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I'm thinking of a new shootout... Thoughts?


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The speaker shootout last month (detailed in THIS thread) was so much fun, AND so informative, that I'm thinking of doing another one, only this time comparing digital formats (CD, FLAC, MP3, SACD and DVD-A).  I have three (3) titles where I poses CD, SACD and DVD-A (and of course FLAC, from the CD) - Fleetwood Mac Rumors, The Who Tommy, and Donald Fagen Nightfly.  I would also compare a few CDs to their respective SACD and DVD-A.

 

The reason I am wanting to do this, is that I have seen it stated multiple times, on various forums, that there is no audible difference between SACD/DVD-A and Redbook CD.  This is not my experience generally, but I have never done an exhaustive A/B comparison.  If I do end up doing it, it would be methodical, much like the aforementioned speaker shootout - I may even enlist the help of my son, in order to do a blind comparison.

 

Any thoughts from the group? 

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57 minutes ago, Daddyjt said:

The speaker shootout last month (detailed in THIS thread) was so much fun, AND so informative, that I'm thinking of doing another one, only this time comparing digital formats (CD, FLAC, MP3, SACD and DVD-A).  I have three (3) titles where I poses CD, SACD and DVD-A (and of course FLAC, from the CD) - Fleetwood Mac Rumors, The Who Tommy, and Donald Fagen Nightfly.  I would also compare a few CDs to their respective SACD and DVD-A.

 

The reason I am wanting to do this, is that I have seen it stated multiple times, on various forums, that there is no audible difference between SACD/DVD-A and Redbook CD.  This is not my experience generally, but I have never done an exhaustive A/B comparison.  If I do end up doing it, it would be methodical, much like the aforementioned speaker shootout - I may even enlist the help of my son, in order to do a blind comparison.

 

Any thoughts from the group? 

Mark,

 

This sounds like another great endeavor to take on.  I listen exclusively to tracks streamed over my home network from the QNAP and Synology NAS units here in the house.  I listen to mainly Flac files I've downloaded from HDTracks in mainly 24Bit-88kHz, 24Bit-96kHz and 24Bit-192kHz resolutions and find them to sound quite nice.

I wouldn't say they sound night and day better than the Redbook CD versions, I've ripped into Flac from my collection of CD's, but they are, typically, noticeably better sounding to me.  But that's not always the case for some reason.  Some sound like they are not as loud as the Redbook versions off my CD's and sound slightly weak.

 

I also have some tracks I've setup in Wav format, since my BMW could only play Wav files from it's hard drive, and I kept them on one of the NAS's as backup and do listen to them occasionally.  I don't believe there is any difference between the Flac and Wav sound quality in any of the tracks that I've ripped from the same CD's though.  At least I can't hear any difference.

 

I look forward to your findings.

 

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2 hours ago, Daddyjt said:

The speaker shootout last month (detailed in THIS thread) was so much fun, AND so informative, that I'm thinking of doing another one, only this time comparing digital formats (CD, FLAC, MP3, SACD and DVD-A).  I have three (3) titles where I poses CD, SACD and DVD-A (and of course FLAC, from the CD) - Fleetwood Mac Rumors, The Who Tommy, and Donald Fagen Nightfly.  I would also compare a few CDs to their respective SACD and DVD-A.

 

The reason I am wanting to do this, is that I have seen it stated multiple times, on various forums, that there is no audible difference between SACD/DVD-A and Redbook CD.  This is not my experience generally, but I have never done an exhaustive A/B comparison.  If I do end up doing it, it would be methodical, much like the aforementioned speaker shootout - I may even enlist the help of my son, in order to do a blind comparison.

 

Any thoughts from the group? 

 

One thing to wAtch out for is re-mastering of the original to the individual formats; it's impossible to discern whether a noted difference is due to the playbqack technology or the re-mastering of the original (you've experienced a bit of this already, when you noted differences in playback level).

 

Conversely, if the original is only available at bitrate X, then even higher bitrate playback will be limited to the original bitrate.

 

Those two things make it impossible for a consumer to make an accurate appraisal of each format.

 

The MOST accurate comparison I've seen is that one done by the AES, and they had appropriate material to work with.

 

Good luck!

Edited by RichP714
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49 minutes ago, RichP714 said:

 

One thing to wAtch out for is re-mastering of the original to the individual formats; it's impossible to discern whether a noted difference is due to the playbqack technology or the re-mastering of the original (you've experienced a bit of this already, when you noted differences in playback level).

 

Conversely, if the original is only available at bitrate X, then even higher bitrate playback will be limited to the original bitrate.

 

Those two things make it impossible for a consumer to accurately make an accurate appraisal of each format.

 

The MOST accurate comparison I've seen is that one done by the RIAA, and they had appropriate material to work with.

 

Good luck!

I agree Rich - and that’s the first (and biggest) hurdle that came to mind, but I didn’t want to tip my hand right off. 
 

I'm curious know if there is a way to tell if the same master is used for say SACD and Redbook...?  After all, I’m interested in more than just a surgical “this particular SACD sounds better than the CD” - I’d like to make a broader-based determination...

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1 hour ago, Turbo said:

Mark,

 

This sounds like another great endeavor to take on.  I listen exclusively to tracks streamed over my home network from the QNAP and Synology NAS units here in the house.  I listen to mainly Flac files I've downloaded from HDTracks in mainly 24Bit-88kHz, 24Bit-96kHz and 24Bit-192kHz resolutions and find them to sound quite nice.

I wouldn't say they sound night and day better than the Redbook CD versions, I've ripped into Flac from my collection of CD's, but they are, typically, noticeably better sounding to me.  But that's not always the case for some reason.  Some sound like they are not as loud as the Redbook versions off my CD's and sound slightly weak.

 

I also have some tracks I've setup in Wav format, since my BMW could only play Wav files from it's hard drive, and I kept them on one of the NAS's as backup and do listen to them occasionally.  I don't believe there is any difference between the Flac and Wav sound quality in any of the tracks that I've ripped from the same CD's though.  At least I can't hear any difference.

 

I look forward to your findings.

 


that reminds me - I have the HD Tracks 92/24 download of Tool’s Fear Inoculum, and I have the CD.... 

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52 minutes ago, Daddyjt said:

.....curious know if there is a way to tell if the same master is used for say SACD and Redbook...?  After all, I’m interested in more than just a surgical “this particular SACD sounds better than the CD” - I’d like to make a broader-based determination...

 

I don't know how to tell for certain;  too bad digital files don't seem to have a header for information; that could replace liner notes and album art, and give info re mastering.

 

ALl I know is that some of the early hi def files were mastered from Redbook CD, and even though there was NO additional content beyond the brick wall filter, many people STILL heard an improvement.  Thaqt reminds me off the double blind evaluation of speaker wire that also had a sample using coat hangars for wire, and the coat hangers were preferred by many listeners

Edited by RichP714
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58 minutes ago, Daddyjt said:


that reminds me - I have the HD Tracks 92/24 download of Tool’s Fear Inoculum, and I have the CD.... 

 

That would be great, IF the tracks are level matched within 1/4 dB and from the same master (and the master is 92/24)

 

btw, most of the evaluations I've read about that could repeatedly discern a difference came down to artifacts belying the source type; i.e., the type of dithering used can have artifacts that can be taught how to listen for, and  observers could identify a medium by its artifact signature just a bit more accurately than would happen by random chance.  In my opinion, that's not an objective evaluation of sound quality, it's rather a learned response to different artifacts 

Edited by RichP714
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Love the idea of it, Mark!  Don't get too overwhelmed by not having all "the perfect" sources. 

 

This likely won't matter for the Redbook CDs, and had better not for the SACD, but the mix put on many of the standard CD, has been abusively over saturated to where it's no wonder why vinyl sounds better- the CD version is clipped worse than a 20 watt receiver trying to outdo a MkII Carver power-amp.  One of these CD's might be interesting to add to the mix, but could also be a bit disheartening, so beware.

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56 minutes ago, Brian_at_HHH said:

.....This likely won't matter for the Redbook CDs, and had better not for the SACD, but the mix put on many of the standard CD, has been abusively over saturated to where it's no wonder why vinyl sounds better- the CD version is clipped worse than a 20 watt receiver trying to outdo a MkII Carver power-amp.

 

This is confusing to me because the data structure for standard CD audio compact discs IS redbook.....

 

as for SACD, much has to do with the master tapes; if they were digital (remember when most mixing boards switched to ADC from analog, back in the late 80's or so), then they have that redbook brick wall filter eliminating any content over 44.1kHz; re-mastering and re-pressing that content onto SACD will NOT restore any content above 44.1kHz; it's just not on the master anymore.

Edited by RichP714
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  • 4 months later...

I actually DID do this back in October, but it was such a painful, fruitless endeavor that I never wrote it up.... Shit, now I kinda have to, don’t I?

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18 minutes ago, Daddyjt said:

I actually DID do this back in October, but it was such a painful, fruitless endeavor that I never wrote it up.... Shit, now I kinda have to, don’t I?

 

You DID just step in it!  :)

 

Just don't lose sleep over it not being absolute perfection.  It will be very useful information to most of us, and that is very welcome.  If anyone wants to take you to task over it, might I suggest they be invited to take a nice long walk down the middle of a busy highway wearing a "Hit Me" sign.

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Perhaps someday, way in the future, double blind tests will include an electrical shock for when the listener gets it 'wrong'. In time we could learn through the marvel of electricity the difference between coat hangers and snake oil. Bit rates, foreign tariffs and more. This could widen out into what makes up the most beautiful women. Be careful, voltage is set at 132.

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Sorry old friend.  The idea of using a streaming service, (sold all of my vinyl two or three years ago) and not buying cds anymore is tempting; except for something like that Dire Straits cd you like.  Sometimes (read all the time) I start seeing sampling rates and all that stuff I get a headache worthy of a bad hangover.

Edited by MLB111
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