HUh.... massive difference between computer mp3 and CD
Jun 17, 2002 at 7:08 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 48

Kryogen

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The difference is quite big. Mp3's that I encode myself and listen on my SB Live! are real good, but I put the real cd in a good cd reader, and the sound is huh ! Way better! Way more defined, crisp, bass is deep, powerful, clear.

The source is quite important I'd guess ;P
What sucks is that there's no good all around sound card (music, games, and ****).

I'd pay 300$ for a good sound card that can do it all anytime, but the best thing you can get is like 75$. So huh..

Anyways. Just a constatation ;P

But still, even with my mp3's and my comp, and an amp with a good headphone jack, the sound is damned good compared to my bro's cheap headphones and to my 75$ CAN amplified altec lansing speakers that gave up after 3 months, with a total usage of a good.... 5 hours.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 8:55 AM Post #2 of 48

grancasa

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Kryogen,

Yes, CD's do sound better than most mp3's. But I don't think it's a source issue... I think it's a format issue (ie mp3 vs cd, both played back on your computer... same "source", different format). Use the search feature and you should be able to find some very helpful information on mp3 encoding and other types of compressed audio formats. You should be able to make a file that sounds pretty close to your average CD.

But, then you need to upgrade your sound card. The Sound Blaster's are pretty notorious for their bad sound. I don't know where you've been looking for sound cards, but there are a number that cost well over $100 US (you figure it out in Canadian). The audiophile 24/96 can be found for around $175 I believe, and with well encoded files should yield a very impressive sound. But like I said, use the search feature, there's a ton written about all of this in the archieves. Just search for "computer sound". Good luck,
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 2:02 PM Post #3 of 48

Nezer

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Comparing an MP3 through an SB Live! to a good CDP is hardly fair!

A *properly ripped* and *properly encoded* (see my sig) MP3 on *comparable equipment* with a *proper decoder* should'nt sound *any* different from the source CD.

The best way, by far, to test...

Use EAC and rip an audio track to a wav file. Encode that wav to an MP3 keeping the wav intact.

Use a decent sound card that has an SPDIF output that DOESN"T **** WITH THE OUTPUT! This rules out the SB cards as they all upsample to 48KHz (even the Audigy which advertises 24/96k, liars). Run this output to a good DAC into a good preamp/amp/loudspeakers *or* good headamp/headphones. use Winamp with the MAD decoder plugin and compare the wav to the mp3. If you can hear a difference you either encoded it wrong or your ears are super-sensitive to MP3 artifacts (i've heard of this being the case with one person).

I suspect the difference you are hearing now is from the equipment and *NOT* from the source music.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 3:07 PM Post #4 of 48

CaptBubba

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He is using the cdplayer on his computer, going though the sb live. I've noticed the same thing. To make the comparison even more fair you should make sure that the cd is playing back digitally and not through the cd-rom's analouge outs.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 3:31 PM Post #5 of 48

Nezer

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Nope, should rip the file to a wav and remove the transport altogether.

Also he should dump that SB Live ASAP.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 7:01 PM Post #7 of 48

Kryogen

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No, I am talking about my dad's good quality CDP.

And that's what I'm saying. The sound that my sound blaster can generate is nowhere near the sound of the CDP. They both go through my amp and grados.

The problem with the sound cards you tell me about, is that they can't do proper EAX localisation and stuff; they produce good music, but poor gaming sound and stuff.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 7:12 PM Post #8 of 48

Kryogen

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But I guess that this sound card for roughtly 300$ CAN must produce sound equal to the sound of a 300$ CAN CDP (Which I consider kind of expensive).

But if you use your computer cd player, with this sound card, the sound will be good too, right? Since the sound card does the decoding and stuff, not the cd-rom?

When I move in appartment, I might get a good sound card instead of a good CDP. Since all my music is on the comp, all I need is a good sound card. Then I'll be able to connect it to loudspeakers once I get em, or whatever.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 7:19 PM Post #9 of 48

Nezer

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Hence the problem...

Sound cards seem to reproduce music well, or play game audio well. Finding one to do both is quite a feat.

A soundcard capable of reproducting decent audio can be had for around $100USD. The better once would be around your $300CDN quote but isn't a SB Audigy as well?

If you play games *AND* listen to music and only want one source, it almost pays to use two soundcards these days.

The USB Stereolink goes for around $120USD (about $5000CDN? :wink:) and is supposed to be pretty decent at music reproduction at an affordable price.

The *ultimate* setup is to use a good card with a good SPDIF out and run that into an external DAC as you would a CD Transport.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 7:25 PM Post #10 of 48

Kryogen

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The audiophile 24/96 (or whatever) card HAS to be connected to an amp though? Only rca(or whatever) outputs.

Could always use this, connected to a headphone amp, and to my grados.

But how is the sound with good encoded mp3's on this card compared to SB live sound?

Like, is it really worth the money, how does it sound?
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 8:01 PM Post #11 of 48

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I use a Audiophile 2496 soundcard. Connected to a MF X-CANS. When i listen to MP3 files encoded at 192Kb/s or higher to me it sounds the same as playing the CD in my DVD player. I have used SB Live before the Audiophile. SB Live is not as good as a DVD player. MP3 files are very good when they are encoded in a correct way. Don't use bitrates below 192.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 10:09 PM Post #12 of 48

Nezer

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Quote:

Originally posted by Kryogen
The audiophile 24/96 (or whatever) card HAS to be connected to an amp though? Only rca(or whatever) outputs.

Could always use this, connected to a headphone amp, and to my grados.

But how is the sound with good encoded mp3's on this card compared to SB live sound?

Like, is it really worth the money, how does it sound?


An SB Live has to be connected to an amp too! Most computer speakers have one built-in. Older cards used to have a pretty crappy op-amp design to drive some speakers but thankfully, they stopped doing that.

I can't talk about the Audiophile 24/96 but I can say that my USB Tascam US-428 (which DOESNT upsample) sounds MUCH better than my SB Live. Theres more detail, more soundstage, more dynamics, energy, more everything really. This may come from the lack of upsampling or it could just be better components were used in the DAC. After all this thing is a home-studio recording device.

These days I'm *seriously* eyeing the M-Audio DiO 410 card and a good off-board DAC (Bel Canto DAC2 or a Cary 306/200 CDP used as a DAC in this case).
 
Jun 18, 2002 at 2:42 AM Post #13 of 48

Calanctus

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Nezer, you seem to be knowledgeable on media files and playback. What's your opinion: could computer media files, properly ripped and encoded, actually sound BETTER than CDs, due to elimination of jitter from the CD transport?
 
Jun 18, 2002 at 2:59 AM Post #14 of 48

Nezer

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Quote:

Originally posted by Calanctus
Nezer, you seem to be knowledgeable on media files and playback. What's your opinion: could computer media files, properly ripped and encoded, actually sound BETTER than CDs, due to elimination of jitter from the CD transport?


It's possible I suppose but 'better sounding' really is an objective quality.

Certainly playing a wav from a computer has the potential to sound better than from the transport but there are so many other components in a system that it might be masked.

For example, I doubt one could tell the difference between a straight CD and a wav file when coming from the DAC from an SB Live. That's because the DAC does some bad things that will likly undo anything you did up-front. Even a crappy cable from a quality sound card feeding a quality off-board DAC could ruin everything.

A system is only as stong as it's weakest link. All things being equal, assuming a perfect transport, in the scenerio you list above the MP3 would be the weakest link but there's no such thing as a perfect transport... or is there?

There is a plugin for winamp that will extract the audio of a CD much like EAC does. When coupled with a quality CD ROM thats capable of making perfect CDDA streams at high-speed (like a Plextor for example) the transport is basically ruled-out of the equation even when listening to a CD from the drive.

To get to the core of the question, yes, eliminating the transport can do a lot for the sound IMHO. At this level I wouldn't ruin it with any level of MP3 encoding though. I would use Monkey's Audio to get decent lossless compression of the audio file.

I might also go as far as to say that upsampling and processing a wav file on a PC (think Wadia) you could have a source that, with a little work, could equal (or maybe even exceed) the best offers from companies like Wadia.
 
Jun 18, 2002 at 3:08 AM Post #15 of 48

Calanctus

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Nezer, thanks for your reply--now I'm definitely intrigued. I do take your point about 'weakest link in the chain.'

Quote:

Originally posted by Nezer


There is a plugin for winamp that will extract the audio of a CD much like EAC does. When coupled with a quality CD ROM thats capable of making perfect CDDA streams at high-speed (like a Plextor for example) the transport is basically ruled-out of the equation even when listening to a CD from the drive.


Can you tell us the name of the plugin--with that I can Google it and install.

At some point, if you feel like it, perhaps you could post your experiences with upsampling/processing digital sound from computer. I'm intrigued, since I have a bit of a thing for 'all-in-one' systems build around my computer--currently use it for music, movies, gaming, work, news, hobbies (like this one)....
 

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