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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
I am debating whether i should buy Led Zeppelin 4 on CD or the mp3 version both from Amazon. I listen to my music on an Audio Technica ATH-M30(with an ipod) and im wondering if it would sound better on the headphones with the mp3 version or the cd version that i will rip into an Apple Lossless file? The CD is a 1994 remaster.

  • Porcus
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #1
I am debating whether i should buy Led Zeppelin 4 on CD or the mp3 version both from Amazon. I listen to my music on an Audio Technica ATH-M30(with an ipod) and im wondering if it would sound better on the headphones with the mp3 version or the cd version that i will rip into an Apple Lossless file? The CD is a 1994 remaster.


I think my remastered IV is the 1994 one. It measures up to quite a bit less dynamic range than the original (which I also own), and subjective opinions about the mastering are ... mixed. (It is quite the same as the 1993 «Complete studio recordings» box, which I also own.) But allegedly the more recent remasters are even more compressed. I do not know which one is source of the Amazon mp3.  The difference mp3 vs CD likely is far less audible, if at all, than the differences between masterings. (Disclaimer: I do not know whether Amazon even has a decent gapless solution.)

At equal price and same mastering and assuming you do not need it «now», I would buy & rip the CD, but I am an old fart living on memory lane (at least if 97 is your year of birth, then I am old). Actually, I would go to eBay and try to get the original pressing 2nd hand – generally speaking. 80's mastering-for-digital was not necessarily perfect, often far from so, but I think as a rule of thumb those are more often closer to the original recording than more recent victims of the loudness war.
  • Last Edit: 02 April, 2013, 04:14:02 PM by Porcus

  • db1989
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #2
Disclaimer: I do not know whether Amazon even has a decent gapless solution.
Everything I have bought from Amazon has been encoded by recent versions of LAME, which store gapless information that is supported by iTunes, foobar2000, presumably Winamp, presumably the main players on Linux… all the good and/or big names, basically. FWIW, I have never noticed any introduced gaps nor heard any reports of problems from other users.

  • marc2003
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #3
(Disclaimer: I do not know whether Amazon even has a decent gapless solution.)


all my amazon purchases were lame encoded so i should hope so. having said that, i don't have any albums that i could test. most of my files are singles.

edit: beaten to it.
  • Last Edit: 02 April, 2013, 04:23:15 PM by marc2003

  • Kohlrabi
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #4
Preferably try to get a CD produced in the 80s up to early 90s. Everything after say 1995 is likely to already suffer from Loudness War degradations.
  • Last Edit: 02 April, 2013, 06:44:22 PM by Kohlrabi
It's only audiophile if it's inconvenient.

  • yourlord
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #5
I always opt for the CD.. Rip it to lossless, then you're free to make as many 1st generation lossy encodes to whatever lossy codec of the moment happens to be.. If you get the mp3's then you're always stuck with that mp3, with encoding options not chosen by you and any future format conversions will suffer multigeneration loss.

  • cliveb
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #6
I am debating whether i should buy Led Zeppelin 4 on CD or the mp3 version both from Amazon. I listen to my music on an Audio Technica ATH-M30(with an ipod) and im wondering if it would sound better on the headphones with the mp3 version or the cd version that i will rip into an Apple Lossless file? The CD is a 1994 remaster.

As others have stated, older 80's CD versions typically have less dynamic range compression and are often preferable to later remasters.

However, in the case of Led Zep 4 there is another fairly significant factor to bear in mind. (Note: I only have experience of UK releases). While it is true that the original 80's CD doesn't suffer from compression, I have to say that it is a bit of a hiss-fest. The Page/Marino from 1991 remasters are significantly better in terms of background noise, and not that badly compressed.

  • Porcus
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #7
and not that badly compressed.


Actually, not hopeless, especially not when you aren't directly comparing. For reference:

Original: RG = –1, peak 0.84, foo_dynamic_range 12-ish
Remaster: RG = –6, peak 0.999969 (that figure shows up often ... why?), foo_dynamic_range 10-ish
TCSR: Obviously the same as the previous, though not bit-identical.

–6 ... yeah, the age before the loudness war got out of hand.
  • Last Edit: 03 April, 2013, 05:27:39 AM by Porcus

  • Porcus
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #8
And for the hell of the measurement tyranny, acquiring something which is allegedly the Japanese-pressed “Definitive Collection” from 2008 (“allegedly” means it is *cough* one that is not ripped by myself *cough*):
– 7.51, peak at 1, dynamic range half a dB below the previous remaster.

Not even that looks atrocious ... not listened to though.

  • db1989
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #9
Although info on the loudness war is always good to have, it’s not impossible these replies might be taken as indicating CDs have an intrinsic advantage of higher dynamic range; but in fact, most releases in MP3 are encoded from CDs anyway, and there’s no format-level reason for increased DR, so an MP3 sourced from a CD will have the same DR as the latter.
  • Last Edit: 03 April, 2013, 06:10:12 AM by db1989

  • probedb
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #10
I still go for CDs. Until they offer FLAC downloads as standard I'll keep it that way too  Plus I prefer a physical object. I guess I'm old

  • Kohlrabi
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #11
Although info on the loudness war is always good to have, it’s not impossible these replies might be taken as indicating CDs have an intrinsic advantage of higher dynamic range; but in fact, most releases in MP3 are encoded from CDs anyway, and there’s no format-level reason for increased DR, so an MP3 sourced from a CD will have the same DR as the latter.
From my guess vendors who offer MP3 donwloads will likely source their files from the most recent releases, which may be more readily available from the recording companies. But it's just a guess. Point is, it's still a lottery game, whereas buying a 80s-90s CD is quite a safe bet.
It's only audiophile if it's inconvenient.

  • birdie
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Should I buy the cd or mp3?
Reply #12
If the price is the same, always buy CDs/lossless audio.