David brings up an important point which applies to all things audio. I lousy recording will
probably sound lousy across all formats. However, much lousiness in the sound of rock/pop and
sometimes jazz releases comes from the mastering process. Heavy-handed process and/or inept
transferring can do as much damage to the sound as bad mic and mix choices at the source.
A thing that has surprised me, and is quite common on late 90s super-crunched rock releases, is that
the worse digital artifacts are baked into the CD. For a long time, I blamed lossy encoding, but
then went back to the CDs and listened carefully and was shocked at how much garbage sound got
foisted on the public. I think everyone has backed off with the processing and dynamics crunching a
little bit nowadays, and some of the digital tools are getting more idiot-proof (ie even over-use
creates fewer audible artifacts than it used to).
I also own plenty of lousy-sounding LP records, so that format is not somehow magical. I do think
that the bad artifacts created in the all-analog days are less annoying to my ears than common
digital artifacts. My theory is that the digital artifacts are more randomized so they stand out
more, whereas the analog artifacts are generally in an ignorable pattern.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Frank Strauss" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, June 16, 2014 8:26 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] WSJ on "High end record collectors"
> Thanks for your opinion David. I have been a reader of the ARSCList for a
> number of years, and this question has been argued several times. I have
> an older set of ears, and find myself listening to music through my
> computer. Although I have a better system, I hardly ever use it. I made
> the decision to download music from the internet at 320, and I am satisfied
> with that choice, although I usually try to buy a used CD before
> downloading. As I have gotten older, I find I can enjoy listening to the
> music rather than worrying about the recording. With the way I listen (and
> hear), there is no way I can tell the difference between 320 and WAV. I
> can tell the difference between 128 and 320. Sometimes I forget that the
> main reason this lists exists is to promote preservation of recorded
> sound. Just because I can enjoy music through my computer doesn't mean
> it's the way to do it.
> On Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 7:28 PM, David Greene <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> IMHO there are two interpretations of your question. (1) Across all
>> sources, the number of bits per second has no reliable meaning, because if
>> the original source is poorly recorded or overly compressed, no increase in
>> bits per second will improve its sound. (2) This is of course also true for
>> the same source if it's poorly recorded in the first place; but any source
>> that has good dynamic range and was well recorded will sound better in WAV
>> than 320 with good quality listening equipment and an ear attuned to
>> hearing such differences.
>> - David Greene
>> On Jun 16, 2014, at 4:10 PM, Frank Strauss wrote:
>> > I am curious, can you
>> > always tell the difference between mp3 at 320 and WAV using high end
>> > headphones and a good quality headphone amp?
> Frank B Strauss, DMD