• If you ever spot Spam (either in the forums, or received via forum direct message) please use the Report button at the bottom of each post to make sure a Moderator can handle it quickly. Thanks for your help in keeping things running smoothly!

Stupid Question Time - Recording Quality

Page 2 - Seeking answers? Join the What HiFi community: the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products.

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
986
490
5,270
Absolutely Oxfordian. I had a similar conversation today with a mate. He's selling his hifi. Got disillusioned with the whole hobby and never ending upgraditis. So we ended up talking about music instead. Specifically he was curious how I managed to stop obsessing with sound quality. And the answer was very simple.

I mainly listen to music I've not heard before. Whether old or new. In which scenario I cannot judge the sound quality, because on first or second listen I always listen to music. Even as someone who produces music and mixes I'm still a music lover first.
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
525
236
19,270
The mastering required for vinyl is completely different to that required for CD and streaming (Or it should be if done properly) due to the limitations of each format.

The second thing that has to be taken into account is the type of equipment it is played on, so called audiophile recordings (On any format) usually sound poor on the vast majority of equipment out there (Phones boom boxes etc.) as they are designed to give a characteristic sound that sounds nice, now as the aim is to make money them most recordings will be mastered for this type of equipment to get the best return, unfortunately they do not always sound good on high quality equipment.

If you want to get the best out of a poor recording then get yourself a good DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for your computer so that you can tune the track to how you prefer (If it sounds fine then no need to do anything) and save it a FLAC file and always listen to that rather than the original.

If you find if the performance is any good then Spotify etc. is your friend, as the performance will come through even on a bad recording.

Bill
 

Oxfordian

Well-known member
Mar 20, 2021
104
68
170
Other good sources of info are:

Steve Hoffman forum: https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/

DR Database: http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list/dr/desc

But as others have said just enjoy the music without fretting about it too much.
I totally agree, enjoy the music and don’t worry about it, I bought my music because I wanted to listen to it, sure there are a few duff albums but that could be more my tastes changing than anything else.

Thanks for the links and the contribution.
 

Oxfordian

Well-known member
Mar 20, 2021
104
68
170
The mastering required for vinyl is completely different to that required for CD and streaming (Or it should be if done properly) due to the limitations of each format.

The second thing that has to be taken into account is the type of equipment it is played on, so called audiophile recordings (On any format) usually sound poor on the vast majority of equipment out there (Phones boom boxes etc.) as they are designed to give a characteristic sound that sounds nice, now as the aim is to make money them most recordings will be mastered for this type of equipment to get the best return, unfortunately they do not always sound good on high quality equipment.

If you want to get the best out of a poor recording then get yourself a good DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for your computer so that you can tune the track to how you prefer (If it sounds fine then no need to do anything) and save it a FLAC file and always listen to that rather than the original.

If you find if the performance is any good then Spotify etc. is your friend, as the performance will come through even on a bad recording.

Bill
Thanks for this, you have just given me a bit of research to do as neither DAW or FLAC is something I have heard of, sorry but I have led a sheltered life due to the ongoing battles being fought on XBoxes and Playstations in my living room or the spare bedroom. My life has been listening to music via my phone or via my MacBook.

I will look into this.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
725
453
19,270
That’s the most puzzling statement I’ve ever read. I listen to both, and many others probably do too.

My guess is you’ve never heard early Roxy Music - the first 4/5 albums.
Sorry, my bad, as examples are invariably fraught. In the context of choosing good sound - the original question, don’t forget - I was simply trying to think of two different styles, and a soloist -v- a band. If you wanted to listen to Dylan you’d buy the recordings regardless of SQ. That was my point. You wouldn’t buy a slicker recording by a different artist instead, but maybe some folks do?

Just as if I wanted Rachmaninov I wouldn’t buy Stravinsky. But as it happens I like both, and being orchestral it’s mostly well recorded So I don’t face the dilemma.
 
Last edited:

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
778
360
11,270
OK if you ensure it's the identical master you will be buying.
I listened to a track on Spotify a couple of weeks ago on my headphones. It was the best I'd ever heard it.
Went back on Spotify a couple of days later to listen to the same track - but from a different album. Same headphones, all else equal, but nothing like as good. It was obviously not the same master (not an official remix nor one of those dodgy 're-recorded by one or more of the original artists').
If there are multiple re-masters of an album, what you hear depends on which master the streaming company has been given.
Think you pretty much-picking straws TBH, in general, the master's aren't that fair apart a little bass there, hear someone's voice better, or just a little fuller overall but they anint miles apart, It really only applies with more legacy brands such as Metallica (who notoriously mess with there recordings) for instance and there many different releases. as you rightly point out and each master has its cons.

In general modern stuff sounds the same across the board and places like tidal have their MQA format which isn't just used a standard but stamp of "quality".

And i did say it gives you a gauge and the streaming services tend to also have the latest release/versions .

In general if the recording is good in the first place it will be good regardless of reissue.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oxfordian

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,784
1,163
13,570
In general if the recording is good in the first place it will be good regardless of reissue.
True, the recording is always most important.
And I would have thought the same way as you - that there couldn't be much difference.....until I heard the difference between excellent and nothing special. Same track (just from different albums), same streaming service and bitrate.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oxfordian

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
986
490
5,270
The mastering required for vinyl is completely different to that required for CD and streaming (Or it should be if done properly) due to the limitations of each format.

The second thing that has to be taken into account is the type of equipment it is played on, so called audiophile recordings (On any format) usually sound poor on the vast majority of equipment out there (Phones boom boxes etc.) as they are designed to give a characteristic sound that sounds nice, now as the aim is to make money them most recordings will be mastered for this type of equipment to get the best return, unfortunately they do not always sound good on high quality equipment.

If you want to get the best out of a poor recording then get yourself a good DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for your computer so that you can tune the track to how you prefer (If it sounds fine then no need to do anything) and save it a FLAC file and always listen to that rather than the original.

If you find if the performance is any good then Spotify etc. is your friend, as the performance will come through even on a bad recording.

Bill
Interesting you should say that. I have "remastered" (fixed 🙂) some commercial music for a laugh including already good sounding music. e.g. Beck's "Sea Change" the sonic improvement was not only noticeable but desirable. And that's not just here but on other systems with other people's ears.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oxfordian

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
986
490
5,270
Thanks for this, you have just given me a bit of research to do as neither DAW or FLAC is something I have heard of, sorry but I have led a sheltered life due to the ongoing battles being fought on XBoxes and Playstations in my living room or the spare bedroom. My life has been listening to music via my phone or via my MacBook.

I will look into this.
You can absolutely do it but it isn't that simple if you don't know what you're doing. Also software/gear involved to make an actual improvement might not be cost effective. By all means check it out and should you have any questions and/or need any advice on anything above I'll be happy to help.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oxfordian

Oxfordian

Well-known member
Mar 20, 2021
104
68
170
You can absolutely do it but it isn't that simple if you don't know what you're doing. Also software/gear involved to make an actual improvement might not be cost effective. By all means check it out and should you have any questions and/or need any advice on anything above I'll be happy to help.
Ah, then this may not be for me, I struggle using photoshop in my photography, okay with some of the more basic stuff but get me going on layers and altering one but not others and I am all over the place.

Maybe buying and listening to more music on my system would be of greater benefit.

I’ll still have a look if only to get a better understanding of what it is and what’s involved.
 
  • Like
Reactions: insider9

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
156
67
170
If you are talking objective playback quality, Vinyl will stand no chance at all, not even against vanilla 16bit CD.

All else being equal (Recording Technology and Quality) and provided it can make use of of the digital formats superior S/N & dynamic range Vinyl comes a poor second.

That is without even considering higher resolution formats.

Food for thought.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oxfordian

Oxfordian

Well-known member
Mar 20, 2021
104
68
170
If you are talking objective playback quality, Vinyl will stand no chance at all, not even against vanilla 16bit CD.

All else being equal (Recording Technology and Quality) and provided it can make use of of the digital formats superior S/N & dynamic range Vinyl comes a poor second.

That is without even considering higher resolution formats.

Food for thought.
An interesting thought to nibble on.

So why is it that vinyl is what a lot of people believe is ‘the’ format, look at the current resurgence of interest in the media what is driving that, nostalgia?

What is it about vinyl that keeps drawing people in, it has record stores de-cobwebing their old LP storage units, it has seen a huge increase in portable record decks being sold, youngsters are into vinyl, why?

My local shop told me recently that sales of TT‘s and related equipment were up 70% over the last couple of years and stock within the industry is low for many popular brands.

I am TT less at present and enjoying CD’s, Enya’s Watermark along with Deacon Blue’s Raintown are tonight’s listen, looking at the price CD’s sell for it makes me wonder why on earth am I spending money getting my TT fixed, yet it will be fixed and I will buy more vinyl.

Why do I consider vinyl a better format than CD, I can’t answer that as I have no answer to my own question, but for some illogical reason in my mind an LP is better than a CD.

Someone help me please.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DougK

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
986
490
5,270
So why is it that vinyl is what a lot of people believe is ‘the’ format, look at the current resurgence of interest in the media what is driving that, nostalgia?

What is it about vinyl that keeps drawing people in, it has record stores de-cobwebing their old LP storage units, it has seen a huge increase in portable record decks being sold, youngsters are into vinyl, why?
Vinyl is incredibly limited as a medium. Both in terms of frequencies it can reproduce, theoretical dynamic range and obviously length. It's so compromised that album orders have been changed in the past to accommodate its shortcomings (e.g. Peter Gabriel "So")

Consider that we could get even better sound quality from vinyl if we cut records at higher speeds like 45rpm. But that would come at a cost of space available. On top of that you need to keep it clean and in decent environment (no huge humidity and/or temp changes). And then there's wear.

Mastering for vinyl is also much different than for CD or streaming.

Now, let's address the question. Why is it that a lot of people believe is ‘the’ format? Because music that was released on vinyl is generally better than what gets released nowadays.

If we looked at the opposite scenario with today's hits being available on vinyl and all the greats being digital. Then vinyl would've die off already.

This conversation has been done to death. And we all know that in vinyl vs CD there's only one winner...... TAPE!
 
  • Like
Reactions: DougK and Oxfordian

RoA

Well-known member
Feb 11, 2021
156
67
170
Information overload.

There are super resolving systems.

They make our brains work harder in order to piece together and make sense of whats thrown at us. - Just like a high resolution, high detail colour picture does.

Then there are systems that have a more coherent but less detailed sound. - My brain has to work less to compute what's going on and can relax more.

In a similar way as a nice but less detailed B&W photo can do. No colour to distract from the message.

It's more about the essence than the minutes.

Another example are (some) valve amplifiers. They reduce resolution, increase S/N, create even harmonic distortion. The result can be a more relaxing listen ... for some.

Vinyl falls somewhere in that category imho.

Some Just prefer that. Others don't.

Technically they fail in comparison but it also shows that measurements don't always tell the whole story.
 

insider9

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2016
986
490
5,270
Technically they fail in comparison but it also shows that measurements don't always tell the whole story.
I don't see it that way. I don't think they fail at all. And measured performance is perfectly adequate for intended application.

What vinyl shows is that (bar clicks and pops) this is the level that's perfectly fine for us. Anything more is superfluous.

It is human nature to want more and that's how we end up chasing our tails.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oxfordian and DougK

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS