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Thread: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

  1. #1
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    Default The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    My daughters and granddaughters laugh at me. My daughters laugh because they think I'm olf-fashioned... the granddaughters laugh because, to them, music comes from Spotify or Apple Music, or some other streaming service... they don't know from CD's.

    I started collecting vinyl LP's in my early teen years, circa 1962 or so... and continued until the early eighties. In 1984, CD's finally arrived... and I finally had had enough of scratched, warped LP's, some of which I had already replaced once or twice because it's nearly impossible to keep vinyl in pristine condition. It was an era during which a great saurday night consisted of an ounce of weed and a new LP... and we would listen on speakers, not headphones, and listen to the complete album, in original song order.

    So, I bought my first CD player, and eventually replaced ALL of my vinyl with CD versions... which, until relatively recently, were simply copies of the original tape sources mastered onto CD presses.

    Over the years, the collection grew to over 250 CD's... not a big collection, by some standards. My wife no longer cared to listen, and using speakers were out... it just wasn't to her taste anymore, and I wasn't about to bother her by listening with speakers, especially at volumes I thought appropriate for the music.

    I did very little listening in the intervening years... career, children, and summer sailing too precedence. A few years ago, I wanted to listen to my collection, but the CD player was long gone, and the only practical way to listen was using my PC... but it was highly unsatisfactory. For one thing, many albums that require 'continuity', because the songs intentionally run into one another (example: 'Sgt. Pepper', 'Dark Side of the Moon', the Moody Blues 'Days of Future Past', and so on) and many CD-playing apps don't have the ability to discern which ones require different handling.

    I tried ripping all my CD's onto a hard disk, but, the ripper apps have the same problem. Furthermore, all the rippers I had at my disposal would rip to .mp3 format... adding compression which is sometimes detectable. Somehow, using a PC to listen wasn't really quite the same as listening to a CD directly on a simple player.

    The CD technical format, created in the early 80's, is extraordinarily straightforward; the original music source (usually 16 or 24 track tape, mixed down to stereo) was encoded with 16 bits, at 44.1KHZ or thereabouts. The encoding rate ensured Nyquist suitability (bandwidth extending to 20+ KHz), and 16 bit encoding has a quantization level of 0.0015%, orders of magnitude below the distortion levels of speakers, headphones, or even microphones. In short, it was the purest translation of the original source (including all of it's imperfections, as well).

    But more importantly, it was a system which assured, as close as possible, that the listener would hear what was originally intended by the producers. In my college days, I worked in a recording studio in Boston, so I'm familiar with what the engineers would hear when they did the mix... listening on not only 'studio monitors' (very high quality speakers), but also on typical home stereo speakers, and in the case of 'top 40' stuff, they even listened on 6 x 9 oval speakers built into the console, to replicate the expected sound from a car stereo.

    30 years ago, I owned a Sony Discman... a simple CD player, used with headphones, which had the virtue of not introducing anything intended to 'enhance' the sound of the music (or detract from it), but these went out of favor by the time of the millennium.

    Another annoyance: producers who exploit classic music by offering 'remastered', and/or 'remixed' versions of classic music. The best analogy I can thing of is if Monet or Degas decided to 'enhance' the Mona Lisa... thereby destroying the original, which needs no enhancement. Consequently, there's no limit of 'remastered' or 'remixed' stuff available. Sadly, one of the worst offenders is The son of the Beatles' original producer, Sir George Martin. The kid has inflicted this travesty on much of the Beatles' catalog, which, in my opinion, bastardizes the music. The song 'Let It Be' was initially released in two versions, one produced by Phil Spector (the inferior version), and one produced by George Martin. Today, however, there are at least five different versions of the song, notable by different lead guitar versions... which one is authentic? Certainly not the re-worked ones. Sadly, for a lot of classic music, there are multiple versions available... only one of which (the original release) represents what was intended by the artists and producer.

    I've been hauling out dozens of my old CD's and listening with a decent pair of ordinary analog over-the-ear headphones, and it's been mostly a delight. Of course, not every classic CD was originally well-recorded, so a lot of good music has some pretty obvious recording defects. However, one has to marvel at just how clean a recording could be, dating back to the 60's. The early Beatles albums, recorded on two track decks with a lot of track bouncing, sound amazingly clean. 'Sgt. Pepper', one of the most complex recordings of its time, was recorded on a mere 4 track deck, with lots of submixing and bounce-tracking... and it's quite nearly noiseless... no hiss or hum, despite having no Dolby at the time.

    I bought a modern equivalent of a 'discman' from Amazon last week... there are dozens available, all with unknown brands, made in China, and costing around $50. The one I bought seems to do a credible job, when listening with reasonably good quality over-the-ear headphones. One interesting quirk: back in the day, the disc would spin continuously while listening... but this new player obviously buffers quite a bit of the music, because the disc starts and stops periodically, even while the music is playing.

    It's ben a joy to listen to those old CD's... with sound as close as possible to what was intended by the artists and producers. No compression, no breaks between tracks intendd to be continuous, and no need to 'subscribe' to a music service. Admittedly, I'm not likely to buy many new CD's... but at least, I'm not going to throw away the collection I've got... it still provides a lot of pleasure.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  2. #2
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    If you have an old DVD player, they make excellent CD players; itís what we use.

    Which, Quad was just playing record albums for us the other day, and then switched to CDs. My kids are crazy about music, and it is almost always playing somewhere in the house; Quad is almost never without an earbud playing some music or book.

    My nephew was over a while ago and was amazed that we still have CDs. Yep. And the cd I bough in 1990 from the Tower records that is now an appliance store still works fine.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    Bought a CD this week, from England.
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    How would one establish that an album has been "re-mastered"? Like I'm going to take the word of the industry Fs.

    I've always assumed that the "remastered" is a legal device to cut someone, most likely the artist or her successor in interest, out of money and marketing control that would otherwise be due. Having F all to do with sound. "It's a new product not covered by the original contract."
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    LPs had to have the dynamic range significantly compressed to fit everything on an LP (really loud sounds take up a lot of real estate.)

    The one bit of remastering that's acceptable is to remove the compression.

    I remember when CDs first came out. Lots of "audiophiles" whining about the sound quality —all of a sudden you could hear things you couldn't hear on an LP, like the the squeak of a guitar player's finger sliding down a string or a buzzing fret.

    I thought that was rather an improvement.
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I love CDs too, Norman.

    Here in CA I spend a lot of time driving, and this is where I can listen to my old CD collection, undisturbed. Driving my son to the beach, we usually listen to classic rock (part of his education, in my opinion).

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Carey View Post
    LPs had to have the dynamic range significantly compressed to fit everything on an LP (really loud sounds take up a lot of real estate.)

    The one bit of remastering that's acceptable is to remove the compression.

    I remember when CDs first came out. Lots of "audiophiles" whining about the sound quality —all of a sudden you could hear things you couldn't hear on an LP, like the the squeak of a guitar player's finger sliding down a string or a buzzing fret.

    I thought that was rather an improvement.
    There are different reasons for compression. During the actual recording process, engineers and artists will employ compression intentionally, to effect a certain sound quality. Anyone who plays guitar will be familiar with effects pedals, the intent of which is often to apply compression… this is an artistic decision.

    Compression was usually needed when creating a vinyl LP master, to prevent the grooves from deviating too far. This would have been part of the ‘mastering’ process, in which the soundtrack is modified to accommodate the reproduction of vinyl records.

    The beauty of mastering in the CD process is that compression or limiting isn’t needed; the source is scanned to insure that none of the digital data exceeds the 16 bit limit, and the level is set accordingly.

    Then there is the kind of compression used to create .mp3 tracks… the purpose of which is to dramatically reduce the amount of digital data needed to contain the music. Whether the effects of .mp3 compression are audible or not, is the subject of fierce debate.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  8. #8
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    In 2009 Wounded Bird Records (a Warner company) "remastered" our 1972 Elektra album onto CDs. Other than the lack of typical vinyl records mechanical noise I don't really notice much difference in the actual music part. It was one of the early Dolby recordings, so it was always pretty clean. Tone, balance, etc. all seem to be about the same with the remastered version, at least to my ears. Then unfortunately they loaded the individual songs from the CD onto YouTube and some of the pay-per-song sites, but where everything was originally divided into two connected halves with songs flowing into their neighbors (concept album) they simply cut up all the transitions, making no attempts to smooth anything out. It makes for an unfortunate end to an otherwise nice song. As for payment, I used the advance in 1972 to buy two Old Town canoes, my wooden Guide model and a decked whitewater canoe. Haven't seen a penny of album money since. I don't think we even got a contract from Warner/Wounded Bird.

    We did put out a couple of CDs, mostly taken from 1" studio master tapes that had been sitting in a box in our old manager's basement for 35 years. Basically, they mostly just needed a bit of clean-up for transfer to digital. There were, however, two live cuts which took some work. The original versions were recorded in a big auditorium where recording was not allowed. A student hid a small Sony cassette deck in his coat and stuck the mics in his gloves sitting on the balcony railing. A couple days later he asked us if we wanted a copy, stating that the quality was pretty good. We said sure and he dubbed us off a cassette. I didn't have a cassette deck, but I had an eight track in my car, so I had them dub three eight tracks from the cassette for me. When we decided to put out the CDs, I found the old original eight-tracks in a pile of old junk in my parents' basement. Nobody else could find a copy, so I had to go on eBay and find an eight-track deck to hook to my Korg Digital deck. Those versions were then sent to one of our guys who had a real studio, and he cleaned it up for the final version on the CD. All things considered; the quality turned out surprisingly clean on the CD.

    Live version of one of them dubbed from the eight-track:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfQr...2NCo4&index=16

    and the studio version from the old 1" tape:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqlm...Y2NCo4&index=1

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    Fascinating stuff Todd.These days I mostly listen to music from a usb memory stick attached to the socket in my car.I have half a dozen or so complete CD's plus a load of other favourites on a 16Gb stick.What has been noticeable is that the recording levels vary quite a bit and it gets a bit boring to have to tweak the volume control.I was glad to find the free Audacity software to allow me to adjust levels to something a bit more equal.It also has a range of other functions for those who learn how to apply them.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    Another reason for buying the CD: The artist actually gets paid. Especially if you buy it direct from the musician. Spotify, etc. pay the artists little, if anything. Band Camp is better. But nothing beats handing over $20, and the artist hands you a CD, and signs the cover to boot. It is a win- win situation for both musician and audience. Then, when you listen to the CD, you can remember the concert, and meeting the band.

    What? You don't get to talk to the musicians when you go to a concert? Because there are 50,000 people there, and you can't even see them on stage, let alone meet them live after the show? Then I suggest you cultivate different tastes in music. Your local folk festival is a good place to start, and it is music festival season. Look for ones where the attendance is 5000 or less, it will be a much more personal experience.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I still have my LP oera and some jazz, and a large CD collection. Rotel amp, Technics turntable, need a new CD player as they do not seem to last.
    Even to my ears 'modern' technology s inferior unless you spens a great deal of money.

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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    Trivia: I learned, or perhaps its legend, that SONY set the size of the original CD so that Bethoven’s Ninth could fit in its entirety. 75 minutes.

    My peeve: They’ll do a Special Edition with what some call “out takes”. There’s a reason the artists threw them out. They’re bad.
    ITS CHAOS, BE KIND

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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I prefer CDs, and direct from the artist if possible. I rip them to lossless files for iTunes, but always have the original CDs for backup.

    What are you doing about it?




  14. #14
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    CDs are great. I don’t like stuff as a service. But streaming music is wildly good. One of those promise of the internet things.

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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I don't trust online sources. I don't trust them to stay in business and continue delivering what I've paid for and I don't trust them to pay the artist. I buy CDs, rip my favorites to the computer, and write a memory stick for the car. Hybrids are delightfully quiet.
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    1/ Error correction. I love this. As CDs are played, occasionally a set of bad digits are read. Bad, because the parity bit doesn't match what the parity bit ought be. So the CD player fudges between the previous and subsequent set of digits. It works very well - no pops or 'scratches'.

    Until it doesn't: when knackered enough, the CD gives up, in a calamitous fail. Ah well. But at least you don't get that scratch 1'20" into Kraftwerk's 'Spacelab' that my then-partner engraved, without hint of an apology, onto my vinyl version that I then had to live with, and grimace at, for years after.

    2/ The CD age is, apparently, over - but that is great. My last job, as a manager in a charity shop, meant I was literally offered thousands of CD a month, from people's unwanted collections. Everything was there - and we sold 'em at 5-for-a-quid, as there was "no market" (!). So check out your charity stores for gems for nowt.

    3/ Early CD were amazing. Thick. Solid cases. And then they became minimalist examples of technology. Bendy, with jewel cases that broke in moments. Later, they were often bought in soon-dog-eared cardboard sleeves. Ugh.

    4/ Many (most?) Indy musicians will sell you their CDs from their own websites. I love the fact that the artist and I both know that the product is pennies, but I'm happy to personally shell out pounds directly to the artist. There's a material bond there that you'll never get from a streaming service.

    The only downsides to CDs? In my opinion, a 12" square vinyl cover sleeve was a lovely vehicle for some of the 20th century's most stunning art. Gatefold a bonus. That same iconic imagery on a CD cover feels cheap. And then the odd booklet of pull-out notes, which quickly gets lost or ripped, is horrible. And then there was that time when my second-last car utterly died. With the six-disc multi-player built into the dash, I lost six CDs when that car was towed away. (But I subsequently bought replacements, from the artist.)

    Long live the CD.

    Andy
    "In case of fire ring Fellside 75..."

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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    The last two CDs I bought were in the last couple of years or so, and for the same reason - I'd discovered some music I really liked on Spotify which then mysteriously disappeared. David Gray's Flesh and Chuck Mosley and VUA's Will Rap over Hard Rock for Food; the former has since become available again on Spotify, the latter remains absent.

    I've actually bought more music on vinyl than CD in the last 5 years, but still have all of the past collection of both formats, and choosing a disc and playing it in its entirety and in the order the artist intended is still a frequent pleasure.
    'When I leave I don't know what I'm hoping to find. When I leave I don't know what I'm leaving behind...'

  18. #18
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I really enjoyed doing artwork for CD jackets. It's a small, tight format but you can actually pack in a fair bit of information. Getting everything to fit in there is an interesting challenge. There are a lot of CDs out there though where nobody put much effort into the package.

    OMN Mockup.jpg

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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I prefer CDs, and direct from the artist if possible. I rip them to lossless files for iTunes, but always have the original CDs for backup.

    What are you doing about it?




  20. #20
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I listen to a lot of, what are now called audio books. They use to be "Books on Tape" then they were on CDs now I just download them. I have boxes of CDs, and while I bought them all 2nd hand I paid good money for them. Now they have very little, if any value at all. But it is still literature and just really hard to throw away.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    Blu-ray, the betamax of the dvd market.

    And the dvd has gone the same way as the cd.
    I'd much rather lay in my bunk all freakin day lookin at Youtube videos .

  22. #22
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I am pretty much all CD also, the lack of space for cover art, some have got inventive,there are some where the booklet will unfold to a 9.5 x 14 inch mini poster. Then there are some "deluxe" editions where you get a book with the CD's, which is a neat format, though of course more expensive.

    hh.jpg
    Last edited by mferwerda111; 08-12-2022 at 07:18 AM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    a decade or two on a boat in the tropics....all those cd's gone rotto.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I still get the occasional CD order of my music.

    There was a flurry of orders when I pulled it all off Streaming.

    The pay was an insult. Streaming is stealing.

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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    My collection is all on CDs, and they're all in a CD jukebox. Put many on itunes for my ipod. Instructed my daughter: If I'm hospitalized, I want my ipod and its dock. Just tell it to shuffle everything.
    "Banning books and not guns seems backwards. Can't think of anyone ever shot by a book

  26. #26
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    Still have all my originals, my original generic player and my original (recently restored) vinyl. Never did give up the CD. It's been the most audible sound quality improvement in my lifetime.

    Streaming, I use Pandora for discovery in which to buy new CDs. I will use an artist from a specific genre and create a radio station. An example would be, wanting to hear more *Funk* perhaps from the major era of it, so I will choose someone like Maceo Parker (Sax player from James Brown's JBs) and create Maceo Parker radio. Then choose the discovery option and just see where that takes me. I can then simultaneously open up youtube tabs with the other groups names I end up being curious about along the way, before I forget the (because I am also focused on the music at hand) name. Then I can look them up after I am done listening. It's the best use of streaming, for me personally. I have listened to the classics enough in which to be in a near continuous repeat loop, otherwise. Streaming has opened up a LOT of new music and music interests.

    Audio has gotten so good since computers started designing and manufacturing the components. Even budget components these days have much better sound than the furniture store junk my parents used to buy.

    Have tried headphones and ear buds. I would use them on a plane or somewhere I had to be considerate, but at home it's multiple 2 channel systems. I have a potent 2.1 desktop near field system for late night (so I don't thump the neighbors, too bad) and a full size 2 channel system for the more serious sessions. Since I am the only real audio head here, I can set up systems for an audience of one, more like a studio arrangement and have the best of most of the worlds without having to rock the whole house nearly as much. Can still get that 'reference level' fix, just more contained.

    The new system in my truck takes CD and that's what I use them for after ripping to the pc. Have a CD player and bookshelf speakers in my bedroom as well. Have always liked collecting them.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    I think I made about 20 CD covers...




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    Default Re: The simple joy of listening to original CD's

    Error correction. I love this. As CDs are played, occasionally a set of bad digits are read. Bad, because the parity bit doesn't match what the parity bit ought be. So the CD player fudges between the previous and subsequent set of digits. It works very well - no pops or 'scratches'.

    Until it doesn't: when knackered enough, the CD gives up, in a calamitous fail. Ah well.
    At that point, you rip it onto your computer hard drive, making sure you save it as a WAV file. Then burn a new CD. The computer's error correction capability is vastly superior to that of the CD player. I have recovered many CDs this way.

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