Ultimate Ears or Etymotic. Bonus; fewer muggings! (AV says true that on the muggings!)
3. Don’t re-rip!!! Morality aside, it’s a bad idea to re-rip a CD burned from MP3s - the sound will be noticeably worse. (AV says: Did you ever make a copy of someone elses copy of a cassette tape? Yeah with this is the same concept)
4. Upgrade from MP3: Use iTunes’ AAC format or windows Media Audio . (AV says SKIP! the AAC, it’s proprietary and if you don’t plan on using iPod for life, don’t get stuck with this format, use WMA instead).


 
E-Mail User
Replies:

Zen Peach



Karma:
Posts: 24435
(24610 all sites)
Registered: 3/31/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 11:47 AM
yup.

i agree 100%
but the problem is ... most, simply, just don't care.

 

____________________


 

Zen Peach



Karma:
Posts: 24984
(25100 all sites)
Registered: 8/20/2004
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 11:49 AM
Great movie!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVv5sIY57TA

 

____________________
Co-Owner of Charlie Tabers Football

 

Zen Peach



Karma:
Posts: 24984
(25100 all sites)
Registered: 8/20/2004
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 11:49 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28S-aOWtFdo&feature=related

 

____________________
Co-Owner of Charlie Tabers Football

 

A Peach Supreme



Karma:
Posts: 2110
(2112 all sites)
Registered: 8/13/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 11:51 AM

Great article indeed. I believe this has been brought up here before.

It's so annoying to me when I have a bunch of discs on shuffle and the newer ones sound 8 times louder than the older ones. It makes it hard to enjoy listening to a bunch of different bands mixed up when you constantly have to adjust the volume on the stereo.

 

Peach Master



Karma:
Posts: 788
(788 all sites)
Registered: 10/3/2005
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 12:16 PM
Great article. This is why I do not listen to much modern popular music. It all sounds like doo-doo. Tool is one of the few acceptions, although despite their popularity, I certainly would not call them "pop" music.

Also, Porucpine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet is the best sounding album I have heard in a long time.

Lovin' my vinyl and CDs and lovin' my McIntosh amp!

 

____________________
CLAPTON IS OVERRATED!

 

Maximum Peach



Karma:
Posts: 8436
(8437 all sites)
Registered: 3/22/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 12:34 PM
As an audiophile, this trend has been obvious - and distressing - for some time. It seems that gone are the days when a "good stereo" was a prerequisite that ranked right up there with a decent car in terms of must-haves.

The funny thing is, these days there are lots of great audio options from a variety of two-channel manufacturers. Never has there been a better "sound quality to cost" ratio of reasonably priced equipment. Somewhat painful; a lot of this is Chinese gear - much of it tube based - that is coming in at great price points. Nothing against China, but I'd rather buy American if I could. As it stands in my two-channel system; I have a Cary amp, a VPI turntable, and a Sutherland phono stage, and Green Mountian speakers - all US made. Only my CD player - a tube-based Raysonic - is from China.

Even more remarkable; there are probably more choices for good turntables today than 20-30 years ago. New bands have found it fashionable to have limited releases on vinyl of their new new material, usually 5,000 to 10,000 runs, which quickly sell out and become highly collectable. Tons of re-mastered vinyl is coming on the scene. More vinyl is being released this year than 25 years ago. Google Elusive Disc, Music Direct, or Acoustic Sounds to find these businesses that specialize in vinyl and analog gear.

If you really want to save a few bucks and build a great system, shop AudiogoN. The used gear listed on this site covers everything you could want. And since almost all audiophiles are obsessive about their equipment, careful shopping will get you 3-4 year old, single-owner gear that is indistinguishable from new - at half to a third of the original price.

The problem for many will be getting optimum performance from a two-channel system. Since most living rooms/family rooms are dedicated to multi-channel movie systems, the right place for a dedicated two-channel system is a problem for many. Some can find satisfaction with a single system that handles both, but the best two-channel really needs to be in it's own space - as set-up goals are different.

But the biggest problem may be simple attention span. It used to be that when you took the time to fire up the turntable, search through the record collection, carefully clean your LP and drop the needle - you often expected to sit back and dedicate some time to listening. Unfortunately, so much music has become sonic wallpaper everywhere you go that the listening experience has become degraded in many people's lives, with no real desire to dedicate time just for it.

But there is hope on the high quality front. A few adventurous businesses are setting up download services specializing in high-resolution files - often 96khz/24bit - far beyond CD quality. Right now there are three that I know of: Music Giants, Linn, and Aix records. Their catalogs are limited right now, but that should change as trends toward downloads for audiophiles bring more interest to their products.

For the REALLY adventurous, how about going back to reel-to-reel with master tape? Yup, there's a small effort by a dedicated group to offer what is considered the ultimate in source material: master tapes. You can find more here: http://www.tapeproject.com/ What could be cooler - at least for us old farts - than having one of these in your system again:



There is hope on the quality front for music, and the very thing credited by the music industry for it's destruction - the computer - will be it's savior. A home server full of high-resolution music files streamed via ethernet to a good DAC will be the answer. Let's just hope the morons that run the music business figure out this is there only option and start to jump on the bandwagon instead of blocking progress.

For those looking for a good DAC/streaming audio option today, here's an audiophile alternative: http://www.modwright.com/products/index.php?product_id=28

 

____________________
If the Ukrainians didn't know, there ain't no quid pro quo

 

Universal Peach



Karma:
Posts: 6009
(6064 all sites)
Registered: 1/19/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 02:06 PM
Fujirich,

Totally agreed with your statement "gone are the days when a "good stereo" was a prerequisite that ranked right up there with a decent car in terms of must-haves.", of course I would have had to added "and a good pot connection". Ahh, memories.

I know a lot of people critize Chinese manufacturers, but truth be told they are making some damn good "tube based" components that you would probalby have to pay twice as much for if you bought it from an American manufacturer (think Conrad-Johnson, for example). I myself have a Jolida tube integrated, which I recently upgraded the caps and resistors on, and I doubt seriously you could get a better sounding (as opposed to just different) American manufactered tube amp for anywhere near the price I paid (and have invested) in my amp.

Also, completely agree about shopping Audiogon, over the last couple of years (with exception of a pair of ICs and speaker stands), I have bought all my audio equipment there. Also, if you go to Audiogon, check out some of their Forums, lot's of good advice there, and people there are pretty friendly and helpful, even if sometimes they can into talking about some serious "Hi-End" components.

Truth be told a dedicated two-channel stereo system is still the best way to listen to music, and a good quality dedicated system that will sound a helluva lot better than the Bose and the other "comsumer quality" stuff that is sold at Circuit City and Best Buys, can be had for about the same amount of money. Of course, you might not get the "Bells and Whsitles", but what you will get, is upgraded audio performance. Of course, Fujirich, I'm "preaching to the choir" ain't I?

Now as the far as the downloading and using a "home server full of high-resolution music files streamed via ethernet to a good DAC" is concerned, I'm going to take a "wait and see" approach for the time being. Certainly some good things being done in that area, but I'm guess I'm a little "old school" to jump on that bandwagon, just yet.

 
E-Mail User

Zen Peach



Karma:
Posts: 29948
(30044 all sites)
Registered: 1/26/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 02:35 PM
The death of good sounding music came with the invention of the CD player. In order to keep the price
down on players the CD standard was compromised to only 16 bits as A/D converters were very expensive
at that time. 16 bits cannot describe complicated wave forms like the human voice, cymbals, violins
with accuracy. And the sound of music suffers.

This compromise made music a commercial commodity rather than an art form.
Pushing units rather than advancing the sound of music recording.

The A&R pressure to pump up the volume and compression to get radio programmers attention has only
made a bad situation worse.

The problem now is we have the technology to have great sounding digital music. 20 and 24 bit formats
CAN more accurately capture complicated waveforms. But we have no standards, just competing formats.
And so music as commerce continues to put out inferior sounding music for the mainstream.

These days I try to purchase music on vinyl, SACD. DVD-audio or some format other than CD. Purchasing CDs only
when no other format is available, and much less frequently than in the past.




 

____________________
People Can you Feel It?

 

Zen Peach



Karma:
Posts: 29948
(30044 all sites)
Registered: 1/26/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 02:39 PM
quote:

Also, Porucpine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet is the best sounding album I have heard in a long time.



Much of the Porcupine Tree catalog has been issued in DTS or DVD audio versions.
both surround and high resolution audio.



they all sound great.


Steve Wilson is also an computer/electrical engineer and understands the problems with the 16 bit CD format.




 

____________________
People Can you Feel It?

 

Peach Pro



Karma:
Posts: 458
(463 all sites)
Registered: 11/22/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 02:49 PM
What I think is great is the tapers/seeders of the taper-friendly bands/scene are going in the opposite direction. I know of a couple tapers who refuse to downsample to 16/44.1 and others that are releasing 24/96 recordings, 5.1's.... so it's apparent that the true audiophiles are always advancing to the highest fidelity available


 

____________________
If you got ears...you gotta listen!

 

Extreme Peach



Karma:
Posts: 1519
(1519 all sites)
Registered: 3/21/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 03:22 PM
nice analogy--instead of the Mona Lisa there’s a 10 megapixel image of it.
 
E-Mail User

Universal Peach



Karma:
Posts: 6009
(6064 all sites)
Registered: 1/19/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 04:45 PM
quote:
The death of good sounding music came with the invention of the CD player. In order to keep the price
down on players the CD standard was compromised to only 16 bits as A/D converters were very expensive
at that time. 16 bits cannot describe complicated wave forms like the human voice, cymbals, violins
with accuracy. And the sound of music suffers.

This compromise made music a commercial commodity rather than an art form.
Pushing units rather than advancing the sound of music recording.

The A&R pressure to pump up the volume and compression to get radio programmers attention has only
made a bad situation worse.

The problem now is we have the technology to have great sounding digital music. 20 and 24 bit formats
CAN more accurately capture complicated waveforms. But we have no standards, just competing formats.
And so music as commerce continues to put out inferior sounding music for the mainstream.

These days I try to purchase music on vinyl, SACD. DVD-audio or some format other than CD. Purchasing CDs only
when no other format is available, and much less frequently than in the past. quote]


John,

I don't know when the last time when the you listen to "GOOD" CD player, it certainly must have been awhile. You might want to check out some CD players along the lines of Jolida, Rega, Raysonic, Music Hall, ect. CD players (especially those built by smaller manufacters that cater to those interested in "higher quality" audio) and their technology have come quite a "long ways". You might be surprised just "how good" some of them do sound nowadays. Hell, I got a little NAD C542 that sounds damn good, especially when playing back HDCD encoded disc (and people would be surprised how many CD were encoded with HDCD). Now why the HDCD was never pushed is beyond me, IMHO it sounds every bit as good as SACD, although it's in a two-channel format.


[Edited on 12/19/2007 by cleaneduphippy]

 
E-Mail User

Extreme Peach



Karma:
Posts: 1656
(1656 all sites)
Registered: 3/30/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 05:29 PM
ok as a recording engineer i think i need to comment on this a little.

First, please don't lump every single part of the engineering process into the ones who are ruining music. Most of the "volume wars" are occurring in mastering. I've observed many engineers like myself (mixing and tracking) who use as little compression as needed. When i track, i use as little compression on vocals and instruments as possible. I always chain a 1176 limiter when tracking vocals but i use the 1176 more as an EQ and level controller to make sure i don't get spikes while recording. A large part of compressors is adding an EQ. For instance, dbx compressors have a certain punch to them that they add, thus they're great for kick drums, basses etc. I find the 1176 has a great "active" sound to it. They make guitars sound like gold, even if you are hardly compressing with them. My point is the compressors are used to compress and EQ; and a lot of the time compressors are necessary to hear nuances in music.

Second, it's very frustrating as a mixing engineer to work on a mix for hours and hours that has a beautiful dynamic range and the freq balance is great only to have it go to mastering and get slammed into a brick wall limiter (i.e. a compressor with no ratio setting) and the EQ tweaked the wrong way. Engineers feel the pain of the volume wars probably more than audiophiles do, trust me.

Mastering is still the black art of music, it is the lone frontier of home recording that has not been taken. A lot of people are beginning to self master their projects without any true knowledge of the mastering process as well, which is effecting the quality as well.

Good news is though, most records today are recorded in 24/96. It's the standard today in studios, it just sucks we have to dither down to 16 bit. The difference between 16 to 24 bit is clear, it's just convincing the public to go to this format. It would be incredibly painless and easy for engineers to maintain the 24/96 standard all the way to home systems, it's just difficult to convince the public otherwise.

Auto-Tune......... well thats another whole long post.

 

____________________


 

Maximum Peach



Karma:
Posts: 8436
(8437 all sites)
Registered: 3/22/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 07:09 PM
cleaneduphippy:

I'm completely with you on the Chinese gear. I think the stuff they are putting out is amazing, both in terms of absolute quality and overall price. Great sounding gear at reasonable prices. Who would have thought a few years ago that the Chinese would be responsible for bringing tubes back into the realm of affordable, mainstream audio equipment?

As to developing a server-based system; I'm in the begining stages of understanding what that will reqire, finally coming to grips with this being the future of "high-end" audio. There's a few manufacturers starting to offer complete solutions to the audiophile community, but for the most part these are very expensive, all-in-one systems. Linn just announced one for about 20 grand. Qsonix and Sooloos are two others. And the king of the hill, audio and video server system has to be Kaleidescape (serious six-figure investment). All these are competing for the ultra high-end customer who wants and can afford a pre-packaged solution with a fancy control system and no headaches. But with a little work and knowledge, you can assemble something very good for far less.

It looks like there are three parts to consider: storage, control, and delivery. I'd mention that having a router and some basic networking infrastructure is also required, but that's pretty common these days.

For storage, there's lots of off-the-shelf that will work. If you're not planning on vast storage, a single computer with a big drive can do both the storage and control tasks if you want. More storage can be added with either USB or ethernet-connected NAS devices (network attached storage). Recently introduce Windows Home Server devices might offer the most flexibility, as a smart device on your network that other devices will see and automatically link to. Since I'll probably end up with 2-3 Tb's of data - even ripped to FLAC - I'm thinking about a dedicated server.

Controlling all this is obviously pretty important. Actually; its might be the most important part, since ease of finding what you want will go a long way to your enjoyment. Those high-end systems mentioned above all have custom interfaces that allow for searching and playback of your library, all with touchscreen ease. Covering the development costs for that software is a big part of why these systems are so expensive. A lot of folks will use iTunes or Windows Media Player and be perfectly happy. I really like the idea of a portable device that is big enough for me to view and select from my library, connected wirelessly to my system, but is not running proprietary (read: expensive) software. I think the answer is a UMPC (ultra mobile PC). These are fairly new in the last 12-18 months, but are a full functioning PC, usually with 7" color touchscreens, running the Windows Tablet OS. Load it up with something like the SlimServer software, and you'd have a touchscreen interface running free, open-archtecture software to access your whole library and control your system from the comfort of your listening chair.

More on UMPC's here: http://umpc.com/

Delivery and decoding of the signal is the last piece, and there are some good alternatives here, but I expect this will become a flood in coming years. The two Slim Devices (Transporter and Squeezebox) are very well regarded. I know there are others out there - like Sonos and Roku - but I haven't explored them much because they don't seem to have the following and community that Slim has.

The Squeezebox is the low-cost alternative at $299. It's built-in DAC is nothing to rave about, but ok for use in a non-audiophile setting. However it does offer a digital out, so it can be paired with an external DAC for much better results. The Transporter is the high-end at $1,999. And as my previous post referenced, a company called ModWright is taking them further for another $2,000 and adding a tube output stage and completely upgrading the DAC and output circuitry. Now we're talking!

Here's a page where you can link to Stereophile reviews of both the Squeezebox and the Transporter: http://www.stereophile.com/mediaservers/

So as more high-resolution audio becomes available to download, I'll be looking more at assemblying a server-based system. Ripping my CD library to FLAC via Exact Audio Copy is the part I'm not looking forward to though.

 

____________________
If the Ukrainians didn't know, there ain't no quid pro quo

 

Universal Peach



Karma:
Posts: 6009
(6064 all sites)
Registered: 1/19/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 07:57 PM
Interesting thoughts from one of posters on Audiogon about this issue. Thanks Bongofury.

quote:
Compression often gets a bad name. Having lived through cassettes and 8 tracks, few remember what an improvement digital reproduction was around the issue of mobile sound. I personally love the notion that I can travel anywhere with my entire music collection in a device that is the size of a cigarette pack. Compression makes this happen and I can live with the tradeoff.

The audiophile community has always been very small compared to the mass market of consumer electronics. The everyday person could care less about sonics; it has always been about convenience of the format. I remember fondly how everyone ditched their vinyl for the living room space enhancements of the CD jewel box--it fits in one rack!!!! I never saw people rallying around vinyl back then. MP3s are just an extention of this movement into the confines of flash memory and a hard drive--no more shelve space needed in the brave new digital world.

The real death of the high fidelity space has been on how record companies allocate funds to new and established artists and it started 30 years ago. Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan got $1 million budgets to record Aja and Tusk in the mid-70s, the last of their kind, and this kind of money was usually spent on quality session time within the studio, or mounds of cocaine. It is no wonder why these classic rock albums sound better than today's music. Record companies were footing the bill on multiple takes. No label today would allow Bruce Springsteen to spend a year recording 100 takes of "Born to Run."

Additionally, there was more stability in the production environment. You had trained studio personnel who knew how to tweak an individual artist's sound around the dynamics of a room. Olympic Studios in London, Goldstar in LA, A & M in LA, Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood, STAX in Memphis all had very distintive sounds on how tracks eventually sounded. Just review the work of a producer like Glynn Johns.

The emergence of MTV in the early 1980's killed off the recording studio environment as we know it, as the video became the primary promotional means to reach the audience. Less time was spent in the studio and more time was spent charting the "multi-media" image of the artist.

It was no longer necessary to spend hours in the studio toiling away. Additionally, the rise of Hip-Hop and sampling allowed the next generation to flourish away from the Guitar God mentality of my generation. Any kid with a Sony Tascam could create music without the pretense to dilligently learn an instrument. Ton Loc's "Wildthing" just needed to steal from Eddie Van Halen's guitar to recreate a wonderful new world. I rarely see anything written here on Audiogon about this fundamental shift in music taste as Urban music became the desposable soundtrack of the life's of Gen X and Y. You just moved on to the next sound. Albums lost their luster and I don't think that music suffered from this. It seems as vital today in motivating a legion of bands and fans.

During this time, the record industry also did a very poor job at maintaining the intellectual inventory of tape libraries. There was a huge consolidation of labels during this period and a corporate discipline was imposed on what was largely a cottage industry of small labels. Sadly, it was not applied in intellectual inventory management. As these mergers took place, there are too many cases of master tapes disappearing in the shuffle, so that later issues were birthed from second and third grade source material. 70% of all revenue in the 1990s came from the reissue market, so there is a lot of product out there that is a pale imitation of the original sessions as they rushed to release product. This is probably the only reason why old vinyl sounds better to the average person's ears--it is closer to the master tapes.

Having been in the pro music space for 25 years, I don't expect to see any trend around high fidelity reversing in the future. Artists make very little, if any, money from their record contracts. Live touring and merchandise sales are their primary bread-earners and I think recorded music is very much an afterthought in their minds. There will be a few exceptions, Radiohead comes to mind, but I don't see the audiophile being served on a move forward basis. We have already walked in the tar pits if we think otherwise.

Bongofury

 
E-Mail User

Maximum Peach



Karma:
Posts: 8436
(8437 all sites)
Registered: 3/22/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/19/2007 at 08:30 PM
"Bongofury" - what a great name! Conjures up images of bad kungfu movies and lot's a fragrant herb... mmmmmmmm

He brings up some good points and obviously knows from whence he speaks. While I agree with his points about new music, there is so little of that which interesting that I'm not so worried.

But if the pinheads that run the record companies and own the masters would take a chance and start to offer 96/24 remastered files of their old stuff for download, they might find enough interest to support a business model there. While small in relative percentages, there are still millions of audiophiles around the world.

More likely, it will be small companies that fill the need. Unfortunately, it will be a while until they can get access to much of the good stuff in the back catalogs.

You'd think the record company morons would wake up, but they still seem to want to piss off their potential customers instead of offering something new. Here's another RIAA story that, if correct, might mean that they want to sue you for even streaming your own music around your own house:

quote:
Do you have copywritten music stored on WHS? Then the RIAA may soon visit you!

December 13, 2007 — Philip Churchill


MyHomeServer.com reports that if you have copywritten digital music files on a shared folder then the RIAA may soon visit you. The article states:

“So, warning to those folks that plan on sharing files and folders via their home server…Beware, the RIAA could be making a visit to your home server soon to look for copywritten material! Always password protect any shares that contain copywritten material!”

Another article posted at PC World by author Travis Hudson also had this to say:

“The RIAA believes that the act of making copyrighted material available via a “shared folder” is enough to constitute the “right of distribution.” In other words, putting copyrighted material in a shared folder is just as bad as actually sharing it with another individual.”

You have been WARNED!




http://mswhs.com/2007/12/13/do-you-have-copywritten-music-stored-on-whs-the n-the-riaa-may-soon-visit-you/

 

____________________
If the Ukrainians didn't know, there ain't no quid pro quo

 

Extreme Peach



Karma:
Posts: 1277
(1277 all sites)
Registered: 12/1/2003
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/20/2007 at 03:20 PM
This is a subject near and dear to me. MOST NEW RECORDINGS SOUND LIKE CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!! BECAUSE WE'RE BEING SHOUTED AT!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

Maximum Peach



Karma:
Posts: 8643
(8641 all sites)
Registered: 12/14/2004
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/20/2007 at 03:25 PM
quote:
"Bongofury" - what a great name!




Recorded live at Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin, Texas in 1975 (and originally released later that same year), Bongo Fury reunites FZ and the inimitable Captain Beefheart.

1. Debra Kadabra
2. Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy
3. Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top
4. Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead
5. 200 Years Old
6. Cucamonga
7. Advance Romance
8. Man With The Woman Head
9. Muffin Man

 

Zen Peach



Karma:
Posts: 29948
(30044 all sites)
Registered: 1/26/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/20/2007 at 03:49 PM
quote:
quote:
The death of good sounding music came with the invention of the CD player. In order to keep the price
down on players the CD standard was compromised to only 16 bits as A/D converters were very expensive
at that time. 16 bits cannot describe complicated wave forms like the human voice, cymbals, violins
with accuracy. And the sound of music suffers.

This compromise made music a commercial commodity rather than an art form.
Pushing units rather than advancing the sound of music recording.

The A&R pressure to pump up the volume and compression to get radio programmers attention has only
made a bad situation worse.

The problem now is we have the technology to have great sounding digital music. 20 and 24 bit formats
CAN more accurately capture complicated waveforms. But we have no standards, just competing formats.
And so music as commerce continues to put out inferior sounding music for the mainstream.

These days I try to purchase music on vinyl, SACD. DVD-audio or some format other than CD. Purchasing CDs only
when no other format is available, and much less frequently than in the past. quote]


John,

I don't know when the last time when the you listen to "GOOD" CD player, it certainly must have been awhile. You might want to check out some CD players along the lines of Jolida, Rega, Raysonic, Music Hall, ect. CD players (especially those built by smaller manufacters that cater to those interested in "higher quality" audio) and their technology have come quite a "long ways". You might be surprised just "how good" some of them do sound nowadays. Hell, I got a little NAD C542 that sounds damn good, especially when playing back HDCD encoded disc (and people would be surprised how many CD were encoded with HDCD). Now why the HDCD was never pushed is beyond me, IMHO it sounds every bit as good as SACD, although it's in a two-channel format.


[Edited on 12/19/2007 by cleaneduphippy]



Doesn't matter how "Good" a cd player is when the source is under resolved at only 16 bits. I have a toshiba player
that does the 20 bit HDCD format and that does sound much better than plain CDs. (though not as good as SACD to these ears)
I have some HDCDs in my CD collection but I would say less than 10 percent have HDCD encoding.

16 bits is not enough information no matter how well that sound is produced. The cleanest signal reproduced
will still be under resolved.






 

____________________
People Can you Feel It?

 

Ultimate Peach



Karma:
Posts: 4749
(3104 all sites)
Registered: 1/8/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/20/2007 at 04:17 PM
High Fidelity was assigned to death with the invention of CD's.......... The WARMTH and DEPTH and THREE DIMENSIONAL aspects of yes ANALOG were assigned to the category of OLD FASHIONED. Now we have DIGITAL which is FLAT and LINEAR and with higher RESPONSE that only certain dogs can hear....... and is CLEAN, isn't that good? But MAYBE some of the DIRT in analog is part of the DEPTH...... hmmmmmmmmmmm...

Gimme an old Marantz a high end turntable and records someone has lovingly cleaned and only touched edges on, and yes a little vinyl glitchiness is OK..........

 

____________________
Rage With Age

 

Maximum Peach



Karma:
Posts: 9072
(9466 all sites)
Registered: 12/1/2001
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/20/2007 at 05:06 PM
The loss of high fidelity vs. the ability to carry around about 4,000 songs in something the size of a deck of cards--and it's only half-full.

I don't listen to the iPod at home--just in the car where it competes with the natural driving noise. I pick and choose from my CD collection to put in my iTunes library. It's been fun to listen to CDs I haven't listened to in a long time again.

I do need to get a decent turntable again, though...

Thanks for the discussion, folks!

 

____________________
"You shouldn't confuse things that are popular with things that are really good"--paraphrasing Bob Dylan.

 

Peach Master



Karma:
Posts: 502
(502 all sites)
Registered: 1/22/2006
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/21/2007 at 09:46 AM
**** ing iPods are killing the music.
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/327319_mp3sound13.html
It's all about making a quick buck sound quality be damned.
You're all DOOMed.

 

____________________


 

Peach Master



Karma:
Posts: 788
(788 all sites)
Registered: 10/3/2005
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/21/2007 at 10:06 AM
quote:
quote:

Also, Porucpine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet is the best sounding album I have heard in a long time.



Much of the Porcupine Tree catalog has been issued in DTS or DVD audio versions.
both surround and high resolution audio.



they all sound great.


Steve Wilson is also an computer/electrical engineer and understands the problems with the 16 bit CD format.






Steven Wilson is an absolute genius. Every album that he has produced (PT, Opeth, etc) sound phenomenal!

 

____________________
CLAPTON IS OVERRATED!

 

Zen Peach



Karma:
Posts: 29948
(30044 all sites)
Registered: 1/26/2002
Status: Offline

  posted on 12/21/2007 at 01:39 PM
quote:
quote:
quote:

Also, Porucpine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet is the best sounding album I have heard in a long time.



Much of the Porcupine Tree catalog has been issued in DTS or DVD audio versions.
both surround and high resolution audio.



they all sound great.


Steve Wilson is also an computer/electrical engineer and understands the problems with the 16 bit CD format.






Steven Wilson is an absolute genius. Every album that he has produced (PT, Opeth, etc) sound phenomenal!


DO you have any of the DTS or DVD audio versions of PT?

I got the last Opeth "The Ghost Reveries" in DVD-audio also. and Vinyl


 

____________________
People Can you Feel It?

 
<<  1    2  >>  


Powered by XForum 1.81.1 by Trollix Software

Privacy | Terms of Service | Report Infringement | Personal Data Management | Contact Us
The ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND name, The ALLMAN BROTHERS name, likenesses, logos, mushroom design and peach truck are all registered trademarks of THE ABB MERCHANDISING CO., INC. whose rights are specifically reserved. Any artwork, visual, or audio representations used on this web site CONTAINING ANY REGISTERED TRADEMARKS are under license from The ABB MERCHANDISING CO., INC. A REVOCABLE, GRATIS LICENSE IS GRANTED TO ALL REGISTERED PEACH CORP MEMBERS FOR The DOWNLOADING OF ONE COPY FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. ANY DISTRIBUTION OR REPRODUCTION OF THE TRADEMARKS CONTAINED HEREIN ARE PROHIBITED AND ARE SPECIFICALLY RESERVED BY THE ABB MERCHANDISING CO.,INC.
site by Hittin' the Web Group with www.experiencewasabi3d.com