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Sky's HD programming sounds better than my cd rips


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To my dismay, the audio on Sky's HD programming sounds better than my cd rips to hard drive. Is this possible? My chain is pretty good (to my ears). I connect via wireless modem/router to a Logitech Transporter. Analog out is to a Pathos Classic One-mkIII w/Zu interconnects. Speakers are Focal/JM Lab Daline w/DH Lab speaker cables. The listening room is incredible good. I am/was very satisfied with my set-up - until I added Sky Italia into the mix. It seems that when I watch any HD broadcast the sound seems to improve. It is most noticeable in the soundstage. Am I imagining this? I've been an audio geek for my whole adult life, so I kind of know what I'm doing. Perhaps the ripping process is to blame:

 

Sony Vaio notebook - ripped via windows lossless - converted by media monkey to flac - stored on a WD external portable hard drive.

 

I welcome any and all suggestions. Grazie in advance.

 

iMac - iTunes(AIFF) - Squeeze 7.9- QOBUZ flac streamer - Vodafone Revolution Router - Transporter - Pathos Classic One MkIII - JM/Focal Daline 3 - dhLabs & Xindak xlr cables - Mapleshade header and footers - AppleTV3

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Not sure this is necessarily the right solution, but... Download dbpoweramp onto the vaio, there's a full featured free trial for a month, and rip using that. You need to read spoon's ripping guide on the dbpoweramp website - quite detailed, but economically written. That should explain how the current rips you have may be sub-optimal. However, if you securely rip a CD, and dbpoweramp says it's an accurate rip after the first pass, then you probably haven't improved over the rip you managed to get originally. If, on the other hand, you see dbpoweramp doing a lot of work to extract a rip, then the chances are that your existing rips incorporate interpolation, where the original ripper you used was unable to read certain bits of the CD and filled in the gaps. Interpolation is just what CD players do to overcome read errors, but dbpoweramp has the luxury of not having to do everything in realtime.

 

However, it's unlikely that ripping errors would account for a wholesale change in sound. I'm not sure, but think audio from Sky HD is losslessly compressed, so I don't think the SQ is at all bad, but you would have thought the soundstage from well-recorded and ripped albums would not be noticeably worse than Sky HD. Maybe your Transporter is on the blink, or maybe the power supply in the Sky box is disturbing the Transporter, so it's worth listening to the Transporter with the Sky box unplugged.

 

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Please check the volume level of the Sky music. I'm willing to bet there is quite a bit of dynamic compression going on. That of course gives the false impression of better for most people.

 

Of course better is a subjective term that nobody can argue about. What sound better to you doesn't have to be more accurate.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Ziggy. Thank you for your comments. I purchased dbpoweramp recently. Unfortunately, it was after ripping my entire music collection a few years ago. I did rip something yesterday(per your advice). The rip was accurate in one pass so I think my original theory was wrong. I also unplugged the SKY box. There was no noticeable difference. Perhaps I'm imagining all of this. Please see Chris' comment in this thread. Again, thank you for your help.

 

iMac - iTunes(AIFF) - Squeeze 7.9- QOBUZ flac streamer - Vodafone Revolution Router - Transporter - Pathos Classic One MkIII - JM/Focal Daline 3 - dhLabs & Xindak xlr cables - Mapleshade header and footers - AppleTV3

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Chris, thank you. The volume level was my first thought, as well. I just checked it again. It is synced with the other inputs. I also checked the Sky box menu for audio output (stereo) and format (mpeg). As I said to the above commenter, perhaps it is my imagination. I just have this nagging suspicion that something is amiss. I've been at this hobby for my entire adult life and worked as a sound engineer and electronics geek in an earlier existence. Perhaps the visual cues when watching HDTV aid the placement of sounds and voices within the soundstage. Obviously this is missing when listening to audio alone. Thank you for your input and thank you for a terrific website.

 

iMac - iTunes(AIFF) - Squeeze 7.9- QOBUZ flac streamer - Vodafone Revolution Router - Transporter - Pathos Classic One MkIII - JM/Focal Daline 3 - dhLabs & Xindak xlr cables - Mapleshade header and footers - AppleTV3

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I am of the opinion that where speakers sit in a room with reference to the back wall makes a gigantic difference re: "depth", "space", "air".

 

If speakers are close to the wall I think one's eye-brain just won't allow you to "hear" these qualities (or at least does so at a reduced level) and that when speakers are way out in the room, the eye-brain can "get it".

 

There is the also the confounding factor of speaker and wall audio interaction which would color audio things also.

 

This might also explain why listening in dark room or with eyes closed is preferred by some

 

Has anyone else noted this (or is it only me)?

 

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Perhaps the visual cues when watching HDTV aid the placement of sounds and voices within the soundstage.

 

I wouldn't underestimate this! My tv is in a corner, just outside of my speakers, but film and television audio still seems to be largely centred around the screen. Surprisingly so. My speakers are positioned for hi-fi, so I'm not worried about the compromised AV experience (of course I wouldn't build a home cinema that way), but I thought that the positioning might ruin the AV experience to the extent that it would force me to use the tv's built in speakers. Well, not at all.

 

I think Chris was suggesting (and apologies if I'm off base) that even if the volume settings are identical between Sky and the Transporter on your setup, the sound may yet be louder (and may then be perceived as better, more detailed, more impressive) from the Sky box, if dynamic compression were applied by Sky. It may vary program by program, and can appear to a very great extent on some CDs, but it's possible. I've no idea whether Sky add their own compression or not, but it would likely kill the mood in quiet films. It can make the overall sound 'pop out' more, but often to the detriment of contrast within a piece. I wouldn't have thought it would improve imaging though, beyond any imaging benefits derived from the extra loudness.

 

 

Hopefully, after a couple of minutes of having the tv off, and the hi-fi on, the much greater fidelity of the hi-fi will begin to tell (although I like Sky HD audio in stereo, music programs broadcast by Sky HD are often not bad, certainly better than SD equivalents, and that's just using the sky box's built in dac!) As a test, you could compare the Sky soundstage with the tv switched off, vs having it on, and see whether it has any effect. I'd suggest comparing Sky v transporter, with tv switched off, but it would be hard to play the same music.

 

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