Closed-Back Planar Magnetic vs. Open-Back Dynamic Headphones: Which One Wins Out?!
Apr 20, 2021 at 1:57 PM Post #91 of 122

RockStar2005

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Check the THX onyx and the Shanling UA2, these are even more powerful and have the same format :)


Yes of course, I'd rather have a neutral dynamic headphone than a v-shaped planar for instance. But if you spend a few hundreds/thousands in a headphone, I guess you can check other criterias besides frequency response. There's plenty of choice.
Ya know, I JUST read about the THX Onyx a couple weeks ago, but was waiting for Amazon to carry it, which it still isn't as of yet. Once it does though, I had fully planned to add it to my list on there! lol

The max power output is rated at 180mW into 22 ohms. VERY impressive for a dongle! I think the FR is 20Hz - 20kHz, as per this page (feel free to let me know if it's not).

I'd tried out the Shanling M0 BT amp/DAC a while back. It was pretty good, though not powerful enough for 250 ohm DT-1770 back then. Nice device though. The UA2 also isn't on Amazon, which is prob why I wasn't aware of it 'til now. But specs look impressive for it! (125mW @ 32 ohms when using the 3.5mm connector, and 20Hz - 50kHz.)

Yeah I'd def go with one of those two. Though there may be benefits with having dual DACs (iBasso) or a wider FR (Audiolab) with regards to sound quality vs. volume, the Shanling UA2 still has them beat b/c you can buy one for about $100, where with the Onyx you'd have to spend $200, and if you convert the 22 ohms on the Onyx to 32, I'm guessing it's pretty close to the UA2's 125mW @ 32 ohms volume max, though maybe still louder. The Onyx also has an upgraded DAC vs. the Shanling, with both being Sabre DACs.

For me anyway, I'd prob just go with the UA2. Not really sure if the better DAC on the Onyx is worth another $100, even if it can(?) get a tad louder.
 
Apr 20, 2021 at 4:10 PM Post #92 of 122

mobbaddict

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Ya know, I JUST read about the THX Onyx a couple weeks ago, but was waiting for Amazon to carry it, which it still isn't as of yet. Once it does though, I had fully planned to add it to my list on there! lol

The max power output is rated at 180mW into 22 ohms. VERY impressive for a dongle! I think the FR is 20Hz - 20kHz, as per this page (feel free to let me know if it's not).

I'd tried out the Shanling M0 BT amp/DAC a while back. It was pretty good, though not powerful enough for 250 ohm DT-1770 back then. Nice device though. The UA2 also isn't on Amazon, which is prob why I wasn't aware of it 'til now. But specs look impressive for it! (125mW @ 32 ohms when using the 3.5mm connector, and 20Hz - 50kHz.)

Yeah I'd def go with one of those two. Though there may be benefits with having dual DACs (iBasso) or a wider FR (Audiolab) with regards to sound quality vs. volume, the Shanling UA2 still has them beat b/c you can buy one for about $100, where with the Onyx you'd have to spend $200, and if you convert the 22 ohms on the Onyx to 32, I'm guessing it's pretty close to the UA2's 125mW @ 32 ohms volume max, though maybe still louder. The Onyx also has an upgraded DAC vs. the Shanling, with both being Sabre DACs.

For me anyway, I'd prob just go with the UA2. Not really sure if the better DAC on the Onyx is worth another $100, even if it can(?) get a tad louder.
You got the right numbers on the Onyx :wink: And you're right, this should be similar to the UA2 since it was measured 132mw at 32 ohm by ASR
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/thx-onyx-review-headphone-adapter.22223/

The UA2 looks like the best value with its additional balanced output, but I'm waiting for more reviews. I do like the form factor of the Onyx a little bit better but I'm also curious about the consumption of both devices -this is rarely tested in the reviews unfortunately. Either way this should power your Sundara, not sure about the AKG though, isn't this one a bit more complicated to drive?
 
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Apr 20, 2021 at 5:36 PM Post #93 of 122

RockStar2005

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You got the right numbers on the Onyx :wink: And you're right, this should be similar to the UA2 since it was measured 132mw at 32 ohm by ASR
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/thx-onyx-review-headphone-adapter.22223/

The UA2 looks like the best value with its additional balanced output, but I'm waiting for more reviews. I do like the form factor of the Onyx a little bit better but I'm also curious about the consumption of both devices -this is rarely tested in the reviews unfortunately. Either way this should power your Sundara, not sure about the AKG though, isn't this one a bit more complicated to drive?
Ok awesome! Yeah I figured it would be somewhere b/t 125 and like 155mW. If it were me, I'd just get the UA2...........unless someone could prove to me (or they already compared them) that the upgraded DAC on the Onyx is noticeably better.

Well nothing wrong in waiting for more reviews. Yes the balanced option is nice, and apparently means more output power too from what I'd read. I agree that the form factor is a bit nicer on the Onyx, but for another $100, the diff in DAC quality/sound quality still matters most.

You're right, I don't typically see power consumption covered. They normally mention battery life, but that's where it usually ends. But that's important b/c obviously headphones with a higher impedance rating will consume more than lower ones.

Well my iFi xDSD puts out a max of:

> 2.82V/500 mW @ 16 Ohm
> 3.7V/270mW @ 50 Ohm

So I'm guessing at 32 ohms it'd be at about 300-400mW. I don't know though if those numbers are for a balanced or a single (which iFi refers to as "S-Balanced") ended connection? I figure either way it'll still be way above at least 200mW. lol

So for me I wouldn't need any of the dongles. I have a lot of Hi-Res albums which were remastered at a lower "noise floor" as to avoid brickwalling, which is great except it means you need MORE power to make up for the lowering of sound. They do that I guess so that you can ACTUALLY HEAR the nuances of everything even when you turn it up, vs. brickwalled albums where at higher volumes it just sounds like one big "WHOOOSHHH!" sound, and you can't pick apart crap. lol But because of that, I'd need something stronger I think than what these dongles are offering, though most of my Hi-Res albums are actually not mastered that way. The Tom Petty and also most of the Fleetwood Mac ones I have are though, and maybe a few others. But yeah for those, I have to put the volume way up to really hear them properly.

The K702 (105 dB; 62 ohms) has a higher sensitivity than the Sundara, but the Sundara (94 db; 37 ohms) has a lower impedance. So far, it seems like they output at the same volume. Not really sure if I can detect a difference there. I THINK the K702 needs a bit more power to hit the same volume, but I'll have to check next time. Already had I think 3 sessions, prob 1 or 2 more to go. I'm thinking within about a week I'll have a final answer.
 
Apr 20, 2021 at 7:21 PM Post #94 of 122

mobbaddict

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Ok awesome! Yeah I figured it would be somewhere b/t 125 and like 155mW. If it were me, I'd just get the UA2...........unless someone could prove to me (or they already compared them) that the upgraded DAC on the Onyx is noticeably better.

Well nothing wrong in waiting for more reviews. Yes the balanced option is nice, and apparently means more output power too from what I'd read. I agree that the form factor is a bit nicer on the Onyx, but for another $100, the diff in DAC quality/sound quality still matters most.

You're right, I don't typically see power consumption covered. They normally mention battery life, but that's where it usually ends. But that's important b/c obviously headphones with a higher impedance rating will consume more than lower ones.

Well my iFi xDSD puts out a max of:

> 2.82V/500 mW @ 16 Ohm
> 3.7V/270mW @ 50 Ohm

So I'm guessing at 32 ohms it'd be at about 300-400mW. I don't know though if those numbers are for a balanced or a single (which iFi refers to as "S-Balanced") ended connection? I figure either way it'll still be way above at least 200mW. lol

So for me I wouldn't need any of the dongles. I have a lot of Hi-Res albums which were remastered at a lower "noise floor" as to avoid brickwalling, which is great except it means you need MORE power to make up for the lowering of sound. They do that I guess so that you can ACTUALLY HEAR the nuances of everything even when you turn it up, vs. brickwalled albums where at higher volumes it just sounds like one big "WHOOOSHHH!" sound, and you can't pick apart crap. lol But because of that, I'd need something stronger I think than what these dongles are offering, though most of my Hi-Res albums are actually not mastered that way. The Tom Petty and also most of the Fleetwood Mac ones I have are though, and maybe a few others. But yeah for those, I have to put the volume way up to really hear them properly.

The K702 (105 dB; 62 ohms) has a higher sensitivity than the Sundara, but the Sundara (94 db; 37 ohms) has a lower impedance. So far, it seems like they output at the same volume. Not really sure if I can detect a difference there. I THINK the K702 needs a bit more power to hit the same volume, but I'll have to check next time. Already had I think 3 sessions, prob 1 or 2 more to go. I'm thinking within about a week I'll have a final answer.
The price asked for the Onyx is a bit steep but at least I know it should deliver around 180mw for my Sine. I assume the Shanling would deliver similar power but they just mention 32ohm in the specs (and the Sine is around 20 ohm). So I'm really tempted by the Onyx, and I might use a bit everywhere actually.

Your xDSD is quite powerful indeed, I didn't realize it was so small. Apparently s-balanced is just their marketing wording for single-ended:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...FjACegQIExAC&usg=AOvVaw1dVT4kwjTUpFc4b8oEg7Um

Where are you finding those hi-res remasters ? I've subscribed for the Tidal trial but wasn't sure where to find high quality remasters, if they have any. I think Qobuz does have some? Can you hear a big difference versus lower quality masters? I was looking for specific exemples of that :thinking:
 
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Apr 21, 2021 at 1:01 AM Post #95 of 122

RockStar2005

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The price asked for the Onyx is a bit steep but at least I know it should deliver around 180mw for my Sine. I assume the Shanling would deliver similar power but they just mention 32ohm in the specs (and the Sine is around 20 ohm). So I'm really tempted by the Onyx, and I might use a bit everywhere actually.

Your xDSD is quite powerful indeed, I didn't realize it was so small. Apparently s-balanced is just their marketing wording for single-ended:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...FjACegQIExAC&usg=AOvVaw1dVT4kwjTUpFc4b8oEg7Um

Where are you finding those hi-res remasters ? I've subscribed for the Tidal trial but wasn't sure where to find high quality remasters, if they have any. I think Qobuz does have some? Can you hear a big difference versus lower quality masters? I was looking for specific exemples of that :thinking:
Oh yeah, it will for sure power your Sines........18 ohms means it should be over the 180mW limit (for 22 ohms), though not sure what the sensitivity rating is on the Sine.

Yeah Shanling needs to share more info like others do.

Haha yes, it's not tiny, but def on the small & thin side. Thx for sharing that doc.............very interesting! Yeah but per your doc, it looks like they're giving you something more with S-Balanced that I wasn't even aware of. I'm sure this is why it sounds so much better than the other DAC/amps I've compared it to (though those were all under $300).

For me, I ONLY download my albums. I only use streaming (Amazon Music) to preview albums I may wanna buy to see if they're good enough, and then proceed to buy them if they are. But they never sound AS good to me via streaming (non-Hi-Res). I could try Tidal Hi-Res or whatever, but I'm not convinced I'd hear a difference b/c I think the player you use also matters. I use Poweramp, and have for years, cuz it just sounds better than the rest and cooler UI. When I stream, the songs always sound flat and not that lively, though ok for previewing. But downloading them and playing them on Poweramp is simply magical. I dunno What that player does, but it does something! lol And that's with leaving the EQ off too.

After years of comparing, plus research to back up my findings, I concluded a while back that as long as you stay ABOVE mp3 level, it's all the same as long as the master of the album you're listening to is the same as well. FLAC version vs. AAC (no lower than 256 kbps) version? Sorry man, no difference.

With regards to buying............for years I WASTED money on buying FLAC versions of Hi-Res albums. HDTracks, Acoustic Sounds, 7digital, ProStudioMasters, etc. I'm talking hundreds if not thousands of dollars man. I think I got an Interpol album off Quboz in Hi-Res, but they only became available here in the U.S. a couple years ago. But yeah, like $15-$20 AVERAGE per Hi-Res FLAC album. The thing is, these sellers (yes, Tidal "Hi-Res" too lol) feel b/c the files are BIGGER they have the right to charge more based on the BS that they will sound better cuz they're lossless files vs. lossy AAC. But AAC is NEXT GEN MP3 (which is prob why its extension is mp4 lol), and I and others I know DO NOT hear ANY difference vs. the FLAC versions of the same albums (again, same source, with the AAC one just being downsampled from the purchased FLAC version). I eventually got wise and downsampled ALL my FLAC albums (both Hi-Res and CD-Quality, aka CDQ) to 256-320 kbps. Saves a TON of room on your phone, cloud storage, etc. Also less battery power to play smaller files as well.

It was at that point about 3 years ago I realized the BEST source to buy Hi-Res albums was................... Apple's iTunes Store. YES, iTunes Store! After speaking to a supervisor who works there on the phone for a good 20 minutes, I found out that they only offer CDQ albums and Hi-Res ones; NO mp3s as of several years ago. And all their albums are in AAC (usually 256 kbps), so they charge like HALF OR LESS what the others do for the same albums with same masters! HUGE savings there, and a GIGANTIC library too! How do you know which is what? Well, their Hi-Res albums have the "Apple Digital Masters" logo at the top right of the album page (formerly known as "Mastered for iTunes"). The ones that don't are simply just CDQ, and are fine to buy if no Hi-Res version exists. So there you go..................iTunes Store, bitches! :L3000: LOL

In some VERY rare instances, I would maybe buy elsewhere if a particular album wasn't available on iTunes, like this limited-edition Clapton album featuring "Layla" in DSD (on SACD)*, which is considered a step-up from Hi-Res NOT b/c it's an even bigger file, but b/c these masters tend to get even more attention & care than the Hi-Res ones do (aka, the REAL reason why Hi-Res albums sound better), which means it's not often one is even ever put out. In comparing with Hi-Res versions, the DSD one to me always sounded a notch or two better. I'd paid $35 for that SACD, but now it's $30. I prefer to just buy & download DSD though cuz less work. With an SACD, you need a special program to extract them out from the disc (NOT easy with a standard CD player, but still possible) then convert them to FLAC or AAC. A few other DSD albums I've bought from elsewhere like Acoustic Sounds include ones by Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson (Thriller), Elton John, Rage Against The Machine, etc. iTunes Store doesn't offer that, but in most cases I'm fine with standard Hi-Res ones anyway. I don't even bother looking anymore. I think I've spent enough already. ROFL!

(*Note: DSD Hi-Res files are the official format found on a Super Audio CD, or SACD. So, they're really just one and the same.)

Hope this helped! Just get iTunes Store for your desktop/laptop and Poweramp for your phone (only available on Android), and you're set!
 
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Apr 21, 2021 at 6:19 AM Post #96 of 122

mobbaddict

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Oh yeah, it will for sure power your Sines........18 ohms means it should be over the 180mW limit (for 22 ohms), though not sure what the sensitivity rating is on the Sine.

Yeah Shanling needs to share more info like others do.

Haha yes, it's not tiny, but def on the small & thin side. Thx for sharing that doc.............very interesting! Yeah but per your doc, it looks like they're giving you something more with S-Balanced that I wasn't even aware of. I'm sure this is why it sounds so much better than the other DAC/amps I've compared it to (though those were all under $300).

For me, I ONLY download my albums. I only use streaming (Amazon Music) to preview albums I may wanna buy to see if they're good enough, and then proceed to buy them if they are. But they never sound AS good to me via streaming (non-Hi-Res). I could try Tidal Hi-Res or whatever, but I'm not convinced I'd hear a difference b/c I think the player you use also matters. I use Poweramp, and have for years, cuz it just sounds better than the rest and cooler UI. When I stream, the songs always sound flat and not that lively, though ok for previewing. But downloading them and playing them on Poweramp is simply magical. I dunno What that player does, but it does something! lol And that's with leaving the EQ off too.

After years of comparing, plus research to back up my findings, I concluded a while back that as long as you stay ABOVE mp3 level, it's all the same as long as the master of the album you're listening to is the same as well. FLAC version vs. AAC (no lower than 256 kbps) version? Sorry man, no difference.

With regards to buying............for years I WASTED money on buying FLAC versions of Hi-Res albums. HDTracks, Acoustic Sounds, 7digital, ProStudioMasters, etc. I'm talking hundreds if not thousands of dollars man. I think I got an Interpol album off Quboz in Hi-Res, but they only became available here in the U.S. a couple years ago. But yeah, like $15-$20 AVERAGE per Hi-Res FLAC album. The thing is, these sellers (yes, Tidal "Hi-Res" too lol) feel b/c the files are BIGGER they have the right to charge more based on the BS that they will sound better cuz they're lossless files vs. lossy AAC. But AAC is NEXT GEN MP3 (which is prob why its extension is mp4 lol), and I and others I know DO NOT hear ANY difference vs. the FLAC versions of the same albums (again, same source, with the AAC one just being downsampled from the purchased FLAC version). I eventually got wise and downsampled ALL my FLAC albums (both Hi-Res and CD-Quality, aka CDQ) to 256-320 kbps. Saves a TON of room on your phone, cloud storage, etc. Also less battery power to play smaller files as well.

It was at that point about 3 years ago I realized the BEST source to buy Hi-Res albums was................... Apple's iTunes Store. YES, iTunes Store! After speaking to a supervisor who works there on the phone for a good 20 minutes, I found out that they only offer CDQ albums and Hi-Res ones; NO mp3s as of several years ago. And all their albums are in AAC (usually 256 kbps), so they charge like HALF OR LESS what the others do for the same albums with same masters! HUGE savings there, and a GIGANTIC library too! How do you know which is what? Well, their Hi-Res albums have the "Apple Digital Masters" logo at the top right of the album page (formerly known as "Mastered for iTunes"). The ones that don't are simply just CDQ, and are fine to buy if no Hi-Res version exists. So there you go..................iTunes Store, bitches! :L3000: LOL

In some VERY rare instances, I would maybe buy elsewhere if a particular album wasn't available on iTunes, like this limited-edition Clapton album featuring "Layla" in DSD (on SACD)*, which is considered a step-up from Hi-Res NOT b/c it's an even bigger file, but b/c these masters tend to get even more attention & care than the Hi-Res ones do (aka, the REAL reason why Hi-Res albums sound better), which means it's not often one is even ever put out. In comparing with Hi-Res versions, the DSD one to me always sounded a notch or two better. I'd paid $35 for that SACD, but now it's $30. I prefer to just buy & download DSD though cuz less work. With an SACD, you need a special program to extract them out from the disc (NOT easy with a standard CD player, but still possible) then convert them to FLAC or AAC. A few other DSD albums I've bought from elsewhere like Acoustic Sounds include ones by Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson (Thriller), Elton John, Rage Against The Machine, etc. iTunes Store doesn't offer that, but in most cases I'm fine with standard Hi-Res ones anyway. I don't even bother looking anymore. I think I've spent enough already. ROFL!

(*Note: DSD Hi-Res files are the official format found on a Super Audio CD, or SACD. So, they're really just one and the same.)

Hope this helped! Just get iTunes Store for your desktop/laptop and Poweramp for your phone (only available on Android), and you're set!
Thanks for the detailed answer this is great :) So you stick to AAC for practical / quality reasons but try to get the master quality from itunes, that makes sense to me. I've been wondering if the Apple music streaming offer was using the same master quality files (I think so) and tested it for a while but couldn't any obvious exemples. Do you have any great exemple like that on itunes?
 
Apr 21, 2021 at 1:59 PM Post #97 of 122

RockStar2005

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Thanks for the detailed answer this is great :) So you stick to AAC for practical / quality reasons but try to get the master quality from itunes, that makes sense to me. I've been wondering if the Apple music streaming offer was using the same master quality files (I think so) and tested it for a while but couldn't any obvious exemples. Do you have any great exemple like that on itunes?
Sure man! Glad I could help.

Yeah, exactly. If I thought it made ANY difference at all, I'd prob still be sticking to FLAC to this day. But that just isn't the case.

That's a good question. It might be, but one other thing I don't like about streaming is, if you happen to not have a strong connection at any given moment, the quality of what you're listening to will prob suffer. Even like when I stream Netflix at home, I got a very high-speed data plan with Comcast (500-600 mbps), and I even used a long wired (50 ft. lol) Ethernet connection to connect my router to my TV which is across the room (going along the walls) vs. wireless. Despite all that, I STILL notice the occasional "lag" occur. But watch the same movie on my 4K blu-ray player and get lag? Nope.........NEVER! For movies though I only buy the movies I really love, and luckily for me, my movie library is nowhere NEAR my music library, or I'd prob have to add a new storage room in my condo. LOL So to me, that's yet another reason to stick with downloads.

I think I answered this last night, but maybe I didn't make it clear enough. Essentially, if you're listening to the same master in FLAC as you are in AAC, it will DEF sound the same. I've done this MANY times, and the results are always the same. When I DO notice a difference is when I purchase a new Hi-Res remaster and compare it to my old mp3, or CDQ, or even previous Hi-Res copy. I'd like to tell you that I always notice an improvement 100% of the time, but that isn't true. However, I'd be willing to say AT LEAST 70-80% of the time I can hear a difference, and at least 40-50% of the time I'd say it's significant. Of course, it's almost 100% if you compare mp3 to anything. At mp3 level, esp if it's below 320 mbps (but even at that rate), certain "defects" start to come to light that simply aren't there from AAC or FLAC. Like drum cymbals for example. At like 192 mbps mp3, many times I'll notice that drum cymbals sound "wet" when hit, giving them a strange and unsettling "woosh" sound that is about as pleasing as listening to a dog fart. :thinking: :k701smile:

Also, I remember one case early on where one of my first Hi-Res album purchases was Led Zeppelin's debut album, in particular the second track, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". The Hi-Res version sounded f'ing incredible, whereas my 320 kbps mp3 version sounded not only weak, but I remember it sounded compressed, like I was listening to it through a keyhole or something when compared to the Hi-Res version. The bass sounded muddy and seemed to be stepping over the other instruments, and I believe the drums sounded wet too. In many other cases too, I'd once again notice differences. And as I began also getting better headphones, I'd also started to notice details and things I'd never detected before as well (which is something you hear a lot from ppl with more premium headphones). So yeah, quality matters.

And remember, the key difference here is I was comparing 2 DIFFERENT masters. But in THIS particular case, because the other file was an mp3, there's that other factor of lower quality that comes into play here. If it's AAC or above though, then only the master or source should be the central focus.

That's really it. Let me know if you still need further clarification. And def read or skim through that article I linked in my last post. In particular, the 2007 study, and the Boston Audio Society study, both mentioned in about the last half. I stand by those facts, and you should too.
 
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Apr 21, 2021 at 3:05 PM Post #98 of 122

bigshot

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There are quite a few good choices for lossy formats. AAC is among the most universally supported ones, but there are others. The differences in sound quality are much more apt to be because of the mastering of the album than the file format or codec. Albums are mastered for different purposes. They determine how the listener will be using the music file and optimize for that. If the listener is in a car or out in the street listening in shuffle mode on a phone with portable ear buds, they compress the dynamics so it is loud enough to cut through ambient street sound, and so that every song seems to be at the same volume level. On shuffle mode, you don't want to have to adjust the volume every time a new track comes up. CDs are generally mastered with varying volume levels that follow a dynamic path throughout the whole album, because you usually play a CD through, you don't put it on shuffle play. If the user is listening on a good home stereo system, they will allow broader dynamics and more low level detail. You'll find these kinds of masterings on physical media, especially SACDs generally. The file that contains the music sounds the same either way, but the mastering engineer EQs, compresses and sweetens the track differently, depending on its intended use.

All download sites and streaming services have their own parameters for mastering. Apple does a good job of hitting the sweet spot most of the time.
 
Apr 22, 2021 at 7:03 PM Post #99 of 122

mobbaddict

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Sure man! Glad I could help.

Yeah, exactly. If I thought it made ANY difference at all, I'd prob still be sticking to FLAC to this day. But that just isn't the case.

That's a good question. It might be, but one other thing I don't like about streaming is, if you happen to not have a strong connection at any given moment, the quality of what you're listening to will prob suffer. Even like when I stream Netflix at home, I got a very high-speed data plan with Comcast (500-600 mbps), and I even used a long wired (50 ft. lol) Ethernet connection to connect my router to my TV which is across the room (going along the walls) vs. wireless. Despite all that, I STILL notice the occasional "lag" occur. But watch the same movie on my 4K blu-ray player and get lag? Nope.........NEVER! For movies though I only buy the movies I really love, and luckily for me, my movie library is nowhere NEAR my music library, or I'd prob have to add a new storage room in my condo. LOL So to me, that's yet another reason to stick with downloads.

I think I answered this last night, but maybe I didn't make it clear enough. Essentially, if you're listening to the same master in FLAC as you are in AAC, it will DEF sound the same. I've done this MANY times, and the results are always the same. When I DO notice a difference is when I purchase a new Hi-Res remaster and compare it to my old mp3, or CDQ, or even previous Hi-Res copy. I'd like to tell you that I always notice an improvement 100% of the time, but that isn't true. However, I'd be willing to say AT LEAST 70-80% of the time I can hear a difference, and at least 40-50% of the time I'd say it's significant. Of course, it's almost 100% if you compare mp3 to anything. At mp3 level, esp if it's below 320 mbps (but even at that rate), certain "defects" start to come to light that simply aren't there from AAC or FLAC. Like drum cymbals for example. At like 192 mbps mp3, many times I'll notice that drum cymbals sound "wet" when hit, giving them a strange and unsettling "woosh" sound that is about as pleasing as listening to a dog fart. :thinking: :k701smile:

Also, I remember one case early on where one of my first Hi-Res album purchases was Led Zeppelin's debut album, in particular the second track, "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". The Hi-Res version sounded f'ing incredible, whereas my 320 kbps mp3 version sounded not only weak, but I remember it sounded compressed, like I was listening to it through a keyhole or something when compared to the Hi-Res version. The bass sounded muddy and seemed to be stepping over the other instruments, and I believe the drums sounded wet too. In many other cases too, I'd once again notice differences. And as I began also getting better headphones, I'd also started to notice details and things I'd never detected before as well (which is something you hear a lot from ppl with more premium headphones). So yeah, quality matters.

And remember, the key difference here is I was comparing 2 DIFFERENT masters. But in THIS particular case, because the other file was an mp3, there's that other factor of lower quality that comes into play here. If it's AAC or above though, then only the master or source should be the central focus.

That's really it. Let me know if you still need further clarification. And def read or skim through that article I linked in my last post. In particular, the 2007 study, and the Boston Audio Society study, both mentioned in about the last half. I stand by those facts, and you should too.
Yep, I got it, thanks :) But the thing is that it's a bit tricky to find the best exemples of master quality. I know the Apple masters are supposed to be more faithful but how often do you think the difference is noticeable? Is it true for every Apple master? I think Tidal has a similar process for validating original masters but I couldn't find good exemples of that. Hey maybe I'll just try the Led Zeppelin debut album you mentioned and compare with Spotify.

Also, I get your point about the disadvantages of streaming, personally I like too much the convenience of those streaming services, but you're right the connection needs to be flawless all the time :)
 
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Apr 23, 2021 at 1:54 AM Post #100 of 122

RockStar2005

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Yep, I got it, thanks :) But the thing is that it's a bit tricky to find the best exemples of master quality. I know the Apple masters are supposed to be more faithful but how often do you think the difference is noticeable? Is it true for every Apple master? I think Tidal has a similar process for validating original masters but I couldn't find good exemples of that. Hey maybe I'll just try the Led Zeppelin debut album you mentioned and compare with Spotify.

Also, I get your point about the disadvantages of streaming, personally I like too much the convenience of those streaming services, but you're right the connection needs to be flawless all the time :)
YW!

Generally speaking, if something is labeled Hi-Res, its master should be taken as close to or equal to studio quality as possible. That's my take on it anyway.

I've compared enough of my Hi-Res purchases with previous Hi-Res, but more so CDQ and def mp3 copies, and as I'd said, the overwhelming majority of the time, the Hi-Res version sounds the best. Sometimes you'll hear it on every song, sometimes maybe only on certain ones. It's never gonna be the same every single time.

With regards to how Apple handles its Hi-Res masters, I remember reading up on it a few years back, and this document by Apple pretty much answers everything you seem to be looking for, so check it out.

Sure, you can try that. Those Zep Hi-Res remasters were all done very well (produced by Zep's lead guitarist himself, Jimmy Page, who was also very involved in the original studio recordings), so any of them will do. But might as well start with the debut! The Fleetwood Mac ('75-'82 era), Eagles, Tom Petty, The Who, and The Rolling Stones ones are fantastic too. Other more recent Hi-Res greats that I have include Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way" album, the Pearl Jam ones, U2's "Achtung Baby" (which is w/o a doubt one of my all-time favorite albums), etc. Or any of the ones I'd mentioned a few posts ago too. I'd prob start with Zep though, just b/c they're my fav band (along with The Rolling Stones). lol On that debut, aside from "Babe", "Your Time Is Gonna Come" is another one I consistently use to sample new headphones, including the comparison I'm doing now. The drums that come in after the organ intro are by themselves fantastic!

If any of those other bands are ones you like, lemme know and I can check and see what songs I've used and let you know which ones they are as well.

Yeah, I like convenience too. I mean, I use a SEMI-wireless setup for my premium listening (since the connection b/t my phone and xDSD is BT), though it outdid my old LG V20's "Quad DAC" FULLY-wired setup. And also when I workout I use my BT Samsung Galaxy Buds+, but IMO, when you're working out, you're simply NOT gonna be listening as closely or as seriously as when you're chillin'. And if you are, you're not working out hard enough. LOL But the AKG-tuned Buds+ sound great anyway esp w/ my custom EQ. Not "headphone" great, but not far off at all.

Some ppl don't hear a difference from streaming. And that's fine. I do though, so for me, I keep it to a minimum, like for previewing albums I may wanna purchase. If you don't though after a few tries, then just stick with streaming. No sense in forcing it. But if you do, then purchase only the songs or albums that really move you. Leave the rest for streaming. lol
 
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Apr 23, 2021 at 1:59 AM Post #101 of 122

bigshot

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I've found great sounding bargain priced CDs and lousy sounding SACDs. Some albums sound best on vinyl (like Led Zeppelin 1) and others sound better remastered. It all varies from album to album. You have to chat with record collectors in forums who own various releases of the same album and have compared them. There's no guarantee that just buying something that says "HD Audio" on it really means it's the best. And you can't say all streaming sounds a particular way. Some albums sound exactly like the SACD or CD on streaming. Some don't. If you think that one format sounds clearly better than another, odds are that's expectation bias. Some controlled blind testing would change your mind. Take the best sounding HD Audio file you have. Knock it down to lower resolutions, all the way down into lossy. Blind, level matched, direct A/B switched. I bet you'll be surprised how much of it sounds exactly the same. You have to go below typical streaming levels to actually detect a difference.

I mostly use streaming for previewing physical media purchases too. But I do that so it is in my library. Not because it sounds better. And when it comes to stuff like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, streaming can't tell you anything, because there are so many different mixes and mastering, you really have to know which specific release to buy.
 
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Apr 23, 2021 at 4:05 PM Post #102 of 122

RockStar2005

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I've found great sounding bargain priced CDs and lousy sounding SACDs. Some albums sound best on vinyl (like Led Zeppelin 1) and others sound better remastered. It all varies from album to album. You have to chat with record collectors in forums who own various releases of the same album and have compared them. There's no guarantee that just buying something that says "HD Audio" on it really means it's the best. And you can't say all streaming sounds a particular way. Some albums sound exactly like the SACD or CD on streaming. Some don't. If you think that one format sounds clearly better than another, odds are that's expectation bias. Some controlled blind testing would change your mind. Take the best sounding HD Audio file you have. Knock it down to lower resolutions, all the way down into lossy. Blind, level matched, direct A/B switched. I bet you'll be surprised how much of it sounds exactly the same. You have to go below typical streaming levels to actually detect a difference.

I mostly use streaming for previewing physical media purchases too. But I do that so it is in my library. Not because it sounds better. And when it comes to stuff like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, streaming can't tell you anything, because there are so many different mixes and mastering, you really have to know which specific release to buy.
Yeah. It def does vary. It's never 100% anything, ever. Though from my own personal experience anyway, Hi-Res is most often gonna sound better than other versions, esp mp3.

I have some digital vinyl albums where they'd had the clicks/pops/scratches digitally removed from the album before distribution. Typically they do sound amazing! An example is the this Toshiba "Red" Japanese vinyl version of George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" album. It's simply breathtaking! But then I had gotten the first couple albums by the band Garbage in digital vinyl, and although they sounded great, the Hi-Res versions were simply better.

I've done ABX tests actually and had the same results. So yeah, already done that. But I agree that everyone should try doing that though at least once or twice.

Yeah I try to make sure I'm aware of what versions I'm listening too. Usually if you go by the release date (and how its title or description is worded), you'll know what's what. An example of this is the Fleetwood Mac live album, and the newly just-released extended version (which also features a ton of extra songs, also from that "prime era" of theirs (('75-'82)), both Hi-Res. I owned the former one which was released in 2014, and just bought the new one. Right away, I noticed when comparing them that the new one was a notch better, even though the old one was fantastic already. At the same volume for both, I could hear more detail and the newer one had more "punch" and feel to it to me as well.
 
Apr 23, 2021 at 4:31 PM Post #103 of 122

bigshot

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Fleetwood Mac in the Lindsey Buckingham era was well recorded, but mixed for radio airplay. There isn't a lot of dynamic range within individual songs. I have the multichannel SACD (Japanese?) and the multichannel mix sounds fantastic, but the stereo mix is pretty much the same as the first release CD I have. I've got half speed mastered LPs and oriiginal pressing CDs... They all sound fine. The exception is Tusk. That album sounded like a dog's breakfast on LP and it wasn't much better on CD. The recent deluxe version with both LP and multichannel remixes is a million times better sounding. So even from album to album within the same group, it can be different.

Once an album has been remastered for HD, they usually roll those remasterings into the CD release. The only generalizations I can make is that first release CD usually sounds better than the vinyl for albums released in the 70s and 80s. (Because of recycled vinyl). And modern remasterings that follow HD release usually sound as good as the HD and better than the first CD release. There are exceptions though... especially when the music wasn't just remastered, but was completely remixed. That is what happened with Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. They completely remixed albums from scratch and they sound nothing like the way they originally did. Also, certain albums had singles mixes and other ones had album mixes. Now all CD releases are album mixes. It's a mess for someone who knows how this stuff was supposed to sound. Then there is stuff like Elton John that sounds like it used to sound, just cleaner and more present. You never know.

Live albums are something else altogether. Modern digital technology allows live recordings to sound better than they ever have. Especially in multichannel. I got the box set of Allman Bros at the Filmore East and it is a revelation. Totally different than the 2 channel mix and MUCH better.
 
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Apr 24, 2021 at 2:54 PM Post #104 of 122

RockStar2005

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Fleetwood Mac in the Lindsey Buckingham era was well recorded, but mixed for radio airplay. There isn't a lot of dynamic range within individual songs. I have the multichannel SACD (Japanese?) and the multichannel mix sounds fantastic, but the stereo mix is pretty much the same as the first release CD I have. I've got half speed mastered LPs and oriiginal pressing CDs... They all sound fine. The exception is Tusk. That album sounded like a dog's breakfast on LP and it wasn't much better on CD. The recent deluxe version with both LP and multichannel remixes is a million times better sounding. So even from album to album within the same group, it can be different.

Once an album has been remastered for HD, they usually roll those remasterings into the CD release. The only generalizations I can make is that first release CD usually sounds better than the vinyl for albums released in the 70s and 80s. (Because of recycled vinyl). And modern remasterings that follow HD release usually sound as good as the HD and better than the first CD release. There are exceptions though... especially when the music wasn't just remastered, but was completely remixed. That is what happened with Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. They completely remixed albums from scratch and they sound nothing like the way they originally did. Also, certain albums had singles mixes and other ones had album mixes. Now all CD releases are album mixes. It's a mess for someone who knows how this stuff was supposed to sound. Then there is stuff like Elton John that sounds like it used to sound, just cleaner and more present. You never know.

Live albums are something else altogether. Modern digital technology allows live recordings to sound better than they ever have. Especially in multichannel. I got the box set of Allman Bros at the Filmore East and it is a revelation. Totally different than the 2 channel mix and MUCH better.
That's interesting. Wow, sounds like you've heard all the versions eh?

Yeah compared to my old CD of their Live album, this newest Hi-Res versions sounds way better! The drums on "Don't Stop" for example make you feel like you're actually there at the show.

I remember an interview with Lindsey on Tusk, and he said b/c he wanted to offer up something completely different sounding from the previous album (Rumours), in the studio he literally turned ALL the dials to the opposite setting of what he'd had set up for Rumours. That may have led to it INITIALLY sounding "off" perhaps.

I've noticed too that aside from Live, all their remastered Hi-Res albums that I've bought were done so at a lower volume than the CDs (the same applies to Tom Petty's remastered Hi-Res releases). They say it's so that when you turn it up you can hear everything more clearly & more balanced. Most Hi-Res albums I've bought sound louder though better, but I guess this is just a different approach. Whether or not it's better is debatable. The only downside is you need more power to hear them properly, but they do sound amazing nonetheless.

Yeah, it's a mixed bag. Most often though I'm very pleased with the Hi-Res releases I end up buying.

Well that's good. That prob explains why this newest version of Mac's Live sounds so much better. It's comforting to know they've found ways to improve in this area. The goal is to make it sound as great as possible, so anything that can be done in the studio to accomplish that and still give you that "live" feel is most welcome.
 
Apr 24, 2021 at 9:22 PM Post #105 of 122

old tech

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I've found great sounding bargain priced CDs and lousy sounding SACDs. Some albums sound best on vinyl (like Led Zeppelin 1) and others sound better remastered. It all varies from album to album.
I suppose it is all subjective to a large degree but I generally prefer both the early Barry Diament or the current remaster CD over the LP for LZ1 (I only have an early original LP) and even then it is a track by track proposition.

Like @RockStar2005 my preference is the current Davis remasters (the hi res version sounds the same as the Davis CDs), particularly 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You' but I can't go past the Diament CD for the more bassy tracks such as 'Dazed and Confused'. In fact my Led Zep albums on the server contain tracks from either of the two masters, depending which sound better to my ears, except for LZ IV, which are rips from the 'Porky' LP - ironically, the Marino mastered CD is probably the best of the digital versions of this album but the worst for the rest.
 

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