any loss in quality when recording digitally from cd to md?
Aug 23, 2002 at 4:05 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

dougbrad81

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hi,
i was wondering if there is a noticeable loss in quality when recording digitally from cd to md? i want to buy a new portable, but not sure if i want pcdp or md. i have a sony mz-r50, but looking to get a new one(panasonic mr250). if anybody could make some recommendations, i would appreciate it.
 
Aug 23, 2002 at 5:28 AM Post #2 of 18

balcar

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I've been making MDs from CDs for about a year now. I first started with an MZ-R55, with digital optical out on Sony CD deck (programming the selections I wanted and using synchro record on the MD). Sounded really great.

I then bought a sony MD deck -- MDS-J940 -- since it fit in with my other components. I haven't had a problem with it. Both methods use digital.

I have a couple of good quality PCDPs and MD recorder/players. I really LOVE the MD, especially the Sony E-900 player. Fits in a shirt pocket. Extra disks are easy to tote along. And, the LP2 mode sounds almost as good as the standard mode.

Just like making cassette tapes from vinyl, only much better fidelity and much more convenient and durable media.

Now, re your question about sound quality, I find it very difficult to tell any difference. Not saying it's not different in terms of ideal or theoretical quality, but from a practical viewpoint, the difference is not obvious. In fact, I sometimes think that the MDs sound better than the CDs on portable player.

I use ER-4S, sony MDR-E238 and E888 earbuds primarily. And, I just purchased a TAH, which has made quite a difference especially when I have the crossfeed processor on. I looking at getting a Porta Corder to compare, and I am getting spoiled: I will shortly have to get a headphone amp for my main component system.

I'd strongly recommend the MD format. If you purchase from a dealer that will accept returns, you can find out for yourself. And, I'd be interested to know what you (and others) find.

(Analogy: I'm a professional photographer. Your lenses may be sharper than mine (have higher resolution in lab tests), buy my prints will be as sharp as your prints when you factor in the media (negative and print paper), enlarger lens, etc. So, it's what you find best in practical, real-world situations that counts.)

Good luck on your decision.
 
Aug 23, 2002 at 5:37 AM Post #3 of 18

dougbrad81

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thanks for your reply balcar. is your player net-md? i'm thinking of buying one, preferably the panasonic mr250. i was wondering if yours have a line-out, because i am having an amp build, i from what i gather, i should plug it in to the line-out. or is it alright to plug it into the headphone jack? wanted to be sure because from the photos of the mr250, it does not appear to have line-out.
 
Aug 23, 2002 at 1:07 PM Post #4 of 18

Beagle

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Quote:

Originally posted by balcar
Just like making cassette tapes from vinyl, only much better fidelity and much more convenient and durable media


No, fidelity is not better with MD. We are dealing with lossy compression format here. The analog cassette will be noisier, less convenient and less durable (perhaps) but truer to the original source, initially anyway.
 
Aug 23, 2002 at 3:48 PM Post #5 of 18

balcar

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dougbrad--

I bought my MD portables before NetMD was on the market. However, I would rather not have NetMD because of the built-in copy protection scheme, having to "check" tracks in and out from your computer. I also use Macs, and NetMD is not compatible (yet, although I've heard it may eventually be).

To get songs onto the MD from my computer, I use a Roland UA-30 box, which will interface USB to digital optical (as well as coax). It's done in real time, rather than the highspeed capability of NetMD, but that doesn't bother me.

The Sony E-900 player only has headphone out. I've only recently gotten an amp, so I didn't know how much difference line out makes (a wink's as good as a nod to a blind horse). I use my amp with the MZ-R900, which has line out and headphone out menu-selectable through the same jack. And, yes, as I found out very quickly, it is better to use the line out with an amp.

(I'm planning on getting a MP3/PCDP--and when I looked at the Sony D-CJ01, it DID NOT appear to have a line out jack, but I found out here that it does, so perhaps the Panasonic MD has, as well. Sony didn't even cite line out as an output option in their web site specs.)

Beagle, as you point out:
Quote:

fidelity is not better with MD. We are dealing with lossy compression format here. The analog cassette...truer to the original source, ....


That's true, and I certainly agree. I made cassette tapes from my albums for years and years, but now my old ears can't discern much, if any, difference. And the music I listen most often (bluegrass, old-time country, rockabilly, etc.) sounds quite good in digital formats, even with lossy compression.

balcar
 
Aug 23, 2002 at 4:31 PM Post #6 of 18

Beagle

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Quote:

Originally posted by balcar
That's true, and I certainly agree. I made cassette tapes from my albums for years and years, but now my old ears can't discern much, if any, difference. And the music I listen most often (bluegrass, old-time country, rockabilly, etc.) sounds quite good in digital formats, even with lossy compression.

balcar


I use my MD all the time and haven't really looked back, mostly because of the ease of use, convenience and reliability of the MD. Yet when I do go back to my Walkman D6C Pro, I realize all the music is there, it sounds more like the original source. But I no longer have any use for rewinding, dropouts and trying to search for tracks. So it's a fair enough trade-off for me
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Sep 2, 2002 at 7:44 AM Post #7 of 18

MTRH

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Well.. ATRAC is not the greatest model in the world, the older versions had some grander issues, the latter are quite transparent.
I can't stand it tho, about as much as I can stand OGG/MP3.
 
Sep 2, 2002 at 8:10 AM Post #8 of 18

MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by MTRH
Well.. ATRAC is not the greatest model in the world, the older versions had some grander issues, the latter are quite transparent.
I can't stand it tho, about as much as I can stand OGG/MP3.


Not sure what you're saying here... not the greatest, but newer versions are quite transparent?

Regardless, modern ATRAC is still the best compression format I've yet heard, much better than any MP3 encoding I've experienced.

But to answer the original question, yes, there is inherently going to be a bit of loss in sound quality. However, ATRAC is as good as it gets on that front, and if you're going to be listening in a portable environment, MD will generally sound just as good as CD -- sometimes even better, because the sound quality of the outputs of most portable MD units is better than most portable CD players.
 
Sep 8, 2002 at 11:13 PM Post #9 of 18

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Quote:

Originally posted by MacDEF

Regardless, modern ATRAC is still the best compression format I've yet heard, much better than any MP3 encoding I've experienced.


I've listened to the some ATRAC 4.5 MD samples posted at http://www.pcabx.com/product/mds-jb920/index.htm and I can say that the castanets sample shows lots of pre-echo, whilst the same clip compressed with MP3 using LAME 3.92 and the --alt-preset standard profile shows much less pre-echo, nearly unnoticeable.

Also, MD ATRAC works at 292 Kbps, whilst this particular MP3 sample has a 230 Kbps bitrate.

Anyway, MusePack (MPC) gets even better results than MP3, using just 200 Kbps for this particular sample using the --standard profile.
 
Sep 9, 2002 at 8:34 PM Post #10 of 18

j-curve

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To all those claiming to be able to hear ATRAC-R or ATRAC 4.5 versus CD, tell me more. What do you listen for, and on what kind of music? I want concrete examples. Whilst I think I have heard a difference (and can describe it with words), I also think it is a hard test to do. For one thing, the mechanical noise coming out of a CD player is audible (and annoying) if you're using open phones.

I assume you're using the same amp and D/A converter for your tests too, otherwise you introduce additional factors.
 
Sep 9, 2002 at 9:58 PM Post #11 of 18

MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by MDCT
I've listened to the some ATRAC 4.5 MD samples posted at http://www.pcabx.com/product/mds-jb920/index.htm and I can say that the castanets sample shows lots of pre-echo, whilst the same clip compressed with MP3 using LAME 3.92 and the --alt-preset standard profile shows much less pre-echo, nearly unnoticeable.


Except that what you're hearing on those samples is not true ATRAC. It's a signal that's being played back from one source, through a digital-in, encoded, then decoded, then sent out a digital out, then into the digital in of a sound card, then recorded. Hardly a fair comparison!
smily_headphones1.gif


A better comparison is to actually use the system each would be used in. Rip an MP3 at a high bitrate using the best encoders you can, then put that MP3 on the device you'll be using to listen to it. Encode a track from a CD to MD using standard ATRAC. Play both back and compare. Every time I've done these things, no matter which MP3 player/system I've used, or which MD player (deck or portable) I've used, ATRAC has been noticably better.
 
Sep 9, 2002 at 11:49 PM Post #12 of 18

MDCT

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Well, what you hear at those samples is just ATRAC effect on those clips, not more, not less. Since the all the process is carried on digital domain, the only process altering the signal is the ATRAC encoding/decoding stage.

What you suggest would be more like to compare ATRAC+ MD DAC to MP3 + player DAC.

I was simply stating that ATRAC compression artifacts are quite obvious for that sample. I'm afraid I would be able to hear the mentioned pre-echo even with some cheap sound card and headphones.

So, at last what I mean is just that ATRAC as compression scheme is not as good as other compression schemes such as MP3 properly done, independently from associated hardware.
 
Sep 10, 2002 at 5:50 AM Post #13 of 18

MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by MDCT
Well, what you hear at those samples is just ATRAC effect on those clips, not more, not less. Since the all the process is carried on digital domain, the only process altering the signal is the ATRAC encoding/decoding stage.


Um... if that were true, people wouldn't buy DACs, better soundcards, etc. The fact that you're going through so many different components to get to the final result means sound degradation.

Quote:

What you suggest would be more like to compare ATRAC+ MD DAC to MP3 + player DAC.


What I suggest is to listen to the formats in the only truly relevant environment: how you'll actually hear them if you buy/use an MD player or an MP3 player.

Quote:

I was simply stating that ATRAC compression artifacts are quite obvious for that sample.


And I'm just stating that that sample is not representative of what ATRAC actually sounds like
wink.gif
If you don't believe me, borrow a recent MD portable, and copy a CD with those same types of instruments. You'll find that MDs don't have have artifacts like those "samples."


Quote:

So, at last what I mean is just that ATRAC as compression scheme is not as good as other compression schemes such as MP3 properly done, independently from associated hardware.


And having heard the best of both platforms, I disagree quite strongly. If you're basing your judgements of ATRAC on downloading samples from some guy's web site, you're not giving ATRAC a fair shake.
 
Sep 10, 2002 at 6:20 AM Post #14 of 18

Joe Bloggs

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Quote:

Originally posted by MacDEF


Um... if that were true, people wouldn't buy DACs, better soundcards, etc. The fact that you're going through so many different components to get to the final result means sound degradation.



You're running through any DACs in the process. The only question here is whether digital cables degrade the sound or not. While jitter may be an issue when the digital stream connects directly to a DAC for playback, I would say it's harder to corrupt the actual data while just transferring the data for compression or recording.

(For data transfer jitter causes data corruption only if it's bad enough that one bit is received in the time frame for the next or previous bit. For analog unless reclocking is done any non-zero amount of jitter can theoretically affect the sound.)

Quote:

What I suggest is to listen to the formats in the only truly relevant environment: how you'll actually hear them if you buy/use an MD player or an MP3 player.


A truly fair comparison would be to compare the digital out from a computer with mp3s with the digital out from an MD player (top of the line non-portable if you please) using the same outboard DAC.
 
Sep 10, 2002 at 3:34 PM Post #15 of 18

Cyanide

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i have been using a MD portable for some time now and i am quite pleased with what they have been able to do with the codec over time. My player is a MZR-909 and a freind has a Sharp portable as well. The 909 has a play rate control and so i made two recordings on the same disk one with mine and one with his. I think his recorder had the ATRAC3 generation codec and mine the new R-type ATRAC. anyway i did notice very different highs when comparing the two recordings at 25% play rate. The R-type had much less "glisten/shine" at highs while the ATRAC3 had much more pronounced "shine" at the same highs.

In relation to the MP3 vs ATRAC debate i do think ATRAC is much more refined. With a similar bitrate MP3 encoding of a song in comparison to an ATRAC recording , ATRAC only realy distorts the highs and also voice , while MP3 distorts many more things such as drums , cymbals and guitars , as well a vocals. Mp3 seems to distort a larger range of frequencys while ATRAC seems to only have issues with very complex sounds in the higher reigons.

If you are going to listen out for ATRAC artefacts listen to a female voice and also to very complicated sounds like a woodwind instrument. Flutes really expose its archillies heel.
The sound will seem to have a more .... ahh how to eplain the sound , similar to when you have many TV's all lined up in a store you can hear the high pitched sound of them. Its a sparkling , shiny sound. You will know it when you hear it and you will only really hear it if you intentionaly listen to it , otherwize it will not be very obvious at all.

Hope this helps , rather than further confuses you.
 

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