Defining Confusing Audio Terms

Discussion in 'The Steam Vent' started by admin, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

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    In any industry, you'll run into specific lexicons. These are words that may mean completely different things in a different setting. Go into a theater and tell an actor to "break a leg" and they'll thank you. Walk into an MMA match and you'll receive a completely different reaction. We run across a number of terms that have different meanings depending on who you talk to. We've taken some and listed them along with, when possible, the meanings to the different groups. Enjoy.
    [​IMG]

    Discuss "Defining Confusing Audio Terms" here. Read the article.
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  2. Alex2507 Audioholic Slumlord

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    Tom,

    It was smart of you to move to the other side of the planet before you started bashing the scratchiness found on vinyl.
    I wouldn't be caught dead talking like that while still on the same continent as 3db.
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  3. GO-NAD! Audioholic Ninja

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    Very entertaining!:p

    Except:

    Them's fightin' words!:mad:

    :D
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  4. NewYorkBlack Banned

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    Wow, I don't know which one is worse the General or the Audiophile.
    Can you do a list of the contributions the "Audiophile" has made to the industry?
  5. Frans Junior Audioholic

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    Lol Tom! Normally you go overboard with your rants. This, however, is spot-on and golden! The soundbar and Bose are sadly omitted, come to think of it.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  6. fightinkraut Full Audioholic

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    This is quite excellent, thanks for the laughs!
  7. Tom Andry Speaker of the House

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    Soundbar should have definitely been in there.
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  8. LXIX Audiophyte

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    You forgot....

    Reel to Reel,

    An actual high performance analog format that an Audiophile has never heard of because you can't spend $10K on a needle that can make it sound "meatier with a hint of fragrant fruit overtones."
    LXIX,
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  9. Time_Stand_Stil Junior Audioholic

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    Vinyl: "Audioholic - a format that just WON'T DIE!!!!"


    Tom, that is because it does not deserve to die. And no not only audiophiles have an appreciation for vinyl, many hi-fi fans and music listeners do. Its sound quality and its physical, hold in your hands presence has a quality to it.

    If an Audioholic cries " a format that just WON'T DIE!!!"as to vinyl, that audioholic lacks an appreciation for the fine sound quality good vinyl gives. Not only that, they also lack an appreciation for the beauty of it as a physical medium

    Ain't no MP3, Streaming Audio, Lossless downloads or even a CD can compare to vinyl in these regards.:cool:
  10. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    Sorry, but I'm really itching to say something about correlation between "Press Release" and product "Previews" and the fact later is too often placed in same place as real product reviews. I really wish that all "previews" will find their place under News & Opinion section.

    I hope I didn't offend anyone - it wasn't my intention, but it makes product reviews library much less useful and harder to navigate

    This should not taken as a criticism , but as a constructive suggestion and nothing more :)
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  11. DS-21 Full Audioholic

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    This piece had me chuckling out loud a couple times. Nicely done!

    Agreed, but only because there's good music on vinyl that hasn't yet made it over to a better modern format.
  12. Tom Andry Speaker of the House

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    lol - This is so true it hurts.
  13. Tom Andry Speaker of the House

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    I can't really speak for Clint or Gene, but a lot of times the decision where to place thing on the site happen on the fly and then we are sort of stuck with them. Usually what happens is when we do a site redesign (not sure if one of these is on the horizon or not), we reorganize in a way that makes more sense. I'm sure your comment is taken in the spirit it was offered.
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  14. Time_Stand_Stil Junior Audioholic

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    Maybe it is because there is no modern format that is conclusively better. Maybe different but IMO not better.

    There are a few true high quality digital formats, Hi-rez audio down to Redbook CD but each carries their warts too.

    Put together a competent vinyl rig with a proper set up. Put on a quality LP that is well kept. With it cue'd up and playing invite anyone who you know who listens to music in a quality/serious to enjoy way into the listening room and watch as their jaws drop and they sit with ease into a chair, shut up and just listen. All too many will never have had an experience like that with any digital format. Oh a well made CD can get one close, a good hi-rez disc or download format will get you closer yet, but a quality (and no it need not be mega bucks) vinyl rig but just a carefully/properly setup one with a good condition LP is generally more pleasurable, more organic and easy to just sit and listen to.
  15. DS-21 Full Audioholic

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    Incorrect.

    Anyone who puts any thought into it will realize that the actual reasons why some great performances/recordings that were pressed to vinyl never made it to CD are some or all of the following:
    (1) rights issues, and/or
    (2) nobody's found an economic incentive to transfer said performance to a modern format, and/or
    (3) no useable master tapes exist (i.e. they were destroyed by fire, flood, the 1970s tape formulation crisis, etc.).

    Depends on one's definition of "better," I suppose.

    If one's definition includes "bass," "treble," "dynamic range," "low noise floor," and/or "discrete multichannel," then vinyl is a wildly inferior format.

    If one's "better" is more like "calls up feelings of nostalgia in baby boomers, young retro fetishists, and Rice Krispies fans" then you are right, no digital medium can compare.

    That's about music, not a fetish for an antiquated music delivery medium.

    Simply not true, at least if one excludes tin-earred retro fetishist snobs...

    Someone who loves music (as opposed to gear) can get that feeling from a crappy 128kbps MP3 on disposable earbuds, if the performance is inspired enough.

    Actually, anyone who's serious about music reproduction is aware of the Meyer and Moran study published in JAES that showed hi-rez indistinguishable from hi-rez with an AD/DA loop and downconversion to 16/44.1...

    The only innate advantage of hi-rez over Red Book is that the newer disks can hold multiple discrete channels.

    That is your personal opinion, not a general statement of fact. My personal opinion is that you're all wet. But I will always have a TT and the gear to set it up properly (as well as machine to vacuum-clean records), simply because I have some records that I don't have in modern formats.
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  16. Time_Stand_Stil Junior Audioholic

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    DS-21

    My response to your comments.

    Of course much of the music released on vinyl in the past was never transferred to another format due to the reasons you noted. My point there was more tongue in cheek.

    That said YOU can think vinyl is an inferior format but you are incorrect on some of the points you make.

    BASS & TREBLE: Nope, nothing suggests vinyl cannot meet and exceed either extreme as compared to any digital format. Lets first talk bass. Bass on vinyl is summed below 50hz, so what? That level of frequency bass is no longer stereo anyways so summing it in the mastering process works well and is a none issue. Vinyl LP's can and have produced base to 20hz. which is all more than enough to any human's hearing.

    Treble: Vinyl LP's have been made to show high frequencies going above 30Khz. Try that with your MP3/lossy formats or your brick walled CD's. Nothing prevents vinyl from going even higher. Back in the 70's during the short Quad era quad discs were pushing above 40Khz in some cases. So no your incorrect there.

    DYNAMIC RANGE: Ahhhh yes, dynamic range the biggest selling feature of digital. SO FREAKING WHAT? A few weeks ago I cleared this up when Tom previewed the AT turntable. I guess you missed it. So lets discuss.

    You like 96db dynamic range on a 16 bit CD system? Well too bad you are not getting it and won't either on those CD's. Why? Because engineers CAN'T use it. If an engineer used all 96db available you will not be able to play the CD without being thrown out of your house by your family or the neighbours calling the cops on you. A typical house has between 25-35 db inherent background noise. Your REAL NOISE FLOOR! This means you must put enough gain in your system to clear this noise floor. If the disc has 96db of range the quietest notes will be buried below your room's noise floor. So you will then have to turn up the volume to hear it. GREAT! you can hear the quiet passages now, UNITL! the music rises and the loud passages hit. Now the peaks will reach 121-131db. 96db max range + 25-35db back ground noise. Obviously TOO FREAKING LOUD!!! You then rush to lower your gain before you damage your gear, hearing and/or get chewed out by family and neighbours for rocking the hood!

    So sorry no CD's will use 96db of dynamic range nor worse the 110db+ of 24 bit Hi-rez audio. No popular /rock music even has that much range in it. HipHop/rap/trance/bubble gum pop maybe has 10-20db of dynamic range. Jazz and mostly classical will likely have more and must be engineered with more compression to keep the recording useable to the general public. So the engineers will likely at best limit dynamic range to maybe 65-75db on the mastering. This gets you a livable dynamic range when factoring again the home's background noise floor of 25-35db thus 90-110db peak volume range. LOUD! but livable in most cases. Well guess what? A proper LP can get you between 65-75db of dynamic range and thus sound just as dynamic as the CD or other digital formats you play.

    You next note format's inherent noise floor. In theory a CD will have a noise floor up to 96db below 0. Though dither added reduces that a bit. A quiet passage in a song or a between tracks will be notably quiet. But guess what? I have many LP's that are near as quiet as my CD's. Oh they may measure higher but factoring your room masks the bottom 25-35db of noise and then you won't likely find the LP to be much worse.
    Oh and those rice krispies are only an issue on a badly cared for LP's. On well made and well cared for LP's NOT AN ISSUE!. Take your finger printed up and scuffed up CD's and listen to what may go wrong there. If these are bad enough you not only get error correction working and trying to keep the music listenable but get skipping and even muting, NOT FUN! At worst on vinyl typically the stylus makes a click or a pop as it tracks a scratch but most often then just keeps plowing along the groove.

    DISCRETE/MULTI-CHANNEL: Remember or ever heard of QUAD in the 70's? 4 channel sound from vinyl, who'd a thunk it? Of course it did not catch on as most consumers were fine with stereo LP's. This goes for digital multichannel today it's a niche like Quad was in the 70's.


    "It's about the music." YES IT IS! and my point is that the quality vinyl rig will let you just listen to the music and maybe cause your jaw to drop. When listening to the music in most ways vinyl will be better than most if not all CD's. Lets not bring in those gawd awful MP3's.


    As to snobs, well you think you get a feeling to the music on a 128kb MP3 and ear buds? If so you have no clue! I listen to lossy music on my iPod but do it casually not seriously. I too enjoy good CD playback through my audio system, never said anything bad about my CD listening. I just know that in almost every case that if my LP's are in good shape (some used ones I have are so so) the LP sounds better than the CD and even better in any lifelike, enjoyable way to any DVD-A /SACD version I have compared to. But again you get a kick out of 128kb and ear buds... I don't, not when I am seriously enjoying a listening session. But hey it's your kick not mine ok?

    STUDY SHMUDDY: To a trained listener Hi-rez digital sounds better than CD. But society is use to 30 years of CD's and accept them as the physical digital format of choice. I'm fine with that and have a good quality CD player. Casual listeners in studies have shown often they can't tell 192k music from a CD. NO $hit Sherlock. General consumers typically have never cared much for quality. Never did and likely never will. I have some audio cassettes used bought from thrifts with music from a previous owners on them. Most were AM recordings of music. Some were poorly tuned FM stereo tape. One was only the LEFT CHANNEL! the right was blank. The listener use was obviously fine with this. But I'm not taking about them. I'm talking about music listeners who care to learn to hear music well and to better build home audio systems. You will likely find most if given a proper audition will prefer vinyl over most any digital choice. Most though will never get the opportunity. Most folks think the BOSE Wave Radio is uber hi-fi!!!

    The only person wet around here has been you.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
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  17. Swerd Audioholic Ninja

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    I will make one simple statement of fact. No tweeters "back in the 70's" could reproduce sound as high as 20 kHz, much less at 30-40 kHz. Today there are a few ribbon or planar tweeters that can do that, but most, if not all, dome tweeters cannot make sound much above 20 kHz.

    The same can be said about the high frequency abilities of recording microphones. Likewise for human hearing above 20 kHz.

    So saying that vinyl LPs are better than brick walled CDs because of the higher treble response, is frankly, for the dogs ;).
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  18. Time_Stand_Stil Junior Audioholic

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    Swerd,


    Ribbon tweeters go back 50 years. They easily reached into the 40K range. Domes go back to the 70's. My point though is that vinyl has no inability to reproduce any frequency needed for proper music reproduction. And yes QUAD LP's did go above 40Khz so mics were obviously available to do so and as per course back in the 70s. The reel to reel decks used to record music at 15ips or30ips could go into such stratospheric levels.

    I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from listening to any formal digital or analogue. But only arguing about ignorance by non vinyl listeners who throw out such nonsense and drivel when denigrating what properly made and properly played back vinyl can sound like.

    As to the ultimate in analogue sound, that would be reel to reel and at min. 7.5ips or higher 15ips and even 30ips (though consumer decks never had 30ips)

    Said reel to reels are still in most every way the defacto best standard for pure audio nirvana.
  19. DS-21 Full Audioholic

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    Nice backpedal, but whatever.

    A more serious observer would merely note two things here.

    First, digital is not bandwidth-limited to 20Hz but extends down to DC. For people who enjoy organ music, the difference is material. Vinyl is almost always steeply filtered at somewhere between 20 and 40Hz by the phono preamp's rumble filter.

    Second, there is a tradeoff between playing time and bass extension on LP's. Yes, it is certainly possible to get very deep bass on vinyl - but the grooves have to be very widely spaced. And even then, the needle may well jump out of them!

    Here, for instance, is a picture of the grooves containing the cannon shots on the infamous (because it combines insipid playing with tremendous deep bass, I guess) Kunzel/CinnPops 1812 on Telarc:

    [​IMG]


    In practice, real existing vinyl systems have a top end of somewhere between maybe 8-12kHz. And it gets slightly worse every time one plays the record. Something about dragging a rock through semi-solidified oil, I guess.

    And it gets much worse so if one's not fanatical about TT setup and record cleaning, but the degradation occurs even if one is fanatical about maintaining the equipment and media.

    Obviously, a playback system with no physical contact (be it optical - which we still have to deal with for SAVD and DVD-A - or magnetic in the case of the modern music server holding losslessly-compressed files) will be superior over time in terms of degradation.

    That is the kind of answer that separates someone seeking high-fidelity reproduction from a retro fetishist.

    "near as quiet" = inferior.

    Thank you for at least acknowledging one facet of simple reality.

    Not "discrete-slash-multichannel, discrete multichannel. There is a material difference between the two.

    Multichannel could include matrixed formats like quad or Dolby Pro Logic. Discrete multichannel is just that - separate channels, entirely autonomous from one another.

    The enduring crime of vinyl is that it crippled stereo. Stereo was supposed to be a three channel medium, with a hard center. But that couldn't be cut into vinyl, so the industry hacked it down to 2-channel.

    "It's about the music." YES IT IS! and my point is that the quality vinyl rig will let you just listen to the music and maybe cause your jaw to drop.[/quote]

    You're making it about the gear, not the music.

    That tells me all anyone needs to know about your level of intellectual rigor.

    That's often true. However, that's generally because mixes intended for hi-rez media tend to be higher-fidelity (less compression, mostly). They are not, however, above the capability of Red Book.

    (I also suspect the many, many members of the Boston Audio Society who participated in Meyer and Moran's tests have at least the level of listener training that you do.)

    If you seriously believe that, I can only include that you need better loudspeakers, or better placement thereof.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  20. Time_Stand_Stil Junior Audioholic

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    DS-21,


    It does not matter if technically digital can go to DC. No material is produced that low. Vinyl more than covers any frequency needed for music.

    As to highs sorry you are wrong. Vinyl has full ability to go right past 20Khz. Many discs have and do. It is no more bothered by highs than CD or other digital is. As to each play wearing it down, another fib. Numerous studies back in the day of vinyls popularity showed vinyl resilience to wear. Vinyl is not a solid, it retains a natural flexibility and a memory effect. As long as the user has a proper table set up, a good and clean cartridge, one could play record OVER AND OVER into the 100+ times before any measurable but not audible effects were shown. If a user rested vinyl as likely 99.999999999% would between plays it was as a multiple even further.


    I also know all about groove spacing, a good record cutter tech took care to give wide fidelity and playing time. I never argued vinyl has the playing time of a CD either. Most LP's are between 18-24 min per side if one wanted to keep proper fidelity. Playing time is a selling tool for CD's


    As to care of products, most users who would treat records poorly would be just as bad on CD's. Scuffed up, finger printed up CD's sound worse by skipping and muting to name two reasons over LP's. As to longevity, we have shellac 78's going back near 100 years that play properly today. LP's going back 60 odd years playing properly. Lets see what ever digital format you choose last that long let alone a magnetic H/D storage where at most they will likely fail within 3-4-5-6 years.


    My point on dynamic range was clear. It does not matter what digital says dynamic range can be, NOBODY USES ALL OF IT! In fact thanks to the idiocy of the loudness wars really due to digital mastering, digital has lower and lower dynamic range in the consumer audio products world than any other notable format in history of recorded music. Same goes with quietness, theory is irrelevant. I have LP's that you'd never know were so based soley on quietness of their noise floor. You can argue measured theory but much of it is again irrelevant.

    One other thing, analogue has infinite resolution, it does no sampling. No digital format has infinite resolution.

    Discrete audio is again a niche. Look at what folks are buying in digital audio. So by all means stick to your niche. I'm not saying discrete digital is bad. Most consumers buy CD's (stereo) and lossy formats (stereo). Vinyl has the same stereo effect and again on a good rig likely favoured by most who will get a chance to hear it. As to a centre channel that would then not have been stereo.


    Again most listeners who are more serious and/or better trained to hear audio will pick out hi-rez digital from 16bit or lossy without much problem. Casual listeners may not be so good at such


    LOL, my speakers are quite competent and the set up I have done is likely as good if not higher effort than you and surely much more effort put in than 9/10 typical folks would. I'd say that I understand the integration of speakers into a room and not only do I carefully set them properly apart, I used laser pointers and a tape measure to adjust them, DO YOU!?! I also have incorporated judicious use of room treatments, YEAH, TOM WILL BE HAPPY AT THAT!:D

    And yes, every person I have ever given an audition of digital vs LP have preferred the sound of the LP. And NO I did not pre-coach them either. Many others on various hi-fi forums have said similar with their sessions among family and friends.

    Look, again I'm not trying to dis digital or talk you/anyone out of it. If it makes you happy than so be it. I like my CD's too. I have about 300 CD's going right back to my first bought in 1984. I was a rather early adopter of it. I just hate vinyl bashers who likely have never heard good vinyl playback speak drivel and nonsense about vinyl playback.

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