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24bit vs 16bit, the myth exploded!

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by gregorio, Mar 19, 2009.
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  1. Chris Kaoss
    I know. :wink:
    Did read the whole thread. Btw, thank you all for this great one.
    I've learned so much with it.
    I just wanted to pointing out my findings on this. :beerchug:
    castleofargh and bigshot like this.
  2. bigshot
    How do you know the two discs were normalized to the same volume level? Maybe one is just mastered at a lower level than the other one.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  3. TheSonicTruth
    I never said or implied they were. Stop twisting things! (like you're so good at)

    "Maybe one is just mastered at a lower level than the other one."

    NOW you're on to something.
  4. gregorio
    @TheSonicTruth, your recurring diatribe about mastering is off topic and therefore effectively thread cr@pping. However I'll address your points, for those who aren't already aware and because some falsely conflate bit depth/"resolution" with different masters.
    Yes, it can be, depending on: It's intended purpose (range of targeted consumer playback scenarios), how dynamic the original master was and how well it's been processed to be louder and less dynamic.
    1. Again, that's the whole point of a remaster! There's obviously no financial sense in paying for a new master to be created that sounds identical to a previous master.
    2. Firstly, it's unusual to apply V-shaped EQ to a master these days (or for many years), although it does happen sometimes depending on the "shape" of the previously released master. Also, even if the aim of a remaster is just to be louder/less dynamic, that can't be achieved without affecting the EQ to some degree, due to how compressors/limiters work. Secondly, a reoccurring theme is that you are talking about what YOU'd prefer or what YOU'RE after. Record labels do not make masters specifically/only for you personally! For example:
    2a. You've answered your own point. Such a remix is obviously intended for consumers who listen to "One Direction, etc." (IE. Modern masters), not for those accustomed to (and in love with) 50+ year old masters. And, it should be obvious why! ...
    1. Again, you're talking about what you're personally after. The vast majority of popular music consumers (more than 99% at a guess) are not after an accurate historical document but simply music they enjoy listening to, with their listening scenarios/environments. There are very few situations (with popular music) where it's both possible and profitable to make a remaster intended for a sub-group of consumers and playback scenarios which represents a tiny fraction of 1% of consumers.
    2. How many portable LP or CD players were there 40 years ago? What then, was the likely consumer playback scenario (and therefore intended use) of the original CD/LP?
    2a. That's your problem. Louder/Less dynamic clearly IS an improvement in scenarios with a high noise floor or with equipment incapable of a wide dynamic range, either or both of which are massively more common popular music consumption scenarios than a consumer in a low noise floor environment + equipment capable of a high dynamic range!
    And again, how often does the scenario you describe occur: Where a consumer is listening to a bunch of 1985 original CD releases and then plays a modern remaster?
    Compare that to how often this scenario occurs: A consumer is listening to a bunch of tracks released in the last 25 years or so and then plays an original 1985 release? The music is now UNCOMFORTABLY QUIET and why must this consumer set their volume higher for the 1985 CD than for the rest of the music they generally listen to, especially at it's likely they won't, they'll simply "skip" it instead?

    Your posts demonstrate exactly what my Post #5314 was largely written to avoid! You're judging SQ of masters/remasters by a "narrow/exclusive notion" that typically is NOT applicable (to popular music genres) and even when it is applicable (classical, jazz and a tiny number of popular genre releases) can be fully realised with 16bits anyway.

    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
  5. TheSonicTruth
    Which is the way it should be: I run my source inputs low, and keep the final volume high - not maxxed, mind you, but high enough so the amplifier is doing most of the work, and most available headroom: What I call a "pull" scenario. Unless the final amp in question is an unusually hissy older one, then I experiment for a good balance between input level and amp output level.

    This is in contrast to what is going on today, what I call a "push" scenario: Higher source/input levels and lower amp output settings to speakers. I hooked a multimeter to the outputs of a CD player, and took note of the average output voltage of the original CD ('A' from above) and that of the recent remastered reissue('B'), and I suppose you'd guess which had the higher average output voltage.

    I find that my pull scenario sounds better, more open, when running sound, vs the push scenario.
  6. bigshot
    Whether a CD is normalized up to 99% or 85% has absolutely no impact on perceived sound quality. There's more than enough dynamic range to normalize sound down to be noticeably quieter. Just balance the volume levels and they might be basically the same. Quieter or louder isn't necessarily better. Sometimes it's just quieter or louder.

    Last night I put on the new remaster of Prince's 1999 album. It sounds fantastic. Much better than any previous release. Pricey, but worth it. Included in the package is a live performance on DVD. It has decent cinematics since it's a multicamera shoot, but the video quality is well below broadcast quality- fuzzy, low contrast, dim. The sound appears to be recorded from a microphone at the mixing board in the middle of the auditorium. There's lots of hall ambience. Lyrics aren't always clear because of the reverberation. Not at all what you would call high fidelity sound. But that DVD is much better than the album because it has every one of the elements necessary for a good recording of music but the least important ones.

    I can listen to a Caruso record that was recorded with a horn and played back with a steel needle and still get shivers down my spine. I can listen to the Stones original single of Street Fighting Man and feel the excitement, even though it is compressed like a pancake and slathered in distortion. I can listen to early recordings of Eddie Arnold in mono on a 78 and feel like I've gone back in time to 1948 and I'm sitting in the room with the band. None of those recordings come anywhere come close to CD quality, yet they are alive and vital sounding. Why?

    Musicality- The musical creativity is of primary importance. Is the artist expressing himself through his music in a way that is totally original and new? (Think The Beatles)
    Musicianship- Does the artist have the chops to make his instrument an extension of his creativity? Is there no limit to his ability to play what he hears in his head? (Like Jimi Hendrix)
    Charisma- Does the performer have an aura that carries through the music so you know exactly who it is from the first note? (Like David Bowie)
    Control of the Audience- Does the performer work the audience and take them through an emotional roller coaster though the power of the music? (Like James Brown)
    Balance- Is the music balanced in such a way that you aren't straining to hear elements in the music, and leads aren't so loud or harsh that they block other elements? (Like Stokowski was able to take a score and make it his own through balance)

    On all of those criteria, the Prince DVD scored 10 out of 10. It was better than the album itself. It wasn't just music, it was an experience that grabbed you and took you along for the ride.

    Way, way down the list of priorities for a good musical recording is the elements of sound fidelity. Yes, it's nice to have good fidelity. Things like dynamics and extended frequency response and low distortion are very good to have. But if you feel that you have to reject music that scores high on all of those primary criteria because you would prefer to listen to mediocre music recorded in high fidelity, you are listening to all the wrong things.

    Music is what matters. In the past I've read posts in audiophile forums where people go on and on about half speed mastered LPs and hi-res audio tracks and how important sound quality is, and I ask them what their favorite albums are. They mention Mannheim Steamroller or The Podunk Philharmonic performing Tchaikovsky's 6th on the "Absolutely Pristine" label recorded in astronomical data rates or some obscure prog rock album on half speed mastered virgin vinyl that was originally recorded in a back room of an apartment in a weekend using equipment that didn't even cost as much as a junker car. It makes me wonder what they are listening to. They sure aren't listening to the music. If I get to the point where I listen to music and all I hear are technical nit picks, and if I can't enjoy a record because my OCD tells me there might be another release of it that is better, then that is the time to shoot me in the head.

    My advice to everyone regardless of where they are on their musical journey is to focus on upgrading your music, not your equipment. I've read posts in classical music forums where reviewers go into great detail about a recording, pointing out insightful details that really helped me understand the work better... and then I find out that they are playing the record on a turquoise blue Califone schoolhouse phonograph, or a $100 CD player with little bookshelf speakers. Not to say that sound fidelity doesn't matter, because it does. It's just that there are things that are much more important. Ideally, a sound system should get out of the way so you don't have to think about it. That frees you up to focus on the music. But it's possible to focus on the music without absolutely perfect sound quality.

    Thankfully, we live in an age of technology that has reduced problems with fidelity down to the lowest level it's ever been. We have discs we can buy for $6 that hold 70 minutes of music in perfect sound. We can stream music in perfect sound through thin air. We no longer have to contend with wow and flutter, audible distortion, frequency response imbalances or hiss, crackle and pops. Yet some people still listen to the minuscule amounts of noise instead of the music. I don't get it.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
    PhonoPhi likes this.
  7. TheSonicTruth

    This, succinctly, IS me musically, in a nutshell:

    It represents most of what I listen to - 1960s-80s music for the masses. Infinitely better sounding and certifiably more crankable than anything in the popular genres released in the last fifteen years.

    Not the most dynamic, not the highest fidelity, but man, that drum and rhythm section, the space between the notes, takes me somewhere that nothing recent can! The source on this upload could be a remaster, or not, I don't know. But certainly, it sounds great even if left as it was in the late '60s. And it sounds even better on the 25-year old Steppenwolf compilation CD I bought two weeks ago at a library benefit.

    I believe stuff like this could can be composed, performed, recorded, mixed, and mastered, again, the way that Steppenwolf piece was fifty years ago, if people put their hearts and minds to it again.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
  8. TheSonicTruth
    And another - a bar-room jukebox gem! ...

    Again, no Respighi in the dynamics dept, but 3 minutes of just well composed and performed late '70s POP. Space between the notes in the rhythm dept, drums that sound like, well... DRUMS! The crack of the snare throughout, and the crash cymbals in the female back-up refrains sufficiently well preserved in both this Walter Egan one hit wonder as well as the Steppenwolf I included one post prior. Either of these can be appreciated at any volume level, on a wide range of listener platforms, from a ubiquitous iHome dock up to a 200W/channel set of components and speakers.

    When I play it over systems at my job, all the kiddy cashiers crick their necks to look where this song is coming from! Like, "Whoa, what is that, who is that artist?"

    Remasterers: Keep your PAWS off my classic jams! :D
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
  9. gregorio
    What you're describing is called "gain-staging" and the way you've described how you implement it is DEFINITELY NOT how it "should be"!! The DAC output should be very near or at max and your amp lower. If it's the other way around, with your output lower and your amp higher, you will be achieving a worse SNR. The noise floor of your DAC is effectively fixed, so if for example the noise floor of your DAC is say -110dB then with a full scale signal you've got 110dB of signal to noise ratio. If you reduce your source by say 40dB, your DAC still has a noise floor of -110dB but peak level is now -40dB and therefore your SNR would be 70dB. Additionally, depending on exactly how your source is handling the reduction of output volume, quantisation noise could become audible and finally, any noise/interference picked-up between the output of your DAC and input of your amp would also be amplified by an additional 40dB.

    Of course stuff like that could be done but there's two BIG problems which should be OBVIOUS to anyone who understands the facts and thinks about them rationally!

    Firstly, it is OBVIOUSLY NOT just about people putting their hearts and minds to it. Hearts and minds do not pay for the professional composers, arrangers, musicians, producers, engineers and the considerable amount of high quality studio time required, money does. Where do you think that money comes from and why would it be invested in such a project? The commercial music industry is commercial and it's an industry, it's not a charity or other non-profit organisation aimed at creating what you personally (and maybe a few hundred/thousand others) nostalgically desire!

    Secondly, as you say, that's how it was done 50 years ago, IE. It's been done. All art but especially popular art (by definition) evolves and moves forward, it doesn't de-evolve and move backwards. I'm sure many painters, if they put their hearts and minds to it, could paint the same as say Turner or Van Gogh did but why bother? It's already been done, the world has moved on and therefore there's little/no financial reward to be had.

    1. Exactly, it's YOUR preference of what YOU listen to but neither the industry nor everyone else is defined by your personal preferences. Also, it was OBVIOUSLY music for the 1960s-1980s masses, not for today's masses!

    2. If it were "better sounding", then 1960s-1980s music would still be for today's masses (but obviously it isn't) AND, it's demonstrably/"certifiably" LESS "crankable"! Today's popular music is specifically designed from the ground-up to be "crankable" and is indeed cranked far more than music of the 1960s-1980s, as you yourself keep complaining!

    1. You're joking right, have you ever heard what a real drumkit sounds like? Obviously not! The snare drum, which you specifically comment on, could only sound somewhat like that in an anechoic chamber (but has been achieved with extremely close mic'ing and quite heavy compression, to reduce the initial transient!) but the cymbals have considerable acoustic information (been mic'ed from some distance to capture the room acoustics). What you're actually stating is your personal preference for a particular type of artificially manufactured drumkit sound, an old fashioned drumkit sound that defines an old fashioned style/genre of music, certainly NOT what drumkits actually sound like or even what they should sound like (to anyone but you)!

    2. But that's not a wide range of listener platforms! I just listened to that track on my laptop and there is literally no kick drum whatsoever and very little bass of any sort, and it would be even worse on many tablets/mobiles. Maybe you can appreciate that but I and most others can't and also, iHome docks are clearly NOT ubiquitous, you just made that up!

    As in previous threads, you demonstrate an ignorance of: What "popular music" actually is/means, what the music industry is, how recording/production/mixing/mastering techniques ALL define the different popular genres and that your personal (nostalgic, out of fashion/un-popular) preferences do NOT define what is even practical/possible in today's music industry, let alone what artists should create and what other consumers should listen to!! You can of course remain ignorant (lack understanding of the facts, or simply ignore them) and believe whatever you want but you cannot just keep repeating the same inaccurate (or outright false) assertions here! No one is forcing you to buy new releases or remixed/remastered old releases but paradoxically, if you really were interested in high SQ (rather than just your own personal nostalgia) then your assertions of what should (or rather shouldn't) be done are counter-productive!

    ALL this has been explained to you before but you just ignore it and blunder on regardless, effectively thread cr@pping. For that reason and because it's very definitely well off-topic now, if you do just carry on, I'll ask castleofargh to delete it!!

  10. TheSonicTruth

    You're joking, right?

    I cannot set my volume control up nearly as high for a modern pop piece(Swift, Bieber, Drake) as I could set it for one of the vintage pop examples above. It's much louder, crowded, and fatiguing.

    As far as the proliferation of those iHome thingies, all one has to do is go down to their Salvation Army or other second hand charity, and find up to a dozen of them on the shelves, next to the dozen computer printers because nobody prints at home anymore! Mostly ones with older iPhone connectors, because their donors have upgraded either to iDocks with the newer connector, or gone Blue Tooth. Either way, more people listen to music on something in that size category nowadays, than on a full-sized system, meaning music must be squa- ahem - 'engineered' to sound 'good' on them.

    Those stores are a good indicator of lifestyle changes! Thirty years ago, those shelves would have been flooded wih eight-track cartridges, indicating a dying segment of that time.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  11. gregorio
    1. Exactly, it's much louder because it's already been cranked-up, more so than you can crank-up your examples and therefore your examples are NOT "more crankable" they're LESS "crankable", contrary to your (FALSE) assertion! And, how is it relevant to 16 vs 24bit? So if you're not joking, what ARE you doing??

    2. Neither the definition of "ubiquitous" nor the target scenarios of the popular music industry are defined by what's on the shelves of your local second hand shop!
    2a. No they're not. They're nowhere even vaguely near as "good an indicator" of popular music trends/evolution as the actual sales and consumption of popular music! Again, if you're not joking, what ARE you doing??

  12. TheSonicTruth
    Do you even know what crankable means - in a consumer context?

    It means turning the volume knob up really high because of the feeling you get from a certain song or other piece of audio.

    In relatively few instances have I been able to do such, with examples of modern popular genres.
  13. gregorio
    1. Yes, it means how much louder a piece of music designed for consumer consumption can be made, before distortion becomes excessive. But you apparently don't know what it means because ...
    1a. You are describing what YOU are "able to do" with YOUR equipment/volume knob, not what all consumers can do with their equipment.

    Thanks for proving my point but enough is enough and it's OFF-TOPIC!!!!

  14. bigshot
    There are lots of cover bands dressing up like The Beatles, Jimi Page and Elton John and doing shows of sound-alikes. You'll find them at casinos in Las Vegas that cater to the over 50 crowd. Other than that, the world of music continues to turn and move on. You can grow and change with it, or you can get left behind to live in your memories. Either way is fine. I choose "all of the above".
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  15. bigshot
    The best sounding Queen releases I've heard are the Night At The Opera SACD and the Queen Video Hits 1 & 2 DVDs. Have you heard them? I'm told there is a Japanese 15 album SACD series that is better than the CDs on some albums. I don't have that myself though. The Video Hits DVDs are a revelation. Fantastic multichannel mix. Couldn't sound better.
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