Is digital dead?
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fewtch

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When I say dead, I mean dead as in having nowhere left to go in terms of improvements. Redbook CD in particular.

It amuses me a bit how digital has thrown audiophilia for a loop. You can upgrade and tweak a turntable forever, but at some point digital becomes bit-perfect and jitter-free to the point of inaudibility. The analog domain is subject to infinite improvement, but the digital domain is not. Bit perfect is bit perfect, apologies to upgraders.

I rarely hear "digititis" from even cheap devices anymore, nor do I believe there are any audible transport issues remaining with typical modern transports. The difference between a cheap DAC (chip) and expensive DAC (chip) is probably 1 to 2% at most. It all comes down to quality of the other parts -- resistors, caps, pots etc. Good circuit design too, of course. Clean power, yes. But how about the core components -- DACs and transports?

So are we going to admit at some point that upgrading has become side-grading, and there's no such thing as objective SQ improvements anymore? I contend that there is nowhere left to go with the redbook CD format in particular, and to a great extent digital in general. I see people raving about cheap plastic (never mind that plastic is an ideal material for a transport... light and sturdy as hell) and stuff like that. Should we pay a premium for an older, problematic balky transport designs so we can get a good feeling that there's an upgrade path somewhere? Big, heavy decorative metal boxes that make us feel better, but do nothing to improve sound quality...?

Just some reflections and current opinions... I could be really wrong and misguided, of course.
 
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jefemeister

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I disagree on every point.

edit: sorry, I will elaborate later as time is tight now for a real answer.
 
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fewtch

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jefemeister
I disagree on every point.




No comments as to why I'm wrong, tho... I'd love to see some lengthy posts disproving me into the dirt (I'd come out dirty, but happy).
 
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Leporello

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Yes, I believe that in two channel electronics in general (ad/da conversion, cdps, amps) we are very close to perfection. Transducers are quite another matter.


Regards,

L.
 
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rickcr42

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digital is far from dead, that is where all the big buck research is at right now in audio.
But it is more towards the multichannel front-trying to get music and not just movies to sound right.That and portable/transportable compressed audio.
Is this a step forward /

no comment
 
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markl

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Oh come ON.....


Are you kidding us?


Digital has SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO far to go. The future of sound is digital, but God help us all if the future of digital is 16/44.1....

You would be hard-pressed to find a recording studio equipped with anything less than 24/96 nowadays, yet they still have to dumb-down those recordings to 16/44.1. Is 24/96 the be-all and end-all of audio? HELL NO!!!

I say, bring on all the new formats that exceed the CD, whatever they may be!
 
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D-EJ915

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I think they could improve the bandwidth of CDs, etc. by a lot and mastering/production has to improve by about 250% in order to be half-decent. Most cds released these days suck, really badly. Anyway, I think it's half decent but mastering would help a lot. GO 77.7 channels!!
 
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PhilS

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fewtch
When I say dead, I mean dead as in having nowhere left to go in terms of improvements. Redbook CD in particular.

It amuses me a bit how digital has thrown audiophilia for a loop. You can upgrade and tweak a turntable forever, but at some point digital becomes bit-perfect and jitter-free to the point of inaudibility. The analog domain is subject to infinite improvement, but the digital domain is not. Bit perfect is bit perfect, apologies to upgraders.

I rarely hear "digititis" from even cheap devices anymore, nor do I believe there are any audible transport issues remaining with typical modern transports. The difference between a cheap DAC (chip) and expensive DAC (chip) is probably 1 to 2% at most. It all comes down to quality of the other parts -- resistors, caps, pots etc. Good circuit design too, of course. Clean power, yes. But how about the core components -- DACs and transports?

So are we going to admit at some point that upgrading has become side-grading, and there's no such thing as objective SQ improvements anymore? I contend that there is nowhere left to go with the redbook CD format in particular, and to a great extent digital in general. I see people raving about cheap plastic (never mind that plastic is an ideal material for a transport... light and sturdy as hell) and stuff like that. Should we pay a premium for an older, problematic balky transport designs so we can get a good feeling that there's an upgrade path somewhere? Big, heavy decorative metal boxes that make us feel better, but do nothing to improve sound quality...?

Just some reflections and current opinions... I could be really wrong and misguided, of course.



I suspect it depends on the person. I can easily year digititis is cheap sources, can hear the differences between transports with a decent system, and have found that upgrading does improve sound quality, and almost always more than 1 or 2% at most. But if you aren't able to percieve such things, I would agree that upgrading is a waste of money. I mean, I really can't appreciate the difference between a $200 bottle of wine and a $20 bottle, but others can readily discern the difference, so they can buy their $200 bottle of wine and enjoy their $200 CD player with the sibilance and HF rolloff that they don't really notice, and I'll enjoy my beautiful sounding system and be happy with the cheap wine.
But in any event, I think the notion that redbook CD is a good as its going to get -- at least at any given price point -- and that there are not significant differences between sources, which you question suggests, is demonstrably false.
 
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I doubt the actual technology can be improved any more to make a sound difference.

I think that CDs lack because of how they are created, and the methods used to record. I think that if they improved this so that most CDs didn't sound like dull "zeros and ones" we'd be progressing much further.
 
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I don't think digital is dead, it will be around a while, but I don't see how you can improve redbook.
 
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Oh I think it can be superceded by something far greater but yet will still remain digital, that is, Redbook though ubiquitous is not the end and thank goodness. Can it sound good? For sure, is it perfect? No way. With discs capable of 100 gigs + storage we can have far greater frequency and sample rates, the more the merrier, ever closer to the infinite waveforms of analogue.

Or...one could just jump ship and head on back to those big bulky black discs
 
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Depends on your definition of improvement.

The current trend in the market place (not audiophile, the mass market) is improvement in transportabilty (MP3), HD audio (next gen PC audio interface),
delivery (real time streaming).

Personally, I don't think there's much investment in high end audio. There is not enough ROI.

It's about money.
 
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Zanth

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dvw

Personally, I don't think there's much investment in high end audio. There is not enough ROI.

It's about money.




What is ROI? As for investment, I think many find mp3's to be adequate. I have a good friend who enjoys fine music (what I consider fine anyway) yet he will listen to 128 or lower bitrates (though he does desire 160 to 192) and is usually unaware of substantial improvements. He just can't or resists hearing the improvement. Therefore, Redbook to him is excellent if not perfect. SACD, DVD-A, the slight improvements here are not worth his time, it would have to be monumental.

For those on the go, ambient noise or outside noise (talking, traffic etc) obscures much and often listening sessions are not as intense nor lengthy enough for one to get listening fatigue etc. I would wager that if one were to be exposed to high end sound, then subjected to mp3's and then subsequently given a choice, most if not all would go for the better sound. It is about educating the masses. That said, I think Apple should offer high bitrate lossless files for the iPod had have other manufacturers follow suit. Ripped SACD/DVD-A to lossless would be truly substantial
 
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Aman

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Zanth
Or...one could just jump ship and head on back to those big bulky black discs



Right on!
 
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While it is obvious to anyone here that hi-res formats present more potential in those little round discs we put into our players. My DAC can decode a digital stream with up to 24/192, if I feed it so. But why would I go thru the bother of setting up a transport that could do this? So that I could hear what could be done with the two or three (exotic) recordings in the world that are recorded at that rate? It would simply be an academic exercise, and not a practical application that could be extended to my normal listening routines. Unfortunately for the record companies it is about money, and they don't have a reason to do better than what they already are. For me, it's about the software, and they would have to "build" a lot more for me to come back to the hi-res world.

Regardless, I don't really want to listen to my music under a microscope all the time anyway, and hardly ever at all, frankly. That would quickly become just too tiresome. It would be akin to viewing the pores in the skin of a beautiful woman thru a telescope. Surely there will be blemishes uncovered, even on her, that will be too obvious to ignore at that resolution, and therefore inevitably change my view on her overall beauty. It's just not natural to view her that way.

Let's improve on miking techniques in the studio, dynamic compression & levels, & mastering across the board, so that more produced music is done at a higher standard. We can exploit the technology used earlier on in the recording chain before the limits of redbook come into play.
 
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