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Crick
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PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:55 pm 
 

Oblarg wrote:
I can't stand wall-of-sound production.


Different thing entirely.
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Lippyass Major
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:07 am 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
Expedience wrote:
Zeroflux wrote:
And yes, buy yourself a good pair of headphones, along with DAC, and a good amplifier to drive and synergize the headphones. Don't forget to have a good source (sound card, iPod, etc.), and high quality music files (get FLAC if you can, non compressed music). I myself own a pair of Denon D7000, and they sound very good with Metal, but they do reveal ALL the recording and mastering flaws of a bad album (Death Magnetic for example). Metallica's self-titled is a very well recorded and mastered album, try opening that in Audacity and look at the waves.


Oh yeah, and don't forget to buy a porsche while you're at it. Let's be fair, people don't have the money for this stuff. Cheap equipment gives you convenience to listen to music anywhere but sounds like crap. Loudness helps with that, but makes music worse for those with good equipment. What's the answer? I don't know. Maybe treating music as more 'special' and saving up for good equipment, or just listening less on a really good system, would give companies like Sony and Teac less chance to thrive, leading to better quality goods being manufactured. But we should remember that audio reproduction has never been able to achieve the standard of live sound - at what point does it go too far, and music cease to become music because of how shitty it sounds?


$130 will get you a pair of nice headphones that I linked to in this very thread. They are vastly superior to anything you will find at Radio Shack, and to any stereo that costs less than $1000. $130 isn't a lot of money, even in a low-wage job.

Would it really kill you to give enough of a shit about what you listen to to buy a pair of headphones that costs less than some people pay for their phone bill (yes, phone bills can run into triple digits if you have really nice broadband or live in some rural bumblefuck area)?


The only thing that bites at me is I have a sort of budget for metal, because there's other expenses in life (I'm a university student). And you know, 130 bucks out of my metal budget is 10-20 CD's down the drain. I'd rather have more music than a better pair of headphones.

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SwarteHeap
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:09 am 
 

Some examples.

Deathspell Omega - "Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice" album.

I love this album but listening to it on headphones or loudly on speakers is fatiguing and irritating. It's no wonder, look at how it's mastered. (By the way, the later "Fas" album is like this but mastered even LOUDER.)

Image

Annthennath - "Paeans of Apostasy" album.

This sounds excellent at high volume and/or on headphones. I think the non-retarded mastering might be because it's a vinyl rip (I own the vinyl).
Image

I wonder if the DSO album sounds better on vinyl (I haven't heard the vinyl version), or if they simply printed the same digital master as the CD on it.


Last edited by SwarteHeap on Wed May 19, 2010 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:20 am 
 

Just for comparison, I've been working with someone on a remix of the Doom soundtrack with live instruments, and this is one of the metal songs from there without any dynamic range compression at all:

Image

The drums and guitars sound colossal.
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Expedience
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:26 am 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
Expedience wrote:
Zeroflux wrote:
And yes, buy yourself a good pair of headphones, along with DAC, and a good amplifier to drive and synergize the headphones. Don't forget to have a good source (sound card, iPod, etc.), and high quality music files (get FLAC if you can, non compressed music). I myself own a pair of Denon D7000, and they sound very good with Metal, but they do reveal ALL the recording and mastering flaws of a bad album (Death Magnetic for example). Metallica's self-titled is a very well recorded and mastered album, try opening that in Audacity and look at the waves.


Oh yeah, and don't forget to buy a porsche while you're at it. Let's be fair, people don't have the money for this stuff. Cheap equipment gives you convenience to listen to music anywhere but sounds like crap. Loudness helps with that, but makes music worse for those with good equipment. What's the answer? I don't know. Maybe treating music as more 'special' and saving up for good equipment, or just listening less on a really good system, would give companies like Sony and Teac less chance to thrive, leading to better quality goods being manufactured. But we should remember that audio reproduction has never been able to achieve the standard of live sound - at what point does it go too far, and music cease to become music because of how shitty it sounds?


$130 will get you a pair of nice headphones that I linked to in this very thread. They are vastly superior to anything you will find at Radio Shack, and to any stereo that costs less than $1000. $130 isn't a lot of money, even in a low-wage job.

Would it really kill you to give enough of a shit about what you listen to to buy a pair of headphones that costs less than some people pay for their phone bill (yes, phone bills can run into triple digits if you have really nice broadband or live in some rural bumblefuck area)?


You're not going to get far with just a pair of headphones. I suppose I plug it into my ear? As Zeroflux said, you need a source, amp, DAC, speakers/headphones. Most people don't even know how to set all that stuff up let alone putting the money into it.

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:29 am 
 

You could plug those headphones straight into a computer (which is both source and DAC) and get quite decent sound (especially compared to piece of shit in-ears). The amp wouldn't be necessary due to the low impedance (it would be a nice bonus, but it's not necessary). You don't have to have a full-on audophile daisy chain to get vastly better sound than most people are accustomed to.

A pair of mid-high-grade headphones alone is the most cost-effective upgrade to your sound system you can buy, period.
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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:32 am 
 

SwarteHeap wrote:
Some examples.

Deathspell Omega - "Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice" album.

I love this album but listening to it on headphones or loudly on speakers is fatiguing and irritating. It's no wonder, look at how it's mastered.

Image

Annthennath - "Paeans of Apostasy" album.

This sounds excellent at high volume and/or on headphones. I think the non-retarded mastering might be because it's a vinyl rip (I own the vinyl).
Image

I wonder if the DSO album sounds better on vinyl (I haven't heard the vinyl version), or if they simply printed the same digital master as the CD on it.


You think that's bad?

Here are two albums by Agent Steel. Unstoppable Force is my favorite album by the band, and I've always loved the production on it. I've never liked Alienigma, because the production is so cluttered and loud that it hurts my ears. Not surprisingly:

Image

And Alienigma isn't even a "heavier" album, it's just a more gratingly annoying one.

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Crick
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:35 am 
 

SwarteHeap wrote:
Image


BEHOLD, THE SOUND CLAYMORE.
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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:37 am 
 

Oblarg wrote:
Agent Steel - Unstoppable Force


I should probably get an original copy of that, the Metal Mind remaster sounds like shit. Speaking of Metal Mind, their remaster of World Circus really sounded like shit, to the point of being nigh unlistenable, I was surprised at how decent the original sounded. It's no Black Album (it still has that horrible DOOMP drum sound but much sharper and less muddy), but the original at least is relatively clear.

Poor Toxik, absolutely kickass music but they never had good production except for that one Metal Massacre entry.
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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:39 am 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
Oblarg wrote:
Agent Steel


I should probably get an original copy of that, the Metal Mind remaster sounds like shit.


The production on Unstoppable Force is pretty damn good. It's a bit quiet, but speakers have a volume knob for a reason.

As for headphones...

A pair of sennheiser HD-280pros and an ipod will give you pretty good sound. No, really. The only real problem is that the HD-280 pros have somewhat weak bass.

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Zeroflux
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 1:34 am 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
ENKC wrote:
So, would it be fair to say that this 'loudness' people refer to is the lessening of dynamics in music? As in, it's attempting to be ALL LOUD all the time? Or fortissimo, if you prefer.


Yes. It's not just different parts of a song being soft and loud, but the volume even in loud parts varying naturally moment by moment as different instruments sound at different times. The transient volume spikes in earlier (1992 and earlier) metal music provides a great deal of the heaviness; the impact of a powerful drum hit or guitar chord is caused by the volume suddenly getting louder and then softer (as it does with a real live performance). With the loudness war, the music has no room to breathe and it doesn't have the power it would have otherwise had. I find a lot of modern albums sterile, weak, and fatiguing to listen to after a while.

A CD has a maximum volume that cannot be exceeded. The "loudness war" involves flattening the peaks and valleys so everything is smashed against the max. With good ears and good equipment you can hear instruments fade in and out as they "fight" for what little dynamic range is left.


Great description that pretty much sums up the loudness war phenomenon. As for equipment, you are right, an amp is not required to get good sound out of headphones, but it does improve. Though, I don't recommend the Sennheiser HD line for Metal, it's just too slow. It can't quite match the speed and energy of Metal, and I prefer Grado for Metal. Grado RS-1's are amazing for Metal.

There are a lot of guys that remaster loud albums independently, you can find them on YouTube, Google, or BlogSpot. Listen to ghostm4n's remaster of Wintersun's debut, it sounds amazing compared to the original mastering.

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 1:36 am 
 

Well, I personally use Sennheisers because I use headphones for gaming as well as music and the wider soundstage of Sennheisers helps with locating that asshole who's shooting at me.
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AmishFury
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 4:19 am 
 

Zeroflux wrote:
Best way to check the dB amount is using MP3Gain software. Not only does it tell you the loudness, but it will equalize ALL your songs to 89.0 dB (standard), and remove clipping from ALL your tracks. It removed all distortion and clipping from Death Magnetic for me.


all mp3gain does is set a flat gain adjustment the clipping is still in the audio... adjusting the gain of a track doesn't get rid of clipping

for example... Destruktor - Nailed the peaks are clipped... but the maximum peaks are around -9dB

another example though would be Evil Angel - Unholy Fight For Metal with it's death magnetic-esque bar of sound with peaks maxing out closer to -1dB

i could pull up many more examples of albums where the peaks are clipped but the gain was lowered likely by someone who didn't understand that it will not fix clipping

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The_Erlking
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 4:49 am 
 

todesengel89 wrote:
Zeroflux wrote:
Best way to check the dB amount is using MP3Gain software. Not only does it tell you the loudness, but it will equalize ALL your songs to 89.0 dB (standard), and remove clipping from ALL your tracks. It removed all distortion and clipping from Death Magnetic for me.


on the other hand, loudness junkies who try to up the volume using mp3gain will add all the distortion and clipping to the song cos it adds gain, not volume. kinda tried that before and had to re-rip all my cds lol.


I use mp3gain to make songs louder when ever I have to put them on my mp3-player because if they are, say 89.0dB their VERY silent even when I max the volume on my player. Aside from that I don't really like to compress the dynamics of my digital music. Generally I hate the whole loudness fuzz.

Now that someone mentioned Manowar I have to stress again that the best production they ever had was on Into Glory Ride. Unique, "Steel-y" cold sound. Perhaps hard to hard to get into at first but in the end more interesting and satisfying than the sound on their newer albums even though they are not a bad job I guess.. Compared to something like Death Magnetic.

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DeathFog
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 10:49 am 
 

rexxz wrote:
A good dynamic range in a mix is only necessary if the music being written and performed has a lot of dynamics to begin with. For something like extreme metal, this isn't really necessary.


That's theory, and theoretically it sounds correct, but in reality the music becomes synthetic and flat sounding. Extreme compression requires each instrument to be recorded and processed in a certain way, being a sound engineer, you know it better . For example albums with hot mastering never have a powerful kick drum - it lacks the punch. Another problem is the annoying sound of cymbals.

One of my favourite albums sound-wise is Metal Church (1986) - The Dark. It possesses great dynamic characteristics, yet it sounds powerful and a listener with good ears and equipment will not complain about it sounding quiet. I would suggest paying a special attention to the kick drum sound. Another good example is Helstar (1989) - A Distant Thunder. Not so dynamic as The Dark, but audibly louder and thicker sounding. At War (1986) - Ordered To Kill has a slightly dirty yet massive sound and yet it is quite dynamic.

The up-mentioned albums sound powerful even today, so obviously there were technologies back in the day that would allow to retain the dynamic range and make the sound powerful. It seems like squashing the dynamic range is an easier way for the industry.
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Abominatrix
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 11:07 am 
 

todesengel89 wrote:
first album that comes to mind is Metallica's Death Magnetic for me. production was so loud that it was a pain to listen to the album, i had to download the guitar heroes version which was NOT the loud mix to actually have a proper listen.

too much loudness causes gain and static, if you are an audiophile enough, it is totally unbearable, unless of course you are talking about raw black metal and stuff, then its a different story.


It's not a different story. You don't want black metal to sound like that..if anything it should be produced the old way, so that the rawer guitar tones often used don't sound worse than ever by clipping and what have you.
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ForNaught
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 12:17 pm 
 

FierceBlackandWicked wrote:
todesengel89 wrote:
Zeroflux wrote:
Best way to check the dB amount is using MP3Gain software. Not only does it tell you the loudness, but it will equalize ALL your songs to 89.0 dB (standard), and remove clipping from ALL your tracks. It removed all distortion and clipping from Death Magnetic for me.


on the other hand, loudness junkies who try to up the volume using mp3gain will add all the distortion and clipping to the song cos it adds gain, not volume. kinda tried that before and had to re-rip all my cds lol.


:lol: I just did that to a few songs. Oh my God, I love this. I can target all my songs to 105.9 dB. I'll just ditch the earphones and listen to it through over-the-ear ones so I don't have to worry about hearing damage.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I learned a lot.


I'm not clear exactly how the values cited correspond to the actual volume of the music that you hear-- I know that we're talking about gain here rather than an absolute soundwave pressure but I don't really know much about signals and sound, and especially about how music files work. I know that a higher value means a louder file at the same speaker volume, but would I be right in thinking that that's system-independent? Can the values in mp3gain be used to quantitatively control the actual output volume?

I'm concerned though, because if FBaW is actually listening to music at a headphone output nearly 106 dB (A-weighted)-- well, that's hearing damage level. You're at risk of hearing damage if you're exposed to that volume for more than about an hour a day (based on industrial standards-- I know this much because I had to do an Occupational Exposure Limit compliance survey in a chemical plant a couple of years ago). Headphones are better than earbuds but that doesn't mean you can just make it as loud as possible and not be at risk... The fact that you can hear it in the next room with the door closed really isn't a good sign!
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KosherCarnage
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:14 pm 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
Rip them in Apple Lossless or FLAC instead; it sounds better (equal to CD quality since there is no data loss); will also make the contrast between older albums and newer albums more obvious as lossy filetypes damage the bass and treble frequencies in music.


Aren't the ranges that are cut down imperceptible to the human ear?

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:32 pm 
 

Not unless you have severe hearing damage.
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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:39 pm 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
Not unless you have severe hearing damage.


The human ear can't tell the difference between a 256kbps vbr AAC and a FLAC.

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:43 pm 
 

On what equipment? Even my headphones allow me to distinguish between OGG/AAC and FLAC/CD, and with a nice stereo system (such as the one my father has), it's extremely obvious. The bass is muffled, the cymbals make "sizzle" noises, the overall sound is less clear. Considering that CD quality itself is obviously distinguishable from higher-quality media like SACD or really good vinyl, I have a hard time believing that people won't be able to recognize a further step down.
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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:48 pm 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
On what equipment? Even my headphones allow me to distinguish between OGG/AAC and FLAC/CD, and with a nice stereo system (such as the one my father has), it's extremely obvious. The bass is muffled, the cymbals make "sizzle" noises, the overall sound is less clear. Considering that CD quality itself is obviously distinguishable from higher-quality media like SACD or really good vinyl, I have a hard time believing that people won't be able to recognize a further step down.


Oh god, not the "vinyl is superior to CD" crap again. Anyone who knows how audio engineering works knows that's simply not true. CDs are an accurate reproduction of the original sound within the frequency band of human hearing.

Oh yeah, and high-bitrate AAC is rigorously transparent to the human ear, even on high end equipment. Sizzle is audible on low bitrate, sure, but any difference you're hearing between a well-encoded high bitrate AAC and a FLAC is purely psychological.

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Lippyass Major
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:51 pm 
 

ForNaught wrote:
FierceBlackandWicked wrote:
todesengel89 wrote:
Zeroflux wrote:
Best way to check the dB amount is using MP3Gain software. Not only does it tell you the loudness, but it will equalize ALL your songs to 89.0 dB (standard), and remove clipping from ALL your tracks. It removed all distortion and clipping from Death Magnetic for me.


on the other hand, loudness junkies who try to up the volume using mp3gain will add all the distortion and clipping to the song cos it adds gain, not volume. kinda tried that before and had to re-rip all my cds lol.


:lol: I just did that to a few songs. Oh my God, I love this. I can target all my songs to 105.9 dB. I'll just ditch the earphones and listen to it through over-the-ear ones so I don't have to worry about hearing damage.

Thanks everyone for the advice. I learned a lot.


I'm not clear exactly how the values cited correspond to the actual volume of the music that you hear-- I know that we're talking about gain here rather than an absolute soundwave pressure but I don't really know much about signals and sound, and especially about how music files work. I know that a higher value means a louder file at the same speaker volume, but would I be right in thinking that that's system-independent? Can the values in mp3gain be used to quantitatively control the actual output volume?

I'm concerned though, because if FBaW is actually listening to music at a headphone output nearly 106 dB (A-weighted)-- well, that's hearing damage level. You're at risk of hearing damage if you're exposed to that volume for more than about an hour a day (based on industrial standards-- I know this much because I had to do an Occupational Exposure Limit compliance survey in a chemical plant a couple of years ago). Headphones are better than earbuds but that doesn't mean you can just make it as loud as possible and not be at risk... The fact that you can hear it in the next room with the door closed really isn't a good sign!


Yes, I don't understand what the actual level of sound I'm getting is. I'm using a laptop, so I don't think it's incredibly loud even through headphones.

As for the damage, I'm no expert, but I tend to operate under the presumption that I should just use common sense. Those cut-offs they have in the labor force are probably based off averages and don't take into account variances between individuals' ability to endure loud sound based on factors like health and genetics. I'm not getting physical pain or earaches, and using over-the-ear headphones is analogous to wearing a condom, so I think I'll elude any musically-transmitted-diseases. I've been listening to metal regularly for six years and it's been a very long time since I've given myself an earache or temporarily damaged my hearing, so it's like anything; I'm probably well-adjusted now.

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ForNaught
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 3:39 pm 
 

Well, the exposure limits are most likely based on averages, but the volume I'm talking about is FAR in excess of the standard threshold for possible damage, and I don't think the variation in tolerance would be that much-- I'm assuming you're not a superhuman! It's more likely that it's just not that loud. The decibel scale is logarithmic so a small change in the number means a big change in how loud it seems. I have no way of knowing your actual volume though.

Be careful though, man. It doesn't have to hurt to be doing damage, and last I heard, if you feel like you've "gotten adjusted" then you may really have damaged your hearing already to some extent. I'm not telling you how to live your life here; just advocating caution.
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Sanaton
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 4:15 pm 
 

Oblarg wrote:
Woolie_Wool wrote:
On what equipment? Even my headphones allow me to distinguish between OGG/AAC and FLAC/CD, and with a nice stereo system (such as the one my father has), it's extremely obvious. The bass is muffled, the cymbals make "sizzle" noises, the overall sound is less clear. Considering that CD quality itself is obviously distinguishable from higher-quality media like SACD or really good vinyl, I have a hard time believing that people won't be able to recognize a further step down.


Oh god, not the "vinyl is superior to CD" crap again. Anyone who knows how audio engineering works knows that's simply not true. CDs are an accurate reproduction of the original sound within the frequency band of human hearing.

Oh yeah, and high-bitrate AAC is rigorously transparent to the human ear, even on high end equipment. Sizzle is audible on low bitrate, sure, but any difference you're hearing between a well-encoded high bitrate AAC and a FLAC is purely psychological.


There could be some differences in volume level between lossy and lossless audio files, which make them distinguishable from each other. But as for sound quality, you can't even hear any difference between an 128 kbps mp3 file and a CD, let alone a CD and a SACD. I tested different bitrate mp3s and compared them to CD, I started to hear difference in sound quality at 96kbps, and my hearing is absolutely fine. And hearing difference between CDs and SACDs is impossible, as their only real difference is that SACD has higher sample rate. The sample rate of a CD is 44.1kHz, which means that the highest frequency it can reproduce is 44.1kHz/2 = 22.05kHz. Not many sound systems have that kind of frequency response, also not many people are able hear sounds higher than that.

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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 4:19 pm 
 

Sanaton wrote:
Oblarg wrote:
Woolie_Wool wrote:
On what equipment? Even my headphones allow me to distinguish between OGG/AAC and FLAC/CD, and with a nice stereo system (such as the one my father has), it's extremely obvious. The bass is muffled, the cymbals make "sizzle" noises, the overall sound is less clear. Considering that CD quality itself is obviously distinguishable from higher-quality media like SACD or really good vinyl, I have a hard time believing that people won't be able to recognize a further step down.


Oh god, not the "vinyl is superior to CD" crap again. Anyone who knows how audio engineering works knows that's simply not true. CDs are an accurate reproduction of the original sound within the frequency band of human hearing.

Oh yeah, and high-bitrate AAC is rigorously transparent to the human ear, even on high end equipment. Sizzle is audible on low bitrate, sure, but any difference you're hearing between a well-encoded high bitrate AAC and a FLAC is purely psychological.


There could be some differences in volume level between lossy and lossless audio files, which make them distinguishable from each other. But as for sound quality, you can't even hear any difference between an 128 kbps mp3 file and a CD, let alone a CD and a SACD. I tested different bitrate mp3s and compared them to CD, I started to hear difference in sound quality at 96kbps, and my hearing is absolutely fine. And hearing difference between CDs and SACDs is impossible, as their only real difference is that SACD has higher sample rate. The sample rate of a CD is 44.1kHz, which means that the highest frequency it can reproduce is 44.1kHz/2 = 22.05kHz. Not many sound systems have that kind of frequency response, also not many people are able hear sounds higher than that.


128 kbps mp3 for most people isn't quite transparent, though it's not as bad as some people make it out to be. mp3 reaches transparency for most people around 224kbps (it varies from person to person and depends on the sound clip), and AAC reaches transparency for most people around 192kbps.

And yeah, CD is accurate within the frequency band of human hearing, anyone claiming vinyl has superior sound is kidding himself.

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Iggnsthe
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 4:31 pm 
 

The absolute preference of vinyl over CD does seem to be a, mostly, psychological effect, unless you REALLY like those grainy sounds (which aren't really there when the audio is being recorded, so I don't know why some people say that this shows a more accurate recording).

As for myself, I use a pair of Klipsch Image S4 Earbuds, and I haven't had any problems with them whatsoever. To the people who are saying all earbuds are shit, are these an exception or do I just have bad hearing? I've tried some Senheiser over the ear ones and I actually prefer the Klipschs...

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rexxz
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 5:13 pm 
 

Waveforms mean very little, people. Use your ears instead of your eyes.

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Zeroflux
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 7:44 pm 
 

Sanaton wrote:
Oblarg wrote:
Woolie_Wool wrote:
On what equipment? Even my headphones allow me to distinguish between OGG/AAC and FLAC/CD, and with a nice stereo system (such as the one my father has), it's extremely obvious. The bass is muffled, the cymbals make "sizzle" noises, the overall sound is less clear. Considering that CD quality itself is obviously distinguishable from higher-quality media like SACD or really good vinyl, I have a hard time believing that people won't be able to recognize a further step down.


Oh god, not the "vinyl is superior to CD" crap again. Anyone who knows how audio engineering works knows that's simply not true. CDs are an accurate reproduction of the original sound within the frequency band of human hearing.

Oh yeah, and high-bitrate AAC is rigorously transparent to the human ear, even on high end equipment. Sizzle is audible on low bitrate, sure, but any difference you're hearing between a well-encoded high bitrate AAC and a FLAC is purely psychological.


There could be some differences in volume level between lossy and lossless audio files, which make them distinguishable from each other. But as for sound quality, you can't even hear any difference between an 128 kbps mp3 file and a CD, let alone a CD and a SACD. I tested different bitrate mp3s and compared them to CD, I started to hear difference in sound quality at 96kbps, and my hearing is absolutely fine. And hearing difference between CDs and SACDs is impossible, as their only real difference is that SACD has higher sample rate. The sample rate of a CD is 44.1kHz, which means that the highest frequency it can reproduce is 44.1kHz/2 = 22.05kHz. Not many sound systems have that kind of frequency response, also not many people are able hear sounds higher than that.


You obviously don't have good equipment. There is a BIG difference between 128kbps and FLAC. You will hear it if you have good gear, and it's not true that the human ear can't hear the difference, because they can. Now, if you're comparing 320kbps to FLAC, it's lot harder to hear a difference. I can hear a small difference when I'm really listening analytically. I keep FLAC only files on my PC for home listening with my headphones, and 320kbps on my iPod with in-ear monitors.

rexxz wrote:
Waveforms mean very little, people. Use your ears instead of your eyes.

Although I agree that you should use your ears, but I have to disagree with your statement. Waveforms DO mean something, it shows that the music's dynamic range has been compressed, thus losing musical quality. It makes everything louder, adds clipping/distortion, and it overall makes everything worse.

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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:23 pm 
 

Zeroflux wrote:
Sanaton wrote:
Oblarg wrote:
Woolie_Wool wrote:
On what equipment? Even my headphones allow me to distinguish between OGG/AAC and FLAC/CD, and with a nice stereo system (such as the one my father has), it's extremely obvious. The bass is muffled, the cymbals make "sizzle" noises, the overall sound is less clear. Considering that CD quality itself is obviously distinguishable from higher-quality media like SACD or really good vinyl, I have a hard time believing that people won't be able to recognize a further step down.


Oh god, not the "vinyl is superior to CD" crap again. Anyone who knows how audio engineering works knows that's simply not true. CDs are an accurate reproduction of the original sound within the frequency band of human hearing.

Oh yeah, and high-bitrate AAC is rigorously transparent to the human ear, even on high end equipment. Sizzle is audible on low bitrate, sure, but any difference you're hearing between a well-encoded high bitrate AAC and a FLAC is purely psychological.


There could be some differences in volume level between lossy and lossless audio files, which make them distinguishable from each other. But as for sound quality, you can't even hear any difference between an 128 kbps mp3 file and a CD, let alone a CD and a SACD. I tested different bitrate mp3s and compared them to CD, I started to hear difference in sound quality at 96kbps, and my hearing is absolutely fine. And hearing difference between CDs and SACDs is impossible, as their only real difference is that SACD has higher sample rate. The sample rate of a CD is 44.1kHz, which means that the highest frequency it can reproduce is 44.1kHz/2 = 22.05kHz. Not many sound systems have that kind of frequency response, also not many people are able hear sounds higher than that.


You obviously don't have good equipment. There is a BIG difference between 128kbps and FLAC. You will hear it if you have good gear, and it's not true that the human ear can't hear the difference, because they can. Now, if you're comparing 320kbps to FLAC, it's lot harder to hear a difference. I can hear a small difference when I'm really listening analytically. I keep FLAC only files on my PC for home listening with my headphones, and 320kbps on my iPod with in-ear monitors.

rexxz wrote:
Waveforms mean very little, people. Use your ears instead of your eyes.

Although I agree that you should use your ears, but I have to disagree with your statement. Waveforms DO mean something, it shows that the music's dynamic range has been compressed, thus losing musical quality. It makes everything louder, adds clipping/distortion, and it overall makes everything worse.


320kbps mp3 is indistinguishable from FLAC to the human ear, really. Do a double-blind test, you can't tell the difference.

That's not to say FLAC isn't useful - as an archiving format, it's quite good, but it's a waste for playback.

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:28 pm 
 

I can hear a noticeable difference between 320kbps MP3 and CD, at least on my stereo system. With the mp3s, the treble takes on a harsh, glassy sound and the sub-bass (those really deep frequencies that you don't hear so much as feel) is diminished. A really good system playing a good recording will let you distinctly feel individual drum hits, bass notes, and lower guitar chords. Anyone who tells you that you can't hear the difference between a high-bitrate MP3 or AAC and a FLAC or master copy is full of shit.

And anyone who tells you the only difference between SACD and CD is sample rate is also full of shit, as SACD uses an entirely different way to encode music (DSD rather than PCM), and a 25% larger dynamic range.
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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:31 pm 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
I can hear a noticeable difference between 320kbps MP3 and CD, at least on my stereo system. With the mp3s, the treble takes on a harsh, glassy sound and the sub-bass (those really deep frequencies that you don't hear so much as feel) is diminished. A really good system playing a good recording will let you distinctly feel individual drum hits, bass notes, and lower guitar chords. Anyone who tells you that you can't hear the difference between a high-bitrate MP3 or AAC and a FLAC or master copy is full of shit.

And anyone who tells you the only difference between SACD and CD is sample rate is also full of shit, as SACD uses an entirely different way to encode music (DSD rather than PCM), and a 25% larger dynamic range.


You're kidding yourself. Lossy audio codecs have been extensively tested on perfectly fine audio systems. I trust numerous double-blind test results more than I trust you, unfortunately.

Unless you're doing legitimate double-blind testing (which you're not), it's psychological.

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:34 pm 
 

What tests? What were the sample sizes? What recordings? How old were the people tested (older people have drastically impaired treble perception)? Who carried out the tests? Who paid them? I wouldn't trust any test carried out by record companies or creators of audio codecs, or people paid by them, as there is an inherent conflict of interest.

Of course, trying to quantify and scientifically analyze a subjective experience of human senses is fraught with peril anyway.
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Last edited by Woolie_Wool on Wed May 19, 2010 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:39 pm 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
What tests? What were the sample sizes? What recordings? How old were the people tested (older people have drastically impaired treble perception)? Who carried out the tests? Who paid them? I wouldn't trust any test carried out by record companies or creators of audio codecs, or people paid by them, as there is an inherent conflict of interest.


I'd trust them more than I'd trust your word.

Any "difference" heard in anything other than a doubleblind test has no credibility at all. That's how the human brain works.

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:41 pm 
 

WHAT FUCKING TESTS? WHOSE TESTS? Don't just say "double-blind tests" and expect me to believe it; for all I know you could be outright lying and the tests don't exist.

In short, [citation needed].
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BaloroftheEvilEye
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:46 pm 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
I can hear a noticeable difference between 320kbps MP3 and CD, at least on my stereo system. With the mp3s, the treble takes on a harsh, glassy sound and the sub-bass (those really deep frequencies that you don't hear so much as feel) is diminished. A really good system playing a good recording will let you distinctly feel individual drum hits, bass notes, and lower guitar chords. Anyone who tells you that you can't hear the difference between a high-bitrate MP3 or AAC and a FLAC or master copy is full of shit.

And anyone who tells you the only difference between SACD and CD is sample rate is also full of shit, as SACD uses an entirely different way to encode music (DSD rather than PCM), and a 25% larger dynamic range.



Hearing the difference now isn't the reason to encode to FLAC. FLAC uses lossless compression, while MP3 is 'lossy'. What this means is that for each year the MP3 sits on your hard drive, it will lose roughly 12kbps, assuming you have SATA - it's about 15kbps on IDE, but only 7kbps on SCSI, due to rotational velocidensity. You don't want to know how much worse it is on CD-ROM or other optical media.
I started collecting MP3s in about 2001, and if I try to play any of the tracks I downloaded back then, even the stuff I grabbed at 320kbps, they just sound like crap. The bass is terrible, the midrange...well don't get me started. Some of those albums have degraded down to 32 or even 16kbps. FLAC rips from the same period still sound great, even if they weren't stored correctly, in a cool, dry place. Seriously, stick to FLAC, you may not be able to hear the difference now, but in a year or two, you'll be glad you did.

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 8:52 pm 
 

Huh? Digital media doesn't degrade over time like that; it works or it doesn't work. If it did half the files on my hard drive would be corrupt by now. Digital data that is damaged becomes completely corrupt (if the device it's stored on survives).
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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 9:07 pm 
 

Quote:
Hearing the difference now isn't the reason to encode to FLAC. FLAC uses lossless compression, while MP3 is 'lossy'. What this means is that for each year the MP3 sits on your hard drive, it will lose roughly 12kbps, assuming you have SATA - it's about 15kbps on IDE, but only 7kbps on SCSI, due to rotational velocidensity. You don't want to know how much worse it is on CD-ROM or other optical media.
I started collecting MP3s in about 2001, and if I try to play any of the tracks I downloaded back then, even the stuff I grabbed at 320kbps, they just sound like crap. The bass is terrible, the midrange...well don't get me started. Some of those albums have degraded down to 32 or even 16kbps. FLAC rips from the same period still sound great, even if they weren't stored correctly, in a cool, dry place. Seriously, stick to FLAC, you may not be able to hear the difference now, but in a year or two, you'll be glad you did.


And I thought this shit was confined to 4chan's /mu/.

Disregard this nonsense.

Oh yeah, and...

Quote:
rotational velocidensity


har har har.

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Oblarg
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 9:23 pm 
 

Woolie_Wool wrote:
What tests? What were the sample sizes? What recordings? How old were the people tested (older people have drastically impaired treble perception)? Who carried out the tests? Who paid them? I wouldn't trust any test carried out by record companies or creators of audio codecs, or people paid by them, as there is an inherent conflict of interest.

Of course, trying to quantify and scientifically analyze a subjective experience of human senses is fraught with peril anyway.


If you're so *very* confident, do an ABX test and report back with your results.

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=ABX

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Woolie_Wool
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 9:34 pm 
 

Again, [citation needed]. You haven't cited any of the actual studies, who funded and carried them out (if they have ties to or assistance from an entity with a stake in a certain audio format, there is a conflict of interest), what people were tested, how many were tested. You're just saying "double blind tests!" and not citing any of the tests.
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