Extracting music from multi-channel discs

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MidiMagic

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You should see what a digital circuit looks like at that magnification.

So why does the analog sound better?
 

fcormier

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Wow, when I started reading this thread I didn't it to go this way. I don't have anything to say about extracting audio on a Mac as I have a Windows computer.

However, here is my take on the analog/digital debate: digital sounds better than analog. Even though I am young compared to others (44), I've experienced both and live though the transition from one to the other as I started to be interested in audio and music in my teens. It is HARD for analog to sound good. Everything has to be set perfectly, your signal chain has to be the cleanest possible and even then, the recording medium has it's limit. One word to sum up the problems of analog: hiss. To get rid of hiss, you have to maximize your levels to be above the hiss, but not enough to distort. Some analog components, by the way they work, make a soft distortion (tubes), but others don't.

There are several reasons people don't like digital (and they are right in those aspects), but it's easier to get rid of what makes digital sound bad than what makes analog sound bad.
  • Albums being mastered too loud makes digital sound bad. Because digital has more headroom doesn't mean it has to be filled up to the brim. If analog mastering techniques are applied to digital, digital sounds better.
  • Directly transferring masters optimized for vinyl makes digital sound bad. Vinyl has its limits for bass and high frequencies, so some albums were optimized to sound good on vinyl. When transferred to compact disc, they sounded thin. When an album is mastered correctly, the compact disc sounds better (I'm not even talking about high res here).
  • Bad compression/compression artifacts make digital sound bad. Strides have been made in this field. Early digital compression sound bad. Even with the same codec at the same bitrate, differences can be heard. I've heard Dolby recordings sound bad and I've heard some that sound very good, all at the same bitrate. I've also heard DTS recordings that sound better than high res MLP/LPCM, but that's just bad mastering (I'm looking at you Richard Chycki).
Honestly, for stereo, compact discs sound good enough, high res is just icing on the cake. I was listening to a vinyl rip in high res the other day (from the Yes - TFTO Blu-ray) and I feel I could hear the typical vinyl limitations in the higher frequencies. High res digital is that good: you can hear the analog format shortcomings!
 

jimfisheye

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Making shitty treble blasted volume war CD masters with mutilated audio that could be completely contained by an 8 bit format does in fact sound bad. I don't care if you use analog, digital, or something not invented yet. If you do appallingly bad work, it sounds bad. Don't drag the poor formats into your ineptitude!

Some of you "mastering" engineers out there with your names on the volume war stuff. WTF?!

You get it @fcormier :)
Analog is in fact hard!
24/96 digital with merely decent AD converters feeding it is a very complete container for audio. And no matter what has happened to that audio upstream. Any damage remains obviously but what I mean is that even any weird damage that might otherwise continue to snowball is finally preserved in its current state.
24/96 with boutique AD converters in the input is about as perfect as perfect can get on the highest level reference system in the most well treated listening space.

When you hear an analog source sounding like a cleaner more accurate copy of a master than a digital copy, it's a testament to the analog system setup and the analog domain mastering work that went into it for sure. But more so it's calling out an incredibly inept screw up with that digital copy in today's world of 24 bit happiness and light. You really have to screw up bad to fail like that!
 

MagnumX

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Analog doesn't have to sound bad. Don't confuse analog with records or cassette tapes. Those are specific formats. I was kidding earlier about a Blue-Wave analog minidisc that uses FM modulation like laserdiscs, but in truth it should work and with a high enough transfer rate, it could easily sound as good as digital (It still wouldn't measure as well as digital), IMO. Laser driven analog storage!

The real drawback is editing, of course. If you have to use digital to make an album, what's the point of an analog storage medium? You could do it with old fashioned tape multitrack and splicing, but then you've got tape levels of hiss/noise. But for live (band/concert) recording, it could theoretically work.

They made laser record players, but you're then reading physical cut grooves and picking up the slightest bits of dust as well. The analog tracks on laserdisc rarely got much love, but I had more than a few that were virtually identical sounding to the digital tracks (in a good way) and imagine having more compact and precise laser cut FM modulation. Noise could be made inaudible. Tape has hiss due to random magnetic particles that don't fully align (audio equivalent to film grain particles that don't fully change to the correct color). Laser precision with a blue laser and a glass master could easily change that.

I'm honestly surprised no one thought of making analog music only laserdiscs even. They were the same diameter as an LP, even and with the full surface dedicated to audio only you might fit an hour on each side with CAV (constant angular velocity) discs instead of the more typical 30 minutes with video. With a blue laser, you could shrink them down to minidisc size and with multiple layers, they could easily run higher rates and/or hold more audio. Hence my idea for "Blue-Wave" analog discs.

Of course, there's zero point to it (although I find the idea fascinating on a purely hypothetical level) as digital at even 20/48 with oversampling is more than sufficient on the playback side for a anything you could actually hear and in reality 16/44.1 is more than sufficient for 99.9% of all albums ever made (8-bit is sufficient for these atrocities made for loud compressed volume), but somehow the allure of analog lives on today despite the fact it sounds like crap half the time.

I've had plenty of LPs made with recycled vinyl that were noisy on the first play even. No amount of cleaning will fix that.

If the audiophile market were big enough, it might be worth it as a money maker (impossible to store on a computer as well without converting to digital which defeats the point of keeping things analog all the way through the chain), but it's not and someone would claim vinyl sounds better anyway....

SACD couldn't cut it even with multichannel support and rave reviews. There is simply no significant market for a new physical format, IMO. The convenience of digital files makes any physical format moot, really.
 

ssully

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You should see what a digital circuit looks like at that magnification.
I have. It's much cleaner than this. As if that mattered. Nothing rides mechanically on the surface of a 'digital circuit' in order to produce sound.

So why does the analog sound better?
Your question is malformed.
 
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