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  • Musician's commentary on the state of playback technology today

    Interesting commentary on the state of music technology and appreciation (or not) today. One paragraph from a link to it that caught my eye:

    So the digital age has given us two "gifts." The technology used for playback sounds terrible and our recorded music no longer has any monetary value.
    Maneca (jazz band)

    dlr
    WinPCD - Windows .NET Passive Crossover Designer

    Dave's Speaker Pages

  • #2
    Originally posted by dlr View Post
    Interesting commentary on the state of music technology and appreciation (or not) today. One paragraph from a link to it that caught my eye:



    Maneca (jazz band)

    dlr
    Thanks for linking that piece.

    Sadly, I think the second part of that comment is largely true, although at least in Oz, LPs are making a comeback and the under-40s in particular like having the physical product - and are prepared to pay for it. As pointed out in the linked article, the forthcoming cessation of iTunes purchasing options doesn't help the artist or purchaser..

    I think it's always been hard for most bands/musicians to make money just from music; live venues here are being forced to close due to resident complaints and many music stores have closed. Some Oz artists now sell direct from their websites and 'crowd fund' to finance their releases.

    On the first point, I think most peoples' playback systems through the years have been pretty miserable - just think AM radio and those tinny 'all in one' music systems of the 60s and 70s. But maybe one day people will discover how much a good system and sources can enhance their experience. I still remember what a revelation it was to go from a $50 tinny 2w per channel thing with ceramic cartridge to a $350 system which had reasonable sound: I could hear bass!

    There was a recent interview with Eddie Kramer, engineer for Hendrix, Led Zeppelin etc who said something to the effect that although he thinks most modern music is rubbish, and people listen to MP3s through horrible cheap ear buds, at least they're listening, and with any luck someone will turn them on to something good.

    Geoff

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    • #3
      Dunno. When I play modern all-digital recordings on CD, I can hear the gnats whispering to each other on the studio wall. It's a different sound than the pleasant blur of vinyl, sure, and the recording techniques are more critical since you can actually hear everything.

      But yeah, making money is tougher than ever. Still, at least you're no longer entirely at the mercy of major labels.
      Last edited by fpitas; 11-12-2019, 10:23 AM.
      Francis

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      • #4
        Yeah, don't think I can totally agree with the first statement. There's some really good CD's around that sound fantastic. Now on the other side, crappy compressed MP3's and such......
        A mains
        The Ventures
        Open Invit8tions
        RSR
        Sound Troopers
        Acorns
        442
        DGBG's
        The Monuments

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        • #5
          The complaints about sound quality miss the mark. No LP even remotely approaches the sound quality of CDs. MP3 and other digital formats don't have the fidelity of CDs, but by the same token 8 Track and cassette tapes didn't have the fidelity of LPs either, so the trade off between portability and sound quality isn't new by any means. As noted the ease of digital transmission and storage is a double edged sword. Major names might bemoan the loss of revenue that it creates, but gone are the days when the only way anyone could get their tunes out to the public was by selling their souls to a record company. Consider that if not for the ease of distribution via the internet we may never have heard of Justin Bieber. OTOH maybe that in and of itself says that this particular genie should have been left in his lamp.
          www.billfitzmaurice.com
          www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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          • #6
            Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
            The complaints about sound quality miss the mark. No LP even remotely approaches the sound quality of CDs. MP3 and other digital formats don't have the fidelity of CDs, but by the same token 8 Track and cassette tapes didn't have the fidelity of LPs either, so the trade off between portability and sound quality isn't new by any means. As noted the ease of digital transmission and storage is a double edged sword. Major names might bemoan the loss of revenue that it creates, but gone are the days when the only way anyone could get their tunes out to the public was by selling their souls to a record company. Consider that if not for the ease of distribution via the internet we may never have heard of Justin Bieber. OTOH maybe that in and of itself says that this particular genie should have been left in his lamp.
            Great CDs are indeed awesome, and high res improves upon that somewhat. FLAC is how I store my CDs, though compressing wave files no longer really is needed since storage tech has come so far, it's harmless just not needed compression. I read the line on playback as "Earbuds and a phone are not a great way to listen", moreso than file format, though naturally MP3 is inferior (less so than the early days, where people space optimized, maximizing loss, and the codecs weren't very good yet).

            What I take issue with is the characterization of LP not being anywhere near CD grade. The best, most believable sound I've heard from a consumer format has been off of wax. Often it's not the case, and CDs obvious advantages in noise performance are not to be ignored, but a well-cared for, properly set up, high quality turntable/record solution doesn't have noise as a meaningful problem. My theory is that the shortfalls of LP are largely not signal-correlated- noise is more readily ignored than distorted peaks/high freqs (sampling errors). I've heard great sound from both formats as well as many others (ranging from high-res to master tape to, in a few instances, some very vital and convincing vocal qualities on a 78). LP is not drastically worse than CD, I don't know that I'd argue it's "better", that's pretty hard to say given how well-recorded CDs perform, and the advantages of low noise, higher dynamic range, and channel separation, but LPs have their own characteristics that for whatever reason agree with our ear/brain mechanism.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by badman View Post

              Great CDs are indeed awesome, and high res improves upon that somewhat. FLAC is how I store my CDs, though compressing wave files no longer really is needed since storage tech has come so far, it's harmless just not needed compression. I read the line on playback as "Earbuds and a phone are not a great way to listen", moreso than file format, though naturally MP3 is inferior (less so than the early days, where people space optimized, maximizing loss, and the codecs weren't very good yet).

              What I take issue with is the characterization of LP not being anywhere near CD grade. The best, most believable sound I've heard from a consumer format has been off of wax. Often it's not the case, and CDs obvious advantages in noise performance are not to be ignored, but a well-cared for, properly set up, high quality turntable/record solution doesn't have noise as a meaningful problem. My theory is that the shortfalls of LP are largely not signal-correlated- noise is more readily ignored than distorted peaks/high freqs (sampling errors). I've heard great sound from both formats as well as many others (ranging from high-res to master tape to, in a few instances, some very vital and convincing vocal qualities on a 78). LP is not drastically worse than CD, I don't know that I'd argue it's "better", that's pretty hard to say given how well-recorded CDs perform, and the advantages of low noise, higher dynamic range, and channel separation, but LPs have their own characteristics that for whatever reason agree with our ear/brain mechanism.
              It's definitely a personal preference. I listened to LPs for many years (I'm 65). I'll take properly mastered CDs over LPs any day.
              Francis

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              • #8
                +1. The limitations placed on the LP system due to its mechanical components, which is basically everything, don't exist with CDs.
                www.billfitzmaurice.com
                www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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                • #9
                  I lament the changes; sure the digital age offers more precision. In the 70's when I was in college, walking the dorm or fraternity house was like touring an audio store. Each room had something else to offer, ESS, Dynaco, EPI. CV. EV, JBL, Bose, Advent, Altec. We mowed yards, worked construction, lifeguarded to raise money to buy a stereo.

                  Fast forward 40 years; my son and 4 friends went upstairs to listen to some music. Great, a bonding experience with friends. He has the choice upstairs of a pair of Acoustat 3 electrostatics with 60" of IB subs in a purpose built room, a room with a pair of JBL L100s or a couple DIY options, another room with Altec 604e in 9ft cabinets. After 10 minutes or so, I didn't hear anything coming from upstairs; maybe he's having a problem navigating a turntable. I go up and find there are 5 kids sitting in a silent room, staring at their phones with earbuds in.

                  There are all kinds of things wrong with this picture, starting with the socialization aspect. Videos may have killed the radio start but earbuds and walkman killed recording, playback and social skills.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by billfitzmaurice View Post
                    +1. The limitations placed on the LP system due to its mechanical components, which is basically everything, don't exist with CDs.
                    I certainly agree with this- but quantization errors don't exist with LP- and quantization is basically everything, for CD. I certainly understand the preference for CD, but claiming as much separation in quality for the two formats is debatable- we can certainly agree that in most implementations, with most records, turntables, etc, CD will tend to be superior when recorded properly.

                    "Recorded Properly" is often an advantage for LP though. For many, many recordings where there exist both CD and LP versions, the CD mastering is awful- additional compression, clipping, and other nightmare digital quality scenarios are rather common. The less-mucked with LP often will have more dynamic range despite the format being "capable" of less. Better sounding treble, despite the noise., etc etc.

                    I enjoy both formats and listen to more digital than LP FWIW, but there are definitely things I get from many recordings on LP that the CD version just doesn't touch.

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                    • #11
                      I did my part, I made a nice HT system for my GF's nephew. He married into a family of musicians, church related I believe. Still a strong venue for live music.

                      As far as CDs, I can hear the musicians breathing and humming along with the music on a jazz CD I own.

                      I tried reliving my vinyl days, but the aggravating physical requirements of cuing up a certain song on an LP burst that bubble. Spoiled by the easy access via a CD player.

                      I own CDs, DVDs, and Blu Rays. I like having the physical product. I still have a bunch of LPs, even though I sold off or dismantled my LP playback system.

                      Before I retired, I remember looking around the silent lunchroom. Everyone except Duane and me was silently staring at their smartphones. Creepy.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by djg View Post
                        I tried reliving my vinyl days, but the aggravating physical requirements of cuing up a certain song on an LP burst that bubble. Spoiled by the easy access via a CD player.
                        Certainly if the convenience is a factor, LP is a non-starter. I rather like the ritual- thumbing through the collection, picking the disc, cueing it up, double checking that it's one of the discs I've properly cleaned. I tend to sit and listen more attentively when I'm going to have to be there to lift the needle, and listen to more full albums as well. It's different to think of inconvenience as a plus, but it is, for me. It doesn't hurt that it's a great collection that I've not heard even half of (I bought other people's collections back in the late 90s early 2000s, usually at 50c a disc). Plenty of garbage and beaters in there, but also, quite some good stuff in clean shape- ranging from Zappa to Bach and back.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by badman View Post
                          .. I rather like the ritual- thumbing through the collection, picking the disc, cueing it up, double checking that it's one of the discs I've properly cleaned. I tend to sit and listen more attentively when I'm going to have to be there to lift the needle, and listen to more full albums as well. It's different to think of inconvenience as a plus...
                          There's truth here. Part of the enjoyment of LP's is in the "ritual." When you have to focus on the physical aspects of playback, I think there's more tenancy to really pay attention and listen to the music. You become more of a participant. If all you do is hit "play", it's easier to get detracted, or treat music more as a secondary/background activity.

                          I think the same goes with collecting LPs. Most of my collection is hard-earned from countless hours thumbing through thrift store garbage. I find a record with a really cool cover, something I've never heard before, bring it home and discover something awesome (I've dragged home lots of duds too.)

                          Sure, you can just do a "search" in any one of the streaming services, but there's no skin in the game, no personal investment.

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                          • #14
                            After reading the linked story, the comments are about how CDs are considered obsolete, and streaming is how music is now heard. When he mentioned speakers, he mentioned 2" drivers trying to output their sound.

                            But chances are your speakers are only 2 inches big and you're listening to an MP3, which is a very compressed or squashed file, that doesn't really represent what we produced, because you don't have a CD player anymore.
                            I would expect that the vast majority of us here would agree with his woes.

                            The writer goes on to lament how little the income from music is these days. The whole story is worth a read.
                            Bill Schneider
                            -+-+-+-+-
                            www.afterness.com/audio

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by williamrschneider View Post
                              After reading the linked story, the comments are about how CDs are considered obsolete, and streaming is how music is now heard. When he mentioned speakers, he mentioned 2" drivers trying to output their sound.



                              I would expect that the vast majority of us here would agree with his woes.

                              The writer goes on to lament how little the income from music is these days. The whole story is worth a read.
                              Hey! My horn drivers only have 2" diaphragms. Big enough for me
                              Francis

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