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sound quality of CD-Rs

Discussion in 'CD-R(W) Media' started by bustaroms, Feb 6, 2003.

  1. bustaroms

    bustaroms Member

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    I've heard various reports regarding the sound quality when burning music CDs. Some people say that it is the program used to burn the CD, and others say that it is the copy speed which makes the difference. I bought some CD-Rs very cheaply (no brand). They are very thin, and you can actually see through them. I want to keep using them because they are so cheap, and if the quality of the disc makes no difference to the audio quality, I will keep using them. Can anyone out there help to clear this issue up for me? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2003
  2. piano632

    piano632 Regular member

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    Yes, anything and everything makes a CD sound "different" - but the same bits are on any CD no matter how you do it. In my own experience, I can definitely say that the software used, the burning speed, the disc itself, and even the hard drive it's stored on all contribute to the sound quality you end up with. The difference in audio quality is due to the total amount of "jitter" produced by all these factors. Certain disc materials have more jitter than others, which makes them sound "worse" even though all the same bits are there. I currently use Exact Audio Copy for CD ripping, Feurio for CD burning, a 7200 rpm Western Digital hard drive, a Mitsumi external burner and Mitsui, Ricoh, & Taiyo Yuden discs - and burn at 2x speed. That's my prescription for great sound - at least on my system. Everybody's system seems to be somewhat different and you need to experiment with different discs, speeds, etc.
     
  3. cd-rw.org

    cd-rw.org Active member

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    Piano632,

    I mostly disagree with your statements. With statements like that you should provide some proof to back it up.

    1) In order to the sound 'quality' to change the bits must change. The 'jitter-issue' has been discussed a lot, but never actually proven - or at least I haven't seen any solid proof. The changing of bits may also occur at the CD player, if it has trouble handling CD-R, so it may not be the writing process that is faulty.

    2) Your comments about hard drives reveals that you have no idea what are you talking about.
     
  4. jase

    jase Guest

    There definitely does seem to be correlation between jitter levels and sound quality -- evidenced by the fact that CDRs can and often do sound better than an original CD (which has higher C1 and higher jitter levels).

    Personally, I think that the C1 error levels of CDRs have more bearing on sound quality than jitter, given that most CD transports essentially re-output the signal to the DAC, which should in theory kill much of the jitter in any case.

    Both types of errors cause problems for the error correction facilities in any CD player, but I don't think you'd notice the difference on anything less than a high quality separates CD player (ie one costing probably >$500 at least). Anything less doesn't have the inherent accuracy to make any real difference. Certainly the average 5-disc multichanger in a typical minisystem produces far more errors and distortion than any media fault.

    I would certainly agree that using a good quality blank media, and software such as EAC to extract the original CD tracks accurately, is a good idea. However a 7200rpm CD will actually produce more electrostatic interference than a 5400rpm one, and could, in theory, cause more errors on the burned disc (although the difference would NOT be noticable to the human ear!). As for 2x burning -- tosh. It's easily demonstrable that many modern CDRs have more errors produced when written at lower speeds. 8-16x seems to be the "ideal", although it's inadvisable to use a write speed that employs PCAV or ZCLV if you want good burns in general (not just audio).
     
  5. cd-rw.org

    cd-rw.org Active member

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    Jase,

    Can you link me up to some solid proof about jitter issues - is there any online?
     
  6. piano632

    piano632 Regular member

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  7. cd-rw.org

    cd-rw.org Active member

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    The first link is Yamaha marketing material. Doesn't prove anything (I have a Yamaha F1 btw). The second link was quite interesting, even though I browsed through it very quickly.

    I really wish those audiphiles would for ONCE score some blind test, instead of talking about "smooth treble, soft bass, and a deep soundstage". I read articles where audiophiles failed to heard Blade 192kbps MP3 from the original when blindfolded, while I know many people that can hear the difference easily (and prove it with ABX test results).
     
  8. Pio2001

    Pio2001 Moderator Staff Member

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    The info available on the web and elsewhere is completely dissimilar and contradict itself.

    Some say it's better to burn slow (audiophiles), some say it's better to burn fast (computer people) , some say original sound better (half of the people), some say copies sound better (you), some say there is no difference (the other half), some say it is error related (computer people), some say it is jitter related (audiophiles), some say it is only audible on very high end gear (the half saying original sound better), some that it is only audible on crappy players (Yamaha)...

    No one ever proved a difference was audible in a blind ABX test (or even AB, but with 8 randomized sessions, why not ?) , but I'm hearing more and more audiophile telling that the difference exists, but can't be heard in blind tests. For me it just proves that there is none.
     
  9. jase

    jase Guest

    There is definitely a difference. It's just very subtle. It's difficult to explain, and TBH you need to be listening for several hours to get a feel for things. It sounds stupid but I have definitely been unhappy with the sound of some original CDs -- and that has been in "blind" tests, unwittingly, where some idiot has put an original copy of one of my CDs (I never usually play them, only the copies to safeguard the originals) and I've noticed it's "not right".

    It's academic anyway. All 16-bit digital is crap. A good vinyl record kicks CD into next week as far as I am concerned, especially the leading edge of percussion sounds.
     
  10. llzackll

    llzackll Guest

    I think maybe certain burners might produce CD's that work better in certain players. Yamaha has the "audio master" feature which is supposed to reduce jitter errors by making each bit take up more space on the media. This is non-standard, so some CD players might read it differently.

    Personally, I have not been able to tell a difference in sound quality using different burners and various media and various recording speeds.
     
  11. bustaroms

    bustaroms Member

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    Thanks for your comments, guys. Although I have a very limited experience with different types of CD-R media and hardware, I have definitely noticed a variation in sound quality with different media. I tried a very simple test using two different types of media (no brand 80 min vs. Pioneer 80 min) and two different CD recording programs (Nero vs. Roxio) and I noticed a difference. The different programs didn't seem to make a difference, but the difference seemed to be with the discs. The no-name disc seemed to come off second best in terms of audio clarity, although if you weren't looking for it you may not find it. I guess more tests (including blind tests) are required to lay this issue to rest once and for all. I just wonder who is going to perform the rigorous tests required to do this? Has someone out there already done it? Or is all this talk of proof a dead issue, and all it comes down to is personal opinion. I wonder.
     
  12. cd-rw.org

    cd-rw.org Active member

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    The fuzz about jitter has caused that no matter what is wrong, people too often presume "It must be jitter issue".

    FACT: CD-R media quality varies.
    FACT: Some CD players may have problems with CD-R media and therefore they apply error corrections which can affect the sound

    It is far more likely that it is just a player error correction issue than a mysterious jitter issue.

    Speaking of audiophiles: They have also tested warming up CDs in an oven and cooling them in a feezer and claimed to achieve an audible improvement. :D . British audio print media is likely the worst, least scientific and very often totally far out in their 'analysis'.

    Bustaroms,

    Disc manufacturer needs to be indetified before any conclusions can be made. There are very high quality nonames as there are very poor ones too.

    But this is a good thread, even though off the forum topic, keep it up. Keep on posting your opinions and whatever you may find on the web.
     
  13. Pio2001

    Pio2001 Moderator Staff Member

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    Percussion sound better on vinyl, because they were properly mastered. 16 bits digital can reproduce perfect percussion, with much less distortion than vinyl, but nowadays, only classical music and jazz (and world music ?) are mastered properly. Pop music is a sound butchery, all dynamics and percussion are removed because of producers wanting their CD to sound louder than the neighbour's one. It's just "in fashion".
    Just copy a vinyl on CD yourself, the percussive sounds should still be there.

    Audio Master is OK with the Red Book standard. The red book specifies 1.2 to 1.4 meters per seconds. Everyone uses 1.2 because it allows to store 74 minutes instead of 63 on a CD. 1.4 were used on old 63 minutes CDRs. Yamaha's audio master is a hardware trick to burn 74 minutes CDRs like 63 ones.

    I tried to setup a blind test between original vs copies, but I can't hear the difference to begin with, so the tests ended up before starting.

    In addition to a blind test repeated at least 8 times, it would be necessary to capture the SPDIF output of the CD Player in order to check that the CD is read without errors.
     
  14. piano632

    piano632 Regular member

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    All I can say about jitter is:
    I used to use Adaptec/Roxio software, now I use EAC and my discs sound better.
    I used to use cheap discs, now I use Mitsui, Ricoh, Taiyo Yuden and they sound better.
    I used to have Maxor & Quantum HDDs, now I have a WD and audio sounds clearer.
    Don't ask me to prove it on paper, because I can't. Maybe it's because I have finely-tuned "audiophile ears" and I can hear differences that the average person can't.

    Another factor to consider about cheap discs like Princo and Gigastorage. If you leave them sitting around unburned for a year or two and then try to burn them, you will get nothing but errors galore and sputtering sound. The same is not true of the higher quality discs. I'm currently using a bunch of Ricoh Platinum 8x discs (which you know have to be a few years old because of their slow speed) and they all still burn like new ones. Also the cheap discs usually need a higher laser write power (like 7, instead of 4 for the good discs) which may cause a shorter life span for your laser.

    And yes, vinyl (and all good analogue equipment) does sound better. In all the hundreds of CDs I've listened to, not one of them could reproduce the sound of shimmering and crashing cymbals realistically. They all make cymbals have a "fizzy" sound. But I guess we are stuck with CDs for now, because I don't know many new recordings you can buy on vinyl.

    By the way, the EAC program is free at http://www.exactaudiocopy.de
    though beginners may find this software to be too complicated. One thing about EAC, is that it creates checksums for all the .wav files it makes and then it has tools like "test CD" and "compare WAVs" which will do a bit-by-bit comparison of the original to the copy. So far, every brand of CD I've used has identical bits, yet every one sounds a bit different.
     
  15. thargor

    thargor Member

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    Unlike beauty, which is in the eye of the beholder, Audio is in the ears of the listener. I am a professinal sound engineer, in live situations, working with sound assistants of many years experience, using high en d PA's, Martin, Meyer, L'acoustic, Community and Turbosound to name a few with equally high spec components (the systems usually cost from £100,000). I have never yet had anyone tell me whether I am using an original CD or a copy or a mini disc. My opinion is that people who can tell the difference (oh yeh)!!! need to get a life. I shall now await the abuse?
     
  16. bustaroms

    bustaroms Member

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    Thargor,

    Even though I am a complete amateur who happens to like listening to music, and would prefer to listen to a good copy of a CD rather than a bad one, I will put in my two cents' worth (Again). Perhaps using 100,000 pounds worth of equipment does make your CDs sound better, but who uses this equipment apart from audio professionals who have turned their passion for good audio into a living? This is lucky for you, but the rest of us amateurs who don't have the annual budget of a small nation to spend on sound equipment must make do with what we have. A little tolerance, please! Thanks for your opinions. I await your reply (Abuse?!)
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2003
  17. thargor

    thargor Member

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    Bustaroms.
    You seem to have missed the point that irrespective of what is used to replay CD's, even experts are very hard pushed to tell the difference. Most people will spot a bad CD, but here we seem to be talking about being picky. No I do not have a mega expensive hi-fi, I use a dvd player into my surround sound system, a total cost of £270.00 and I'm more than happy with it.
     
  18. jase

    jase Guest

    thargor: To be fair, you professional equipment is not the same as a domestic hifi system. As I am sure you know, for a start professional gear is "clock-locked" and all digital audio is pushed through resequencers and the like, so any jitter present on the CD will not come out of the other end. It's possible to do this with hifi gear as well (some very high-end kit does it) but it isn't common.

    A £270 DVD player/surround amp is nowhere near good enough to resolve differences in media quality. It's about equivalent to a £70 CD player and £70 amplifier, if it's a good one. Neither of your two systems are good examples for hearing the differences jitter makes.

    To clarify; jitter doesn't affect sound quality one bit. It's *timing* which suffers. The correct stereo effect (soundstaging) relies on very precise correlation between the timing of left and right channels. Jitter-infested digital signals kill this stone-dead (as all jitter is is tiny variations in timing), so the sound just sounds as if it's coming from the left and right speakers, instead of actually creating a 3D illusion in front of the speakers. This is one area where vinyl beats CD; this soundstaging is retained because the left and right signals always reach the amp at the same time relative to each other. The human ear is extremely sensitive to differences in timing between left-and-right signals; it's one of the ways the brain works out where a sound is coming from.

    The fact that the average record producer doesn't seem to know the meaning of the word soundstage (witnessed by instruments mysteriously moving from right to left and back again through some tracks, with no pattern) leads me to believe that professionals should be the last people to judge what is a good signal; most of you appear to be deaf.
     
  19. Pio2001

    Pio2001 Moderator Staff Member

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    Jase, according to http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?act=ST&f=1&t=3390#entry33116 , the human ear can detect a 30 µs difference between left and right channels.

    According to http://www.airtangent.net/playbackcartr_4.html , the minor radius of a biradial stylus is 8 µm, if we assume that the tracng error is +/- 2 µm, there is 4µm between left and right, that is 15 µs at 33 rpm at 7 cm of the center, less than what the human ear can hear.

    According to http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?act=ST&f=1&t=3390#entry33166 , the interchannel delay in a CD Player is 0.00001 µs (several ps), that is one million time more accurate than vinyl.
    It's not precisely "stone dead" !

    Edit : 0.00001, not 0.000001.

     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2003
  20. cd-rw.org

    cd-rw.org Active member

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    "I used to use Adaptec/Roxio software, now I use EAC and my discs sound better."

    This is possible. Roxio uses a unverified burst read mode, so EAC can eliminate errors. This should however occur as a absense of "snap, crackle & pop", rather than overall quality.


    "I used to use cheap discs, now I use Mitsui, Ricoh, Taiyo Yuden and they sound better."


    This is possible. Your CD player may choke on the lower quality media. Lower quality media may have higher error rate, etc.


    "I used to have Maxor & Quantum HDDs, now I have a WD and audio sounds clearer."


    But this just can't be. If you consider the jitter issue, your CD-R drive buffers the data stream coming from your HD. The CD-R drive burns from it's internal hardware buffer with it's own timer and the result have nothing to do with the HD.
     

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