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ARSCLIST  February 2006

ARSCLIST February 2006

Subject:

Re: Cassette obsolescence - digitizing standards

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 20 Feb 2006 13:25:26 -0500

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Glomming onto Richard's point here, it's not just that the storage does have a cost (however cheap 
per gigbyte that may be). It's that you'll end up with much more storage to manage. So, more hard 
drives to keep mirror'd, a more complex array of netorked drives, more frequent maintenance and more 
budget moving forward to plan to swap drives out before they die. If you have archival backups, you 
can't fit a 45 minute side of 96/24 onto a CDR. We've discussed numerous times how DVD media may or 
may not be archival but it's really new and somewhat untested in that arena. So, for marginally more 
useful resolution (in some cases), you're adding a large PITA factor over time.

My practice is, I do what the client wants because some very much want 96/24 and I'm loath to 
dissuade someone from seeking higher quality. But I do explain about the added cost/complexity 
involved, which I don't consider insurmountable but one should be fully informed going into a large 
project.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, February 20, 2006 11:21 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Cassette obsolescence - digitizing standards


> At 01:58 AM 2/20/2006, Geeta Jatania wrote:
>>Can you explain why it wouldn't be worth digitising cassette to 96/24?  We
>>have some music tracks on cassette that we are currently capturing at this
>>sample rate.
>
> Let's look at it one way: Philips and Sony managed to convince most of us that the CD sounded 
> better than cassettes or vinyl - then record companies went on to remaster many albums in an 
> inferior manner, not the fault of the medium. Forgetting the vinyl issue, except for people on the 
> Nakamichi mailing list, most of us think CDs sound better than cassettes. So, if the CD offers 
> wider bandwidth, lower noise, and nonexistent wow and flutter, why digitize at any higher a rate 
> than a CD?
>
> To look at it another way: Unless you have recordings made on high-end Nakamichi (and perhaps a 
> handful of other) machines, there will be little or no information past 20 kHz. The noise floor 
> will be about 75 dB below peaks. CD quality provides a 20kHz passband and 96dB S/N ratio 
> (44.1/16).
>
> Certainly if you have a high-end cassette made with excellent microphones of a musical 
> performance, it doesn't hurt to digitize at 88.2 or 96 ks/s and 24 bits. But, even there, it's 
> overkill.
>
> If you are hearing significant differences between 44.1 and 96 ks/s and between 16 and 24 bit 
> digitization I would look at how the comparison was being done. There have been great audible 
> differences even among various 44.1/16 converters. This is mostly ancient history, but if the 
> upgrade from 44.1 to 96 included swapping to a different converter, then the audible difference 
> may be in the converter. Try running your 96 ks/s converter at 44.1. Obviously, high-quality reels 
> will show a difference. Most cassettes won't, I contend.
>
> One of the reasons I keep bringing this up is that storage is cheap, but it's not free. If you're 
> digitizing oral histories made on run-of-the-mill cassette recorders with run-of-the-mill 
> microphones, there is nothing that you'll get at 96/24 that you won't get at 44.1/16 except more 
> detail of the noise. You won't get bias (which might be useful for removing wow and flutter).
>
> 96/24 takes more than 3x the storage as 44.1/16.
>
> There will be far more improvement in high-frequency response if you manually (or automatically) 
> adjust the play azimuth to match the recording than going from 44.1 to 96 ks/s. Even with totally 
> tweaked azimuth, the response of a cassette on most decks (there were some exceptions with 
> Nakamichi) plummets at 20 kHz.
>
> It's easy to say 96/24 for everything, but if you can put 3x the amount of stuff in the same 
> bucket at 44.1/16 and you haven't lost anything, why wouldn't you do that?
>
> It's a balancing act. The cassette is the weakest link in the chain.
>
> Wi