back to article Bye bye MP3: You sucked the life out of music. But vinyl is just as warped

When I was younger, I had a chronic problem with fluff gathering in awkward-to-reach places. What can I say? My personal grooves acquired dirt very easily. It was a teenage thing, I suppose. Neither sterile wipes nor the careful application of a vacuum cleaner seemed to help so I ended up seeking professional advice. A man-in …

  1. Pseudonymous Clown Art

    MP3

    RIP...until the hipsters get nostalgic and it becomes ironic to use MP3.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: MP3

      I was using MP3 before it was cool.

      Or I wasn't using MP3 before it was cool not to.

      This being hip thing is so confusing, I'm going back to playing sheet music on my chamber organ. Insert your own innuendo.

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: MP3

        "This being hip thing is so confusing, I'm going back to playing sheet music on my chamber organ."

        Obligatory Pratchett Quote™:

        "In fact the kind of music he really liked was the kind that never got played. It ruined music, in his opinion, to torment it by involving it on dried skins, bits of dead cat and lumps of metal hammered into wires and tubes. It ought to stay written down, on the page, in rows of little dots and crotchets, all neatly caught between lines. Only there was it pure. It was when people started doing things with it that the rot set in. Much better to sit quietly in a room and read the sheets, with nothing between yourself and the mind of the composer but a scribble of ink. Having it played by sweaty fat men and people with hair in their ears and spit dribbling out of the end of their oboe...well, the idea made him shudder. Although not much, because he never did anything to extremes."

      2. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Pirate

        Re: MP3

        Screw MP3. You will have to pry Fibonacci-Delta compressed IFFs from my cold dead hands.

        Long live 8SVX.

        1. scub

          Re: MP3

          Haha, I miss Multiview..

    2. Yves Kurisaki

      Re: MP3

      Erm.. I bet 95% of people still use it and that will not change very quickly at all

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: MP3

        "Erm.. I bet 95% of people still use it and that will not change very quickly at all"

        ^ This.

        I've encountered a few people that seem to think this is the end of the MP3 - but patent expiry doesn't in any way, shape, or form mean the format is suddenly going to stop being used, or that it's going to somehow die off overnight.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: MP3

          Quite the opposite - I'd say it will pop up even in places it hasn't been before, but it would not be true: it's already everywhere and it's not going anywhere any time soon.

          1. gensec

            Re: MP3

            This story provides no evidence that expiration of MP3 patents would discourage use of the MP3 format.

            Yes, compression always reduces quality, but any MP3 with 256-320 kbs typical for Amazon etc. downloads is indistinguishable from a CD for almost all users - 90+ of stereos, 99+% of car stereos, and 100% of phones.

        2. cosmogoblin

          Re: MP3

          I still use MP3, for compatibility reasons. I have a lot of music from ages ago in MP3, I have no idea where some of it came from so that's not going to change. The rest of my music is all encoded in FLAC on my NAS box - but FLAC is way too big for an SD card, so I copy all of that to MP3 in a "lo-fi" folder.

          Even today, MP3 is the only format you can rely on being able to play on an arbitrary device (certain early Sony players excepted). I'll only get proper equipment that plays FLAC, OGG, etc - but you've always got those friends who insist on using some weird device and then moans that it's not compatible with your standards-compliant kit.

          (Yes, I'm looking at you, Apple.)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MP3

          Its been done for marketing, the companies with interests in selling files (Apple) want their DRM back! ALAC is perfect replacement for MP3's.

          Which company will be first to discontiue support for MP3's? Bet its Apple.

    3. Novex

      Re: MP3

      MP3, I'll be back in fashion when the hipsters ironically adopt it.

      I'm fine with it as long as the compression is kept to a minimum. Hell, I still use Winamp Pro (on a Win7 partition as it won't see the CD drive on WINE in Linux Mint for some reason) with LAME set to VBR quality 0 and the bit rate from 32kbps to 320kbps and it works. Far smaller file sizes than FLAC and when listening on the move or with other noise around it sounds fine to my uneducated ears.

      The thing we should really remember is CD is a 'compressed' format too - with arty farty facts as well. It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz, so a fair bit of the original sound of a performance has been lost. But that gets us onto the merits (or otherwise) of HD formats like 24bit 96KHz, etc, which will probably just end up with us all flaming each other...

      1. King Jack
        Headmaster

        Re: It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz CD

        The only thing that is lost is stuff you cannot hear. The difference between a 24bit and 16bit sample is inaudible hiss. There is nothing to be gained by using higher rates as every one born has 'human' ears and cannot hear high frequencies that animal can. Dogs, cats, bats, dolphins and elephants for the low notes might appreciate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Bd99cADk70 It is all explained in easy to understand terms there.

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz CD

          The reason for using 96KHz/24bit sampling in studios is that they need to process that audio -- mix, equalize and so on -- before it ends up as the master. The extra headroom allows you to lose the inevitable arithmetical rounding errors, errors that would show up as noise. There's no point in using it at home because your ears won't know the difference -- even the best pair of ears is inherently lo-fi.

          Its really an echo of the analog world. Analog studio tape recorders run at 15 or 30 inches per second to get a better signal to noise ratio so the mix wouldn't be degraded. You could use reel to reel tape at these speeds at home but it would be both inconvenient and unnecessary.

          1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

            Re: It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz CD

            I can hear the difference from CD audio to DVD Audio, but the correct headphones and amplifier is needed.

            1. the Kris

              Re: It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz CD

              If you do hear a difference, it's because the 2 media have a different master, one better than, or simply different from, the other.

              Double blind tests have proven over and over again that no-one can hear the difference if the same master is used and the correct sampling techniques are used.

          2. Blah Blah

            Re: It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz CD

            People always say this but as someone who has done a lot of recording I disagree. Higher frequencies don't seem to add a lot but the difference between 16 and 24 bit has always seemed clearly audible to me. What I do have trouble distinguishing is between a good mp3 and a CD. MP3 is an excellent format, one reason it is so astonishingly popular.

            1. Dagg

              Re: It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz CD

              Agreed the big difference is not the frequency range.

              The difference between 16 bits and 24 bits is the dynamic range and that can make a considerable difference. The quiet will be quiet etc.

              1812 overture anyone!

        2. the Kris

          Re: It's 'only' 16 bit and 44.1KHz CD

          And even better:

          https://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

          plus video link:

          https://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml

          This is the best article and video I ever found about the topic.

      2. Infernoz Bronze badge
        Holmes

        Re: MP3

        Storage is cheap now, and most Android devices play lossless FLAC, not just audibly compromised MP3, so I prefer FLAC to MP3.

        A agree with A. Dabbs, Vinyl was shit and was a lot more bulky than significantly better sounding, but now zombie CDROM. Unfortunately a lot of CD audio was ruined by abuse of loudness processing, and use of inferior analogue recording/mixing sources, which maybe why some nostalgics still prefer it.

        All my old CDs were been ripped to FLAC several years ago because were inconvenient, not scratch proof, and a bulky zombie format, even back then! I only keep a thin USB 3.0 DVD drive around for immediately ripping any new/discovered stuff to FLAC, ISO or BIN/CUE on a NAS.

        It's about f'ing time installers and media was supplied on read-only microSDs.

        1. Rob Gr

          Re: MP3

          One thing, as the owner of a large collection of vinyl and CDs there are none of my vinyl records that are unplayable - occassionally small artifacts, but mostly listenable.

          Lots of my CDs have started jumping and become utterly unlistenable. I'm transferring them all to digital storage and just keeping the CD inserts - the rest are just junk now.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MP3

          "Unfortunately a lot of CD audio was ruined by abuse of loudness processing,"

          _Was_ ruined?

          That shit happens every day and it has been getting only worse: Typical dynamic range in a mainstream CD now is _less than 5dB_.

          And all of that is in the high bits to make it as loud as possible. Even vinyl typically used 40dB of dynamic range,

    4. FuzzyWuzzys
      Coat

      Re: MP3

      "I'm so hip I can't even see over my own pelvis!" - Zaphod Beeblebrox

      'I used to be "with it" then they change what "it" was. Now "it" seems awful scary to me."

      -Grampa Simpson

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: MP3

        "I'm so hip I can't even see over my own pelvis!" - Zaphod Beeblebrox

        "Shee, you guys are so unhip it's a wonder your bums don't fall off" - Zaphod Beeblebrox

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hipsters

    Oh no, please don't let there be hipsters who yearn for the exact artefacts of 128kbps LAME 1.0 encodings.

    FLAC is the last audio format that needs to exist. It's got the quality, meta-data, album art, and good enough compression rate based on current storage.

    1. Brenda McViking

      Re: Hipsters

      I still have mine from that era.

      Actually I re-encoded a load to 84kbps so that I could fit a few more songs onto my 128MB MP3 player back in the day that cost me over 100 quid - that was 10 weeks worth of paper-rounds at age 14.

      Besides, Avril Lavigne sounds just as terrible at 84kpbs as at 320kpbs so I don't kid myself that I was missing out... Indeed, some songs I hear again on the radio still jar me as they don't have the specific audiable artefacts as the bad pirated napster downloads that I listened to a hundred times as a teenager.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hipsters

        128MB? You were lucky. My first mp3 player was a #100 MPMan F20. It had 32MB but could be expanded with SmartMedia* to 64MB. I think I encoded at 64kb/s to fit albums on it. Also it had horribly slow copying via parallel port..

        But I _loved_ that thing and it was obvious that mp3 players (remember that they were called mp3 players?) were the future. It was small and light (the AA battery seemed to be half the weight), it had great battery life with just 1 AA, and you didn't have to worry about skipping (remember CD players boasting of their seconds of electronic skip protection?).

        When I got the SmartMedia I was able to fit The Wall on it. Oh, except ABITW Part 2 and Young Lust, but they're no loss anyway.

        As for vinyl, we lived in a house where heavy treading on the first floor could mean scratches or skips on an old record player. And my dad's News of the World had a scratch in We Will Rock You that meant Freddie sang about mud on your ... big disgrace. When I eventually got my own copy it took a while to get used to it not skipping.

        I don't miss vinyl. Or cassette. Or CD.

        * SmartMedia was cheaper than flash at the time, but hit a capacity wall at 128MB while flash just kept getting better.

        1. Alison Mason

          Re: Hipsters

          I can only hear 'Angie' on Made in the Shade, in my head, with a click at the beginning that went on for about 10 seconds, it will always be how it sounds for me....

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Hipsters

      The hipsters will surely be going for early versions of Xing?

      Speaking of FLAC, one day several years ago I decided to re-rip my collection after installing Rockbox on my old iRiver. What I didn't count on was the files now being larger than the device's buffer, which didn't stop playback but it did mean the HDD never got a rest. Whoops.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hipsters

      >hipsters

      You're only a true hipster if you've carved the LP out of wood from a tree you felled* and lovingly butchered yourself.

      *They all look like lumberjacks, cue the Monty Python lumberjack song.

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: Hipsters

        As you wish...

        BARBER:

        I wanted to be... a lumberjack!

        Leaping from tree to tree, as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia. The Giant Redwood. The Larch. The Fir! The mighty Scots Pine! The lofty flowering Cherry! The plucky little Apsen! The limping Roo tree of Nigeria. The towering Wattle of Aldershot! The Maidenhead Weeping Water Plant! The naughty Leicestershire Flashing Oak! The flatulent Elm of West Ruislip! The Quercus Maximus Bamber Gascoigni! The Epigillus! The Barter Hughius Greenus!

        With my best buddy by my side, we'd sing! Sing! Sing!

        [singing]

        I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay.

        I sleep all night and I work all day.

        MOUNTIES:

        He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.

        He sleeps all night and he works all day.

        BARBER:

        I cut down trees. I eat my lunch.

        I go to the lavatory.

        On Wednesdays I go shoppin'

        And have buttered scones for tea.

        MOUNTIES:

        He cuts down trees. He eats his lunch.

        He goes to the lavatory.

        On Wednesdays he goes shopping

        And has buttered scones for tea.

        He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.

        He sleeps all night and he works all day.

        BARBER:

        I cut down trees. I skip and jump.

        I like to press wild flowers.

        I put on women's clothing

        And hang around in bars.

        MOUNTIES:

        He cuts down trees. He skips and jumps.

        He likes to press wild flowers.

        He puts on women's clothing

        And hangs around in bars?!

        He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.

        He sleeps all night and he works all day.

        BARBER:

        I cut down trees. I wear high heels,

        Suspendies, and a bra.

        I wish I'd been a girlie,

        Just like my dear Papa.

        MOUNTIES:

        He cuts down trees. He wears high heels,

        Suspendies, and a bra?!

        [talking]

        What's this? Wants to be a girlie?! Oh, My!

        And I thought you were so rugged! Poofter!...

        [singing]

        He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.

        He sleeps all night and he works all day.

        He's a lumberjack, and he's okaaaaay.

        He sleeps all night and he works all day.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Hipsters

          @404: Oh, you're no fun any more.

        2. HandleAlreadyTaken

          Re: Hipsters

          And now... No. 1... The Larch...

      2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: Hipsters

        You're only a true hipster if you've carved the LP out of wood from a tree you felled and lovingly butchered yourself

        You can actually hear the higher authenticity of hand-carved, artisanal audio, but only when it's played through sustainably-grown, fair-trade bamboo speakers.

  3. Tezfair
    Unhappy

    Shame

    My first MP3 was Don't Speak by No Doubt and from that point committed to ripping all my audio into mp3. I still listen to it daily with some 60Gb of files on the server. In the kitchen our radio is also hooked up to the network and plays random tunes.

    Only issue I will have is being able to play those tunes on future radios / devices, especially all the early ones that were purchased on digital download. I will have to look for a bulk converter but suspect long periods of time re-ripping all the CD's that's in the attic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shame

      Future radios will refuse to play unauthorized music. The firemen will be along shortly to burn all your discs.

      1. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Shame

        All music will be rated EC-10 and media burned, anyway.

        A while back I ripped all of my CDs to FLAC, and do as I obtain new ones. Then I can mass convert FLAC into whatever format I need, which right now is medium-quality AAC in M4A so I can play from my phone over Bluetooth. Might not be "high fidelity" but it does sound far better than the MP3s from way back in the day, at any bit-rate setting.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Shame

        "The firemen will be along shortly to burn all your discs."

        Fahrenheit....what? Not 451, that's the paper flashpoint. What's the acrylic(??) flashpoint?

        1. Dr Spork
          Flame

          Re: Shame

          Polycarbonate.

          MP, BP & therefore FP would depend on chain length but ignition temperature is nominally 500C... so...

          Celcius500

    2. d3vy Silver badge

      Re: Shame

      "Only issue I will have is being able to play those tunes on future radios / devices"

      I'd have thought if anything the patents expiring will mean more devices offering support as I assume that means no licencing costs.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: Shame

        >> I'd have thought if anything the patents expiring will mean more devices offering support as I assume that means no licencing costs.

        Well, you'd think so. But while manufacturers like it when they don't have to pay licensing fees for patents, they like it even more when they have an excuse to move customers on to a new format and sell us new kit to play it on.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Shame

          "Well, you'd think so. But while manufacturers like it when they don't have to pay licensing fees for patents, they like it even more when they have an excuse to move customers on to a new format and sell us new kit to play it on."

          I wouldn't worry too much about. Without patent encumbrance, hobbyists can now legally link MP3 libraries into their tools and provide converters and the like for you to use. And since FLAC is an both lossless and open, you should always have some safe refuge.

          Me? I use both. I use FLAC for gapless recordings because they're sample-exact (the next-best option would be Ogg Vorbis since it at least records the sample length) and use 320kpbs MP3 for general music as an effective compromise (they're smaller than the FLACs and under normal—read rather noisy—conditions I can't tell what I'm missing).

    3. Dabooka Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Shame

      @Tezfair

      Snap. 100%. My only saving grace is I never actually got around to digitizing half of it anyway, so I think a few new HDDs for the NAS and I'll start all over again. Or I could do as Dabsy suggests and stick to the discs, especially as I've just been given a lovely Marantz CD separate that's hardly been used.

      Hmmm. Do Ikea still sell CD storage?

    4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Shame

      ... but suspect long periods of time re-ripping all the CD's that's in the attic.

      Hah, I rip my digital audio from vinyl. I usually rip an album to AudioCD as well as MP3, and sometimes even FLAC as a 3rd format. Back when I started doing that (probably 15 years ago) I was ripping to OggVorbis, because at the time the whole pattent thing was heating up, and I didn't want mine locked out. Gave up on that once I had car and portable players that were never going to understand OGG. I suppose now there are Android-based car audio units, you could play OGG and FLAC on the go.

  4. Dave K Silver badge

    The music industry has to take a lot of the blame. Since the mid 90s, sound quality has basically been disregarded with the only focus being on volume. Heading into the 2000s, it didn't matter whether you used CDs on a high-end Hifi, or a tin can at the end of a piece of string. The production quality of modern music is simply awful.

    The result is that when the sound quality of modern music is dreadful no matter what the medium, it's easy to see why so many people are satisfied with low-quality streams, tinny iPhone speakers and the likes.

    I think MP3 often gets a bum rap. Well encoded MP3s can sound virtually indistinguishable from the original CDs in blind tests, even for earlier and well-mastered music. The fault isn't the audio format being used, it's the quality of the original source material - and only the music industry can fix that by abandoning the pursuit of volume above all else and returning to sound quality as the top production priority. However even with volume normalisation becoming increasingly prevalent, most music is still mastered for volume over quality...

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Boffin

      > Well encoded MP3s can sound virtually indistinguishable from the original CDs in blind tests, even for earlier and well-mastered music.

      Indeed. There was a test with musicians (classic and modern), studio technicians, and "just" music lovers. Double blind test, top notch studio, and all that. The result was that no one can tell mp3 apart from CD quality if the bit rate is sufficient (IIRC 256 already suffices, 320 most definitely).

      There was ONE exception, a guy who could tell what is what above statistical error: he was deaf on one ear and his hearing on the other ear was severely limited (due to an explosion, IIRC). He described the artifacts of the mp3 encoding as some sort of "breathing".

      1. IJD

        256k VBR and 320k fixed rate were both indistinguishable from the CD source.

        I've done the same test myself on studio headphones and came to the same conclusion -- and 128k (most common rate used) is utter sh*te, which is why lots of people think MP3 is rubbish for sound quality.

      2. Paul Kinsler

        There was ONE exception, [...] deaf [ish] due to an explosion,

        If true, I might guess it was because his damaged hearing had been rendered incompatible with the compression tricks of MP3 (which are only designed for normal hearing).

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: There was ONE exception, [...] deaf [ish] due to an explosion,

          Exactly. An interesting follow up test would be finding out which filtering exposes mp3 artifacts for people with good hearing.

      3. PghMike

        Indeed 320 KBits/sec does the trick for me

        Several years ago, I took a track from a Decemberists CD, encoded it at 64Kbits, 128Kbits, 256 KBits, 320 Kbits, both MP3 and AAC, along with the original song's bits, and then made a new CD with the resulting songs. Played it on my decent component stereo (probably cost about $2000 in today's USD). 64Kbits definitely sounded flat, and I thought that 128 was still perceptibly worse than lossless. Both 256 Kbits and 320 Kbits were indistinguishable to me from the original CD. So, I've been happy with 320Kbits rips since then; 256 would probably be fine, but I figured a little extra wouldn't hurt.

        Actually, I did a few other things as well -- some classical piece I've forgotten, and something from Phillip Glass. All basically behaved the same as the Decemberists.

        With regard to MP3 or AAC, I really couldn't tell any difference once I got to 256 Kbits or above.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Indeed 320 KBits/sec does the trick for me

          > With regard to MP3 or AAC, I really couldn't tell any difference once I got to 256 Kbits or above.

          Congratulations, you have (1) a good hearing and (2) no delusions of super-natural abilities.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Exception

        "There was ONE exception, a guy who could tell what is what above statistical error: he was deaf on one ear and his hearing on the other ear was severely limited (due to an explosion, IIRC)"

        That would make some sense. ISTR that MP3 considered what to leave out by how our ears and brains process sounds. Someone whose physiology is substantially different would violate some of the assumptions about what can be left out of the audio.

      5. boltar Silver badge

        "There was ONE exception, a guy who could tell what is what above statistical error: he was deaf on one ear and his hearing on the other ear was severely limited (due to an explosion, IIRC). He described the artifacts of the mp3 encoding as some sort of "breathing"."

        Just guessing but possibly his hearing was severely frequency limited as well as volume limited which meant that every frequency he could hear mattered and his brain had rewired itself to focus on that small frequency band so he more easily noticed any notch filtering that took place within in.

        1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

          > Just guessing but possibly his hearing was severely frequency limited...

          Correct. IIRC he couldn't hear anything above 1 kiloHertz. That is one BAD hearing.

          Tried to find the study (done for the German computer magazine c't by Heise Verlag), but no success.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Depends on the material ...

        "The result was that no one can tell mp3 apart from CD quality if the bit rate is sufficient (IIRC 256 already suffices, 320 most definitely)."

        Depends so much of the source material that this kind of 'test' is basically worthless.

        Take mainstream commercial music and already the source is shit: It's not getting any worse by compression, therefore no differences either.

    2. Just Enough
      Childcatcher

      On air compression

      It's not necessarily all the fault of the production on the song, it could be the radio station you're listening to.

      If you listen to most radio stations playing modern pop it's quite obvious that they are compressing (dynamic range compression, rather than digital) the hell out of everything. This means everything retains a CONSTANT PEAK LEVEL OF VOLUME WITH ZERO DYNAMICS THAT NEVER CEASES STRAIGHT THROUGH EVERY SONG, INTO THE NEWS AND OUT THE OTHER END INTO THE ADVERTS AND HERE'S THE NEW ONE BY THE CHAINSMOKERS AND NOW SOME DJ BANTER LAYERED OVER THE TOP WHILE ALL THE TIME MAINTAINING THE SAME LEVELS THROUGHOUT BECAUSE WE ARE SCARED YOUR FICKLE ATTENTION SPAN MAY SWITCH OFF.

      It's truly dreadful, and once you notice it it can't be ignored. And yes I do realise I'm sounding like an old fart, but that doesn't make it any less true.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: On air compression

        >> CONSTANT PEAK LEVEL OF VOLUME

        This was something else that the Abbey Road crusties were complaining about. All those audio shades of light and dark, quiet passages, etc have been replaced by a single constant level of audio volume throughout. It's not the radio, it's in the recordings now.

        1. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: On air compression

          Fully agree. To show the level of the issue, here's two zoomed-in snips taken from CD rips (both show about 10 seconds of the song).

          This is Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit from 1991 (chosen as it's a heavyish, grunge song):

          https://imgur.com/a/NI020

          Decent dynamics, loud and quiet clearly visible, as are the peaks from the drums. Result, song sounds good - especially through decent speakers.

          And in comparison, here's Muse - Map of the Problematique from 2005 (again, a fairly guitar-heavy song):

          https://imgur.com/a/XIlKe

          You don't have to be an audiophile to see that it's just a solid wall of distorted noise with zero dynamic range and everything brickwalled up to peak level. Result, it sounds like crap, no matter what equipment you play it on.

          For most music, radio has nothing to do with it, even the original CDs are produced in a simply dreadful way with no regard whatsoever for the quality of the sound.

          1. Terje

            Re: On air compression

            This perfectly shows the trend that has been going on for far to long now of destroying all dynamic range in music. This is exceptionally obvious in any recent (as in at least the last ten years) remastered album, sure there may be a little less noise, hiss and scratch sounds, but everything is at peak level all the time.

          2. EvadS

            Re: On air compression

            You say these are from CD rips so that has nothing to do with On air compression so I don't understand your point. Both Nirvana and Muse must have given both productions the go ahead so I would say they are both how they wanted you to hear the music, maybe not so much Nirvana but certainly Muse

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: On air compression

          All those audio shades of light and dark, quiet passages, etc have been replaced by a single constant level of audio volume throughout

          And it's particularly jarring when I'm listening to my music collection - the old stuff (Genesis, Yes, Camel, some of the classical stuff) is all mastered at lower apparent volume than the newer stuff. So, on shuffle, I'm either deafened or I can't hear the music properly.

          Buying and playing gramophone records in the 1970s was a pain in the arse because the quality of the discs was utter pants.

          I was told (by someone in the business) that different grades of vinyl were used. Classical music tended to use the more durable grades because (generally) classical music buff wanted a better sound and more durable records. Rock got the middle grade (annoyingly, even prog rock) and pop got the softest grade - on the basis that no-one would want to listen to it after 6 months and it was probably stretching a bit far to get that lifespan.

          Vinyl might seem cool now but at the time, it was all about having to wipe the grooves clean with surgical care, regularly replacing needles

          Two of the many, many reasons why I hated vinyl. I eventually got the habit of recording the album to tape (with the best quality tape I could get) and then only ever playing the vinyl again if that tape died and I had to re-record it.

          Which is why all my old vinyl is probably in really good condition - assuming that it hasn't warped in storage that is (another really annoying thing about vinyl).

          1. BenDwire
            Boffin

            Re: On air compression

            @CrazyOldCatMan - You need to research "ReplyGain" for your music system. It adds a parameter which has the effect of turning the volume control up or down. In your (our) case it turns newer 'Remastered' discs down, and leaves older original discs alone. No more volume jumps.

            It's been a while, but I updated my entire library with one line of command-line voodoo (Linux) and since then used Foobar2000 for everything I've since purchased.

            Totally worth the effort.

          2. Dave K Silver badge

            Re: On air compression

            >>"And it's particularly jarring when I'm listening to my music collection - the old stuff (Genesis, Yes, Camel, some of the classical stuff) is all mastered at lower apparent volume than the newer stuff. So, on shuffle, I'm either deafened or I can't hear the music properly."

            You need a tool such as MP3Gain (there's also some out there for AAC and other such formats). They analyse the loudness of each song and apply ReplayGain to it so that the volume level is consistent (basically by cranking down the volume of newer stuff). Result is that the Beatles sound just as loud as current music. I have it applied to my library and all my songs now sound consistent.

            I particularly like MP3Gain against some other tools that apply ReplayGain as it edits the MP3s themselves (losslessly and reversably, it just tweaks the internal MP3 gain headers for each frame) so that it works even on devices/players that don't support ReplayGain ID3 tags.

            1. Havin_it

              Re: On air compression

              Wanted to mention you can also add ReplayGain tags (both track and album) to FLAC files, the command-line app "metaflac" can do it. My player supports it, but YMMV.

              The loudness issue used to drive me mad on my phone, but after much study I managed to patch the old Android (ICS) Music app to support ReplayGain on MP3s.

              Only problem was when Jelly Bean came along and I recompiled the app, it now has "gapless playback" (i.e. a slight crossfade/segue) which when fading from a song with lots of gain applied to one with none or negative gain, there tends to be a split-second burst of EXTREME LOUDNESS until the equalizer adjusts it to where it should be for the next track. I must try to fix this at some point but I fear by then the AOSP app will be abandonware :(

            2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

              Re: On air compression

              ...the old stuff (Genesis, Yes, Camel, some of the classical stuff) is all mastered at lower apparent volume than the newer stuff.

              I find that even when playing more current tracks, depending on where they were sourced from. Some things from YouTube and NiciNico can be quite variable from one song to the next (hey, where else are you going to find your anisong and vocaloid music when they won't sell it in the US?)

          3. Fihart

            Re: On air compression

            When working with the old Charisma label Genesis were on, I complained about surface noise even on the white label vinyl samples I used for radio ads.

            Rather grudgingly, I was informed that they'd gone for a "classical press" when the live double album "Seconds Out" was produced. Can't say I could hear any difference. Worthwhile seeking the

            fairly recently remastered CD versions of the band's early albums, they really are an improvement.

          4. Nattrash

            Re: On air compression

            @ CrazyOldCatMan

            Not sure whether these quality grades were always like that, but can confirm differences on a case to case basis. Can remember buying UB40s Signing Off when it just came out. Funny thing was however, when I played it, that it sounded very muffled and with a lot of hiss. On top of that, the hole in the middle wasn't centered, making the UBs sound like that man, who had a pair too many, singing, while riding his bicycle on his way home from the pub. I took it back to the shop where I bought it (Yes youngsters, there were actual shops, with real life people, the fleshy type, where you could go to listen and buy music! Or voice your complaint! Or just hang out with other people. That you could see. And talk with! ;-).

            They then told me that it was a version pressed low budget somewhere in Spain. Which they all were because this was an "independent release" thing, or something like that. No better versions available. Later I found the CD in one of those "Discount" racks and bought it on an nostalgic urge. And was surprised how "clear" it sounded. But have to agree with commentards here that this "new" sound takes a lot of getting used to after you got used to the earlier version.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: On air compression

          Your talking about the "loudness wars" where everything was compressed to the point no dynamics were left. Radio stations have been doing this for decades, partly because of regulations, but in the 1990s stuff started to be recorded this way as well. It's becoming less common now though, and has been for quite some time.

        4. uncommon_sense
          Thumb Down

          Re: On air compression

          Quality is not really being done any favours by Content.

          No quality ever sounds good when Justins Beaver goes MEEEOOOOWWWWWWWW...!

      2. Pristine Audio

        Re: On air compression

        A few years back I was involved as a studio engineer in the broadcast of a David Bowie session on Radio One live from BBC Maida Vale. The main engineer that night was my colleague, the legendary Mike Robinson. He'd spent all day getting the sound just right and didn't want to have it screwed up by the notorious "Optimod" radio processors then in use to make everything LOUD. So he called the then controller of Radio One and told him Bowie had refused to play unless the BBC switched out all processing and compression and the listeners got to hear the real thing.

        This was of course bullshit. Bowie was standing next to me, chain-smoking Marlboros and listening to the soundcheck. But it worked... :-)

      3. simonb_london

        Re: On air compression

        Indeed. Radio music has become like a religion. People still do it that exact same way (over-compressed with a playlist of about five rubbish songs) but no one knows why anymore. Anyone wanting less compressed music they actually do want to listen to would go elsewhere.

      4. bitmap animal

        Re: Alternatives?

        On a similar note I urge you not to read "Into The Abyss: Teal and Orange - Hollywood, Please Stop the Madness" as it will spoil 90% of films [ as if they need spoiling more]. It's a few years old but http://theabyssgazes.blogspot.co.uk/2010/03/teal-and-orange-hollywood-please-stop.html conveys the problem quite well.

        Once you're aware, you can't unsee it.

    3. Outcast

      Yup. I bought a CD by Train a while back and even though I played it on low volume it was distorting. I actually thought it was my ageing Arcam Alpha 7 amp biting the dust but playing any of my old CD's afterwards never displayed this anomaly !

      Bloody annoying as the songs on the Train CD are quite good.

      1. IsJustabloke
        Meh

        Train?

        "Bloody annoying as the songs on the Train CD are quite good"

        Is that the bloke that doesn't know / understand the meaning of deja vu?

        1. Andalou

          Re: Train?

          "Is that the bloke that doesn't know / understand the meaning of deja vu?"

          A little unfair to single him out. When is the last time you have seen anyone use the term acceptably? My brain would literally explode with surprise if I did.

        2. Graham Hawkins

          Re: Train?

          That's the trouble. Should have used deja PPM....

    4. John 110
      Facepalm

      Never mind blind tests...

      "Well encoded MP3s can sound virtually indistinguishable from the original CDs in blind tests..."

      What about deaf tests? My ears haven't been the same since I went to see Purple on the Caird Hall in 1974 (supported by Elf). The only way I can get the best out of music these days is like that bloke in the Pratchett quote up there ^ somewhere...

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Never mind blind tests...

        "The only way I can get the best out of music these days is like that bloke in the Pratchett quote up there ^ somewhere..."

        So you know, that "bloke" was Ankh-Morpork's Patrician. A bit of an oddity in terms of tastes, but undoubtedly the most canny potentate on practically all of the Disc.

        Anyway, a deaf test would defeat the purpose. The idea is to blind you so you don't know what you're hearing (or tasting in the case of a taste test). I suppose you could use a deaf test when you're trying to compare two things by eye so you don't pick up on subtle audio clues.

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      "it's easy to see why so many people are satisfied with low-quality streams"

      If you can afford it, you should replace your DSL lines back to the exchange with oxygen free copper, gold plated connectors etc and you'll notice a mahoosive improvement in audio streaming!!

    6. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      "The music industry has to take a lot of the blame."

      Hell yes. Many years ago, er,.... 16, maybe,... I was on a course in London with some colleagues. We were propping up the bar at the hotel, and we attracted the attention of a stray tecchie, who had been presenting some DRM technology to Sony that day. He explained his solution, we pointed out the flaws in his solution, but he was unrepentant that it meant the end to piracy and file sharing. Anyway, cue next week (it was a two week course) and our instructor asked us 'Hey, did you hear about that new Sony audio format?' why, yes we had, from the horse's mouth, 'Hacked in four hours' he said.

      Music labels spent too much effort trying to restrict the distribution of their products than they cared about the products themselves.

  5. Lee Zwager

    Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

    You don't need to eat at a posh restaurant - you can have beans on toast or spaghetti bolognese at home and functionally, you are fed.

    However, if you go to a nice restaurant, you take the time to look the part, go there, eat the best food and make an occasion of it.

    Part of the vinyl experience is the fact that you are taking more time to engage with it. You only bought the best music on vinyl, as anything else is wasting space. Like eating out, you are devoting yourself to the experience, rather than having it on in the background. You can even physically see how the music is happening.

    This changes your self and attitude, so that you appreciate the music more (I doubt it's all the reasons audiophiles give).

    Why would you want to "change your self and attitude" you ask? well, if you're asking that, then you don't need to listen to music anyway.

    Why vinyl? The same reason you occasionally eat out, buy a BMW instead of a Kia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      > Why vinyl? The same reason you buy a BMW

      To look like a knob?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        "The same reason you buy a BMW" - to get the crusty sills welded and fix all the electrical gremlins?

        Sometimes the motors go pop too.

        Oh, did you mean one less than 5 years old? :Company car, is it, Sir? D

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      I won't get into the relative quality of vinyl and CD but I will ask whether you think a BMW is more fragile and difficult to use than a Kia?

      You could be right actually...

      However I go to fancy restaurants to eat food of a quality that I can't get anywhere else, which I don't think really works for this analogy.

    3. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      The BMW comparison is wrong. You buy a BMW because you feel your man snake is inferior to your neighbour.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        "The BMW comparison is wrong. You buy a BMW because you feel your man snake is inferior to your neighbour."

        FFS, is this going to deteriorate into another fucking brand war? windows vs linux, BMW vs kia, MP3 vs FLAC, PS4 vs XB1

        Seriously, its getting ridiculous.

        Can we not just leave people to use/buy what they want without being dicks to each other?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. wolfetone Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

          "FFS, is this going to deteriorate into another fucking brand war? windows vs linux, BMW vs kia, MP3 vs FLAC, PS4 vs XB1"

          Linux isn't a brand.

          It's a way of life.

          1. d3vy Silver badge

            Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

            "Linux isn't a brand.

            It's a way of life."

            While I like to think that is sarcasm I am sure that there are people who actually feel that way and they are ruining it for the rest of us who just want to get on with our work/driving/leisure time.

            PS. My dad could batter your dad.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge

              Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

              "While I like to think that is sarcasm I am sure that there are people who actually feel that way and they are ruining it for the rest of us who just want to get on with our work/driving/leisure time.

              PS. My dad could batter your dad."

              I'm ruining it for no one.

              P.S. My Dad can eat more Big Mac's than your Dad!

            2. Alistair Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

              "PS. My dad could batter your dad."

              Fine, but would he be able to properly fry and dry him and have him come out crispy and flaky?

      2. Flakk

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        I bought a BMW because Richard Hammond made driving one look like so much fun. I can honestly say I have never ever wondered about my neighbor's, um, endowment. That's just weird.

    4. Alan Sharkey

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      Umm - how does one say "bollocks" nicely? I want to listen to the music not have a "whole experience". I also love CD quality and was very glad when I could stop buying black fluff collectors.

      Yes, I do have a decent hifi system and yes, I still play CDs. [And, yes, I actually do have a BMW]

      Alan

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        Yes, I do have a decent hifi system and yes, I still play CDs. [And, yes, I actually do have a BMW]

        As they say, two out of three ain't bad.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

          I listen to music not to hear the music, but to be reminded of all the events surrounding the soundtrack of my life. The way my brain has encoded those engrams doesn't give a monkey's if it's MP3, vinyl, C90 super-chrome, Dolby(tm) compressed, Dolby B, C, SR, HX, AAC, FLAC or The Royal Philharmonic live.

          Although it does draw the line at Woolworth's Ferric C90, which barely managed to hold any kind of a signal.

          And if you needed any kind of a reminder regarding hipster-wankery-audio-phile-bollocks, yep, Type IV metal cassettes, never >60 minutes (or 85m or 280'), played on a Nakamichi 505 or 1000.

          1. tedleaf

            Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

            Blacks or golds ?

            Me,I wish my idiot mother hadn't got rid of my old hi fi system,it's parts are now worth £250.000+ !!

            Cos it was all bought through the trade,ex exhibition/demo kit,I cost me less than 4k,spread over 5 years,which I thought very good value as retail in them days would have been 20 k (ish)

            I reckon the authors vinyl record shops used to sell him seconds on purpose,just to wind him up,me,I never had those kinds of defect problems,either on my "big" system or the family Philips system in the lounge...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

            "I listen to music not to hear the music, but to be reminded of all the events surrounding the soundtrack of my life. The way my brain has encoded those engrams doesn't give a monkey's if it's MP3, vinyl, C90 super-chrome, Dolby(tm) compressed, Dolby B, C, SR, HX, AAC, FLAC or The Royal Philharmonic live."

            As a student and involved in audio for the college theatre, I was appalled to be with a group of musicians listening to a dreadful, crackly vinyl disc on a crap portable record player with a 3 inch loudspeaker and a needle which, I suspect, had at one time been used for sewing blankets. Because they couldn't hear anything wrong with it.

            At that point I realised that musicians - as distinct from audiophiles - really do listen to the music in their heads. Later when I read Pratchett I realised he was quite right.

            Perhaps recording quality is something that engineers obsess over and nobody else does. (Audiophilia, on the other hand, I consider to be trespassing a little on OCD territory.)

          3. Captain Badmouth
            Happy

            Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

            You left out Dolby A as on 1" video tape.

            Anyone got a recording of Dolby tone?- Lovely.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        "Umm - how does one say "bollocks" nicely? "

        Well, in Yes Minister, Jim Hacker wrote 'Round objects'.

        Only problem was Sir Humphry replied 'Who is Round and to what does he object?'

        1. H in The Hague

          Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

          "Well, in Yes Minister, Jim Hacker wrote 'Round objects'.

          Only problem was Sir Humphry replied 'Who is Round and to what does he object?' "

          I seem to remember that some earlier and nonfictional civil servant wrote that, and that the response came from Winston Churchill.

          Have a good weekend!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

            "I seem to remember that some earlier and nonfictional civil servant wrote that, and that the response came from Winston Churchill."

            I thought everyone knew that Yes [Prime]Minister was a documentary only very thinly disguised as a comedy.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

          "Well, in Yes Minister, Jim Hacker wrote 'Round objects'.

          Only problem was Sir Humphry replied 'Who is Round and to what does he object?'"

          I heard that one for the first time at least ten years before Yes Minister. It probably originated with some pissed off junior clerk in the Navy Board in around 1547.

          The old ones are the good ones, though.

      3. Norman Nescio Silver badge

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        Alan Sharkey said:

        Yes, I do have a decent hifi system and yes, I still play CDs. [And, yes, I actually do have a BMW]

        +++

        ...and I have several BWVs in my collection. I particularly like the BWV 525

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOTtDYTc5JY

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      >Why vinyl?

      Because you're an idiot who is easily lead. It's a fucking shit medium, the Austin Allegro of recording formats that's inferior to digital in every respect.

      >You can even physically see how the music is happening.

      Bollocks, no you can't. If you want that then go and see the players live. Stop waxing testicles or they'll be offering you a job on the Antiques Road Show or the wine program.

      >audiophiles

      Isn't Jimmy Savile one of those ?

      Anyway we did all this nonsense the other day.

    6. DJV Silver badge

      Re: "You can even physically see how the music is happening."

      Back in the 1970s, I almost convinced a work colleague that, if you looked very closely into a vinyl's grooves, you could see the lyrics that were being sung.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: "You can even physically see how the music is happening."

        @DJV

        Truth will out?: Arthur Lintgen, the Groove Reader.

        1. Chris Holford
          Boffin

          Re: "You can even physically see how the music is happening."

          http://presrec.com/terms/b/buchmann.html

    7. Stuart 22

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      "[screaming] just fucking play the fucking thing you fucking fucker"

      Aha, yes - the magic words if repeated sufficient times and remembering not to stamp one's feet too hard actually proved the sentience of my Shure M75E. It would eventually obey - ONCE, AND ONCE ONLY before making a jump for freedom.

      But at least we had albums worth trying to play ;-)

    8. Kane Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      "You can even physically see how the music is happening."

      Errr....what? Are holographic likenesses of the members of my favourite band being projected from the vinyl?

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        "Errr....what? Are holographic likenesses of the members of my favourite band being projected from the vinyl?"

        Well, now that you mention it, erm... it kinda actually just might do exactly that...

    9. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      To be precise, listening to vinyl is like eating in one of those posh restaurants where they offer a sort of Edwardian menu consisting entirely of roasts, steak pudding, jam roll and custard and Stilton.

      I have a BMW, but the music system won't play FLAC. It only does MP3, CDA and WMF.

    10. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      You remind me of an acquaintance who, if given a glass of wine out of a cardboard box with a plastic bag in it, would wax lyrical about the bouquet, the overtones of cinnamon and cat's piss and then go on to tell you about the vine growing on a south facing slope on a slag heap near Carmarthen.

      He was full of crap too.

      I suspect a Kia will be a better value for money buy than a beemer over it's life, will cost less for sparrs repairs, insurance and devalue less , I prefer my beat up old LandRover anyway.

      In it's,day vinyl wasn't too bad but as the music industry grew, bean counters did thier best to maximize profits so discs became thinner and lighter and consequently the grooves became shallower, hence the skiipping that became so common without putting a sand bag on the arm.

      I still prefer cds to vinyl and the cassette tape was more like the Austin Allegro of Audio, if had a quid for every foot of tangled tape....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        "I suspect a Kia will be a better value for money buy than a beemer over it's life, will cost less for sparrs repairs, insurance and devalue less , I prefer my beat up old LandRover anyway."

        You realize that BMW-owner isn't interested in absolute cost, but what he gets with that cost, thus rendering "it costs so much" quite irrelevant: It's expensive only for a poor.

        Is it better to drive than Kia? No doubt about that. What is the monetary value of that?

        I rather drive very old BMW than newer KIA .... the latter really isn't a luxury car.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      More like putting a BMW badge on your Cortina.

      If you're dead set on the the vinyl vibe, but only have digital sources, you can filter them through an audio plugin. There's one from iZotope - called 'Vinyl'. It's free.

      After applying some pretty harsh EQ to the mids, it lets you mix in a number of other non-musical sound sources and adjust other parameters to get the authentic vinyl experience :

      AC hum, mechanical turntable noise, rumble, hiss, groove wear, dust, scratches, disc warping.

      Instantly better, unless you're not stoned off your t*ts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

        "After applying some pretty harsh EQ to the mids, it lets you mix in a number of other non-musical sound sources and adjust other parameters to get the authentic vinyl experience :

        AC hum, mechanical turntable noise, rumble, hiss, groove wear, dust, scratches, disc warping."

        This is bullshit.

        Vinyl has basically frequency response straight, not curve and similar to CD.

        On others those are as authentic as scratched CD which sticks on the same groove generating rap: It can happen but then you've fucked up the media and you are the only guilty on that.

        Except noise: Vinyl has audible noise if you listen it loud enough but at least in an apartment I can't listen that loud, neighbours will complain.

        I somehow see a person who never has had a decent record player and believes everything he has been told about them.

    12. Kiwi Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

      You don't need to eat at a posh restaurant - you can have beans on toast or spaghetti bolognese at home and functionally, you are fed.

      However, if you go to a nice restaurant, you take the time to look the part, go there, eat the best food and make an occasion of it.

      I've been to some expensive restaurants. Total waste of time. The food is only of quality to tossers and posers. The quality is poor, the taste is bland, and the quantity matches the lack of everything else. I can do much better with what my cat leaves in the litterbox than most restaurants. I would rather a home-cooked meal than any restaurant crap.

      And no wonder. If shoutyfreak on TV is anything to go by, then the people who prepare your food spend much of their time being belittled and yelled at by some worthless piece of crap who makes up for his severe inferiority complex by screaming at others. Food made with love and patience, whether the love is for the food or the company, is much more enjoyable than food made in places like that, regardless of the floorscrapings "quality ingredients".

      Part of the vinyl experience is the fact that you are taking more time to engage with it. You only bought the best music on vinyl, as anything else is wasting space.

      Nope. We brought what was available. Ok, small rural town so getting the latest Motorhead etc was not going to be easy at the best of times. I still have some of that vinyl as well, and still have many more cassettes. Vinyl was fragile, needed a hell of a lot of care and effort to get the best from it. "Engage with it"? It was a fucking nightmare most of the time, especially when "Caught somewhere in time" became "caught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groocaught in that groo". Like fancy restaurants, the artwork was great but the experience was shit. Or soon became shit.

      Like eating out, you are devoting yourself to the experience, rather than having it on in the background. You can even physically see how the music is happening.

      I am a bass guitarist, and spent much of my high-school years in the school's metal/rock band and also did at least 3 church services each week into my mid 20's, and a hell of a lot of other performing. That is "seeing how the music is happening". What you're talking about is the musical equivalent of nascar racing.. Round and round and round and round round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round....

      This changes your self and attitude, so that you appreciate the music more (I doubt it's all the reasons audiophiles give).

      It's also rubbish. My "engagement" with music, other than when I was playing it live, is to have spent time and money on speakers over the years, and a bit on the amps. In my life I've probably spent a total of maybe 50 bucks on cables, but that's because a) a friend gave me some decent quality wire and b) I have enough brains to know that the chemistry of the wire means nothing for carrying signal, what is important that 1) the wire is able to carry sufficient current to drive the speakers (and each channel is roughly the same gauge - using different gauges of wire may cause issues) and 2) the wire is sufficiently shielded from interference (whether speaker wire or source->amp wires). And time finding a mix of stuff I really really like and stuff that is background noise. Enjoyable background noise but if I don't consciously hear it I don't miss it. It makes the stuff I like more enjoyable. Like the dinner plates poorer families use for special occasions - it's because they're only used on special occasions that makes the occasion that much more enjoyable.

      I listen to music at least 12 hours each and every day.

      Why would you want to "change your self and attitude" you ask? well, if you're asking that, then you don't need to listen to music anyway.

      You know my musical life-story (well some of it). I'm still asking. Why? Because I want to see if you can justify that line of elitist bullshit. No? Course you can't. Deep down you know it's another crap line.

      Why vinyl? The same reason you occasionally eat out, buy a BMW instead of a Kia.

      When I eat out, I'd rather get drivethrough McD's and take it to a nice beach or some other beautiful spot with someone who's company I enjoy than go and sit with a bunch of toffs. I'd rather be able to take my music with me than have the bulk of vinyl - and I can do without the clicks and pops and scratches and that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling that special groovy feeling<scraaaape> sorry stuck needle again. Oh, and BMW's? Absolute shit, built only for upthemselves retards with more dollars than sense, people who value themselves by trying to show off to other people, rather than by people who know quality. A good mate owned one for a little while, and while the price was high the build quality and materials quality was way beyond shit. I have a 1995 elcheapo Mazda wago. It's done near 400,000k. It's had the radiator replaced, but nothing else on the engine bar for plugs and belts. I do have to repair one of the window winders now as well. My mate's 2005 bmw? Twice he had to replace the driver's door handle because the metal it was made from was absolutely crap metal, prone to fracturing. The handle was hard to come by, as they were in high demand. The fancy electronic displays crapped out over and over, at expensive prices till he decided not to bother. Wipers that were automatic, and generally defaulted to "off" even when he needed them on. Same for the lights. An utterly shit-ly built pile of refuse that he paid a lot for, and sold for nearly what he paid.

      Music? Get the best speakers you can afford (I would kill for some nice electrostatic ones TBH, but what I have is good enough for now), put whatever you can spare into a decent amp, and use decent quality source material where you can. I have music that is recorded at a low quality that is more enjoyable than stuff that was recorded higher, because that person playing that average sounding bass riff in that song performed by amateurs having a bit of a laugh on stage? That was me, and it was an awesome time.

      (Sorry to those whose bandwidth for the month was just used up :) )

      Glue-sniffer icon? How I think audiophiles really spend their time....

  6. d3vy Silver badge

    That video player is terrible...

  7. Alister Silver badge

    just take one step back to CD. You'll get fantastic quality audio, no skipping or crackling,

    Hmm, beg to differ. CDs are not immune from the dreaded skipping.

    This may be a consequence of having young offspring who apparently see CDs as an occasional side plate for their food, or a coaster for their fruit juice, in addition to their data and audio holding properties...

    1. SloppyJesse
      Gimp

      What? No, you must be mistaken. You can put jam on top of your cd and it will still play. Saw it on that top technology show.

      ... they didn't try a second cd. Perhaps they only had one to demo with.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        ... they didn't try a second cd. Perhaps they only had one to demo with.

        Perhaps the disk was fine, but the CD player was stuck up with jam, and was therefore, er, toast.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        CD's ain't what they used to be

        The early CDs were a sandwich of two acrylic disks with a pressed metal foil layer in the middle.

        As a result, they were a lot more resilient to damage than modern CDs

        Modern CDs are a single acrylic disk with a foil layer on the top, and a layer of ink and lacquer on the top of that. This means that the all important foil layer is a lot more vulnerable to damage. Scratch the lacquer, and the CD is irreparable damaged.

        BTW. if the lower surface of the disk gets scratched, using Goddard's silver polish or Brasso to polish the sharp edges off the scratches can often make the disk playable again.

        I've also found that optical disks (CD and DVD) sometimes don't play properly out of the packaging. My thoughts are that there is some form of lubricant used to allow the disk to move through the production process because if a disk skips ore doesn't play when new, wash it in dish washing detergent, rinse it and dry thoroughly. Has worked for me several times,

  8. Undergrid
    WTF?

    "... some key MP3 patents have been allowed to expire ..."

    "... some key MP3 patents have been allowed to expire ..."

    Uh, no it doesn't work like that. Even if the Fraunhofer Institute wanted to keep the technology under patent, there's a point where the law says that just not possible. Patents allow the holder to benefit from their work for a period of time (licence fees in this case) and when they expire anyone can use that innovation.

    So is MP3 dead (like The Register's headline on a recent article claimed)? Hardly. Billions of devices, services, operating systems and applications out there support the format and now it's patent free (and thus license free) anyone can add it to their devices or software at no cost.

    MP3 may not be the best audio codec (and I'm pretty sure no matter which one you claim is, someone is going to disagree with you) but it's good enough for many things and it isn't going away any time soon.

    1. MrWibble

      Re: "... some key MP3 patents have been allowed to expire ..."

      Exactly, it's not dead, it's been freed - Now it's patent free, surely it's more likely to be used in more and more odd / random IoT stuff?

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: "... some key MP3 patents have been allowed to expire ..."

        MP3 isn't now "patent-free".

        MP3 IP always had two parents: Thomson/Frauenhofer, and AT&T. Frauenhofer allowed its patents to lapse and mothballed the licensing program last month. Microsoft discovered the hard way a few years ago that Alcatel had a ton too. A few are still enforceable.

  9. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Quality of vinyl

    Back in the day, I used to keep an eye open for imported Japanese pressings of albums, available via mail order from some specialist record stores (from a paper catalogue, via the post - we're talking very-pre-Interweb).

    Unlike the LPs that we were used to here in Blightly, the Japanese pressings used better quality vinyl and - crucially - took a lot fewer pressings from a single master. An LP for the UK market could have been pressing number 20,000 from a now well-worn master, whereas the Japanese factories generally discarded a master after around 7,500 pressings.

    1. PickledAardvark

      Re: Quality of vinyl

      Back in the day, I had no money so I bought grey import pressings from Selectadisc in Nottingham -- three record shops in one city, two on one street! The vinyl is super floppy and the sound is a bit peaky. I have grey import and original UK versions of Lou Reed's Transformer and you don't need good ears to hear the difference. Even so, the grey import sounds pleasanter than some "remastered" CDs and it still plays unlike many carefully handled CDs after ten years.

      1. Fogcat

        Re: Quality of vinyl

        Aahhhh Selectadisc ... have an upvote for memories of a "real" record shop. (They actually had a branch in Soho for a short while as well)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Quality of vinyl

          They actually had a branch in Soho for a short while as well

          I believe there are still a number of shops in Soho where you can buy vinyl products, if you know where to look.

    2. Pangasinan Philippines

      Re: Quality of vinyl

      In the 70's I lived in Hong Kong and sought out digitally mastered vinyl by Denon.

      Also direct cut disks from Sheffield Labs were a cut (pun intended) above the normal vinyl pressings.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Quality of vinyl

        I had 2 copies of the Sheffield Labs LP 'I've Got The Music In Me' by Thelma Houston and Pressure Cooker, one was for playing and the other was unplayed for keeping. It sounded amazing with no discernible pops/clicks/artifacts. After I had to get rid of our LP12/Naim, I got £10 for one and £200 for the other. The digital "lossless album" version that I now have is really not the same...

      2. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Quality of vinyl

        Pangasinan. Denon is good for everything they make. My everyday stereo system is Denon circa 1990, The amp is tiny but weighs as much as a mini ( well, not quite), even the twin tape deck still works perfectly, unfortunately I have only two listenable tapes. The record deck is one of the parallel motion types and still plays well. Wish I still had my vinyl collection from the '70s but it was attacked by an ex girlfriend.

    3. Missing Semicolon
      Happy

      Re: Quality of vinyl

      Indeed. And the popping and crackling could be avoided by keeping the record clean, and never playing it dirty (the dust could make little pinkles in the groove when played).

      Oh, and don't dump the stylus in the middle of a track, you muppet!

      Skipping is cause by having the tone arm incorrectly weighted, or the anti-skate spring incorrectly set.

    4. Outcast

      Re: Quality of vinyl

      Or just buy Direct Cut albums.

      If you can afford them or even find them which is actually like trying to find elusive D³ (DDD) CD's

    5. tedleaf

      Re: Quality of vinyl

      Or German,are nimbus still in business ?

    6. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Quality of vinyl

      Vinyl, pah! For a truly warm, old-fashioned sound you need wax cylinders.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quality of vinyl

        "Vinyl, pah! For a truly warm, old-fashioned sound you need wax cylinders."

        Apparently reel to reel tape is the "best" analogue format, and is seeing an upsurge in interest amongst the hipsterati.

        (I own a Revox reel to reel, but only use it as a stage prop for a band I play in).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MP3 Gone?

    Is it time to .WAV it goodbye?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: MP3 Gone?

      You're going to get some FLAC for that

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: MP3 Gone?

        Yes I know I made the same pun the other day, but you guys kept ogging me on with the upvotes...

        1. Graham Hawkins

          Re: MP3 Gone?

          AU pull the other one.

  11. James12345
    Meh

    Rather than like buying a BMW

    Isn't going down the vinyl audiophile thing more like buying a Morgan or a Bristol - loads of money spent on something not as good as mainstream and makes the person who buys it feel special (but look a tit)?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Rather than buying a BMW

      Isn't going down the vinyl audiophile thing more like buying a Morgan or a Bristol

      Part of it is - some people are buying old high-end hi-fi turntables that were probably rather better engineered and reliable than many boutique cars. But most vinyl buyers have acquired the modern equivalent of the Dansette record player to reproduce their expensively-bought pressings made, I assume, on life-expired plant. By all objective assessments the sound quality is not merely inferior to CD, but absolute crap. Is anyone lauding the virtues of vinyl actually aware of the trade-off between playing time and compression that goes into mastering an LP, or have they heard music on anything other than a crappy bluetooth speaker?

      I'm moving house at present and transferring the small amount of vinyl I have (stuff that's deleted or that I listen to so rarely it's not worth re-acquring) to MP3 so I can junk it and save myself having to carry it. I'm also digitising my remaining Laserdiscs - the ones that don't have bit-rot and brutal pillarboxing, though I won't be junking as many as people seem prepared to pay silly prices for them*.

      However, anything I'm actually likely to listen to or watch regularly, then I'm hanging on to the CDs and or DVDs, though I have them available ripped for convenience. I'm also hanging on to my LS3/5As, but they now hang off a Class D amplifier because they're now good enough too.

      *Edit: I wish to make it clear I will be deleting digital copies of any media I subequently sell. Because, clearly, I woudn't steal a movie studio.

    2. Dazed and Confused

      Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

      Isn't going down the vinyl audiophile thing more like buying a Morgan or a Bristol - loads of money spent on something not as good as mainstream and makes the person who buys it feel special (but look a tit)?

      Well perhaps not a exactly a Morgan or Bristol but until recently I had classic car, by any subjective measure it was inferior to a modern car. But who gives a F*** about subjective measurements. Modern cars like BWMs are comparatively boring to drive and of course you don't really drive them, there's a computer buried in the heart of it which does a lot of the driving for you, so there's no sense of satisfaction in all the little actions that go into driving. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want use a classic as an everyday car, for merely getting from A to B or for popping down to the supermarket the classic would be a PITA but for those bright Sunday mornings when you want to go out and have some fun no modern I've ever driven comes close.

      When it comes to convenience MP3 is fine. Now that Amazon do "autorip" I've got rows of CDs on the shelf still in their wrappers. But without the convenience of autorip I may well not have bought them. I like to have the physical media, I want something I can feel that I can touch and I can own. But for the vast majority of my listening MP3 is good enough and it's really convenient and everything plays it. I can't see a car manufacture in the near future producing a car "radio" that doesn't play MP3, can you?

      My classic had a radio when I bought it, but it had an oil leak so I removed it. :-)

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

        When it comes to convenience MP3 is fine. Now that Amazon do "autorip" I've got rows of CDs on the shelf still in their wrappers.

        Sometimes the CD with autorip is cheaper than buying the album in MP3 form.

      2. Chronos Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

        16 valves: All of them in the radio, eh?

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

          "16 valves?"

          Most Radios only need four or five, though stereo needs a few extra. Look at how many valves (tubes) a Scott radio used! Mad.

          1. Chronos Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

            I know it's anode joke but there's a filament of truth in it...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

            "Most Radios only need four or five, [...]"

            The constraint on any analogue audio amplification is staying in the linear part of a device's response curve over the whole dynamic range - yet with a reasonable signal to noise ratio.

            A classic decent superhet radio needed an RF pre-amp, an oscillator, a frequency mixer, two IF stages, a detector, an audio amp, and an output amp. Double up the audio if it is stereo. Throw in another device for full wave AC/DC power. Some of those functions were doubled up into one valve envelope. You could even throw in another valve as a "magic eye" tuning indicator.

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

      I had an interesting Digital Epiphany a couple of years ago.

      I have a HiFi cherry-picked from the high end of the budget part of the market over many years, with one weak element in that I used whatever CD player I could get (although I always bought a HiFi brand name, the last one was a Technics).

      With this set-up, over several different CD players, I always preferred my vinyl copies over the CDs whenever I had the the same music on both formats.

      I took the attitude that a CD player was a CD player because, when all is said and done, prior to the DAC in the player it was all digital, and modern DAC chipsets were cheap and good enough to not matter any more!

      One car boot sale, I found someone selling a Marantz CD player with digital output, and a Cambridge Audio DACMagic 2 at a very reasonable price.

      Now, this is not a high-end DAC, and got rather mixed reviews when it was first produced. But the difference it made when playing my CDs compared to the Technics was absolutely astounding! And I also found that the DACMagic was better than the DAC in the Marantz CD player as well. I could not believe my ears at the clarity and instrument separation, pretty much identical to the vinyl, and spent many hours repeating the comparison of vinyl to CD, much to my wife's dismay ("why do you have to listen to the same track more than once?")

      As such, I've realized that my preference was not really a vinyl vs. CD, but a good turntable/cartridge compared to a mediocre CD player. I wonder whether there are other people here who have has decent turntables and cartridges, but merely adequate CD players?

      I still listen to both, but now the surface noise issue on vinyl, which I accepted as a necessary evil is actually more of an issue than it used to be with the old CD players.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

        Peter - Perhaps, we had a Naim CD player that sounded good with the rest of the Naim kit. My wife preferred the sound of the LP12 though (I agreed with her, obviously).

      2. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Rather than like buying a BMW

        "I had an interesting Digital Epiphany a couple of years ago."

        As long as you know when you're listening to one and when the other I'll remain EXCEEDINGLY skeptical of that.

  12. PhilipN Silver badge

    Fidelity portable

    Luxury!

    Mind you - I played to death Concerto for Group and Orchestra (those who know, know) on a 13 quid turntable from Woollies and when I hear it now on CD, accepted it is clearer, but there is nowt coming from the CD which I did not hear on the record.

    As for background hiss, unless it gets ridiculous our brains tune it out, just as it does with ambient noise every moment of the day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fidelity portable

      When visiting my grandfather - my sibling and I would play his shellac records on the large wind-up gramophone. An imposing cabinet of veneered wood on curved legs. The arm was chrome plated - and tipped with a steel needle. The volume was controlled by the amount two little doors were open.

      It had presumably been made to allow for records prior to the 78rpm standard - as it had a slider for speed control. We loved to lug the large bound volume of Handel's Messiah recordings from a cupboard - and select the record with the Hallelujah Chorus. The slider control allowed a large amount of dynamic speed control for a frequency range from chipmunk to Marvin - until my grandfather objected to the sacrilege.

    2. Patrician

      Re: Fidelity portable

      ..."Concerto for Group and Orchestra"...

      I know; in my collection too ...

    3. Geoff Campbell
      Thumb Up

      Re: Fidelity portable

      Have an up-vote in memory of Jon Lord, may he forever RIP.

      GJC

      1. Missing Semicolon

        Re: Fidelity portable

        "more than enough is never too much".......

    4. smudge Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Fidelity portable

      I played to death Concerto for Group and Orchestra (those who know, know)

      Not only do I have it, but I have the DVD too. Was at both nights of the 30th anniversary shows at the RAH in 1999. And have the DVD and CDs of that. Plus a bootleg of the material that wasn't released. Saw them perform it on tour in Prague in 2000. And have the 2012 studio version.

      But I bought a BMW today :(

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "only to watch his grandson pop a smartphone into a glass tumbler in the kitchen"

    My parents used to reminisce about putting their family crystal set headphones in a tin bucket as an amplifier.

    When transistor radios came out - what was missing was the bass range. Pre-war valve radio sets often had a big speaker in a solid wooden cabinet. You hear the effect on any programme that includes a snatch of "This is the Home Service".

    Nowadays if I want to listen to my CDs properly I shun the many mini-audio systems in the house - and retire to the lounge. The Ditton 10 speakers cost me £10 - most of my first week's wage packet - and they were second hand too.

    The rest of the hi-fi system components over the years have long been discarded - Garrard 2025, Garrard SP25. Recently bought a Garrard AP76 to transcribe a few LPs that have never re-appeared on later media. It is disappointing that the arm skids on the most extreme dynamic range track on the audio test record - do I expect too much?

    One of the rare LPs came with a CD transcription that has a single "click" - there may be a case for removing it with software.

  14. AbelSoul
    Trollface

    Re: you do notice the difference.

    Dae ye, aye?

  15. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    Or you could buy the CD, rip to some lossless format (I actually favour WMA simply because it has nearly universal support) and enjoy the quality of CD audio with the convenience of modern streaming technology.

    Then again you can listen to a modern CD recording, sigh at the poor dynamic range and decide that, really, you might as well just buy the MP3 and save yourself the bother of ripping and the inconvenience of storing CDs.

    But speaking of vinyl one of the most impressive recording feats I ever came across was (and I'm not saying how I came across it). A greatest hits album by Olivia Newton-John. It was nearly 100 minutes long. So nearly 45 minutes per side. Of course it was a real bugger trying to position the stylus for a particular track but whoever mastered it deserves some kind of award :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Then again you can listen to a modern CD recording, sigh at the poor dynamic range and decide that

      Another perpetuated urban myth:

      "The dynamic range of vinyl, when evaluated as the ratio of a peak sinusoidal amplitude to the peak noise density at that sine wave frequency, is somewhere around 80 dB. Under theoretically ideal conditions, this could perhaps improve to 120 dB. The dynamic range of CDs, when evaluated on a frequency-dependent basis and performed with proper dithering and oversampling, is somewhere around 150 dB. Under no legitimate circumstances will the dynamic range of vinyl ever exceed the dynamic range of CD, under any frequency, given the wide performance gap and the physical limitations of vinyl playback"

      Source:

      http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=Myths_(Vinyl)

      1. Fading Silver badge

        May be true....

        But look at the shape of the music through a graphic equaliser on a modern CD compared to the original vinyl - the modern CD is mixed for volume and has no shape - all at max.... So yes the CD has more dynamic range but pretty meaningless if it's all set to eleven :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: May be true....

          >But look at the shape of the music through a graphic equaliser......

          That's really scientific isn't it ?

          Do you know dynamic range on vinyl also falls of the closer you get to the centre ? Think angular velocity and radius.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: May be true....

            Do you know dynamic range on vinyl also falls of the closer you get to the centre ? Think angular velocity and radius.

            Hence the popularity of 12" 45rpm singles during the 1980's: higher circular velocity even near the centre of the disc, and more lateral room for the groove. I've even seen a few of those being cut spiraling outward so that the bits with the highest dynamic, usually at the end of the song, got the better suited disc area. Played havoc with autostop/autolift players, though.

      2. 's water music Silver badge

        >Then again you can listen to a modern CD recording, sigh at the poor dynamic range and decide that

        Another perpetuated urban myth:

        "The dynamic range of vinyl... is somewhere around 80 to 120 dB. The dynamic range of CDs...[is] around 150 dB

        I think the meme is that the modern dynamic range compression is in the mastering not the medium limitations (I make no comment on the accuracy of this beleif)

        Source:

        http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=Myths_(Vinyl)

        hydrogen=oxygen-free? (IGMC)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >I think the meme is that the modern dynamic range compression is in the mastering

          That's nothing comparing to the mastering you have to do for the limitations of vinyl. You can't master loudly for it because the needle jumps out of it's groove.

          Moot point anyway if you are mastering thrash metal, deafness is the desired objective rather the than the subltely of the flute section.

          hydrogen=oxygen-free? (IGMC) - the use of their wiki was quite deliberate because if the Spanish Inquisition have finally accepted heresy then it must be true.

      3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Modern sound engineering

        I think he's complaining about the engineering and mastering of modern recordings rather than the actual limits on the media.

        I don't buy much modern music, but I was appalled by the mastering of "Memory Almost Full" by Paul McCartney when I bought it (stop sniggering at the back, he can still write a good song or two). The first thing I did was to rip the CD and put it onto my laptop and phone, where I listened to it quite a lot, and it sounded OK.

        A while back (just after I added a DAC to my Hi-Fi - see a previous post in this thread), I put the CD on and came to the conclusion that the sound engineering on this album is just crap. It's a mainly acoustic album, but it's been pushed so that it's right at the top of the dynamic range, and as a result, sounds terrible on a decent HiFi. It actually sounds like it's clipping frequently. I guess that the rip I did (using one of the Linux MP3 encoders) must have cleaned it up. Either that, or the DAC or the pre-amp in my Hi-Fi amp is being pushed beyond it's capabilities, but I don't hear this on other CDs.

        Paul is a pro, so I guess that either his hearing is dropping off, or he's never listened to the CD. I cannot otherwise imagine how he let this audio mess (just shut up, I think the songs are quite good) get released.

      4. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        I know that the CD has a greater dynamic range than vinyl. That was one of its great strengths. No I'm referring to the fallout from The Loudness Wars. A lot (all?) modern pop is recorded with a fairly flat range. It's not as bad as it was but a lot of albums still sound compressed to my ears even the ones I've ripped myself.

      5. pxd

        Good link - but . . .

        Thank you for the link. I followed it and discovered a number of things I didn't know before, including a few statements that tend to slightly contradict the point you made, and flatly contradict the general anti-vinyl statements made by some other posters in this discussion. For example: "Commonly there is audio content up to 23-24 kHz on many vinyl records. Many instruments have overtones up to 100 kHz. See article: http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~boyk/spectra/spectra.htm"

        Handling the high frequencies generated by many instruments will cause a lot of problems for digital kit. Choices appear to be to savagely filter out the unwanted high frequency content (which has lots of bad effects on the phase of the remaining signal) or fail to remove the unwanted high frequency content (ditto). If you remember that music starts as an analog process (violin. guitar, drum, human voice) and ends as an analog process (manipulation of tiny bones in human ears), it may not be so surprising that dumping a lot of digital signal processing in the middle is actually a lot easier to get wrong than to get right.

        I remain a committed vinyl fan, although I spend much more of my time listening to digitally stored data than to LPs. It's the convenience . . . pxd

        1. simpfeld

          Re: Good link - but . . .

          If you read further though it says "There are rarely, if ever, any ultrasonic frequencies for vinyl" "cutting equipment typically includes a low-pass filter to avoid overheating the cutting head with ultrasonic frequencies, however the commonly found audio information up to 23-24 kHz is still present at significant amplitude on vinyl records.".

          The validity of this audio "data" is still very disputed (often thought to be mainly distortion).

          The question can this be reproduced on my speakers and can I hear any of this? I don't believe anyone has shown the ability to hear this.

          I ran a test here as a quick test: http://www.audiocheck.net/audiotests_frequencycheckhigh.php

          I can hear 16 kHz on my office equipment maybe my equipment but well below Nyquist at CD sampling rates (20 kHz is usual).

          Going on about high frequencies mainly looks like grasping at straws with Vinyl. I'm happy to lose this for the ability to lose things I definitely can hear clicks, noise. And the worst of the worst often to master vinyl low frequencies have to be in mono (before you say it, above the frequency of your mono sub-woofer, so yes you are losing something).

          The valid reasons to like Vinyl are artwork, you like the sound (but lets face facts it's a distortion you like, plain and simple) and (the only valid sound one) to avoid the loudness war on certain recordings. Though your best bet to preserve this would be to rip the record first time to FLAC and never play it again. This will always sound better than the original vinyl played many times. Sample it to capture the above 20K stuff if you must.

          The thing that annoys me about vinyl enthusiasts is it's just anti-science. Crap like double-blind experiments doesn't apply to audio! The ultrasonics add a feel (without any evidence or proof). I'm afraid this sort of thinking leads to global warming denial, vaccines cause autism, the size of an inauguration crowds etc

          But back to audio. If you put an analogue signal into a ADC and back out to DAC it will be identical (not just similar but identical) if it's in the sampled Nyquist range (forgetting about the inaudible noise floor). No analogue medium can do this or get near to this. The maths is very well understood.

          The talk reference on hydrogenaud.io is really good about the myths about digital audio. He demos the above. https://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml

          1. Pangasinan Philippines

            Re: Good link - but . . .

            I had a Sansui 4 channel system with CD-4 included along with QS and SQ matrix decoding.

            The JVC stylus (on my Thorens TD 160 turntable, SME MkII fixed headshell arm) was there to extract the carrier signal on the vinyl at up to 50kHz.

          2. pxd

            @ simpfeld

            I think you may have missed my point: many original sources of music are capable of emitting energy at frequencies that are not well handled by digital equipment. Correctly engineered, maintained and operated, analog recording systems can capture those frequencies and pass them along. Of course I cannot hear them, but that is not the point. Digital equipment behaves very badly when fed with data outside the frequency spectrum it is designed to receive, and the bad behaviour is heard as poor sound quality. To avoid this issue, you have to filter the unwanted frequencies beforehand. Over steep filtering causes phase shifts in the remaining signal, while gentle filtering avoids the phase issues but either fails to remove the unwanted frequencies, or removes part of the desired input signal. I work with seismic data in the oil and gas industry, and this is a very common dilemma that seismic data processors face every day. Some good digital music equipment handles the issue well, but most cheap kit does not, and the result is pretty poor sound quality.

            The analog systems I refered to above are never inexpensive, but a lot of great music has been recorded with this sort of kit: crossed-pair mikes running into high speed half-inch reel to reel tapes; and cut to high quality heavy vinyl disks, printed in limited numbers. Those disks, played with very sensitive moving coil cartridges, into amplifiers powerful enough to deal with the very low amplitude output from the MC cartridge, make very good sounds indeed.

            Can you do the same with a digital system? Of course, but are we really expected to believe that bcause of some mysterious property instrinsic to the digital world, proper engineering is no longer the difference between digital systems or recordings that sound like crap, and digital systems that sound great? I don't think so, and that proper engineering typically isn't cheap. pxd

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      A greatest hits album by Olivia Newton-John. It was nearly 100 minutes long

      whoever mastered it deserves some kind of award

      For patience under extreme duress?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Happy

        But to be fair, they certainly minimised the amount of plastic being wasted on the project :)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I stuck with CDs

    CDs give me lossless audio, no DRM, persistence (don't have to worry about losing it all my music due to some software/hardware issue, or because the original company went bust and the licensing servers are down, etc...), and ability to format shift.

    Also, CDs are cheap, I guess because a lot of people have bought into the "online music" thing, they are getting rid of CDs. I go to market/charity/car boot sales, with a £20 note, and can usually walk away with 30 odd CDs. My last binge on CDs averaged around 39p per song. At that price I can afford to try bands I never heard of, or genres I don't usually go for, or just buy a CD because the cover looked interesting. Sometimes half the fun is finding out about a really good artist just that way.

    Also, the older 90s and 80s CDs were not compressed to hell (excluding pop music), they actually made use of the entire dynamic range of the CD. So getting an earlier version of an album is better than a later "digitally remastered" album, where they usually turn up the loudness, compress the hell out of it, and generally ruin the recording.

    The format shifting is also important. Once purchased the CDs get ripped to FLAC, and stored on my server. I use a nice little open source program called flac2all which will encode and tag my flacs to MP3 (for the car mp3 player) and vorbis (for my rockbox powered ipod, although looking more and more at opus now that flac2all seems to support it).

    After that, the CDs spend their life either on the shelf, or in my HiFi CD player. Not only that, one day I can sell those CDs on if I want, or I can lend them out, swap them for something else, or leave them to my descendants. I can't do any of that with online music.

    Also, mp3 only really took off because of the crap internet speeds and low storage of the day. I (and people I knew ) listened to mp3 not because it was better then a CD, but because the CDs would be £20 a pop in the 90s, while the mp3 was free and you could squeeze one out down your modem or ISDN line in an hour or so. Not to mention Uni's and their massive networks, with napster and DC++ programs allowing mass sharing between students.

    Plus when CD recorders came out, you could swap mp3 CDs with hundreds of songs with your mates and build your collection out. a 40GB disk could store thousands of songs. It was the convenience and flexibility that mp3 provided, not anything about the quality, that made it popular.

    If it wasn't mp3, some other format would have taken its place. It could have been ATRAC (used by minidiscs) had Sony not been a massive turd and refused to licence the codec out for computers until it was too late and mp3 ate their lunch.

    Now, we no longer have the bandwidth and storage constraints we had back then. We also have better codecs if you want lossy compression, so mp3 is pretty much done in my book.

    What it has, is inertia. So much legacy out there, it is the lowest common denominator. You are pretty much guaranteed that a music player will be able to play a MP3, especially if there is no licencing involved anymore. It will be the BMP format of music.

    Only pains for me is re-ripping the entire collection, if push comes to shove. I am thinking that my next home project shall be an attempt at a robotic CD ripper. The storage issues I don't mind too much.

    1. NonSSL-Login

      Re: I stuck with CDs

      If one good thing came out of the progression of music formats, it's that Sony did not have any control over it or any hand in it. They DRM everything they are involved in, music or other.

      MP3 filled a gap perfectly when it came along. The small file size for dialup connections and the fact anyone could create software or hardware to play them quite easily, pretty much forced the dinosaur music studios to have to consider online digital purchases of music.

      We have Flac and until a better loseless format comes along that brings real benefits, it will stay and be the codec of choice.

      It would not surprise me if the record labels came up with a new format that could contain extra information (maybe separate tracks to let the hardware recreate the sound or individual speaker sounds for up to 16 speakers as an example), albeit more for the reasons of DRM, and force new music hardware to get certified to play and enforce the DRM.

      The progression we have had with music format is because it has worked and people wanted it. The same will happen with future formats as long as we can keep the media cartels fingers out of the pie.

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: I stuck with CDs

      Only pains for me is re-ripping the entire collection, if push comes to shove. I am thinking that my next home project shall be an attempt at a robotic CD ripper. The storage issues I don't mind too much.
      .

      You've already said that you rip to FLAC, so transcoding should be a load less hassle - unless you fancy making the robot for fun of course ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I stuck with CDs

        You've already said that you rip to FLAC, so transcoding should be a load less hassle - unless you fancy making the robot for fun of course ;)

        It isn't transcoding (I use flac2all for transcoding to Lossy formats, as well as for mass integrity checking), but actual re-ripping. Reasons for this would be:

        - I am buying CDs in batches of 15-30 now, sometimes on impulse, and would be nice to just put them in a stack and let a machine rip them, flac2all to transcode them, and I already have a script that will sync my ipod with the latest stuff as soon as I plug it into the dock (rockbox is file based, so a simple rsync works here).

        - If by some bad luck I lose the FLAC collection, I will have to re-rip hundreds of CDs manually, which isn't my exact idea of weekend fun.

        - Maybe I can make some extra money offering to rip peoples CD collections for them, if there is a demand for it I guess.

        And I will gleefully admit that the idea of building the robot sounds like fun as well :-D

        It would not surprise me if the record labels came up with a new format that could contain extra information (maybe separate tracks to let the hardware recreate the sound or individual speaker sounds for up to 16 speakers as an example), albeit more for the reasons of DRM, and force new music hardware to get certified to play and enforce the DRM.

        Actually, Flac already supports this (albeit up to 8 channels): https://xiph.org/flac/faq.html#general__channels

        Unfortunately getting hold of such sources is hard. I have some QUAD and surround sound albums, but they are a rarity. Multitrack recordings really aren't a big thing atm, so tough to get sources (unless you happen to have access to the studio masters, which are usually multitrack)

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: I stuck with CDs

          - I am buying CDs in batches of 15-30 now, sometimes on impulse, and would be nice to just put them in a stack and let a machine rip them,

          There's a Nakamichi 5-disc CD drive somewhere in my Pile Of Stuff. Two even, one SCSI, one IDE. Problem is that the IDE one needed a special driver (for W98, and probably not updated since) to make the individual CDs available to the OS; the SCSI one had each disc as a separate LUN, which would probably work with controllers and OSes that know how to deal with that. Slot-loading, so I'd figure a bit easier for a robot to Händel. I've also seen a CD drive, Pioneer IIRC, that took a magazine with 3 or 4 discs.

          Apropos of robot-loading a drive not built that way, at a DEC customer I came across a contraption they had had engineered to deal with backing up their really vast (for that time) disk farm without operator intervention. They were using a rebadged IBM unit that could put somewhere in the region of one GB on a tape, with the unit having a stacker that could hold 6 tapes. This was quite insufficient, so a local engineering workshop had built a loader that could shove a new tape into the top slot of the stacker each time the drive loaded a fresh cartridge, taking it from the bottom stacker slot and dropping the tapes in the stacker one level. The bin for receiving the finished tapes had been fitted with a slide so that the cartridges dropped into a foam-lined box instead of in the receptacle that could hold maybe ten tapes. Servicing the drive required moving the loader, which appeared to be built from a few railway bridge leftovers, then repositioning it afterwards. And if it was misaligned, the spindle drive pushing the next tape into the loader was strong enough to actually push the loader away from the unit (and thus bugger up the backup run).

  17. Jon Massey
    Facepalm

    Why the MP3 hate?

    LAME -V0 is pretty much near-as-damnit transparent.

  18. PickledAardvark

    Original recordings

    Remember when Richer Sounds was the starting place for budget hi-fi kit? One day when I was browsing, a bloke came in and asked to try their *worst* set of speakers. Explaining further, he said he was a studio engineer and wished to remind himself of the lower quality limits.

  19. Patrician

    Not sure what the quality of your turntable was Mr Dabbs but I never had that bad a time of it in the vinyl era; occasional albums would have to be returned but the vast majority I bought played with no issues on my Grundig, or the later Sony, Deck. Never had to resort to pennies on the tone arm and always got a complete play through, even on albums that ran longer than the usual thirty-five minutes (Todd Rundgrens "Utopia" is one that springs to mind)

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Happy

      > Not sure what the quality of your turntable was Mr Dabbs but ...

      Some cheap turntables had a flaw that the arm was pulling _way_ to strong to the center. Users thought it would be normal because they did not know better. Hence the pennies.

      The quality of the vinyl pressings also varied a lot. Some companies reliably produced top quality, others reliably crap.

      At some time vinyls appeared that were so thin/floppy that even when you held them correctly (both sides, two hands) they would sag so much it was difficult to place them on the turntable. Funny enough some of those actually had decent audio quality. Unsurprisingly they tended to get distorted when stored without due care.

      Friend of mine tried to flatten such a distorted a vinyl with a smoothing iron. The result was pretty hilarious. ---->

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Yeah, can't say I ever had any actually jump out of the groove but I do remember I had one that was off centre by at least half a centimetre and warped to the point where the stylus arm attachment point nearly hit the surface.

      Anyone else remember the single of "I am The Beat" by The Look? Clever bit of mastering at the end there. For those who don't know the song didn't have a normal lead out (where the track normally veers toward the centre to trigger the head to disconnect from the disc). Instead the music just went into an infinite play of "the beat!...the beat!...the beat!"

      And if you don't know The Look have released two albums since the turn of the century. They aren't bad either.

      1. Graham Hawkins

        I seem to remember a Monty Python LP that did the same trick. It finished with an endless repeat of "Oops, I'm sorry, I've scratched your CLICK..."

        1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

          Staying at parents' friends' house as a teenager, everyone else had gone out, had a rummage through their record collection. Put the Shaft soundtrack on the gramophone, and loved it. Nearly shit myself at the end of 'Do Your Thing'. If you have heard it you'll know why.

        2. rnturn

          As did The Beatles, Brian Eno, and I'm certain, many others have done interesting things with the locked groove idea. Most people don't know about them unless they have a fully manual turntable.

      2. Harman Mogul

        "Push it round the other way...push it round the other way..."

    3. rnturn

      "(Todd Rundgrens "Utopia" is one that springs to mind)"

      Also, "Initiation". Side two came in at 35+ minutes.

  20. Fading Silver badge
    Windows

    I like Vinyl

    I have inherited a sizable collection to go along with my own meager selection and there is just something pleasant in playing a recording that is much older than I am. I also have a large CD collection most of which is ripped to mp3 (minimum 256kbs as even my cloth ears dislike a piano at 192kbs and below) plus many purchased downloads (total is about 160 GBs) .

    The convenience of mp3, the quality of CD and the nostalgic joy of vinyl are all mediums I use to appreciate music (I have a digital cassette player - also inherited - pretty good sound quality just lacks the CD track skipping convenience) and most weekends I be supping ale enjoying a live pub band (not known for the quality of sound).....

    As Plato said "Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything."

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: I like Vinyl

      Me too. Especially when my girlfriend wears it.

  21. Yves Kurisaki

    What's the point of mp3?

    Most modern music has the dynamic range of a sheet of paper, with more compression than the bottom of the Mariana Trench. I don't think mp3 makes much difference there.

    1. Ogi

      Re: What's the point of mp3?

      > Most modern music has the dynamic range of a sheet of paper, with more compression than the bottom of the Mariana Trench. I don't think mp3 makes much difference there.

      That is probably why most people can't hear the difference between the original source and highly compressed mp3 anymore, so people just stick with highly compressed mp3, played through a tinny bluetooth speaker.

      What would be nicer, is if there was a push towards proper mastering again. I heard that when SACD came out, the big draw was not so much the 192KHz sample rate and 24/32bit precision, more that they were building a format for audiophiles, meaning they mastered the damn thing properly.

      Fact is, adding dynamic compression is easy to do, but hard to undo. I can easily add dynamic compression to music (the open source audacity suite will do for that, if a bit overkill), or you can buy sound compressors that you patch into your hifi and alter the loudness as much as you want.

      However trying to reduce dynamic compression is impossible. When you normalize all the peaks in a sound file, you don't know what their original values were, so you can't "undo" the compression. Without the uncompressed source you are screwed ( AFAIK, any sound engineers out there, feel free to correct me. I've been out of the loop for a while now, so don't know the state of the art),

      1. Dazed and Confused

        Re: What's the point of mp3?

        Maybe modern music is recorded on the assumption that it will be listened to at high compression on a smart phone standing in a glass tumbler and so in engineered for that sort of reproduction equipment?

        1. m0rt Silver badge

          Re: What's the point of mp3?

          ^ this.

          Interestingly, this month's Sound on Sound has an article about mastering for streaming. Decent production is decent production and that has a greater impact on the overall soundquality given a reasonable set of speakers or headphones and you aren't running through cables with the resistance values of hair and use a reasonable bitrate at 128kbps or above.

  22. FuzzyWuzzys
    Thumb Up

    "I'm no audiophile or sonic bore but I have no wish to return to the days when recorded music would be accompanied by an incessant mandatory overdub of pops, fuzz, crackles and farts. It was like camping overnight with a vegan."

    Probably the best description I've ever read about playing vinyl! Absolutely superb. As a trainee curmudgeon of 46 I still have a few of my precious vinyls, around 50 assorted pictures discs, shaped discs and special Japanese imports, a few Elvis 78's my Mum gave me but in the main I have no wish to try to relive a past, I've moved on and happier for it.

    1. Kurt Meyer

      Curmudgeon

      @ FuzzyWuzzys

      "As a trainee curmudgeon of 46 ..."

      My God Fuzzy, that appears to be an inordinately long training course.

      Personally, I went for the "Seems like overnight" version.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Well there you have it.

      If you are basing your vinyl listening to picture disks, then you've got a really jaundiced sample.

      You need good quality black vinyl to get the best experience.

      I recently bought the first of the Beatles Vinyl Collection partwork, which was Abbey Road, my absolute favorite Beatles album. This has been recently re-mastered, and the pressing is on 180gm hich quality vinyl, and it's really refreshing to listen to such a good pressing. Unfortunately, they re-mastered from the original master tapes, and I find the top end a bit muted, and I notice that the cymbals in tracks like Something and Here Comes the Sun have just disappeared compared to previous pressings.

      It's a shame that the series was going to be so expensive. £17 for a single album and £25 for a double album is a bit too much.. Over all, it would have cost over £450 for the entire collection.

  23. VictorMeldrew

    Call me an old curmudgeon if you like but I never had a problem with either VHS or vinyl. I have fond memories of going to the video shop with my father and picking something to watch of a Friday evening and when I started working browsing the LP's taking in the glorious artwork with my fresh wage packet (yes we got paid in cash back then) burning a hole in my pocket.

    Nowadays all I see are fucking turbo-nerds being evangelical about "quality", bitrates and DPI. Fuck your bullshit, if a film/LP is good enough it shines no matter the bitrate or whatever. Bah humbug/Get off my lawn/etc...

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Upvote. ... but:

      Have you recently watched a VHS tape? You might find (like I did) that while "bad quality" is not part of what you remember, VHS is shockingly bad by any means.

      In a similar vein, I recently saw original installs of both WIndows 3.11 (on a glorious 800 x 600 CRT screen) and some early Apple OS. Both utter crap in all aspects, something that my memory was gracefully missing.

      1. jeffdyer

        800 x 600 CRT? Very posh. My first one was 640 x 480 I am sure.

      2. Ogi

        > Have you recently watched a VHS tape? You might find (like I did) that while "bad quality" is not part of what you remember, VHS is shockingly bad by any means.

        Well yes, but it looked better on the old CRTs because they tended to blend the lines between scans, and because of the refresh rate sudden changes, and because the screens were smaller, quite frankly.

        I played an old VHS tape on my flat screen TV, and it looked awful. However when I went to my grans place and played it back on the her 25+ year old CRT, it actually looked alright.

        The technology worked well enough at the time, and they were matched. Not how I imagine one day, when people are used to 12-bit 4K video will look at 720p videos and wonder how they managed to watch such poor quality.

  24. Anonymous Cowerd
    Devil

    Has anybody mentioned Real Player yet?

    That's what real hipsters use.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Has anybody mentioned Real Player yet?

      No, real hipsters* use a Zune, because irony. You wouldn't understand.

      * Real hipsters are actually genetic hybrids.

    2. PickledAardvark

      Re: Has anybody mentioned Real Player yet?

      Real Player is first generation internet audio. It comes from the time when I danced at indy band rock clubs and the only famous person with a beard was Charles Manson.

      Hipster? You talking about the 1950s, mate?

  25. Potemkine Silver badge

    CD audio are a scam

    First, they were sold as being reliable when a scratch on them make them unusable.

    Second, when they replaced vinyls, they were sold 30 to 50% more expensive, when they are much less costly to make

    Finally, as Mr. Dabbs mentioned, their cases are as solid as my faith in Mr Trump being an honest and decent guy.

    Fuck the music industry and thank you MP3 for hitting it hard.

    1. Pangasinan Philippines

      Re: CD audio are a scam + CD player failings

      When CDs first came out, the reject rate was high.

      Early pressings had to be scanned (listened to) at the pressing factory for drop-outs which put a price premium on them.

      BTW, early CD players had two DACs, one for each channel.

      The stereo audio stream had zero time lag between channels.

      I was then playing various vinyls which has pseudo 4 channel effect when listened through headphones or alternatively on my Sansui Quadrophonic 6001 receiver through an effect switch which created 4 channels from the out-of-phase stereo information. Try listening to Queen, 'the prophets song' or Pink Floyd Ummagumma (sp?) on vinyl with headphones and hear the rear sounds. Modern CD players destroy that information due to the time delay due to only having a single DAC handling the stereo channels.

  26. MOV r0,r0

    Poly-lined inner sleeves keep vinyl pristine but foresight is required, an attribute in great deficit across swathes of humanity.

    CD made second hand easy, MP3 made 'stealing' easy. Now music just comes licenced with the video game.

  27. Mage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Mungo Jerry on their Mum's powder blue Fidelity portable

    Because no teen could afford a real HiFi, in real terms about x2 the price of an HDTV today ... which reminds me, 1950s TV sets and radios have far better audio than HDTV or table top radio today. Laptop speakers in the 4K res 48" TV! Gah!

    Most of the home cinema has like 1995 PC speakers in plastic boxes.

    256K MP3 isn't bad and 320K OK, but less compatible. Only my laptop and Tablet will play AAC.

    I only buy CDs, rip and archive. I use decent wooden cabinet speakers on TV, but very many films on DVD, BD have terrible sound balance. TV drama too has the music and effects too dominant.

    1. Duffy Moon

      Re: Mungo Jerry on their Mum's powder blue Fidelity portable

      If you have a home cinema amplifier and at least 3 speakers plus subwoofer, you can increase the gain on the centre channel (or attenuate the left/right). Speech should then be more dominant.

    2. bitmap animal

      Re: TV drama too has the music and effects too dominant.

      I've complained several times about the 'background' music on documentaries, often it’s hard to hear the presentor. They thanked me for my comments and passed them onto the production team.

  28. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Steve Martin - Comedy is not pretty (1979) - Googlephonics

  29. Julian Bond

    M8!

    320 or GTFO!

  30. GX5000

    Free not Dead

    What a bunch of crap.

    The Patent if off is all, MP3 is still King and APE shall accompany.

    You really think because they can't cash-in on the patent anymore we're all going to roll over?

  31. Spanners Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Unclear

    I am unclear why some people think that MP3s are on the way out.

    In fact, without them, it would be likely to expand - if there was anywhere for it to expand to...

    Is there an audio player on the planet that can't do them? There were a few Linux distros that didn't include them by default. The first thing most people then did was to download the"non-free" stuff. Now it can be put into the main section.

    MP3 is not gone. If it does not get any bigger, it is because there is nothing to expand into.

  32. Alistair Dabbs

    My old music never reached CD let alone digital download

    This is my problem: a lot of bands I used to like never attained the minimum level of success to be considered worthy of a CD release when CDs came on to the market. So I still have a crap-load of vinyl in my attic that I'd love to listen to but don't have a record player to put them on. And I am NOT tempted by those USB-connected things.

    1. PickledAardvark

      Re: My old music never reached CD let alone digital download

      Just guessing at how old you are... but the stereogram your parents owned, the monster on which played your crap-load of vinyl, would play it in the same way as one of those USB record decks.

      Once in a while I dig out "Suspect Device" by Stiff Little Fingers and play it really loud.

      1. Outcast

        Re: My old music never reached CD let alone digital download

        or "Development Corporations" by The Now

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: My old music never reached CD let alone digital download

      Ebay is your friend here, but avoid the club DJ turntables. Go for something like a 2nd hand Project Debut 2 or 3 or a Dual 504 or 505 which would give you reasonable performance at a quite reasonable price (watch out for the later Project Debut turntables, they've got a bit big-headded because of their success, and have put their prices up).

      You may need a moving magnet (or moving coil if you go big) pre-amp to play it through a modern Hi-Fi, however, as most Hi-Fi nowadays does not have a phono input.

      (And don't forget the decent speakers!)

  33. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Yes, I used to buy special polysomething liners for the inner sleeves. Some of my friends insisted (for some time, anyway) on playing their records "wet"; basically you'd mount another arm with a sponge that would flood the groove with water that had it's surface tension reduced by a "special additive", i.e. surfactant, i.e. liquid soap. One of my friends even had some sort of washing machine.

    Anyway, I've got some records second hand, stuff that you can't get on CD or as a file, which are extremely dirty; I'm considering to give this a try: Clean old records with wood glue.

    Oh, and before I forget: TDK SA-90. Still got boxes of those on the shelf, each with two record albums recorded on it.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      > TDK SA-90

      Be prepared for disappointment should you play any of them.

      Got rid of all my tapes because they were degraded so much that it was just sad. This even though I handled them with great care.

      1. jeffdyer

        I bought a nice near top of the range SONY three head dolby B/C/S tape deck to play with for about twenty quid off eBay, and did a few recording tests, using my phone as a signal generator.

        I was quite disappointed with the flutter, although recording CDs and old LPs sounded fine, it had really good level metering and auto-bias etc.

        I then played a really old pre recorded cassette of Tubular bells which I bought 2nd hand as a student in 1985, it practically lost all it's ferrous oxide over the tape heads, and the deck needed a few goes with acetone and baby buds before I could use it again!

        1. Missing Semicolon
          Happy

          Flutter?

          Bent capstan? Tired drive belt?

          I suggest it wouldn't have done than from new ..

        2. Captain Badmouth

          the deck needed a few goes with acetone and baby buds before I could use it again!

          Acetone is a bit heavy, isopropyl alcohol would be better.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Cleaning dirty records

      I'm considering to give this a try: Clean old records with wood glue.

      Yes, that works. There's also the stuff that's used when making a person's face cast (which I can't recall the name of), but glue is likely to be cheaper.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Cleaning dirty records

        Yes, that works. There's also the stuff that's used when making a person's face cast (which I can't recall the name of), but glue is likely to be cheaper.

        PSA: NOT plaster-of-paris, unless you want the person whose face you're casting to end up looking like a cross between Two-Face and the Phantom of the Opera. PoP generates lots of heat as it sets, and there've been many cases of people foolishly using it to take casts of their hands or other extremities, and suffering amputations as a result.

  34. tedleaf

    I know it shows my age,but I have used every type of encoding on every type of media,including experimental stuff that is only just reaching the public and there is nothing that can match high quality vinyl through a very good large system for listening to Steve Hackett type guitar work or old synths.

    And yes I could tell the difference between sources,be it media or encoding,not anymore though,too old and 25 years on building sites and strapped to two stroke strimmers for weeks on end doesn't help,even wearing very pricey Peltor aircraft ground handlers ear defenders !!

    Just like eyesight,everybodies hearing us different,mine was exceptional,I could "feel" from 2 Hz and still hear test tones at 23khz,and could detect at very low pressure levels as well,as measured using about a million quids worth of room and kit,owned by a well known audio supplier/research company,that was when I was 19..

    1. Dazed and Confused

      there is nothing that can match high quality vinyl through a very good large system for listening to Steve Hackett type guitar work or old synths.

      My brother in law used to have a Revox A77 and few recordings cut from master tapes. They were mind blowing too.

    2. rnturn

      I remember being that age and being able to tell when I walked into someone's house whether someone was watching television without even hearing it. It was the 17KHz flyback frequency. Being able to hear those frequencies these days is much tougher. Too many concerts, hours in GA aircraft, and the march of time taken their toll.

      1. Dazed and Confused

        I remember being that age and being able to tell when I walked into someone's house whether someone was watching television without even hearing it. It was the 17KHz flyback frequency.

        Early colour TV used to reduce me to tears, that scream was painful.

  35. TRT Silver badge

    I know that...

    I can tell the difference between analogue and digital TV transmission very easily indeed. I loathed and detested Digital Terrestrial for the first 15 years. It was PANTS. Mpeg artefacts all over the show, picture breakup, stuttering, buffering, sports were especially bad, the colour was blocky and unrealistic.

    It's not that much better now, to be honest, although it is somewhat improved. I've just got used to feeling the rage. And as for DAB / FM...

  36. jonathan keith

    Loudness wars

    This:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Michael_Jackson-Black_or_White_Loudness.png

    is why music these days sounds bloody terrible.

    1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Loudness wars

      The problem is actually selection bias.

      Mainstream/commercial recordings are aimed at idiots. I lack the tolerance to listen to whats offered on the radio these days.

      Independent/Muso releases are more likely to sound the way the performers intended - for some genres that will be loud and flat, but in that case its supposed to be that way.

      If you want quality, exercise discrimination, and avoid the smelly masses.

      Its hipster terrritory but they will never be as uncool as me, no matter how hard they try.

      (icon for grey straggly beard)

  37. IJD

    I've transferred a lot of my favourite vinyl albums to 256k VBR MP3, each time normalising the full scale after removing all the big clicks and pops I could find. Without exception the average level is a lot lower than any modern CD I have, because the peaks were left in the recordings rather than compressing them to get the average level up -- which is trivial to do digitally, so *everybody* does it.

    I haven't gone through and collected any statistics, but I estimate the typical difference is around 5dB, and maybe up to 10dB in extreme cases -- this shows just how much the peaks have been crushed down to get the overall level up. I've seen this done in studios both on individual instruments (especially drums) and then the overall mix (pushing down the highest peaks in a track or album), both done to get the apparent volume up so the track doesn't sound quieter than everyone else's -- it's basically a race to the top on volume and bottom on quality...

  38. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Jewel cases

    if as much engineering design effort had been invested in the plastic jewel* cases as the optical technology on the disc

    Never mind the jewel cases. The real problem is the Cellophane wrappers, which seem to have been designed so that you need a scalpel to open them. Occasionally, rarely, they have a tear-off strip, which normally breaks off when you pull it.

    There's nothing like buying a new CD and deciding to play it in the car. Numerous fatalities must have been caused by people bombing down the motorway while scrabbling at the packaging with fingernails and teeth.

    * Why are they called jewel cases? They're totally unsuitable for keeping jewellery in, and I can't imagine that even the original designer thought a cheap plastic box looked jewel-like.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Jewel cases

      I am told that CD jewel cases were designed very specifically to approximate the feel of audio cassette cases because, apparently, "the public loved them". The "jewel" refers to the circular arrangement of little plastic teeth in the middle that are supposed to hold the CD in position but in practice just snap into tiny pieces and end up stuck in the carpet for you to discover later while walking to the toilet barefoot in the middle of the night.

      1. Fihart

        Re: Jewel cases

        The biggest problem with jewel cases is, as you say, the centre crown that holds the CD in. Much worse with the innovation of clear plastic (so that artwork under the disc was visible) which seems more brittle than the regular opaque plastics used before.

  39. acid andy
    Meh

    What's with all the hate for vinyl?

    No fans of scratching on El Reg? Or old skool mixing?

    For a while it also had the advantage (now gone with mouse or touch driven music players) over cassettes and CDs that you could very quickly skip to a chosen point part way through a track without needing to wait for a fast forward or rewind.

    I've occasionally daydreamed about whether someone could build a CD player structured like a record turntable, with a laser on the arm that could be positioned by hand over the disc to set the start point. It would certainly be a gimmick and would probably need a custom data format.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: What's with all the hate for vinyl?

      CD decks for scratching exist. Whether these are up to what you describe, not sure.

      1. acid andy

        Re: What's with all the hate for vinyl?

        "CD decks for scratching exist. Whether these are up to what you describe, not sure."

        Yeah I know they exist but it's only ever going to produce a synthesized approximation of the real scratching. I'm not saying people will necessarily be able to tell the difference. Whether it's an acceptable replacement would be a similar sort of question as asking someone whether a synthesized guitar sound would be acceptable in place of a recording of the real instrument. It's a matter of personal preference.

        I am no expert on scratching but I'd imagine there could be certain effects or subtleties that some people could achieve with vinyl that they couldn't on one of these CD decks.

  40. 404 Silver badge

    Permanent Storage

    I've been considering current storage methodology lately as my video collection grows every day and backups become difficult to maintain.

    I'm one of those cord-cutters, you see, and between a Netflix HD account and an Amazon Prime membership, I've got over 20TBs of recorded movies/tv shows/etc on various RAIDS and WD clouds that back up to other various RAIDS & WD clouds. It's a lot of fucking space and the software I use records the streams as they are delivered, so we're talking a lot of time too. All good and fine, right?

    My issue is that there isn't anything permanent to store data (write once, no degradation) - CD's wear out/degrade, SSD's fail, HD's fail, vinyl melts, etc. Seems like the only way is to stay ahead and write everywhere on anything you can get your hands on - except stone, which can last thousands of years, but the playback is awful.

    1. acid andy

      Re: Permanent Storage

      Archival Disc is supposed to be the answer to this, but they seem to be dragging their heels bringing it to the market.

      It may be a very long time until the unwashed masses are allowed anywhere near something of this quality. "The disc format is not intended as a consumer storage medium as of 2014, but is intended by the two companies as a solution for professional-level data archival."

      1. 404 Silver badge

        Re: Permanent Storage

        That right there is pretty exciting but at a price. Sony and Panasonic are producing Archival Discs, Sony's writer is $6400 and Panasonic's is untouchable for a consumer/small business with their rack systems.

        There was a link off the page you gave about M-DISC - blue-ray cd's with up to 100GB capacity that can be written to with certain brand blue-ray burners - they are allegedly supposed to last 1000 years and aren't too pricey.

        Thank you!

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Permanent Storage

          M-Discs aren't that cheap ($90 for a pack of 5 or $425 for a spindle of 25) and don't scale well even now; just think ahead when 10TB SSDs become common. We really need one that can do 20TB on the low end.

          For now, I think RDX represents the closest thing to an archival-quality solution for the SMB market. Though they're mostly rust drives, they're designed with longevity and ruggedness in mind, and they at least offer capacities up to 4TB with room for more down the road.

      2. rnturn

        Re: Permanent Storage

        There's M-DISC as well. Advertised to last 1000 years. I haven't found the media all that easy to find. Walking into an office supply store isn't likely to result in your walking out with a package of M-DISC media in tote. Mail-order is the only way I've found. And you need a newer DVD burner to use it.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Permanent Storage

      "My issue is that there isn't anything permanent to store data (write once, no degradation)"

      Because you're chasing unicorns. NOTHING lasts for extremely long periods, especially if abused. Even stone can suffer erosion or crack to an earthquake, and diamonds are actually UNstable over geologic time (graphite is carbon's most stable form at STP). The best you can do is buy some time, the price rises with the length, and there are no real guarantees.

      And over geologic time? The Kansas song "Dust in the Wind" springs to mind.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Permanent Storage

      except stone, which can last thousands of years, but the playback is awful.

      M-DISC is, for all in tents and porpoises, stone.

    4. Captain Badmouth
      Holmes

      Re: Permanent Storage

      "Seems like the only way is to stay ahead and write everywhere on anything you can get your hands on - except stone, which can last thousands of years, but the playback is awful."

      You obviously never saw "The Stone Tape" on the BBC.

      Well, I never, here it is on youtubes:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6TlrSTWoew

      Oooooh! It was a Xmas ghost story on Xmas day 1972.

  41. strum Silver badge

    >t send the needle skipping all over the place

    Did no-one tell you? A ha'penny, balanced on the tone arm, fixed that.

    1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      >>send the needle skipping all over the place

      >Did no-one tell you? A ha'penny, balanced on the tone arm, fixed that.

      And ruined the record. If you have a needle that won't get damaged doing this (instead of a stylus which more likely will), you'll also ruin the record on a single playthrough, so you're scrod anyway.

      You can talk about the high quality of vinyl or you can talk about adding weight to the tonearm, but not in the same sentence.

  42. Jim-234

    You can still amaze the younger set with good MP3 files on low cost equipment

    You can get quite good quality sound with MP3 files if you use high data rates & have at least something resembling a proper speaker. There is a huge difference between that and what most people think of as "music" in MP3s or other compressed streams these days.

    I have a really cheap sound system on my main PC, an older SoundBlaster card, 2 M-Audio M3-8 speakers & basic cables hooked up.

    I encoded my CD collection to MP3 files with 320k constant bitrate.

    I have my audio settings tuned exactly the opposite of most of the young of today, in that the bass is turned down a bit and the high range is turned up more, which I prefer since I have very good hearing at high frequency ranges.

    So I'll invite friends from the younger set over and play them some of the music they are familiar with, and their reaction is wonderment and surprise & saying something about "I never knew all those sounds were in that song", or something about they could actually hear more than one vocal.

    Sadly however it never makes them actually want to give up listening to their music almost exclusively on their cell phone on little tinny earbuds with the bass cranked up to the max.

    1. batfink Bronze badge
      Megaphone

      Re: You can still amaze the younger set with good MP3 files on low cost equipment

      Agreed Jim234 - but it's nothing new. 'Twere ever thus.

      I still remember the Good Old Days when we listened to our music on crappy little transistor radios with f*ed speakers. And it was broadcast in AM. Mono of course, but that was ok becuase you only had one speaker. (yes it's gone all "get up in the middle of the night & lick road clean wi'tongue...").

      However, my point is that ~45 years ago all the Young Person were listening to music on crap devices. Then, as now, better forms were available, but generally too expensive or inconvenient for almost everybody. Yes, when we heard better reproduction, we were amazed. Bugger me, things are now the same.

      Meh. Now I can now afford nice gear, and I use it at home where the conditions are good. Outside the home, which is where I listen to most of my music (mostly for the sanity of Mrs Fink), it's HBR MP3's or AAC. Background noise in the car/Tube/street makes all the argument redundant. Yes my nice noise-cancellers make a difference, but it's always going to be a struggle with the background. And that is where most of the Young Persons are listening to their music, so good source/reproduction is less of an issue. They'll progress, just like we did.

  43. Floydian Slip
    Coat

    Loved vinyl "back in the day" - that'd be the 70's and 80's. Had a well set up tape deck because I couldn't play my 12" in the car (took too long to get it out of the sleeve probably) and then had an early Walkman and several other portable tape devices.

    Migrated to MP3 as soon as I discovered the beauty of downloads and bough a HDD MP3 player Archos and wired it up to my car. Stuck with MP3 and CD until we made a domestic decision to bring in the vinyl collection from the garage and bought a 2nd hand device (much better than a Crosley) and ran it until it packed up.

    Upgraded and upgraded again until I will admit to having a nice set up. With care (playing records with the lid closed) and an occasional wipe with a suitable cleaner the sound is free of clicks, scratches and other imperfections and modern disks use a high quality vinyl which sounds almost as good as a CD.

    Mind you, due to too many concerts, I've lost quite a bit of top end listening ability and have annoying tinnitus 100% of the time so I may not be the best judge.

    I do love the "sense of occasion" though - the art work, sleeve notes and the routine but stream from a variety of sources when I just want some music.

    OK, I'll get my (vinyl) anorak

  44. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    then there's those

    who go on and on and on and on and on about the fidelity of their digital recording medium and the accuracy of the array of DACs outputting the signal to an amplifier that claims "300 watts!" but actually delivers an only slightly distorted 50 watts RMS. To a pair of $300-a-piece "audiophile bookshelf speakers" or "sound bar" made out of pressboard and speakers that one used to be able to get for a few bucks from Radio Shack.

    Or worse, a bluetooth headset licensed by a prominent "rapper"..

    Kinda like the same guys who will build a reliable 300hp 4 cylinder motor for a Japanese FWD, beef up the clutches and then "stance" it with distorted tires that gives it actual road contact surface area less than a good mountain bike.

    Or almost exclusively watch DVD sets of Tom Baker's Dr Who and old Youtube videos on their brand new UHD 4K 70 inch 3d television.

    Basically, real world? MP3 is "good enough" if not better than almost ALL the output systems most people actually possess.

    1. jeffdyer

      Re: then there's those

      Depends on the bitrate obviously. 320Kbps is probably good enough, but 128K? Not really.

      1. rnturn

        Re: then there's those

        Where 128K encodings are being considered acceptable? In a speeding car with the windows down?

  45. Criminny Rickets
    Devil

    Backmasking

    About the only thing I miss about my old vinyl was the ability to manually play them backwards.

    The two main ones I remember doing back in the day are...

    Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven when played backwards went - Oh my dear Satan, the one who has forsaken me. Oh the power of Satan.

    Queen's Another One Bites the Dust - It's time to smoke marijuana, it's time to smoke marijuana.

    1. Captain Badmouth
      Holmes

      Re: Backmasking

      Also available on 4 head reel to reel tape recorders.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do news sites keep posting bullshit articles about "mp3 being dead?"

    The format isn't dead. It's just been liberated.

  47. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    "complaining that the present isn't as much fun as the past"

    Im never going back ya hear?

    100mb hard drives . CRT monitors , cars with carburettors.....

    When I saw a character in a tv program ask that new amazon siri impersonator ithought - we really are living in the futre sci fi world we imagined

    They just have to name lexa or siri or whatever "Computer" and we'll be there!

  48. flipside101

    errr am i wrong but surely the end of patents actually opens MP3 up for more use as its now royalty free ?

    1. uncommon_sense

      "errr am i wrong but surely the end of patents actually opens MP3 up for more use as its now royalty free ?"

      Yes exactly, most hacks failed to spot this, but Le Inq got it first time.

      MP3 can now be used without sending any money to The Feminist Farm.

      The content is another matter...

  49. C Phillips

    60 years old and grew up on vinyl. In my opinion, the only thing wrong with vinyl is it must be kept clean and stored well. Phono cartridges have improved too since the sixties. Unfortunately to get the best sound out of vinyl one can spend well over 10, ooo dollars for turntables and thousands for cartridges. I still have my late 60's turntable and with a reasonable cartridge and a declick/noise reduction program I can get beautiful recordings from my LP's. Yes, I record them. Why do I want to spend my time cleaning the same record over and over again just to listen to it. I love CD and sorry to see it dying. Eventually, it will probably return just like vinyl. Each format, records, cd, digital began to die just as it began to really improve. Vinyl began to die just as MFSL began producing their beautiful 1/2 speed recordings. Casette tape began to die just as it began to provide better tape materials and DBX/Dolby C noise reductions. CD began to die just as it advanced to XRCD (by Phillips), etc. The problem with most audio quality in physical media is the cheap production of the materials. Manufacturers began producing 8 track (for instance) with hard plastic pinch rollers instead of good rubber and plastic coated foam pads instead of felt backed spring metal. Mass production was the real culpret of the demise of each format. Records being produced pre-warped from the factory with off center spindle holes and recycled vinyl plastic sounding like someone eating potato chips next to your ear. MP3 is great if used for it's proper purpose...conserving the most space on a portable player but not for audiophile playing on a expensive system.

  50. MCDELTAT

    I honestly have no clue what you're talking about. 70's vinyl might have been horrible, but modern vinyl is doing much better. The audio quality does depend, but guarantee you I can spot the difference between the vinyl version and an MP3 or streaming version. And by depend, that is, if you buy some punk rock bands record that can barely afford to press 100 7" records, it will probably sound less detailed than an orchestral recording, but that's a given. I litterally remember the first time I was playing a record nice and loud in my house and my brother walked in and said "Wait, I've never heard that bass groove under all the rest of the song." As for skips and pops. Out of my collection of 350+ records only 5 or so are unlistenable. The rest all play without a single pop if I take te time to clean it before playing.

  51. uncommon_sense
    Joke

    So, vinyl is like going camping with James May?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copy "protected" CDs? Hah.

    The original article states:

    "The industry's cack-handed attempts in the 1990s to copy-protect CD audio, often rendering the discs unplayable from a computer, accelerated its plunge in popularity."

    On a point of order: I've got a lot of these "non-CD music discs" (they're not CDs because they don't stick to the CD digital audio standard). I've also got a half decent CD player, which tends not to be able to play them - skips and jumps worse than I've ever had from vinyl, I can tell you. When that happened in the past, I used to clean the CD player's optics on spec - but now, the first thing I do is to see if the CD and CD packaging bear the official CD logo. If they don't, it's a dead cert the disc's not a CD and there's nothing to be done. EMI, I hate you.

    Thing is, it's taken me a while to notice the problems with a fair few of these dodgy discs because years ago, I started ripping all my CDs (lossly - yes I do think I can hear the difference, at least when I'm sat down in front of the decent stereo; in any case, why use lossy compression when you've got a 1TB HDD?) and playing them using iTunes via a Byzantine route ending in a stand-alone DAC feeding my proper hi-fi.

    Yep, it turns out that I can rip-to-HDD all these music discs which supposedly can't be played on computers but are okay in proper CD players, but I can't play many of 'em on my proper CD player.

    Ho hum.

    I've actually created home-written CDs of some of these non-CD music discs, to save me the faff of booting up a couple of Macs just to play *that* bit of music. The writable CDs play perfectly well, all of 'em.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had a student summer job at an employer with a benign attitude to "homers" - in our own time, we could create home-use circuits using lab supply components. Consequently, engineers were building audio power amplifiers with response curves well over 100KHz (to catch the beat frequencies ...) .

    One day, I was being driven scatty by a high pitched whine. Meanwhile an owner of one of these audiophile rigs, a positively ancient 30 year old, could not hear a thing. Turns out a nearby instrument had a faulty switching power supply that was honking out 15KHz. I've never had much time for specs ever since then. If you like the sound, its ok.

    1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      "If you like the sound, its ok."

      And that's the real point in the end, isn't it? People can sneer at you or rattle off specs and statistics all they want. But if you like it, that's all that really counts. Anybody who says differently is an effete snob.

      (Please note: I'm not saying that being a connoisseur makes you a snob. Only when you try to dictate your tastes to others.)

  54. Grunchy

    Foobar 2000

    I would just about play MP3s with VLC, I care so little.

    But anyway I got Foobar 2000, its ok but doesn't play MODs.

    What the hell, I can use VLC for MODs.

    (I've got stacks & stacks of albums ripped into MP3s, I actually enjoy the snaps, crackles, and pops!)

  55. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Some of the best recorded music was cut direct to the masters at 78rpm (maybe rather approximately in some cases).

  56. Harman Mogul

    Wi-fi, a hostile environment for vinyl

    If you have a large collection of vinyls, it's too much of a fag to convert them to any other format, so the only game is to keep on with the turntable. But it co-exists poorly with wi-fi.

    I was expecting great things from my LP12 after it was rebuilt by Peter Swain at Cymbiosis, and so it proved. But the fly in the ointment is the wi-fi signal floating about, which induces a quite audible burbling in the low-output moving-coil cartridge. This is a bloody nuisance in quiet passages.

    (I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has experienced this.)

    In the event, the solution is very easy. Turn off the wireless router and pay full attention to the music rather than fiddling about with digital gadgets. There's nothing like listening carefully for enhancing one's pleasure in music. This does pre-suppose that the music played is worth listening to.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wi-fi, a hostile environment for vinyl

      > But the fly in the ointment is the wi-fi signal floating about, which induces a quite audible burbling

      Wi-fi won't do this. It is highly likely to be an unearthed or badly earthier power supply - or something with a motor such as a ceiling fan. Wi-fi does not interfere with amps or such electrical equipment - it's a completely different spectrum.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Wi-fi, a hostile environment for vinyl

        Agreed. It's not likely the WiFi per se, it's something else, or a combination of things. Could be part a circuit in your equipment that happens to be tuned to an unfortunate wavelength and is acting as an antenna.

        So many possibilities.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wi-fi, a hostile environment for vinyl

        Umm... Harman Mogul who complained about the problem reported that it goes away when WiFi's turned off.

        The question is not whether or not WiFi can result in an audible problem - in this case, it's been shown to do so; the question is WHY does this problem occur? That'd take a careful analysis of the set-up in question - so many possibilities indeed.

        Certainly, high frequency radio can induce current in quite short bits of wire, and there's generally a bit of unscreened conductor between the pickup coil and the start of the screened cable run to the amplifier, and never mind the effect of a WiFi signal on the actual pickup coil.

        There's another long length of unscreened wire generally involved in a hi fi setup: the speaker cables. Many years ago when I was young, my dad had a Ferrograph F307 amplifier driving a pair of Lowther PM6A drivers in the small Acousta cabinets - I forget the exact name for them.

        So what? Well, a radio ham moved in over the road and even when the amplifier was definitely switched off, we could hear his transmissions through the notably efficient speakers. The diagnosis was roughly this: long speaker cables picked up the radio signal, the bipolar junction output transistors in the amp along with whatever stray capacitance was around did the job of detecting the signal, and the limited bandwidth of the speakers if nothing else meant that the RF got ignored leaving only the speech frequencies. My dad had a word with him, he moved his aerial to the back garden, and the problem went away.

        This sort of thing used to be quite common: car radio cassette players back in the old days were infamous for reproducing transmissions of any nearby police car - which was a bother, because it used to be illegal to listen to police transmissions. As I understand it, the problem goes away when you've got a MOSFET output stage (no rectification as with bipolar junction transistors).

        These days, if you want to hear a modern equivalent problem, try using a landline phone next to a mobile phone that's sending or receiving an SMS message.

        Anyway, my point is that commonly used radio signals might well be well above audio frequencies but that doesn't mean they can't interfere with your audio reproduction gear.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a lot of vinyl from the 70s. They all play fine on a Technics 1210.

    I also play vinyl regularly on big sound systems. The sound is warmer and cleaner than anything I get off digital media.

    Frankly sir, with respect, you are full of shit.

  58. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Audio Compression

    Audio compression is not purely driven by laziness or a desire for loudness, there are (unfortunate) practical reasons as well.

    Classic FM (UK national radio station playing classical music, for those not in the UK) was one of the first to widely use audio compression. Why? Because having long periods of (near) silence is not great for a radio station. Yes, they lost the range between the quiet sections and the loud sections but it was very clearly judged at the time that always broadcasting something was better than, often, broadcasting near silence. It also meant that the station became playable in more locations because a listener wouldn't leap out of their skin with the, often sudden, variations on volume level. Radio stations also tended to compress their audio not just for the periods of "silence" but to volume match consecutive tracks - no listener really wants to be able to barely hear one track followed by being nearly deafened by the following track because they had to crank up the volume for the previous track.

    Moving onto the digital age, and the general contempt of "modern" music or "modern" digitisations, this is also done because tracks are more commonly listed outside of their own album. Adjusting the output volume as you start each album is annoying enough however with digital playback being what it is having to adjust for every track is just not acceptable. In short, playback habits have changed therefore carefully choreographed and sequenced albums are now much less likely to be produced compared to albums that are just containers for a set of tracks. While it's easily possible to adjust the playback levels based on the peak volume level this does not work because the overall perceived volume level is usually very different from the peak volume level, therefore processing is, unfortunately, necessary to reduce the distance between the low and the high volume levels and to adjust the perceived audio level to a set "standard" level.

    So, in short, if you want to get a digital copy of an original audio source that is not compressed then choose carefully. It would be nice if the sources were marked as to whether or not they were compressed or not, there are some online sources that do clearly state that the content they provide is not but these are few and far between.

  59. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    Not all of us old geezers complain about how much better it was in the old days.

    Those damned albums were impossible to keep clean, and scratched if you looked at them funny.

    I personally preferred listening to the tape hiss to turning the treble all the way down. I'd rather hear the flaws of the medium than miss 3/4 of the music. (Yes, I'm implying that the treble is more important than the bass. But I don't buy $3000 woofers for my car, either. And it's entirely a matter of taste. That's just me, OK?)

    As for The Old Days, feh. You can have 'em. Yeah, I get nostalgic too, but I'm more likely to sit on the loo and marvel that I can sit on the loo and hold a computing powerhouse in my hand that's not only several orders of magnitude smaller, but also several orders of magnitude more powerful AND cheaper than the computer I used at university, and I can slip it into my pocket once I'm finished the paperwork. Printer extra, but the one on my desktop can print a page every few seconds in high-quality color graphics on ordinary paper. And I don't even need wires to connect them. I can get the printer and supplies around the corner for modest amounts of money.

    Whereas the IBM 360 at NDSU (Fargo) took up a whole room (larger than some apartments I've occupied), required half an hour of meticulous work monday morning to get powered up and running, and cost so much to run and maintain that nowadays the Smithsonian can't even be bothered. They stuck theirs in a closet. Let's not even talk about the air conditioning.*

    My phone is cheap enough that I can throw it away right now, order a new one that will arrive in the post in a few days, and charge it to my credit card. A used one I can pay out of pocket. And not only can I watch movies on it, and post snarky comments to my favorite rag, I can actually -- sit down for this -- MAKE AND RECEIVE PHONE CALLS.

    I know, weird, right?

    Seriously. Sometimes I do that. Just think about all the changes I've seen in my lifetime. Then I think about the changes my grandmother must have seen, that I've only seen the end of. And I let it blow my mind for a while, then go back to watching porn and cat videos (not at the same time) and under-appreciating my pocket-sized, battery-powered computing powerhouse that OBTW also lets me double-check with the wife which of a myriad of feminine hygiene products she wanted me to buy.

    Nostalgia just isn't what it used to be.

    *OK OK, the air conditioning is probably equivalent to a modern data center of the same size. The difference being that the operator can carry several orders of magnitude more computing power in his pocket, let's not even talk about the computing power of a single rack, and he can probably assemble and install a whole new computer in about the time it took to IPL one of those old mainframes.

    So much for not talking about it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It _was_ better in the old days

      "Not all of us old geezers complain about how much better it was in the old days."

      By objective measurements it was: That's not a complain but reality.

      LPs in 70 and early 80s had a dynamic range about 40dB and frequency response from 20 to 20Khz, relatively straight and recording level was so that all the peaks are recorded correctly. Not much but at least all of that range was actually used by recording studios.

      Current records are compressed to <5dB dynamic range with peaks clipped. Everything over 10Khz or under 80Hzis clipped away as 'unnecessary', who needs those?

      This is the reason why anything modern sounds like shit: It _is_ shit, already at sound quality level.

      That is created in the studio, on purpose, and no media can fix it afterwards.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You. You with the money. Yes you. Go see a live gig.

    Would prefer to argue the toss over the quality of the music after many overpriced pints of bad quality [lager], whilst actually listening to elderly musicians creaking around across stage, amidst the pyrotechnics guy trying his best to barbequeue them.

    Go get some chemical associations that makes the music worth re-listening to, all of you.

  61. Gra4662

    What did vinyl ever do for us...

    Having got rid of all my vinyl a couple of years ago and now regretting it, the one thing that you did tend to do with vinyl was listen to every track on an album... was too lazy to get up and skip a track.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: You. You with the money. Yes you. Go see a live gig.

      I really need to get my eyes tested. I read your subject line as "Go see a live pig" and was momentarily flummoxed by the surrealism of it.

      But yeah, gigs. They're good, too.

  62. Lowres

    Why bye bye? its all BS in the press.

    All the media are presenting the mp3 licensing comming to an end as the death of MP3.

    1. MP3 can not die, its not a living thing. MP3 will be available as it always has been, now more freely.

    2. The only people who want rid of MP3 are the music industry, they have to try and get their DRM in there some how.

    Watch Apple be the first to no longer support MP3's on their devices. AAC being perfect for them, their invention and DRM compatable. Apple never supported FLAC why? Because they are w*nkers when it comes to protecting their iTunes..

    Its all marketing BS!

  63. Børge Nøst

    There is one vinyl player I find acceptable: IIRC it is a Japanese model that uses lasers to read the disc. Solves the degrading problem elegantly. For something like $10000?

    1. Captain Badmouth

      lasers to read the disc

      This one? : http://elpj.com/

      ELP Japan Ltd. Nothing to do with the ELP I remember.

  64. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
    Flame

    "It was like camping overnight with a vegan."

    It stinks - but you get all the bacon in the morning?

    Flame for cooking the bacon of course!

  65. RedCardinal

    >>However, now that the MP3 looks to be heading to a retirement home

    Yeah so it is lololololol.

    Meanwhile, in the real world (where practically everyone listens to music in mp3 format)....

  66. Alison Mason
    Happy

    wot about eight-track then

  67. TobyDog

    Even scratched vinyl with a half decent deck is listenable to, your brain is quite good at filtering through the noise. Try that with a scratched CD though (even if it may not skip there's error correction and concealment happening), or a marginal DAB signal, or low bit MP3 internet radio station. I used to work for one of the aforementioned hifi companies and used to set up their tuners - FM could sound absolutely fantastic. But it had a NICAM transmission path, low dynamic range, limited bandwidth and mediocre s/n ratio. Despite that it worked beautifully. I still have my tuner but listen online now. Or through a software defined radio to the FM broadcast.

    Likewise with TV, in the 90's we had decent cameras, recording, good sound and nice tubes to watch it on. But here I am telling editors that blowing up a badly sourced 4x3 cutout of a standard definition 16x9 program into HD is never going to look good however much they moan about Adobe's products.

  68. Captain Badmouth
    Happy

    Lots of vinyl here

    Though not played too often. Thorens TD160, SME3009 MKII fixed head, Shure M75ED, Ditton 15 spkrs (with ABR's- seen that somewhere else recently, can't remember though...), Sansui cd player, NAD amp and tuner. Was once, a few years back, tempted to uprate the cd player but saw that one of the top-end cd players actually had the cheapest Philips cd deck fitted, so didn't bother. Was definitely going to build an am stereo receiver featured in Wireless world, obviously no am stereo in the uk but being an avid swl in my youth the thought of listening to the fading stations on sw and mw move across the room was very tempting. ( Upper and lower sidebands were fed to L&R channels respectively.) The design used the new ceramic filters at the time. I'd still like to do it but I lost the article in a house move and can no longer remember the issue no. If anyone listening here has it, please let me know. I still have the wireless world circuit for stereo headphone use which compensates for the phase difference across the head to each ear. Someday...

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well said

    Extremely well said!

    MP3 isn't too bad at lower compression ratio / higher bit rates, particularly in the bygone days of small FLASH devices. Unfortunately low bit rates were all too often used.

    I've had arguments with ignoramuses who claim to be audiophiles and purport there's no way digital can be better than analogue purely because digitisation involves losing information. They then go on to claim therefore that vinyl must be better than CD. Even as an engineer, trying to explain Nyquist etc. to them there's really no point, it feels like trying to preach Christianity to a Bhudist.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Well said

      "Even as an engineer, trying to explain Nyquist etc. to them there's really no point, it feels like trying to preach Christianity to a Bhudist."

      Then make them put their money where their mouth is and subject them to a blind sound test between good vinyl and high-bandwidth MP3s and see if they can consistently tell them apart higher than random guessing.

  70. Bigmule

    +1 for vinyl please

    Bigmule

    Seriously...no difference....

    I agree there are a lot of people cashing in on vinyl nowadays. I cringe when I imagine how most people are introduced to vinyl. I'm thinking some sort of a Best Buy/Bose demo.

    The majority of world does not have a dedicated 2 channel system, or a decent preamp/headphone setup.....let alone properly set up turntable.

    Yes, I understand most people do not want the extra care/time needed to play a record.

    CD's and MP3's are for convenience.

    However, comparing an all analog mastered AAA vinyl (or mono vinyl) to MP3 or CD is easy...Anyone that comments on topics like these and can't hear the difference between AAA vinyl and MP3, should find a new hobby.

  71. stevenotinit
    Unhappy

    video won't play

    google's fault ?

  72. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    The Multiple Deaths Of 24 Bit/96 kHz Audio Discs

    Did the crusty old retired recording engineers at Abbey Road tell you the stories about attempts to provide 24 bit/96kHz audio commercial discs? I know of four attempts to create a 96kHz standard disc. But all attempts met with doom due to the incessant insistence upon DRM, digital rights manglement. Every time a new cryptographic/encryption algorithm was proposed for a standard, it would be immediately cracked in public, making the DRM proponents very sad, resulting in the proposed standard being trashed. In the end, they effectively gave up. If only the music biz execs had treated their customers with trust and good will. Yeah, that could happen! (o_O)

    There are still a few DVD audio discs that made it into the public space. I have the complete collection of 96 kHz Talking Heads audio DVDs. It is a PITA to rip the audio from the discs into FLAC or Apple Lossless format to play on my personal digital devices. But it's worth the effort. The now effectively dead Pono digital music service attempted the distribution of even higher sampling rate audio, up to 24 bit/192kHz. So long.

  73. permit2001

    CD cases

    Check out the original MFSL cases, they had a locking mechanism that did not induce strain on the CD, rather it used a movable arm which when you opened the case moved to allow you to remove the cd easily.

  74. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The original article was spot on about the plastic used to make the jewel case. I have dropped them onto a carpet from just a couple of feet and they have cracked or the hinges have broken. Yet plastic containers which was designed for one use such as food containers can be dropped from 6 feet onto concrete without damage.

    I very much doubt MP3s are going to suddenly go away. Even if the codec is removed from phones, tablets and computers sometime in the future then why would it not just be a matter of downloading an application or codec to play them back? Heck my Linux Mint install was able to play Amiga SoundTracker files out of the box without me having to download anything extra.

  75. mrcabdrv

    From One Biased Soul to Another

    I've been purchasing vinyl consistently for 17+ years (age 15 onward), so I'll deflect the silly generalization that vinyl's for hipsters. I also couldn't disagree more that a clean pressing-with-care vinyl disc is any of an inferior listen to a CD with the same treatment. In technical terms, I suppose there's data to support it, but certain experiences and tastes can't necessarily be measured or quantified. That and there's an expected distortion with the vinyl that many many people concede improves the sound -for the listener-.

    While the last point is really subjective, even without it, to say I'd rather have a music collection that ends up finding its way to cars, friends' backpacks, have cracking cases, notoriously skippy discs, and a laughable replacement for album art and lyric sheets would be highly improbable. Not to mention, an analogue mastering from original analogue tapes (not always the case, I realize) to vinyl compared to digitizing it to 16-bit CD? No thanks to the digital. Even if you champion an obsolete format such as the CD, the reigning MP3/AAC etc. formats are even more laughable in comparison.

    Vinyl every time, please.

  76. Olli Mannisto

    Oh no you don't

    To give it credit, MP3 was useful in making digital music more portable and less reliant on playback devices with fragile moving parts. But it was always a compromise to fool your ear, rather like FM radio: you're not getting the whole sound and, despite the initial claims that sensible compression settings only discard inaudible frequencies, you do notice the difference.

    Yes, you definitely do notice the difference. Except if you have to do it in blind testing. Hydrogen audio performed quite a long time ago testing on different MP3/AAC bitrates, on properly functioning codec (=no blatant bugs, incorrect settings) very few people can tell 128kbit apart from FLAC. Throw in variable bitrate and/or higher constant bitrate and you're completely SOL. (*)

    But as if by magic once you know it's MP3 you start to notice the differences right away..

    This is just age old "debate", cf audiophiles claiming in all seriousness vinyl is better in absolute sound quality than CD. Uncompressed audio does not bring really anything to the table except higher bitrates and file sizes. Those DTS-HD tracks take surprising amounts of space in a movie if you still watch them on disk. There's a reason why netflix does not have uncompressed audio..

    (*) yes, some people have unusual hearing but you're not one of them. How many even hear pitch perfect?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Oh no you don't

      "Yes, you definitely do notice the difference. Except if you have to do it in blind testing. Hydrogen audio performed quite a long time ago testing on different MP3/AAC bitrates, on properly functioning codec (=no blatant bugs, incorrect settings) very few people can tell 128kbit apart from FLAC. Throw in variable bitrate and/or higher constant bitrate and you're completely SOL. (*)"

      Did they also do a FLAC-to-vinyl comparison to see if true audiophiles could tell them apart better than random guessing?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh no you don't

        "Did they also do a FLAC-to-vinyl comparison to see if true audiophiles could tell them apart better than random guessing?"

        Should be trivial: FLAC made from a CD basically has no noise, S/N >100dB, and unfortunately vinyl can't do that: Increase the volume and the noise is audible.

        But IMHO the point is not in the media, but in the recording itself: Most of the mainstream music you can get is so compressed and clipped that the media you use is irrelevant, even if it's compressed to 128kbit/s MP3-stream.

        It's shit to start with and nothing can save it later.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CD is a good media, the music is shit

    "You'll get fantastic quality audio, no skipping or crackling, ridiculously inexpensive players (which means more spare cash to spend on the amp and speakers) and still benefit from sleeve art, booklets and the like."

    That doesn't happen, whatever the writer believes, as the whole article barks at the wrong tree.

    The bad sound quality is created already _at the studio, on purpose_ and no media can change it better (or much worse) afterwards. Not even CD.

    Loudness wars (must be louder than everybody else) and ridiculous compression with all the peaks clipped inevitably produces mostly noise.

    It doesn't get any worse than that if compressed in to MP3, it was just shit to begin with.

    Nor it's any better when put in a CD: It's still shit and you pay for CD which sounds like a shitty MP3 or radio station.

  78. LondonItalian

    Rose-tinted recollections

    I bought my first LP in 1969. I was 12 years old and it was the Soundtrack to the movie Easy Rider. I've still got it! I never looked back from there. Then came 1974 and the first oil crisis and suddenly LPs were wafer-thin. I guess they could be called the first floppy disks. Thankfully that period didn't last long. Nonetheless, thin or not, thy crackled, skipped, were often warped, and sometimes got stuck in a groove endlessly repeating themselves. I remember having to sellotape a penny to the stylus arm, too.

    I never purchased a pre-recorded audio cassette, only blank ones. The BBC used to broadcast live rock concerts on Saturday evenings at one time and I taped several using my radio/casette recorder. The biggest drawback with audio casettes was when the player ate them, mangling the tape and rendering them unplayable. Then in the '80s it happened all over again with VHS tapes. My first CD players were absolute shite too.

    Please spare me the nostalgia for media players with moving parts. They were all crap.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019