Neil Young’s Opinions On Digital Compressed Music

  Input Overload 09:50 01 Feb 2012

All Things Video

The video can be a bit fiddly to get going but I agree with him 100%. We should not have to trade quality for convenience. This is one man that actually does hear the original master tapes & also the end result an .mp3 file that 'most' users now end up with. And it seems he is not overly impressed with the end result.

I think whether you like his music is not overly relevant though.

Link To The Register

  morddwyd 09:58 01 Feb 2012

You get what you pay for.

If you want "as played" fidelity you pay a small fortune for state of the art reproduction equipment, both at the recording end and the playback end, including anechoic rooms and the like.

If you want cheap music to listen to on your bike you trade off quality.

  Input Overload 10:12 01 Feb 2012

I really don't think you do have to pay a fortune at all.

To improve the listening experience on a PC for music for instance an £80 Cambridge amp, with a £40 USB DAC @ £17 for QED interconnect along with £60 pair of speakers that gives a listening experience way above the sound you usually get.

Surely it's not unreasonable today to be able to hear some reflection of the original sound? The thing is it's not expensive. Why wouldn't you want to hear music at the best quality you can as it makes a huge difference?

Nuff said :-)

  Quickbeam 10:39 01 Feb 2012

"...with audio quality at just 5 percent of traditional recordings."

I presume that's a technical distinction, because ear's opinion, of a 5% recording quality would have me hearing the sound of a well worn wax cylinder recording played through a biscuit tin.

The fact is that mp3, like it or not, is accepted my many as the best way to store and listen to music. I can't remember the last time I listened through a hi-fi amp setup, it's still in the attic I believe. Those that sing the praises of that always strike me as to be listening to the technical quality rather than the content.

More often than not when we listen to music, we are doing something else, around the house, in the workshop, driving etc, so the technical quality distinction is lost. I'm like that with TV, so the HD and 3D stuff is all lost on me despite the fact that is much better as I am always never more than half an eye to a TV programme.

It's very much horses for courses, and mp3 is a very good all-rounder that suits most of us without having to feel we need to replace our mp3 players next week. It's no thoroughbred granted, but you can still buy a valve amp setup if that's what you want.

  morddwyd 11:21 01 Feb 2012

"To improve the listening experience on a PC for music for instance an £80 Cambridge amp, with a £40 USB DAC @ £17 for QED interconnect along with £60 pair of speakers that gives a listening experience way above the sound you usually get."

So it does, but I assume that to get to your PC the signal has been compressed.

The best playback equipment in the world will still only be reproducing a compressed signal.

  Input Overload 11:39 01 Feb 2012

(I can't remember the last time I listened through a hi-fi amp setup, it's still in the attic I believe)

It surprises me that people are quite prepared to pay £1000++ and readily accept that a decent flat panel TV or indeed monitor is far preferable to the old fishbowl types yet are unwilling to do the same for sound. I don't understand that I admit.

For instance: I intend to upgrade my PC monitor from this 22" display to a higher quality & larger device this spring - Why because it will give me a better view & hopefully increase my enjoyment & decrease eyestrain. I could still use an ancient ADI 15" CRT one I have in the loft but I don't. Most people agree that is a good idea. Why people don't apply the same principle in sound in a PC for example with half the gusto they do with vision eludes me, but most don't.

A decent sound system does not need to be bought by a geek & does not take up a huge amount of space & when purchased you do end up just listening to music sometimes rather than watching TV & you 'just' listen to music, not only as background sound. And it is most enjoyable too: However, I don't enjoy listening to music through a cheap sound chip built into the motherboard with a tacky pair of plastic speakers though.

I think the bottom line is most of us have seen the difference a decent HD telly gives, very few have had the opportunity to hear music something approaching to how it sounded in the beginning. Interestedly quite a few people as in many more than 15 over the years have bough 'reasonable' sound systems after being gobsmacked listening to the system I have in the living room.

It's easy to dismiss decent sound as in you need 'to spend thousands' or get a valve amp / Use black magic to set a sound system up or pray to it each evening & go OTT for most people. But the reality is we are less and less willing to put up with low quality in the rest of their lives & are willing to pay a fair amount to achieve that aim, yet are quite willing to miss out the other half of multi-media (sound that is) without a moments hesitation.

The original idea behind the .mp3 format was that we don't miss the sound that may be covered by other parts of music, though that is now being seen as a big mistake. Hence the move for some from lossy formats, there must be a reason for that.

  Input Overload 11:47 01 Feb 2012

@morddwyd, I usually play CD's in this PC as the difference when using .wave as opposed to .mP3 including 320 bit & I have 1000's of those is very apparent. And as CD format was developed in the late 70's and is not the best format as in it's 16 bit & even when up-sampled is creaky I do intend to move to digital loss-less.

I think the fact that even .mp3 with with all it's inherent disadvantages sound quite good with a few pounds spent on reproduction of that format compared to a sound chip & plastic £30 speakers shows just what we are missing - Maybe getting the best out of a bad situation is often a realistic idea.

  Quickbeam 12:11 01 Feb 2012

Another thing that outweighs the lose of quality by compression is the great convenience that I've got every CD I own on on a 32gb micro SD card in my phone. By using a short piece output to input cable with mini headphone jacks on either end, I can play it, or any play list I've made through anything I like, but it's usually through a 10" bass amp speaker in mono:O

...I can't see Neil Young approving much of that setup!

  Quickbeam 12:14 01 Feb 2012

I did mention horses for courses earlier, in my case, a destrier is the ideal mount...

  wee eddie 12:26 01 Feb 2012

With a Stereo System, your Speakers occupy the same position as the Monitor does with your PC, the critical interface. It is not necessarily Volume that you are aiming for, but the ability to reproduce the signal received with ease and clarity.

So start there. Your old System may well be able to accept a replacement set of Speakers, check their Resistance (The number before the Omega Sign, you can always add more but less will damage the Amp).

For relaxed reproduction, you should really try to find Speaker Cabinets that have Base Cones of at least 6" or possibly slightly more. I have now accepted 8" but when I lived in London, we had 15" Woofers in our main Set! The size of the Cabinet is also very important. Within reason, the bigger the better.

I have lately been persuaded that, Needle Style, Feet can make an appreciable difference, and will reduce, but not stop, complaints from next door!

  Input Overload 13:16 01 Feb 2012

I find that as I have improved my sound systems even with largish floor standing loudspeakers you actually can & do play music at a lower volume & yet it is still very satisfying at that lower volume.

'Maybe my point is that spending the same amount 'pound for pound' on sound with multi-media as you do on the vision side will increase your experience immensely'

Tiny speakers forced into the space left in a modern slim panel are not giving your ears what they deserve, we buy nice displays & also good graphics cards:- Upgrading the sound side is unfashionable but I think not an unrealistic approach. We are happy to spend £200+ on a PC monitor, perhaps spending the same amount or slightly less on your ears as your eyes is not an unreasonable idea.

Of course I too listen music on my phone for instance & this is better than nothing as using the net on the same with a 3” screen is not ideal. But at home I like a large display along with good sound.

@wee eddie: I have a creaky wooden floor in my living room which played along with the music, I bought a couple of dedicated polished granite bases (after some research) & they look really nice. These really de-couple the speakers from the floor along with spikes & spike mounts on the granite, & does enable listening at low levels yet still sounds great.

I live in a semi (although it is stone) & my neighbour says she never hears my music. Maybe she is being nice, but we do need to move away from the common idea that decent sound with large speakers mean high sound pressure levels, it does not.

In practice the opposite is true. Of course you don’t have to have large speakers, there are some very nice speakers that look good & sound great & take up much less room that your 40”+ TV does.

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