Vinyl vs Mp3 (Sound Auditioning)

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Vinyl vs Mp3 (Sound Auditioning)

Postby Beowulf » Mon Oct 08, 2007 12:48 am

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.
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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.
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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.

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Anyway, hope you get something out of this thread, please comment with any questions or what-have-yous.

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Postby Orwell » Mon Oct 08, 2007 2:08 am

I should have specified in the other thread at that point I wasn't talking about anything to do with your video, just provide some clear samples to explain this audiophile thing. Glad you started it, but could provide more samples? Also, do you mean to say that the first one has a VBR and that the third sample is a CBR? I would like to see a 192kb encode of both from vinyl and CD, since I believe 192kb is the average CD quality. Perhaps a even higher kb version as well. I would also like a uncompressed version of the remastered CD.

Do these count as good enough to meet your sound equipment requirements?
http://www.zalman.co.kr/eng/product/vie ... 0&code=023

As I said before, even I, a guy who thinks his in-car[came with the ford escort] speakers are good, can tell the difference at 128kb. Not that it'll change my opinion of audiophiles, but at least I can quit writing you guys off as whackjobs with a mostly safe hobby. I'm sure the man sized speakers have fallen on and killed somebody before.
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Postby downwithpants » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:46 am

you're comparing two variables, but you need to compare them independently.

i.e. create:
1. an uncompressed CD rip
2. an uncompressed vinyl rip
3. a 128 kbps CD mp3
4. a 128 kbps vinyl mp3

otherwise we don't know if the difference between your first two samples are due to hardware output or compression artifacts.
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Re: Vinyl vs Mp3 (Sound Auditioning)

Postby Scintilla » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:27 am

Beowulf wrote:This is what Scintilla did to his My Evil Alien video.

Hold on there. I compressed the dynamic range on that song, yes, but I don't believe that it deserves to be used as an example of overdoing it.

You did actually watch the video, right? There's still a noticeable contrast between the quiet parts and the loud parts, and all the crescendi and diminuendi are still there -- you cannot honestly tell me that there are no lows left.

And by the way, I just checked the dB meter while listening to the loud part of the original CD rip (the entire instrumental bridge and last chorus), and it looks like that part had been compressed already, because there's an awful lot of topping out just below 0 dB going on.

I'll have to check out your uploads later on, as I really have to get going now.
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Re: Vinyl vs Mp3 (Sound Auditioning)

Postby Corran » Tue Oct 09, 2007 8:20 am

Scintilla wrote:Hold on there. I compressed the dynamic range on that song, yes, but I don't believe that it deserves to be used as an example of overdoing it.


When you do a google search for "dynamic range" + "anime music video" your video comes up as the first hit. The video is also easy to find through the super search when searching for "dynamic range" in the video comment field and relative well known enough that most people won't have to go downloading the video to know what is being talked about... maybe not the best example, but certainly a very accessible one.
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Postby guy07 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 1:48 pm

Interesting stuff :up:
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Postby Serv0 » Tue Oct 09, 2007 6:53 pm

Beowulf wrote: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.


For some reason I think Beowulf is my dad in disguise. I swear my dad and I are the only ones in this entire Montana state that takes audio quality seriously.

This makes me happy that you use Whole Lotta Love as an example because we have in our collection an original Led Zeppelin II Gramophone album. I totally agree with your points of dynamic range preservation and maximum high-fidelity.

One question though, is your points addressing towards the use of digital music that have been transferred from analog, or are you tackling the digital transfer as well? From what I've got, it seems that you're pointing out that high-fidelity for classic era music is nearly gone in the modern media. And it also seems that you point out that digital rips are also rough, based on the fact that the ripper has the original CDs. So I'm confused if this topic is about analog to digital, or audio preservation as a whole.
The reason why I ask is because the analog to digital debate is something audiophiles usually tackle.

Anyways, I hear you're making a new music video. I'm eager to see...and listen of course, to your new work.

BTW, you may have guessed already. But I am an audiophile too. But the reason why I bring this topic to attention is that I'm thinking of remastering my latest video, which probably includes cleaning up the audio. The tracks were ripped from a 1985 released CD of Pink Floyd's The Wall. Because of the fact that I don't have the original record, I'm thinking of running the tracks through the EQ, in attempt to emulate that warmth coming from an analog recording. The CD tracks are ripped 16bit 44KHz, and re-encoded with a AAC for the MP4 encoding. If you have any thoughts that'll be great.

Anyways, good discussion. It's nice to meet people who take audio seriously.
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Postby Esrhan » Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:41 pm

A nice comparison, but mind I ask what the purpose of this all is? It's not exactly what I'd call news.
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Postby BasharOfTheAges » Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:09 pm

I'd say we're reaching a point technologically where audio quality will again become a "big deal" so to speak. Once we star making use of the gigabit networking technologies being developed in places like Korea and portable audio devices start hitting storage capacities of around 200+GB we can really start to afford to have audio files on our systems that are 100+MB masterpieces (so to speak). I've heard lots of good digital audio before (my roommate is a sound engineering student) and the limiting factor is (and will most likely always be) the size of it. If the industry knows the current limitations of technology (The CD being a perfect example of a limiting medium), they're going to continue to do the shit they do to "fit it all in." If CDs were the capacity of Blueray discs though...
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Postby Scintilla » Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:00 pm

Oh, and I'd like to second DWP's motion for a lossless CD rip, at the very least.
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Postby Beowulf » Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:44 pm

Sorry guys, I'm out of town for the next 3 months so I won't be able to to get those lossless CD rips or be able to rip anymore vinyl until I get back to my apartment.

I know this is an unfair experiment. My point is to show how good vinyl sounds, and to show that there IS a big difference. Once I get back to my apartment, I'll give the proper experiment so we can determine how much better it is, if that gets you off.

That being said, has anyone actually taken a half hour to sit down and listen to these uploads in detail?
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