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Thread: Source comparison - listening test: analogue outputs from different CD players

  1. #1
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    Default Source comparison - listening test: analogue outputs from different CD players

    The music (recording) industry and the audio equipment industry share many characteristics. Both are driven by the for-profit motive, both appeal to emotions over logic, both are economically and technically stagnant. Both are masters at self-promotion and creating demand for mediocrity dressed up as revolution. Both are vicious, ruthless businesses.

    The audiophile (a person willing to spend heavily on exotic audio equipment) is chasing a sonic dream, one which the cost-conscious recording industry does not recognise and does not provide. The illusion of limitless improvements in fidelity is a fantasy created by the marketing machine of the audio equipment industry not the record industry. This thread hopefully pulls-together the many words written here over the years cautioning consumers about getting caught-up in the pitiful mental torture of audiophilia.

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    Default Recording rare LPs onto the computer

    The audiophile (a person willing to spend heavily on exotic audio equipment) is chasing a sonic dream, one which the cost-conscious recording industry does not recognise and does not provide. The illusion of limitless improvements in fidelity is a fantasy created by the marketing machine of the audio equipment industry not the record industry. This thread hopefully pulls-together the many words written here over the years cautioning consumers about getting caught-up in the pitiful mental torture of audiophilia.
    Hear hear.

    Don't believe everything you read on the internet without question, (obviously the Harbeth User Group (ignoring the sandbox) is an exception).

    Playing with a new W7 PC, I began to record some of my LP's I've been unable to find on CD onto the computer using Audacity, a free recording program. Whilst doing this, I thought of this, could I record from the analogue outputs of my CD player - an Arcam CD36, an old DVD I've had for years, a Squeezebox Touch and Duet, and how would the recording compare to the original track?

    Well, I did this and the results were surprising...

    Here is the first set:

    Fifty Ways A

    Fifty Ways B

    Fifty Ways C

    Fifty Ways D


    Second set:

    Kid A

    Kid B

    Kid C

    Kid D

    Enjoy! And just list the tracks in the order you think sounds best.

    PLEASE REFER TO POST 15

  3. #3
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    Default Listening feedback

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen PG View Post
    Enjoy! And just list the tracks in the order you think sounds best.
    They all sounded the same to me and nothing too obvious over my laptop. But I think the vocals in A and D seemed to be the best. If I have to make a choice then it will be D, A, C and B. Having problem downloading the Kid tracks.

    ST

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    Default Sound the same?

    They all sound the same to me too and even clicking across the beginning if each 4 tracks quickly I can't tell.

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    Default Golden ears need eyes wide open

    thurston,

    As Alan said...

    The illusion of limitless improvements in fidelity is a fantasy created by the marketing machine of the audio equipment industry not the record industry.
    It's quite simple.

    So far, no one has been able to tell the difference between a CD player, costing over a thousand pounds (), a 10+ year old dvd player and a couple of squeezeboxes (A Touch & Duet - 200 each-ish...).

    Interestingly, the hard core subjectivists have ignored the challenge completely at the other places I've posted this. I guess the golden ears really do only work when the eyes are there...

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    Default The blind leading the gullible .....

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen PG View Post
    ,

    So far, no one has been able to tell the difference between a CD player, costing over a thousand pounds (), a 10+ year old dvd player and a couple of squeezeboxes (A Touch & Duet - 200 each-ish...).

    Interestingly, the hard core subjectivists have ignored the challenge completely at the other places I've posted this. I guess the golden ears really do only work when the eyes are there...
    Ouch... I guessed wrongly! Maybe, I should have kept quiet so that I would be still known as an audiophile, a person with the golden ears. Will try downloading the Kid again and play them over my audiophile equipments.

    Once, someone said that his sound improved so much after putting a Schumann resonator in his room. I asked him whether he could tell the difference under DBT. He said " I don't need to test myself. I know of the improvement and I need not prove them". I don't think he is an exception.

    ST

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    Default Clarification

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen PG View Post
    .

    So far, no one has been able to tell the difference between a CD player, costing over a thousand pounds (), a 10+ year old dvd player and a couple of squeezeboxes (A Touch & Duet - 200 each-ish...).
    ...
    Stephen, could please tell us if your recording is the original CD played and the digital copy played in different players or you are playing the digital version of the LP copy? Thanks

    ST

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    Default Let them believe if they want to ....

    Quote Originally Posted by STHLS5 View Post
    Once, someone said that his sound improved so much after putting a Schumann resonator in his room. I asked him whether he could tell the difference under DBT. He said " I don't need to test myself. I know of the improvement and I need not prove them". I don't think he is an exception.

    ST
    I have come to the conclusion that if this floats someone's boat, one should leave that person be. Life is too short...

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    Default

    This is all very well, but who has a FLAC player? I don't on this PC. As we have said before, it's esseential that A-B comparisons are INSTANTANEOUS. And than means no faffing about; with as short a gap between the pieces as possible.

    Can I suggest that you recreate these as 320kb MP3s?

    DONE - see post #15
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default

    Sorry, I'd have replied sooner but I didn't notice this thread had been duplicated in another place.

    As the person who slaved over a hot A to D converter for many hours to create these files, I can confirm they are all from CD's... and are taken directly from the analogue outputs of the various machines. Also level matched, to make it fair!

    {MP3 cuts embedded in normal Harbeth HTML5 format calling supplied MP3 files (not in any way re-encoded)}.

    Loading the player ...
    Clip A

    Loading the player ...
    Clip B

    Loading the player ...
    Clip C

    Loading the player ...
    Clip D


    Loading the player ...

    Fifty Ways A - Clip E

    Loading the player ...

    Fifty Ways B - Clip F

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen PG View Post
    Interestingly, the hard core subjectivists have ignored the challenge completely at the other places I've posted this. I guess the golden ears really do only work when the eyes are there...
    It may well be that the hard cores at the other places have listened to them and also could not tell the difference and did not want to be embarrassed...
    Having said this - how do we know that you might be pulling our legs and when revealed, all four are in fact from the same source? ;)

    Personally I am not technical (more like not capable) and do not wish to get too deep in trying to understand the jitter, high resolution and all.
    High resolution in particular is over-rated but also under supplied. A well recorded red-book CD remains just as enjoyable for me.

    Over the recent xmas break, I was restricted to a tiny setup playing from an iTouch for 2 weeks and immensely enjoyed every minute.

    Those tiny Realistic Minimus 7s are quite something for their size, age and price.

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    Default

    As the person who slaved over a hot A to D converter for many hours to create these files, I can confirm they are all from CD's... and are taken directly from the analogue outputs of the various machines. Also level matched, to make it fair!


    b4sound,

    You have my word as a gentleman and Harbeth owner, each track is from the output of either an Arcam CD player, an old dvd player, a touch or a Duet with no pre-amp in between.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen PG View Post

    As the person who slaved over a hot A to D converter for many hours to create these files, I can confirm they are all from CD's... and are taken directly from the analogue outputs of the various machines. Also level matched, to make it fair!
    Would you mind explaining the A to D part? Is it possible that the converter may impart a very similar signature during the conversion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by b4sound View Post
    ... Is it possible that the converter may impart a very similar signature during the conversion?
    This assumes that DAC converters do have a signature. I'm not so sure about that. Why would they? Where would this 'personality' component actually reside in the DAC? Another great marketing myth?

    And (although I am prejudging the outcome as I have only given the briefest listen on these PC speakers) if the CD players have different DAC technologies (as you would expect at different price points and even from different eras) if initial comments are of little or no sonic difference doesn't that suggest that the DAC is a rather (or utterly) insignificant part of the audio chain (which is my opinion)?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    b4sound,

    I can give you links (via PM) to some clips of lp's I've recorded, (ones I can't find on CD, I used to work in a specialist classical record shop and have many very old, very rare records!) to see if you think the PCs A to D converter made them sound the same?

    Duet and Touch, wireless streamers.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen PG View Post
    b4sound,

    I can give you links (via PM) to some clips of lp's I've recorded, (ones I can't find on CD, I used to work in a specialist classical record shop and have many very old, very rare records!) to see if you think the PCs A to D converter made them sound the same?
    Sure but what what would I be comparing them against? Curious also when you will eventually reveal if you can / cannot tell the difference yourself.

    Also - please don't be offended as I was only messing with you about pulling our leg!

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    They sound the same to me through the SHL5s... I had to make a note of which is which... plus I can't tell any of them from the original rip of the CD.

    All will be revealed.

    But I bet no one gets it exactly right.

    The DVD:



    With magic dust!

    The Arcam, 24bit 192 up-sampler...


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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    And (although I am prejudging the outcome as I have only given the briefest listen on these PC speakers) if the CD players have different DAC technologies (as you would expect at different price points and even from different eras) if initial comments are of little or no sonic difference doesn't that suggest that the DAC is a rather (or utterly) insignificant part of the audio chain (which is my opinion)?
    Partly I ended up here was because I wanted to put together a "simple" system that had the fewest components possible with the convenience of streaming. So this ruled out vinyl (not starting a fight as I do like how a good vinyl setup sounds just not the TLC required). But Alan, I am not yet as sceptical and still believe DACs can make quite a difference in the chain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b4sound View Post
    But Alan, I am not yet as sceptical and still believe DACs can make quite a difference in the chain.
    You need to do any comparisons between DACs blind and level matched, for a genuine, un-biased result.

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    Quote Originally Posted by b4sound;17897...
    But Alan, I am not yet as sceptical and still believe DACs can make quite a difference in the chain.
    DACs are extremely simple devices. Why should such a simple device have such a profound effect?

    Consider this: at the recording end of the chain in the studio, most modern studios have digital recording desks (consoles). How many ADCs (much more tricky components to design than the inverse, DACs) do you think the microphones have passed through? I mean, if you have fifty mics, you'll need at least 50 ADCs. And I'm failry sure that almost nobody at the sharp end of the business (the studio) gives a tinker's cuss about ADCs, DAC's, cables, isolators or any of the other paraphernalia that those at the back end of the chain (the audiophiles) lose sleep over. When the red light turns on, money starts to burn, and the recording business is above all else, a business.

    Funny old world isn't it when those that walk around a gallery are more obsessed with minutia than the painters themselves!
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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