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CD audio is not good enough, CD Standard is bad quality
Joseph
post May 1 2003, 04:29
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Sound quality is a complex subject, and one that has been thrashed
out elsewhere time after time. Nonetheless I'll give it a bit of a
spin here, without getting all technical, in order to justify why I
think CD audio is not good enough.

When I complain about CD sound I am not doing so as some sort of
retrograde vinyl lover who can't change with the times. :-) I am
simply saying that the sound of the CD I am listening to has audible
problems and does not match what I expect the creators wanted. This
can be measured by how closely the CD replicates the master. Of
course in most cases I don't get to hear the master, so much is
guesswork. However, as a trained audio engineer I have *some* idea of
what is expected and can certainly compare CDs to the masters I
produce.

CDs improved on vinyl in many ways, notably in reduced noise floor,
phase artifacts, and crosstalk; ease of handling; and accurate
handling of low frequency stereo information. But CDs are inferior to
vinyl in frequency response and degradation characteristics. If a CD
gets a scratch you hear unlistenable white noise; if a record gets a
scratch you hear a DJ. ;-)

Going further, some may "prefer" the sound of vinyl precisely because
of the distortions it introduces. These include rounded signal peaks
and second-order harmonics, as well as the aforementioned phase
issues. All of these introduce a "warm" sound that is palatable to
many. Whether I like that sound or not, I prefer to hear what the
artist intended. If they wanted harmonics they could have used a
tube. And so on.

A bit more is in order about error correction. Most errors are
corrected by CD players, but this can produce tiny glitches of noise
that most people do not notice. I notice them. It's not that I have
better ears; once I point them out you can hear them as well. Of
course, the better the music reproduction system the more noticable
these are. (Though contrary to this, the better the CD player error
correction, the less you'll hear.) For most people with crappy
stereos it's not an issue.

I do not think that there is anything inherently wrong with digital
sound encoding, only that the 44.1KHz sampling rate and 16 bits per
sample are not good enough. Currently, studios use 96KHz and 24 (or
32) bits throughout the recording chain process, and must reduce this
down to consumer standards for replication. There's probably a good
reason why those people most highly trained in listening don't think
CD quality is good enough for recording. It's simply because their
ears tell them so.

You may be interested to know that the current CD standard was a
matter of much compromise between the American, European, and
Japanese manufacturers. I can remember reading some of the research
articles at the time (I was in university). The Japanese insisted
that 100KHz and 24-bit (if memory serves on the exact numbers) were
required for accurate reproduction. But the others argued that no-one
would hear the difference and it would reduce cost and time to market
if the lower standard was adopted. And so, unfortunately, it was.

Another big problem with many CDs is the terrible job of mastering.
Back in vinyl days you really had to know what you were doing to
adjust the master tape to the deficiencies of the medium. There were
relatively few mastering engineers, but they knew their job. Today
almost anyone thinks they can master, and so they do... badly.

So the problems with CD can be summarised as: insufficient frequency
response, insufficient resolution, poor mastering, nasty error
characteritics, and cases that break all the time. ;-)

MP3s inherit all of these except the bit about the cases.

-- robin
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Posts in this topic
- Joseph   CD audio is not good enough   May 1 2003, 04:29
- - bryant   You're absolutely right!! Those CD cas...   May 1 2003, 04:48
- - boojum   Joseph, in general I agree with your post. But th...   May 1 2003, 04:57
- - mrosscook   Joseph, Your post argues that a lot of current CD...   May 1 2003, 05:16
- - paranoos   I have to agree completely with your statement abo...   May 1 2003, 05:18
- - floyd   QUOTE (Joseph @ Apr 30 2003 - 09:29 PM)Curren...   May 1 2003, 05:43
- - Delirium   I'm pretty sure you're, frankly, incorrect...   May 1 2003, 06:14
- - sjk   QUOTE (paranoos @ Apr 30 2003 - 08:18 PM)I ha...   May 1 2003, 06:34
- - AstralStorm   QUOTE (Delirium @ May 1 2003 - 07:14 AM)To co...   May 1 2003, 07:32
- - 2Bdecided   Whilst I'm a fan of higher sample rates (in th...   May 1 2003, 10:51
- - dev0   I agree with Paranoos here completely. If masterin...   May 1 2003, 11:01
- - Uosdwis R. Dewoh   The CD standard is often taking an unfair amount o...   May 1 2003, 12:44
- - DonP   I believe the 16/44 rates are the numbers that fel...   May 1 2003, 14:32
- - Joseph   paranoos wrote: > I have to agree completely w...   May 1 2003, 16:32
- - DigitalMan   QUOTE (Joseph @ May 1 2003 - 07:32 AM)paranoo...   May 1 2003, 18:06
- - KikeG   Well, all there issues have been discussed here fr...   May 1 2003, 20:28
- - Pio2001   Joseph wrote : QUOTE CDs are inferior to vinyl in...   May 1 2003, 21:22
- - buzzy   One of the great things about HA is that discussio...   May 1 2003, 22:33
- - Uosdwis R. Dewoh   QUOTE (Joseph @ May 1 2003 - 04:32 PM)> Al...   May 1 2003, 22:41
- - KikeG   QUOTE (Pio2001 @ May 1 2003 - 09:22 PM)What...   May 2 2003, 00:21
- - Pio2001   About audible clicks, I must say that many recordi...   May 2 2003, 01:12
- - DonP   QUOTE (Pio2001 @ May 1 2003 - 03:22 PM)Actual...   May 2 2003, 01:17
- - Joseph   DigitalMan wrote > 1) Nyquist does not require...   May 2 2003, 06:54
- - Miles   QUOTE (Joseph @ May 1 2003 - 05:29 AM)... you...   May 2 2003, 08:21
- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (Pio2001 @ May 1 2003 - 08:22 PM)2bdeci...   May 2 2003, 10:02
- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (Joseph @ May 2 2003 - 05:54 AM)Nyquist...   May 2 2003, 10:34
- - Pio2001   QUOTE (Joseph @ May 2 2003 - 08:54 AM)It depe...   May 2 2003, 11:41
- - mrosscook   Joseph, you end your last post by saying, QUOTE B...   May 2 2003, 16:18
- - DonP   QUOTE (Pio2001 @ May 2 2003 - 05:41 AM)That...   May 2 2003, 16:43
- - bryant   QUOTE (mrosscook @ May 2 2003 - 07:18 AM)Base...   May 2 2003, 18:34
- - DigitalMan   QUOTE (Joseph @ May 1 2003 - 09:54 PM)Joseph ...   May 2 2003, 18:35
- - KikeG   QUOTE (Joseph @ May 2 2003 - 06:54 AM)Nyquist...   May 2 2003, 18:58


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