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How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)
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zagix Offline
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Post: #1
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

Introduction

So basically a shitload of people constantly fill up their albums with a hell of a lot of music they like, and then play it in some shitty generic i-pod earbuds.

Well, you're actually missing a LOT of elements in the music that you buy, so I have a guide here to improve your music quality (I'll also post this thread in Luna's forums). The basic point is this: if you have poorly compressed and shittily "remastered" music in your library played through bad speakers, the majority of the music is muddled together. That means that complicated classical pieces, pink-floyd, beatles, or anything else that normally has 100s of different elements all sounding different get muddled together. So suddenly, music that has more depth than you can imagine gets muddled together into mush.

If you have a poor ear, it's alright, but once you listen to High-Quality music, then the poor quality versions sound really bad.

So the question is: How do I get high quality music for an affordable price?

Now I'm going to lay out some options for headphones, from affordable to first-world spoiled teenage boy to actually extremely good.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Forms of Storing Music
Now the majority of music that you listen to is probably recorded in a studio. Occasionally, live performances are also recorded, but I prefer studio music (no distractions). Wherever the music is recorded, it is probably captured with very high end electrostatic recording devices. I'll get into what these are later. The key point is that they capture a hell of a lot of music data into an extremely clear an unmuddled recording.

If they are remastered, then the music often gets distorted and becomes some artificial sounding piece that's lost a lot of musical data. So, they sound flat, without highs or lows, and clear but empty. This is why I suggest you avoid any pieces that say they are "remastered", because this means that people are essentially removing musical data.

So once this music is recorded in (usually) a beautifully clear and problem free data, how does it start losing quality? To see how, let's go through the process of recording and storing data:

First of all, let's look at the two hardware formats that are reasonably good quality and used, CD's and vinyl. Vinyl is essentially taking the analogue music signal from the recorder, and, rather than digitizing it (converting to 1s and 0s) continues to store the data in the form of a thin grove over the vinyl. This grove is then read by a needle, which sends out analogue data. Now this is theoretically the most lossless format, because it doesn't digitize data into steps of hertz frequencies, which by definition is data loss. In practice, however, records aren't as precise as CD's, and also can sound scratchy unless kept VERY well due to dust getting in the groves and other particles. EDIT: These tend to have a "warmer" sound

Now CD's instead take a LASER and burn pits into a disk that represent the 0s and 1s of digital data. This digital data is converted from the analogue information coming from the electrostatic recorder. Now by making fixed frequency jumps, the CD is losing data, but the difference is so small that it can't be heard by the human ear. So the CD is a "LOSSLESS" format that does not lose any (significant) musical data in digitizing.
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Now what? As 55555 summarized (below), the digitized data can be stored in various file formats (this is on a comp now). Now, if a person has an I-Pod, they don't have infinite space to store files. So it gets compressed. Now for lossless formats for I-Pod, the only thing that's available is ALAC. This is called apple lossless, and it does compress the music, but doesn't discard any musical data. The other option is FLAC files. These also don't lose any musical data. Now assume you want high quality audio. The best option is to rip CD's into the ALAC (apple lossless) format if you're in the apple ecosystem (in import settings in I-Tunes). This makes no quality loss. Now if you're outside of apple, the general lossless format is FLAC, also there's ogg vorbis. Generally, with any torrent download, the highest quality is in FLAC format. So what should you do if you want to import these to i-tunes? The best bet is to convert the files. To do this, use BIGASOFT AUDIO CONVERTER. Torrent this file (The pirate bay) and then use the attached serial number file. You will love it for all your audio needs. BIGASOFT is for mac by the way. Another option for windows is SWITCH SOUND AUDIO CONVERTER. I'm not sure if it's free, anyway that's a good file format converter.
For more info on formats (sorry if I'm rambling, it's 3:00 AM here):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_file_formats
-------------------
Headphones: There's a SHITLOAD of information on headphones out there, so I'm just going to link to some things.
Advanced confusing headphone info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphones

Simpler/More detailed Info: http://headwize.com/articles/hguide_art.htm

Now for headphones to buy: A HUGE REVIEW LIST!!!!!!!!! (look at these linksSmile
http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-buying-guide

http://www.head-fi.org/t/433318/shootout...d-04-29-12

http://www.head-fi.org/t/541204/concise-...-23th-2012
_____________________________________________________________
Alright now for my simple headphone stuff:

My headphone I believe has the best value for its price: The Sony MDR-V6, monitor headphones. They sound like crap with crap recordings, but are gods with reasonably HQ files fed in that were recorded well. Why? They are to monitor music, so they highlight flaws very well, rather than masking them. But that's the way I like it, because I can really enjoy every little part of a recording.

I heard someone requesting the most expensive (not gold plated diamond bullshit) headphones: Here you go:
STAX SR-009
Now google these. They need a good amp to be driven, but are INCREDIBLY clear and are as close to perfect as is available in headphones, from what I've seen.

To see more, google them, search the head-fi website. Honestly I lack the expertise or writing skills to give a comprehensive guide, so forgive me for just links. But google is your friend, so look up more and more as it interests you.
______________________________________________________________
My next section is going to be about amps, which are important, followed by speakers. Unfortunately my writing becomes even more shitty when I write too much so please have some patience.

More to come....
(This post was last modified: 08-26-2012 05:13 PM by zagix.)
08-24-2012 01:40 AM
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Sunbourn Offline
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Post: #2
RE: How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

Well this is an excellent thread. I'll put in my two cents on file formats, sites to download music from, speakers, etc.

Most albums available for download online are ripped from CDs. Duh, right? The sound quality of the files is dependent upon the format and bitrate used to rip the CD. There are lossy file formats and lossless file formats, with lossless formats being an exact audio reconstruction of the original CD. Mp3s allow for only an estimate, with the quality of this estimate being based upon the bitrate that it was ripped from. The higher the bitrate, the better sound quality you get. Sounds which are not able to be perceived by people receive a lower priority, such as those at high frequencies. That does not mean that there isn't a noticeable difference between lossless and a low-mid quality lossy rip, because most of the time there is. It is however difficult to tell a 320 bitrate mp3 from a lossless file.

Common fixed bitrates:
128 kb/s mp3 - Shit bitrate. If you go to download an hour long album, and the file size is only 30 mb, this is why, and you should avoid it if you give any fucks about the sound quality of your audio.
192 kb/s mp3 - Not shit bitrate
320 kb/s mp3 - Highest quality mp3. Perfectly acceptable in my opinion.

There's also variable bitrates. On parts of the album where a smaller bitrate is required, the bitrate goes down. When there's a lot of sound, the bitrate spikes up. By ripping a CD as a VBR, you get the best bang for your byte. Below is a list of variable ranges.

V2 - 170 - 210
V1 - 190 - 250
V0 - 240 - 280

Anything higher than V2 isn't recommended.

I'll type up more later or tomorrow, since I'm heading out now.

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08-24-2012 10:04 AM
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Sharpie Offline
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Post: #3
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

Wut.

You said you would be explaining good headphones and shit and how to get high quality songs, but all you do is explain how music is transfered onto vinyl and cd.

Recommend some beast headphones (cost isn't a problem) and tell me how to get the highest quality songs.
08-24-2012 01:26 PM
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Sunbourn Offline
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RE: How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

(08-24-2012 01:26 PM)Silent Cynic Wrote:  Wut.

You said you would be explaining good headphones and shit and how to get high quality songs, but all you do is explain how music is transfered onto vinyl and cd.

Recommend some beast headphones (cost isn't a problem) and tell me how to get the highest quality songs.

He said he's write moar later. People got lives to live.

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08-24-2012 04:29 PM
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LedoS Offline
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Post: #5
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

I sometimes have problems finding 320, talk about lossless lol...
08-24-2012 06:37 PM
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Sharpie Offline
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Post: #6
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

>Fagix having a life
>no.
08-24-2012 07:12 PM
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Sunbourn Offline
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RE: How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

(08-24-2012 06:37 PM)LedoS Wrote:  I sometimes have problems finding 320, talk about lossless lol...

Then you just aren't looking in the right places. I currently run a private lossless share blog, and there's numerous others like it out there. Plus, there's torrent trackers which specialize in it. Rutracker is a Russian torrent tracker which has a massive collection of lossless files, and they're not even private. You just need to register during a certain time of day. Use Google Translate to navigate around there until you remember where everything is.

What.cd is a private tracker which has even more albums in lossless. I use it to fill in the gaps Rutracker has because the ratio there is harder to keep up with. To get access to What.cd, a member has to invite you, or you can go on their IRC channel and take a quiz. I don't have any invites to give out, so the quiz is most SS member's only bet. The information needed to pass the quiz is available here.

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08-25-2012 06:24 AM
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gore goroth Offline
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Post: #8
RE: How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

>Zagix

>Making a good thread.


THE END IS NEAR!!!!!

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08-25-2012 10:04 AM
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Sharpie Offline
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Post: #9
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

I will admit, fagix, this is actually the only thread that you've ever posted that I actually like, and within this thread I don't hate you.
08-25-2012 04:33 PM
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RammsteinFearFactory Offline
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Post: #10
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

Zagix, can I build a statue of you in my school? This thread is the best I've seen on SS today. Everyone in my class asks about why I refuse to buy an iPod and will only buy physical copies of an album. Every time I try to explain the "BUT ITZ CHEAP AND PORTABLE AND WHO BUY CD ANYWAY LOL IT 2012 YEAR OF SHIT MUSIC IN SHIT QUALITY TROLOL" My friends still buy actual CDs though. I'm a bit of an audiophile myself (iTunes nazi) and am thinking of buying a turntable and some LPs.

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08-26-2012 06:33 AM
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zagix Offline
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Post: #11
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

Alright yo just got back I'm going to write up some more
08-26-2012 04:45 PM
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zagix Offline
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Post: #12
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

^^ Look at the OP
08-26-2012 04:45 PM
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zagix Offline
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How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

Alright I'm making individual replies now. Sorry about the incoherent nature of my file format discussion, if anything is unclear, ask me.

Silent Cynic? You want the BEST BEST headphone sounds? Prepare to spend $20,000 (I'll do this when I live on my own).
Step 1: Buy the stax sr-009.
Step 2: Go to the head fi forum and find a really good amp.
Step 3: Buy CD's of high quality studio recordings
ALTERNATIVE: Torrent or buy FLAC files and then burn them onto CD's (CD's are awesome, get them).
Step 4: Put amp and stax together.
Step 5: Listen and it is fucking amazing I've heard./

Cheaper (maybe going to happen) option.

Buy Audeze LCD-2 headphones/Koss Electrostats:

http://www.amazon.com/Koss-160416-ESP-95...B000056ULH

The Koss ones come with a portable amp. So a whole setup for $999!!!! You can get it for even $600 somewhere. That's fucking GOOD.

http://www.amazon.com/Audeze-Headphones-...deze+lcd-2

^^ That's the audeze. Now with that buy this amp for cheap:
http://www.amazon.com/Qinpu--6000-Integr...ywords=amp

Yeah awesome sound. Now actually research this shit, go to a high-fi audio dealer near you to try it all out.
(This post was last modified: 08-26-2012 05:20 PM by zagix.)
08-26-2012 05:20 PM
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zagix Offline
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Post: #14
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

Rammstein Fear Factory:

Do not buy a turntable and LP's, because it is basically useless. CD's don't have static, and the *warm* sound of the vinyl can easily be overshadowed by headphones or speakers themselves that sound *warm*. It's basically better to have CD's because you don't have to worry about messy cleaning and shit.

I personally use I-Tunes, but try to keep my classical and pink-floyd level complexity music in the ALAC (lossless) format. I have an I-Pod driving pretty good (though relatively cheap) headphones but it sounds pretty OK with the files I have. I think I'm at the perfect sweet spot for a kid between snobbery and idiocy.

Alright special notice: DON'T BUY BOSE OR BEATS BY DR DRE THEY ARE OVER-MARKETED CRAP THAT COSTS A SHITLOAD.
No highs, no lows, it must be bose
Beats by Dr. Dre are shit that's all I can say (worth $30 maybe).

To play music files, I suggest
http://www.squidoo.com/portable-flac-player-comparisons for portable players and
sony mdr-v6 headphones for around $60, though I suggest you pick things for you in the headphone buying guide.
(This post was last modified: 08-26-2012 05:26 PM by zagix.)
08-26-2012 05:24 PM
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Post: #15
How to get audiophile quality music (Warning: TL;DR)

Duelix's greatest thread ever.

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