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Assuring the provenance of our listening.


Norton
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My take on the MQA debate, if debate is the appropriate word, is that many of the issues raised are much wider and long standing, rather than confined to MQA.

 

For example, while MQA's declared mission does add a certain level of irony to the matter, concerns about the provenance of masters and the music we listen to could equally be raised for non-MQA music distribution over the last 3 decades at least.  Some labels are better than others, but even when attempted, explanations are often opaque and open to interpretation.

 

Rather like an elaboration of the DDD, ADD of the CD era, why not simply require all music distribution of any format, including streaming, to adopt a  labelling system showing the format, bit depth and resolution of the 1. original recording, 2. master and 3. distributed product?

 

In addition, stages could be colour-coded shown in green or red to indicate whether or not additional processing was involved.  

 

Thus 3 green "24/96"s would indicate music recorded, mastered and distributed at 24/96 with no intermediary resampling, transcoding etc.  If the middle 24/96 was in red, this would indicate that the master hadn't been prepared directly from the original recording.  If the final 24/96 was red this would indicate that the current distribution didn't come directly from the master ( e.g. maybe that the original distribution  was at 16:44 and the current distribution is simply an upsample of that).  Some DSD downloads might be labelled "DSD256", "DXD", "DSD64".  Some analogue tape transfers might be "A", "DSD256", "24/96" etc etc.

 

Seems a practical and relatively simple way to quality assure our listening.

 

 

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Actually if they cared to, this sounds like a place where blockchains would work.  Of course it is inherently DRM at the same time.   

 

Of course the music industry may be the one place where the obfuscation is to their benefit in reselling the same product several times.  

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Buy your content from online suppliers that note the provenance of their content.  Reward those providers with repeat business.  ProStudioMasters is one of those sites.

 

Streaming provider will never provide that information.  50 percent of their users only require one ear bud when listening to music, the other 49.9 percent that need 2 ear buds just want to listen to their favorite music.

 

That leaves us the .1 percent.

Roon Rock->Auralic Aria G2->Schiit Yggdrasil A2->McIntosh C47->McIntosh MC301 Monos->Wilson Audio Sabrinas

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If we're talking about music from the 3 major labels (no doubt small indie labels often have solid provenance info), the most provenance info I've seen is on HD Tracks.  And even there, it's rare.  The truth is, the major labels don't want you to know provenance lest you hesitate in your purchase decision.  Capturing 80s Redbook (or sometimes even less than Redbook) resolution digital material to analog tape, then later capturing that tape at 192kHz digital and declaring it to be the "audiophile" remaster is not unusual.  But it's extremely rare for the labels to fess up to this.

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9 hours ago, Norton said:

 

Rather like an elaboration of the DDD, ADD of the CD era, why not simply require all music distribution of any format, including streaming, to adopt a  labelling system showing the format, bit depth and resolution of the 1. original recording, 2. master and 3. distributed product?

 

 

 

Norton (and everyone else), 

 

I am genuinely confused by this question.  "Why not" you ask.  Well, who is going to do the "requiring"?  Do you mean that there should be legislation in the various countries?  A kind of rider on existing consumer protection laws I suppose?

 

Do you mean that we as musical consumers have some kind of leverage and interest in this?  Surely not the majority consumer - he has no interest at all.  Do you mean the 1% (or whatever tiny # it truly is) of Audiophiles?  How are we going to "require" such a standard?

 

Do you mean a format that somehow "requires" provenance?  As MQA has demonstrated it does not really care about this chain (even though this was an original selling point).  Of course, this is no surprise (excepting perhaps to the audiophile press who liked the "idea" of end to end but seem constitutionally unable to face reality) as where is the financial incentive for some kind of discipline and reporting around provenance?  How much more are you willing to spend per album for accurate provenance?

 

 

Hey MQA, if it is not all $voodoo$, show us the math!

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1 hour ago, Samuel T Cogley said:

If we're talking about music from the 3 major labels (no doubt small indie labels often have solid provenance info), the most provenance info I've seen is on HD Tracks.  And even there, it's rare.  The truth is, the major labels don't want you to know provenance lest you hesitate in your purchase decision.  Capturing 80s Redbook (or sometimes even less than Redbook) resolution digital material to analog tape, then later capturing that tape at 192kHz digital and declaring it to be the "audiophile" remaster is not unusual.  But it's extremely rare for the labels to fess up to this.

highresaudio.com, Qobuz, and AcousticSounds are all very good about providing provenance info. They will also try to answer queries about provenance - HDT usually doesn't.

Capturing Redbook and lower res music to tape and then later selling it as Hi-res - without marking it as such is quite unusual as far as I can see. Usually for albums of this type it's made obvious that the source is not something stellar.  And besides that, anyone who thinks they are going to get some great hi-res sound from a 60-70 year old live club or concert recording is a fool. 

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.
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All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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27 minutes ago, firedog said:

And besides that, anyone who thinks they are going to get some great hi-res sound from a 60-70 year old live club or concert recording is a fool.

 

Or Meatloaf Bat of Hell. :)

Roon Rock->Auralic Aria G2->Schiit Yggdrasil A2->McIntosh C47->McIntosh MC301 Monos->Wilson Audio Sabrinas

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1 hour ago, firedog said:

highresaudio.com, Qobuz, and AcousticSounds are all very good about providing provenance info. They will also try to answer queries about provenance - HDT usually doesn't.

Capturing Redbook and lower res music to tape and then later selling it as Hi-res - without marking it as such is quite unusual as far as I can see. Usually for albums of this type it's made obvious that the source is not something stellar.  And besides that, anyone who thinks they are going to get some great hi-res sound from a 60-70 year old live club or concert recording is a fool.

 

Thanks for this.  I have ordered a few DSD albums from AcousticSounds and I'm slightly familiar with the others, mostly from reading about them here and on other audio forums.  It doesn't look like those streaming services are available in the U.S. yet or at all.

 

I used that Madonna album as an example where an 80s-era master that is Redbook (or, in the case of that Madonna album, less than 16 bits) and that's the only master, period.  The labels had to transcribe from the digital formats of the 80s to something that would still be readable decades later.  Analog tape is the ironic choice (film is still considered a durable archive format for picture) for longevity.

 

Speaking of provenance, does anyone know a streaming service or download service that explicitly states if audible watermarking is used?  It seems to me that's a very important aspect of provenance.  I've encountered LOTS of it in the UMG classical catalog.  But the streaming services seem fairly mum on its existence.

 

 

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