Does a high end CD player provide better sound than a lossless rip?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by colby2415, May 10, 2017.

  1. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    If one correctly configures the unique redbook audio sample offset per computer optical drive before making an EAC rip, then you will get identical music data off the disc between different drives - unless there are read errors that are not detected when ripping. It is hard to make an error-containing rip when properly using the tools, as C1/C2 error data can be gathered, and aggressive re-reads performed in "secure" mode until accurate audio data is extracted. The extracted file checksum can be verified using the online database, and additionally, the resulting wav files can be compared by other checksum tools such as md5sum. You will get the same digital audio as was mastered to the disc, regardless of drive, when there are no problems. One does not need to do a listening comparison test to see the data is identical between drives.

    Then the question is whether the CD player would still provide better audio. The standalone audio CD player does not do aggressive re-reads when encountering disc read errors, and instead uses masking techniques that can audibly change the audio when the read errors are significant enough - but without otherwise providing indication of these playback errors - so "live" music played back from a CD transport is not as trustworthy as that which has been digitally extracted.

    The quality of the player's built-in DAC vs external DAC or soundcard is not mentioned above. Certainly the choice of digital-to-analog converter will affect the sound, but we can expect the same audio output whether it is digital from the optical output of the CD deck or the same digital audio from computer-based playback that is sent through the same DAC unit.
     
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  2. libertycaps

    libertycaps Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    2/3hr drive for that? Nah. Time much better spent listing to my basement Man Cave rig in full bloom!
     
  3. The_Windmill

    The_Windmill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Italy
    And why would that be? 30 seconds are more than enough to get a sonic palette, especially if the difference between sample and sample is so noticeable as you claim. If it's there, other golden ears here will pick them.
    Equally, if some reading errors happened and the file is corrupted/damaged in some way, a simple null test will tell it. Now the damage must be in those 30 seconds as well, but if the sound quality is consistently different throughout the file, you bet the numbers are different in those snippets too.

    Exactly. In case of unreadable CDs (even unscratched), setting the highest demanding features in the software, they simply didn't read, even after 5 re-reads, in my experience. But more lightweight settings sometimes worked like a charm, "no error". Yeah, sure :).
     
  4. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    My Magnavox does pre-emphasis better than ripping using SOX or with a foobar plugin :winkgrin:
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I totally agree. I would pass under those circumstances as well. I said local. To me, that's a bit further than local. And this isn't nearly interesting enough to be worth a long drive. Frankly I'm not sure if that poster was serious or not... But on the off chance that there were to be genuine interest, I'd do my best to accommodate it.
     
  6. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Yes 30 seconds should be enough to hear some differences, if I carefully chose the passages. But doing this would completely lack the independent verifiability that the entire files have. And this is not just one file. I have more than a half-dozen examples of the exact same track which sound subtly different with different makes of drive, and yet all report accurate rip status. And this was true for every track on this disk to one degree or another.
    I did some rips in full secure mode, and others in burst mode, depending upon the drive feature of a given drive. Running any drive with a cache through a secure mode rip is a complete waste of time the re-reads take to long.

    And no, I am not going by the "no errors" report which I also know to be unreliable. I'm going by the fact that the Accurate rip says that all of these are accurate. That is supposed to be reliable.
     
  7. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Ok, here are several sample logs from some of my rips from a few different drives. Tracks 1 was chosen for my original torture test due to damage at the beginning of the disk. This is NOT the track that I have been talking about in this thread. Some of these were done in secure mode, others not. But tracks 3 - 9 consistently reported accurate rips across almost all of the drives tested in this sample. These are the tracks where I am claiming to hear subtle sonic differences, despite what appears to be consistent accurate rip results.

    Here is a Toshiba in secure mode:
    Here is one of my plextors in secure mode:
    And here is this same Plextor in Burst mode. Note: I could not discern any difference in the sound between running this drive in burst mode vs. in secure on the good tracks (as one would expect).
    And here is a one of the other plextor drives that I tested in burst mode.
    Here is Sony
    And here is one of the lite-ons which I tested.
    And here is an Asus drive:
    This is only the tip of the iceberg. I tested many more drives than the sample shown here. And the only theme which I can report is that it is not remotely easy to tell-apart any of the various Plextor drive rips from each other, regardless of which Plextor drive was used. So I do not claim that any of the plextors I tested sound different from one another. And this is exactly what all of us would expect, of course.

    But it is easily possible to tell apart the plextor rips from every other manufacturer's accurate rips. And it is possible to tell apart many of these other manufacturer's rips from each other. This result was not expected at all, and it makes zero sense.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  8. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    The "Copy CRC" line of the log files doesn't lie - the audio data is the same. For example, the CRC of all rips of track 2 have a CRC value of C979C89E, except the Sony drive, where the log also indicates "timing error" using burst mode (burst mode doesn't read multiple times to ensure repeatable data).

    Sony also made music recordings with rootkit malware to infect your computer and screw up all CD ripping on it, so they would be the least trustworthy company to give you quality digital audio extraction hardware.

    The track 1 rips may have CRCs that don't agree because you haven't properly configured the starting sample offset for each drive, so a little bit of extra audio of varying lengths is at the beginning of the file, and they are recognized as not identical.

    However, more broadly indicated is errors reading track 1, around the 2 minute mark, which, if the disc has no scratches or dirt near the center, may be intentional errors as a copy protection mechanism, especially if the disc is a remaster from 1999-2005 from PolyGram/Universal Music Group who acquired this label.

    You can check that the files indicated to be identical are indeed identical (better if they are ripped as or extracted to WAV audio to verify, because FLAC may have had differing metadata added): Newer versions of free 7-zip add a "calculate checksum", found either to the right-click menu in Windows Explorer or within the 7Zip File Manager. This option will give you both SHA-256 digest and CRC fingerprints of the file, to see when they contain identical data. If the file is the same, you know it is impossible for it to sound different.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
    shaboo, Robert C, nosliw and 2 others like this.
  9. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo No music, no Life

    Ummmmmm, ya! :shrug:
     
  10. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    How does a generalization like this move this thread forward? You sound like a snob justifying his expensive player. Without adding any specifics your post is just silly.

    Comparing a PC without any moving parts to a spinning disc player, I would give the nod to the PC without the moving parts. Then it boils down to the DAC and the analog output stage. Both a quality CD player and a standalone quality DAC will incorporate high end DACs and use a quality output stage.

    The answer to the OPs question isn't black and white. There isn't one answer. Both can sound amazing. Ripped file playback and quality CD players don't operate in a vacuum. They are part of an entire system that work in tandem. Preferring one method is fine. Crapping on another method to justify your own isn't.
     
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  11. lonelysea

    lonelysea Forum Crustacean

    What you’re saying is true. As snobbish as it sounds, I was only commenting on the wearisome trend around here to reduce every audio argument and comparison to some classist critique of high end equipment, and the “more money than sense” description of those who own it.
     
  12. libertycaps

    libertycaps Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Regardless of _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ , your listening space still plays a larger factor.
    CDs can be resurfaced to new condition up to 3 times.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  13. thxphotog

    thxphotog Camera Nerd

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'll be there in a few weeks. How much rain are you getting?
     
  14. thxphotog

    thxphotog Camera Nerd

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm sure he's real broken up that you won't be able to come to his house and tell him in person stories of how awesome your life is.
     
  15. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC USA
    As with everything in Audio the answer is, it depends. I’m with the camp that says the DAC is the biggest factor.

    Having said that, I have a great sounding CD player that is a belt drive. The manufacturer marketed the belt drive as a sonically positive attribute. I was always sceptical of the claim but it does sound like yummy liquid analog. :-D
     
  16. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Aren't you a sweet thing?
     
  17. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    I have been here 4 days now. The first day, it poured hard in the morning and drizzled most of the rest of the day. Yesterday was gorgeous. Otherwise, mostly overcast the other 2 days. In a few weeks, it should improve. But it's always going to be somewhat rainy here given that parts of the island are literally the wettest in the world. It accounts for how incredibly lush it is (and I'm not talking Happy Hours).

    And now... over to Lars Forearms for SPORTS!
     
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  18. Hymie the Robot

    Hymie the Robot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    That is truly more interesting than this thread!
     
  19. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Location:
    Fonthill, Ontario
  20. shaboo

    shaboo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bonn, Germany
    FLAC has a built-in MD5 checksum, which is based on the original uncompressed audio data only, so differing metadata doesn't matter. You really only need the FLAC MD5 checksums of two ripped tracks to be sure that their audio parts are absolutely bit-identical.

    When playback software is playing a FLAC file, it uncompresses the file, then computes a MD5 checksum for the resulting audio data, then compares this checksum with the checksum that was computed from the original audio data and stored within the FLAC file. If these two checksums aren't identical, you'll get an error. This kind of corruption/error detection is one of the many advantages of FLAC over WAV ...
     
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  21. AnalogJ

    AnalogJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    Salem, MA
    By the way, to answer the original post, while my lossless rips are fascinating and often quite dynamic, I think most would rather listen to any music played on any CD player over listening to my lossless rips.

    :wiggle:
     
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  22. The_Windmill

    The_Windmill Forum Resident

    Location:
    Italy
    Really? Even a one single bit of difference would change the resulting checksum? I can't imagine how that happens but... yay technology!
     
  23. To the OP, yes, but only if the lossless rip is being sent by a Windows or Apple based software program on a phone / PC / handheld device. That is why quality music servers are so freaking expensive. I've heard a high-end server to a top DAC and the quality beat CD to the same DAC but not when an i-phone was used, curiously. I can't explain the technology; I'm no expert but I know what I heard because I remarked to the audio demo guy that it's flipping marvelous that just when we think we can D.I.Y. with computer and a DAC, the audio industry fights back and kicks us in the nuts for doubting it all along!
     
  24. shaboo

    shaboo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bonn, Germany
    Of course the checksum will change, even if only a single bit changes. That's the whole point of checksums.

    This is more about mathematics and computer science than about technology.
     
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  25. Wollemi

    Wollemi Active Member

    Location:
    Yorkshire, UK
    A CD sounds better to me that the same recording as a FLAC from Tidal. The CD player is an Accuphase DP 560 and the tidal stream comes from a Moon MiND 180 which is fed into the Accuphase’s DAC.
    The FLAC sounds ok but the CD sounds much more real, more convincing and ultimately more enjoyable.
     
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