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Help/advice with ripping from the deeply dissatisfied

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 

I am sorry if this has been covered to death but I really need some specific advice.  

 

I`ve recently purchased HD800s, and a new DAC, and am in audiorgasmic-ness, as expected.  And also, like I expected, I`ve realized the need to delete a lot of my ripped/downloaded audio.  And so I went to the used CD shops and picked up about 30 essential albums and began ripping.  And I am really dissatisfied with the spottiness of the quality of what resulted.  The gear:

Macbook Pro Retina 13, using XLD or MAX to create FLAC files with very little compression.  Then, the same Macbook Pro, with Amarra (EQ off) or TEAC`s HR Player, to an ADL USB cable, to TEAC dual-dac DAC, to ALO Continental V2 portable tube amp and then the Sennheisers.  Sometimes I play the Senns straight from the DAC.

Most of the recordings sound utterly magical but the occasional bass line distorts.  This is especially noticeable in a Goldie album, where the bass, that deep, Drum and Bass bass, is clearly distorting on some, but not all, tracks.  But it also rears its horror-head on other artists`s albums as well, and not just bass-heavy genres.  Being of old-school audio and a longtime amateur musician, to me it sounds simply like the recording levels were too high, outpacing the recording medium.  But of course one can`t set the levels in the ripping applications . . . 

 

This is not a new problem for me.  Years ago when I started ripping CDs in iTunes, Apple Lossless left me disappointed for the same reason, and I ended up doing most of it in 320 mp3.  In fact, this past weekend I downloaded some mp3 versions of my problematic rips to compare and I was doubly disappointed: while the separation and dynamic range were noticeably less impressive than the FLAC versions, the mp3s had none of that hideous, crumbling bass distortion.  And the high-res downloads sound fine too. 

 

So the problem must be my ripping.

 

Any suggestions?  Anyone have similar problems? Any recommended solutions ?  320 mp3 sounds wonderful on the HD800s, until one compares with lossless. . .  

 

Should I switch to WAV or aiff?  

 

Need help !  

 

Thanks in advance,

 

David

post #2 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dopaminer View Post
 

I am sorry if this has been covered to death but I really need some specific advice.  

 

I`ve recently purchased HD800s, and a new DAC, and am in audiorgasmic-ness, as expected.  And also, like I expected, I`ve realized the need to delete a lot of my ripped/downloaded audio.  And so I went to the used CD shops and picked up about 30 essential albums and began ripping.  And I am really dissatisfied with the spottiness of the quality of what resulted.  The gear:

Macbook Pro Retina 13, using XLD or MAX to create FLAC files with very little compression.  Then, the same Macbook Pro, with Amarra (EQ off) or TEAC`s HR Player, to an ADL USB cable, to TEAC dual-dac DAC, to ALO Continental V2 portable tube amp and then the Sennheisers.  Sometimes I play the Senns straight from the DAC.

Most of the recordings sound utterly magical but the occasional bass line distorts.  This is especially noticeable in a Goldie album, where the bass, that deep, Drum and Bass bass, is clearly distorting on some, but not all, tracks.  But it also rears its horror-head on other artists`s albums as well, and not just bass-heavy genres.  Being of old-school audio and a longtime amateur musician, to me it sounds simply like the recording levels were too high, outpacing the recording medium.  But of course one can`t set the levels in the ripping applications . . . 

 

This is not a new problem for me.  Years ago when I started ripping CDs in iTunes, Apple Lossless left me disappointed for the same reason, and I ended up doing most of it in 320 mp3.  In fact, this past weekend I downloaded some mp3 versions of my problematic rips to compare and I was doubly disappointed: while the separation and dynamic range were noticeably less impressive than the FLAC versions, the mp3s had none of that hideous, crumbling bass distortion.  And the high-res downloads sound fine too. 

 

So the problem must be my ripping.

 

Any suggestions?  Anyone have similar problems? Any recommended solutions ?  320 mp3 sounds wonderful on the HD800s, until one compares with lossless. . .  

 

Should I switch to WAV or aiff?  

 

Need help !  

 

Thanks in advance,

 

David

 

 

I've got plenty of space, so I don't rip to any lossy formats. If you go to WAV first and the bass is OK, then you can try first reducing it by 1db (use open source Audacity, or equivalent), THEN converting to your favorite flavor of MP3. Not all encoders are the same. I would recommend a version called LAME 3100l (that's a lower-case L at the end). It's command-line, so there's some effort involved, but it's a very musical and natural-sounding encoder.

post #3 of 48

Play from the CD directly and see if you still hear the distortion. Unfortunately, a lot of music is mastered way too hot and it's inherent in the recording, so there's no way you can get rid of it no matter what format you rip it in. My favourite song, of all songs, suffers from this.

post #4 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueangel2323 View Post
 

Play from the CD directly and see if you still hear the distortion. Unfortunately, a lot of music is mastered way too hot and it's inherent in the recording, so there's no way you can get rid of it no matter what format you rip it in. My favourite song, of all songs, suffers from this.

I say this purely as an outside possibility. SoundForge has had clipping repair for awhile now as a Tool. I've never had occasion to use it, so I can't say how it does. Audacity has "Repair" in its "Effect" menu list. I generated a clip just now and sure enough if fixed it.

 

If it's your favorite album, at least pick up Audacity for free and see if it can repair the CD track.

 

These comments were meant to be for 'Dopaminer', good luck. What is the CD, if you don't mind saying?


Edited by UltMusicSnob - 9/24/13 at 11:38am
post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltMusicSnob View Post
 

I say this purely as an outside possibility. SoundForge has had clipping repair for awhile now as a Tool. I've never had occasion to use it, so I can't say how it does. Audacity has "Repair" in its "Effect" menu list. I generated a clip just now and sure enough if fixed it.

 

If it's your favorite album, at least pick up Audacity for free and see if it can repair the CD track.

 

These comments were meant to be for 'Dopaminer', good luck. What is the CD, if you don't mind saying?

 

I'll give that a shot. I have Adobe Audition and I'm sure it has a similar function. I'll report back to see if it works. The track is Marc Anthony's My Baby You by the way.

post #6 of 48

It sounds to me like your problem is hot mastered CDs. There isn't much help for that because they were mastered to sound like crap. Perhaps try getting better recorded music.

post #7 of 48

Someone over on the Steve Hoffman forums also made a recommendation to me that you could use Audacity to sort of mask the loudness/bad mastering.  You reduce the dB about 10dB, apply a high-pass filter at 50Hz, and then reamplify (I never go all the way back to 0dB, usually I go about -3dB) and then save it as FLAC or whatever format you have.

 

It doesn't "fix" hot mastered CD's, but it helps mask it somewhat.  You can also add a little treble or reduce the bass a little to your liking also.

 

Then there are some, such as Californication, that are just so bad that they're beyond redemption.  I had this problem with clipping/distortion whenever the bass or drums hit in a couple of songs on a 2006 version of Journey's Greatest Hits and I ended up going to the used record shop and trading it in for a 1988 CD instead.  1988 version sounds way better.

 

"Clip fix" tools IMO don't really do anything.  You can't regain data that isn't there..

 

 

As for ripping tools, I thought Max was supposed to be pretty good.  I'm on a Windows PC and I swear by Exact Audio Copy.  Before I joined forums like these, I was using iTunes and I guess it's okay for what it is, but I like the assurance EAC gives me.  I have heard folks say the sound quality out of a secure ripper is better than iTunes too, though I'm not sure how much truth there is to that.


Edited by hogger129 - 9/24/13 at 4:33pm
post #8 of 48

The ripper doesn't affect sound quality, the codec does. For MP3s, iTunes uses the older Frauenhofer codec, which isn't as good as LAME. But if you rip AAC in iTunes, the sound quality is a bit better than LAME. (all bitrates being even.)

post #9 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by hogger129 View Post
 

Then there are some, such as Californication, that are just so bad that they're beyond redemption.  I had this problem with clipping/distortion whenever the bass or drums hit in a couple of songs on a 2006 version of Journey's Greatest Hits and I ended up going to the used record shop and trading it in for a 1988 CD instead.  1988 version sounds way better.

 

This had me running to my Journey CD which was cued for re-ripping as part of the never ending music upgrade project. Whew! I have the 1988 version.

post #10 of 48
Thread Starter 

Already a wealth of great ideas here, as I knew there would be.  Thanks everyone.  If it matters, I live in Tokyo so all the CDs I`m ripping are made in Japan (do Japanese CDs have better quality, the way LPs did ???)   I`m definitely going to try some of the error-correction/frequency-editing suggestions.  

 

The track that was most problematic for me is from the Goldie album Timeless, the long first track that contains the song Inner City Life.  The rest of the tracks from my rip of this album sound fine. . .

 

File source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Goldie_Timeless.jpg

post #11 of 48

I get some (possibly false) assurance using Exact Audio Copy also. At least we're all in it together. You may get some error messages if you're using a Japanese pressings which don't match the database.

post #12 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltMusicSnob View Post
 

I say this purely as an outside possibility. SoundForge has had clipping repair for awhile now as a Tool. I've never had occasion to use it, so I can't say how it does. Audacity has "Repair" in its "Effect" menu list. I generated a clip just now and sure enough if fixed it.

 

If it's your favorite album, at least pick up Audacity for free and see if it can repair the CD track.

 

These comments were meant to be for 'Dopaminer', good luck. What is the CD, if you don't mind saying?

 

Thanks UltMusicSnob; I just dowloaded Audacity and will give a try tonight.  I for some reason thought it was Windows-only. . . .   

post #13 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklyflea View Post
 

I get some (possibly false) assurance using Exact Audio Copy also. At least we're all in it together. You may get some error messages if you're using a Japanese pressings which don't match the database.

 

Thanks sparklyflea.  Exact Audio Copy looks great, but unfortunately they don`t make a Mac OS version.  Maybe I could try an emulator set up....   
 

post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklyflea View Post
 

This had me running to my Journey CD which was cued for re-ripping as part of the never ending music upgrade project. Whew! I have the 1988 version.

 

Yeah I even reduced the gain a ton, cut the bass down a bunch, even reduced the amplification down 10dB and I could still hear the 2006 version clip whenever there was a drum hit.  It's like they recorded the CD too loud to begin with.  The 1988 version I got does not suffer from this.

 

I prefer to 'play' the album loud, rather than having the mastering engineer turn the volume up for me.

post #15 of 48

@Dopaminer, I have that Goldie album too, always liked the very long version of Inner City Life. Bought it in Europe many years ago.

 

Anyway, I ripped it using dBpoweramp (dunno if it's available for Mac though) to FLAC. What I always do is I apply replaygain, which tells an audioplayer that supports it to play the song at lower gain, to prevent clipping. But yeah, in the end if it's a badly recorded album, it's hard to fix.

 

As far as I can tell though my version doesn't sound distorted on the deep bass lines. But then, I'm not using an HD800 to listen to it :) I'm listening to it right now through a Shure SE530 IEM.

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