digital music sucks!

Discussion in 'Computer Information' started by John, Apr 2, 2005.

  1. John

    John Guest

    Hello!

    I have owned a MiniDisc for about 15 months now. I have the Sony
    MZ-N10.

    My sister has an MP3 player with a 40GB HDD.

    I have never owned an audio CD player except one in my car and in my
    computer, though I do have a small number of CDs.

    I have one DVD-Audio disc that I think came with my new SoundCard or
    DVD recorder (one or the other)

    I think the MZ-N10 is brilliant. It is small and the battery lasts a
    long time. Even though it isn't a Hi-MD MiniDisc you can still have a
    few CDs on one disc in LP4 format. The things I don't like about it is
    the main display which is not backlit and too feint. Also it is not
    an easy thing to use. It is difficult to learn all the options and
    things that it does and to edit your music etc. Also the software it
    comes with is crap, and when you put the unit on the docking tray you
    have to play around with it and turn it on and off to try and get it
    to charge. It seems to have a mind of its own and never wants to
    realise that its battery is low and needs charging up. Another thing
    is that the recording level is too quiet and it is difficult to record
    music to it from analogue sources.

    My Sisters MP3 player is also a great device and holds an unbelievable
    amount of music. I believe these devices are serious threats to
    MiniDisc. The thing I like about it is that it is so easy to transfer
    CDs to it. Also it is very easy to use. It has a touch pad on the
    front and it is extremely easy to search for a song and play
    instantaneously. A bad thing about it though is the fact it does not
    have a stop button. It continuously plays when turned on! That's a tad
    annoying. Also it is fairly big and heavy compared to the tiny MZ-N10
    I have. I guess that's down to the weight of the 40GB Hard Drive
    though.

    Okay, I have given you two examples of Digital devices and their pros
    and cons in my opinion. However there is one thing about Digital
    Music I really don't like above all else, and this applies to all
    forms of digital music CDs, MDs, MP3s DVD-As etc etc.

    The music just doesn't sound right! It doesn't sound very good at all!

    I would probably have CDs top of the list followed by MDs, followed by
    MP3s. I only have one DVD-A disc so haven't been able to evaluate
    that format more in depth as yet, but the feeling I have is that it
    will be similar in my opinion to CDs and near the top of the list for
    digital music and why I don't like it.

    CDs sound extremely "tinny". They are too clear and perfect. It is
    just not natural. The music recorded on CDs doesn't sound like it has
    any soul about it. It doesn't matter what kind of music,, anything on
    a CD just sounds lifeless and plain in my view.

    MDs are not quite as bad as CDs but they are still bad. They also
    sound too "tinny" clear, plain and lifeless, especially when they are
    in SP mode. They sound a little better when they are in LP4 mode, but
    not much!

    MP3s are a little improved from CDs and MDs, but they still don't
    sound right musically, especially if they have a higher bitrate.
    256Kbps sounds the worst in my view! 192 and 160 are also bad. 128, 96
    so so, and 64 and lower Kbps it starts to sound better!

    The kind of music I really love and think sounds absolutely perfect,
    is music that is recorded onto an ordinary analogue Cassette tape!
    One of the Dolby B type of cassettes! You can not beat that sound
    IMHO! It is perfect! That is how music is supposed to sound!

    Another format of music that isn't quite as good as the Dolby B
    Cassette tape, but still "almost perfect" is the good old Vinyl
    record! This is also very pleasing to listen to, and sounds a lot
    better than any type of digital music.

    Is there something wrong with me? Isn't digital music supposed to
    sound better than analogue? Why doesn't it sound better to me? Does
    anyone else in the group like the sound of a Dolby B Cassette tape or
    vinyl to CDs, MDs etc?

    I am wondering whether it is possible to have Analogue music recorded
    onto computer? Or if it is possible to record the sound that a Dolby B
    Cassette Tape has onto a device like a MiniDisc or MP3 player, and
    still have that authentic analogue sound? Would transferring it take
    away the sound and change it to digital? It would be perfect if that
    was possible for me, because then I would have the analogue sound I
    like, but I would have better control and editability over it.

    Perhaps I should try recording everything first of all onto Cassette
    Tape and then transfer to MiniDisc? Is there something wrong with me?
    What does everyone else think of digital music compared to analogue?
    Is anyone else disillusioned by the sound?

    John
     
    John, Apr 2, 2005
    #1
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  2. This is a delayed April fool's troll isn't it?
     
    Chris Morriss, Apr 2, 2005
    #2
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  3. I like analog better, but not cassette tape. There's just too much hiss.
    But studio quality analog tape at 30 inches per second sounds pretty darn
    nice if I remember correctly.
    If you record at high enough bit depth and sample rate, analog and digital
    sound a lot closer. There is a certain quality that can never be duplicated
    with digital because it is part of analog distortion. If you look at the
    recording curves for analog audio tape you realize there is a only very
    narrow voltage / current range over which analog tape records linearly.
    People have spent many hours trying to figure out how to make analog tape
    with a greater range. A technique is to adjust the bias voltage to bring
    the recording into this narrow range. As long as you don't go outside of
    this range, distortion should be quite low. But with real program material,
    there is some distortion than can't be easily quantified by specs. However,
    there is a pleasing quality to this distortion that most people like and
    decribe it as "warmth". Theoretically perfect recording means zero
    distortion and unlimited dynamic range. Digital has extremely low
    distortion and very high dynamic range. Very high quality digital is nearly
    perfect i.e. no perceptible distortion at all. Professional people record
    at very high bandwidths such as 196 kHz 24 bit. CD quality is 44.1 kHz 16
    bit. If you have an analog recording you liek and transfer it to a hard
    rive at a high bandwidth, it will sound identical. Many inexpensive sound
    cards will support recording at these high rates, so it would be no problem
    for you to do so assuming you have enough hard drive space. 1 GB holds only
    about 110 minutes of CD quality audio or 1,110 hours of MP3 128 kbs. A GB
    would hold something like 15 minutes of ultra high bandwidth audio. lets
    see, if I were designing a hand held music player, would I design one that
    could play 1,000 hours per GB or 15 minutes? Hmmm... I think the reason why
    CD and MP3's are so popular is evident.

    But, oyu might find that a CD made originally from a cassette soudn good
    too. Try it, but use a good sound card, don't use a sound blaster.

    Most people, including me aren't as fussy as you. But you are right,
    digital sucks.

    Julian
     
    Julian Adamaitis, Apr 2, 2005
    #3
  4. John

    John Guest

    Fraid not matey. I have been a poster in the computer newsgroup for
    quite a while and make infrequent posts in the minidisc one too.

    That is my opinion. Analogue kicks ass as far as music goes.

    John
     
    John, Apr 2, 2005
    #4
  5. John

    Avanti Guest

    MD is very good but I'm afraid it will die off within about 5 yrs, it's a
    shame .
    I have recorded vinyl straight onto MD and it sounds just great, I will try
    it with CD one of the times as my car has a CD player and I am loathed to
    change it :-(
     
    Avanti, Apr 2, 2005
    #5
  6. John

    Richard Loeb Guest

    You are not alone with that opinion Richard
     
    Richard Loeb, Apr 2, 2005
    #6
  7. John

    smmstg542 Guest

    Did you pull this out of a 1980's hi-fi magazine??
     
    smmstg542, Apr 2, 2005
    #7
  8. I've been hearing for years now (at least 5 of them) how MD is dead.

    Seems to be doing kind of good for a format that is dead, New machines
    coming out, improvements, and much more.

    If you want to be slapped into ignore filters all over the place... Just
    keep saying MD is dead or dying
     
    John in Detroit, Apr 3, 2005
    #8
  9. Several years ago, back before the Digital revolution in music, I was
    reading an article on Radio... And the author was commenting on how
    after Radio had been out for a while, and Music broadcasts were common.
    People going to a LIVE performance would complain that the music
    "Sounded tinny" The reason for this is the TONE control on the Radio.
    You see, either the station had rolled off the extreme highs (Limits
    bandwidth) or the listener had turned the tone control more toward bass.

    One of the things I try for when recording live, (Something MD can do
    but I've yet to see a reasonable priced MP3 device that does as well) is
    make the recording as flat as possible, I want the recording to be
    EXACTLY what the microphone heard so that the listener hears the show
    the same as if they were listening live

    I simply can not do that with Vinyl or tape (Analog) but with MD I can
    get close, and with HI-MD, closer still.
     
    John in Detroit, Apr 3, 2005
    #9
  10. John

    CQ Guest

    John in Detroit said...
    Some things take longer to let go than others.
    New machines? What would they be? Improvements? Howzat? "much more"?
    Wowzer, much more and everything?
    MD is dead or dying
    MD is dead or dying
     
    CQ, Apr 3, 2005
    #10
  11. I was working as a studio engineer when digital first came out. I used to
    edit reel to reel tape with a razor blade. Then I edited digital tape on
    reel to reel with a razor blade wearing white cloth gloves. When the first
    Mac computer based digital audio editing systems came out I used those
    instead. I've heard first hand how bad digital sounded at first compared to
    analog in the studios where records are made and how it has GREATLY improved
    with better DAC's and ultra high bandwidth in the 20 years since. Sony made
    the original digital audio recorder. It was called the F-1 and it used beta
    video tape. People joke about how bad they sounded now a days. CD quality
    has vastly improved since then and it is just fine for me these days, but I
    DO KNOW the difference. Its not as good as analog. Listen to a 30 ips
    analog tape master and YOU WILL notice it sounds better than CD quality 16
    bit digital. There is no question of this and anyone who seriously
    understands audio will agree. Double blind listening tests have confirmed
    it. Its only a question of HOW MUCH difference there is, and whether it
    matters or is worth the cost and trouble. For me I hardly care. I am at
    this moment listening to an Early Music concert I recorded last night on MD
    with a $90 mic and transferred it digitally to my computer to get it onto
    CD. I like they way it sounds just fine. I'm no snob, but I know more
    about this than you do, dude.

    Julian
     
    Julian Adamaitis, Apr 3, 2005
    #11
  12. John

    Guest

    Julian Adamaitis wrote on 02-04-05 18:17 :

    [to someone else...]
    so you should be old enough to know better.

    [...]
    that is -solely- because your poor, tired, retarded ol' brain has become
    trained to love the distortion that is introduced by a linear audio
    recording process, and thus -dislike- the clean-up that is a part of
    latter-day recording methods. time and again you 'golden ears' loons
    toss out this wild-ass claim as if it were gospel, but cannot offer one
    shred of reproducible evidence to support it. oh, and save your
    "double-blind" crap for the nOObs -- it isn't worth anything if you
    setup the test *and* participate.

    [...] I'm no snob, but I know more
    yeah, yeah, yeah... next, you'll be telling everyone how green ink
    really -did- make all the early CDs sound so much better.
     
    , Apr 3, 2005
    #12
  13. John

    Bob Cain Guest

    I understand it well enough, having an EE degree and years
    of practical experience, to work in audio digital signal
    processing and microphone development. I will grant that
    the tape sound is different because of alteration caused by
    the tape itself and the process involved in transcribing
    sound to and from it, but "better" is in the ear of the
    beholder. I submit that in double blind testing you would
    not be able to discriminate between tape and a digital
    transcription of what is on the tape using even modestly
    priced A/D and D/A converters that are currently available.

    Tape is an "effect" and one that many people like,
    especially those who grew up on it.


    Bob
    --

    "Things should be described as simply as possible, but no
    simpler."

    A. Einstein
     
    Bob Cain, Apr 3, 2005
    #13
  14. John

    Bob Cain Guest

    In double blind testing done recently no one can detect a
    difference between 48 kHz and any rate above that and only a
    very few can tell the difference between 44.1 and 48 kHz.
    The dynamic range (intrinsic noise) of 16 bit audio is _far_
    better than can be obtained with tape; 30 dB or more better.

    The only effect of quantization to 16 bits is additive white
    noise if mastering is done properly. The old "stair step"
    resolution argument is fatuous.

    That tape artifacts (non-linearity and frequency response
    variance) may sound more pleasant is entirely a personal
    preference and far from universally accepted.


    Bob
    --

    "Things should be described as simply as possible, but no
    simpler."

    A. Einstein
     
    Bob Cain, Apr 3, 2005
    #14
  15. Yes New Machines, Last Christmas you could not buy a Hi-MD, by Easter I
    was using one to record my church choir

    Improvements: Well the ability to record PCM mode is a serious
    improvement in my not so humble opinion.

    Much More: USB transfer of recorded files TO the computer, 1 MEG
    capacity disks (To name but two more things)

    Of course understand that I'm interested in the RECORDER features, I'm
    not all that interested in playing MP3's (I have a dedicated MP3 player
    that I have to check every few months to insure that the battery is not
    leaking.. I don't use it much)

    So, now you know what I consider to be improvements.

    MD is very much alive and growing

    Of course I expect you are going to whine about Sony's treatment of MP3
    files with their MD units.... Just remember I did not buy a MD to play
    MP3s, that is not what it's designed for. I bought my original MD cause
    it was superior to the cassette recorder (A very good one) I was using
    and it's gotten better and better since. With the HI-MD's the
    recordings are, for my purposes, as good as the best DAT gear (Since my
    purpose is to burn to CD and MD's PCM mode is better than CDA by 4 bits)

    So, It is growing, It is improving, it's just not intended to be
    something it's not, and if you want an MP3 player.... Well, buy a RIO
     
    John in Detroit, Apr 3, 2005
    #15
  16. Julian, I've known about a sub culture in the audio world which insists
    that CD's are the invention of the devil and Analog records (you know,
    those black vinyl or whatever firsbees with a grove on each side) are
    the only good medium... My only comment is I'm not one of those.


    However: I do have a CD (Divine Intervention) which is a collection of
    songs performed by one Julia Ecklar (Science fiction and/or Fantasy is
    the category), I also have the cassette tape.

    The original recordings were done at AirCraft studios, (now defunct) and
    when it was decided to re-do it as a CD they searched for the master. NO
    luck, no master could be found... All they found was one CASSETTE copy,
    note, this was a studio cassette, not a production (Retail) copy but a
    "master" as it were. They built the CD from the cassette. Julia did go
    back to the studio (a much nicer studio as it turns out) to re-record
    one or two pieces and to add a couple of tracks as the tape was shorter
    than a cd. If you'd like a copy go to www.filk.com should be able to
    ship you one. There are a couple of passages where you can very clearly
    hear "Stuff" on the cd that shows it was made from cassette (I think my
    nearly 20 year old cassette tape is better) I also have a mini-disc made
    from my commercial cassette (not from the master)

    I think I have some MD's of Julia live too since she sings where I
    record at least once every few years
     
    John in Detroit, Apr 3, 2005
    #16
  17. Bob.. I may be wrong here, But I think you and Julian are in agreement.

    (By the way... That agreement would include me if you are)

    I do agree,,, You like what you are used to and dislike the "New
    fangled" stuff, as a rule... IN my case though what I was used to for
    recording (not playback) was cassette... And even an MZ-R2 blows away
    all but the very best cassette gear
     
    John in Detroit, Apr 3, 2005
    #17
  18. John

    ashex Guest

    Well, from what I've heard, the MD is going strong in Japan and other
    countries. It's more or less replaced the CD player while here in the
    states, the CD is more popular then an MD. most likely because albums
    are released in CD's here and in some countries, they are released in
    MD format too.
    I'm saying all this from past trips to other countries, so I may be
    wrong and the MD still being strong in Japan, mp3 players may be taking
    hold again. but I'm fairly sure it's pretty popular.
     
    ashex, Apr 3, 2005
    #18
  19. I have not subjected myself to double blind testing and I do not know what
    would be my conclusion. I suspect today what you say is true.

    20 or 25 years ago, when my ears were more acute and I was working in
    studios listening to analog masters every day that would not have been the
    case. When we first started recording onto Sony F-1 and then DAT, there was
    most definitely a character to the sound that was somewhat harsh. Every one
    could hear it. Most engineers preferred analog. The cause for this
    difference could be debated for a long time and apparently is still being
    debated. It is my opinion that several things were going on in the early
    days. DAC's weren't designed very well, and filters weren't either. The
    Nyquist theorem depends on a theoretical "brick wall" filter. Converters
    have been greatly improved in the last 20 years. I agree that even modestly
    priced converters sound very good today. However, I keep thinking of the
    filters and your assertion in your other post that some people can tell the
    difference between 44.1 and 48. I am interested in your opinion. Do you
    think that is due to the filters being up in a frequency range which is too
    high to be heard w/ 48?
    Definitely and definitely. Find an LP copy of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue".
    Even a CD copy shows the old vintage tube mics, and analog tape, acoustic
    chamber reverb and mics not being too tightly isolated gives an ambience
    and warmth that you'll never hear in today's digital recordings. The tape
    was a part of this, but there were other factors too.

    Julian
     
    Julian Adamaitis, Apr 3, 2005
    #19
  20. So much for "I'm adding you to my ignore filter", eh.
     
    Eleazar Wittenberg, Apr 4, 2005
    #20
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