What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sources]

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Seattlenative
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by Seattlenative » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:07 pm

McCharley wrote:I recall when people spent hundreds of dollars on a phono cartridge. I worked in a stereo store when CDs first came out -- wow, all of a sudden, good sound was cheap. Mind you I was a snob (and still am) -- those analog recordings had something that the CDs didn't: they sounded less harsh (hard to describe). But they also had clicks and pops and hiss -- OK, win for CDs........Now, though, it seems that people download music, and it is almost all MP3s. Granted, you can fit thousands of these on your iPod but the sound quality is really terrible. We would have sneered at these in my stereo store days. But this seems to be what music is now. Am I missing something?.........Where do you go to download high quality music (not pirated, hopefully)? Or do you just buy CDs and burn FLAC files?........Luckily as I get older my hearing gets worse so those MP3s are sounding better and better! :happy
I guess I'm what you'd call a "cheapskate audiophile". I enjoy vintage equipment, some of it purchased years ago but some of it bought in recent years at thrift stores and yard sales.

Vinyl albums still can sound quite impressive, but over time I've come to appreciate the virtues of the CD format. Although I have used Pandora and other online services, I can't see any efficacy in purchasing MP3 downloads because you don't really have a physical media copy which can hold up over time. Burned CDs from online files have a life expectancy of perhaps five years.... I have printed CDs from 30 years ago which still play well, and vinyl LP records from 50 or even 60 years ago which play great.

Ultimately, the consumer marketplace spending patterns have shifted. The discretionary consumer spending which, 35 years ago (1979), was spent on traditional 2-channel consumer home audio component systems and LPs/CDs/tapes, is today being spent on different forms of recreational technology such as: home video systems (Blu-Ray and DVD hardware and software), video game systems and software, home theatre surround sound systems, Internet service, smartphones, tablets, Sirius XM satellite radio, ever-expanding cable and satellite TV packages, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and other recreational technologies and services.

The downside of all these changes is that many Americans no longer really enjoy simply listening to music for its own sake. The notion of actually sitting and listening to an entire album all the way through - without conversation, without answering incoming phone calls or text messages - has been lost. Do you know many young people who recently have listened to Sgt. Pepper's, Abbey Road, Crime of the Century or Dark Side of the Moon all the way through as an album??

Rodc
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by Rodc » Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:24 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Rodc wrote:They all got old and they lost their ability to hear anything over 10KHz so it no longer matters. :P
I think I object. In point of fact I no longer hear anything over about 10KHz, but that doesn't interfere with hearing wow, flutter, rumble, hiss, ticks, pops, scratches, bass, and--above all--distortion. Or appreciating the lack of same. Furthermore, I have a few recordings of violins that I particularly enjoy listening too because they have an especially sweet, "live" sound--and those recording still sound better to me than other recordings. I suspect that a lot of violin recordings have quite a lot of distortion of frequencies well below 10 KHz.

Rather to my disappointment an audiologist's exam does not test anything above 8 KHz.

Those of you who can still hear the 17,734 Hz. horizontal scanning frequency--oh, wait--never mind--let's say, those who can still hear the 15 KHz. note at the end of "A Day in the Life..." have you heard the effect of a sharp cut-off 10 KHz. filter on music? I think you will find that it is surprisingly subtle, and in a list of what matters in sound quality, the ability to reproduce above 10 KHz. should not get a lot of weight.

I agree, though, that hearing loss above 10 KHz it probably does help filter out some of the quantizing noise in digital audio.
Yeah, I was thinking more about folks who claim loss of fidelity in mp3s, CDs, etc., which as I understand it is due to truncating the high frequencies in the digital representation (though I have not checked to see if that is correct; I might be all wet). In the digital world I think it takes pretty good hearing to catch most of what folks complain about. Not so much using olden day gear.
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.

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telemark
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by telemark » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:14 pm

On the “low end” of higher resolution music (CD lossless, 44.1kHz/16 bit), PonoMusic files have about 6 times more musical information than a typical mp3. With ultra-high resolution recordings (192kHz/24 bit), the difference between a PonoMusic digital file and an mp3 is about 30 times more data from which your player reconstructs the “song”.
Or possibly that's 5 or 29 extra copies of what is essentially the same information. CD resolution is probably already higher than it needs to be: when CDs first came out the stigma of "cold, heartless 1s and 0s" was so great that they needed to be overengineered for the public to accept them. Sampling at 44.1kHz is enough to accurately reproduce frequencies up to 22kHz; not much recorded music goes higher than that anyway. As someone already said, the limiting factor is usually the quality of the original source.

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Ged
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by Ged » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:38 pm

telemark wrote:
On the “low end” of higher resolution music (CD lossless, 44.1kHz/16 bit), PonoMusic files have about 6 times more musical information than a typical mp3. With ultra-high resolution recordings (192kHz/24 bit), the difference between a PonoMusic digital file and an mp3 is about 30 times more data from which your player reconstructs the “song”.
Or possibly that's 5 or 29 extra copies of what is essentially the same information. CD resolution is probably already higher than it needs to be: when CDs first came out the stigma of "cold, heartless 1s and 0s" was so great that they needed to be overengineered for the public to accept them. Sampling at 44.1kHz is enough to accurately reproduce frequencies up to 22kHz; not much recorded music goes higher than that anyway. As someone already said, the limiting factor is usually the quality of the original source.
My impression from reading about this over the years and listening to CDs is that the practice of noise shaping and dithering really put CDs over the top when it comes to quality reproduction. Anything produced from a 24 bit source and mastered without the ridiculous dynamic range compression used in popular music these days is likely to be indistinguishable from the master in a home listening environment. Noise dithering became standard practice in CD production about 2000 or so.

There is a fair body of testing by audio engineering societies and the conclusion is that human beings cannot tell the difference from a CD and higher bit rates if the CD is produced using these techniques.

One thing to keep in mind if you are purchasing disks is that a lot of the time higher resolution disks have been remastered from the original - this will often change the sound and give the impression that the higher resolution format is better. But really what you are hearing is the the changes in sound from the remastering choices made.

Some LPs do the same trick. Recordings of popular music are often heinously compressed in terns of dynamic range (Google loudness wars for a discussion) working great harm to the sound. LP versions of the same album are often produced with much less compression, giving the result that the LP sounds better. Of course some people attribute this to the LP, which is false. Really CDs are much better at reproducing music than LPs.

bhsince87
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:53 pm

Apple recently bought Beats for $3 billion, so there must be some sort of "audiophile" market still out there.....
BH87

skjoldur
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by skjoldur » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:56 pm

Hello everybody,

I thought you might be interested in this great bogglehead-ish essay about digital audio which very nicely explains the science behind digital audio and explains why "44.1kHz/16 bit provides highest-possible fidelity playback." He also talks a bit about how well MP3 compressed audio can be indistinguishable from the original if encoded at a sufficient bit rate.

The essay was written to correct the misinformation associated with Neil Young's Pono player.

I think it is a bogglehead kind of essay because it uses the well established science and math of signal processing as well as well documented evidence of the range of human aural perception to debunk imaginary qualitative misperceptions (of the kind that we are all subject to as humans). It also points to some careful studies set up to test the ability of anyone to detect audio playback at higher than 16-bit/44.1-kHz (spoiler, the answer is pretty much no).

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

The same guy also has a really brilliant video introduction to the digital sampling which underlies this (as well as much of our modern information and computing technology): http://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml

FWIW I work in the field of computer graphics and we commonly deal with a one of the issues that Neil Young seems to misunderstand. One of the claims about Pono is that professionals use higher bit depth, higher sample rate audio data when they are processing it, so listeners should have that too. But the fact is that extra data is not being used because anyone can perceive it, it is being used because audio processing techniques can degrade the existing data (for lack of a better word), so you use more data to start with. Once you are done manipulating, you then store the audio in a format for listening.

We have the same issue with images. During the process of manipulating and combining images we use images with extra data (higher bit depth). This matters, not because that extra data can be perceived visually, but because the process of manipulating it can degrade the imagery. By using more data, you have more leeway to manipulate the images before artifacts are actually visible. However, once the final image is done, you only need to store in a format that has as much data as can be displayed (on your monitor, movie screen, etc.).

Cheers

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:41 pm

bhsince87 wrote:Apple recently bought Beats for $3 billion, so there must be some sort of "audiophile" market still out there.....
Have you listened to them? They are a "fashion" and aspirational item; they sound less good than a $70 pair of Grados.

bhsince87
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by bhsince87 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:56 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
bhsince87 wrote:Apple recently bought Beats for $3 billion, so there must be some sort of "audiophile" market still out there.....
Have you listened to them? They are a "fashion" and aspirational item; they sound less good than a $70 pair of Grados.
Yes, I have.

And I guess my sarcasm didn't come through..... That's my bad!

I also know where your avatar originated, so that ought to be worth something too, right? :wink:
BH87

McCharley
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by McCharley » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:05 pm

Thanks for all the responses! :sharebeer

An overall theme seems to be that music is just getting left behind in favor of other interests.

I read that the videogame GTA5 outsold the entire global music industry in 2013.

Times they are a-changin' 8-)

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:13 pm

bhsince87 wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:
bhsince87 wrote:Apple recently bought Beats for $3 billion, so there must be some sort of "audiophile" market still out there.....
Have you listened to them? They are a "fashion" and aspirational item; they sound less good than a $70 pair of Grados.
Yes, I have.

And I guess my sarcasm didn't come through..... That's my bad!

I also know where your avatar originated, so that ought to be worth something too, right? :wink:
I apologize for having a deficient sarcasm detector this evening. I really have no excuse, although I've been trying to think of one.

And yes, knowing where my avatar comes from does count. Their albums and CDs have taken up a fair amount of my music listening time. I got to meet them before a concert once with Bonnie Raitt, and ... oops, never mind, this is a family friendly forum. :sharebeer

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telemark
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by telemark » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:27 pm

I saw a movie once, I don't remember the name now, set in Hong Kong, about some immigrants from mainland China and what happened to them. One of their schemes to get rich involved importing cassette tapes with, I think, folk songs or pop songs. It failed and they lost all their money: lots of people loved the music, but no one wanted to admit being nostalgic for the mainland. Chasing fads and wanting to impress other people is human nature, and in that sense there will always be "audiophiles" of one sort or another.

Bubbagump
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by Bubbagump » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:38 pm

What in the world is this thread about? Vinyl is as popular as it has ever been in 30 years (though you're foolish g yourself if you think it is somehow better... You simply like the sound of the difference in master), there is no shortage of boutique speakers and amps costing $10s of thousands , and room treatment is even accessible and a known quantity. Maybe it's just the circles I run in (audio production and studio nerds, mix and mastering engineers), but audiophiles are alive and well and the tech is the best it has ever been... Just don't look for it at BestBuy. As for music production, the loudness war, and lossy formats... Well, that is a whole other thing. If a mix or master has been crushed so much it is essentially 10 bits, that's a creative decision. Again, amongst classical and jazz and several other genres, the quality is the best it has ever been. I have no doubt if Kind of Blue were recorded today, it would be light years beyond the original regarding fidelity.

http://www.audiogon.com for barely a taste.

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4nursebee
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by 4nursebee » Thu Oct 16, 2014 6:35 am

Mapleshade has some good selections.
4nursebee

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by Epsilon Delta » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:58 am

Bubbagump wrote:What in the world is this thread about? Vinyl is as popular as it has ever been in 30 years
If you want to go with 25 years you may have a case.

2014- 30 = 1984. In 1984 vinyl was overtaken by

.
.
.

cassettes.

In 1984 CDs (and CD players) were those new fangled things nobody could afford.

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ivyhedge
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by ivyhedge » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:12 pm

BahamaMan wrote:Audiophile still here...Listening right now to a pair of 45 SET Monoblocks that I built into a pair of Oris Horns from the Netherlands.
^I just drooled... :beer
Polymath.

22twain
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by 22twain » Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:12 pm

McCharley wrote:Where do you go to download high quality music (not pirated, hopefully)? Or do you just buy CDs and burn FLAC files?
That depends on what kind of music you listen to, I suppose. I'm a classical-music guy myself, with a decent two-channel audio setup, probably best classified as "entry-level audiophile." I've bought a lot of CDs since they first came out, so with downloads I always go with at least CD-quality FLAC files that I convert to Apple Lossless and load into iTunes. I stream them to an Apple TV hooked up to the receiver in my audio/video setup. When I want to listen to one of my CDs, I rip it and load it into iTunes first, then file the CD in a box in the closet. They sound just as good as on the CD player that I used to have in my system.

I never buy from the iTunes Store because it's geared to pop/rock/etc so searching for classical stuff is a pain, and classical music doesn't fit the album/song paradigm. There are specialist classical dealers that have a good selection of lossless FLAC albums. The two that I use most often are in Europe:

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/
http://www.eclassical.com/ (Sweden)

Both of these let me pay in US dollars so I don't have to futz with exchange rates and fees.

I still buy CDs when I find something interesting in secondhand bins, or new stuff on some labels that I can't find lossless FLAC downloads for. It seems like most of the major old-line classical labels don't sell lossless downloads in the US for some reason, just MP3s on iTunes. On Prestoclassical I sometimes get the message, "Sorry, download not available in your country." :annoyed Fortunately, most of the new stuff I'm interested in is on "independent" labels that are happy for me to buy their lossless downloads.
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meowcat
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by meowcat » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:11 pm

An original master recording of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl played on a high end two channel system simply cannot be replicated digitally, period. Audiophile, here, 35 years.
More people should learn to tell their dollars where to go instead of asking them where they went. | -Roger Babson

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auntJovie
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by auntJovie » Thu Oct 16, 2014 3:24 pm

I like Nisiprius. :)

I see the problem as one of optimizing the path from audio source to one's ears (audio recording and the brain's aural processing are a little out of my circle of control), which feels a lot to me like optimizing computer performance. So I try and figure out the lowest quality component and replace it until things sound good enough (A-B-X testing works wonders in checking my ego when I can do it). At the moment, I have a cheap USB DAC to get around my computer's buzzy sound card, and some Koss KSC-75 headphones that sound delightful (especially for the price).

I have consciously shied away from the rabbit hole of "audiophile"; it seems like there's an "event horizon", and after that you're hooked! :dollar

22twain
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by 22twain » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:11 pm

sleepysurf wrote:However, there's a ton of fantastically recorded jazz, classical, acoustic, and world music, including new recordings with boutique labels such as Blue Coast Records, 2L, MA Records, Soundkeeper, AIX, etc.
In the classical world, many "independent" (non-major) labels have long been known for the sound quality of their recordings. Chandos, Hyperion, BIS, ... 2L is one of the newer ones. Even the budget label Naxos has some excellent recordings, although they're variable because they don't have their own recording staff but instead license them from various producers. One can argue that these are now the true major labels in the classical world because the old-line "majors" (RCA, Sony, DG, Decca, EMI, et al.) have shuffled ownership, make few new recordings, and live off reissues from their deep back catalogs of performances by the old big-name performers and orchestras.
My investing princiPLEs do not include absolutely preserving princiPAL.

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DaftInvestor
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by DaftInvestor » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:18 pm

I do believe we live in an age where the young generation doesn't relish good sound quality or true music the way us older folk did. Most new popular music doesn't even have instruments - its all electronically generated and the singer doesn't have to have perfect pitch - they simply use pitch-correction technology to correct anything that is off-key. I still enjoy going to the symphony but fear that may die out someday as well - you don't see many younger people there.....
I don't think my teenage kids have any idea of what the various sampling rates could do for their MP3s or streaming downloads nor care. The headsets they buy have to sound "good" but not great - more important they look cool.

I guess everyone generation has grumbled about this but I do believe it is changing.

Marquintosh
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?[High quality music sour

Post by Marquintosh » Thu Oct 16, 2014 4:55 pm

meowcat wrote:An original master recording of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl played on a high end two channel system simply cannot be replicated digitally, period. Audiophile, here, 35 years.
Looking forward to Pink Floyd's new album The Endless River (Vinyl) $39.99 in Amazon
http://www.pinkfloyd.com/theendlessriver/

BahamaMan
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Re: What happened to the audiophile?

Post by BahamaMan » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:09 pm

ivyhedge wrote:
BahamaMan wrote:Audiophile still here...Listening right now to a pair of 45 SET Monoblocks that I built into a pair of Oris Horns from the Netherlands.
^I just drooled... :beer
You definitely must be an Audiophile! - I have Klispchorn Bass ins with the Oris Horns. The amps are a Kit from Welborne Labs.

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