Neil Young has issues with the MacBook Pro and he's eager to tell you about it.

nilepez

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Alright, so more seriously. Who cares?

Anyone who is serious about audio, be it a recording artist, or an audiophile playing shit back is NEVER going to use the internal audio hardware in ANY computer.




Exactly. The loudness wars are to blame here. And just to be clear, we are not talking about space compression like in mp3's. We are talking about dynamic range compression.

The CD format was designed to be 16 bit for a reason to be able to accurately be able to express the entire volume range from 0 up to 100% (I forget the dB values but for this conversation they are irrelevant.

Then some bright fellow noticed that people find louder music more enjoyable, so as a marketing stunt they used so called compressors, to bring the average volume for every recording up to about 96%. The theory there is, if you hear a song on the radio, the louder one will stand out, compared to a quieter one, and thus people will get to know it and like it, and then - hopefully - go buy it.

The issue there is that you have now taken an EXCELLENT 16 bit recording, but are only using the range of it that spans from about 92% to 100% volume, or 8% of it. 8% of excellent is no longer excellent, so while it on average is louder, it also sounds much much worse.

Don't pay too much attention to the numbers above, as they are used for example only, in reality this stuff is logarithmic and much more complicated to explain, but the above does a qualitative, not quantitative job of it.

Most people who shit on digital audio and want to go back to analog are either just trendy idiots who don't know shit about shit, or have heard too many of these over-compressed CD's, and not enough CD's which use the full dynamic range of the recording.

Read more about the Loudness Wars here


The good news is that after much criticism of the loudness wars, this practice has slowly started to diminish, or at least it is being used to a lesser extent than it was in the late 80's through the 90's. Other terrible psycho-audio techniques have crept in too though.

The same type of Psychology/Sound engineer types have discovered that we associate LOUD with GOOD have also figured out that we associate the distorted sound a blown speaker makes with LOUD.

In the last 15 years it has thus become increasingly common to distort the bass drum and other bass sounds in recordings to psychologically manipulate people into buying more music, further reducing quality in music.
FOr me the issue with the loudness wars wasn't compression, it was hyper compression. If you rip a track to a wave file and load into wavelab or whatever editor you like, the tracks are clipping all over the place. 25 years ago, you'd see lots of jagged lines, some longer than others. Sometime in the Aughts, it because a flat line.

Now I'll admit sometimes that works. Foo Fighters' Stacked Actors (think that's the title) does that, but the distortion sounds good, but a friends band, who shall remain nameless, has that on their albums and it drives me nuts. They're more indie and I just don't see the point. Maybe they'll stop it on their next album (I hope).

I guess my point is adding some extra compression is fine. Hyper Compression is arguably OK for radio, because you really don't want wide dynamic range then, because car/road noise often drowns out quieter sections, but whatever they do, end hyper compression.
 

Mazzspeed

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Of course no one uses on board sound cards. But even externally connected units like the motos ect have to deal with latency. The ASIO drivers everyone uses under windows are pretty good... but core audio is still better and it just works.

Honestly, I don't hear many complaints regarding latency under Windows anymore, basically audio latency under Windows is now 'acceptable'. Considering the cost of Apple hardware and the porting of software to Windows - Apple lost their niche. Furthermore, I don't really think Apple care as it seems they want to be the new Sun Microsystems.
 

nilepez

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Right, DDD didn't happen until the early 90s. That was the pinnacle for digital music: it was before the loudness wars, but AFTER they ditched the limitations of BOTH Analog tape AND Vinyl's dynamic range! Can you say real bass response?

FUCK VINYL. It only sounds acceptable when you spend thousands of dollars on your turntable + needle + preamp. And thanks to digital storage, you don't have to deal with any of that shit just to rip your CDs!

I'm all for higher-quality studio productions, but higher than 16-bit /44.1 khz on the final result is overkill :D
You're wrong. DDD started in the mid 80s. As I said, Rush's albums were DDD starting with Power Windows, which came out, as I recall, in 85. Flim And the BB's Tricycle came out in 83, and was likely recorded in 82 and it was DDD.
 

nilepez

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Kids today listen to compressed lossy music streamed over the internet via their phone using bluetooth to a tiny speaker with a cheap class D amplifier and think that sounds great while sales of real HiFi gear dwindles as it takes up too much room and looks intrusive.

No wonder they think modern music is good - They can't bloody hear it.
I don't use it, but from what I can tell, BT4 and beyond has the bandwidth to play CD Audio without any compression/loss of sound. I assume that's true, because Ultimate Ears is now offering multiple BlueTooth solutions for their CIEMs. I'd try it, but I don't feel like paying to reshell mine then pay for the bluetooth part and a new cable, but may be in a few years if I get new molds for my ears.
 

Mazzspeed

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You're wrong. DDD started in the mid 80s. As I said, Rush's albums were DDD starting with Power Windows, which came out, as I recall, in 85. Flim And the BB's Tricycle came out in 83, and was likely recorded in 82 and it was DDD.

I'm pretty sure my Dire Straits Brother's In Arms CD was DDD, and I bought that in ~1985.
 

Mchart

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I mean, he's right, but he's also wrong. Wrong because all laptop's have shit speakers. If you want decent quality you've always needed to get an external DAC or output digital via DP/HDMI.
 

Mazzspeed

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I don't use it, but from what I can tell, BT4 and beyond has the bandwidth to play CD Audio without any compression/loss of sound. I assume that's true, because Ultimate Ears is now offering multiple BlueTooth solutions for their CIEMs. I'd try it, but I don't feel like paying to reshell mine then pay for the bluetooth part and a new cable, but may be in a few years if I get new molds for my ears.

The problem is, where's the DAC's and what about clock jitter?
 

Mazzspeed

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I mean, he's right, but he's also wrong. Wrong because all laptop's have shit speakers. If you want decent quality you've always needed to get an external DAC or output digital via DP/HDMI.

I don't think he's talking about the speakers built into the device... ;)
 

nilepez

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Can't cay I agree with any of this, analog tape (not cassette) actually sounds very good with a dynamic range of ~80dB in the case of studio masters. A well cut vinyl record can exceed ~90dB which is more than enough considering the limitations of human hearing.

Sure, digital may be able to exceed this depending on the sampling rate and bit depth used (which you claim is unimportant) - But alising and quantization noise will always be an issue just like S/N ratio is an issue regarding analog recordings.

A nice Pioneer SX-1010 and quality Pioneer turntable through some decent speakers will sound fine. Having said that such equipment demands a high price on the second hand market, probably for this reason.
Oh I cannot disagree with you more. I hated cassette. It was tolerable IF and only IF I made the tape myself and I actually applied my own compression (manually), because the hiss wasn't tolerable and dolby NR just killed the highs.
I could listen to cassette, and it was fine in a car, but at home it was vinyl and then CD (unless it was some concert I'd grabbed of the radio and then there was no choice).
 

Mazzspeed

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Oh I cannot disagree with you more. I hated cassette. It was tolerable IF and only IF I made the tape myself and I actually applied my own compression (manually), because the hiss wasn't tolerable and dolby NR just killed the highs.
I could listen to cassette, and it was fine in a car, but at home it was vinyl and then CD (unless it was some concert I'd grabbed of the radio and then there was no choice).

Technically speaking, assuming DNR is re expanding the dynamic range correctly, high's shouldn't be affected. Playing back a cassette where the audio is compressed using DNR without DNR enabled during playback tended to make things sound a little odd.

I still stand by my claim that I could record cassettes using quality media that crapped all over 128k MP3's.
 

nilepez

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Neil Young can barely hear. What's he trying to sell this time?
I wonder how his ears are. I saw him at a festival 6-8 years ago and NY+ Crazy Horse go down as the only band I've ever seen play without IEMS and without monitors (though I assume those giant Marshal amps had monitors under them). But still, everyone has used IEMS or wedges for ages...except for Neil. And I gotta say they nailed the harmonies.
 

nilepez

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Technically speaking, assuming DNR is re expanding the dynamic range correctly, high's shouldn't be affected. Playing back a cassette where the audio is compressed using DNR without DNR enabled during playback tended to make things sound a little odd.
Trust me, I could hear a loss. I tried it both ways and always ended up not using Dolby. Again, I did not buy prerecorded cassettes (they used shit tape and the recordings sucked to my ears).
 

Mazzspeed

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Trust me, I could hear a loss. I tried it both ways and always ended up not using Dolby. Again, I did not buy prerecorded cassettes (they used shit tape and the recordings sucked to my ears).

No, I never used pre recorded cassettes as the recordings did suck. But there should have been no loss of dynamic range assuming DNR was working correctly. However, switching DNR on and off in an attempt to form comparisons when the cassette was recorded with DNR enabled would make the highs sound more pronounced - Which is actually unnatural.
 

Mazzspeed

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Even metal tapes had hiss if the recordings had relatively wide Dynamic range.

The hiss was minimal if you got the record levels right and fine tuned the bias. As stated earlier, the main advantage of metal tapes was you could crank the record levels, +5dB sounded fine with minimal hiss using Dolby C HX Pro in my experience. I also experimented with ADRES on my Aurex cassette deck and DBX on my Proton cassette deck, both were slightly better than Dolby, but not as compatible on differing decks.
 

ChadD

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Honestly, I don't hear many complaints regarding latency under Windows anymore, basically audio latency under Windows is now 'acceptable'. Considering the cost of Apple hardware and the porting of software to Windows - Apple lost their niche. Furthermore, I don't really think Apple care as it seems they want to be the new Sun Microsystems.

I agree for home recording... windows is fine. So is Linux for the most part. Still Apple dominates commercial recording studios... the cost of apple hardware is hardly anywhere close to the most expensive thing in a decent recording studio. If you have multiple thousands invested in consoles, interfaces, breakout boxes, studio monitors that in many cases cost more then one high end PC each. (and you can't imagine how much some people have invested in their mic collections) The cost of a Mac is hardly a hardship... most studios are running pro tools at an expense of $1k per year. And even if the latency is only slightly better on a mac these days, its still better. Not to mention gear from the major audio interface companies like Lynx or Motu is better supported on Mac, as well as many of the major commercial VSTs. (A company like Lynx where the in price for a rack mount interface is north of 5k... and a proper setup is more like 8k. Their windows support is basic frankly they know 90%+ of their users are on Macs. Also most of that stuff is all thunderbolt... Mac is still the go to there) So if you are running a small commercial studio, or no doubt if your running a large one. A mac is basically required... I mean who buys something like a Lynx just to plug it into the inferior setup. If your buying the best your buying the best.

You have dealt with some musicians... you know we will pretty much spend as much and much more then we can afford to get the gear we want. People that order custom interments that can take years to receive for the cost of a small car, in general don't blink about spending 20% more on a their recording PC. ;) I have known people that have spent silly amounts of money on interments, amps, rack gear that anyone would be hard pressed to justify the cost on. Heck I knew a guy that spent almost 10 thousand on a rack mount reverb unit... and to my ear I sear I have heard some free VST plugins that where damn near as good, ya his Bricasti sounds better, but damn man he could have bought a nice reliable automobile. lol
 

alxlwson

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A nice Pioneer SX-1010 and quality Pioneer turntable through some decent speakers will sound fine. Having said that such equipment demands a high price on the second hand market, probably for this reason.


I have some original HSM's from Zeppelin, Maiden, Metallica, Rush, Floyd, etc... run through a Pioneer PL-600, a pre-amp I built, and amp I built, running out to a pair of Klipsch Heresy's. Every single bit of music I get off of Tidal (whether just HiFi or Master) sounds better, cleaner, and fuller, when run through digital link to the same system via a Denon DAC.
A literal $6500+ system, in a treated room.
Now, I do prefer some of the older HSM's compared to the newer remasters. The audio is cleaner on the newer remasters, but I don't care for the mix or the loudness.
 

Snowdog

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I wonder how his ears are. I saw him at a festival 6-8 years ago and NY+ Crazy Horse go down as the only band I've ever seen play without IEMS and without monitors (though I assume those giant Marshal amps had monitors under them). But still, everyone has used IEMS or wedges for ages...except for Neil. And I gotta say they nailed the harmonies.

Most 74 years don't hear that well to start with, but he damaged his hearing a lot over the years, and acknowledges partial deafness and tinnitus.
 

nilepez

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No, I never used pre recorded cassettes as the recordings did suck. But there should have been no loss of dynamic range assuming DNR was working correctly. However, switching DNR on and off in an attempt to form comparisons when the cassette was recorded with DNR enabled would make the highs sound more pronounced - Which is actually unnatural.
Just telling you, if I had 2 identical cassettes, one with Dolby and one without and then played the first with Dolby on the latter with it off, the latter sounded better and had more highs. I doubt I could hear it now, but back then I could and I hated Dolby.
 

nilepez

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The hiss was minimal if you got the record levels right and fine tuned the bias. As stated earlier, the main advantage of metal tapes was you could crank the record levels, +5dB sounded fine with minimal hiss using Dolby C HX Pro in my experience. I also experimented with ADRES on my Aurex cassette deck and DBX on my Proton cassette deck, both were slightly better than Dolby, but not as compatible on differing decks.
OK, I should be fair, I'm talking about Dolby B. By the time Dolby C was around (or at least common), I was mostly listening to CDs (which I started getting in 84 or 85).
 

Mazzspeed

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OK, I should be fair, I'm talking about Dolby B. By the time Dolby C was around (or at least common), I was mostly listening to CDs (which I started getting in 84 or 85).

Likewise, I never really used Dolby B.

I mainly used CD, but thoroughly enjoyed a mixed tape of all my fav tracks and I had recording cassettes down to a fine art using nothing but quality decks/cassettes. The sound quality was actually quite good.
 

Mac2

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its always a fight between thin and light and quality but bulky and heavy.
 

Snowdog

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Just telling you, if I had 2 identical cassettes, one with Dolby and one without and then played the first with Dolby on the latter with it off, the latter sounded better and had more highs. I doubt I could hear it now, but back then I could and I hated Dolby.

Maybe on a crappy tape deck.

On a good tape deck. Recording with Dolby would apply and emphasis curve to the high end, then apply to the corresponding de-emphasis curve on playback. The net effect was that it would come out with the same frequency response, as not using Dolby NR, but with a significant drop in tape hiss.

A common thing to do in those days with crappy tape decks was record with Dolby On to get the high end emphasis, and leave it off on playback to get "more high end".
 

nilepez

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Maybe on a crappy tape deck.

On a good tape deck. Recording with Dolby would apply and emphasis curve to the high end, then apply to the corresponding de-emphasis curve on playback. The net effect was that it would come out with the same frequency response, as not using Dolby NR, but with a significant drop in tape hiss.

A common thing to do in those days with crappy tape decks was record with Dolby On to get the high end emphasis, and leave it off on playback to get "more high end".
Look, the main place I used cassettes was in the car. I had records for home and by 85 or 86 I was listening to CDs. The car decks were mid range Yamaha and Alpine decks (I got them at cost, but they were probably 500ish retail). Even then Dolby sounded worse. Now if you were hanging at home listening on a Dragon, then good on you, but I knew nobody with a dragon and only heard it, because we sold them.

If you liked it, good on you, but dolby sounded like shit to me.
 

Mazzspeed

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Look, the main place I used cassettes was in the car. I had records for home and by 85 or 86 I was listening to CDs. The car decks were mid range Yamaha and Alpine decks (I got them at cost, but they were probably 500ish retail). Even then Dolby sounded worse. Now if you were hanging at home listening on a Dragon, then good on you, but I knew nobody with a dragon and only heard it, because we sold them.

If you liked it, good on you, but dolby sounded like shit to me.

The fact is: It technically shouldn't have. Having said that Dolby B was released in 1968, noise reduction technologies improved dramatically over the years.

IMO, 128k MP3 sounds like shit.
 
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Darunion

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The fact is: I technically shouldn't have. Having said that Dolby B was released in 1968, noise reduction technologies improved dramatically over the years.

IMO, 128k MP3 sounds like shit.

But they sounded so much better than the 64k mp3's that used to fit on floppy disks!
 

Meeho

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I still stand by my claim that I could record cassettes using quality media that crapped all over 128k MP3's.
Not saying ot isn't true, but I find that hard to believe. Are you sure it wasn't an encoder problem? In the time of 128k mp3 there were manny shitty encoders widely used.
 
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A stupid article about laptop sound has derailed to arguing if cassettes are better than x. Nice.

Not saying ot isn't true, but I find that hard to believe. Are you sure it wasn't an encoder problem? In the time of 128k mp3 there were manny shitty encoders widely used.

If you had all the proper gear, environment and attention to detail; the continuous signal of analog to cassette was capable of amazing detail for the time. Remotely comparing it to anything today after all digital improvements is a waste of time. Argument turns to individual purity like the "vinly sounds better" folks when listening on 1970 realistic hum motors. I'm surprised no one brought DAT tapes into this argument yet.

I mean, he's right, but he's also wrong. Wrong because all laptop's have shit speakers. If you want decent quality you've always needed to get an external DAC or output digital via DP/HDMI.

If the user desires such cleanliness, External DAC only. Output over DP/HDMI and its tick/clock/ground noise is a no go for me. Now this said, I don't live in the recording world, I am in the sound reproduction side. Total different mindsets when trying to receive the purest signal vs me trying to send it through amps/speakers of a million different combinations of vendors.

IMO, 128k MP3 sounds like shit.

Where I agree, your talking after its recorded and being reproduced through whatever the user has. 95% of people can't tell a difference between clean vinyl, tape, mp3, flak, cd and etc on their home setups. They also don't care. Reel to reel/track to cd....maybe.
 

Mazzspeed

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Not saying ot isn't true, but I find that hard to believe. Are you sure it wasn't an encoder problem? In the time of 128k mp3 there were manny shitty encoders widely used.

I'm sure. You can hear where the lossy compression technique has stripped background frequencies away. I can hear it on the radio as well, obviously broadcasters are looking to save $$ on mass storage. The sound is like listening to the background noise underwater - You probably wouldn't be able to hear it on most bluetooth speakers however as you're essentially listening to audio via garbage.

I can probably still create a cassette using Dolby C HX Pro via CD source material that sounds better than a 128k MP3, assuming I can still get hold of decent TDK MA cassettes and assuming I can be bothered inserting my deck back into my home HiFi system.
 
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nilepez

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The fact is: It technically shouldn't have. Having said that Dolby B was released in 1968, noise reduction technologies improved dramatically over the years.

IMO, 128k MP3 sounds like shit.
And how many car stereos had dolby C? I'm sure they existed, but they were the exception to the rule. And I can't help what others can hear. It was blatantly obvious to me. It got rid of his and it clipped the high end too. And to be clear I heard dolby on many different decks, because I sold them.
 

nilepez

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I'm sure. You can hear where the lossy compression technique has stripped background frequencies away. I can hear it on the radio as well, obviously broadcasters are looking to save $$ on mass storage. The sound is like listening to the background noise underwater - You probably wouldn't be able to hear it on most bluetooth speakers however as you're essentially listening to audio via garbage.

I can probably still create a cassette using Dolby C HX Pro via CD source material that sounds better than a 128k MP3, assuming I can still get hold of decent TDK MA cassettes and assuming I can be bothered inserting my deck back into my home HiFi system.
Even 320kbs is different. It's not easy to detect, but I've done double blind tests in the past and picked the lossless version 80% of the time
 

Mazzspeed

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And how many car stereos had dolby C? I'm sure they existed, but they were the exception to the rule. And I can't help what others can hear. It was blatantly obvious to me. It got rid of his and it clipped the high end too. And to be clear I heard dolby on many different decks, because I sold them.

Mine did in the day, it was a beast of a setup, probably why it all got stolen...

Even 320kbs is different. It's not easy to detect, but I've done double blind tests in the past and picked the lossless version 80% of the time

Yep, I agree with this.
 
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