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Is "Master For iTunes Droplet" Using Same Encoder As iTunes?
BDW42
post Jul 20 2012, 10:30
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After reading some of the Mastered for iTunes documentation and downloading the accompanying tools, I have a question...

In the PDF, they discuss the previous challenges of encoding high resolution files and note the advances they've made in their new AAC encoding process, which I'm assuming is done through the Master for iTunes Droplet encoding tool provided. Anyways, I experimented with some of the recent 24/96 files I own, from the recent Paul McCartney Archive series, and I found myself quite impressed with the results.

This got me to thinking: while this droplet is aimed at high resolution files, would regular CD rips also benefit from using this droplet, as well? Today, I grabbed my AIFFs of my 2011 Smiths and 2009 Beatles remasters and tried it out and, for me, I noticed a definite improvement. The frequency response seemed better, things seemed tighter, and had some "balls" to them, and, for the first time, I had trouble discerning the AAC from the source. But before I get excited and start re-ripping my entire collection, is this just my imagination or is there really anything going on that's different between the droplet and, say, a regular CD rip in iTunes? I fear this might end up being some placebo effect. If they are different, would it be good practice to use this droplet for regular 16/44.1 files?

I'm a little fuzzy on this, and sort of new to all this, so any clarity would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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dhromed
post Jul 20 2012, 12:04
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QUOTE (BDW42 @ Jul 20 2012, 11:30) *
is this just my imagination or is there really anything going on that's different between the droplet and, say, a regular CD rip in iTunes? I fear this might end up being some placebo effect.


Do you know how to perform an ABX test?
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db1989
post Jul 20 2012, 12:15
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QUOTE (BDW42 @ Jul 20 2012, 10:30) *
would regular CD rips also benefit from using this droplet, as well? Today, I grabbed my AIFFs of my 2011 Smiths and 2009 Beatles remasters and tried it out and, for me, I noticed a definite improvement. [loads of fuzzy language]
Are you claiming that MfI’s processing improved the sound relative to the uncompressed originals? If so, that’s nonsense, and you should think quickly about how to provide any reason that I should not immediately bin this as a flagrant violation of #8 of the Terms of Service, to which you were directed and subsequently required to agree in order to register.
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Kohlrabi
post Jul 20 2012, 12:33
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QUOTE (BDW42 @ Jul 20 2012, 11:30) *
This got me to thinking: while this droplet is aimed at high resolution files, would regular CD rips also benefit from using this droplet, as well? Today, I grabbed my AIFFs of my 2011 Smiths and 2009 Beatles remasters and tried it out and, for me, I noticed a definite improvement. The frequency response seemed better, things seemed tighter, and had some "balls" to them, and, for the first time, I had trouble discerning the AAC from the source.
I'd be surprised if the AAC encoder used in the droplet is different from the standard one provided by Quicktime or iTunes. It makes no sense that a lossy encoder aimed at the human perception system gives different results for high res files and CD source files (assuming both come from the same master). The likely result you will get is that the high res files might be slightly larger due to the additional ultrasonics, though any sensible lossy encoder should not really produce files which contain any information above 22kHz, so this difference will be marginal. And this difference is inaudible, anyway.

QUOTE (dhromed @ Jul 20 2012, 13:04) *
Do you know how to perform an ABX test?
Try to perform an ABX test as suggested by dhromed, with an encode of the high res file vs. the original file, and an encode of the dithered to 16 bit and downsampled to 44.1kHz file (serving as a "CD" master) vs. the original source file. I'd be surprised if you can perform a successful ABX test on one but not the other.



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BDW42
post Jul 21 2012, 09:11
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QUOTE (db1989 @ Jul 20 2012, 04:15) *
Are you claiming that MfI’s processing improved the sound relative to the uncompressed originals? If so, that’s nonsense, and you should think quickly about how to provide any reason that I should not immediately bin this as a flagrant violation of #8 of the Terms of Service, to which you were directed and subsequently required to agree in order to register.


I don't see any violation or "fuzzy language". First, I was not stating a claim, but noting a subjective impression. For if the former, there would be no need to start a thread asking something I already know the answer to. I also can't "claim" the very thing I said I explicitly doubt. Secondly, I never stated, in any way, MFI's processing is superior to uncompressed originals. Not even close. The purpose of this thread, as the subject title clearly says, isn't to publish claims, but to ask whether the MFI encoding is the same used in iTunes. And if not, whether 16/44.1 files are acceptable. The rest is peripheral. I'd like to thank Kohlrabi for seeing this and for sufficiently answering my question, as well as kindly linking me to very useful, helpful tools for the future.

Good day!
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db1989
post Jul 21 2012, 10:39
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OK, let me restate: TOS #8 proscribes “subjective impression[s]” without accompanying efforts to substantiate them. Your attempt to invoke some essential difference between a “subjective impression” and a “claim” seems a little too evasive of this requirement, and ineffectively so.

If my reading of your intended meaning was wrong, saying you “noticed a definite improvement” after AIFFs were processed by MfI means what, then?

And I would say that claiming that some files
QUOTE
had more "balls" to them
counts as fuzzy language, for example.

This post has been edited by db1989: Jul 21 2012, 10:44
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skamp
post Jul 21 2012, 10:44
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QUOTE (db1989 @ Jul 21 2012, 11:39) *
saying you “noticed a definite improvement” after AIFFs were processed by MfI means what, then?


My understanding is that he noticed an improvement of the Mastered for iTunes encoded AAC over the iTunes encoded AAC. Still needs ABX logs though.


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BDW42
post Jul 22 2012, 10:00
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QUOTE (db1989 @ Jul 21 2012, 02:39) *
OK, let me restate: TOS #8 proscribes “subjective impression[s]” without accompanying efforts to substantiate them. Your attempt to invoke some essential difference between a “subjective impression” and a “claim” seems a little too evasive of this requirement, and ineffectively so.


There's nothing evasive about it. TOS #8 says nothing about "subjective impressions", but making objective claims about subjective audio quality. Because to make a claim is to make an argument; to assert something is fact. An impression is a subjective effect produced upon the intellect or feelings. Note the difference. If the weatherman says "it is going to rain", then he is making a claim, and should prove his conclusion. But if he says, "It might rain, but I don't really trust my senses, so let me defer to greater authority", then precisely what is he claiming or needing to substantiate, other than doubt? To force him to conduct studies proving this doubt would be nonsensical and question-begging, as the purposes of his inquiry is to find the conclusion, in the first place. Otherwise, what's the point?

I invoke these essential differences because they matter. One asserts truth, the other doesn't. This distinction is why this thread isn't titled: "Why the MFI Droplet is Better Than iTunes...", and why there's no assertions of fact or attempts at persuasion; merely an inquiry. And, ultimately, the objected passages are inconsequential to the point of my inquiry. We're discussing periphery. So, we can needlessly go on and on into oblivion, despite my question already being sufficiently answered, but you're misunderstanding the intent of the thread. It is not to make objective claims, but to inquire. There's no TOS #8 violation.

Good day.

This post has been edited by BDW42: Jul 22 2012, 10:02
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skamp
post Jul 22 2012, 10:25
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QUOTE (BDW42 @ Jul 20 2012, 11:30) *
for the first time, I had trouble discerning the AAC from the source


You made an implicit claim right there: that you can usually tell the difference between AAC and the source, though you don't say at what bitrates. In other words, if I read you right, you claim that Mastered for iTunes AAC is transparent, while iTunes AAC isn't. That requires evidence.

The rule here is that you don't ask why one system is audibly superior than another, without first proving with ABX logs that said system is indeed (objectively) superior to you, and that the differences you heard weren't imagined to begin with. Investigating a false premise would be a waste of time and energy.


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BDW42
post Jul 23 2012, 03:00
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I get what you're saying, and had I left it at that you'd be right, but it can't be a claim when I subsequently dismiss these same impressions as possible placebo effect, or ironically, because I know it's not objective enough. Again, to demand proof of a conclusion, when the intent of the inquiry is to find one, is nonsensical. If one asks what 5 x 2 equals, and says: "It might be 10, but I'm unsure, so I'll defer to you", it would be silly to demand mathematical proofs, for what would he be proving but doubt? If the conclusion were claimed in the question, there'd be nothing to ask.

I also wasn't asking why one system is superior to another, but if one system is different than another; hence the thread title. What's lost is I wasn't purely asking this due to AAC rips, but per Apple's own MFI document. Page 3 details their improved AAC encoding, and they later note the MFI Droplet, which automates iTunes Plus AAC conversion. O.K., great. But, since Apple does the final encoding, is the Droplet merely an automator of what iTunes already does, or does this Droplet include the AAC improvements? If so, then, theoretically, could 16/44.1 files benefit from it?

Only if Apple is full of it would one be investigating a false premise. But the above is all I inquired about. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough, but that's only where I would have erred. So, for that, and because the question was answered, I feel we've exhausted this discussion. The thread's needs have been satisfied, so either it sinks down the page, or one follows up on Kohlrabi's post; or not. Either way, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Good day!

This post has been edited by db1989: Jul 23 2012, 11:59
Reason for edit: deleting unnecessary full quote
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skamp
post Jul 23 2012, 07:52
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QUOTE (BDW42 @ Jul 23 2012, 04:00) *
it can't be a claim when I subsequently dismiss these same impressions as possible placebo effect


The answer is the same: do an ABX test and find out for yourself whether it's expectation bias or not.

Also, (again) if I read you right, you accounted the difference heard between the two encoders as a possible placebo effect (good, you're aware that it's possibility!), but not the fact that regular iTunes AAC isn't transparent to you. Again, people here will usually stop there and require ABX logs, because that's not supposed to happen. Sorry, it's just the rule in these parts of the internet. The world of audio is such that more often than not, people hear differences (e.g. between iTunes AAC and the source) when really those are imagined. That's your (possibly) false premise, and members here won't spend much time answering you until you comply. Nothing personal!

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but given the sheer amount of dubious claims, rule number 8 of the Terms of Service tends to feel like a godsend.


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BDW42
post Jul 23 2012, 10:30
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No offense taken. I agree people can hear imagined differences between two files. The difference is, unlike people posting poorly supported, dubious claims trying to assert fact, and persuade, (hence the existence of TOS #8) I am cognizant of these possibilities, hence me not asserting. As you said, I recognized the fallibility of my senses. That's why this thread is posed as an inquiry, not an argument. You also suggest doing an ABX test to "find out" more. Which is great, I should do that.

But to "find out" still means I'm looking for a conclusion. Which, again, is my entire point. If I doubt my senses, which are the only sources for my initial impressions, then it is virtually impossible to assert a conclusion, based on those very senses. And if I don't have a conclusion, then I can't be making a claim, dubious or not, for a claim is to assert and persuade someone of a conclusion. And if I'm not making a claim, then I can't be in violation of TOS #8. Perhaps the thread is ineffective, or I overlooked something, fine, I can tolerate those criticisms. But that doesn't necessarily make it a rule violation, nor equatable to posters who do assert dubious claims. It's not the same thing.

Again, we're discussing periphery, as the intention of this thread is much different, as explained in my previous post. Thankfully, the question was still able to get answered. So, no offense, but there's really other things I'd rather be doing than spending days discussing TOS agreements. I think we've exhausted the discussion, so before it ends up going in circles, I'll bow out gracefully, make this my final post in this thread, and carry on. Thanks for the interesting discussion and I guess for the tips on more effective threads and posts. Enjoy your week.

Good day!

This post has been edited by db1989: Jul 23 2012, 11:59
Reason for edit: as in post #10
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Serge Smirnoff
post Jul 29 2012, 12:18
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QUOTE (BDW42 @ Jul 20 2012, 13:30) *
... is this just my imagination or is there really anything going on that's different between the droplet and, say, a regular CD rip in iTunes?


For 44.1/16 Audio CD material there is no difference (roundoff error accuracy). See more at Mastered For iTunes vs. Mastered For People


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