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Recordings old and new

By Oz_Media ·
Being in a business with extremely high end audio products, I have noticed that there are few to no recent recordings that actually display high resolution, soundstaging, transparency etc.

While it appears that music quality is of the utmost these days, nothing is cleaner than digital they say, I have actually not seen a quality recording for ages.

In the old vinyl days, Chesky recordings were the tops. Nobody had ever recreated audio the way he and his team did. His high resolution recordings, 96kHz/24bit, have yet to be topped....that I have heard.

Have people just simply forgotten about real audio due to the low grade trollop we are force fed these days, or do people actually feel that today's recordings offer a high enough standard to show off your system?

Is it perhaps that our ears are being desensitized and having lower expectations?

Are big box stores, blowing out Mexican made Polk speakers, now considered quality audio retailers?

Do people who buy a $4000.00 plasma TV and then spend $200.00 on "surround sound in a box" actually feel they are getting their money's worth?

Maybe the younger generation has never heard quality audio and they feel that what is around now is suitable?

Why, with all of the technological advancements around today, is it harder to find an audiophile quality recording amongst the trash?

To this day, the best recordings I've heard include just about anything by Telarc, Chesky recordings (circa 1985)and the old B7W audiophile tracks (they did two pretty good jazz disks) and of course, Dire Straights Bros. In Arms, which is still one of my favorite demo disks, and one of the most dynamic too.

Perhaps THAT is the issue, most high res recordings are of Jazz or soloists singing acappella, not exactly the fodder of today's mainstream. Then again, most of you know I am into heavy metal and have managed some pretty hard core bands, but I still appreciate quality audio when I am looking to have my ears sweetened.

Does anyone here know of high quality recordings anymroe, or is it a lost art even in a far more advanced audio world.

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Just one more thing AV

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to AV I'll try to help you u ...

Most of the cheaper systems sold by the makers have a lot of time spent with a sound engineer to get the sound right I know that this sounds a bit strange but if the makers where to offer something that was offencive to the majority of people they wouldn't sell much of that product so in a effort to get more sales the makers engineer a sound that they wish to push and then flood the market with that product.

With Bottom of the Range Product they engineer the sound that is produced and with the Top of the Range they spend a lot of time attempting to prevent any colouring of the sound by the equipment used to reproduce the sound. With the cheaper stuff they make it sound nice and as such attempting to alter that is an uphill battle.

Col

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No, I think I got (most ) of it Col

by AV . In reply to AV I'll try to help you u ...

You really raise a good point about the affects of furniture and wood floors (another thing I never thought about). Now that you brought it up, I'm going to have to rearrange my living room. Hubby will be pleased, I'm sure. Come to think of it, I don't know if I even like my furniture anymore. It doesn't work with the speakers. :^0

Seriously, I always thought surround sound or quadraphonic sound would be a great system for both movies and stereo. My living room is not that big, about 14 x 24. What I've been trying to do is eliminate my stereo and use my PC in its place. I have a beefed up HP Media Center PC and can play my TV through the PC speakers, Logitech 5.1 surround sound, for movies. My PC also plays satellite radio, and it sounds great, but when I move the speakers into the living room and out of my smaller office (10x12), they may not have the "oomph" factor. I don't know if they will be enough.

I do have a real stereo too, a Sony, with surround sound speakers of its own (one can never have enough speakers), but its not impressive. It doesn't have separate components.

I'm determined to make the PC the center of my house. Do you think I can fill in or enhance the sound with better speakers through my PC or its not possible to use higher quality speakers with a PC.

Feel free to tell me if I'm nuts.

AV :^0

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AV anything is possible after all my son got the cops out

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to No, I think I got (most ) ...

Late one night with Gunshots while he was playing Quake.

Apparently he had borrowed some of my sound gear hooked it up to the Output of the Computer and was then feeding the Stereo Speakers from the Power Amp. Apparently it sounded really good and very life like according to the Police at least. But I personally think that the sound being reflected from the Brick side of the house next door may have had something to do with the sound. :^0

I'll admit I would have loved to see it particularly as the Cops would dive for cover when ever he shot something and screamed out Die You Bastard. But that is more an exception to what can be done and personally I think that it was a Fluke that was brought about by the placement of the Speaker Enclosures, the reflecting surfaces around and other things like that which allowed a fairly long range of sound to be projected in open air or at least what passes for open air in a city on a main road.

As for High Quality Sound this relies on moving a lot of Air. Any Speaker is just an Air Pump so the more that it can move the better that it will be for Bass at least. When it comes to the Upper Frequencies the size of the speaker isn't quite so important but the quality of it is. I was never a lover of the Bose Speakers as I still consider them second rate and tinny but that's just me and I know a lot of people who brought them and like them as well.

The main problem with all Surround Sound/Computer Speakers is that they are small normally have a limited range of drivers mounted in them, are not stiff enough in the cases to prevent distortion at higher volumes so they are unable to provide a Full Sound which I like but provided that you like the sound things will be sufficient. After all I accept that not many people are willing to attempt to find the places to stand some AR 9 Enclosures that weigh in excess of 150 pounds each but these have 2 Bass Drivers firing sideways to the front and then a Lower Mid, Mid and Upper Mid and then a Tweeter so these are 4 way speakers with 5 drivers and use the old model of having at least 1 pound of Magnetic per inch of Bass Driver and are mounted in Enclosed cabinets that are designed for the drivers. Most of the Surround Sound Speakers are of the vented type which give the impression of moving more air than they actually do as the air is forced out or sucked in the vent which gives a fuller sound supposedly. The down side is that the more you drive the drivers the more likely they are to distort because the either Bottom or Top out and you get a clicking sound as the Voice Coil hits the end of it's travel and is forced to stop. This mostly happens with Bass Drivers but all Drivers are affected by this effect so you need to keep the volume down so that the speakers do not suffer from this.

Anyway provided that you like the sound that's all that is important but personally I haven't seen any of the popular Surround Sound Enclosures that have big enough Bass Drivers in the Centre Wolfer let alone the Satellite Speakers for my liking. Techno is good for showing the limits of speakers particularly Bass Drivers as the sound drives the speakers from Bottoming to Topping out and eventually destroys the Voice Coils of the drivers if allowed to continue without intervention. My son managed to destroy the Bass Drivers in all my AR Enclosures playing that stuff but to be fair the neighbours 3 miles away liked the sound even if I did try to kill him the next time that I tried to listen to my favourite music. But I failed and he's still alive.

About the only option I can offer is to Suck it and See, If you like the sound it works if you don't you can always feed a Amp and then some Speakers to make the sound more to your liking.

Col

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Ah, youth! :^0

by AV . In reply to AV anything is possible a ...

Sounds like your son is a real challenge at times. Its just amazing what kids can come up with. I hope the cops thought it was funny, but sometimes they don't have such a good sense of humor.

I never thought about using an amp with speakers on my PC, but it could be a good option for me if the surround sound speakers I have aren't enough for a bigger room. After reading what you said about surround sound speakers, I don't know if they will be enough. Even if they did initially sound decent, I'd probably **** them out.

Thanks for taking the time to explain this stuff to me, Col. It was very informative.

AV

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PC Sound

by Oz_Media In reply to No, I think I got (most ) ...

Having worked in both analogue and digital studio settings, I can tell you that 'decent' PC is achievable. You'll never get real hi-fidelity surround, but most people can obain a decent enough sound to be happy.

Despite your onboard sound card, I would still recommend buying a better sound card (I always use an external due to output and input ports, tone controls etc.), I used to use a Hercules Muse 5.1 a few years ago and it literally rocked.

Sound cards in OEM computers, such as your HP, will generally offer a 44kHz sampling rate, which is actiually not bad for a built-in card at all. There are many midpriced cards that offer 192kHz sampling rate, I usually go with an external card. I find external cards are a little more flexible, some offer high power output throungh built-in amps also. The other benefit is external cards often offer tone controls, great for enhancing smaller speakers.

If you really want to have fun with it, look into some in-wall speakers, both RBH Sound and Soundcraft make good in-wall products (though I lean strongly to the RBH for value for money and higher overall quality).
Grills can be painted to match the wall/ceiling also. The benefit to 'decent' in-wall speakers is lower cost while getting the same drivers and crossovers, you just don't have to pay for the cabinet. But that's if you want to go all out.

You should look around at quite a few options for speakers for the PC, it's worth investing money in them and getting a worthwhile product, listen to them for a whil in store, play what YOU listen to, not the sales rep. (I always tote sampler CD's with me).

As Colin noted, Bose, it is all about positioning and the perfect room. Without both of those exactly bang on, you will end up with a boxy sounding system. Bose is great for marketing genius, the specs are all overblown and the prudct is nowhere near what it used to be, in fact FAR too expensive for what it is, just as POlk is too. Wihle I prefer Polk to Bose, Polk is also famous for over exagerrated specs, and they require exact placement to sound optimal. JBL, RBH and Altec Lansing are far mroe fogiving of the room and placement, as they project the sound image about a foot in front of the faces, therefore creating a mreo blended soundstage right from the get go. (Note: RBH used to be the OEM manufacturer/designer for JBL...and MacIntosh, Harman, Rockford Fosgate and many other high end speaker lines).

For a great PC sound card explanation, visit: http://techreport.com/articles.x/4577/1
It's a bit old but is a great explanation for you.
They liked the Hercules too (back then), for under $300.00

Bottom line is to have fun and enjoy your sound, no matter how much or how little you pay. In the end, it is YOUR ear that matters, nothing else.

"if music be the food of love...play on" - W.Shakespeare

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My sound card is decent

by AV . In reply to PC Sound

Maybe not the best for what I want to do, but I have a Sound Blaster Audigy 4 card. I always go for separate components instead of onboard. I'm not sure what the specs are on the card, but I'm going to look into that. It sounds great for what its doing now - home office. For a home stereo, maybe not enough. I never knew some sound cards came with built-in amps!

I like the idea of in-wall speakers. Its really a much cleaner look. I've never been a fan of how stereo speakers look. They just never fit in with the decor.

Well I think you and Col have turned me into an (almost) audiophile. I'm going to check out some new speakers and take your advice when I go shopping. I'll bring my own CD. That is very slick, Oz.

Thanks so much for all your great information.

AV :^0

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You're right

by Oz_Media In reply to My sound card is decent

in the world of PC sound cards, the Audigy 4 is a pretty decent card. It is actually an Audigy2 chip with a little tweaking but offers better Digital to Audio Conversion.

Your sound card also has optical outputs, these can be connected to a hometheater receivers optical inputs. So if you wanted to really play with your sound, you could get a decent HT receiver and speakers of your choosing, then use your PC to output your audio into true 7.1 surround.

There's a lot of grey area though, whether to use digital out or analogue, because converting within the card creates a lot of noise and digital out can be converted through a receiver, blah blah blah....

Won't go there, it is endless.

Simply put you have two viable options,
1) Get some upper end PC speakers and use teh PC sound card to send a simulated 7.1 to them. Not bad at all and convincing enough for most people to enjoy. Benefit is the very low cost, invest a few hundred ingood speakers and you're done.

2) Buy a home theater receiver and quality home theater speakers. Use the sound cards optical output to deliver the signal to your receiver and speakers. Can be quite expensive for high end equipment. Can be tricky to 'dial in', in the case of whether to use digital or analogue out to the receiver. Tweaking and fussing required. Time and money.

I'd go for option 1, buy some decent speakers and have at 'er. The room should be sufficiently filled with a fair quality PC surround system.

Here's a few choices. (these are just eprsonal picks, everyone has a different ear of course).

For $529.00 CDA (hey the dollar is almost at par now!!) you can get a Logitech THX, top end with 6 source inputs. Connect your MP3 player, Sat radio or whatever as well as your PC.
http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/speakers_audio/home_pc_speakers/devices/224&cl=ca,en

They also have a Z5300 and the G51 at lower price points. These will fill your room and you will be quite amazed at the performance. Make sure you don't overdo the sub volume though (as 99% of listeners do), it will destroy the entire sound image.


If you want to spend some dough and get really high end, look at NHT, they can get you set up for a little under 2K..if you are clinically insane of course.

My best recommendation would be in the middle though, Altec Lansing makes an awesome pacjage of high end speakers for around $250.00. They will do more than please your ears, they will leave you wondering how they pack all that sound in the little boxes. Check out the FX5051, I think it offers the best value for money and sounds just fantastic!


Have fun with it though, don't spend more than you want and don't settle for less. Happy shopping! Let us know what you end up with.

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Found myself rather impressed

by Michael Jay In reply to Recordings old and new

with the release of the new Eagles album, it is called "Long Road Out Of Eden". Sound quality is excellent and the content is just as great, somewhat political but then it is the Eagles and that is what you should expect.

Give it a listen, I do think that you will like it.

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double post, no text

by Oz_Media In reply to Found myself rather impre ...
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You're right

by Oz_Media In reply to Found myself rather impre ...

The Eagles are one of the exceptions when it comes to quality recordings. The new High res DVD for When **** Freezes over and Farewell have incredible audio tracks, another great demo disk for that live music, outdoorsy sound.

I will download some of the new disk, it does look cool (from theri site). Don't worry, if I like it I'll buy a copy, MP3's don't cut it for me when the real disk is available.

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