Ok guys here is a pretty decent comparison test. You don't have to be an audiophile to hear the differences between analog mastering and digital remastering. Our exhibit for this test is Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love", a classic track with quite a dynamic range on it.
First we begin with a 128kb mp3
taken from the digitally remastered CDs from the early 90s. These CDs sound pretty damn good.
1. 'Whole Lotta Love' in 128kb mp3
Grab your best headphones or plug in your best stereo to your computer and turn up the volume. Listen to when the drums first kick in at 0:32. Listen closely at 1:20 to all the detail in the quieter passage. Listen to the bongos, listen to the swirling noise of the guitars, and the echoing of Robert Plant's voice. Listen particularly at 3:04 when the band comes back in to full boombast. Take it all in, listen to the track a couple times, its a classic song after all.
Now that you've heard the mp3 a couple times lets move on to my vinyl rip
. This is ripped from an original 1970 pressing of Led Zeppelin II. It was ripped using a Technics 1200 turntable (very famous turntable used primarily by DJs) and run into an all tube pre-amp before running into an external EMU soundcard. Of special note is that this is a 16bit 44kHz .wav file
. The vinyl was actually ripped at 24bit 96kHz, but that file would have been way too big for download (around 185 megs).
2. 'Whole Lotta Love' in 16bit 44kHz vinyl .wav
Please download FLAC
to decode the file, if you don't have it already.
The vinyl is a little louder, so adjust the volume accordingly. People describe analog sound as "warmer" and having more "presence". The song literally sounds bigger. Again, listen very closely to the spots you heard on the mp3. Notice the PUNCH of the drums and the CRUNCH of the guitars, especially at 3:04. Notice how bright and "up front" it sounds. It feels like your closer to the music. Its warmer, its smoother, and most importantly, its anything BUT cold
And now we have the previous 128kb mp3 with its dynamic range compressed. This is what mastering engineers are doing more and more to make everything louder. This is what your iPod's earbuds do to music. This is what Scintilla did to his My Evil Alien
video. This sounds like something you hear on FM radio.
3. 'Whole Lottal Love' in 128kb mp3 with compressed dynamic range
Immediately you will notice THAT EVERYTHING IS LOUDER. NOT ONLY IS EVERYTHING LOUDER BUT EVERYTHING IS THE SAME VOLUME. THERE ARE NO HIGHS AND NO LOWS. WHEN THERE IS NO QUIET, THERE CAN BE NO LOUD. THIS IS WHAT OVER COMPRESSING THE DYNAMIC RANGE DOES TO MUSIC. YOUR BRAIN IS NOT DESIGNED TO HEAR LOUD CONSISTENT VOLUMES OF SOUND. AFTER A CERTAIN POINT OF VOLUME, YOUR BRAIN STARTS HEAVILY FILTERING THE INFORMATION ITS RECEIVING BECAUSE IT IS LITERALLY BEING ATTACKED BY THE SOUND. WHEN YOUR DYNAMIC RANGE IS COMPRESSED TO THIS POINT, THE MUSIC IS LITERALLY YELLING AT YOU CONSTANTLY, MUCH LIKE READING ONLY CAPITAL LETTERS. YOU ARE PROBABLY HAVING TROUBLE READING THIS PARAGRAPH BECAUSE BY NOW YOUR BRAIN HAS STARTED TO FILTER WHAT IT PERCEIVES TO BE AN ATTACK. YOU HAVE PROBABLY SKIPPED OVER THE ENTIRE PARAGRAPH AND ARE ONLY READING THIS LAST SENTENCE.
You will notice that the song sounds like BIG LOUD DOGSHIT. There is no explosion of volume, no punch of the drums, just one big loud mess of crap. This is what compressing your dynamic range does.
Anyway, hope you get something out of this thread, please comment with any questions or what-have-yous.