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Why Do We Bother?


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#1 JazzDoc

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 02:51 PM

It is quite clear that most, if not all members of this forum invest a significant amount of time and effort into making their digital streaming systems sound good. It is equally evident that very significant sums of money are also invested. To quote the BBC television programme Dragon's Den ... "I won't be investing. I'm out." Perhaps some members of this forum recall the advertising that Linn Products used in the 1970s to encourage potential customers to purchase the Linn Sondek LP12 turntable. The slogan ran "Garbage in, garbage out."

 

We seem to live in an age when the skill of studio engineering and mastering of music has been forgotten. Many contemporary recordings are brickwalled to a point at which they become unlistenable and remove any pleasure that may have been derived from the efforts of artists. A much used strategy for ageing artists to maximise revenue from their back catalogue is the Super Deluxe Edition. The rules of engagement for this strategy appear to be that the artist/s resurrect an album from their back catalogue that has previously sold well, remaster it, remix it, dig around for some outtakes that didn't make the original album and throw in a few postcards and a glossy book. The finished product commands a high price. Some of these remastering and remixing projects appear to have been undertaken by studio staff with two redundant pieces of flesh on the side of their head! It is very often the case that their efforts sound worse than the original CD release and significantly worse than early vinyl pressings. Brian Wilson regarded the studio as a musical instrument. When played skilfully, it sounds wonderful but when played unsympathetically, It can sound dreadful.

 

Well engineered and mastered recordings with good dynamic range are still available, although these often fall into the 'audiophile' category. It is my opinion that far too many of these 'audiophile' recordings feature second rate music performed by second rate artists. It would appear that these recordings fuel the argument that audiophiles use music to listen to their systems, in preference to using their systems to listen to music,

 

I understand why contemporary recordings are engineered and mastered in this way. The music labels want their releases to sound good on vehicle stereo systems, mobile phones and tablets. The current marketing strategies adopted by record labels do little to help those of us who want our music to sound good on the systems in which we have invested. I think it likely that commercial streaming services are the way forward and that physical media will soon be a thing of the past. The same is true for the film industry.

 

It would appear that digital formats are a retrograde step from the halcyon days of analogue. I have to admit that I have never heard a high-end computer audio setup as it is not possible to walk into a local hi-fi dealership and ask for a demonstration. When I listen to some contemporary recordings and reissues, I have to ask why we bother investing time, effort and money into something that seems so essentially flawed.


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#2 Rob

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 05:16 PM

Hello, I agree with a lot of what you are saying, some of my favourite recordings are ones done live at the venue with a mobile studio or analog tape straight to Red book ( 16 bit 44.1 ) with no messing about with the original recording, as all this format changing has an adverse effect on the sound, on the other hand some of the recordings I have are bad and always were and I still enjoy them, we mustn’t forget the essence of the  music.

kind Regards Rob.


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#3 wushuliu

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 01:49 AM

physical media will soon be a thing of the past. The same is true for the film industry.

 

 

This part I disagree with. Keep in mind people have been saying this about movie theaters since the 50s (and the dawn of television). There will always be movie theaters and there will continue to be physical media for it for the fore-seeable future. A large percentage of the world (certainly here in America) does not have access to high bandwidth internet or can not afford it. As 4K players become more affordable it becomes cheaper to buy the physical media than have the bandwidth to stream 4K movies all the time.

 

As for audio, it goes in cycles. The Loudness Wars for instance has faded. Consumers (and their ears) won. There is now less compression in new music than 10 years ago and Spotify has agreed to stop enhancing it. Millenials are now getting into audiophile gear which will in turn fuel more focus on high res (to increase profits).

 

In other words, the digital medium is going through the same cycles and growing pains as analogue. I don't know about anyone else, but I think vinyl/radio sound quality <1950s has poor fidelity. In fact to me a lot of it sounds limited in dynamic range and just as shrill as music from 10 years ago! So it took ~50 to 60 years for analogue to mature. We are only in year ~40 for digital ; P.



#4 BernieK

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 04:51 AM

Excellent points made in the previous posts. Let's also keep in mind that for many folk, the tinkering, tweaking, modifying, upgrading etc to improve the sound of music generated by ones system constitutes an enjoyable part of the hobby aspect of computer audio. As does participation in Forums such as this one.


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Control and Audio-PCs: Asus Mini PC PN60 with Intel Core i5 8250U (1.6 GHz), 250Gb Kingston A2000 NVMe SSD (Control-PC) or 480Gb Kingston A1000 NVMe SSD (Audio-PC) and 8Gb DDR4 2400 MHz RAM (both PCs). Both PCs run Windows Server 2019 (Standard Edtion Desktop) in highly optimised GUI mode with command prompt shell for initial setup after which both PCs run headless (no monitor, keyboard or mouse)
Optimization: Fidelizer Pro 8.6, Process Lasso Server Edition 9.8.7.18, MinorityClean 98, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, and a modified Computer Audio Design Desktop Services Killer script that terminates other Windows Services and Background Processes. All optimization steps described in my Guide for Optimizing WS2019 in a Dual or Single PC JPLAY Femto-Based System (updated 12 Feb 2021): (https://drive.google...iew?usp=sharing)

Renderer: JPLAY FEMTO 7.0D UPnP Renderer (Alternative version), Server: JPLAY 7.0D femtoServer, File Manager: Q-Dir 9.2.1.0, Library Manager: JRiver MC 27.0.15
JPLAY Settings: Playing via: KS; Engine: ULTRAstream; Bitstream: Native; Bitperfect Volume: OFF; DAC Link: 500; XtreamSize: 1000; Throttle: ON; Hibernate Mode: ON
Equipment Configuration: Control Point Phone / Laptop > WiFi > Control-PC > 1m SUPRA Cat 8 Ethernet Cable > Audio-PC > 3m Chord C-USB Cable > Luxman DA-06 > Chord Chamaleon Plus XLR cables > Luxman L-505uxII  > DIY speaker cables (Tycab PVC doubly insulated 11 AWG OFC wire, TechFlex braid, Neotech Banana/Spade connectors) > Bryston PX-1 external crossovers > DIY speaker cables (as before) > Bryston Model T Signature Speakers
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#5 JazzDoc

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Posted 18 December 2020 - 12:51 AM

I heard a CD rip of the new 'McCartney III' album. It is brickwalled out of existence! I note that Paul McCartney has made a soon-to-be-released film with Rick Rubin. Maybe loudness wars is contagious! 


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Acer Windows Server 2019 (x64) Laptop (Intel i5/8GB) (Control PC) / Lenovo Windows Server 2019 (Intel i5/8GB) (Audio PC) / Audiophile Optimizer 3.00 (GUI Mode on both PCs)  / JPlay Femto, JPLAY Femto Streamer /  Process Lasso Server Pro / Fidelizer Pro 8.5 / Singxer SU-1 S/PDIF Converter / Paul Pang Switch, ifi iPower / Uptone Audio USB Regen, ifi iPower / Naim Audio nDAC with DSD Firmware Update / Naim Audio XPS / Linn Sondek LP12, Naim Audio Armageddon, Naim Audio ARO, Linn Troika / Naim Audio CDS2, Naim Audio XPS / Naim Audio NAT02 / Naim Audio NAC52, Naim Audio Supercap, Naim Audio NAP250 / Naim Audio SBLs





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