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Lossless vs. Lossy

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by so74, Oct 30, 2013.
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  1. brunk
    The simplest way to put it is that I'm interested in comparing an actual digital master - no tape involved - the unaltered final product that the engineer keeps as their defacto master. Then comparing that to the standard CD or mp3  version. There are a few mastering engineers that have these available for purchase. Get it?
    EDIT: It's not a silly debate of "oh 24-bit, DSD blah-blah" malarkey. Just something that is an unaltered digital-origin original vs whatever format that is different from it. Is it not something that could provide some significance somehow?
  2. proton007

    Isn't CD a copy of the Master?
  3. gregorio

    It would appear that you either didn't see or didn't understand my response (which is here). The so called "unaltered master" you are talking about exists only virtually, cannot be printed and therefore cannot be available for purchase. There is no way to directly compare this master with the distribution master (be it 16bit, 24bit, DSD or whatever) except with software measurement tools. So, any and every master version for distribution must be "altered"! It must be greatly reduced in bit depth even for a 24bit distribution master, more bits must obviously be removed for a 16bit distribution master and of course even more bits removed for a DSD master. This removal of bits will be entirely transparent to the listener though, at any reasonable listening volume.
    In practise the mastering engineer would create just one master with the intended sound and then print this master to 24/96, 16/44 and/or whatever other distribution format is required. The act of printing to different bit depths and sample rates should be entirely transparent to the listerner, so there is no need to create different masters for the different formats/resolutions.
    This last statement of course does not take into account the fact that the record company employing the mastering engineer may actually want the recording to sound different on different formats, for marketing purposes. In which case a different master will be created for each different "sound" required. Linn Records has admitted in the past to doing this but I'm sure many others selling so called "hi rez" recordings also engage in this distasteful and misleading practise.
  4. bigshot
    It seems there is confusion about master generations and mastering. With digital audio, there is no generation loss. A copy is identical to the original. A recording engineer mixes each song individually and lays down the mix to his master. Then that copy is sent to be mastered for release. This involves balancing the levels and eq of the various individual tracks so the songs flow as a coherent album... not one song jumping out and another muffled sounding in comparison. Once that is done, the tracks are laid down in the order they will appear on the CD and that goes to the CD manufacturing plant.
    There is good and bad engineering at any stage in this process. Recording isn't necessarily "good" and mastering is "bad". It's all part of the same process. The sound that is on the CD is the exact sound that the engineers intend. Whether that is good or bad depends on the ability and taste of the engineers in making the decisions involved in mixing and mastering.
  5. brunk
    OK thanks Bigshot. It's too bad there's so many variables we put our music through these days. It seems there can indeed be too much of a good thing, and we forget just how important the basics really are.
  6. bigshot
    We are fortunate to live in an age where recording technology has actually achieved "perfect sound". Now we just have to learn to use those tools with taste and experience. A lot of people think the solution to that is to continue the compromises that had to be made back in the analogue era. They apply concepts that made sense back then, but are totally irrelevant today. It's important to keep up to date, and not try to use a screwdriver the way cave men used to use stone axes.
  7. brunk
    Well said, I agree.
  8. thelostMIDrange
  9. brunk
    ^ That is sooo off-topic it's on the verge of spam lol.
  10. proton007

    I think he was drunk when he wrote that.
  11. thelostMIDrange
  12. proton007
    Are you still unsober?
  13. thelostMIDrange
  14. KamijoIsMyHero
    that's a no...
  15. redrich2000
    Just wanna bump this up... I did a few ABX tests yesterday using the mac ABXTester app. I used either FLAC or ALAC for the lossless files and 320kbps MP3s created using Max for the lossy. I started with the opening track from the new Sun Kil Moon album, it has a plucked guitar line. My sense was that the lossless version had more space around it and a more 3D sound. I ran three rounds of of 5 ABX tests and got 60%; 100% and 60%. I then tried the opening to positive tension by bloc party. I ran that once and got 100%.
    I was quite shocked by that, I was fully expecting to not be able to pick the difference. I realise that is a very limited sample and there may have been problems with the testing. But for me that result is enough to convince me to keep my music lossless. I reckon that there is a noticeable difference, which is subtle. But when so much of our gear is about accentuating the space and 3D imaging of our music, it seems sensible to me to stay lossless.
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