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Inconsistent Hi-Res Quality


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I've bought hundreds of dollars worth of hi-res recordings from HDTracks. Often to upgrade Redbook recordings I already own. I've found the quality of the hi-res recordings to be inconsistent. Frequently, the original Redbook recordings are superior. Case in point is Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks. I think anyone who compares the hi-res to the Redbook will find the Redbook clearly superior. I have a discerning 20+K system using ATC active studio monitors and a Bricasti M1 SE DAC.

 

I realize this issue has everything to do with the label's remastering and transfer process and not HDTracks. Still, is there any way we can download a 40 to 60-second sample of the tracks in hi-res in order to determine the quality before purchase? Or have unbiased reviews of the recording quality published on the site? I've been burned so many times with inferior hi-res recordings that I have stopped purchasing downloads unless I have confirmation from other sources that the recordings are good. For music that I don't already own, I'll buy the CD from Amazon and rip it myself.

 

I'd say this issue has cost you at least a thousand dollars worth of purchases from me, and I'd imagine others feel the same way. Allowing us to know of the quality before download might also force the record companies to actually care about the hi-res product they release.

 

In my subjective opinion, this is an issue blocking the critical path of your company's success.

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Agreed. Having been burned by HDTracks once too often, I now avoid it altogether.

Agree that HDTracks may be the "most popular offender" though I see the problem as one that's at the root of "what's wrong with HiRes audio." I've been "burned" from various suppliers. The best defense I know of at this point is to require info on the provenance of files being considered for purchase.

Can't say I'm a fan of MQA (yet) but it does purport to address some of the issues. There needs to be REAL progress on this issue. After feeling that I've thrown away too many of my music buying $$ I have established a personal moratorium on new purchases .... I've "violated" it a few special cases, though I've cut back my purchases drastically.

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Agree that HDTracks may be the "most popular offender" though I see the problem as one that's at the root of "what's wrong with HiRes audio." I've been "burned" from various suppliers. The best defense I know of at this point is to require info on the provenance of files being considered for purchase.

Can't say I'm a fan of MQA (yet) but it does purport to address some of the issues. There needs to be REAL progress on this issue. After feeling that I've thrown away too many of my music buying $$ I have established a personal moratorium on new purchases .... I've "violated" it a few special cases, though I've cut back my purchases drastically.

 

I agree. This isn't HDTrack's fault, but they can choose to be part of the solution but so far they're not. For example, something as simple as customer reviews would be a step in the right direction.

 

I'm sure there are some labels that are consistently good, mostly jazz and classical I presume. But when you purchase popular music, new or reissue, the odds are better at the blackjack table.

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I'm sure there are some labels that are consistently good, mostly jazz and classical I presume. But when you purchase popular music, new or reissue, the odds are better at the blackjack table.

 

For old recordings, CD reissues from the late 80s or early 90s are usually the best bet. The early issues with digital had been worked out, and the loudness wars had yet to begin. Most recordings on tape have precious little information beyond the abilities of CD anyway.

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For old recordings, CD reissues from the late 80s or early 90s are usually the best bet. The early issues with digital had been worked out, and the loudness wars had yet to begin. Most recordings on tape have precious little information beyond the abilities of CD anyway.

 

It does seem like better analog tapes are often found and used for many post 90s remasters. The downside though is the loudness wars. So there may be a tradeoff between generational losses in the analog tape used for the CD master vs compression applied digitally.

 

I think many of the earliest CDs were done from whichever tape was easier to find because of the view that "most recordings on tape have precious little information beyond the abilities of CD anyway". Backlash against this encouraged the labels to do a do-over and remaster from the original master tapes if possible.

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It does seem like better analog tapes are often found and used for many post 90s remasters. The downside though is the loudness wars. So there may be a tradeoff between generational losses in the analog tape used for the CD master vs compression applied digitally.

 

I think many of the earliest CDs were done from whichever tape was easier to find because of the view that "most recordings on tape have precious little information beyond the abilities of CD anyway". Backlash against this encouraged the labels to do a do-over and remaster from the original master tapes if possible.

Even with better tapes, the benefits of a hires transfer are subtle best and do not make up for botched loudness war remastering.

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I agree. This isn't HDTrack's fault, but they can choose to be part of the solution but so far they're not. For example, something as simple as customer reviews would be a step in the right direction.

 

I'm sure there are some labels that are consistently good, mostly jazz and classical I presume. But when you purchase popular music, new or reissue, the odds are better at the blackjack table.

 

I have had the same experience and nowadays will buy from HD-Tracks only if there's some provenance information attached to the album, or if I can find some reviews from users and/or audiophiles who have verified its file quality. Otherwise it's pretty much a crap shoot :-)

 

The Hi Res market is so small that I'm not expecting the labels to care.

Let every eye ear negotiate for itself and trust no agent. (Shakespeare)

The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas)

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I realize this issue has everything to do with the label's remastering and transfer process and not HDTracks. Still, is there any way we can download a 40 to 60-second sample of the tracks in hi-res in order to determine the quality before purchase? Or have unbiased reviews of the recording quality published on the site?

 

Sound clips would indeed be very helpful. They don't need to be in hi-rez, 16/44 FLAC would already allow to check for compression or bad mastering.

 

I don't believe in site reviews, since most would be posted by clueless hi-rez fanboys. That was for example the case on sa-cd.net. More misleading than helpful.

Claude

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A really great pop album that can show the advantages of high res is Joni Mitchell's "court and spark". The remastering is close like an MFSL standard, a really enjoyable piece.

That's about all that comes to mind of exceptional transfers, the 96-24 Dark Side of the Moon is easily eclipsed by the SACD.

 

If it's convenient at the time I will download the pop hires, but can wait for the CD as a preference. As already mentioned, classical or jazz has a better score rate where hires can shine usually quite well.

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That's a bit extreme. Some labels are consistently good. Chesky, for instance, and HDTracks is the natural place to get their productions.

 

You are probably right. But if you have consistently hit-or-miss experiences one place and consistently good experiences at another...well....

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Or have unbiased reviews of the recording quality published on the site? I've been burned so many times with inferior hi-res recordings that I have stopped purchasing downloads unless I have confirmation from other sources that the recordings are good. For music that I don't already own, I'll buy the CD from Amazon and rip it myself.

 

Unbiased review impossible for an audio records. As high-resolution as Redbook. It always will subjective:

 

1. Different playback apparatus - different sound.

 

2. Different mode (hi-res vs. 16/44) of single apparatus - different sound.

 

3. Sound enhancing during re-mastering/re-production (compression, EQ, gain altering, etc.) - different sound.

 

Objective measurable estimation is impossible because impossibly abstract (without certain playback apparatus) comparing original (analog) and result as Redbook as hi-res.

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Try the SACD/DSD of Blood on the Tracks - sounds very good.

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Wow!

A bevy of posts by mansr, and not one that I am able to disagree with ! (grin)

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

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Actually, I read your reply too quickly, I thought you wrote Blood, Sweat & Tears. I haven't heard the DSD of Blood on the Tracks. I'll try to find it.

 

There are 2 at acoustic sounds: the original Sony - which I have and think is very good; and the MFSL - which I haven't heard but I'm sure is also great.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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There are 2 at acoustic sounds: the original Sony - which I have and think is very good; and the MFSL - which I haven't heard but I'm sure is also great.

 

Thanks, I just purchased the Columbia/Legacy DSD at acoustic sounds. It definitely is better than the 24/96. Unfortunately, I

didn't see any mobile fidelity downloads.

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I must take back what I said about HDTracks. I don't know if I'm going soft in the head or what but I logged onto my account there to find out what album it was that I felt burned by, only to discover that the album I'd downloaded is one of my all-season, go-to favs, with exquisite sound.

 

So, my apologies for inpugning HDTracks unfairly.

 

 

P.S. Here's the album, btw. Cannot recommend highly enough.

 

http://www.hdtracks.com/mozart-violin-concertos

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The Hoffman Music Corner can be helpful with getting reviews of new & old HD material if you have the constitution for it..

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