Compression vs High-Res Audio

24 views
Skip to first unread message

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 24, 2010, 8:27:40 PM9/24/10
to
One thing that's consistent with the "Everything-Sounds-The-Same" club is the
notion that the Redbook CD standard (16-bit/44.1 Khz sampling rate) is so
good that going to 24-bits and either 96 KHz or 192 KHz sampling rate (or
SACD) makes no audible difference in music recordings. The flip side of this
rather incredible assertion (and just as incredible itself) is the claim, by
many of these same people that MP3, AAC and other lossy compression schemes
are, at the higher bit-rates, totally benign and invisible and that one
cannot hear any compression artifacts.

One who disagrees strongly with both of these views, apparently, is
"legendary" producer/ designer George Massenburg (Frank Sinatra, Linda
Rondstadt, Earth, Wind, and Fire, etc.).

At a presentation he gave at the recent Audio Engineering Society Convention
held in London earlier this year, Massenburg wondered why, with bandwidth so
plentiful, and storage so cheap why people still sell compressed music
online?

"These systems (compressed music formats) take something essential from the
music, and lop it off. With so much bandwidth and memory now available, the
question is not how to make a better Codec, but why we are bothering to use
codecs at all..."

In his presentation, Massenburg showed where he took 24-bit/96 KHz recordings
of Phil Collins and Diana Krall and ran them through different Codecs. He
used MP3 at 128kbps, and AAC at 256kbps and showed the results on the screen.
These graphics showed how the compression/expansion cycle destroyed the
dynamic range of the original recording.

"These are standard systems and they are not good enough for us to use. By
coding the hell out of the music, and slashing the sound, we are missing a
market."

Massenburg then used a demonstration to drive his point home. He
electronically subtracted the MP3 compressed music from the original
24-bit/96 KHz recording and then played ONLY the difference signal which was
comprised solely of the information lost by the compression.

"These are distortion levels of 15 ­ 20 percent! ", he said as he played the
difference signal for all to hear. The distortion amazed everyone in
attendance because it was a grotesquely, but very recognizable version of the
original recoding!

He went on to say that while AAC was clearly better than MP3, it still
generated 5% to 10% distortion.

"Don't think that this doesn't matter for loud rock music", he said while
playing an analog Neil Young track that had been quantified to 24/192KHz
before being compressed to MP3. "If anything, it's worse (than with many
types of music) because of the complexity of the sound."

On the subject of high-resolution audio, Massenburg said that it captures
the"...small sounds and localization cues that truly bring music to life..."
He went on to say that he has high-hopes for Blu-Ray as a way to resurrect
the promise of DVD-A. While I don't share his optimism, I certainly hope he's
right. I recently read that the failure of DVD-A is being blamed on the music
industry's feet dragging because of the DRM issue. I don't know if that's
right or not. I'd tend to blame the outright failure of DVD-A (and to a
lesser extent SACD) simply on consumer ennui. To a society told for decades
that CD represents "perfect sound, forever" and that MP3 is "good enough"
what could possibly be the appeal of a format that (1) costs more. (2)
requires pretty high-end playback equipment to appreciate, and (3) can't be
played in the car?

Massenburg goes on to say, at the 103rd AES convention in New York, "To those
among us that believe that things are just fine the way they are, that
44.1/16 two-channel is ³good enough², let me give you the bad news.

Technology, and silicon technology in particular, has bounded ahead since the
CD standard was cast. For instance, the rather expensive 1 MIPS minicomputer
from 1980 has been eclipsed by inexpensive 200 to 300 MIPS PC¹s today.

Converter technology, likewise, has improved tremendously since 1980. We¹ll
soon have faster, more accurate, inexpensive A/D and D/A converters, and
engineers who will inevitably ask, ³Uh, so, how does it sound if we use
these?² Again, the inadequacy of today¹s efforts will be better illuminated
from the perspective and the wisdom that the future holds."

Here a producer and designer so well thought of in the world of recording
that he gives keynote addresses at international symposiums on audio and at
AES conventions who is telling us that MP3 et-al is very distorted and that
those artifacts are both audible and destructive to music, and that the
improvement to the sound of music afforded by so-called high-resolution
recording and playback formats is not just merely gilding the lily as some
here have maintained, but add realism and palpability to the music in a way
that CD-quality recordings cannot.

And for a list of Massenburg's other keynotes and published articles, look
here:

http://www.massenburg.com/c/gml/essay.html?open=


jwvm

unread,
Sep 25, 2010, 9:03:22 AM9/25/10
to
On Sep 24, 8:27=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:

<snip>

> One who disagrees strongly with both of these views, apparently, is
> "legendary" producer/ designer George Massenburg (Frank Sinatra, Linda
> Rondstadt, Earth, Wind, and Fire, etc.).
>

> At a presentation he gave at the recent Audio Engineering Society Convent=
ion
> held in London earlier this year, Massenburg wondered why, with bandwidth=


so
> plentiful, and storage so cheap why people still sell compressed music
> online?

Because people are willing to purchase music in these formats and they
are satisfied with the quality.

>
> "These systems (compressed music formats) take something essential from t=
he
> music, and lop it off. With so much bandwidth and memory now available, t=
he
> question is not how to make a better Codec, but why we are bothering to u=
se
> codecs at all..."
>
> In his presentation, Massenburg showed where he took 24-bit/96 KHz record=
ings
> of =A0Phil Collins and Diana Krall and ran them through different Codecs.=
=A0He
> used MP3 at 128kbps, and AAC at 256kbps and showed the results on the scr=
een.


> These graphics showed how the compression/expansion cycle destroyed the
> dynamic range of the original recording.

What kind of codecs was he using? Artifacts certainly exist with lossy
compression but why would the dynamic range change? That is a trivial
part of the music to encode. Even very low bit-rate encoding should
preserve dynamic range although the resulting reproduction will sound
horrible.

>
> "These are standard systems and they are not good enough for us to use. B=
y
> coding the hell out of the music, and slashing the sound, we are missing =
a
> market."

Where?

>
> Massenburg then used a demonstration to drive his point home. He
> electronically subtracted the MP3 compressed music from the original

> 24-bit/96 KHz recording and then played ONLY the difference signal which =


was
> comprised solely of the information lost by the compression.
>

> "These are distortion levels of 15 =AD 20 percent! ", he said as he playe=


d the
> difference signal for all to hear. The distortion amazed everyone in

> attendance because it was a grotesquely, but very recognizable version of=
the
> original recoding!

The audience must have consisted of people with a very limited
understanding of how perceptual coders work. What the audience heard
was the sounds that would be masked by the dominant sounds present in
the original recording.

>
> He went on to say that while AAC was clearly better than MP3, it still
> generated 5% to 10% distortion.

Wow, what insight. For all of George's technical and artistic
expertize, he either is deliberately misleading the audience or does
not understand how perceptual coders work. The goal here is not to
minimize error but rather model the human aural perception taking
advantage of how certain sounds mask other sounds.

>
> "Don't think that this doesn't matter for loud rock music", he said while
> playing an analog Neil Young track that had been quantified to 24/192KHz
> before being compressed to MP3. "If anything, it's worse (than with many

> types of music) because of the complexity of the sound." =A0

OK. So why are people still buying rock music in lossy formats?

>
> On the subject of high-resolution audio, Massenburg said that it captures

> the"...small sounds and localization cues that truly bring music to life.=
."
> He went on to say that he has high-hopes for Blu-Ray as a way to resurrec=
t
> the promise of DVD-A. While I don't share his optimism, I certainly hope =
he's
> right. I recently read that the failure of DVD-A is being blamed on the m=
usic


> industry's feet dragging because of the DRM issue. I don't know if that's
> right or not. I'd tend to blame the outright failure of DVD-A (and to a

> lesser extent SACD) simply on consumer ennui. To a society told for decad=
es
> that CD represents "perfect sound, forever" =A0and that MP3 is "good enou=


gh"
> what could possibly be the appeal of a format that (1) costs more. (2)

> requires pretty high-end playback equipment to appreciate, and (3) can't =
be
> played in the car? =A0

Again, the market has spoken. Whatever the advantages of high-
resolution recordings might be, customers simply do not find enhanced
value in these kinds of recordings. In fact, credible unbiased tests
have generally failed to demonstrate audible differences between high-
resolution vs. the standard CD format.

>
> Massenburg goes on to say, at the 103rd AES convention in New York, "To t=
hose


> among us that believe that things are just fine the way they are, that

> 44.1/16 two-channel is =B3good enough=B2, let me give you the bad news.
>
> Technology, and silicon technology in particular, has bounded ahead since=
the
> CD standard was cast. For instance, the rather expensive 1 MIPS minicompu=
ter
> from 1980 has been eclipsed by inexpensive 200 to 300 MIPS PC=B9s today.

Not to mention higher-performance graphics cards provide an additional
increase of two orders of magnitude over CPUs but neither has a direct
effect on audio reproduction.

>
> Converter technology, likewise, has improved tremendously since 1980. We=
=B9ll


> soon have faster, more accurate, inexpensive A/D and D/A converters, and

> engineers who will inevitably ask, =B3Uh, so, how does it sound if we use
> these?=B2 Again, the inadequacy of today=B9s efforts will be better illum=
inated


> from the perspective and the wisdom that the future holds."

Is George missing the elephant in the room? Speakers are a source of
far greater errors than modern converters.

>
> Here a producer and designer so well thought of in the world of recording

> that he gives keynote addresses at international symposiums on audio and =
at
> AES conventions who is telling us that MP3 et-al is very distorted and th=
at


> those artifacts are both audible and destructive to music, and that the
> improvement to the sound of music afforded by so-called high-resolution

> recording and playback formats is not just merely gilding the lily as som=
e
> here have maintained, but add realism and palpability to the music in a w=
ay
> that CD-quality recordings cannot.

Whatever his considerable talents are with respect to producing audio
recordings, he provides no evidence that high-resolution recordings
are perceptibly better than what the CD format provides. The listening
public does not appear to share George's opinion.

Edmund

unread,
Sep 25, 2010, 1:17:37 PM9/25/10
to
"Audio Empire" <audio_...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:i7jfl...@news3.newsguy.com...

> One thing that's consistent with the
> "Everything-Sounds-The-Same" club is the
> notion that the Redbook CD standard (16-bit/44.1 Khz sampling
> rate) is so
> good that going to 24-bits and either 96 KHz or 192 KHz
> sampling rate (or
> SACD) makes no audible difference in music recordings. The flip
> side of this
> rather incredible assertion (and just as incredible itself) is
> the claim, by
> many of these same people that MP3, AAC and other lossy
> compression schemes
> are, at the higher bit-rates, totally benign and invisible and
> that one
> cannot hear any compression artifacts.

I want to propose to all of us to call these reduction scheme's
what it is
"DATA/INFORMATION REDUCTION"
OTOH "compression" is lossless per definition! the weird name
like
lossless compression is forced to us by smart crooked sales
people.

There is nothing wrong with compression like ZIP; RAR or FLAC
and everything wrong with data/information reduction like MP3

Edmund


jwvm

unread,
Sep 25, 2010, 3:56:36 PM9/25/10
to
On Sep 25, 1:17=A0pm, "Edmund" <nom...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
<snip>

>
> I want to propose to all of us to call these reduction scheme's
> what it is
> "DATA/INFORMATION =A0REDUCTION"

> OTOH "compression" is lossless per definition! the weird name
> like
> lossless compression is forced to us by smart crooked sales
> people.
>
> There is nothing wrong with compression like ZIP; RAR or FLAC
> and everything wrong with data/information reduction like MP3

Really? Good luck on your next mobile phone call if you don't want to
use lossy encoding. Do DVD movies sound terrible because they also use
lossy encoding.? You would appear to be in a very small minority since
most listeners seem to have at least some tolerance for this
technology.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 25, 2010, 4:59:09 PM9/25/10
to
On Sat, 25 Sep 2010 10:17:37 -0700, Edmund wrote
(in article <i7lar...@news3.newsguy.com>):

I don't know if "wrong" is the correct word or not, I mean most people seem
happy to listen to MP3s, AAC et al in spite of the lousy sound. I know that I
CAN and do hear the artifacts (especially on headphones - which I find
ironic, since that's how most people mostly listen to "data reduced'
formats). I have never heard any problems with FLAC, ALC, and other 'data
complete' compression schemes.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 25, 2010, 9:25:25 PM9/25/10
to
On Sat, 25 Sep 2010 12:56:36 -0700, jwvm wrote
(in article <8g72fk...@mid.individual.net>):

> On Sep 25, 1:17=A0pm, "Edmund" <nom...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>
> <snip>
>>
>> I want to propose to all of us to call these reduction scheme's
>> what it is
>> "DATA/INFORMATION =A0REDUCTION"
>> OTOH "compression" is lossless per definition! the weird name
>> like
>> lossless compression is forced to us by smart crooked sales
>> people.
>>
>> There is nothing wrong with compression like ZIP; RAR or FLAC
>> and everything wrong with data/information reduction like MP3
>
> Really? Good luck on your next mobile phone call if you don't want to
> use lossy encoding.

Irrelevant. There is a difference between INTELLIGIBILITY and quality. In a
cell phone only intelligibility of the voice is important, in music, it's
the quality (at least that's what SHOULD be important to anyone who would
have interest in posting to this NG) that determines listening pleasure to
those of us who consider ourselves audio enthusiasts.


> Do DVD movies sound terrible because they also use
> lossy encoding.?

Actually, yes. But again, intelligibility of the dialog is the overriding
concern in movies as well. Turn off the video, turn off the lights, turn up
the Dolby Digital or DTS digital soundtrack and listen attentively to the
symphonic score for any recent movie that has that type of score, and tell me
how it sounds. You don't notice it while watching the movie, because in human
sensory perception, the eye takes precedence.

> You would appear to be in a very small minority since
> most listeners seem to have at least some tolerance for this
> technology.

Yes, that minority is called "audio enthusiasts" and to that minority sound
quality is important. The fact that it is not important to the large majority
of people in this world who listen to music is as irrelevant as telling a
gourmand that his willingness to spend $300-$500 on a single meal is not
shared by the average "Joe" who eats from the MacDonalds "dollar menu". Well,
DUH! 8^)

isw

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 10:01:24 AM9/26/10
to
In article <i7lar...@news3.newsguy.com>,
"Edmund" <nom...@hotmail.com> wrote:

If you can hear artifacts, you're using a poor encoder algorithm, or too
low a bit rate, or both.

Isaac

Scott

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 1:41:32 PM9/26/10
to
On Sep 25, 12:56=A0pm, jwvm <j...@umich.edu> wrote:

> On Sep 25, 1:17=3DA0pm, "Edmund" <nom...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> <snip>
>
> > I want to propose to all of us to call these reduction scheme's
> > what it is
> > "DATA/INFORMATION =3DA0REDUCTION"

> > OTOH "compression" is lossless per definition! the weird name
> > like
> > lossless compression is forced to us by smart crooked sales
> > people.
>
> > There is nothing wrong with compression like ZIP; RAR or FLAC
> > and everything wrong with data/information reduction like MP3
>
> Really? Good luck on your next mobile phone call if you don't want to
> use lossy encoding.

For sure, no greater hi fidelity than cell phones. ( : - O )

> Do DVD movies sound terrible because they also use
> lossy encoding.?

They sound terrible because they are generally not recorded with
audiophile sensibilities in mind. It's all about explosions and other
ear damaging sound effects. But...DVDs are step down at best compared
to the best cinema sound.

> You would appear to be in a very small minority since
> most listeners seem to have at least some tolerance for this
> technology.

What tolerance? I can't tell the difference between a cel phone or a
DVD of a blockbuster movie and the real thing......

Not really the best way to defend lossy compression.

vlad

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 1:42:04 PM9/26/10
to
On Sep 25, 1:59=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
> On Sat, 25 Sep 2010 10:17:37 -0700, Edmund wrote
> (in article <i7larh0...@news3.newsguy.com>):
>
>
>
> > "Audio Empire" <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote in message

> >news:i7jfl...@news3.newsguy.com...
> >> One thing that's consistent with the
> >> "Everything-Sounds-The-Same" club is the
> >> notion that the Redbook CD standard (16-bit/44.1 Khz sampling
> >> rate) is so
> >> good that going to 24-bits and either 96 KHz or 192 KHz
> >> sampling rate (or
> >> SACD) makes no audible difference in music recordings. The flip
> >> side of this
> >> rather incredible assertion (and just as incredible itself) is
> >> the claim, by
> >> many of these same people that MP3, AAC and other lossy
> >> compression schemes
> >> are, at the higher bit-rates, totally benign and invisible and
> >> that one
> >> cannot hear any compression artifacts.
>
> > I want to propose to all of us to call these reduction scheme's
> > what it is
> > "DATA/INFORMATION =A0REDUCTION"

> > OTOH "compression" is lossless per definition! the weird name
> > like
> > lossless compression is forced to us bysmartcrooked sales

> > people.
>
> > There is nothing wrong with compression like ZIP; RAR or FLAC
> > and everything wrong with data/information reduction like MP3
>
> > Edmund
>
> I don't know if "wrong" is the correct word or not, I mean most people se=
em

> happy to listen to MP3s, AAC et al in spite of the lousy sound.

I listen AAC lossles (data reduction about 50%) and the sound is
magnificent. Also MP3 at the rate of 320kb is distinguishable from
the original. So what do you mean by "lousy sound"?

> I know that I
> CAN and do hear the artifacts

in sighted comparison, of course? :-)

> (especially on headphones - which I find
> ironic, since that's how most people mostly listen to "data reduced'
> formats). I have never heard any problems with FLAC, ALC, and other 'data
> complete' compression schemes.

I was also amused by the fact that any gross distortions of LP
technology (you don't have to have "golden ears" to distinguish master
tape from LP printed from it) are immediately excused by high-end
community. Claims like "I am not disturbed by it", "I can listen
through clicks-n-pops", etc. are common. Double standard, if you ask
me :-)

Not any lossy compression is evil. Lossles compression does not
affect sound in principle. And don't confuse it with dynamic range
compression. It has nothing to do with data compression.

It would be stupid not to use lossless compression when you are
transferring and saving on HD massive amounts of audio.

vlad

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 26, 2010, 7:41:09 PM9/26/10
to
On Sun, 26 Sep 2010 10:42:04 -0700, vlad wrote
(in article <8g9evc...@mid.individual.net>):

Lossless isn't a problem.

> Also MP3 at the rate of 320kb is distinguishable from
> the original. So what do you mean by "lousy sound"?
>
>> I know that I
>> CAN and do hear the artifacts
>
> in sighted comparison, of course? :-)

Unsighted too...

>> (especially on headphones - which I find
>> ironic, since that's how most people mostly listen to "data reduced'
>> formats). I have never heard any problems with FLAC, ALC, and other 'data
>> complete' compression schemes.
>
> I was also amused by the fact that any gross distortions of LP
> technology (you don't have to have "golden ears" to distinguish master
> tape from LP printed from it) are immediately excused by high-end
> community. Claims like "I am not disturbed by it", "I can listen
> through clicks-n-pops", etc. are common. Double standard, if you ask
> me :-)

Not really a double standard, because the artifacts in lossy compression and
the artifacts in LP are quite different. The distortion that rides on MP3 and
other lossy, compressed music formats is actual un-correlated distortion that
sounds like buzzing bees riding the waveform. It really detracts from the
music. While the occasional ticks and pops on LP are momentary, and the LP
distortion is mostly euphonic and doesn't SOUND like distortion.


> Not any lossy compression is evil. Lossles compression does not
> affect sound in principle.

Just in fact...

> And don't confuse it with dynamic range
> compression.

I don't.

> It has nothing to do with data compression.

Apparently it messes with dynamic range as an artifact.

> It would be stupid not to use lossless compression when you are
> transferring and saving on HD massive amounts of audio.

Sure if you don't care about audio quality. I just happen to be one who does.


Romy the Cat

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 7:00:45 AM9/27/10
to
What I found the most amassing in this story is that presentation was
made for Audio Engineering Society and it looks like they were
AMAZED!!!

vlad

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 9:47:57 AM9/27/10
to
On Sep 26, 4:41=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
> On Sun, 26 Sep 2010 10:42:04 -0700, vlad wrote
> (in article <8g9evcFtb...@mid.individual.net>):

>
>
>
>
> > I listen AAC lossles (data reduction about 50%) and the sound is
> > magnificent.
>
> Lossless isn't a problem.
>
> > Also MP3 at the rate of 320kb is undistinguishable from

> >the original. So what do you mean by "lousy sound"?
>
> >> I know that I
> >> CAN and do hear the artifacts
>
> > in sighted comparison, of course? :-)
>
> Unsighted too...

Tell us more about it. I cannot wait to hear. What were bias controls,
what compression algorithms were used, what was the bit-rate, etc.?

I happened to listen music from internet radio at the rate 32kbs, at
this speed you do not need bias controls, artifacts were obvious and
horrendous. So did you hear any artifacts at 320kbs?

>
> > =A0 =A0 I was also amused by the fact that any gross distortions of LP
> >technology(you don't have to have "golden ears" to distinguish master


> > tape from LP printed from it) are immediately excused by high-end

> > community. Claims like "I am notdisturbedby it", "I can listen


> > through clicks-n-pops", etc. are common. Double standard, if you ask
> > me :-)
>

> Not really a double standard, because the artifacts in lossy compression =
and
> the artifacts in LP are quite different. The distortion that rides on MP3=
and
> other lossy, compressed music formats is actual un-correlated distortion =


that
> sounds like buzzing bees riding the waveform. It really detracts from the

> music. While the occasional ticks and pops on LP are momentary, and the L=
P


> distortion is mostly euphonic and doesn't SOUND like distortion.
>

Did not I say exactly this in a paragraph you are responding
to? :-)

Any LP's artifacts are quite "listenable" and even "pleasing" to
"golden ears". LP has a different sound from master tape, 100th
pressing sounds different then the first one, etc. etc. And still the
final result is OK to pursuers of high-end analog sound.

> > Not any lossy compression is evil. Lossles compression does not
> > affect sound in principle.
>
> Just in fact...
>
> > And don't confuse it with dynamic range
> > compression.
>
> I don't.
>
> > It has nothing to do with data compression.
>
> Apparently it messes with dynamic range as an artifact.

Tell us more about it. :-) Or may be we have to ask people who are
experts in compression technology?

>
> > It would be stupid not to use lossless compression when you are
> > transferring and saving on HD massive amounts of audio.
>

> Sure if you don't care about audio quality. I just happen to be one who d=
oes.

And what makes you think that I don't care about audio quality?
Lossless compression preserve original bit stream bit by bit.

So what is there for you that degrades the sound?

vlad

Edmund

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 9:48:18 AM9/27/10
to
On Sat, 25 Sep 2010 20:59:09 +0000, Audio Empire wrote:

> On Sat, 25 Sep 2010 10:17:37 -0700, Edmund wrote (in article
> <i7lar...@news3.newsguy.com>):

>=20


>> "Audio Empire" <audio_...@comcast.net> wrote in message
>> news:i7jfl...@news3.newsguy.com...
>>> One thing that's consistent with the
>>> "Everything-Sounds-The-Same" club is the notion that the Redbook CD
>>> standard (16-bit/44.1 Khz sampling rate) is so
>>> good that going to 24-bits and either 96 KHz or 192 KHz sampling rate
>>> (or
>>> SACD) makes no audible difference in music recordings. The flip side
>>> of this
>>> rather incredible assertion (and just as incredible itself) is the
>>> claim, by
>>> many of these same people that MP3, AAC and other lossy compression
>>> schemes
>>> are, at the higher bit-rates, totally benign and invisible and that
>>> one
>>> cannot hear any compression artifacts.

>>=20
>> I want to propose to all of us to call these reduction scheme's what i=
t


>> is
>> "DATA/INFORMATION REDUCTION"
>> OTOH "compression" is lossless per definition! the weird name like
>> lossless compression is forced to us by smart crooked sales people.

>>=20


>> There is nothing wrong with compression like ZIP; RAR or FLAC and
>> everything wrong with data/information reduction like MP3

>>=20
>> Edmund
>>=20
>>=20
>>=20


> I don't know if "wrong" is the correct word or not, I mean most people
> seem happy to listen to MP3s, AAC et al in spite of the lousy sound. I
> know that I CAN and do hear the artifacts (especially on headphones -

> which I find ironic, since that's how most people mostly listen to "dat=
a


> reduced' formats). I have never heard any problems with FLAC, ALC, and
> other 'data complete' compression schemes.

First I wanted to make clear for everybody that LOSSY COMPRESSION
is no compression at all. Compression is lossless per definition.
When I compress 10 litre air and I expand it, I again have 10 litre
air, not 5!

So please call information reduction, information reduction.

So now that is cleared up, I think it is pointless to use information
reduction for high end audio as long we don have an audio system that
can produce a sound which is indistinguishable from live performances.

I also think it is pointless to say "one cannot here the difference "
as long we don't have a sound system as mentioned.
=20
In addition to that I don't need information reduction since the=20
data storage now days is very cheap a more then big enough to store
the best quality possible.=20

Edmund

Scott

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 10:35:35 AM9/27/10
to
On Sep 26, 10:42=A0am, vlad <vova.kuznet...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sep 25, 1:59=3DA0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Sat, 25 Sep 2010 10:17:37 -0700, Edmund wrote
> > (in article <i7larh0...@news3.newsguy.com>):
>
> > > "Audio Empire" <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote in message
> > >news:i7jfl...@news3.newsguy.com...
> > >> One thing that's consistent with the
> > >> "Everything-Sounds-The-Same" club is the
> > >> notion that the Redbook CD standard (16-bit/44.1 Khz sampling
> > >> rate) is so
> > >> good that going to 24-bits and either 96 KHz or 192 KHz
> > >> sampling rate (or
> > >> SACD) makes no audible difference in music recordings. The flip
> > >> side of this
> > >> rather incredible assertion (and just as incredible itself) is
> > >> the claim, by
> > >> many of these same people that MP3, AAC and other lossy
> > >> compression schemes
> > >> are, at the higher bit-rates, totally benign and invisible and
> > >> that one
> > >> cannot hear any compression artifacts.
>
> > > I want to propose to all of us to call these reduction scheme's
> > > what it is
> > > "DATA/INFORMATION =3DA0REDUCTION"

> > > OTOH "compression" is lossless per definition! the weird name
> > > like
> > > lossless compression is forced to us bysmartcrooked sales
> > > people.
>
> > > There is nothing wrong with compression like ZIP; RAR or FLAC
> > > and everything wrong with data/information reduction like MP3
>
> > > Edmund
>
> > I don't know if "wrong" is the correct word or not, I mean most people =
se=3D

> em
> > happy to listen to MP3s, AAC et al in spite of the lousy sound.
>
> I listen AAC lossles (data reduction about 50%) and the sound is
> magnificent. =A0Also MP3 at the rate of 320kb is distinguishable from

> the original. So what do you mean by "lousy sound"?
>
> > I know that I
> > CAN and do hear the artifacts
>
> in sighted comparison, of course? :-)
>
> > (especially on headphones - which I find
> > ironic, since that's how most people mostly listen to "data reduced'
> > formats). I have never heard any problems with FLAC, ALC, and other 'da=
ta
> > complete' compression schemes.
>
> =A0 =A0 I was also amused by the fact that any gross distortions of LP

> technology (you don't have to have "golden ears" to distinguish master
> tape from LP printed from it) are immediately excused by high-end
> community. Claims like "I am not disturbed by it", "I can listen
> through clicks-n-pops", etc. are common. Double standard, if you ask
> me :-)
>

"Gross distortions?"
http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=3D133328&highlight=3Dmas=
ter+tape

"First, let me say that I love records, compact discs and SACDs; I
have a bunch of all three formats. Nothing that I discovered below
changed that one bit.

I did these comparisons a few years ago. Since I spilled the beans to
an interviewer on mic last year I continually get quoted and misquoted
about this subject. I'll try to set the "record" straight in this
thread. Please note I'm typing on a whacked out computer not my own
with a tiny monitor and no spell check.... There could be a (gasp)
typo or two...

A few years ago, mainly out of curiosity (and nothing else) I got the
chance at AcousTech Mastering to compare an actual master tape to the
playback of a record lacquer and digital playback. Also did the same
test using DSD (SACD) playback as well later on in the day. The
results were interesting. The below is just my opinion. Note that we
cut the record at 45 because the lathe was set for that speed. A
similar test we did using the 33 1/3 speed yielded the same result.

FIRST COMPARISON: MASTER TAPE with ACETATE LACQUER AT 45 RPM with
DIGITAL PACIFIC MICROSONICS CAPTURE.

We had the master tape of the Riverside stereo LP Bill Evans Trio/
WALTZ FOR DEBBY at AcousTech and decided to do this little comparison.
Since the actual master needs a bunch of "mastering" to make it sound
the best, I set the title track up as if it was going to be mastered
(which in a sense it was, being cut on to an acetate record).

We cut a lacquer ref of the tune with mastering moves while dumping to
the digital computer at the same time with the same moves.

Then, after a break, we sync'd up all three, first matching levels.
Simultaneous playback of all three commenced and as Kevin switched, I
listened. (We took turns switching and listening). First thing I
noticed:

The MASTER TAPE and the RECORD sounded the same. We couldn't tell one
from the other during playback. This was of course playing back the
tape on the master recorder with the mastering "moves" turned on. The
acetate record was played back flat on the AcousTech lathe with the
SAE arm and Shure V15 through the Neumann playback preamp (as seen in
so many pictures posted here of AcousTech)."


As for pops and ticks they are easily dealt with if one is willing to
do hi-rez rips and use a simple de-clicking program. Not really an
excuse anymore to dismiss the format. You don't *have to* listen
through pops and ticks to enjoy the virtues vinyl.

Scott

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 10:35:42 AM9/27/10
to
On Sep 27, 6:47=A0am, vlad <vova.kuznet...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sep 26, 4:41=3DA0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > On Sun, 26 Sep 2010 10:42:04 -0700, vlad wrote
> > (in article <8g9evcFtb...@mid.individual.net>):
>
> > > I listen AAC lossles (data reduction about 50%) and the sound is
> > > magnificent.
>
> > Lossless isn't a problem.
>
> > > Also MP3 at the rate of 320kb is undistinguishable from
> > >the original. So what do you mean by "lousy sound"?
>
> > >> I know that I
> > >> CAN and do hear the artifacts
>
> > > in sighted comparison, of course? :-)
>
> > Unsighted too...
>
> Tell us more about it. I cannot wait to hear. What were bias controls,
> what compression algorithms were used, what was the bit-rate, etc.?
>
> I happened to listen music from internet radio at the rate 32kbs, at
> this speed you do not need bias controls, artifacts were obvious and
> horrendous. So did you hear any artifacts at 320kbs?
>
I see, so bias controls are only needed when you don't agree with
the conclusions. Not very scientific or objective. Do you make the
same demands when you agree with the results? If not then your
conclusions are tainted by your own biases.

Dick Pierce

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 10:51:31 AM9/27/10
to
Scott wrote:
>
> "Gross distortions?"
> http://www.stevehoffman.tv/ ...
>

Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without

http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm

to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.

--
+--------------------------------+
+ Dick Pierce |
+ Professional Audio Development |
+--------------------------------+

Scott

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 12:49:23 PM9/27/10
to
On Sep 27, 7:51=A0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
> Scott wrote:
>
> > "Gross distortions?"
> >http://www.stevehoffman.tv/...
>
> Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>
> =A0 =A0http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm

>
> to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.
>

Very interesting argument Dick. So is it your position that the
results of *blind listening tests* are invalid if the listener has
ever been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions? Because
that looks to be the argument you are infering by suggesting we look
at Steve Hoffman's opinions of a particular product based on *sighted*
listening before we consider the results of his *blind* comparisons of
a fresh cut laquer and the master tape.

I would expect better than an argument of prejudice and ad hominem
from an industry pro like yourself against a fellow industry pro. I'm
sure you would want other pros to do better in any critique of
yourself on a public forum.

Should we consider your use of an obvious logial fallacy to try to
discredit the blind comparisons of an industry pro to put your views
into "a somewhat more complete perspective?"

Dick Pierce

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 1:51:12 PM9/27/10
to
Scott wrote:
> On Sep 27, 7:51=A0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
>>Scott wrote:
>>
>>>"Gross distortions?"
>>>http://www.stevehoffman.tv/...
>>
>>Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>>
>>=A0 =A0http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm
>>
>>to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.
>>
>
>
> Very interesting argument Dick. So is it your position that the
> results of *blind listening tests* are invalid if the listener has
> ever been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions?

No, unless you missed it, Scott, my position is:

Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without

http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm
to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.

> Because


> that looks to be the argument you are infering by suggesting we look
> at Steve Hoffman's opinions of a particular product based on *sighted*
> listening before we consider the results of his *blind* comparisons of
> a fresh cut laquer and the master tape.

It looks that, maybe, to YOU. I certainly made no such inference.
Thus YOU get to take responsibility for YOUR perception. I shan't.

> I would expect better than an argument of prejudice and ad hominem
> from an industry pro like yourself against a fellow industry pro.

It is not an ad hominem attack, it is merely a pointer
to publically available information. Any inferences YOU
take to that effect are yours to own and be proud of. I
won't take any credit for your perceptions.

> Should we consider your use of an obvious logial fallacy to try to
> discredit the blind comparisons of an industry pro to put your views
> into "a somewhat more complete perspective?"

Despite you like inevticable forthcoming vehement denials
to the contrary, the logical facacy is entriely yours. I
am more than happy to give you the credit you deserve for
them.

As to ad hominem attacks, I am unphased by your thinly veiled
attempt at such an attack.

Scott

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 3:05:39 PM9/27/10
to
On Sep 27, 10:51=A0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
> Scott wrote:
> > On Sep 27, 7:51=3DA0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
> >>Scott wrote:
>
> >>>"Gross distortions?"
> >>>http://www.stevehoffman.tv/...
>
> >>Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>
> >>=3DA0 =3DA0http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm

>
> >>to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.
>
> > Very interesting argument Dick. So is it your position that the
> > results of *blind listening tests* are invalid if the listener has
> > ever been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions?
>
> No, unless you missed it, Scott, my position is:
>
> =A0 =A0 Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
> =A0 =A0 =A0 =A0http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm
> =A0 =A0 to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.

No, I didn't miss it Dick. In case you missed it I was of the
*opinion* that there was an *inference* built into this post.

>
> =A0> Because


>
> > that looks to be the argument you are infering by suggesting we look
> > at Steve Hoffman's opinions of a particular product based on *sighted*
> > listening before we consider the results of his *blind* comparisons of
> > a fresh cut laquer and the master tape.
>
> It looks that, maybe, to YOU. I certainly made no such inference.
> Thus YOU get to take responsibility for YOUR perception. I shan't.

OK thanks for the correction. So this was a random musing of some sort
that just coincidentally gave the appearance to be an attempt to
discredit Steve Hoffman's blind comparisons? fair enough. So I guess
you agree that in fact the results of *blind listening tests* are not
invalidated simply because the listener has, at some point in his or
her life has been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions.
That you would post a particular cherry picked observation made under
sighted conditions in response to my posting his reports of a blind
comaprison was mere coincidence not meant to infer that there was
anything wrong with the cited blind comparison.

>
> > I would expect better than an argument of prejudice and ad hominem
> > from an industry pro like yourself against a fellow industry pro.
>
> It is not an ad hominem attack, it is merely a pointer
> to publically available information. Any inferences YOU
> take to that effect are yours to own and be proud of. I
> won't take any credit for your perceptions.

Indeed, authors should never take credit for any percpetions generated
by what they write. Juxtapostion is something that no author should be
held accountable for. I really shouldn't have given any consideration
to where you placed your random cherry picked observation and should
have read no inference from it. All apologies. I don't even know where
I got the idea that anyone would ever make inferences or use passive
aggressive tactics to discredit others with opposing points of view.
That never happens. I apologize again for my complete misreading of
your post. I am pleased to know that you did not actually make the
logical fallacy that the results of *blind listening tests* are
invalid if the listener has at some point in their life been swayed by
bias effects under *sighted* conditions and that the information you
posted in no way has any bearing on the blind comparsions made by
Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray between master tape and playback of a
freshly cut laquer.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 3:57:10 PM9/27/10
to
On Mon, 27 Sep 2010 06:47:57 -0700, vlad wrote
(in article <8gblkd...@mid.individual.net>):

> On Sep 26, 4:41=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
>> On Sun, 26 Sep 2010 10:42:04 -0700, vlad wrote
>> (in article <8g9evcFtb...@mid.individual.net>):
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>> I listen AAC lossles (data reduction about 50%) and the sound is
>>> magnificent.
>>
>> Lossless isn't a problem.
>>
>>> Also MP3 at the rate of 320kb is undistinguishable from
>>> the original. So what do you mean by "lousy sound"?
>>
>>>> I know that I
>>>> CAN and do hear the artifacts
>>
>>> in sighted comparison, of course? :-)
>>
>> Unsighted too...
>
> Tell us more about it. I cannot wait to hear. What were bias controls,
> what compression algorithms were used, what was the bit-rate, etc.?
>
> I happened to listen music from internet radio at the rate 32kbs, at
> this speed you do not need bias controls, artifacts were obvious and
> horrendous. So did you hear any artifacts at 320kbs?

Sure can hear artifacts at 320 kbs - on headphones, though, not so much on
speakers unless you turn the volume way up. However at less than 320 kbs,
it's easy to hear compression artifacts, even on speakers.

Nobody's discussing lossless compression. Lossless compression should be bit
perfect (or it's not lossless, now is it? 8^)

> So what is there for you that degrades the sound?

In losslessly compressed music? NOTHING, but then nobody is complaining about
lossless compression files.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 3:57:21 PM9/27/10
to
On Mon, 27 Sep 2010 09:49:23 -0700, Scott wrote
(in article <8gc08j...@mid.individual.net>):

> On Sep 27, 7:51=A0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
>> Scott wrote:
>>
>>> "Gross distortions?"
>>> http://www.stevehoffman.tv/...
>>
>> Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>>
>> =A0 =A0http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm
>>
>> to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.
>>
>
> Very interesting argument Dick. So is it your position that the
> results of *blind listening tests* are invalid if the listener has
> ever been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions? Because
> that looks to be the argument you are infering by suggesting we look
> at Steve Hoffman's opinions of a particular product based on *sighted*
> listening before we consider the results of his *blind* comparisons of
> a fresh cut laquer and the master tape.

I'd say that's it's impossible to do a DBT between a vinyl record and a
master tape. The surface noise on an LP is always going to give it away.
While it is possible to have a record that is very quiet, and relatively free
of ticks and pops, it is darn near impossible to find one (even a new one)
that is perfectly quiet, with a smooth background like the tape (tape hiss
doesn't count). That means that the listeners will always be able to tell
whether they're listening to the tape or the vinyl playback, and it won't
have anything to do with the actual "sound" of the two. They could be
identical in sound, but the record surface noise will give the game away
every time.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 4:05:28 PM9/27/10
to
On Mon, 27 Sep 2010 06:48:18 -0700, Edmund wrote
(in article <8gbll2...@mid.individual.net>):

While you have a point, Edmund, the old saying "The beginning of wisdom is to
call all things by their proper name" applies here. The industry has decided
that MP3 is a compression format, and because it throws what "it" considers
superfluous information away (and that info is not retrieved) it is
considered lossy.


> So now that is cleared up, I think it is pointless to use information
> reduction for high end audio as long we don have an audio system that
> can produce a sound which is indistinguishable from live performances.
>
> I also think it is pointless to say "one cannot here the difference "
> as long we don't have a sound system as mentioned.
> =20
> In addition to that I don't need information reduction since the=20
> data storage now days is very cheap a more then big enough to store
> the best quality possible.=20

That was one of the the points George Massenburg was trying to make in his
AES Keynote, excerpts of which I posted here last week.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 27, 2010, 4:05:36 PM9/27/10
to
On Mon, 27 Sep 2010 04:00:45 -0700, Romy the Cat wrote
(in article <8gbbqt...@mid.individual.net>):

> What I found the most amassing in this story is that presentation was
> made for Audio Engineering Society and it looks like they were
> AMAZED!!!
>

I think that they were amazed by the sound of the difference signal between
the unaltered master and the compressed copy. It was that so much
"extraneous" info was removed from the master that it was apparently possible
to still tell what the music was supposed to be and who was singing it.
That's a lot of loss.

Dick Pierce

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 6:31:58 AM9/28/10
to
Scott wrote:
> On Sep 27, 10:51=A0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
>> Scott wrote:
>>> On Sep 27, 7:51=3DA0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
>>>> Scott wrote:
>>>>> "Gross distortions?"
>>>>>> http://www.stevehoffman.tv/...
>>>>> Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>>>>> http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm
>>>>> to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.
>>
>>>> Very interesting argument Dick. So is it your position that the
>>>> results of *blind listening tests* are invalid if the listener as

>>>> ever been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions?
>>>
>>> No, unless you missed it, Scott, my position is:
>>>
>>> Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>>> http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm
>>> to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.
>
>> No, I didn't miss it Dick. In case you missed it I was of the
>> *opinion* that there was an *inference* built into this post.

So, despite the fact that I carefully trimmed all other portions
or the previous post and deliberately concentrated on one very
specific aspect, it would seem you went back and put all that
context back in and then formed an opinion from the result.
Is that a reasonable summary? Because I was hard-pressed to find
ANY references in my post about anything other than a particular
fact about Steve Hoffman, offered as merely one part of the
picture of the guy.

>> It looks that, maybe, to YOU. I certainly made no such inference.
>> Thus YOU get to take responsibility for YOUR perception. I shan't.
>
> OK thanks for the correction. So this was a random musing of some sort
> that just coincidentally gave the appearance to be an attempt to
> discredit Steve Hoffman's blind comparisons?

Is this a rheorical question or are you looking for a real
answer? If the latter, the answer is no, it was merely another
start in the Steve Hoffman constellation.

> fair enough. So I guess you agree that in fact the results of
> *blind listening tests* are not invalidated simply because the

> listener has, ...

Yes, Scott, that WOULD be a guess on your part.

> That you would post a particular cherry picked observation made under
> sighted conditions in response to my posting his reports of a blind
> comaprison was mere coincidence not meant to infer that there was
> anything wrong with the cited blind comparison.

That would be another guess on your part.

> I apologize again for my complete misreading of
> your post. I am pleased to know that you did not actually make the
> logical fallacy that the results of *blind listening tests* are
> invalid if the listener has at some point in their life been swayed by
> bias effects under *sighted* conditions and that the information you
> posted in no way has any bearing on the blind comparsions made by
> Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray between master tape and playback of a
> freshly cut laquer.

And how do you know THIS? Again, by guessing? WOuld seem so, given
that I never addressed the subject.

How many wrong guesses do contestants get?

jwvm

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 6:32:11 AM9/28/10
to
On Sep 27, 4:05=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
> On Mon, 27 Sep 2010 04:00:45 -0700, Romy the Cat wrote
> (in article <8gbbqtFbo...@mid.individual.net>):

>
> > What I found the most amassing in this story is that presentation was
> > made for Audio Engineering Society and it looks like they were
> > AMAZED!!!
>
> I think that they were amazed by the sound of the difference signal betwe=
en

> the unaltered master and the compressed copy. It was that so much
> "extraneous" info was removed from the master that it was apparently poss=
ible
> to still tell what the music was supposed to be and who was singing it. =
=A0

> That's a lot of loss.

There should be no surprise regarding what has been discarded in
perceptual coding. By definition, what is thrown away is information
that is masked and so will not be perceived. This residual should
contain recognizable sounds and be highly correlated with the original
recording.

Andrew Barss

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 6:32:26 AM9/28/10
to
Audio Empire <audio_...@comcast.net> wrote:
: On Mon, 27 Sep 2010 04:00:45 -0700, Romy the Cat wrote
: (in article <8gbbqt...@mid.individual.net>):

Maybe. But if the info removed was masked by other, louder sounds, then
wouldn't the two in principle be indistinguishable?

Consider a visual analogy. You're mking a movie, and need to
have a set that looks like the White House. But only the front of the White House
(from a range of angles, so it's the front, and parts of the sides), the Oval Office, and
a few other administrative offices.

Someone then builds a demonstration, which is every part of the WH -- including many of the rooms,
the entire back side, the basement, etc. -- that your movie set didn't include.

There would be a lot of building there, absolutely none of which would have been relevant to the
replication of the WH in your movie.

--Andy Barss

vlad

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 6:33:32 AM9/28/10
to
On Sep 27, 7:35=A0am, Scott <S888Wh...@aol.com> wrote:

Scott is copying here an article of Steve Hoffman about comparison
between master tape, acetate lacquer and digitized copy:

. . .

>
> A few years ago, mainly out of curiosity (and nothing else) I got the
> chance at AcousTech Mastering to compare an actual master tape to the
> playback of a record lacquer and digital playback. Also did the same
> test using DSD (SACD) playback as well later on in the day. The
> results were interesting. The below is just my opinion. Note that we
> cut the record at 45 because the lathe was set for that speed. A
> similar test we did using the 33 1/3 speed yielded the same result.
>
> FIRST COMPARISON: MASTER TAPE with ACETATE LACQUER AT 45 RPM with
> DIGITAL PACIFIC MICROSONICS CAPTURE.
>
> We had the master tape of the Riverside stereo LP Bill Evans Trio/
> WALTZ FOR DEBBY at AcousTech and decided to do this little comparison.
> Since the actual master needs a bunch of "mastering" to make it sound
> the best, I set the title track up as if it was going to be mastered
> (which in a sense it was, being cut on to an acetate record).
>

Notice that he compared it with acetate lacquer and not with LP
printed from this lacquer. I don't think anybody collects acetate
lacquers, most people collect LP's.

> We cut a lacquer ref of the tune with mastering moves while dumping to
> the digital computer at the same time with the same moves.
>

Why do they need mastering moves? I guess, because final LP sounds
different from original master tape. So they introduce distortion in a
sound of master tape expecting these distortions to be compensated by
specific distortions of LP.

They digitized tape "with mastering moves". So I would expect that
digital copy and LP should sound different. And what copy would have
more "pleasing" sound? You guessed it - analog LP.

> Then, after a break, we sync'd up all three, first matching levels.
> Simultaneous playback of all three commenced and as Kevin switched, I
> listened. (We took turns switching and listening). First thing I
> noticed:
>
> The MASTER TAPE and the RECORD sounded the same. We couldn't tell one
> from the other during playback. This was of course playing back the
> tape on the master recorder with the mastering "moves" turned on. The
> acetate record was played back flat on the AcousTech lathe with the
> SAE arm and Shure V15 through the Neumann playback preamp (as seen in
> so many pictures posted here of AcousTech)."

So, their statement is that master tape "with moves" sounded
identical to acetate lacquer. Why then "moves" were needed at all? I
guess, because LP sounds different from tape with "moves" and
therefore lacquer. But they did not make comparison to LP.

Also, protocol they used is far from "blind". Two humans - one of
them listening, another switching, definitely exchanged some words and
signals, so what is so "blind" about this procedure? They did not even
mention if results of their "tests" were statistically sufficient to
make conclusion of similarity. Just usual "trust me, I heard it"
argument.

Why did they digitize original tape with "moves"? There is no
mention of it used in comparison. I guess they did compare it to other
two but results did not meet their expectations (whatever they were).

>
> As for pops and ticks they are easily dealt with if one is willing to
> do hi-rez rips and use a simple de-clicking program. Not really an
> excuse anymore to dismiss the format. You don't *have to* listen
> through pops and ticks to enjoy the virtues vinyl.

So, after all digital is not so evil, you can use it removing pops-
n-clicks from LP. And listen to digital after that? :-)

vlad

Scott

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 6:33:47 AM9/28/10
to
On Sep 27, 12:57=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
> On Mon, 27 Sep 2010 09:49:23 -0700, Scott wrote
> (in article <8gc08jFcs...@mid.individual.net>):

>
>
>
>
>
> > On Sep 27, 7:51=3DA0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
> >> Scott wrote:
>
> >>> "Gross distortions?"
> >>>http://www.stevehoffman.tv/...
>
> >> Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>
> >> =3DA0 =3DA0http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm

>
> >> to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.
>
> > Very interesting argument Dick. So is it your position that the
> > results of *blind listening tests* are invalid if the listener has
> > ever been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions? Because
> > that looks to be the argument you are infering by suggesting we look
> > at Steve Hoffman's opinions of a particular product based on *sighted*
> > listening before we consider the results of his *blind* comparisons of
> > a fresh cut laquer and the master tape.
>
> I'd say that's it's impossible to do a DBT between a vinyl record and a
> master tape. The surface noise on an LP is always going to give it away.
> While it is possible to have a record that is very quiet, and relatively =
free
> of ticks and pops, it is darn near impossible to find one (even a new one=
)
> that is perfectly quiet, with a smooth background like the tape (tape his=
s

> doesn't count). That means that the listeners will always be able to tell
> whether they're listening to the tape or the vinyl playback, and it won't
> have anything to do with the actual "sound" =A0of the two. They could be

> identical in sound, but the record surface noise will give the game away
> every time.

It was a fresh cut laquer of a Bill Evans recording. If anyone really
thinks the results were eroneous they can check with RTI and see if
there will be an opportunity to repeat the test. All the same
equipment used for Steve Hoffman's and Kevin Gray's blind comparisons
is still there. This is a very repetable test. That the results are
surprising is no reason to dismiss them when they can so easily be
varified.

Greg Wormald

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 9:40:01 AM9/28/10
to
In article <8gduhb...@mid.individual.net>, jwvm <jw...@umich.edu>
wrote:

> By definition, what is thrown away is information
> that is masked and so will not be perceived.

IMO, not quite. There is a further word that needs to be
included--"consciously" (between "be" and "perceived").

And since the unconscious mind does far more with input than the
conscious mind, it is entirely possible that the unconscious mind can
sense that something is missing and not be able to tell the conscious
mind exactly what it is.

Depending on the communication patterns between the conscious and
unconscious mind of the individual this difference may not be
communicated at all, or well, or immediately.

This may invalidate most of the standard double-blind testing regimes in
this area.

In article <8gduhp...@mid.individual.net>,
Andrew Barss <ba...@basil.u.arizona.edu> wrote:

> Consider a visual analogy. You're mking a movie, and need to
> have a set that looks like the White House. But only the front of the White
> House
> (from a range of angles, so it's the front, and parts of the sides), the Oval
> Office, and
> a few other administrative offices.
>
> Someone then builds a demonstration, which is every part of the WH --
> including many of the rooms,
> the entire back side, the basement, etc. -- that your movie set didn't
> include.
>
> There would be a lot of building there, absolutely none of which would have
> been relevant to the
> replication of the WH in your movie.

Again, IMO, not quite.

What is missing from your analogy is that the ears actually received the
modified signal with the reduced information, while the camera did not.

So while your last paragraph works for the analogy, it doesn't for
perceptual coding.

. . . . .
One of the issues I see come up in these debates is the lack of
appreciation of the processing power of the unconscious mind and the
difficulty it often has of making it's knowledge known to the conscious
mind.

This may go part way to explaining why some say "I hear it, it's
obvious." and others say "It's not there, tests show it isn't." Testing
what the unconscious mind knows is not simple in any way, and our
knowledge and understanding of how the unconscious mind works is still
in it's infancy.

IMO, if the unconscious mind, it's processing, and communications were a
matter of science, then psychotherapy would be science and mental
illness would have been eradicated.

As it is, psychotherapy is also an art form, and the 'curing' of mental
illness is highly dependent on the artistry of the therapist.

Music is also a art form.

Greg

Sebastian Kaliszewski

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 9:39:46 AM9/28/10
to

But that's the whole point of psychoacustic compression! Remove what
psychoacustic model deems unhearable (because it's masked by the other
parts of the signal, and our brain could not preceive it).

Wether that psychoacustic model is right or wrong is another story,
though. And that's why telling that you hear artifacts with 320bps mp3's
without disclosing encoder used is pretty useless. In lossy compression
world 320bps does not necessarily equal 320bps (from another encoder).

rgds
\SK
--
"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity" -- Notebooks of L.L.
--
http://www.tajga.org -- (some photos from my travels)

Andrew Haley

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 9:39:34 AM9/28/10
to

I don't understand why they would be amazed -- if they understood
perceptual coders. Granted, it's not everyone's speciality, but the
point of a perceptual coder is that it models the information that the
auditory system loses because it is masked. It would be truly amazing
if the difference signal were not strongly correlated with the input.

The whole thing sounds rather embarrassing. I imagine it must have
been a toe-curling experience for the experts in the audience.

Andrew.

jwvm

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 1:55:23 PM9/28/10
to
On Sep 28, 9:40=A0am, Greg Wormald <greg.worm...@gmail.com> wrote:
> In article <8gduhbFa8...@mid.individual.net>, jwvm <j...@umich.edu>

> wrote:
>
> > By definition, what is thrown away is information
> > that is masked and so will not be perceived.
>
> IMO, not quite. There is a further word that needs to be
> included--"consciously" (between "be" and "perceived").
>
> And since the unconscious mind does far more with input than the
> conscious mind, it is entirely possible that the unconscious mind can
> sense that something is missing and not be able to tell the conscious
> mind exactly what it is.
>

You are missing the point. The observation that I made is not a
defense of perceptual coding but rather why George's demonstration of
taking the difference between a perceptually encoded file and the
original file is bogus. His "amazing" demonstration to "audio
professionals" indicates that he does not understand the basis for
perceptual encoding or he was deliberately misleading the audience.
This also does not say much about the technical competence of the
audience.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 4:06:07 PM9/28/10
to
On Tue, 28 Sep 2010 03:32:11 -0700, jwvm wrote
(in article <8gduhb...@mid.individual.net>):

Agreed, but apparently (I wasn't there) it was a big surprise to a lot of
attendees.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 28, 2010, 9:15:56 PM9/28/10
to
On Tue, 28 Sep 2010 06:39:46 -0700, Sebastian Kaliszewski wrote
(in article <8ge9h2...@mid.individual.net>):

> Audio Empire wrote:
>> On Mon, 27 Sep 2010 04:00:45 -0700, Romy the Cat wrote
>> (in article <8gbbqt...@mid.individual.net>):
>>
>>> What I found the most amassing in this story is that presentation was
>>> made for Audio Engineering Society and it looks like they were
>>> AMAZED!!!
>>>
>>
>> I think that they were amazed by the sound of the difference signal between
>> the unaltered master and the compressed copy. It was that so much
>> "extraneous" info was removed from the master that it was apparently
>> possible
>> to still tell what the music was supposed to be and who was singing it.
>> That's a lot of loss.
>>
>
> But that's the whole point of psychoacustic compression! Remove what
> psychoacustic model deems unhearable (because it's masked by the other
> parts of the signal, and our brain could not preceive it).
>
> Wether that psychoacustic model is right or wrong is another story,
> though. And that's why telling that you hear artifacts with 320bps mp3's
> without disclosing encoder used is pretty useless. In lossy compression
> world 320bps does not necessarily equal 320bps (from another encoder).
>
> rgds
> \SK
>

I'm not withholding the encoder used, Other than the fact that it's the one
used in Audacity, and the one used in Apple iTunes, I don't know what encoder
it is. I assume that since audio that's encoded with these plays back on any
MP3 player, that these encoders follow the MP3 standard (whatever that might
be). Since I eschew MP3 as much as possible, and do not rip music using it, I
haven't spent any time learning anything other than a cursory amount about
the subject. Lossy compression simply doesn't interest me except as something
to avoid when practicable.

OTOH, my main interest in Mr. Massenburg's comments had to do with his take
on "high-resolution" recording, not necessarily his condemnation of lossy
compression schemes (although I do agree with him on that subject). I think
that high resolution recording formats yield recordings that transcend the
digital vs analog debate and make it moot. The fact is that analog does not
(at it's best) sound better than digital, but it does sound better than SOME
digital, like many that are recorded at low sampling rates, or are
indifferently recorded and mastered, and of, course, those produced using
lossy compression schemes such as MP3 or AAC (which, in my humble opinion, is
all about the triumph of quantity over quality).

What's sort of ironic (at least to me) is that the "hobby" of high-fidelity
came into being simply because the record companies, starting in the mid to
late 1940's, were interested in putting out the best sound possible on their
product. People with cheap players didn't, and couldn't appreciate that
quality, but the nascent, niche market of the hi-fi enthusiast did and could
appreciate the sound being recorded and pressed onto record. The fact that
the better one's playback equipment was, the better the sound being extracted
from those records, was a constant challenge to those designing the playback
(not to mention the recording) equipment. The record companies, especially in
their classical music lines (Columbia Masterworks, RCA Red Seal, Mercury
Living Presence, et al), took pride in their product, and that pride allowed
for product that drove the rest of the high-fidelity industry to continually
improve the hardware. Testimony as to how well these record companies met and
even exceeded their goals is the fact that many of these 50 + year old
recordings are still revered today and are released and re-released on
everything from "boutique" vinyl to CD, SACD, DVD-A and now, Blu-Ray and even
digitized high-resolution downloads. In other words, high-fidelity exists
because the music formats aspired to a higher standard of quality than most
of the market required. This is in rather stark contrast to today's ethos
whereby many of the formats available to us are reduced to a lowest common
denominator with heavy, lossy compression (DAB, satellite radio, Internet
Radio, as well as low-data-rate DRM'd MP3 sales through the likes of Apple's
iTunes and similar sales venues). One wonders if this was the attitude of
record producers at the dawn of the LP era - " most people are listening on
cheap portable record players anyway, so why make anything that sounds any
better than what those players can reproduce?" - where the high-fidelity
industry would be today.

bob

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 6:37:45 AM9/29/10
to
On Sep 28, 4:06=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
>
> Agreed, but apparently (I wasn't there) it was a big surprise to a lot of
> attendees.

So far as I can tell, the only evidence we have that anyone in
attendance was surprised was your assertion that "The distortion
amazed everyone in attendance." But if you weren't there, how would
you know?

bob

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 3:50:08 PM9/29/10
to
On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 03:37:45 -0700, bob wrote
(in article <8ggj7p...@mid.individual.net>):

Because I read the article in a British hi-fi magazine by someone who WAS
there.

bob

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 9:58:26 PM9/29/10
to
On Sep 29, 3:50=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:

> Because I read the article in a British hi-fi magazine by someone who WAS
> there.

Oh, well there's an unimpeachable source for you. ;)

Maybe the buzz in the hall wasn't surprise at how much residual sound
there was. Maybe the buzz was surprise that anyone could be making
such a pseudoscientific argument at a scientific conference.

bob

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 6:58:40 AM9/30/10
to
On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 18:58:26 -0700, bob wrote
(in article <8gi962...@mid.individual.net>):

> On Sep 29, 3:50=A0pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
>
>> Because I read the article in a British hi-fi magazine by someone who WAS
>> there.
>
> Oh, well there's an unimpeachable source for you. ;)

Now why would somebody lie about something like that when the facts could so
easily be checked?

> Maybe the buzz in the hall wasn't surprise at how much residual sound
> there was.

That's possible.


> Maybe the buzz was surprise that anyone could be making
> such a pseudoscientific argument at a scientific conference.

I don't see it as pseudoscientific. It demonstrates how much REAL MUSIC is,
apparently, discarded by these lossy compression schemes.


Arny Krueger

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 11:28:18 AM9/30/10
to
"Audio Empire" <audio_...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:i7jfl...@news3.newsguy.com...
> One thing that's consistent with the "Everything-Sounds-The-Same" club is
> the
> notion that the Redbook CD standard (16-bit/44.1 KHz sampling rate) is so

> good that going to 24-bits and either 96 KHz or 192 KHz sampling rate (or
> SACD) makes no audible difference in music recordings.

One learns this fact if one does his homework well.

> The flip side of this
> rather incredible assertion (and just as incredible itself) is the claim,
> by
> many of these same people that MP3, AAC and other lossy compression
> schemes
> are, at the higher bit-rates, totally benign and invisible and that one
> cannot hear any compression artifacts.

One also learns this fact if one does his homework well.

> One who disagrees strongly with both of these views, apparently, is
> "legendary" producer/ designer George Massenburg (Frank Sinatra, Linda
> Rondstadt, Earth, Wind, and Fire, etc.).

> At a presentation he gave at the recent Audio Engineering Society
> Convention
> held in London earlier this year, Massenburg wondered why, with bandwidth
> so
> plentiful, and storage so cheap why people still sell compressed music
> online?

The reason is that bandwidth isn't all that plentiful in the real world, and
that storage is still limited.

I'm getting far worse average bandwidth from Comcast today than I got when I
first signed up over a decade ago. In the old days there were hardly any
people using Comcast's (actually it was their partially-owned subsidiary
@home in those days but they eventually forced @home out of business and
then bought them cheap).

I'm also trying to do far more ambitious things like download A/V files at
DVD-video quality.

For my recent backwoods camping trip I decided to replace my portable CD
with a Sansa Clip+. It only has 2 GB of built-in storage and I didn't have
time to get a 16 GB micro SDHC card to expand it. I had about 20 hours of
spoken word lectures and about 300 songs I wanted to have for my listening
pleasure and erudition when perched high on the cliffs overlooking Lake
Superior by Orphan Lake. What's a boy to do?


> "These systems (compressed music formats) take something essential from
> the
> music, and lop it off. With so much bandwidth and memory now available,
> the
> question is not how to make a better Codec, but why we are bothering to
> use
> codecs at all..."

Massenberg seems to have a number of stories to tell on this topic, and not
all seem to be the same. The bottom line is what can Massenberg actually
show he can hear in a proper bias-controlled, statistically-significant
listening test. At times he's had the clarity to seem, to admit that in that
context, well 24/96 is not so much.

> In his presentation, Massenburg showed where he took 24-bit/96 KHz
> recordings
> of Phil Collins and Diana Krall and ran them through different Codecs.
> He
> used MP3 at 128k bps, and AAC at 256k bps and showed the results on the
> screen.
> These graphics showed how the compression/expansion cycle destroyed the
> dynamic range of the original recording.

Well, he must of screwed something up, or was doing more than he said he
did. Maybe you got some details wrong. I say that because comparing MP3 at
128 to AAC at 256 is not an interesting comparison. The MPEG group knew that
a decade ago and by their work showed that they knew that it is well-known
that AAC makes more efficient use of bandwidth, so the *interesting
comparison* is MP3 at 256 against AAC at 128. You must have your story
flipped around.

That all said nobody who knows what's going on uses 128k MP3 as a reference
format. 192k or 320k is more like it. So, anybody who says that MP3 at 128
has slight to noticeable audible effects depending on the program material
is spouting very old news. I know a roomful of people whose patience would
be tried by comments like those that you are reporting. Given that
Massenberg usually at least tries to be interesting, I'm going to say that
he probably said something else.


> "These are standard systems and they are not good enough for us to use. By
> coding the hell out of the music, and slashing the sound, we are missing a
> market."

That's true if your reference standard for music *is* 128K MP3. Of course
that isn't currently the case.

Even in 2003 official Apple documents said that 160k is their standard for
MP3:

http://support.apple.com/kb/TA27396?viewlocale=en_US

> Massenburg then used a demonstration to drive his point home. He
> electronically subtracted the MP3 compressed music from the original
> 24-bit/96 KHz recording and then played ONLY the difference signal which
> was
> comprised solely of the information lost by the compression.

Only compleat idiots use signal subtraction as a standard for audible
changes. The problem here is that there are a lot of well-known idiots in
this world who seem to have more talking space than technical knowledge to
back it up. The problem with subtraction is that even minor and easily
demonstrated totally inaudible amounts of phase shift can lead to massive
difference signals when you do signal subtraction.

> "These are distortion levels of 15 � 20 percent! ", he said as he played
> the
> difference signal for all to hear. The distortion amazed everyone in
> attendance because it was a grotesquely, but very recognizable version of
> the
> original recoding!

This is so bad to me that it hurts my head when I read it. If you mismatch
the amplitude of two signals by 1 dB, the difference signal is 10%. Yet
neither signal need have any added nonlinear distortion at all. You just got
the levels a bit wrong. And this is aside from the inaudible phase shift
issue that I raised above. So now *the grat man* would be appear to be
talking trash on two levels. Ouch!

I gotta stop, this sort of gross technical ignorance in high places makes my
head hurt. Hopefully a verbatim report would be more reasonable.


Arny Krueger

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 11:47:05 AM9/30/10
to
"Scott" <S888...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:8gc08j...@mid.individual.net...

> On Sep 27, 7:51=A0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
>> Scott wrote:
>>
>> > "Gross distortions?"
>> >http://www.stevehoffman.tv/...
>>
>> Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>>
>> =A0 =A0http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm
>>
>> to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.

> Very interesting argument Dick. So is it your position that the
> results of *blind listening tests* are invalid if the listener has
> ever been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions?

I think you've missed the point, Scott.

The point I see is that Mr Hoffman's credibility as an evaluator of hardware
is suspect to many of us because he has so clearly thrown his personal
support and reputation behind what most of us find to be obviously bogus
hardware.

The argument goes something like this: "If he'd stake his reputation on some
crazy piece of hardware like that, what good is his reputation for hardware
evaluation?"

Note that I'm not addressing Mr. Hoffman's reputation for mastering
recordings. I consider mastering recordings to be a vastly different
technology and art than listening room acoustics or more generally, hardware
evaluation.

isw

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 2:14:40 PM9/30/10
to
In article <i7u40...@news3.newsguy.com>,
Audio Empire <audio_...@comcast.net> wrote:

To be in compliance with the standard, an encoder must (1) produce data
which is in compliance with the proper syntax, and (2) not break a
"reference" decoder when played through it. That's all. Note that there
is nothing there about how good it sounds...

> Since I eschew MP3 as much as possible, and do not rip music using it, I
> haven't spent any time learning anything other than a cursory amount about
> the subject. Lossy compression simply doesn't interest me except as something
> to avoid when practicable.

How do you feel about hugely inefficient encoding methods which require
vastly more data than is necessary for "transparent" reproduction? A lot
of folks think *those* are "something to avoid when practicable".

Isaac

Doug McDonald

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 2:26:43 PM9/30/10
to
On 9/30/2010 10:28 AM, Arny Krueger wrote:

>
> This is so bad to me that it hurts my head when I read it. If you mismatch
> the amplitude of two signals by 1 dB, the difference signal is 10%. Yet
> neither signal need have any added nonlinear distortion at all. You just got
> the levels a bit wrong. And this is aside from the inaudible phase shift
> issue that I raised above. So now *the grat man* would be appear to be
> talking trash on two levels. Ouch!
>
> I gotta stop, this sort of gross technical ignorance in high places makes my
> head hurt. Hopefully a verbatim report would be more reasonable.
>
>

It is exceedingly easy to match the levels to calculate distortion_plus_noise.
Once can also, if one wishes, correct the phase. However, in my experience
doing computerized MP3 tests, using LAME, neither is necessary. If one
tells LAME to use 320 kbps, the difference between files is very small
and mostly noise. If one uses 96 kbps fixed bitrate, the distortion
is fairly large and not all noise. The only question is "at what bitrate
does it actually become audible in double blind tests?". At 96 kbps
I can hear the difference. The difference signal is substantially
nonlinear distortion.

Doug McDonald

Arny Krueger

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 3:50:43 PM9/30/10
to
"vlad" <vova.ku...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:8gdujs...@mid.individual.net...

> On Sep 27, 7:35=A0am, Scott <S888Wh...@aol.com> wrote:

> Scott is copying here an article of Steve Hoffman about comparison
> between master tape, acetate lacquer and digitized copy:

http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=133328

>> We cut a lacquer ref of the tune with mastering moves while dumping to
>> the digital computer at the same time with the same moves.

> Why do they need mastering moves? I guess, because final LP sounds
> different from original master tape. So they introduce distortion in a
> sound of master tape expecting these distortions to be compensated by
> specific distortions of LP.

This is exactly right. In a high volume environment, tapes were produced
that incorporated these compensating distortions. They were called "cutting
masters".

> They digitized tape "with mastering moves". So I would expect that
> digital copy and LP should sound different. And what copy would have
> more "pleasing" sound? You guessed it - analog LP.

Was the listening evaluation unbiased?

>> Then, after a break, we sync'd up all three, first matching levels.
>> Simultaneous playback of all three commenced and as Kevin switched, I
>> listened. (We took turns switching and listening). First thing I
>> noticed:

>> The MASTER TAPE and the RECORD sounded the same. We couldn't tell one
>> from the other during playback. This was of course playing back the
>> tape on the master recorder with the mastering "moves" turned on. The
>> acetate record was played back flat on the AcousTech lathe with the

>> SME arm and Shure V15 through the Neumann playback preamp (as seen in


>> so many pictures posted here of AcousTech)."

I seriously doubt that an ABX of this same comparison would have failed. The
listeners wouldn't be reduced to random guessing.

> So, their statement is that master tape "with moves" sounded
> identical to acetate lacquer. Why then "moves" were needed at all?

The mastering moves are well-known and are required to obtain the most
accurate-sounding LP.

Arny Krueger

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 3:50:54 PM9/30/10
to
"Audio Empire" <audio_...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:8gcbo8...@mid.individual.net...

> I think it is pointless to use information

> reduction for high end audio as long we don't have an audio system that


> can produce a sound which is indistinguishable from live performances.

??????????

Doesn't it seem logical that as long as we can't get accurate reproduction
anyway, that when useful we use information reduction for convenience sake?


Arny Krueger

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 3:50:59 PM9/30/10
to
"isw" <i...@witzend.com> wrote in message
news:i7njn...@news3.newsguy.com...
> In article <i7lar...@news3.newsguy.com>,

> If you can hear artifacts, you're using a poor encoder algorithm, or too
> low a bit rate, or both.

Agreed. Finally an opinion from an informed source!


jwvm

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 7:12:25 PM9/30/10
to
On Sep 30, 2:26 pm, Doug McDonald <mcdon...@scs.uiuc.edu> wrote:

> It is exceedingly easy to match the levels to calculate distortion_plus_noise.

What you say is very true but that is not the objective with
perceptual encoding. What is sought with this class of encoders is to
maximize transparency at given bit rates using human listeners as the
means of evaluation. The problem with simply using mean squared error
measures between the original and compressed recording is that
frequencies are either removed or coarsely quantized resulting in
noticeable degradation. In addition, perceptual coders use coarse
quantization for components that are weakly perceived by listeners so
will be unlikely to be heard which will be different from results
using MSE

> Once can also, if one wishes, correct the phase. However, in my experience
> doing computerized MP3 tests, using LAME, neither is necessary. If one
> tells LAME to use 320 kbps, the difference between files is very small
> and mostly noise. If one uses 96 kbps fixed bitrate, the distortion
> is fairly large and not all noise. The only question is "at what bitrate
> does it actually become audible in double blind tests?". At 96 kbps
> I can hear the difference. The difference signal is substantially
> nonlinear distortion.

The residual (removed) components of compressed audio at low bit rates
actually may be relatively linear since it consists of sounds that are
largely masked in the original signal. At higher data rates, much more
audio information is preserved and the residual components are likely
to be much more nonlinear and contain significant amounts of
quantization errors.

You do indeed ask the 64,000,000 dollar question here. Clearly the
vast majority of listeners outside of this newsgroup have little
problem with lossy compression given sufficiently high data rates.
Published results from properly conducted trials available on the web
indicate that AAC compression at 128 kbps is close to or completely
transparent in most cases. Obviously, this is heresy to some here.

jwvm

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 7:34:43 PM9/30/10
to
On Sep 30, 2:14=A0pm, isw <i...@witzend.com> wrote:

<snip>

> How do you feel about hugely inefficient encoding methods which require
> vastly more data than is necessary for "transparent" reproduction? A lot
> of folks think *those* are "something to avoid when practicable".
>
> Isaac

Agreed! Clearly, streaming services like Pandora will need to continue
to use lossy compression for the foreseeable future since many ISP
provide limited date rates and some put monthly caps on service. Many
locations actually have slower internet speeds than what was available
four or five years ago so there is no guarantee that things will be
improving. Of particular note here is the mobile web since there is
only a finite amount of spectrum available.

Scott

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 8:08:55 PM9/30/10
to
On Sep 30, 12:50=A0pm, "Arny Krueger" <ar...@hotpop.com> wrote:
> "vlad" <vova.kuznet...@gmail.com> wrote in message
>
> news:8gdujs...@mid.individual.net...

>
> > On Sep 27, 7:35=3DA0am, Scott <S888Wh...@aol.com> wrote:
> > Scott is copying here an article of Steve Hoffman about comparison
> > between master tape, acetate lacquer and digitized copy:
>
> http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=3D133328

>
> >> We cut a lacquer ref of the tune with mastering moves while dumping to
> >> the digital computer at the same time with the same moves.
> > =A0 =A0Why do they need mastering moves? I guess, because final LP soun=

ds
> > different from original master tape. So they introduce distortion in a
> > sound of master tape expecting these distortions to be compensated by
> > specific distortions of LP.
>
> This is exactly right. In a high volume environment, tapes were produced
> that incorporated these compensating distortions. They were called "cutti=
ng
> masters".

Not sure what that would have to do with this situation. They weren't
using a "cutting" master and Steve Hoffman explained in the article
why he did the comparison with the "moves" in place.
http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=3D133328&highlight=3Dmas=
ter+tape


"We had the master tape of the Riverside stereo LP Bill Evans Trio/
WALTZ FOR DEBBY at AcousTech and decided to do this little comparison.
Since the actual master needs a bunch of "mastering" to make it sound
the best, I set the title track up as if it was going to be mastered

(which in a sense it was, being cut on to an acetate record).'
The "moves" were the same ones he used to master the LP and SACD for
Analog Productions. The "moves" were already designed to make the best
sounding final product both for LP and SACD. They were not designed to
obscure the differences between the fresh cut laquer and the feed from
the master tape.

>
> > =A0 =A0They digitized tape "with mastering moves". So I would expect th=


at
> > digital copy and LP should sound different. And what copy would have
> > more "pleasing" sound? You guessed it - analog LP.
>
> Was the listening evaluation unbiased?

It was blind and it was level matched and it was a comaprison between
the feed from the master tape with the "moves" in place and the laquer
that was cut with the "moves" in place. So I fail to see the issue
with the "moves."


>
> >> Then, after a break, we sync'd up all three, first matching levels.
> >> Simultaneous playback of all three commenced and as Kevin switched, I
> >> listened. (We took turns switching and listening). First thing I
> >> noticed:
> >> The MASTER TAPE and the RECORD sounded the same. We couldn't tell one
> >> from the other during playback. This was of course playing back the
> >> tape on the master recorder with the mastering "moves" turned on. The
> >> acetate record was played back flat on the AcousTech lathe with the
> >> SME arm and Shure V15 through the Neumann playback preamp (as seen in
> >> so many pictures posted here of AcousTech)."
>

> I seriously doubt that an ABX of this same comparison would have failed. =


The
> listeners wouldn't be reduced to random guessing.

I'm not really sure what you are saying here Arny. This was in essence
and AB/HR blind test.


>
> > =A0 =A0So, their statement is that master tape "with moves" sounded


> > identical to acetate lacquer. Why then "moves" were needed at all?
>
> The mastering moves are well-known and are required to obtain the most
> accurate-sounding LP.

They were not needed. They were there because Hoffman felt the tape
sounded better with the moves. Please see the quote and link to the
original article above. The "moves" were not a factor since the
signal fed to the cutting lathe and the signal used to do the
comparison were the *same* signal. The "moves" are not an issue.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 9:22:58 PM9/30/10
to
On Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:50:43 -0700, Arny Krueger wrote
(in article <8gk80j...@mid.individual.net>):

Also, saying that the acetate lacquer sounds just like the cutting master is
no great feat. Now, if he had said that the acetate lacquer sounded exactly
like the RECORDING SESSION masters. now that would be saying something. BTW,
with digital, that claim CAN be truthfully made all of the time from a
technical standpoint. The fact that it is rarely true in commercial release
practice is not due to any shortcoming or flaw in the technology. IOW, anyone
can make a CD of a 44.1 KHz/16-bit master recording that would be, in any
DBT, indistinguishable from that master recording. An SACD can be made from a
DSD master recording that would be indistinguishable from that master, and
ditto with either a 24/96KHz or 24/192 KHz DVD-A or Blu-Ray LPCM, Dolby
TrueHD, or DTS-HD disc made from 24/96 KHz or 24/192 masters.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 9:23:32 PM9/30/10
to
On Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:50:59 -0700, Arny Krueger wrote
(in article <8gk813...@mid.individual.net>):

Sorry, that's not my experience with MP3. Increasing the data rate merely
makes it more difficult to hear the artifacts, they are still there. If one
knows what one is listening for, compression artifacts can be heard on MP3's
made with bit-rates as high as 320 bps - I doubt if they could be heard on
speakers at that rate, but can be clearly heard on decent quality headphones.
So, if this is a result of a "poor encoder algorithm", then that's what the
entire industry is using - poor encoder algorithms, because these artifacts
exist on every MP3 that I have ever tried to listen to on headphones. Most
people don't seem to mind them, but I find them very annoying. Much, much
more so than the occasional tick or pop on an LP.

Scott

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 10:59:35 PM9/30/10
to
On Sep 30, 6:22 pm, Audio Empire <audio_emp...@comcast.net> wrote:
> On Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:50:43 -0700, Arny Krueger wrote
> (in article <8gk80jFue...@mid.individual.net>):
>
>
>
>
>
> > "vlad" <vova.kuznet...@gmail.com> wrote in message

Indeed it would be, given he altered that sound. But he did have the
"recording session" or original master tape. So what is it you think
would make a difference if Steve Hoffman's mastering "moves" were not
in play? He is not compressing the signal. He is not summing the bass
to mono and he is not rolling the deep bass. So what difference would
it make?

> BTW,
> with digital, that claim CAN be truthfully made all of the time from a
> technical standpoint. The fact that it is rarely true in commercial release
> practice is not due to any shortcoming or flaw in the technology.

Well that depends on what you mean by technology.

> IOW, anyone
> can make a CD of a 44.1 KHz/16-bit master recording that would be, in any
> DBT, indistinguishable from that master recording.

And yet under blind conditions both Hoffman and Gray were able to
detect a difference. their protocols and equipment are presented in
Hoffman's original article.
http://www.stevehoffman.tv/forums/showthread.php?t=3D133328&highlight...


> An SACD can be made from a
> DSD master recording that would be indistinguishable from that master,

And yet they heard a difference with that as well.

Audio Empire

unread,
Sep 30, 2010, 10:58:41 PM9/30/10
to
On Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:14:40 -0700, isw wrote
(in article <8gk2cg...@mid.individual.net>):

Yes, that would, of course, make sense.

>> Since I eschew MP3 as much as possible, and do not rip music using it, I
>> haven't spent any time learning anything other than a cursory amount about
>> the subject. Lossy compression simply doesn't interest me except as
>> something
>> to avoid when practicable.
>
> How do you feel about hugely inefficient encoding methods which require
> vastly more data than is necessary for "transparent" reproduction? A lot
> of folks think *those* are "something to avoid when practicable".
>
> Isaac

I think that this is more a "horses for courses" question. I record in Direct
Stream Digital (SACD format) and make 24-bit/192 KHz DVD-A copies of those
DSD recordings for myself (the software to burn "home-brew" SACDs is not
available to the "enthusiast market (the cheapest, Sonic Studios' 'SACD
Creator' is $5000!). The "client" usually gets regular "Redbook" CD copies
unless he asks for something better.

Having said that, I don't feel, in the least, that there is any such thing as
a recording method that "requires vastly more data than is necessary for
'transparent' reproduction."

BTW, I have no beef with using data compression schemes such as FLAC or ALC
to save bandwidth or storage space, my bugaboo is with compression schemes
that throw program material away in order to reduce file size. Also not all
lossy compression schemes yield the same quality results. While MP3 sounds
terrible to me, I find that Sony's ATRAC, the compression scheme they came up
with for Minidisc, to be much more benign than MP3. To my knowledge, I have
no experience with AAC and cannot comment on that.

Audio Empire

unread,
Oct 1, 2010, 7:07:05 AM10/1/10
to
On Thu, 30 Sep 2010 12:50:54 -0700, Arny Krueger wrote
(in article <8gk80u...@mid.individual.net>):

You have misattributed the above quote. Audio_Empire didn't write that.

Scott

unread,
Oct 1, 2010, 7:07:44 AM10/1/10
to
On Sep 30, 8:47=A0am, "Arny Krueger" <ar...@hotpop.com> wrote:
> "Scott" <S888Wh...@aol.com> wrote in message
>
> news:8gc08j...@mid.individual.net...

>
> > On Sep 27, 7:51=3DA0am, Dick Pierce <dpie...@cartchunk.org> wrote:
> >> Scott wrote:
>
> >> > "Gross distortions?"
> >> >http://www.stevehoffman.tv/...
>
> >> Any mention of Steve Hoffman is incomplete without
>
> >> =3DA0 =3DA0http://www.shakti-innovations.com/hallograph.htm

>
> >> to put his views in a somewhat more complete perspective.
> > Very interesting argument Dick. So is it your position that the
> > results of *blind listening tests* are invalid if the listener has
> > ever been swayed by bias effects under *sighted* conditions?
>
> I think you've missed the point, Scott.
>
> The point I see is that Mr Hoffman's credibility as an evaluator of hardw=
are

> is suspect to many of us because he has so clearly thrown his personal
> support and reputation behind what most of us find to be obviously bogus
> hardware.
>
> The argument goes something like this: "If he'd stake his reputation on s=
ome
> crazy piece of hardware like that, what good is his reputation for hardwa=
re

> evaluation?"
>
> Note that I'm not addressing Mr. Hoffman's reputation for mastering
> recordings. I consider mastering recordings to be a vastly different
> technology and art than listening room acoustics or more generally, hardw=
are
> evaluation.

Yeah that pretty much is the nice way of saying what I said. The
problem is the argument fails miserably. Nothing a person reports from
listening under sighted conditions in any way has any bearing on what
they report under blind conditions. It's a bizzarre form of guilt by
association. It doesn't matter what Steve Hoffman believes or doesn't
believe. It doesn't matter what he heard somewhere else under sighted
conditions. What matters are the protocols. And other than a lack of
double blindness the protocols that are spelled out look to work
pretty well. If one feels that both Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray were
failing to hear differences that were present then the logical thing
to do would be to repete the test. This is something that could be
done and probably with little trouble. RTI is still there and still
using the same hardware. Rmemeber we are talking about an assertion of
"gross" distortion. I think it is pretty obvious that the laquer cut
at RTI by Hoffman and Gray used to compare with the master tape feed
was "grossly" distorting the original signal in any audible way. I
also think it is pretty obvious that the difference between the laquer
and the vinyl that would come from it would introduce any other
"gross" audible distortions. It's kind of sad that some would take
cheap shots at Hoffman because they don't like the results of his
comparison.

Audio Empire

unread,
Oct 1, 2010, 7:07:54 AM10/1/10
to
On Thu, 30 Sep 2010 11:26:43 -0700, Doug McDonald wrote
(in article <8gk333...@mid.individual.net>):

I agree, On speakers, I find that I can listen to 128 Kbps and above and
MOSTLY not notice anything untoward (of course, the higher the bit-rate, the
less I notice) but on headphones I can hear artifacts clear out to 320 Kbps,
and yes it is mostly noise. That wouldn't bother me if the noise didn't
"ride" the music like it does. I listen to a lot of Internet radio via my
AppleTV box (the old one, not the new one) and several "stations" that I
listen to regularly sound very good (as background music while I'm reading).
Invariably the ones I find myself listening to are 128 Kbps or higher. Fancy
that.

Audio Empire

unread,
Oct 1, 2010, 7:08:25 AM10/1/10
to
On Thu, 30 Sep 2010 16:12:25 -0700, jwvm wrote
(in article <i835g...@news1.newsguy.com>):

> On Sep 30, 2:26=A0pm, Doug McDonald <mcdon...@scs.uiuc.edu> wrote:
>
>> It is exceedingly easy to match the levels to calculate distortion_plus_n=


> oise.
>
> What you say is very true but that is not the objective with
> perceptual encoding. What is sought with this class of encoders is to
> maximize transparency at given bit rates using human listeners as the
> means of evaluation. The problem with simply using mean squared error
> measures between the original and compressed recording is that
> frequencies are either removed or coarsely quantized resulting in
> noticeable degradation. In addition, perceptual coders use coarse
> quantization for components that are weakly perceived by listeners so
> will be unlikely to be heard which will be different from results
> using MSE
>

>> Once can also, if one wishes, correct the phase. However, in my experienc=


> e
>> doing computerized MP3 tests, using LAME, neither is necessary. If one
>> tells LAME to use 320 kbps, the difference between files is very small
>> and mostly noise. If one uses 96 kbps fixed bitrate, the distortion
>> is fairly large and not all noise. The only question is "at what bitrate
>> does it actually become audible in double blind tests?". At 96 kbps
>> I can hear the difference. The difference signal is substantially
>> nonlinear distortion.
>
> The residual (removed) components of compressed audio at low bit rates
> actually may be relatively linear since it consists of sounds that are
> largely masked in the original signal. At higher data rates, much more
> audio information is preserved and the residual components are likely
> to be much more nonlinear and contain significant amounts of
> quantization errors.
>
> You do indeed ask the 64,000,000 dollar question here. Clearly the
> vast majority of listeners outside of this newsgroup have little
> problem with lossy compression given sufficiently high data rates.
> Published results from properly conducted trials available on the web
> indicate that AAC compression at 128 kbps is close to or completely
> transparent in most cases. Obviously, this is heresy to some here.

What you are overlooking, Mr. Kruger, is that most people are very
unsophisticated listeners. This is not an attempt by me to in any way
belittle anyone, it's just fact (and always has been) that the average person
who listens to music doesn't care that much about sound quality. Simply being
able to hear the music they like is usually good enough for most. This can be