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davidn498

CDs vs Downloads

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Hi Guys, 

I joined up a few years ago, but shortly after the reality came to me that it was time to retire & this started the process of finding a buyer for my business, many negotiations 

& then the hand over period. Now in retirement & after a trip overseas, thankfully just made it last year, I am now catching up with the time honoured phrase "how did I do everything when I was working" ! So I am now back !

I've updated my Hi Fi system, to Rotel Amp, Oppo CD / DVD  & Yahmaha speakers, Pro-Ject Audio systems turntable & succumbed to a sub woofer, overall a smaller system to take up less space & all linked in to a smart TV.  These are replacing my Marantz Amp,  Heil speakers, Rabco Harman Cardon turntable  & Nakamitchi Tape player, more on that later


However, I'm a bit old fashioned & love CDs with their booklets etc.. I've also kept the the bulk of my LPs.  However, I'm noticing sometimes a CD is not available & instead the "Publishers" are only producing the music in MP3,  FLAC etc. . 

(1) Am I right that CDs now have a limited time span before "old fashioned" Guys like me a forced into electronic downloads & on screen "booklets". ??

 

(2) Do MP3  & FLAC etc. have a wider audio range than a CD,  i.e. CDs audio range in the treble & bass I understand is narrower than a quality vinyl LP of the past ??

 

(3) Doyou have to connect a Computer to your Hi Fi to access these downloaded MP3  & FLAC etc. ??

 

I'd be interested in comments, &  particularly as my music, Classical & the Organ (Pipe) have notes & harmonics to the extreme of treble & bass !

 

Cheers  David

 

   

 

 

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Posted (edited)

wav and flac files should be a faithful reproduction of the CD if made well.

They are lossless and mainatin the CD sample rate and quality.

 

mp3 and m4a are typically lower quality and are lossy, they throw away information for the sake of reduced file sizes.

There is supposed to be a full quality version of the m4a available from Apple, but I don't know if it's really good.

 

I like my digital music as flac files, they are compressed and have a smaller file size than wav, but are not reduced in sound quality. They are open source and widely supported.

 

CD is arguably of better quality than vinyl (if properly made), but there is debate about which sounds better.

 

You can store and play your digital music on a computer, or a smart phone, or a dedicated player.

You connect the storage/player to your hi-fi (typically on an unused line input), you may want/need a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) between the two depending on your exact equipment.

 

Personally, I use flac files stored on a USB drive, they are played by a small single board computer (Raspberry Pi) that I have dedicated to the task. The output is via a DAC which connects directly to the Raspberry Pi and goes via line level RCA cables to my amplifier on a line input. I use software running on the Raspberry Pi to manage and play the music (Volumio), it offers a web interface that I can control from any device with a web browser, and it has an app that I have on my phone that also controls it. It's versatile and easy to get on with. It's also inexpensive to get going with.

 

There are many more ways to work with a digital music collection, others will no doubt reply with their favoured method and equipment.

Edited by pwstereo

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Posted (edited)

As long as the FLAC files were made using the original 16/44.1 data and not made using an mp3 they should be the same, but like CD's the quality will still depend on the original mastering/recording quality.

 

Personally I like my CD's and I will resist assimilation! :lol:

 

*hugs his CD-60*

 

Edit: oh, and welcome, David :)

Edited by muon*

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I would stay with Cd’s and for the music you don’t have look at Qobuz.  


To me buying online lossless files are in general to expensive
 

Qobuz is a lossless steaming service.  The only proviso I would suggest you review the classical music selection to see if it matches your requirements before diving in and purchasing any streaming equipment.

 

 

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6 hours ago, davidn498 said:

 

I've updated my Hi Fi system, to Rotel Amp, Oppo CD / DVD 

 

Hi David

 

Good choice with the Oppo, which one do you have? Many of us run them. I have two. 

 

You will probably find the Oppo has USB inputs which you can use to store movies and music on a hard drive or USB stick. This is the simplest approach and I use it for now. I've copied my CDs over with software that does error checking. Can't tell the difference between the copies and the CDs and the CDs are now safely archived. 

 

Some Oppos can also connect to a server and play music and movies from there too.

 

The 205 at least, and maybe others have asynchronous USB input and can plug into a computer or streaming device and run as a DAC. This is one way to add streaming services.

 

I've also set up the Oppo to be able to take the Audio Return Channel from the TV which is a way that any audio on the TV can be sent digitally via HDMI to the Oppo for processing and analogue out to your speakers. This is assuming your Oppo has HDMI input. This means Netflix etc can be split into 5.1 etc analogue out etc if your Oppo has this.

 

At some point you may want to improve the music output of your Oppo. A simple way is to connect an external DAC such as a Klein, Fein etc via the coaxial output of the Oppo. If you do this you may want to consider the Fein or the model up which can take both coaxial and USB and connect your asynchronous USB to the DAC instead. Alternatively to an external DAC there are companies that specialise in modifying the analogue output stages to significantly improve the Oppo quality. 

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Quote

"(1) Am I right that CDs now have a limited time span before "old fashioned" Guys like me a forced into electronic downloads & on screen "booklets". ??"

 

Whilst Vinyl is experience a renaissance and prices are ridiculous on even the most poorly maintained copies, I am still (well until very recently) a big fan of flicking through the CD racks in op shops and buying what I can for usually only $1-3 per disc. I do them rip them to FLAC for a digital backup and easier access however I feel having the CD is 'better' than just a purely digital copy. 

 

Fully agree on the booklets, I've yet to find a good solution (roon is maybe a solution, I haven't personally used it) in the digital realm to be able to click through the booklets.

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Hi Guys, 

 

(1) Thanks for all your comments & advice, however, being a non-techo , I grew up with the "push of a button & turn of a knob", I'll have to get tech help to do most of that for me. I had to have the Professionals come in & set up all my current equipment  !!

 

Interesting from "silver_man" that old Vinyl LPs are commanding good prices, I have my Late Mothers LPs to sell, albeit they are all classical music.    - Could anyone please advise where I might go to sell these ??

 

My Oppo incidentally is the BDP-103AU DVD / CD Blue Ray Player .

 

Thanks again.

Cheers

David

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11 hours ago, davidn498 said:

My Oppo incidentally is the BDP-103AU DVD / CD Blue Ray Player .

That is a good player and can do everything I said other than the asynchronous connection to a laptop. It also has two HDMI inputs, not just the outputs. 

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I am using both CDP and PC. For critical listening CDP only. I also copy all my CDs to HDD and all downloaded music to CDs. On top of that I am using everything else as well: smartphones, USB, external HDD, streaming, YouTube on TV.

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On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

(1) Am I right that CDs now have a limited time span before "old fashioned" Guys like me a forced into electronic downloads & on screen "booklets". ??

 

Possibly.   All the while computers have spinning optical drives that can read CDs, you will be fine.

 

On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

(2) Do MP3  & FLAC etc. have a wider audio range than a CD,  i.e. CDs audio range in the treble & bass I understand is narrower than a quality vinyl LP of the past ?

 

Possibly.  I would choose FLAC before MP3 any day.  It is possible that a downloaded file can have data that exceeds CD spec.  Check what it is before buying.

 

On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

(3) Doyou have to connect a Computer to your Hi Fi to access these downloaded MP3  & FLAC etc. ??

 

In some form or other, yes.  Even a portable player has a computer in it.  Some Hi Fi's already have the ability to play straight from USB or memory card storage - and they have a computer inside to enable this (and lots of other functions.

 

 

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MP3 is a form of lossy compression, so that means to get a smaller size file physical data is removed from the original file and can never be retrieved again, once gone It's gone for good.

FLAC is a lossless compression like win zip, so no data is removed.

 

Neither can be of greater bandwidth than the original source, and mp3 may be less.

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Posted (edited)
On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

 

(2) Do MP3  & FLAC etc. have a wider audio range than a CD,  i.e. CDs audio range in the treble & bass I understand is narrower than a quality vinyl LP of the past ??

FLAC has exactly the same audio parameters as CD. FLAC is a codec that reduces the file size of a CD without changing the audio quality in any way. 

 

CD generally has the same range of frequencies as an LP.  CD can have deeper and louder bass than an LP.

 

A CD can carry high frequencies up to 22 kHz.

Human adult males mostly can not hear above 20khz, and as we age our high frequency hearing gets worse. If you're over 40 years of age you probably can't hear above 17khz.

 

LP potentially can have audio frequencies above 22Khz but they are inaudible. Many LPs do not have frequencies this high.

Edited by eltech

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On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

 

(1) Am I right that CDs now have a limited time span before "old fashioned" Guys like me a forced into electronic downloads & on screen "booklets". ??

 

3) Doyou have to connect a Computer to your Hi Fi to access these downloaded MP3  & FLAC etc. ??

 

 

Subscription based streaming music has a very large market share and will probably increase over time.

Used CDs will be around for a while. New CDs will continue to be manufactured if enough people buy them. If they become economically unviable then all music will go to "print on demand" burnt CDs, or fanclub only pressed CDs, or downloads or streaming.

 

The easiest way to play streamed music is to connect your smartphone to your stereo with an analogue cable and subscribe to a streaming service.

Spotify HiFi (320) sounds very good and costs AUD $11 per month.

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On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

I'd be interested in comments, &  particularly as my music, Classical & the Organ (Pipe) have notes & harmonics to the extreme of treble & bass !

Unlike other genres,  classical music still releases lots of new CDs and SACDs, and such physical formats remain a relatively big market in Europe (Austria, Germany, Norway, UK, etc) where classical music is commonplace.  I still buy a fair bit of classical CDs/SACDs/Bluray-audio every month via the Internet. 

 

On 21/04/2020 at 9:29 PM, davidn498 said:

Interesting from "silver_man" that old Vinyl LPs are commanding good prices, I have my Late Mothers LPs to sell, albeit they are all classical music.    - Could anyone please advise where I might go to sell these ?

You can try selling your old records on the Classified here on SNA as a start? There’s always Discog.com and other means too.
Imho, not all vintage classical records are popular, so it depends.... 78rpm, recording done with early equipment, long opera sets, etc don’t tend to sell well.

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi David, are you able to get Tidal going on your Oppo 103? I think that should be there for you. It’s not quite the downloading of flac files but will get you the same sort of outcome. It should only need you to get the Tidal app on a smart phone to get it up and running and you can trial it and see if that’s good for you? 

Edited by I'mInterested
Typo!

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On 23/04/2020 at 3:08 PM, att23 said:

Unlike other genres,  classical music still releases lots of new CDs and SACDs, and such physical formats remain a relatively big market in Europe (Austria, Germany, Norway, UK, etc) where classical music is commonplace.  I still buy a fair bit of classical CDs/SACDs/Bluray-audio every month via the Internet. 

 

You can try selling your old records on the Classified here on SNA as a start? There’s always Discog.com and other means too.
Imho, not all vintage classical records are popular, so it depends.... 78rpm, recording done with early equipment, long opera sets, etc don’t tend to sell well.

 

 

On 23/04/2020 at 3:08 PM, att23 said:

Unlike other genres,  classical music still releases lots of new CDs and SACDs, and such physical formats remain a relatively big market in Europe (Austria, Germany, Norway, UK, etc) where classical music is commonplace.  I still buy a fair bit of classical CDs/SACDs/Bluray-audio every month via the Internet. 

 

You can try selling your old records on the Classified here on SNA as a start? There’s always Discog.com and other means too.
Imho, not all vintage classical records are popular, so it depends.... 78rpm, recording done with early equipment, long opera sets, etc don’t tend to sell well.

 

Hi Guys & "att23" ,

Thanks again fro your comments & advice. 

My main website for Classical CDs is "Prestoclassical" in UK.   Could you "att23" let me know  the other international websites you buy Classical CDs etc. from  ??

 

Cheers

David

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, davidn498 said:

 

Hi Guys & "att23" ,

Thanks again fro your comments & advice. 

My main website for Classical CDs is "Prestoclassical" in UK.   Could you "att23" let me know  the other international websites you buy Classical CDs etc. from  ??

 

Cheers

David

Apart from Presto, eBay, I also buy from jpc.de

 

However, I haven't bought from overseas since COVID-19 started.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Congratulations on your retirement!

 

The CD/vinyl debate is complex.  I think we are at the stage where there is excellent record reproduction, and there is excellent digital/CD reproduction.  You need to have a good turntable setup to get the best from the medium, especially with your interest in organ music.  Remember that a well-mastered CD will easily beat a poorly-mastered record.  And that a well-mastered record in excellent condition will easily beat a poorly-mastered CD.  Also thinking about your interest in organ music, you might want to consider getting a subwoofer so you can get those deep notes from he pipes (I don't know much about sub's, but there are plenty here who do if you have some questions). 

 

You might want to start another topic for your Nakamitchi Tape player questions. 

Edited by audiofeline

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I have CDs, LPs and digital music as sources (ripped CDs and Tidal streaming). Nothing wrong with having multiple sources if you play them regularly. I still love exploring 'ops stores' for CD bargains - it's a great way to experiment with new musics. Tidal is good too - but the subscription is a bit on the expensive side.

 

You may want to think about an all-in-one system such as the Bluesound Vault or similar products from leading brands that have an integrated streamer, DAC and CD ripper. You pop in your CD, it rips to local hard drive (or attached USB drive), and you have a 'snazzy' tablet interface to browse and play music. Most such players also integrate well with streaming services like Tidal & Spotify.

 

 

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10 hours ago, audiofeline said:

Congratulations on your retirement!

 

The CD/vinyl debate is complex.  I think we are at the stage where there is excellent record reproduction, and there is excellent digital/CD reproduction.  You need to have a good turntable setup to get the best from the medium, especially with your interest in organ music.  Remember that a well-mastered CD will easily beat a poorly-mastered record.  And that a well-mastered record in excellent condition will easily beat a poorly-mastered CD.  Also thinking about your interest in organ music, you might want to consider getting a subwoofer so you can get those deep notes from he pipes (I don't know much about sub's, but there are plenty here who do if you have some questions). 

 

You might want to start another topic for your Nakamitchi Tape player questions. 

Thanks. Yes I already have a sub woofer i.e. Yahmaha NS-SW500 that I bought with my new system. I couldn't do without those really deep notes (as you said), hence why my previous HiFi system of 35 years ago, I had the Heil  AMT 1A speakers which had 12" woofer cones & bass reflex behind & I could feel those 16' & 32' Organ pipe notes through the wooden floor boards !! Great Speakers particularly the Air Motion transformers for the Mid & tweeters, but they became old & were just too physically big for where we live today.

Incidentally, I am so fastidious with sound reproduction that I'll never listen to any of my classical & particularly the Organ on ear phones or the like as these just cannot reproduce all the deep bass notes & other harmonics, even despite todays technical advances !

 

I am planning to sell my Nakamitchi tape player.

 

Cheers

David 

 

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40 minutes ago, anandpkumar said:

I have CDs, LPs and digital music as sources (ripped CDs and Tidal streaming). Nothing wrong with having multiple sources if you play them regularly. I still love exploring 'ops stores' for CD bargains - it's a great way to experiment with new musics. Tidal is good too - but the subscription is a bit on the expensive side.

 

You may want to think about an all-in-one system such as the Bluesound Vault or similar products from leading brands that have an integrated streamer, DAC and CD ripper. You pop in your CD, it rips to local hard drive (or attached USB drive), and you have a 'snazzy' tablet interface to browse and play music. Most such players also integrate well with streaming services like Tidal & Spotify.

 

 

Thanks.  That all in one sounds interesting, but is this an "add on" to convert  so to speak, my existing system to an " all in system" , or do I have to start again with a totally new HiFi  sytsem ?? (Just bought this one 3years ago )!

 

Cheers

David

 

 

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, davidn498 said:

Thanks.  That all in one sounds interesting, but is this an "add on" to convert  so to speak, my existing system to an " all in system" , or do I have to start again with a totally new HiFi  sytsem ?? (Just bought this one 3years ago )!

 

Cheers

David

 

 

Just had a look at your system components. I think you should be able to achieve most of what you want with your existing setup. Your 'oppo' already allows you to play CDs. I am not sure which model of 'oppo' you have - if it supports streaming (spotify, tidal etc.) then you are covered on the streaming side also. I am pretty sure that it will have a connection for USB drives. If you do have music stored as digital files (ie. either ripped CDs, or music purchased or downloaded online), you can copy these to a good Solid state USB drive and attach the USB to the oppo.

 

If you are interested in converting all your CDs into a digital file for storage, there are many softwares available that will do a 'lossless' rip. But you will need a computer for this.

 

In the suggestion that I gave earlier (all-in-one streamer/DAC/CD player such as bluesound vault), the vault will automatically rip the file for you and store it. It will also stream music (spotify/tidal) and allow you to attach any additional digital music through a USB.

 

So if your 'oppo' supports streaming and you are comfortable using a PC to rip CDs, your current setup should be fine.

 

P.S - Tidal has a 120 day trial offer for $5. Might be worth trying out

 

Edited by anandpkumar

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5 hours ago, davidn498 said:

I am so fastidious with sound reproduction that I'll never listen to any of my classical & particularly the Organ on ear phones or the like as these just cannot reproduce all the deep bass notes & other harmonics, even despite todays technical advances !

the problem with headphones is you'll never get the visceral impact (eg punch you in the chest type feeling), but I get fantastic bass from my Etymotic ER4Ps that are well over 10 years old now.

 

16 hours ago, audiofeline said:

I think we are at the stage where there is excellent record reproduction, and there is excellent digital/CD reproduction.  You need to have a good turntable setup to get the best from the medium, especially with your interest in organ music.  Remember that a well-mastered CD will easily beat a poorly-mastered record.  And that a well-mastered record in excellent condition will easily beat a poorly-mastered CD.

👍

The media of the recording (vinyl/CD/hi res down load/even MP3) is less important than the quality of the recording.

I've got plenty of commercial CDs that were poorly mastered that are OK in the car, but are un-listenable up loud on my main rig...but plenty of 256K and 320K MP3s that were ripped from good recordings that sound fabulous on my main rig - mere mortals like myself couldn't tell they were MP3s...

But I would never rip a CD to MP3 - always FLAC - I burn MP3s onto CD from my FLAC collection for listening in the car.

On 22/04/2020 at 5:24 PM, eltech said:

FLAC has exactly the same audio parameters as CD. FLAC is a codec that reduces the file size of a CD without changing the audio quality in any way. 

FLAC is a lossless compression algorithm that can support higher resolution and more channels than CD (44.1kHz / 16bit stereo) - but as eltech says, a FLAC version of a CD will sound the same as a CD.

 

The vast majority of my music library are FLAC rips from my CD collection. When I buy a CD these days I rip it to FLAC on my music laptop immediately, flip through the booklet a few times and put the CD away.

 

I have a small collection of vinyl (<100), which at some stage I'll get around to acquiring a decent vinyl rig to play...but I'm very unlikely to start buying vinyl again as it's become prohibitively expensive.

 

On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

(1) Am I right that CDs now have a limited time span before "old fashioned" Guys like me a forced into electronic downloads & on screen "booklets". ??

CDs will be available for a while longer, but will get phased out eventually - my crystal ball says no greater than 10 years

 

On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

(2) Do MP3  & FLAC etc. have a wider audio range than a CD,  i.e. CDs audio range in the treble & bass I understand is narrower than a quality vinyl LP of the past ??

as mentioned above MP3 is a lossy format - the compression algorithm discards data based on what the ear/brain won't hear based on psycho-acoustic research/models. For example a loud sound at the same time as a soft sound - the MP3 algorithm will discard the soft sound and that data is lost.

For serious listening MP3 would generally be regarded as inferior to other formats - but due to the data compression has much lower data storage requirements - and as I said above, "reasonable" bit rate MP3s (say 256K or 320K) ripped from decent source material (ie well recorded) can sound great.

 

FLAC (Free Audio Lossless Compression) is as the acronym states lossless compression. FLAC has become the format of choice for ripping CDs, and for those that can be bothered and have the kit, ripping digital copies of their vinyl...I won't comment on whether they sound the same.

FLAC can support higher resolution (sampling rate and bit depth) and more channels than CD, but think of FLAC as a storage container of flexible size that compresses data without losing any. It's not a music format, it's a compression algorithm to store music without loss.

 

On 20/04/2020 at 4:49 PM, davidn498 said:

CDs audio range in the treble & bass I understand is narrower than a quality vinyl LP of the past

This question could lead down many rabbit holes.

The easiest answer is what @audiofeline said - both CD and vinyl will sound fabulous if recorded well.

 

But it would be incorrect to say that treble and bass is narrower on CD than a "quality vinyl LP of the past"

 

Flame wars will no doubt ensue, but :

  • CD can support frequencies up to 22kHz and all frequencies below that down to roughly DC (not that our speakers could reproduce that)
  • CD can support higher dynamic range than vinyl across the audio spectrum (say 20Hz - 20kHz)
  • tracing distortion with vinyl increases from the outer groove to the inner inner groove, meaning treble is typically backed off towards the inner grooves as the needle struggles to track the acceleration required to reproduce higher frequencies towards the inner grooves  
  • dynamic range on vinyl needs to be reduced in the bass region to stop the needle jumping out of the groove

Suffice to say that IMHO CD is in no way inferior to Vinyl - it comes down to how well the music was recorded, not the medium (CD/Vinyl/Streaming/SACD etc etc)

 

Mike

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