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tmtomh

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About tmtomh

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  1. Connecting my Mac mini to my DAC using a USB port on the mini that is not on a shared internal bus with other active/noisy devices is appealing to me, because it's free, it takes just a couple of minutes to figure out which port(s) are not being shared with Bluetooth (or whatever), and if it turns out I am connected to a port shared with Bluetooth, then the worst case scenario of switching to a different USB port is that the sound quality is no worse than before. Seems like a zero-risk proposition (as long as one doesn't go around asserting that certain USB ports on a mini will always or invariably sound better than others).
  2. Paul, I think this would be great - truly, I would love to see it happen. However, I must agree with @The Computer Audiophile and others that it won't happen. I have no emotional or argumentative investment in trying to prove it won't happen. I just think there's an overwhelming amount of evidence already available that demonstrates MQA/Stuart's unwillingness to engage in technical discussion of MQA outside of extremely tightly controlled environments - MQA's own marketing materials and videos, its non-blind (and often different-mastering-based) listening demonstrations, and interviews with sympathetic industry writers. While I share your faith in Chris's fairness and ability to control a moderated forum, I don't think MQA/Stuart shares that faith. And I see zero evidence (not exaggerating for effect - I truly see none) that MQA/Stuart would perceive any upside at all in agreeing to such an event. Because MQA is so much about vertical integration, it pursues most of its business goals by inking deals with content producers and distributors. So far it hasn't really needed to directly win over more than a relatively small number of hearts and minds among audio consumers in order to promote the availability of MQA content - and many of those "consumers" are actually trade publication writers and bloggers, not truly independent consumers. If progress stalls - or if its apparent lack of profitability starts to become a real problem - then it's possible MQA will change its tune. But even then, I would imagine that a forum full of people who are unaffiliated with the trade publications and who possess an unusually high degree of technical knowledge of digital audio and of MQA's weaknesses, would be the last place Stuart would want to go in order to shore up MQA's bona fides.
  3. Well, okay, sure - no disagreement there.
  4. Let me guess: no comments function on this blog?
  5. You make a very good point. But it doesn't seem relevant to MQA: files that are partway between the size of 24/48 FLAC and 24/96 FLAC are not going to make streaming any more reliable in poor-bandwidth situations. In such situations, losslessly compressed redbook is the obvious audiophile choice if possible, because it's lossless and uses less bandwidth than high-res or MQA. If high-res is desired, and somehow possible, in a lower-bandwidth situation, then 24/48 FLAC still is more feasible than MQA.
  6. Great point, and while I would call myself more of an objectivist, I share your approach. I think you hit on a key issue that cuts across the objectivist-subjectivist divide: Ultimately just as important, if not more important, than whether we can hear a difference is whether or not the degree and quality of that difference is significant to us - whether it's worth the money, the risk, the hassle, and/or changes in the listening chain or ease of use, whatever.
  7. Interesting - I've never used the dbPoweramp/HDCD plugin combo. I've only used hdcd.exe in command line mode (in a Windows emulator on my Mac). If I understand your comment correctly, it sounds like the HDCD plugin restored the limited peaks, but did not perform the accompanying - and necessary - reduction in overall gain (aka makeup gain) of the waveform. resulting in all those peaks going into clipping. Is that right? If so, I find that a little strange - to my knowledge, hdcd.exe automatically applies makeup gain (or I should say makeup attenuation) of 6dB to compensate for the louder peaks that occur when the full peaks are restored during HDCD decoding. I'd always assumed that this was just a hard-wired (so to speak) part of the HDCD spec and that any hardware or software HDCD decoder would properly adjust the gain as a matter of course. So if you did it twice, it sounds like the 2nd time you changed a setting in the decoder plugin, to make it perform the gain reduction so the restored peaks would all be below digital max aka 0.0 and avoid clipping - yes?
  8. This sounds very strange (not criticizing you; rather, referring to the Reference Recordings web site blurb). HDCD was designed for 16-bit recordings and I'm not aware of any existing decoder chips that look for HDCD data except in the 16th bit. In other words, even if Pacific Microsonics makes/made an ADC capable of applying HDCD encoding to a 24-bit data stream and burying the HDCD data in the 24th-bit, I don't think any consumer playback device could decode that. The way the Reference Recordings blurb is written, it is not clear what they mean when they say they still currently use HDCD in the production of their high-res recordings. If they do, I would guess that probably means they use Pacific Microsonics ADC units - which happen to be HDCD capable - to digitize their recordings. But I would be very surprised if they enable the substantive features of it - Peak Extend and Low-level Range Extend. It would hardly be necessary with high-res content, since high-res provides more bits and more dynamic range than HDCD (24 bits vs 20 bits), and again, AFAIK no consumer playback software or hardware could decode those features if they were embedded in the least significant bit of a 24-bit stream. In other words, one can use a Pacific Microsonics ADC for recording, and enable HDCD but not actually use any HDCD features - which means the resulting disc/file will trip an HDCD flag but there's no actual HDCD data or features in the digital content. In fact, I believe one can even use a PM ADC and simply turn off its HDCD features altogether, meaning one can record non-HDCD content using a PM unit. In that case, one might still say "we use HDCD" when they really just mean "we use PM equipment to digitize our recordings." I suspect one of these two scenarios is what happens with Reference Recordings' high-res material. So that leaves the digital filters - both the filters used in the ADC during recording, and the digital filters built in to any HDCD-certified/capable hardware playback device. Part of HDCD's claim was that the digital filters built in to HDCD hardware players were special/high-precision/very good. And presumably they were considered to match up well, or be complementary, to the filtering used by the Pacific Microsonics ADC. Software HDCD decoders/players do not, AFAIK, necessarily have such filters - or if they have multiple filters choices, I don't know that they automatically switch to HDCD filters when playing back files that were ripped from HDCD discs. Finally, as to your concern about HDCD recordings on CDs being "distorted" unless played back on HDCD hardware or software, there are two sources of distortion: Increased noise, because the HDCD data is buried in the 16th bit, meaning it's in the dither, and because HDCD data is by definition not random, it therefore makes the dither not totally randomized - and since the entire function of dither is to reduce the perception of quantization noise by randomizing it, HDCD encoding makes dither less effective. Again, this is not an issue with high-res content (because it hardly matters if it has a 23-bit effective noise floor vs 24), but theoretically an undecoded HDCD will have only a 15-bit noise floor, while a decoded HDCD will have a 20-bit noise floor. This is not distortion per se, but it does reduce S/N ratio. Distortion of peaks if Peak Extend was used. Peak Extend is a reversible soft limiter - basically just like the widespread digital limiters used (and overused) in mastering today, except HDCD Peak Extend saves the original peak info and it can be restored during playback by an HDCD-capable device or software. So playing an HDCD with Peak Extend on a non-HDCD playback device will result in the peaks being limited. That's unfortunate, but it's not going to result in audible distortion in most cases, because the peaks are soft limited rather than hard-clipped: the peaks will be altered and their dynamics reduced, but the entire point of soft limiting is that it avoids audible distortion (unless the mastering engineer pushes the levels so hard and abuses the limiter so much that it can't round off the peaks properly).
  9. Your first post asked, "what is your experience with it?" My comment was responsive to that. If you really want to keep going back and forth about what's on-topic, we can do that, but it seems beside the point. I certainly agree an HDCD thread is useful, and I'm glad you started one.
  10. Well, how worthwhile it is on balance, given the overall number of HDCDs with Peak Extend on the market, is on-topic for a thread whose title includes the phrase "HDCD feedback." But putting that aside for a moment, my comment clarified the bit-depth of the decoded HDCD stream, and that is substantive information.
  11. The Pacific Micrsonics units allow for a number of HDCD features to be turned on or off during production. Some are "transient filters" aka a primitive version of MQA's claimed filtering, whereby the HDCD music file tells the HDCD-capable playback device what filter to apply based on how the file was encoded during production. IMHO this is a useless feature. The only really useful/audible feature is Peak Extend, as noted above in this thread. Not a whole lot of HDCDs are encoded with Peak Extend. The big notable ones are much of the Grateful Dead and Neil Young catalogues. If you don't have those, then you're likely to have a very small number of Peak Extend-enabled HDCD discs in your collection. An HDCD can be ripped and then post-processed (also as noted earlier in the thread) to decode the HDCD content. The decoded HDCD stream is actually only 20-bit, but since that's an oddball bit-depth, the processing software always pads it out with 4 bits' worth of zeros, to produce a 24-bit file that can be played back pretty much any DAC. All of this illustrates why HDCD is not very compelling technology. All that hassle for just 4 extra bits of bit-depth doesn't seem worth it - especially since exactly zero HDCDs with Peak Extend have musical content whose dynamic range exceeds the 96dB range of normal 16-bit CD. So what Peak Extend really did was enable engineers to peak-limit the mastering, because HDCD allowed the limited peaks to be recovered. If they just mastered the content at the proper volume to begin with, they wouldn't have needed to limit the peaks in the first place.
  12. In the end, they all really work. You are not fully following the instructions. I know some of the instruction write-ups are not as clear as others, and there are a lot of little things that one can miss or that can go wrong. I was an experienced SACD ripper with my Oppo 105, but it still took me a little while to get my Sony 590 up and running for SACD ripping, and I needed help from folks here. It's impossible to know what's going wrong for you, but the most common problem with the Sony machines for SACD ripping is that the machine mounts the SACD (as if to play it), making the disc unavailable to the SACD ripping app - the app is unable to get control of the disc because the Sony player won't let go of control of it. The best way to solve this issue is not to try to use the telnet method, and instead use the "sleep method" with remote/server ripping.
  13. Correct. I do not know for sure what the motivation or intent is - and neither do you. The difference is, only one of us is threatened at the prospect of admitting that we're not sure. As for skills and experience to judge whether one is being snowballed, I'll happily put my skills and experience up against yours any day. But that doesn't matter, because I've already made a judgment about Iconoclast cables, and my judgment happens to agree with yours (subtantively if not rhetorically), as was made quite clear in my prior comment: I've no interest in buying them, and no evidence has been presented that their specifications translate into differences in sound quality. As your rhetorically top-heavy assessment of Galen here demonstrates, you are making suppositions just like anyone else; and you are parsing statements just like anyone else. Again, you just don't want to admit it. If you want to talk about something more worthwhile than BlueJeans' new cable line, that's easy. There are many other active threads on this forum, and you can post in them to your heart's content.
  14. A point very well-taken - and bravo on "too low a sampling rate"!
  15. My response to your question is that you're right - we can't trust that their cheaper options aren't vastly overpriced relative to their performance. However, in the case of BlueJeans, I personally would say that it's unlikely their offerings are vastly overpriced because their standard options just aren't that expensive - they're not $5 cables to be sure, but they are much less expensive even than "audiophile cheap" - most typical lengths of most of their cables tend to run in the $15-$60 range, depending on the type of cable, how short the typical length is, and whether or not you need one or a pair (for example a single coax digital interconnect will be cheaper than a longer pair of speaker cables). I have also noticed that the BlueJeans speaker cables and interconnects I've purchased have had what appears to be sturdy insulation, no crazy-fat for fancy outer wraps and such, wire gauges that appear to be as-advertised, and perhaps most importantly high quality connectors that fit/grip with a good level of snugness and don't seem to break or loosen excessively over time. I also will admit that their welding method they use for attaching many cable end-connectors seems like a good thing to me - not for sound quality reasons, but rather for durability over time. I have no empirical evidence for this of course, so it could be BS. But given my limited time, the potential hassle of having to buy, get shipped, and possibly return, multiple very inexpensive cables to see if they perform just as well, and the positive experiences I've had with BlueJeans - and ironically, that BlueJeans doesn't have an overwhelming number of choices like MonoPrice and Amazon - I've made a practical/tactical decision to go with them when I'm looking for new cables. They are good enough for me quality wise and value-wise that I simply haven't bothered to do a lot of investigating to see if there's a cheaper one-stop shop that I should be buying from instead. All of which is to say that if I'm going to agree with you that I can't entirely trust BlueJeans, I feel that most of that is on me for not investigating further, rather than on BlueJeans for being untrustworthy in their products, claims, or sales style. YMMV of course.
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