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Best methods to improve source quality (songs)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I was wondering what you guys think the best methods are to improve SQ on source material (songs). First off, there is the obvious which is to get 320kbps good quality rips, or FLAC if you can hear a difference and/or have the storage space. What else can you do? I've read things about using MP3 gain to normalize the volume...I'm sure there is a ton of software to improve music out there, care to name some popular ones used here?

I just recently bought some Turbine Pro Copper IEM's, and they're on the way. They seem to be the best IEM for my 200$ budget (got them on sale), and I will be using them on an iPod Classic 160GB (2009) because I need that much storage, and it's the only decent DAP on the market with that much storage. I don't use an amp, because I believe that the difference is not worth the price, so instead I would rather spend all my budget on better headphones. What is there left to improve? I think that my MP3's are the only thing now.
post #2 of 10
Find good mastering/recordings.
post #3 of 10
Originally Posted by pyramid6 View Post
Find good mastering/recordings.
X 2!

Or....remaster them yourself.
post #4 of 10
MP3 gain doesn't really improve the sound quality. What it does is attempt to get all of your music to the same reference volume level so you don't get big volume discrepancies from track to track (or album to album if you do album listening and configure MP3 gain to normalize by album). It's very helpful if you put your iPod on shuffle or like to jump around.

So in general MP3 gain and similar systems don't improve the sound quality. They can improve the listening experience if you do shuffle play or jump around.

The best thing is to get yourself interested in good music that has been mastered well. I hope that rock/pop/r&b music from the past 10 years isn't your favorite listening material.
post #5 of 10
Depending on the music manager you use you can try various means of improving the sound. For example on itunes turn off sound enhancer, sound check and the equaliser all of which add further digital processing to the music. If you use Foobar you can then add programmes such as WASAPI which means you can get bit perfect (unprocessed) music.

The above is for when you want your music as natural and original to the recording as possible. If you want extra bass or whatever then do the opposite and play about with Sound Enhancer and the eq in itunes etc.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Where can you find good remasterings? Is there a blog out there with good quality Metal releases? I listen to stuff from the '80's till now, so some of it is pretty bad recording, but still amazing music. That's the most important part though.
post #7 of 10
The Steve Hoffman Music Forums is one place to search or ask about preferred versions of recordings for audio quality. You'll need to register for the forums so you can search.

Steve Hoffman is a mastering engineer. He does audiophile style masters for special DCC gold CD releases and others. Consequently the forums there have a bias for the Steve Hoffman sound. Some of the folks there are also collectors who try to get every release. That means they may rave about or recommend particular masterings or releases that are difficult to get.

If your taste in metal is Deep Purple they've got you covered.
You'll have to search to see how much they cover your particular favorite metal artists.

I don't know about particular blogs that cover audiophile metal. It's just not something I've looked for.

A good exercise would be to get ahold of a recommended old mastering of an album and a remastering of an album. Listen to both and learn and explore the sound differences.
post #8 of 10
Hyperfluxe, one simple option I'd suggest you turn on if you use iTunes is the "error correction" for when you rip CD's. From what I've read, it's basically a check that as the data is being read from the CD, there aren't any errors in the process. I believe that if there are errors detected, iTunes will re-sample the section so that the end result is a digital copy that is identical to what was originally on the CD.

With regard to MP3Gain, I would agree with Ham_Sandwich that the main draw is to normalize volume across different albums or songs, but the added benefit is that the software can help remove the digital clipping from a recording. There is a lot of talk about this in other posts in the Sound Science forum, but here's my quick summary. Someone please correct me if I miss-state anything.

Basically, songs are sometimes mastered so that their loudest parts exceed the digital range of loudness levels (technical term ). I imagine it like having a 2 lane road that the music has to fit into. In really loud songs, the music might want to go past the edge of the road, but the music player won't allow it, so the waveform of the music is cut off, like a car striking a curb. This can be avoided with high-res music because of the higher bit depth, allowing for essentially a wider road, to continue my analogy.

Hope this helps.
post #9 of 10
You cannot "remove" digital clipping from a recording.

There is software that tries to guess what the orignal waveform looked like, but it cannot restore the information that got lost.

Also, clipping can happen at any bit depth. As a consumer the only way to avoid clipping is to get recordings that don't clip.
post #10 of 10
Originally Posted by Ham Sandwich View Post
The Steve Hoffman Music Forums is one place to search or ask about preferred versions of recordings for audio quality. You'll need to register for the forums so you can search.
Thanks for the link! I've heard of the "Steve Hoffman Mastering" of various albums in my reading here at Head-Fi, but hadn't bothered to do the search.

So thanks for enabling my astounding levels of apathy.
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