Duane Eddy's House of Twang

Neil Young’s Got It, Duane Heard It, and It’s Unbelievable

26

I think a lot of this discussion, especially the dynamic range complaints, has more to do with new trends in mixing and mastering techniques BEFORE they ever get converted into an audio file type than it has to do with the file type itself.

Loudness war mixing basically means get a decent limiter(s) and squash the whole mix to the ceiling. The natural consequence is everything is perceived as louder (because it is) but there are no dynamics. This may be exacerbated by compressed mp3 files or whatever else, but they started off squashed to begin with. Garbage in, garbage out.

The worst thing of all, though, is now a-days any record that doesn't employ this to some degree sounds too quiet and low-fi...

Rock and a hard place

28

I worked with our Japan partner in using our semiconductor material to "enhance" low-tech analog audio and video signals to compete with digital. He hated digital music and thought it lost the true sound of analog.

He pissed off Sony along the way, and I never saw any objective evidence that it would work, anyway. Still it woke me up to the idea that digitizing loses some of the interstitial sound & video.

This was in the early 90's when CDs were friggin amazing (to me) in clarity compared to tape and vinyl.

29

I worked with our Japan partner in using our semiconductor material to "enhance" low-tech analog audio and video signals to compete with digital. He hated digital music and thought it lost the true sound of analog.

He pissed off Sony along the way, and I never saw any objective evidence that it would work, anyway. Still it woke me up to the idea that digitizing loses some of the interstitial sound & video.

This was in the early 90's when CDs were friggin amazing (to me) in clarity compared to tape and vinyl.

– NJBob

I worked with our Japan partner in using our semiconductor material to "enhance" low-tech analog audio and video signals to compete with digital. He hated digital music and thought it lost the true sound of analog.

He pissed off Sony along the way, and I never saw any objective evidence that it would work, anyway. Still it woke me up to the idea that digitizing loses some of the interstitial sound & video.

This was in the early 90's when CDs were friggin amazing (to me) in clarity compared to tape and vinyl.

– NJBob

When I flew to the NAMM show I sat next to a guy that's a music supervisor and as much as I didn't want to know that and he didn't want to know me we ended up becoming friends and have had long conversations about the state of the recording business. He loves his cassette tapes and explained to me that they were recorded way better than CD's quality wise but he didn't say way better he used big words so I just nodded me head. He pointed out that the last couple years of vinyl were poorly recorded so it helped make cd's sound better. I brought up all the white noise on modern recordings and you didn't need that with tape or vinyl.

I hope this new medium is something cool and that it can't be dumbed down.

30

I have a pretty good collection of SACDs from the early '00's. They tried DVD-A then too. People, generally, don't care about sound quality, they just want little files they can put on their phone. I respect what Neil is trying to do, but it's a lost cause.

Personally I don't buy downloads unless I can get at least CD quality, which a lot of independent artists, and bands that sell live recordings, give you the option of getting.

31

The fact that companies like Harman Kardon are so hugely successful providing high-end equipment for a certain segment of the population tells me that there is room for what Neil is bringing.

32

From some reason the quote button takes me to a 404 error page. Say Baxter!

The fact that companies like Harman Kardon are so hugely successful providing high-end equipment for a certain segment of the population tells me that there is room for what Neil is bringing.

I've got 1300 watts and over $3500 of stereo installed into my car. All high end JBL gear too, not the greasy kid stuff. And not because I want my head blown off or the ground to shake when I play some music. I just want it nice and clean and not miss all the subtle little nuances that have been painstakingly recorded on to the media.

When someone comes along with a better way, I for one, am on board.

There is plenty of market for people who just want a song on their phone. Nothing wrong with appealing to those of us with a disposable income and a sophisticated ear.

Bring it on!

33

Many CDs are mastered with 6 dB dynamic range. European TV must obey the new law and use 15 dB range for all content. No more falling out of the chair when the commercials kick in.

A 320kbps MP3 will sound very decent. 128 kbps is detectable worse than CD. From 192 kbps up, it's getting harder to tell the difference.

Dynamic range is undesirable in cars. You can't hear the quiet parts over the engine noise and louder parts will make you jump up in surprise.

A record player doesn't have the dynamic range of a CD player, due to the double mechanical path. First turning soundwaves into cutting chissel movements and then reading the encoded bumps out with a needle attached to a coil. No mechanical parts can have the speed to reproduce the frequencies and dynamics like a top digital system can.

A record player has natural compression and filtering and mixes in second harmonic distortion like tubes do. Some people tend to find that a nicer sound.

Blind tests show that even purists have difficulties when trying to tell what they are listening at.

I never believed I could hear DA converter differences, but with headphones I can. My cd players full word converter doesn't sound as good as my DAT recorders one bit converter.

I also never believed a Class D amplifier could be any good. It works by giving the speakers tiny kicks in stead of feeding it with the continuous sound waves. They are used in cars because they are small and very efficient. I don't like car hifi. But then I visited an inventer who build the best amp in the world. It was class D and it had no distortion whatsoever. A true miracle.

But try play a 10khz tone until your ears say it hurts. Then play 20khz at the same volume. Don't cheat by changing the volume. You might hear some faint sizzling ( harmonics and distortion) but I bet you can't hear the painfull 20k tone. Try google for the musquito test; I found it really disappointing I only had some pain at 15k Hz So a 20kHz cut off filter is no problem for me. I am curious who of the purists here, can still hear a straight curve from 10k to 20k.

24 bit has an enormous dynamic range. Each bit more than 16, doubles the dynamic range. So 24 is eight times better. Use one compressor and the effect is completely gone.

I used to be a sound purist until I learned how much nonsense there is and how your mind plays tricks on you. Try the blind tests here on GDP to guess amp quality and pickup type. :)

34

What do you mean by purist Geoff? Analog purist? I was an analog purist until digital became better. By the way I pretty much agree with everything you said. I'm also not that big a fan of car audio. I'd much rather spend my time in front of a Bryston and a pair of ProAc's.

35

Well, to me purist means an audio lover who swears by the best possible gear using conservative technology over new inventions. Often a purist can become a snob. I almost was one until I started working at a TV station. I learned so much about professional equipment that I now must laugh when I see $100.000 amps or speakers. Such gear is complete nonsense. The scientist I know builds the best hifi amp in the world for $1500. Top pro equipment can be expensive but audio stuff doesn't get any better when you reach certain prices. Every speaker is a compromise. They all have their own color so that is where neutral audio perfection is stopped in its tracks. You have good gear and bad gear, people who can hear it and people who think they can hear it. I learned to have a more realistic view (or hearing).

37

I'm curious and a little skeptical about these miracle amps you keep mentioning Geoff. Can you tell us more?

38

I know good sound from bad and mediocre. Though my hearing is not what it was when I was 20 it's still good enough to appreciate quality. I agree with Geoff that money doesn't translate into quality. You need to find the gear that suits your taste and hearing. Beyond that it's a pointless pissing match.

That search for the right gear to provide what you want is the key. I use Itunes and buy CDs that I rip myself for my car audio. All my music for the car is on a thumb drive that I plug into a usb port in my deck. It sounds good and I expect were you sitting in the car, you would agree that what we were listening to sounds great. Not as good as sitting in a studio with Neil Young while he's playing Old Man on his Martin. But for sitting in my car cruising along through the scene or making the run to Montreal, it's the next best thing.

One of the first things you need to do is make sure you're not comparing apples to oranges and look at the practical side of it first. imho.

39

The funny thing about hearing loss is it usually doesn't effect your ability to discern quality sound nearly as much as you might think.

40

IMHO:-

Matt is right - no technology will give of its best if screwed by bad prior compression.

Deed is also right - Neil's technology will have a market, a small one but it will be there. His biggest problem may be compataibility.

Geoff V, too: I agree with much of your comments bar the "best amp in the world" bit - all is subjective, though good advances are being made with Class D. DAT remains, I am told, a very good system - and yes, different DACs sound different. As to hearing up to 20Khz once upon a time I could hear up to 20Khz flat as can my son now (he can hear devices designed to scare off mice and they're running above 22Khz!). Today I'm an old git whose hearing tails off above 12Khz yet I can still tell the difference made by filtering higher than this (there are technical reasons for this that are too arcane to develop here). Oh and when younger I could instantly tell different amps (blindfolded) even two off the same production line; whether that is useful or a curse is another matter.

The amp business is fascinating. I have a very up market UK amp breathed on by a well known designer yet a rediscovered second hand amp from the 70s (recapped) blows it away along with much of what passes for high end today.

Speakers? Ah, all is compromise except just maybe QUAD electrostatics in certain musical situations.

LP? Still sounds great if you can get rid of the problems Geoff mentions and it can be done to a large extent.

Of course, CD has a far better dynamic range than LP but it is hardly ever exploited for the (commercial) reasons discussed. Seek out a well recorded CD from Naim, Linn, Nonsuch and a few others who take care and the evidence is clear (though the styles of music are severely limited).

I'm happy with what I hear in my system; it was once described by a UK musician as "exactly what I hear in the studio - flat (frequency response), detailed and clear". That's enough and saves me hankering after massively expensive kit!

Good luck to Neil!

Edit: to say TwangOMatic just hit the nail on the head.

41

Here you got the magic amp.

It's way small. The trick is 1 millisecond of delay in which all distortions are fed back as a correction in the class D pulse.

http://www.class-d-amplifie...

42

Fascinating, Geoff.

Looks like the "trick" you describe is none other than negative feedback but without a circuit diagram it's not possible to tell.

The designer's description of his chosen test speaker having a "perfect" tweeter is questionable: if it is perfect everyone would be using it. Perfect, I doubt, very good, I'm sure it is.


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