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Hydrogenaudio Forum => General Audio => Topic started by: Levent on 2019-05-18 23:06:17

Title: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Levent on 2019-05-18 23:06:17
Hello...

What can you say about the scams you know in audio? (software, hardware, sources, etc.)
What to be aware of?
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-05-19 09:36:02
Where.To.Start ... There's a hell of a lot. (And even more if you count willful self-deceit.)

Anything in particular you want to be warned against spending money on?
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Levent on 2019-05-19 09:53:22
Hi @porcus... Not particular, but I want to learn as much as I can about subject.

For example, in loudspeakers; "Focal Grande Utopia EM", it has the "186.000,00 Euro" selling price in my country:

https://www.canhifi.com/hoparlorler/tower-hoparlorler/focal-grande-utopia-em-1.126.56.746.aspx?skuId=1763 (https://www.canhifi.com/hoparlorler/tower-hoparlorler/focal-grande-utopia-em-1.126.56.746.aspx?skuId=1763)

Isn't this a "scam" ? How a loudspeaker can be as expensive as 186.000,00 Euro?
Can you get the quality "what you pay" for this unit? I don't think so.

(https://www.focal.com/sites/www.focal.fr/files/shared/catalog/produit/visuel/grande-evo-white.jpg)
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Phanton_13 on 2019-05-19 11:05:36
And I was thinking that the B&W Nautilus where absurdly expensive, but at least them can also be counted as an sculpture.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-05-19 13:29:35
Focal calls this a "Sculpture" as well. I am frankly not sure if they were intended to be sold, or as a marketing stunt.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: antz on 2019-05-19 14:40:19
Like Porcus says, where to start?

Very expensive cables - mostly speaker wire, mains leads & interconnects but not only those. Magic rocks, wooden volume knobs and cable elevators and a whole host of related items that "transform" the sound quality, allegedly. Mechanical isolating mounts for anything other than speakers and turntables.

Are we talking only about outright scams or are we including common myths held in "high end" circles? There's probably more of those than can be fitted into one post!

If you want to avoid wasting money, the general question to ask is: is the product supported by scientific evidence that there is an audible improvement? That rules out almost all magazine reviews and anything backed up only by "testimonials" or "satisfied customer reviews". If there's a genuine improvement (audibly) then there can be science to support it. The absence of such science is highly suspicious.

One of the biggest problems in audio is that everything in the audio chain actually does make a difference. Unfortunately a great deal of the effects are either not audible or not actually an improvement - but that doesn't stop claims being made.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Levent on 2019-05-19 14:44:49
@antz, what are the common myths in term "high end" ? Thank you...
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Wombat on 2019-05-19 15:13:03
MQA
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: antz on 2019-05-19 15:14:26
@antz, what are the common myths in term "high end" ? Thank you...
Again, where to start? I'll try a few but I'll probably miss many more!

(1) The most obvious: more expensive is always better. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's just a way to convince you you need to pay more.

(2) Capacitors have a "sound" and you need audiophile-grade comonents - very rarely is that true.

(3) Valves (tubes) are more linear. That one is false, without exception.

(4) Even-harmonic distortion is more musical. That one ignores the fact that even harmonic distortion is never unaccompanied by other distortions that are not musical.

(5) Sinewaves aren't a reliable test because they're too simple. If that were true, why is it so extraordinarily difficult to produce a pure sinewave?

(6) Science doesn't know all aspects of audio, there are things science can't measure that affect sound. Science, maybe, doesn't know all there is to know but it knows more than enough.

(7) Analogue is better than digital because it has infinite resolution. Not true because nothing has infinite resolution. In addition, digital can (and usually does in reality) have resolution that exceeds analogue (i.e. vinyl, tape decks etc).

(8) Digital is harsh because of the stair-step output. Wrong. There's a related one of higher sampling rates and greater bit depth are better. Only true once a threshhold has been met, which it rarely isn't.

(9) You need to spend a certain percentage (say 15%) of your budget on speaker cables. Anything over a few $ per foot/meter is almost certainly a scam, percentage is irrelevant.

That'll do for now! I'm sure other people can fill in some of the (many) gaps!

EDIT: no 8 above is translated to an emoticon and I can't seem to stop it!
MOD EDIT: Changed 8 to tt
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: polemon on 2019-05-19 15:45:13
When it comes to cables and connectors, there's an entire plethora of audiophoolery going on.

Frequencies used in audio are comparatively low comparing with thing used in data transmission, signals used in RF or even radio or television. Yet, some manufacturers push a superior "signal clarity".


Probably the simplest cables used in audio, is speaker wire. All Speaker wire is, is just just a wire with a relatively large cross section so it has a low specific resistance. When it comes to outlandish production techniques, it often includes dipping the product into "secret solutions" to improve cable or connector features, etc. or letting it "cure" in some sort of "secret atmosphere" or "secret environment" for some time.

When it comes to materials, it's often used to appeal both to the eye and to the idea of better sound: bamboo or other woods in headphones, speakers, or even connectors to make the sound "more natural", etc. Similar things apply to cable insulation made of cotton, hemp, or some other "secret" material mix.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: antz on 2019-05-19 15:50:26
Actually, Levent, just try searching online for "myths in audio". In particular, read the pages from Rod Elliot (Elliot Sound Products) and Ethan Winner, both of whom seem to have their heads based firmly in reality. Just to add I have no connection to either of those people.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Levent on 2019-05-19 16:23:01
Quote
Actually, Levent, just try searching online for "myths in audio"...

Thank you @antz, this is helpful for me. I just began to read first link (15 Popular Audio Myths | - Sound On Sound) in Google.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Levent on 2019-05-19 17:54:54
I found a very interesting scam: 485$ "audiophile-knob".

(https://i0.wp.com/www.boingboing.net/filesroot/200511071155.jpg?resize=314%2C169)

Rod Elliott says, "Needless to say, changing a knob from plastic or metal to wood will make absolutely no difference to the sound, but that obviously didn't disturb the criminals selling and promoting it.", and I agree with Rod.

http://sound.whsites.net/articles/myths.html (http://sound.whsites.net/articles/myths.html)
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Roseval on 2019-05-19 18:34:14
A nice one: https://techcrunch.com/2010/01/22/luxury-blu-ray-player-is-actually-an-oppo-one-that-has-been-placed-whole-inside-a-larger-case/
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: antz on 2019-05-19 18:56:26
I forgot a major myth - burn-in. All components improve after a time of use (usually believed to be days/weeks). In some electromechanical items (microphones, speakers, cartridges) that can be partly true although audibility is questionable. In electronic components, whether active or passive, it's completely untrue.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Apesbrain on 2019-05-19 21:04:37
(8) Digital is harsh because of the stair-step output. Wrong.
There is no such thing as "stair-step" output. For me, this is the first sign that I am dealing with someone who does not understand how digital audio works.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: andy o on 2019-05-20 01:05:42
What about over-emphasizing the effects of the DAC, especially the "HD" ones. Seeing it a lot on consumer products like phones, and even now that USB-C audio is going mainstream, USB-C adapter audiophoolery is making the rounds.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-05-20 13:51:53
A nice one: https://techcrunch.com/2010/01/22/luxury-blu-ray-player-is-actually-an-oppo-one-that-has-been-placed-whole-inside-a-larger-case/

Enhanced. I like that.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-05-20 14:11:59
(8) Digital is harsh because of the stair-step output. Wrong.
There is no such thing as "stair-step" output. For me, this is the first sign that I am dealing with someone who does not understand how digital audio works.

Those "steps" are ultrasound content which - in a very basic DAC without oversampling - is filtered away in the analog domain, so the misunderstanding is actually somewhere else.

Even if the original signal were the staircase, CD (ADC/DSP/mastering/pressing/playback process) would lose it. Ask the audiophools what a sufficiently high-resolution analog tape would do.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-20 15:26:49
One misguided idea caused by misunderstanding:

the idea that a sharp FIR filter causes some kind of ringing.  The Gibbs effect is not 'ringing', but instead is a left over residual of missing higher frequency components.  On the other hand, the Gibbs effect can cause clipping, but using square waves (and other complex, composite signals) so close to clipping is working close (probably too close) to the edge.  No ringing is added to a signal just because of a sharp rolloff -- sometimes a sharp rolloff is just a sharp rolloff.

Also, the idea of pre-ringing associated with linear vs. minimum phase digital filtering...  There can be a difference in sound between a linear phase vs. minimum phase filter -- but would be because of timing of the various frequency components.  There is no real pre-ringing -- but the residual signal (Gibbs) can be moved around relative to the rest of the composite signal.  Other signal components vs. frequency can also be moved around in time.  With a very long, non-linear-phase FIR filter, the amount of time between frequency components can be signficant -- but it is a time of arrival issue, not ringing.  As long as a filter is FIR there isn't likely to be actual 'ringing.'  I guess an FIR filter might be able to be crafted to create something that might look like ringing temporarily, but a normally designed FIR filter?  Naw...

Ringing in normal analog (and even IIR) filters DOES exist however.  That ringing is not just Gibbs effect.  It usually takes a recursive digital filters or analog filter at/above a 2 pole filter to regenerate or ring -- high Qs even for (order >= 2)  low pass filters will cause an actual peak in the frequency response, and with infinite Q -- will ring forever. (for 2nd order, the laplace domain denominator 's^2 + w/q + w^2), since that is a denominator, and 's' would be jw in the case of sine waves, the denominator can become zero at frequency 'w/(2*pi)'.  If the denominator is zero, then the oscllation will go on forever (instead of a long time) until something else in the circuit starts limiting the regeneration.  THAT is where there is ringing -- with high Q values -- which means more and more regeneration until Q=0 which means keep ringing--if not grow.  Similar things can happen in digital IIR filters.



Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Apesbrain on 2019-05-20 16:08:45
Those "steps" are ultrasound content which - in a very basic DAC without oversampling - is filtered away in the analog domain, so the misunderstanding is actually somewhere else.
I'm not saying you're wrong, but most times when I hear someone criticizing digital due to "stair steps" they point to the jagged edges and claim that can't possibly be accurate to the original smooth analog wave.  I even see this among digiphiles when they put forth their argument for why "hi-res" sounds better than redbook: finer stair steps better approximate the original analog signal.  Manufacturers like Sony use this illustration to promote their hi-res hardware.

This interpretation is a complete misunderstanding of digital audio.  At no point does a DAC output "stair steps".  Those sample points are used by the DAC to recreate the original analog wave.  At any given frequency we can hear, it doesn't matter whether we have samples arriving every 1/44100 of a second or every 1/352800 of a second; they will both define the exact same musical waveform.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-05-20 17:59:28
most times when I hear someone criticizing digital due to "stair steps" they point to the jagged edges and claim that can't possibly be accurate to the original smooth analog wave.
They are "not even wrong" - the argument is so bad that even if it were correct, it would be a fallacy. Their so-called "analog" output curve is what you get after applying a low-pass filter.

So if we were to take it serious: Get that filter, which is in the DAC of a basic CD player, but not in a vinyl pickup. That is, play CDs, if they want the output signal that they are touting. 
Which does not matter, their ears will do the low-pass.

I even see this among digiphiles when they put forth their argument for why "hi-res" sounds better than redbook: finer stair steps better approximate the original analog signal.
?
It is certainly true that higher resolution makes for better approximation - except when the original signal has absolutely no frequencies in between CD and hi-rez. Only, we are already at where the improvement is undetectable by human ears.

Those sample points are used by the DAC to recreate the original analog wave.
Only the part of it that is up to fs/2, of course - which is not the "original analog wave". But what is it? It is that smooth output curve that they claim they will get from analog.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-20 20:28:44
You guys reminded me of another fallacy about the stair steps -- that there is a 'resolution' of the audio.  That is, little signals below the stair step are somehow obliterated or destroyed...  Common sense says that is true, but this stuff isnt' always common sense.  The output lpf or other filtering takes care of that problem on a dithered signal.  (Gotta be careful about nonlinearities in the system, but the general story is true.)  If the resolution issue was all that much of a 'killer', then cell systems couldn't get by with a 12 or 14bit A/D to deal with between below 1microvolt to a big part of a volt...  How can that be true? :-).  Answer: resolution lossage is mitigated by dithering, filtering (if resolving to analog), and/or other kinds of selection of the data.  The dithering & other processing mitigates the effect of the resolution -- dithering mostly just adds the 'background hiss' which 'kind of' makes the resolution a game of statistics (signal recovered by appropriate filtering.)

I'd suspect that most audio people realize that dithering doesn't work AFTER the A/D process -- the dither has to be done before the A/D -- because if the dither is done afterwards, then the higher resolution IS lost (well, if the signal has the correct random noise in it, then dithering isn't theoretically necessary.)  The higher resolution is not completely lost if done before A/D.  (Note that I did use a bit of a conditional statement -- it is more complicated than an unconditional claim.)

John
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-05-20 20:46:04
You guys reminded me of another fallacy about the stair steps -- that there is a 'resolution' of the audio.
[...]
I'd suspect that most audio people realize that dithering doesn't work AFTER the A/D process -- the dither has to be done before the A/D -- because if the dither is done afterwards, then the higher resolution IS lost (well, if the signal has the correct random noise in it, then dithering isn't theoretically necessary.)

Good point - so when will the evanalogelists get up to the level of "if digital is so great, how come that you improve it by adding ANALOG NOISE?!"

Although I guess that the dithering that is closest to us, is not in the analog domain, but in the "D/D" conversion to end-user format.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Levent on 2019-05-20 22:01:02
I don't know what's the "magic" in analog, but I really feel some warmness/improvement when I use this type of vst plugins in foobar. (CD Sound Master Vintage Tape Machine, Fabfilter Saturn, and also Wave Arts Tube Saturator [but this vst always crashes foobar, and it's a very CPU hungry plugin; so unhappily I can't use it]).

Therefore I wanted to buy a real tube buffer hardware instead of software plugins - it was iFi Audio micro iTube 2, and I also sent a topic about this unit to hydrogenaudio forums today.

But as I don't have the facilty to test the unit, I'm not able to know if this unit sounds warmer/better than the software plugins or not. Buy or don't buy: I don't know what to do...

Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: polemon on 2019-05-20 23:36:42
The "magic" is just filtering and distortion.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: 2tec on 2019-05-21 00:03:53
The "magic" is just filtering and distortion.

It could also be familiarity and preference. I may just prefer a "warmer" sound because I grew up with it. By the same token a less "warm" sound would sound "cold".

Listening is a subjective experience.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: polemon on 2019-05-21 00:06:43
Yeah, well it's still introduced by adding distortion and filtering, that creates a "warm" sound you're familiar with. It's like adding a VHS filter to HD video to give it a nostalgic look, some might like (including me, sometimes).
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-21 00:15:40
Just to be polite, I wont' go into much detail on my favorite subject, but will mention it -- early on, many CDs weren't really mastered at all -- mostly just playouts of DolbyA tapes with a bit of EQ.  Makes for a spatially flat, unreal, thin, sense of distortion (but not really) kind of sound.

This is the direct from CD sound (just happens not to be DolbyA decoded -- like a lot of them):
https://www.dropbox.com/s/y8czwibps2chg1n/Cars-06.%20Moving%20in%20Stereo-undecoded.mp3?dl=0

This is the exact same material, from the exact same CD -- but properly decoded:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/bfertqaeabt5dnd/Cars-06.%20Moving%20in%20Stereo-decoded.mp3?dl=0

I had this CD in my collection for years -- for 'old times', started playing it -- didn't even have it in my online repository -- it was a 2002 copy of The Cars, "Complete Greatest Hits" -- apparently DolbyA encoded, but  many older CDs have the same problem also.  Just caught it yesterday -- a diamond in the rough (again.)  This makes well over 30-40 (at least) CDs out of maybe 50-80 CDs in my collection -- DolbyA encoded -- but not decoded, but they are all of music done between late 1960's through early 1990's.  This includes EVEN the Carpenters Singles from HDtracks!!!

I have many, many, may more examples on Dropbox.   If you'd like to hear full quality .flac files at 96k/24bits (expanded from CD because of NR, processing, etc.) I can make some higher quality available.    48k/16bits is actually enough -- but mp3 sucks in comparision on the higher quality demos.l

I understand not liking the "digital sound", when so much of it is poorly done.

John
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: DVDdoug on 2019-05-21 00:26:03
Quote
I don't know what's the "magic" in analog, but I really feel some warmness/improvement when I use this type of vst plugins in foobar. (CD Sound Master Vintage Tape Machine, Fabfilter Saturn, and also Wave Arts Tube Saturator [but this vst always crashes foobar, and it's a very CPU hungry plugin; so unhappily I can't use it]).
"Saturation" is clipping (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipping_(audio)) (overload distortion) so it only happens when you over-drive the circuit (or analog tape) into distortion. 

Analog tape and some tube amplifiers soft-clip.  That is, they limit or "push down" the peaks and you get a kind of limiting & dynamic compression and the distortion depends on how hard you overdrive it.    It's not as "harsh" as digital clipping or the kind of hard clipping you get from most solid state circuits. 

In addition, tape has NAB equalization (similar to RIAA EQ) where the highs are boosted during recording and reduced to normal during playback.   This tends to further soften the sound of the distortion.

Tube power amplifiers, and some tube preamps also have transformers which add their own distortion when overdriven and may also "soften" the sound of the distortion.

It's possible to make a solid state circuit that soft-clips and it's possible to make a tube circuit that hard clips.   But if you want high-fidelity, high-quality sound reproduction, you generally don't want any clipping with any electronics.

Guitar player tend to like the sound of an overdriven tube amplifier, but you generally wouldn't want to hear the whole band through a distorted guitar amp.

Quote
Therefore I wanted to buy a real tube buffer hardware instead of software plugins - it was iFi Audio micro iTube 2, and I also sent a topic about this unit to hydrogenaudio forums today.
If a tube amp has a sound of it's own, it's going to sound different from a different tube amp.   i.e. Most guitar players have a preferred amplifier.  

A "high fidelity" amplifier (tube or solid state) isn't supposed to have any sound of it's own.    A McIntosh tube amp is going to sound exactly like any good solid state amp, at least until it's driven into distortion.   But, you're not supposed to drive a hi-fi amp into distortion.  
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-21 00:31:50
Quote
I don't know what's the "magic" in analog, but I really feel some warmness/improvement when I use this type of vst plugins in foobar. (CD Sound Master Vintage Tape Machine, Fabfilter Saturn, and also Wave Arts Tube Saturator [but this vst always crashes foobar, and it's a very CPU hungry plugin; so unhappily I can't use it]).
"Saturation" is clipping (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipping_(audio)) (overload distortion) so it only happens when you over-drive the circuit (or analog tape) into distortion. 

Analog tape and some tube amplifiers soft-clip.  That is, they limit or "push down" the peaks and you get a kind of limiting & dynamic compression and the distortion depends on how hard you overdrive it.    It's not as "harsh" as digital clipping or the kind of hard clipping you get from most solid state circuits. 

In addition, tape has NAB equalization (similar to RIAA EQ) where the highs are boosted during recording and reduced to normal during playback.   This tends to further soften the sound of the distortion.


Tape is a really good place to produce intermodulation distortion.  It DEFINITELY softens the sound -- the common NR systems used with analog tape also softened the sound on top of the tape itself.  The tape NR systems were a Faustian bargain, where tape hiss was generally bad enough that the recording people decided to trade off some quality for less hiss.

Nowadays, the little distortions associated with tape, tubes 'or valves', etc (oh -- old fashioned transistor amplifiers/pre-amplifiers) are so very obvious because of the near perfection of todays equipment.

Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: polemon on 2019-05-21 00:32:48
We're not talking about mastering done either good or bad, that's kinda orthogonal to the discussion about what happens during playback.

When a source is mastered badly, there's no amount of tweaking that'll restore the original sound, you can only mask some of the errors to make it less garrish. But it doesn't work like the "ENHANCE" programs often used in television series, where they have a 200x300 pixel blurry image and then they "ENHANCE" and it's a 10 megapixel high-res picture where you can see every pore.

The "Bad mastering" also happens in film, where it's even more noticeable, for a long time, the VHS release of "5th Element" was better in quality than the BluRay release for some reason. It was like a crappily transcoded version of the DVD release, the sound was almost unbearable. No amount of video filtering or tweaking will add detail where there is none.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-21 00:38:03
We're not talking about mastering done either good or bad, that's kinda orthogonal to the discussion about what happens during playback.

When a source is mastered badly, there's no amount of tweaking that'll restore the original sound, you can only mask some of the errors to make it less garrish. But it doesn't work like the "ENHANCE" programs often used in television series, where they have a 200x300 pixel blurry image and then they "ENHANCE" and it's a 10 megapixel high-res picture where you can see every pore.

The "Bad mastering" also happens in film, where it's even more noticeable, for a long time, the VHS release of "5th Element" was better in quality than the BluRay release for some reason. It was like a crappily transcoded version of the DVD release, the sound was almost unbearable. No amount of video filtering or tweaking will add detail where there is none.

Probably the worst recent hoax:
Actually, I am talking about 'no mastering' -- which is what happened to CDs...  Yes, it CAN be fixed.  Should it be fixed by the consumer?  Probably not, unless they are desperate to recover their collection.

I am trying to explain where some of the 'digital sound' problem comes from -- then it became self-perpetuating that 'digital' was somehow inferior.  This is exactly on topic -- the whole thing about somehow there is a magic in analog comes partially from the very poor digital mastering (which is essentially none at all.)  That is one of the biggest hoaxes in the audio world and has been for 30yrs.

(There were also other problems with 'digital' at the time, but by far the worst -- which is pretty much gone for recent material -- was the problem of non-mastering.  The problem is NOT gone for re-releases, but there is yet another problem with those, probably everywhere, and that is loudness wars -- but this IS off topic.)


Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: polemon on 2019-05-21 00:59:21
Probably the worst recent hoax:
Actually, I am talking about 'no mastering' -- which is what happened to CDs...  Yes, it CAN be fixed.  Should it be fixed by the consumer?  Probably not, unless they are desperate to recover their collection.
Erm, that is very anecdotal, and claiming CDs received "no mastering" is certainly incorrect. Fixing it after the fact by the consumer is a misnomer as I wouldn't call using reconstructive measures on something "fixing", it's simply a remedy to mask errors.

I am trying to explain where some of the 'digital sound' problem comes from -- then it became self-perpetuating that 'digital' was somehow inferior.  This is exactly on topic -- the whole thing about somehow there is a magic in analog comes partially from the very poor digital mastering (which is essentially none at all.)  That is one of the biggest hoaxes in the audio world and has been for 30yrs.
It's true that some lazy production resulted in bad products, which some people associate with "bad digital sound". However I have a bunch of badly mastered tapes and a couple really crappy mastered vinyls; no amount of "veil lifting" from a tube amp will make them into a nice listening experience.

(There were also other problems with 'digital' at the time, but by far the worst -- which is pretty much gone for recent material -- was the problem of non-mastering.  The problem is NOT gone for re-releases, but there is yet another problem with those, probably everywhere, and that is loudness wars -- but this IS off topic.)
Well, yes, I wasn't meaning loudness wars either.
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-21 01:36:39
Probably the worst recent hoax:
Actually, I am talking about 'no mastering' -- which is what happened to CDs...  Yes, it CAN be fixed.  Should it be fixed by the consumer?  Probably not, unless they are desperate to recover their collection.
Erm, that is very anecdotal, and claiming CDs received "no mastering" is certainly incorrect. Fixing it after the fact by the consumer is a misnomer as I wouldn't call using reconstructive measures on something "fixing", it's simply a remedy to mask errors.

I am trying to explain where some of the 'digital sound' problem comes from -- then it became self-perpetuating that 'digital' was somehow inferior.  This is exactly on topic -- the whole thing about somehow there is a magic in analog comes partially from the very poor digital mastering (which is essentially none at all.)  That is one of the biggest hoaxes in the audio world and has been for 30yrs.
It's true that some lazy production resulted in bad products, which some people associate with "bad digital sound". However I have a bunch of badly mastered tapes and a couple really crappy mastered vinyls; no amount of "veil lifting" from a tube amp will make them into a nice listening experience.

(There were also other problems with 'digital' at the time, but by far the worst -- which is pretty much gone for recent material -- was the problem of non-mastering.  The problem is NOT gone for re-releases, but there is yet another problem with those, probably everywhere, and that is loudness wars -- but this IS off topic.)
Well, yes, I wasn't meaning loudness wars either.
Rather than just having an opinion - it would be good to listen the existence proof that I have provided.  Well, technically doing a -3dB@3k/Q=0.707 is 'mastering', but that is like saying that connecting a phono cable to a preamp is 'engineering.'  Fully more than 1/2 of my collection has the mastering (DolbyA) problem -- I guess people aren't sensitive to the problem.
A hoax has been perpetrated on music listeners since CDs were released (please listen to the 99 Red Balloons example.)

John

Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-05-21 06:42:42
Fully more than 1/2 of my collection has the mastering (DolbyA) problem
Limited corpus you have, but it reeks of those extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence. (And "I like it better when" is actually not.)
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-21 14:11:01
Fully more than 1/2 of my collection has the mastering (DolbyA) problem
Limited corpus you have, but it reeks of those extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence. (And "I like it better when" is actually not.)


I agree that my collection is limited.
I just cannot go out and purchase 1000's of CDs or downloads...  That is asking way too much.
Open minds to new facts are a good thing...  This IS worth an investigation...
Again, refer to the WWW site, and the data set has NO selection bias other than the timeframe of the recordings.
Selection bias beyond the timeframe of the recordings would be cause for some skepticism, but I have found the problem on both premium and non-premium recordings.

It would be worthwhile to do some kind of study -- because the facts of the demos are irrefutable (for those who have hearing.) 

Specifically look at the Cars example (the undecoded vs decoded version)  -- I just found from another correspondent that my decoded copy matches their commercial copy which happened to be properly processed.   This is not an all or nothing situation -- it is very variable, which makes statistics important.  On a superficial review -- my decoded copy sounds like the properly mastered commercial copy -- not everyone who pays good money gets the 'good version'.

I don't have the resources for more complete testing & statistics, but anyone interested in what we are purchasing should be curious.   People spend $10ks of money on their equipment, but get cheated on their recordings?   I had found that some people in the industry are sometimes 'hush hush' until eventually there become anecdotes like -- "mgmt said they didn't want me to do a decode because it costs money."

I am not a conspiracy theorist -- just the opposite, as I am more establishment than practically anyone who might be reading this.  I just give a darned, and will never profit in any way (probably irrtate more than make happy), especially those making money by doing something 'on the cheap.'  My project was a research project that SOMEONE ELSE wanted to use -- my interest is in facts and understanding what is wrong with the recordings (as  research and engineer -- not just as a consumer.)

I am done with this discussion (I privately said that I won't reply to someone else's comments), and I know as long as someone who really has the resources looks at the issue, then the truth will be exposed.  Truth and facts dont always win, however.  Fairness isn't guaranteed -- is it?  People don't always get what they pay for -- and that fact bothers me.  Those who don't want to know don't deserve to know.

John
Title: Info from an involved person about the DolbyA issue..
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-21 23:59:19
I have been bringing this subject about DolbyA encoded material getting into the consumer hands for at least 3 yrs now, and even being motivated to write my own -- VERY GOOD -- DolbyA decoder...

Just now: the answer as provided by someone who had to process the old tapes -- to produce 'greatest hits' type releases...  (Just got the answer 1/2 hour ago -- FINALLY.)

TADA: mislabeled tapes/messed up documentation/missing tones/etc.

Apparently, the condition of the archives isn't always very good (depending on label), so unless someone is funded to do a *really complete* job, mistakes or 'wrong choices' get made.   Additionally -- he wrote that it happened A LOT.

1)  it wasn't really a scam, but instead a screw-up
2) it did and still does happen a lot
3) the 'wrong choice' doesn't always sound obviously bad.

The fault is apparently with the accounting for the integrity of the archives and labeling issues that cause confusion.
Today is the first time that i have ever gotten a fully satisfactory/coherent answer.

John
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: Porcus on 2019-05-22 10:18:58
So ... does this make for an an argument that those loudness war-ridden remasters were actually not an "audio scam", but repaired a genuine problem?
Title: Re: Scams in "audio"?
Post by: jsdyson on 2019-05-22 10:40:36
So ... does this make for an an argument that those loudness war-ridden remasters were actually not an "audio scam", but repaired a genuine problem?

The reason for my follow-up post instead of just keeping silent:  I had to decide whether or not to violate my statement that I was no longer going to discuss the matter vs. telling the 'truth' that I just found.  I decided that it was better to correct my strong implication and explain exactly what I just found out.

The answer that I finally got (after 3+yrs -- actually longer knowing that there was a problem) the problem is common, but is NOT a hoax -- but is more of an organization/documentation and resource issue.  It is NOT a conscious decision to cheat (well, an error of omission rather than commission.)

Some 'premium' material still has the DolbyA encoding:  e.g. the Carpenters Singles from HDtracks (not so much HDtracks fault -- they are selling what they get from their distributor.)

I have found DolbyA encoding on remasters also -- specifically the 'The Complete Studio Recordings' from ABBA.  It appears that they compressed the undecoded DolbyA material.

John


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