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CD Format Info

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Sorry if this is in the wrong area, but I have a question that pertains to both surround and stereo for that matter. When reviewing various music CD's, I'm finding fewer and fewer references to the bit/hz rate info. So, when trying to determine if a domestic CD that costs $12 is at a lessor quality than an import version for $20? On Amazon and most other vendor sites, there is no mention of the bit rates, so I can't tell if the difference is just the extra shipping and bi-lingual artwork? So how do you know? Is an import version always better quality, or not really?

That said, is there any websites that allow you to look up this info? Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 20
All CD's are 16/44.1 and Red Book format. Are you asking about the Master tapes or what??????
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm specifically asking about CD's, and whether import versions typically are of a higher bitrate / hz than the traditional 16/44. I do have a few CD's I've collected over the years that mention 24/96, but the problem is, very few if any retailers will mention spec's of discs. So again, I'm trying to sort out two questions:

1. Are imports typically at a higher quality than the domestic version that make paying the extra dough worthwhile? Again, seeing ImportCD, CD Universe, Amazon, and everyone else rarely lists the spec, it's impossible to tell if spending for the more expensive Import versions typically offers better quality, or am I just wasting the money?

2. Is there an online source for looking this up?

Thank you for the reply!
post #4 of 20
Your CD player cannot play anything other than 16/44, nor will anything more even fit on a CD. HDCD uses some trickery to extract 16/20 from an audio CD.

Mastering is another question entirely, and obviously there are wide variations in the resolution of master tapes. But its false hope to think any of this makes a difference in the quality of what you hear on the final disc. Even the finest high-res master can be destroyed by duplication houses when they make the distribution master, and there are many examples of that happening. there are several steps along the way between recording and duplication for distribution where audio quality is maintained or lost.

To answer your question more directly, you're better off reading reviews from users and critics to find out if a specific release on CD has superior quality or not.
post #5 of 20
Ever CD that has ever been made is 16/44.1 and can't be anything else. tThere is NO such thing as a 24/96 CD or any other bit/sampling rate.

*Red Book CD is fixed at 16/44.1 period.

* There was a 4 channel 14/32 (???) that was part of the original spec but was never used.
post #6 of 20
As William said all CDs are 16/44.1. Are you talking about DVD-As or SACDs perhaps? If you see 24/96 on a CD it is likely referring to the mastering of the disk.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hmm, now that I think of it, the 24/96 were SACD's. Sorry about that.

So, in reading everyones responses above, a CD is a CD, domestic or import. That unless it's a SACD or DVDA, it can't be higher than 16/44.1K.

If that's the case, what is exactly the attraction to paying upwards of twice the money for an import CD over a domestic version? I don't get it??

Thanks again!
post #8 of 20
Nope SACDs aren't even PCM although lots of players will convert it to 24/88.1 PCM. SACDs are DSD which is 1bit/2.8224 MHz where as 24bit/96Khz PCM is on a lot of DVD-As and some BD's.

It is all in the mix and remastering. The master may be 24/96 before downrezing to CD, I believe some CDs specify this so that may be what you are thinking of.
Edited by obie_fl - 1/8/13 at 2:55pm
post #9 of 20
A lot of CDs from Japan (and "made in Japan") may have different mastering (24/96 mastering from whatever source, including analogue) and manufacturing process (like Blu-spec, some gold colour '24K GOLD') and can be limited numbered editions. There are other fanciful labels in use, like K2HD, DSD (referring to the transfer from analogue or original recorded format) but at the end they all have to conform to the RB standard if called a CD and have the standard CD logo.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmagloo View Post

Hmm, now that I think of it, the 24/96 were SACD's. Sorry about that.
So, in reading everyones responses above, a CD is a CD, domestic or import. That unless it's a SACD or DVDA, it can't be higher than 16/44.1K.
If that's the case, what is exactly the attraction to paying upwards of twice the money for an import CD over a domestic version? I don't get it??
Thanks again!

You've missed the point, which is that it's not about the sample rate that music is delivered in, it's about the care and quality of the mastering and distribution chain. Typically, some releases may cost more because its more expensive to do it right. Often the import CDs are better sounding, but it's not because of any difference in the CD itself.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well, that's what I'm driving at. If a CD is limited physically to a BR/HZ, that's exactly what I'm trying to sort out.

If imports are indeed 'cut' from a higher quality master, that creates a better sounding CD, it's worthwhile to me. However, are ALL import versions better than the domestic versions? Or, is it hit or miss?

And, that lends itself to question number two. In the absence of any vendor I've found so far that will dive into the spec's so you can sort out a difference, how do you tell if indeed the import version is created better than the domestic version? Is there an online resource where you can look this up.

Thanks.
post #12 of 20
Basically you read reviews and use your own ears. A lot of this comes down to personal preference also.
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Seems like there's an opportunity out there for an enterprising soul or a current vendor who is looking for a larger market share to tackle this. Seems counter-intuitive to expect folks to buy both versions of a release to discern a difference, if they cannot find a discussion about a specific release. And, without publicly disclosing format/mastering differences of imports, seems the situation exists for folks getting ripped, if indeed the more expensive import just has different artwork. Strange that there doesn't seem to be any industry interest or obligation to highlight what an import version provides above and beyond.

Point in case, here's the links for both versions of Spirit Caravan's Last Embrace:

Domestic - http://www.importcds.com/music/136910/spirit-caravan-last-embrace

Import - http://www.importcds.com/music/1671088/spirit-caravan-last-embrace

Nothing to detemine any differences. The question of differences for the import from multiple vendors, even the label have gone unanswered or with no specific guidance. While releases like Hotel California might get plenty of play on discussion boards, that's just not the case with more obscure releases, hence the question.

Thanks for your insight.
post #14 of 20
http://store.acousticsounds.com/

Accoutic sounds is a decent resource for the items they carry, mainly vinyl, SACD and CD.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmagloo View Post

Seems like there's an opportunity out there for an enterprising soul or a current vendor who is looking for a larger market share to tackle this. Seems counter-intuitive to expect folks to buy both versions of a release to discern a difference, if they cannot find a discussion about a specific release. And, without publicly disclosing format/mastering differences of imports, seems the situation exists for folks getting ripped, if indeed the more expensive import just has different artwork. Strange that there doesn't seem to be any industry interest or obligation to highlight what an import version provides above and beyond.
Point in case, here's the links for both versions of Spirit Caravan's Last Embrace:
Domestic - http://www.importcds.com/music/136910/spirit-caravan-last-embrace
Import - http://www.importcds.com/music/1671088/spirit-caravan-last-embrace
Nothing to detemine any differences. The question of differences for the import from multiple vendors, even the label have gone unanswered or with no specific guidance. While releases like Hotel California might get plenty of play on discussion boards, that's just not the case with more obscure releases, hence the question.
Thanks for your insight.

Google "Steve Hoffman Forums" and head over there. That site exists to give voice to those that obsess over CD mastering differences.

Brian
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys!
post #17 of 20
I was going to recommend the Hoffman Forum too but it is easy to get sucked into that blackhole and never come back. wink.gif
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
I noticed. Hard to focus on work with that site open!
post #19 of 20
Technically, some redbook CDs are encoded as HDCDs. Theoretically the specifications for HDCD exceed normal redbook standards and still work on all CD players. But in general the answer is no, any CD that can play is encoded to the normal redbook specs.
post #20 of 20
There are many audio discs which are loosely called CDs but which are recorded in non-Redbook audio formats -- HDCD, DTS, DAD, DVD-A and SACD are some of them. I've seen a BD-A format mentioned, too. They all provide "better than CD" quality, but only in so far as the bits themselves are concerned. To actually get better quality sound depends on the people doing the recording.
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