Lossless Files vs. CD - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 59 Old 08-31-2013, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm a newbie to all this, but I've become really obsessed with high-quality music for the last few months. Be gentle with me, as I may not understand a lot of the really esoteric techno-jargon.

So, I'm working with an LG BP730 Blu-Ray player and Pioneer VSX-1123 receiver.

It seems that no matter what, a ripped file just doesn't have the range as just playing the CD. Even if I play the WAV file straight from the USB port on the Blu-Ray player or the receiver. Apple Lossless files played straight from the receiver sound terrible (so much treble!)

Am I playing a losing game, here? Is it just impossible to accurately recreate CD sound on a computer file?
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post #2 of 59 Old 08-31-2013, 03:03 PM
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The difference in sound may have more to do with how you are delivering the signal to the AVR than the files you are playing. Are you comparing an analog signal from the computer to the AVR vs using the HDMI or optical/coax signal? I've found that there is lots of noise on some computer analog out jacks - some are better than others. Comparing the sound from an HDMI or optical/coax signal from the computer vs analog from the same computer can often be easily distinguished from one another - in other words its like apples to oranges. Most internal computer DACs are crap.

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post #3 of 59 Old 08-31-2013, 03:26 PM
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Am I playing a losing game, here? Is it just impossible to accurately recreate CD sound on a computer file?
No. In fact, it's trivially easy. Which suggests you are doing something wrong somewhere, either in how you are ripping/playing back computer files or in how you are comparing the two. Explain a little more carefully just what you are doing, and maybe we can help.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #4 of 59 Old 09-01-2013, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay. I'm playing the CDs with my Blu Ray player and pumping the bitstream into my receiver via HDMI cable.

Both my Blu Ray player and my receiver have USB ports. When I play a file from either of these ports, they don't sound as good as the CD, especially an Apple Lossless file.

As for how I'm ripping the files, I'm using Windows Media Player for the WAVs and iTunes for the Apple Lossless.
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post #5 of 59 Old 09-01-2013, 06:47 PM
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Try to burn the File to a CD and play it on the Cd player, if its sounds different, then there is something going on when you ripped the file
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post #6 of 59 Old 09-01-2013, 07:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bad1978 View Post

Okay. I'm playing the CDs with my Blu Ray player and pumping the bitstream into my receiver via HDMI cable.

Both my Blu Ray player and my receiver have USB ports. When I play a file from either of these ports, they don't sound as good as the CD, especially an Apple Lossless file.

As for how I'm ripping the files, I'm using Windows Media Player for the WAVs and iTunes for the Apple Lossless.

Sighted evaluations, right?

Everything sounds different in sighted evaluations, even comparisons of items to themselves. That's why skilled professionals avoid them. They are not allowed to be used to substantiate claims in professional organizations such as the AES (Audio Engineering Society)

The right way to compare ripped files to burned files is with a bit comparision program. Such software is built into popular CD ripping software such as CDEX and EAC.
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post #7 of 59 Old 09-05-2013, 10:54 PM
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I'm not sure it was clear on how you are playing the ripped files. The first time I read through, I think I assumed you were using a computer plugged into the USB port, but now I think you are using the bluray player to play apple lossless/wav's from a usb flash drive. If so, I doubt the media-playing software on that bluray player is up to the task to play files reliably. My experience with media playing software on bluray players have always been pretty horrible. Some of them just don't have the bandwidth to do it properly. Bad drivers, usb1 implementations, etc.
If you want to play lossless files, then use a computer with asio/integer mode drivers. I've done that and I can't tell the difference between the CDs and the rips.
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post #8 of 59 Old 09-09-2013, 06:09 PM
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IMHO compressed music does not belong in a serious music system.

In my CD/MP3 free collection with a dedicated fully balanced stereo stage
this is the pecking order:

1. SACD stereo MoFi or Universal Japan preferred.

2. SACD MCH

3. Blu-Ray Audio DTS-HD MA, then PCM 96kHz/24bit.

4. MLP 96/24.

600 SACDS, 120 DVD-Audio, 12 BD Concerts and 2 BD-Audios.

I am old fashioned, have to feel them with my hands:)
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post #9 of 59 Old 09-09-2013, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bad1978 View Post

I'm a newbie to all this, but I've become really obsessed with high-quality music for the last few months. Be gentle with me, as I may not understand a lot of the really esoteric techno-jargon.

So, I'm working with an LG BP730 Blu-Ray player and Pioneer VSX-1123 receiver.

It seems that no matter what, a ripped file just doesn't have the range as just playing the CD. Even if I play the WAV file straight from the USB port on the Blu-Ray player or the receiver. Apple Lossless files played straight from the receiver sound terrible (so much treble!)

Am I playing a losing game, here? Is it just impossible to accurately recreate CD sound on a computer file?

Two words: sighted evaluation.

You used the word obsession, a word with some standard definitions:

1. Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.
2. A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.

You can't overcome compulsions with sighted evaluations because compulsions bias sighted evaluations.

The standard way to replace compulsions with rational decisions is to avoid bias. The standard way to avoid bias in listening tests is to do level-matched, time-synched, double blind test.

Don't take this personally, because your situation is so common that level-matched, time-synched, double blind tests are the standard means that is used people who develop perceptual coders (MP3, AAC, etc.) and other such software.

Here's proof:

http://tech.ebu.ch/docs/techreview/trev_283-kozamernik.pdf

"3. Audio quality assessments"

"In order to assess the quality of an audio signal under controlled and repeatable conditions, subjective listening tests using a number of qualified listeners and a selection of
audio sequences are still recognized as being the most reliable way of quality assessment. ITU-R Recommendation BS.1116-1 [3] is used for the evaluation of high-quality
digital audio codecs, exhibiting small impairments of the signal"

You can find out more about EBU recommendation BS 1116-1 here:

http://www.itu.int/dms_pubrec/itu-r/rec/bs/R-REC-BS.1116-1-199710-I!!PDF-E.pdf

"4 Test method
To conduct subjective assessments in the case of systems generating small impairments, it is necessary to select an
appropriate method. The “double-blind triple-stimulus with hidden reference” method has been found to be especially
sensitive, stable and to permit accurate detection of small impairments. Therefore, it should be used for this kind of test"

There is your proof of what I just said abouit DBTs being the standard method for avoiding bias in listening tests.
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post #10 of 59 Old 09-10-2013, 05:34 AM
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I did some bias controlled tests when I ripped my CD collection to hard drive several years ago when I bought my first Squeezebox. I determined that 256 kbps MP3 files sounded no different from the original CD's. I couldn't tell them apart in blind listening tests. I didn't begin to hear any loss until I got to 128 kbps. So I ripped my entire CD collection and dubbed my entire record collection using the 256 MP3 format (and some at 290kbps) and I've never looked back. Formats with more data density than red book CD don't sound any different either. We did a few bias controlled tests on SACD's where we had the same content on CD. No difference at all. Same with FLAC. The reason people like the sound of SACD is that they are well done recordings. They are also well done recordings on red book CD. If you like the concept of lossless dubs, then help yourself. Hard drives are certainly inexpensive. But don't expect any sonic differences. They don't seem to be there. Not only is there no audible purpose in going beyond 16/44.1, but you can compress it quite substantially before any audible differences begin to appear.

I'm thinking the OP had some problems with making the rips. Even sighted, he shouldn't have detected a difference and, if his hearing bias took control, the differences would be very, very subtle.
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post #11 of 59 Old 09-10-2013, 09:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

I did some bias controlled tests when I ripped my CD collection to hard drive several years ago when I bought my first Squeezebox. I determined that 256 kbps MP3 files sounded no different from the original CD's. I couldn't tell them apart in blind listening tests. I didn't begin to hear any loss until I got to 128 kbps. So I ripped my entire CD collection and dubbed my entire record collection using the 256 MP3 format (and some at 290kbps) and I've never looked back. Formats with more data density than red book CD don't sound any different either. We did a few bias controlled tests on SACD's where we had the same content on CD. No difference at all. Same with FLAC. The reason people like the sound of SACD is that they are well done recordings. They are also well done recordings on red book CD. If you like the concept of lossless dubs, then help yourself. Hard drives are certainly inexpensive. But don't expect any sonic differences. They don't seem to be there. Not only is there no audible purpose in going beyond 16/44.1, but you can compress it quite substantially before any audible differences begin to appear.

I'm thinking the OP had some problems with making the rips. Even sighted, he shouldn't have detected a difference and, if his hearing bias took control, the differences would be very, very subtle.

I'm sure I will be sorry I posted this, but... there's another reason to like SACD: multi-channel audio. I have a fairly large number of SACDs and I love listening to the encoded 5.1 audio with the theater rig; it's fun and some of them sound really good this way (IMO, preferable to simply turning on Dolby PLII).

"Play the volume as loud as you want - but don't touch my levels now. I got them set just like I like them"
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post #12 of 59 Old 09-10-2013, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Krutsch View Post

I'm sure I will be sorry I posted this, but... there's another reason to like SACD: multi-channel audio. I have a fairly large number of SACDs and I love listening to the encoded 5.1 audio with the theater rig; it's fun and some of them sound really good this way (IMO, preferable to simply turning on Dolby PLII).

Yes, that's true. I forget to mention it because I don't like surround sound music. It distracts me terribly. But for those who enjoy it, it is certainly a feature not found on CD's.
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post #13 of 59 Old 09-11-2013, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bad1978 View Post

Am I playing a losing game, here? Is it just impossible to accurately recreate CD sound on a computer file?
In order to have your lossless files sounding as good as the cd player is required process the info properly. Even the cheap cd players are optimized to the task meanwhile the computers not, there's a lot of background process running (specially in Windows) that ruins the synchronization, and the sound cards are intended simply to reproduce sounds not high quality audio.

If you want to use your computer as a source you had better (1) running an audio optimizer like "fidelizer" in Windows (it's free and doesn't makes permanent changes in your system) or install an optimized OS like AP Linux, (2) use a low resources player like foobar 2000 or VLC (iTunes it's the perfect example of a high resources player) and (3) invest in a good external DAC (personally I don't trust in any sound card) to attach to your amplification system.

Once your computer will be capable to reproduce quality audio you'll find that your computer can be even better than most cd players.
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post #14 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 03:10 AM
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Originally Posted by FMW View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krutsch View Post

I'm sure I will be sorry I posted this, but... there's another reason to like SACD: multi-channel audio. I have a fairly large number of SACDs and I love listening to the encoded 5.1 audio with the theater rig; it's fun and some of them sound really good this way (IMO, preferable to simply turning on Dolby PLII).

Yes, that's true. I forget to mention it because I don't like surround sound music. It distracts me terribly. But for those who enjoy it, it is certainly a feature not found on CD's.

But surround music has been available on standard DVDs and Blu Ray discs. No SACDs are needed.
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post #15 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Fermelom View Post

In order to have your lossless files sounding as good as the cd player is required process the info properly. Even the cheap cd players are optimized to the task meanwhile the computers not, there's a lot of background process running (specially in Windows) that ruins the synchronization, and the sound cards are intended simply to reproduce sounds not high quality audio.

If you want to use your computer as a source you had better (1) running an audio optimizer like "fidelizer" in Windows (it's free and doesn't makes permanent changes in your system) or install an optimized OS like AP Linux, (2) use a low resources player like foobar 2000 or VLC (iTunes it's the perfect example of a high resources player) and (3) invest in a good external DAC (personally I don't trust in any sound card) to attach to your amplification system.

Once your computer will be capable to reproduce quality audio you'll find that your computer can be even better than most cd players.

I certainly don't agree with what you said. When I ripped my CD collection to hard drive many years ago none of the things you are talking about even existed. I did some careful bias controlled testing and determined that 256kbps MP3 files were indistinguishable from the red book originals in terms of sound. So I ripped them all with whichever version of Windows Media Player was available at the time. Those files still sound exactly like the original CD's. The technology for compressing music has changed but I'm sorry to tell you, the audibility of those technologies appear not to have changed. If one can't tell a 256 MP3 from a CD, a newer process isn't going to matter either. If the newer technolgies some how alter the sound of the original CD, then I wouldn't want that personally.

I've done bias controlled tests on many DACs - at least 20 or 25. I have yet to uncover an external DAC that did anything sonically that an internal DAC didn't do. So I recommend you do similar tests before spending any money on an external DAC.
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post #16 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

But surround music has been available on standard DVDs and Blu Ray discs. No SACDs are needed.

Yes, and I have a couple of them. Don't like them at all. Surround music simply doesn't appeal to me. I don't know why.
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post #17 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 12:38 PM
 
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Never had a problem with my FLAC files and SPDIF-to-receiver output and they sound identical to the CD's they came from. The only "problem" i have is that my HTPC has fans that make the computer noisier than a CD deck, which can interfere a tiny bit when listening to quiet tracks or tracks with alot of dynamic range.
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Originally Posted by Fermelom View Post


If you want to use your computer as a source you had better (1) running an audio optimizer like "fidelizer" in Windows (it's free and doesn't makes permanent changes in your system) or install an optimized OS like AP Linux, (2) use a low resources player like foobar 2000 or VLC (iTunes it's the perfect example of a high resources player) and (3) invest in a good external DAC (personally I don't trust in any sound card) to attach to your amplification system.

There are a few sound cards out there that have respectable DACs. I have a Creative X-Fi Xtrememusic that I normally run with the digital output to my H/K receiver, but one time I tested the analog output of the card against the receiver. It was close, with the H/K sounding slightly better, but the D-A conversion of the X-Fi was certainly no slouch. And there are even better sound cards out there with better DACs than what the X-Fi has.
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post #18 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by gts007 View Post

The only "problem" i have is that my HTPC has fans that make the computer noisier than a CD deck, which can interfere a tiny bit when listening to quiet tracks or tracks with alot of dynamic range.
Install quieter fans like Noctua or Scythe.
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post #19 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 01:31 PM
 
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Install quieter fans like Noctua or Scythe.

Been there done that lol, the problem is I have 80mm fans and even the quietest 80mm fans on the market aren't that quiet. I need to mod my case for 120mm fans or get a new case made for 120mm fans
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post #20 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 01:57 PM
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Why not just move the computer to another room and stream the music with WiFi?
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post #21 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Fermelom View Post

Am I playing a losing game, here? Is it just impossible to accurately recreate CD sound on a computer file?[/quote

]In order to have your lossless files sounding as good as the cd player is required process the info properly. Even the cheap cd players are optimized to the task meanwhile the computers not, there's a lot of background process running (specially in Windows) that ruins the synchronization, and the sound cards are intended simply to reproduce sounds not high quality audio.

Actually, high quality sound cards running in PCs are used to record and produce commercial recordings. Many of them can outperform (in technical tests) any CD player because they are not limited to playing CDs but can play files with far higher resolution. While higher than CD resolution provides no audible advantage, this overcomes any claims that PC's can perform as well as even the best CD players.

PCs are general purpose computers, and as such they can be optimized for just about everything they have resources for. Playing music files with reasonably well written software barely touches the resources on a modern PC.

Loss of synchronization is not subtle, it manifests itself as tics and pops. It typically happens in systems that are in some sense overloaded or have hardware that is producing errors. For example I had a system that was creating tics and pops all of the time until I replaced the CD Drive which was just sitting there creating hardware errors even with no disc sitting in it.
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post #22 of 59 Old 09-12-2013, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by gts007 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post

Install quieter fans like Noctua or Scythe.

Been there done that lol, the problem is I have 80mm fans and even the quietest 80mm fans on the market aren't that quiet. I need to mod my case for 120mm fans or get a new case made for 120mm fans

If heat isn't a problem you can always get fan speed regulators that drop fan speed and noise even further.

Most of the noise in fans is made by the blades - here is a 120 mm to 80 mm adaptor:

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/7921/
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post #23 of 59 Old 09-13-2013, 04:58 AM
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There are a few sound cards out there that have respectable DACs.
Hi gts007! When I said that I don't trust in any soundcard I clearly stated it's a personal preference. The reason is that I feel more confident buying a product for audio quality for a brand specialized in audio gear than in computer gear, the designers doesn't have the same priorities. Of course there would be some really good soundcards but you have to be careful to choose a good one.
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post #24 of 59 Old 09-13-2013, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by bad1978 View Post

It seems that no matter what, a ripped file just doesn't have the range as just playing the CD. Even if I play the WAV file straight from the USB port on the Blu-Ray player or the receiver. Apple Lossless files played straight from the receiver sound terrible (so much treble!)

Am I playing a losing game, here? Is it just impossible to accurately recreate CD sound on a computer file?
If you're using Windows try Fidelizer. It doesn't install anything in your system or modify it permanently. Just run the exe file, follow the instruction, unmark "make X my home page", wait until oprimize the system and retry playing the files. It's free and secure. If it doesn't improve the sound you won't lose any money. smile.gif
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post #25 of 59 Old 09-13-2013, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Fermelom View Post

Hi gts007! When I said that I don't trust in any soundcard I clearly stated it's a personal preference. The reason is that I feel more confident buying a product for audio quality for a brand specialized in audio gear than in computer gear, the designers doesn't have the same priorities. Of course there would be some really good soundcards but you have to be careful to choose a good one.

The reality is that you would have a tough time finding a bad one in terms of sound quality. The DAC is pretty much a perfected technology.
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post #26 of 59 Old 09-13-2013, 06:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fermelom View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by gts007 View Post

There are a few sound cards out there that have respectable DACs.

When I said that I don't trust in any soundcard I clearly stated it's a personal preference.

So, science has absolutely nothing to do with sound quality?
Quote:
The reason is that I feel more confident buying a product for audio quality for a brand specialized in audio gear than in computer gear, the designers doesn't have the same priorities.

I should call up the chief engineers of a few sound card companies and tell them that they and their technical folks don't have sound quality as a priority. This is going to go over especially well at places like LynxStudio. ;-)

I don't think you get it - if these guys don't have something to sell that sounds good and measures good, they have no business.
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Of course there would be some really good soundcards but you have to be careful to choose a good one.

Oh, so now you contradict yourself?

What are you trying to say?
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post #27 of 59 Old 09-13-2013, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

But surround music has been available on standard DVDs and Blu Ray discs. No SACDs are needed.

True, but other than some concert 'videos' the catalog is pretty small. If you enjoy surround and classical music, like I do, then SACD is really your only format.

"Play the volume as loud as you want - but don't touch my levels now. I got them set just like I like them"
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post #28 of 59 Old 09-13-2013, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

But surround music has been available on standard DVDs and Blu Ray discs. No SACDs are needed.

True, but other than some concert 'videos' the catalog is pretty small. If you enjoy surround and classical music, like I do, then SACD is really your only format.

I don't know why you are excluding concert videos - you don't think they are music? ;-)

Amazon returns over 80,000 hits for "music DVD".

There are only 7,000 SACD releases per the last count I can find on the web.

DVD has had a lot more time to build up a library.
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post #29 of 59 Old 09-13-2013, 05:26 PM
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Most new releases are now sacd not DVD-a, particularly classical releases. There is a small smattering of BD audio releases.

On amazon DVD audio 5.1 only gets 1825 hits and many of those beyond page 2 are just cd. DVD audio gets about 60,000, but the majority of those once you get beyond page 3 are just cds. SACD gets over 8000 hits, but I'm sure in the later pages many of those are just CD as well.
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post #30 of 59 Old 09-14-2013, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I don't know why you are excluding concert videos - you don't think they are music? ;-)

Amazon returns over 80,000 hits for "music DVD".

There are only 7,000 SACD releases per the last count I can find on the web.

DVD has had a lot more time to build up a library.

Ha ha... I completely expected a reply like that.

When I searched Amazon for "music DVD", I get a similar result, but I took the time to look at the results; can't see much I would buy. I buy a lot of music and have only a handful of DVDs in my collection. Most DVDs are compilations and greatest hits (e.g. '80s music samplers), documentaries on bands and, as I mentioned earlier, concerts (I have about 1/2 dozen of those).

Type in the following into Amazon's search field for "in Music" : dvd music classical. You get better filtering, but still lots of junk. I did find a couple of titles that I have on SACD, after some browsing; but they are the same price, so why prefer one over the other.

If you go to http://www.sa-cd.net/ and search on classical, of the roughly 8,500 SACD titles available, 5,700+ are classical, which is what I spend a lot of time listening to.

But, yes, all of the Baby Mozart DVDs you could ask for are waiting for you on Amazon. :-)

"Play the volume as loud as you want - but don't touch my levels now. I got them set just like I like them"
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