Why people prefer physical CD, over high-rez digital version of same release

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Turnaround, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. HotelYorba101

    HotelYorba101 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    I am not sure myself, that would be the first I have really heard about such a thing - do you happen to have a timestamp in that interview by any chance? I would be interested to check it out and see the context for his claim there
     
  2. Tullman

    Tullman Senior Member

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Sorry no time stamp. Just look for Bernie somewhere in the middle?
     
  3. Pentior

    Pentior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    So, what exactly has happened with your digital files? I have early MP3s that I made at around ~ 2006 from a classical music CD that I still own. Apart from errors because of bad ripping (three spots in the whole opera) which were present already when I made them, they still work perfectly after copying them to every new PC I've owned - and this is only my oldest example. Music files being corrupted or getting defects would be equivalent to image files on your PC suddenly getting blind spots or color changes.

    Ah, you edited the thing about redundancy later. Because of possible drive-issues, I have my most important music on another one as backup, but this topic has been discussed here before.
     
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  4. Hammer70

    Hammer70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Based on his original premise, an alphabet of FOUR letters still won’t help you find the song he’s humming in his head that he doesn’t know the title too.

    But yes, I know, you “only listen to albums all the way through” - I now know this better than “God Save The Queen” and “O Canada”, the two anthems I’ve lived with my whole life. :laugh:
     
  5. Pentior

    Pentior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Well, he is very convinced about vinyl as a medium - and about mastering YOUR next album on vinyl. The man's got a business. In the relatively short time period it needs to master a file it's even more unlikely that errors will occur.

    Of course, vinyl records are an excellent medium to conserve sound perfectly - as long as you never play them.
     
  6. Hammer70

    Hammer70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    They’re trying to sell really, really expensive UHQR vinyl releases. Don’t need much of a forensic investigator to unearth why he would say that.
     
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  7. John

    John Senior Member

    Location:
    Northeast
    Hi Pentior-

    I will answer your question somewhat briefly, then describe the long and winding journey that three of my friends went on to build the best sounding laptop based hirez file playback system they could. First off, when Im talking about differences between CD and hirez, Im talking about files. Im not talking about SACD or DVD-A because I do not have enough experience with those formats to say.

    When listening to CD and files that were same mastering and mixes as far as we know (am I absolutely sure? I wasnt there at the mastering session so not completely), when the recording would allow, we heard decays were easier to follow with the hirez files. Reverb tails seemed clearer and easier to follow as they got quieter. Also, when the recording had the info, we heard more spaciousness around certain instruments. On a well recorded drum kit for example, we felt that the recorded atmosphere around the kit was easier to hear, decays off drum hits, that sort of thing. We all felt that these things were very subtle at best, and in the end not significant enough for that to be the deciding factor as to which format we decided to go with- read it really didnt matter- more on that later.

    At this point I will spare those who want to skip a long and drawn out account of how I got to these observations, and those who want to cut to the chase, look for the paragraph starting with BOTTOM LINE at the bottom of the post. For those who want to read this and be subjected to a few minutes of their life they will never get back, here we go:

    Don, Jim, and Rich all decided to get into hirez downloads and wanted to pool their knowledge and resources. Rich’s son fixes and custom builds computers, and would help with all the changes. Over the span of about 18 months I checked in on these guys every month or so to see what they had come up with. Great for me, I don’t have to spend any time or money, and if these guys were to come up with something I want to get into, I would just copy what they did.

    I got to hear different laptops, Operating Systems, playback software, computer output cards, digital interconnects, and changes to the computer that made subtle sonic differences I still don’t understand. It was great because it always resulted in a long listening session with some great sound and music.

    When the dust settled and they felt they got the computer playback system to where they wanted it, once again I went over for a listen. We played a few CDs and files of the same titles and 'same mix and mastering'. We all agreed that there were subtle things that we were hearing on the files that were either not there or not as clear on the CD given the recording. At one point I likened the decay on CD as looking thru a camera lens with a soft filter. All of us felt that sometimes the info was there on the CD but harder to hear, other times we felt the file had subtle info cues that the CD didn’t. Others may disagree, but that’s what we heard.

    After completing the careful CD/file A/Bs on the latest playback system, we just listened to music for a few hours. At this point we played whatever random CDs or files were at hand.

    Here is where it got interesting. I noticed that I preferred the sound of the CD being spun in the CD player to any of the files we played since I felt the CD had more life and energy than when playing a file, but it was very subtle. When I pointed this out none of the others heard it. We went back and forth on a particular song (same title/mastering) with me pointing out certain aspects of the music that sounded more engaging, everyone heard it.

    Jim and Don, felt the CD playback was better suited to them for this reason, and Richard wasn’t saying anything. Rich then said, I hear what you are saying but that really isn’t an issue for me. What does bother me is that the files all sound slightly smoother, more refined, if a little more ‘relaxed’ to me, from the laptop which I prefer over the CD. Of course none of us heard this until we went back and forth. Yep, we all heard it. Keep in mind these comparisons were repeated on three different systems over a matter of weeks. 3 completely different CD players, but three laptops that were all built to the same spec. In the end our observations were the same. If there are those want to condemn my observations as having no merit because our approach was not scientific enough, so be it, I wont argue.

    BOTTOM LINE: 4 people compared the sound of CD and hirez, and none of us found any potential added resolution/information-real or imagined- was significant enough to be the deciding factor as to what format we chose. My recommendation is to pick up a few titles both CD and hirez file same mix and mastering to the extent practical and go to an audio store, friend or forum member’s house and compare the two so you don’t have to spend a lot of money deciding what is best for you. After doing your A/B comparisons, stop dissecting the music and listen to the presentation as a whole. How does the character of music strike you? If you are like Jim and Don, CD it is, if your tastes are more like Richards then hirez may appeal to you. Me? I stayed with CD.

    Best of luck in your search!
     
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  8. I have if the file becomes corrupted. Back ups! I’ve also had CDs to bad, vinyl that wears out, etc. everything breaks at some point.
     
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  9. Hammer70

    Hammer70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The irony with the advent of the CD was that we got a lot more filler on newer albums where artists felt the need to fill out at least 70 minutes. There were a lot of albums where I now couldn’t listen all the way through, or they’d have rubbish remixes tacked on. That’s where CD-R’s were a godsend. I could the excise the refuse that artists foisted upon me and create a nice quality album. Or in the case of Oasis, remove some of the album rubbish and replace them with superior b-sides. :D

    Though strangely with my digital library, I’ve ripped all the tracks for the sake of OCD completeness (and maybe repeat listens will cause some tracks to grow on me). I still leave out the useless dance mixes though.
     
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  10. M2225

    M2225 Caesar's Lab

    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    CD’s are like collecting stamps, you can trace:
    - Pressing country/plant/year etc
    - Mastering version
    You get:
    - Collectible value, you can sell the physical disc
    - All kinds of marbles, scarves, guitar picks & stickers that come with some editions
    - The ritual of inserting a physical disc in your CDP
    So not compareable to a Hi-Rez digital master, which provides something completely different
     
  11. Tullman

    Tullman Senior Member

    Location:
    Boston MA
    Ok, I found it...check it out at 22:15.
     
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  12. HotelYorba101

    HotelYorba101 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    Thanks for that! When I have some time later this afternoon I will give the interview a listen and check out Bernie's words on digital files for sure
     
  13. Pentior

    Pentior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Hi John, thanks a lot for your very detailed description and storytelling :)

    Your remarks on reverb tails, decay and air perfectly match my experiences with digitizing. I've done it quite often with vinyls; in one very special case even with the output of a CD-player. Generally I record in 96kHz, since that seems to be my interface's sweetspot.

    Converting it down to 48k introduces tiny artifacts (all sample rate conversion does). These changes match your description perfectly. In my case, it was even more "scientific", since I played both files from the same system.
    I'm still not sure if this is because 96k is just superior. In theory, flawless reverb decay etc should be very possible with 44.1kHz. I also have amazing CDs with absolutely great depth of sound. Might be that manufactureres work in higher rates and need to convert it down for CD.

    24Bit on the other hand is completely unnecessary, except for recording and production.
     
    John likes this.
  14. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    I've honestly never been convinced that filler exists. It gets mentioned quite a bit, but from what i can make out people are writing off certain tracks because the either don't like them, or don't like them as much as other tracks on the album. It's natural to like some tracks moire than others, and often it can take some time to truly get on board with decisions. That's like. Anything other than the natural ebb and flow is is "best of" or "Greatest Hits" type approach, something I don't like. Very few rock/Pop CD"s I buy are 70 minutes in length, particularly today.

    Remixes etc, that's not filler, it's "bonus tracks", and yes, I much prefer them on a wholly separate disc. However, if they're tacked on the end it's easy enough to press the skip or stop button.

    I don't own any Oasis music. If I were to cut out the tracks I don't like, I'd have a blank CDR. :D
     
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  15. If I Can Dream_23

    If I Can Dream_23 Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    Exactly!

    I've long been making the point that CD's or Vinyl are no different than any other collectible where the tangibility itself is a part of the product or a part of the joy in owning the product in the first place.
     
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  16. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex, UK
    Technically, it's possible for files to get damaged. For example, if the File Allocation Table was mangled, and then repaired. This is somewhat alleviated if you're using something like NTFS, but the older FAT file system could be damaged badly. That said, it was rare that such a thing could happen. Possible, but not often.

    Most common is the sudden death of an entire drive. That will happen eventually 100% of the time. Older drives have moving parts that wear out, SSD's die over time. It's just a thing, it'll happen. There are ways to alleviate it, but you likely know all those.

    You know, when you're streaming there's a lot of tech happening, and there's complexity at every juncture. When it works, it feels like magic, when it doesn't, it can be annoying. I don't want to manage tech just to listen to music other than a CD player I replace or repair when it dies, an amp where I do the same, and speakers. I wouldn't say that's why I don't stream though.
     
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  17. Bill Mac

    Bill Mac Forum Resident

    Location:
    So. ME USA
    Very well said! I have no idea how many CDs I own but I'm guessing close to 1000 maybe more. I have over 700 Blu-ray Audio, DVD-A and SACDs in my collection as well. Many of these discs when played trigger different events and times in my life. That's why music is such a focal point in my life. Not only to create new memories but to have reminders of times past.
     
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  18. Pentior

    Pentior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Thank you for the explanation of data failure :) Then, by changing my PC and therefore my drive from time to time, I was probably on the safer side.

    I also enjoy CDs for the reasons stated by you (among others). Having a straight, (mostly) analogue line of devices that are built only for this very purpose has something on its own. That said, if you get into repairing them yourself, there are also many complexities :D
    After my CD-Player started to skip a lot, I readjusted and cleaned the laser system. Now it works, but I got super anxious that it might start again any time. So listening to CDs got an added soft intensity to it, while playing my hard-drive files (never got that excited about streaming) feels now safer ^^
     
  19. Rockhead

    Rockhead Forum Resident

    Location:
    Poland
    Not exactly. It didn't happen right away. First CDs came out in 1982, but the problem with too much unnecessary content appeared in mid to late 90s, not earlier.
     
  20. Hammer70

    Hammer70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    You are correct that I left out the timeline. Vinyl was king into the early 90’s, so artists still worked to that standard. I would say that it was around 1991 or 1992 that I started to notice CD’s hitting 65 minutes plus with a lot of rubbish on them (and these wouldn’t have been double albums on vinyl - the same artists did this on consecutive albums, sometimes three). Unless it was going to be a concept or experimental double album in the classic sense (like Mellon Collie by the Smashing Pumpkins), these were just padded albums to use up newly available space.
     
  21. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Forum Resident

    There's this thing called the "alphabet" . . .
     
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  22. Eric_Generic

    Eric_Generic Enigma

    Location:
    Berkshire
    1991/92 saw not only longer albums by major acts (Dangerous, Erotica, Symbol) but the phenomenon of two new albums released together (Guns N Roses, Springsteen). It was a strange old time.

    EG.
     
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  23. Hammer70

    Hammer70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    These “alphabet” responses would be REALLY funny if only some of you actually bothered to read the original post. The poster said if he was humming a song, how would you ever start to search for that song if you had to go through a 5000 CD digital library.

    If you’re not too lazy to go back and read the responses to that, you can then return with something remotely intelligent.

    Hint: with a digital library, you can search and sample countless songs in minutes. With your fancy “alphabetic” arranging, you can tell me how long the same exercise would take (grab the discs, load, cue, play, rinse, repeat).
     
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  24. Rockhead

    Rockhead Forum Resident

    Location:
    Poland
    Could you provide some examples? I'm not argueing, just being curious. The only "long" albums from the early 90s that come to my mind are both parts of Use Your Illusion by GN'R. Nirvana's Nevermind was 40+minutes, R.E. M.'s Automatic for the People was under 50 minutes, Pearl Jam's Ten 50+ - still well below the 70 min. mark.
     
  25. Hammer70

    Hammer70 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I’m almost willing to give the Use Your Illusion I and II and Lucky Town/Human Touch experiments a pass because at least some thought went into them being released that way (even if it flopped a bit). But other single CD releases (like Madonna’s Erotica (1992)) had about five songs too many (at least).
     
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