Author Topic: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....  (Read 6968 times)

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Offline assendor

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Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« on: April 01, 2009, 02:20:06 AM »
Hello guy's,

Since it sometimes is hopeless to find the music you want RIGHT NOW, or maybe you even wanted it yesterday, Downloading is something many people do.

Now where you can "buy" songs on the net, the quality seems to be lousy, and they don't have what you want.
I find it easier to search Pirate something, to find some torrents and download from there in between.

Sadly, even if the files are FLAC, and are supposed to be rips from CD's, they sound crappy.
WELL it's quite allright, that is what we deserve, stealing music.. HA HA,, Anyway.. many times it sounds like they have converted lousy MP3 files to FLAC...

When I get the original disc and play that, the room gets 249meters deeper, 43meters wider, and there is 435more instruments singing along, if it is a symphony or something.
WHY WHY WHY ...?

When I rip my own CD's in Ubuntu as FLAC, they sound exactly the same as playing it directly??

Is it the record companies that puts out lousy formats on the internet to fool people?
99.96% wouldn't hear any difference in they're lousy stereo systems anyway, so that seems unreasonable.

Still I wonder how private persons can get the quality this low.
Are they using Windows when ripping, is that the explanation?
DO they record it with a mic in front of the speakers..?

I seriously can't understand it.

IF it matters or not, guess it does not. You get to hear if it is music you want to  buy, but still you can't find if the recording is lousy or good.
So then it is just as bad.. well well...

Can't get it why the recording companies are so concerned, the quality is lousy out there anyway.
OH yes most recordings you actually won't know the difference anyway, the LOUDNESS WAR has come to far.
Want it all, want it now, want to take over the world, YES that is correct, everyone can't do that at the same time.
MAYBE, just maybe someone has to loose if everyone tries to do that....
Maybe it's about time some, or just maybe a few companies or industries started to see this..?

Does anyone know where you can buy all music produced on the NET as download in good FLAC quality..?
That would be a start of something, to limit free sharing.

-Jonas

Offline lorne

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2009, 03:45:20 AM »
Hi Jonas,

This could develope into a really serious discussion  — and I hope it does. Before Apple's latest iTunes 8.xx, I successfully worked with the on-board OS X stuff. But, like millions of other Mac users, I upgraded all the software that came down the pipe. Well, I won't get into the what happened to iTunes 8. You can read about it on the net if you are interested. Nevertheless, the message is that we are not getting any improvement on the bozo/dummy-down front in the recorded music scene.

And so, your post has caught me merely hours away from having downloaded both ripping and burning software for the Mac. I am very interested in this stuff like never before because the situation seems to need an improvement and an adjustment.

Such a discussion needs to be necessarily very circumspect lest the perception be that we are pirate-nasties on this forum. We cannot afford to give this impression out of due respect to our host [DIY Paradise]. Nevertheless, I hope that we can have an honest and forthright discussion within the limits of propriety and gain something from it.

That being said, I have music that is very listenable that was produced by what I understood to be lossless, on-board system software for the Mac. I understand that equivalent software has been a part of Windows, but a comment you made seems to contradict that. I am rather surprised because I thought that WAVE was leaving all the data intact the same as Mac's AAF ( I hope I have the letters right).

FLAC files have been recommended strongly around the audio community, but if you use on-board software, they still have to be converted to a format that the proprietary operating system's burning facility understands. Otherwise you are into a whole new suite of software for the purpose.
Quote
Sadly, even if the files are FLAC, and are supposed to be rips from CD's, they sound crappy.
... many times it sounds like they have converted lousy MP3 files to FLAC...
I'd say that your ears are the best judges in the sonic court of appeal. You are very likely spot on. Mind you, I have no idea what music you are listening to, and what has happened in the industry that records that genre.

 
 
« Last Edit: April 01, 2009, 03:56:57 AM by lorne »
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Offline assendor

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2009, 04:47:38 AM »
Hello lorne,

What I understand from what you write, is that others have experienced something happening to the
LOSSLESS format files, when ripped and burned with certain operation systems?

I'll do a check on this, it's easy....

Just have someone else rip some of my CD's, and I rip them myself, then compare.. :)
I've never before been critical to MP3 or other rather high quality compression or loss less methods.

Problem now, the quality of the sound system is so revealing, it's impossible not to hear any flaw.
Very high quality recordings seems to sound the worst, if they have been ripped incorrectly..

Actually I find MP3 maximum possible quality done by myself, to be much better than much of the
FLAC format files available for download..
I find this strange, very strange.

Now like mentioned, we cannot be certain that the ones that SHARES these files really have obtained them from "ORIGINAL" CD's and ripped them directly into FLAC format.
So this might be the reason, not that any operating system, or any method is wrong, as long as you do it from CD to FLAC directly.

The world is filled with strange way's of doing things.. SOO !!!

OH the LOUDNESS WAR.., think others have mentioned here before.. You can read about it here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war

Even have discussed it with some friends of mine, that actually are artists and make CD's and Vinyl.
They find it VERY stupid too, but the Record companies is the sinners here, they are the ones who think they "earn" something on doing this.

Music, I play almost everything. Music I don't prefer listening too is:
Extreme heavy metal, like Death metal, Trash Metal, Black Metal..
Hardest I like is Manowar/Metallica/Queensrÿche/Iron Maiden/Judas Priest/Ozzy Osbourne/ and things like that.  (Not all of them either..:) ))
This type of music also does not seem to contain the detail level's I'm after with my systems, even if they sound nice on them.. IT get's to me much the same on more expensive "regular" systems.
Other types of music, I like almost closer to EVERYTHING, as long as they actually can sing, and don't sing like a dying crow trough a Ultramizer .. :)

-Jonas

Offline yeo

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2009, 06:41:06 AM »
hi lorne

no worries. i'm okay with this topic of discussion. anyone with some grey matter between their ears should know that not everything expressed on this forum represents diyparadise's opinion. anyway, that's what i hope!

hi jonas

it all depends on the source material. if you use a good pressing and rip it via high rez mp3 while another guy uses lousy pressing and rips using flac, yours will sound better!

this is why usa and canadian pressed cds sound better than the locally pressed ones here.

yeo


Offline assendor

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2009, 10:45:41 AM »
Hello yeo,

That could explain a lot of things.
The FLAC files I've noticed it on, are really very different.
This might be the source they are ripped from then.. :) Interesting.

All the room depth, extreme wideness and the room size feeling is gone.
All air between instruments, vocals and choir vocals are very ruined.
Top end is also very crappy, or un-detailed and veiled.

Earlier on someone claimed that if you copied the music into files, and sent it over internet,
it would be damaged.
That is the most stupid thing I've ever heard in my entire life...
Of course they are the same after they have passed 1.million computers around everywhere.

OK USA and Canada then. Never heard the quality is any bad here in Europe either.
Probably depends on what company that makes them.

Would be interesting to Rip one from your country and one from here, that is supposed to be the same CD, and File-compared them..  :)  99% similar, 40% similar, 1% similar.. ??

-Jonas

Offline heady2

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2009, 05:17:47 PM »
Some times I get a bit put off by my hobby, when I get a piece of new gear which change my system a lot, eg Monica. Suddenly, you hear things you never did before. AND THEN, an album you used to love now become unlistenable because the system now exposes its flaws in recording and mastering. I get totally disgusted.  ;)

Offline yeo

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2009, 09:17:12 PM »
Hi heady

Perhaps this is why some just love a heavily coloured system where everything sounds warm and nice. :)

I don't. So my approach is to build the best gear I could build and search for my fav music with the best remastered sound. Sometimes you just have to accept some musicians just don't have the luck to hook up with good sound mastering engineers.

A great example is tom waits. I love his music but save for his last album, all the others have horrible sonics. Incidentally most Island records CDs (like U2) are terrible too.

Well, I take this as part and parcel of the hobby. The search for well recorded sound from my favourite musicians is a wonderful journey in itself. :)

Yeo

Offline lorne

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2009, 04:54:03 AM »
The Marketing and/or Cultural Side of Things Digital — PART I

Asssendor wrote:
Quote
What I understand from what you write, is that others have experienced something happening to the LOSSLESS format files, when ripped and burned with certain operation systems?
I should clarify something here. My point was that the new version of the iTunes application for the Mac is IMHO symptomatic of a continuing, persistent disregard for the distribution and propagation of optimal, good sound. The preferences in former versions of iTunes could be dialled in and pre-set in dialogue boxes dedicated to the purpose using radio buttons and tabs. The new version has  important functions scattered all over the shop and hidden away in places that seem very inconvenient and illogical compared to older versions of the same application. Users have either complained that they have been unable to locate them, or that they had to comb every crook and cranny to find them. I gave up trying to learn my way around the new version because I just decided that I hated the new version's interface. And when one commentator said that selecting the burn speed had to be done at the actual time of burning, I knew that I wanted nothing to do with Version 8.XX. In the former versions it was easy to select how you wanted any imported data formatted ... also what buffering, what error correction, what burn speed blah blah blah. Easy! Moreover, pop-ups were available to explain all the various options.

Now if this discomfort were just my experience, I'd be thinking, 'Yeah, OK ... Lorne ... always the slow learner ...DUH!' But that is not what I am reading on the net. Discriminating users are complaining. My explanation for Apple's irksome revision is this:

Apple does not want us to be picky and conscious of compromises in regards to compression, or nasty sonics that are deliberately engineered into some products. At best they are simply streamlining the usage of iTunes and nudging consumers towards the medium they deal in and tout, namely MP-3. And they will do this until we are all up to our tits in the stuff. At worst, they are purposefully obscuring the more refined options to the same purpose.

So what has this got to do with the question you raised? Well, I think that it dovetails exactly with your experience. The greater part of digital format distribution involves prevalent carelessness and uncaring, as well as bogus engineering on such a scale that poor quality and unattractive, unreal sound is endemic and part of the marketing system.

Yeo has mentioned differences in the source disks. You talked about the loudness wars. Some sources have been treated with bristling high frequencies which in compressed mode can make some disks unlistenable on a decent system. This sort of meddling is not new. Hell, back in the days when RedBook CD was gradually becoming the medium of choice, even cassette tape was being polluted by the manufacturers. They put bumps in the bandwidth and labeled their products with the 'word' CD in them. As quality Type II and IV tape began vanishing forever, it became difficult to find tape that had not been tampered with by corporate marketeers. The public has been trained and conditioned to accept a sonic character which is convenient to market and attention getting on rudimentary, mass-market playback.    (Part II follows)
« Last Edit: April 03, 2009, 10:21:21 AM by lorne »
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Offline heady2

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2009, 05:01:42 AM »
Hi Yeo,
No worries, the feeling of disgust is only temporary as I also have quite a few favourite albums which were very well recorded and mastered. Just sharing how a good thing, eg Monica, can also cause heartache.

Cheers

Offline assendor

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2009, 05:33:57 AM »
Hello you guy's...

Yeo is right, some loves the Warm and wonderful sounding system that does not mess up your much loved CD's and reveal they're flaws.. :)

Some tubes seems to have these properties more than others.
I feel it has to be some kind of compromise, if there is only a couple a recordings you can find that is listenable, it is difficult to accept the system as it is.

I agree also that when you find your favorite music, recorded decently it is WONDERFUL when played on such a revealing system. Completely fantastic.
So it might be very well worth it of course.

NOW still I want it ALL.. It should not be too revealing to a little bit lousy recordings, and it shall not be completely dulled either.
ERR:. this is difficult stuff.

You probably do know and have heard about Diana Krall..
I've listened a lot to a recording of her's.
http://members.home.nl/smits/images/574f.jpg

This made me believe that all her CD's where pretty good, and looked for errors in my system when they didn't sound right.
Well then a friend of mine was over and listened, and I put on a Diana Krall song, and he said "
Oh you must turn this off immediately, this is a lousy recording!!, we can't listen to this compressed lousy stuff"""..

And I said, yes that's what I thought, just wanted to hear you opinion here... HA HA,,
SO he told me that the recording that really really was good by Diana Krall is LIVE IN PARIS, and when that CD came out, that was the time she was to get known by the Audiophiles.
There is another STUDIO CD also that I like pretty good.
Still it can't be compared to the LIVE in Paris, that is so wonderful it is hard to believe possible.
IF all recordings where that good, it would be easy to listen to music on good systems, no matter how revealing and over detailed they where.

OF COURSE yeo is also right, we should not accept the fact that most of music industry is "ASS" HALL others in large companies ONLY INTERESTED in most profit, and not interested at all in really making something that is really good.

IT is simply no profit, or less profit to do things well.
So to fall into the trap of GREED and just play along and do it they're way really isn't a good solution.

Still, even if there are good recordings out there, it even then can get too much of a good thing, if everything you have in your system is super revealing.
THE spit and breathing sounds of a Vocalist should not be louder than his voice, NO MATTER WHAT You LIKE or prefer.

This is Happening mostly because of Loudness WAR.. and Especially when they put a lot of Compression on Vocals, it sounds SICK SICK SICK.
IT can't be right that is should sound like a Tongue Aerobics workout without swallowing any spit for five minutes, when you listen to music.
Still with NO compression people have sounds coming out of they're mouth along with the they're voice.
TO my taste, these must not get too much in focus...

This makes we want to start to work a little with mixing music again.
Had the technical responsibility for a choir in my youth, it was quite fun too.
They had two vocalists and I think it was around 30 in the choir.
Really really interesting to work with sound in that way too.

Now I know I wouldn't have accepted the sound systems they had back then, even if the Speakers where pretty good. Costed more than I earned in a year back then.

IF you can't get it sounding good without compression and a lot of electronic ultramizers and other useless equipment, you DON'T know how to mix sound. THAT IS my opinion, when it comes to Choirs that is.
When mixing in Vocals alone, it is preferable to have some kind of electronic or digital devices that can add some room echo and such things.
Most people overdue this, YES like they overdue anything, NOT like PERFECT ME; HA HA HA .. . :D :D :D :D
Anyway.. It's not easy to agree on everything, or is it.
If everyone understood everything and looked at it in the same way, with no intention to make money or benefits, or to try to be better then others, or ... SO ON, then it would be easy.

Let's do and be that..  ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D

-Jonas

Offline lorne

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2009, 05:52:35 AM »
The Marketing and/or Cultural Side of Things Digital — PART II

I hope that my point gets sharper here: it is not just any one part of the industry or the distribution chain that is involved in compromising — in some cases ruining — source and distribution products. I would argue that it is a complete disaster. The convenience factor of the ingenious little devices such as the iPod is the slippery slope that has accelerated and cemented in place less than optimal expectations in the consumer mind. More is better. Just look  at what has happened in food culture in many First World countries — same thing. And like as to food, this marketing phenomenon effects some genres (cuisine) more than others.

I may be wrong here, but I would venture to say that you can still go out and find very nice, untrammeled recordings of many classical titles, jazz, ethnic, blues blah blah on the shelves. But, downloading the same thing puts you at greater risk of having to compromise — even assuming you are getting as well as expecting the MP3 version. We just cannot know for sure what has happened to the data along the way before we download  — or even what source disk was used. The original masters could have been brilliantly recorded, but the data may have been badly pissed on further down the line. Moreover, I think that the danger increases exponentially with youthful music and popular mass culture genres. This is apparently acceptable. Here is an example of this type of thinking:

Japan's national broadcaster, the NHK, can broadcast some the best FM radio you will ever hear. For example, there is the weekday, nightly program entitled (using the English) The Best of Classics. Many of these programs feature recordings of live performances in Tokyo. I have a good tuner, and the relay transmitter is visible outside my window. I swear that there are times I feel I am sitting in the NHK concert hall. It can be stunning! OK ... the programs ends, and precisely at 9:00 P.M. a young people's program comes on with its blaring trademark theme tune — Music Square. [Miuzku sukuwea] From the very first chord of the theme, you can hear the quality zip down to trash level — comparatively speaking. The program features interviews and performances by J-Pops artists and bands. It is aimed at a young audience who consume this genre like oxygen. For them, the NHK feels that the crummier sound is OK. The long hairs can hear Bartok in astonishing realism. The 15 to 35 J-Pop folks have to get along with crud. We might call this trend the ghettoisation of music.

Last night I was enjoying the sound track recording from the modern film version of Romeo and Juliet. Some of the performances were from the following bands/groups: Garbage, Everclear, Friday, The Butthole Surfers, The Wannabees, The Cardigans, and One Inch Punch. The disk was imported in AIFF and burned at 1X speed using an earlier version of iTunes. Pretty darn good! The night before, I listened to the Misision Impossible soundtrack. WOW — gotta luv it! I’ve never heard percussion that good now that I have Monica-3 singing away. Those tracks include Massive Attack, Pulp, Danny Elfman, Bjork, Skunk Anasiem, The Longpigs, The Cranberries, Gavin Friday,  and Nicolette

If I were to have downloaded these performances from the net, what would have been my chances of getting any performance from these artists that would have been optimal relative to whatever formatt was offered? Let me wing it and say that it would be a hit and a miss — a hell of a lot less of a chance than if I had shelled out to buy downloads of Gustav Mahler’s nine symphonies.

This is how I see the social and cultural stuff around the issue. Perhaps the more serious listener — that is people who are not on the end of a convenience devices and who care about sonic integrity — can expect the net to be like the proverbial bag of snakes; it is squirming with issues. And I am not dissing iPod. I have a friend who walked off 150 pounds of fat listening to thousands of tunes on his pod. My point is that I don’t think we can expect much from a lot of the net.

I hope we hear from people who are more knowledgeable about the more technical issues than I ... stuff in regards to formatting, download opportunities and so on. Also, perhaps I am wrong. Maybe there is a better side to the net traffic in music downloading than I know about.

 
« Last Edit: April 03, 2009, 09:58:54 AM by lorne »
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Offline Packgrog

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2009, 12:59:04 PM »
There's a lot here I don't have time to read, but I have something to contribute to the original topic.

One reason why FLAC files may sound different from original CDs is the software that was used to rip the audio.  A friend of mine ripped a copy of the MFSL version of Faith No More - Angel Dust using (I believe) dBPoweramp.  I found it somewhat lacking, so I downloaded another copy that had been ripped using EAC.  There was a noticeable difference.  This is why most lossless pirate downloads include an EAC log file: it's the most accurate CD ripping software available.  If you're not using it (in Secure Mode), chances are you don't have an exact copy of the digital information from the CD.  As such, I ONLY use EAC in Secure Mode (with AccurateRip to check the checksum of the file to verify accuracy) when ripping my own CDs.

Now, any differences in the audio between FLAC and WAV... Well, that's in your head.  The audio information will be identical (non-audio information like tags will not be retained when converting from one to the other, so pay attention to the audio checksum if playing back with Foobar2000).  There's a remote possibility that a FLAC file will sound different from a WAV file extracted from it, but if that's the case, you need to use different playback software, is this would only be the case if the FLAC playback was handled incorrectly or passed through different audio processing than the comparable WAV.

The best and most accurate computer audio playback software I have come across is Foobar2000 with the ASIO4ALL plugin.  This completely bypasses the Windows mixer (all audio goes through this if not using ASIO, and this effectively down-converts the audio from 16-bit to 15-bit).  I don't know how Mac OS handles audio playback on the lowest level, but I do know that iTunes is a bloated monstrosity, as are all of the Linux alternatives.  NOTHING touches Foobar2000 and ASIO4ALL for playback accuracy, just like nothing touches EAC for ripping accuracy.  These are the standards if you care about perfection.  They're a little challenging to configure properly, but for people who build their own audio hardware, this should be no deterrent at all.

It's also worth mentioning that Rockbox for portable audio players is pretty much the Foobar2000 w/ ASIO4ALL equivalent of portable audio software.  My more accurate and least jitter-producing source is my iRiver H120 with Rockbox.  The sound from this is noticeably more dynamic and realistic than through my computer, DVD players, etc.  Superb sound.

Just my 2 cents worth.  I'm still looking to sell off both my Monica 3 and Monica 2 for anyone who's interested (much to my sadness, as both sound amazing, but I desperately need the money).

Offline yeo

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2009, 07:36:05 AM »
hi packgrog

on another note, i'm surprised you have problem selling off your monicas.

yeo


Offline assendor

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2009, 11:03:32 AM »
Hello all,

When it comes to FLAC/Wave/Direct from Computer CD-player,
we did some comparing.

Everything is with UBUNTU, rip and playing is from Plextor CD-ROM/Writer.
Player is Banshee.
Sometimes we thought we could hear some difference between FLAC and directly playing from CD, tried some more, couldn't hear a difference, tried again comparing between FLAC and imported in same program to WAVE files.
We compared and compared, all kinds of sound and complexity, there was no way we could define any difference between these FLAC/WAVE/CD.

Guess the quality is quite good.

Sometime later I'll again do a new test converting the files to FLAC/MP3/WAVE, then burn them back to CD's and compare them to each other.
Done this before and NO ONE could find what was what, or if it was original CD.
OF course always done with the best quality absolutely possible and available to me.

-Jonas

Offline Packgrog

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Re: Downloaded FLAC, quality of sound.....
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2009, 01:00:26 PM »
Hey Jonas,

If you rip to MP3, then burn that to CD, you SHOULD be able to notice a difference between the burned disc and the original.  MP3 is a lossy compression (meaning it throws away data).  FLAC is lossless, however, meaning it throws NOTHING away, but stores it all more efficiently.  If you can hear a difference between FLAC and the original WAV, it may be in your head.  If you CAN'T hear a difference between MP3 and the original WAV or FLAC, you may need to tweak your system (I find the differences fairly obvious, especially in the highs).

And yeah, Yeo, no one is buying.  If you're still getting hounded for Monica 3's and haven't been able to restock, send people to my Head-Fi postings.  I've dropped the price a LOT already.  :(