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Jim Alfredson

Tonight I compared vinyl, CD, and HD audio

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Hey Vinyl Fetishists -

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Your Momma.

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Lol.

If you want to draw me into this, you'll have to do better than these raggedy old record changers, with their 20 gram corundum needles. And besides, listening to these terrible, distorted and otherwise flawed records is what got most of you old farts, except of course the forum iconoclast aka Scott, into jazz. Not cds...records.

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Isn't that kind of like saying the Model T is what got Americans into driving cars? 

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Truthfully, jazz is what got me into jazz.

For that matter, music is what got me into music, and is what keeps getting me into it. Records, tapes, radios, TVs, backgrounds, foregrounds, live, recorded, real, imagined, past, present, predicted, whatever.. I'll take it (music) any way/all the ways I can get it.

Spindles and RCA 45 adapters, and the holes they go into, do have a definite sexual pimacy though, as does a needle extracting & transmitting vibrations from the depths of a valley. Analog = Kirk, Digital = Picard, hey, it's all good, but do you really want to see Picard without eventually putting Worf in the mix somewhere? That's where I draw my line, no Worf, something's missing. Klingons, once enemies, now allies. Digital, yes, but analog/"analog" in the chain somewhere does not hurt.

Records? They are indeed the Enterprise, but how many Enterprises have their been? Down with the ship, up with people.

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17 hours ago, ArtSalt said:

Now, I am pretty much a convert to FLAC. I've been ripping CD's since Christmas and play through a NAIM system with a Bluesound hardrive and ripper. I am up to, this evening Gerry Mulligan in the M's. Also downloaded a lot of rock music from the 70s to the 2000s and it's reinvigorated by appreciation of this music. It all sounds much better than the original CD's and vinyl.

Great, isn't it? I started ripping my CDs using XLD about three years ago. Only recently finished! I have nearly 64,000 tracks on a MyBook EHD and typically listen to everything on shuffle (FYI Marantz amp, Keff speakers, Arcam DAC). I manage it through JRiver.

Sounds fantastic and has opened up the CD collection I've been amassing for 30 years. I've also been buying more CDs to "feed the beast", like you in genres I enjoyed before I took to jazz. 

One thing, though: PLEASE back up (I'm sure you know this). You need three EHDs for security. I did a minor screw-up recently and was able to retrieve the library info but had to re-rip a number of discs. It wasn't too disastrous but to have to redo *everything* is unthinkable.

Vinyl has a romance to it and I can see the appeal. I bought vinyl in the 1980s when I started buying music and CDs were beyond my pocket. When the price of CDs came down I switched and never looked back. Bottom line: they worked best for me. Now FLAC does.

Edited by crisp
punctuation

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This talk of streamers has piqued my interest. The thought of transferring all those CDs to disk and doing backups leaves me cold though. I see enough of computers in my day job !

I had a unique opportunity last year at one of the UK's best audio specialists to listen to a Naim streamer using FLAC files driving their top of the line Statement amps through some top end speakers. The whole thing must have caused a voltage dip on the national grid ! This was compared with the same set up driven by a fully loaded LP12 Sondeck with dynavector cartridge. Both were absolutely great.

Edited by sidewinder

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Yes, but doesn't the compession of the audio make it nearly unlistenable, crisp?

Haha...

I love that vinyl fetishists can't hear the distortion inherent in the medium, but at the same time claim to hear the dreaded compression of digital audio. Or the difference between 44,100 samples per second and unbroken analog. 

What selectively magic ears they have...

Edited by Scott Dolan

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You seem to have a thing about vinyl fetishism..

Edited by sidewinder

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No, I just recognize it for what it is. As does ArtSalt. Not to mention the knockdown dragouts over the years here where the vinyl defenders noisily claimed how superior vinyl is over CD/digital left me a bit cranky about the subject. 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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10 hours ago, JSngry said:

Truthfully, jazz is what got me into jazz.

For that matter, music is what got me into music, and is what keeps getting me into it. Records, tapes, radios, TVs, backgrounds, foregrounds, live, recorded, real, imagined, past, present, predicted, whatever.. I'll take it (music) any way/all the ways I can get it.

Spindles and RCA 45 adapters, and the holes they go into, do have a definite sexual pimacy though, as does a needle extracting & transmitting vibrations from the depths of a valley. Analog = Kirk, Digital = Picard, hey, it's all good, but do you really want to see Picard without eventually putting Worf in the mix somewhere? That's where I draw my line, no Worf, something's missing. Klingons, once enemies, now allies. Digital, yes, but analog/"analog" in the chain somewhere does not hurt.

Records? They are indeed the Enterprise, but how many Enterprises have their been? Down with the ship, up with people.

Analog is always in the chain. It's the final product that you hear no matter the original source. 

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ultimately, in my opinion, the differences between CD and Vinyl are more difficult to quantify than sampling rates and frequency response. I have lotsa both; in long-term listening, I prefer vinyl, but listen to CDs more because of convenience. It's not just the source but the delivery system, the A to D and the D to A. Vinyl sounds better outside of the lab, with good equipment and naked ears, distortion and surface noise or not, and no headphones. No question.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Actually, it's not hard to quantify at all. Surface noise, higher levels of harmonic distortion, deterioration of sonic quality the closer you get to the end of a side, and limited frequency response. No, that's actually incredibly easy to quantify. The LP sound is romanticized and mythologized, but it is still incredibly flawed compared with lean and clean digital. 

As I've said before, one can prefer LP over CD, but to claim it's sonically superior is laughably incorrect. 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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well, not sonically superior, it's just more enjoyable to listen to.  And no, it's not quantifiable; it's a sense thing, cannot be measured in a lab or within mathematical paramaters. Like the unconscious mind. Seriously.

Edited by AllenLowe

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5 hours ago, sidewinder said:

This talk of streamers has piqued my interest. The thought of transferring all those CDs to disk and doing backups leaves me cold though. I see enough of computers in my day job !

If you work with computers learning how to do it would be pretty easy. As for the work involved, yes it is quite a project. However I did most of my ripping while doing something else: pop a disc in the drive, tidy up the CDDB metadata (or whatever it is) then let 'er rip. An average CD takes about 20 minutes, so I'd get up in the morning, pop in a CD, go off and make breakfast, have a shower, whatever, then come back and start another one. Backing up is even easier: I just drag the file from one EHD to the other and off it goes.

Re compression, Scott: I used to get headachy from listening to MP3s but never FLAC files. Although I understand technology has moved on so even MP3s can sound good now. I now and then play the free ones Amazon gives me and don't get that mysterious pressure between the ears that I once did. Or maybe I'm just going deaf...

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A good friend of mine ripped all his cds(around 2500) to hard drives a few years ago and now has a computer next to his stereo where he plays all his CDs from.  It's really convenient but I can't see myself ever getting time to do this..especially with a wife and two little kids!

The whole vinyl vs. CD debate is so boring..who cares?  Whatever you prefer go for it.

I can't hear a difference between my XRCD of "soul station" and my Music Matters 33rpm version.  Both sound superb on my system.  Could the difference be measured scientifically?  Probably but I could care less...got better things to do!!

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It's been a dream of mine to create a media server with FLAC rips of all my CDs (I probably have 4000 at least... I lost count a long time ago) and use a software that can auto-convert them to mp3 on the fly so I can stream them to my phone on long drives, etc. And of course also stream them uncompressed via my wireless network to any audio system in the house. I'm slowly ripping my CDs but at this rate I'll be done when I'm dead.

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. It's the reason why I've spent several hours over the last few weeks repairing my old Commodore 64 computer and floppy drives, investing a small amount of money into the project and even buying a modern interface so I can transfer files from floppy to my PC and vice versa. The C64 is obviously obsolete technology but loading up those old games and playing with my kids is fun and a nice trip down memory lane. But it is better than an iPad or modern tablet? Or even my iPhone? From any objective criteria it is not. Yet I enjoy it, much to the chagrin of my wife.

I think the same is true of vinyl. It's fun, it's tactile, it's nostalgic. And that's fine. 

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4 hours ago, crisp said:

If you work with computers learning how to do it would be pretty easy. As for the work involved, yes it is quite a project. However I did most of my ripping while doing something else: pop a disc in the drive, tidy up the CDDB metadata (or whatever it is) then let 'er rip. An average CD takes about 20 minutes, so I'd get up in the morning, pop in a CD, go off and make breakfast, have a shower, whatever, then come back and start another one. Backing up is even easier: I just drag the file from one EHD to the other and off it goes.

I guess I will finally succumb at some stage and get hold of a Naim streamer - as CD transports start getting harder to replace. The thought of putting 4000 or so CDs onto disk leaves me cold though..

Edited by sidewinder

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2 hours ago, Jim Alfredson said:

It's been a dream of mine to create a media server with FLAC rips of all my CDs (I probably have 4000 at least... I lost count a long time ago) and use a software that can auto-convert them to mp3 on the fly so I can stream them to my phone on long drives, etc. And of course also stream them uncompressed via my wireless network to any audio system in the house.

Plex Media Server automatically transcodes FLAC/ALAC files to mp3 for streaming to mobile devices, but it doesn't allow you to stream uncompressed. Still, it might be one part of a solution if you had something else to handle the lossless streaming.

Plex's inability to stream FLAC/ALAC without transcoding to a lossy format has been brought up before, but the developers indicated that changing it was a pretty low priority that wasn't likely to see the light of day any time soon. Probably understandable since my impression is that a lot more people (myself included) are using it to manage video files than audio files. 

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5 hours ago, Jim Alfredson said:

...I'll be done when I'm dead.

One can only hope...over the last few years, I've seen too many people who were done before they were dead. Yuck.

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10 hours ago, sidewinder said:

I guess I will finally succumb at some stage and get hold of a Naim streamer - as CD transports start getting harder to replace. The thought of putting 4000 or so CDs onto disk leaves me cold though..

It's hardly one of life's most exciting activities - but not one that you notice much (equivalent to sticking a load in the washing machine). I tend to rip mine as I want to use them on the iPod. New discs (admittedly rare for me as I buy mp3s where possible) go straight on. But I've been working on the existing CDs for years.

As with everything, I think we have our prejudices about format and generally stick with them, occasionally breaking out. I understand the nostalgia for vinyl, CDs etc .... but I do think it's a nostalgia that record companies exploit. I'm forever getting e-mails about multi-disc vinyl re-issues of famous records.

Good example of seeing the world through the prism of our own prejudices here from the editor of fRoots:

"Actually, I’m not that great a seer, I just go on gut feeling and what other people tell me. So it didn’t come as much of a surprise to read that in the past year, the decline in physical CD sales has pretty much halted, even been reversed in ‘specialist’ fields like those within the fRoots remit. And we’ve all heard about the much-hyped vinyl ‘revival’ (and even the retro-hipster micro-mania for cassettes), boosting physical sales even more. Meanwhile, we read that it’s paid downloads that are now plummeting, being killed off by free streaming services.

And why should anybody be surprised – particularly the fRoots postman who is bringing as large a quantity of new CD releases in for review as ever? Compressed digital files do have their place of course, convenient when on the move and particularly as an easy way to sample music before buying whichever physical format floats your boat – always the point of our fRoots compilations. But I don’t think many people ever considered an electronic bundle of zeros and ones lurking in some device’s memory to have much actual value though, and certainly not be a loved possession that you could cherish very much.

Serious music fans, whichever genre, always seem to want something to have and to hold and the human desire to accumulate stuff once they start nesting shows little sign of going away. It might just be that younger people have been forced to delay nesting until a lot later, what with this country’s appalling housing situation, and them being the student loan debt generation. Just a theory…"

http://www.frootsmag.com/content/issue/edsbox/

Well, I value (and, perhaps, cherish!) my bundles of zeros as much as any physical CD! I love Anderson as a champion of off-the-wall music (in the folk/world area mainly) but don't share his need for the tactile at all. Black mark, however, for use of the appalling phrase 'Serious music fans'. 

Edited by A Lark Ascending

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18 hours ago, crisp said:

If you work with computers learning how to do it would be pretty easy. As for the work involved, yes it is quite a project. However I did most of my ripping while doing something else: pop a disc in the drive, tidy up the CDDB metadata (or whatever it is) then let 'er rip. An average CD takes about 20 minutes, so I'd get up in the morning, pop in a CD, go off and make breakfast, have a shower, whatever, then come back and start another one. Backing up is even easier: I just drag the file from one EHD to the other and off it goes.

Re compression, Scott: I used to get headachy from listening to MP3s but never FLAC files. Although I understand technology has moved on so even MP3s can sound good now. I now and then play the free ones Amazon gives me and don't get that mysterious pressure between the ears that I once did. Or maybe I'm just going deaf...

Ah, but make no mistake, FLAC/ALAC are compressed files as well. They aren't a complete .wav, and I've heard folks say, without any sense of how completely full of shit they sounded, that they could hear the difference. Also, as far as "MP3" technology is concerned, once AAC VBR became a standard in the industry I stopped hearing a difference. The older 160kbps MP3's, yes, there is a discernable difference between those and CD, and the 96kbps turds were likely the ones that made your head hurt. But when I put together my new system, I did an honest comparison between 256 VBR AAC and CD because I wanted to make sure I was getting the best playback possible, even if it meant going back to buying CDs. After about 45 minutes of trying to convince myself I could hear a difference, I gave up. I heard no difference, and was just wasting my time. 

 

And to those with thousands CDs to rip, I do the same as Lark spoke of above. Don't worry about, or even attempt, to rip your entire library, it will drive you insane. Just rip something when you want to hear it. I've been doing that for the last decade now. Come to find out, there are CDs in my library that over the course of that time I've simply never had the urge to listen to. 

Also, Jim: iTunes match can do everything you're looking for EXCEPT stream uncompressed files. 

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I'm keeping my cds as just cds, keeping my turntable, transferring LPs to CDR as necessary, and restoring everything by hand. Cds really don't take up that much room and they are best, to my ears, in my cd player to good speakers with a proper eq (and it is shocking how virtually every reissue I listen to needs re-eq'ing; engineers are, in this sense, clueless). But that's the way I like it, it's like living in a living library. I can fit all my cds, transferred to little plastic sleeves, into one moderate sized room.

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6 hours ago, Scott Dolan said:

Ah, but make no mistake, FLAC/ALAC are compressed files as well. They aren't a complete .wav, and I've heard folks say, without any sense of how completely full of shit they sounded, that they could hear the difference.

Compressed, yes. Lossy/irreversible compression? No. FLAC - Free Lossless Audio Codec

 

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