Bye Fidelity?

Sound engineers are cranking up the compression on normal, even re-mastered CDs, so that they sound "better" when ripped onto shitty little music players like iPods with their limited dynamic range, according to this article in Trolling Stone.

"it's like going to the Louvre and instead of the Mona Lisa there's a 10-megapixel image of it"

Did I spend $4k on my sound system to listen to crap? No. I have no iPod connection to my stereo (Izzy has one, but she is only young and can be forgiven). I did try it with the iRiver, and it sounded like someone was gargling liquid crap in a cardboard box full of polystyrene filler. (If you haven't experienced this you need to surf the web a bit more.) So I only play CDs on my medium-fi sound system, but if even commercial CDs are being compromised these days, as reported, I will be even more pissed off.

My Beethoven's 9th CD from 1983 - the one that prototype CDs were enlarged from 5in to 6 in for - has, at the one volume setting, sections that whisper so quietly you experience them like the calm of a small waterfall and sections, when the whole orchestra pounds in like an military invasion, so loud they blow your mind and fill your soul and send your neighbours into a frenzy.

That is a GOOD THING (the sound, not the angry neighbours). It's called WIDE dynamic range. It reproduces what happens in a real theatre, with a real live orchestra. (Real dead orchestras don't sound like much at all.)

With MP3 players that are designed primarily to pump Hip-Hop shite into tiny, tinny headphones, and with the reduction in file size down to about 1/8 of the original that occurs during ripping (for ease of copying across systems and the web) the dynamic range is so compressed, so flat, that for classical music the soft wind sections are almost as loud as the booming trumpets and drums. Even in rock music, the variations from verse to chorus are lost. It's like watching TV and all the programs are as loud as the ads. Everybody is shouting...

Yep, everything becomes relatively equal in volume. Subtlety is lost. This is OK if you're on a train, trying to drown out the ambient noise pollution but it is unacceptable if you are in your lounge room with your feet up (to drain the diurnal oedema) with a well-earned snifter of Armagnac in your hand, and you want to hear and feel the RANGE in emotional power that only comes with volume variation. If you wanted to be lifted, to be caressed, to be soothed, to be warned, to be attacked and thrust down, to win, to lose, to be joyously exultant, then you don't plug your MP3 player into your stereo.

Those MP3-SoundSystem hub/link thingies are only good for parties.

At all other times, MP3s played through a hi-fi stereo (not that mine is fancy) are a waste of a good pair of cochleae.

(blurfed from: The Church Of Lost Souls)


Q. What the fuck is going on with the world?
A. I don't have a freaking clue!

Q. Is everyone a fucking idiot?
A. Almost everyone.

What the pathetic commonplace heads with which the world is crammed really lack are two closely related faculties: that of forming judgements and that of producing ideas of their own. Schopenhauer

Translation: (Almost) everyone is a fucking idiot.



Posted by: expat@large on Jan 24, 08 | 3:47 pm | Profile


"Almost everyone is a fucking idiot"...thats the smartest thing you have said in a long time.

Posted by: Indiana on Jan 24, 08 | 8:37 pm

Indy: I am surprised you picked up on it - thought it might have gone over your head.

Posted by: expat@large on Jan 24, 08 | 9:03 pm


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