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Bitzie first impressions

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Humboldt View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Humboldt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2013 at 11:28am
Originally posted by Nuance_Ember Nuance_Ember wrote:


The thing with vinyl is that it always has the POTENTIAL to surpass CD, because the closest thing possible to natural sound is analogue reproduction. So vinyl is able to be higher fidelity than the CD but it might not be, depending on how well the playback medium is made and how well the work is mastered.

I contend this simply is not true. At least not from a technical point of view. Digital has the potential to capture and reproduce the most correct tone compared to an original. Then, how a person subjectively cognizing music is something else. And jitter in digital is a kind of distortion which maybe could be said to be more troublesome and bad sounding for the human ear than the (much higher level of) distortion in vinyl.

As a matter of fact. Normally - when I compare CD:s with Vinyl - I find I prefer the sound from CD. But I agree, many CD:s are the victims of poor mastering.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Graham Slee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2013 at 12:14pm
There has to be compromises when mastering for vinyl as Kevin Gray's article tells us.

Likewise there are compromises with digital whether CD or download.

The devil is in the detail no matter what mankind makes. The big numbers game simply introduces more 'devils' and more sticking plasters/BandAid 'solutions'.

With sufficient skill we can make the best of what we have. That is what real high fidelity is about.

40 years ago it was all about ceramic cartridges and compact cassette. There has been a lot of progress but without much profit for our ears.

That suggests that few are willing to stay the course and make the big changes we should be capable of.

Throw away society . . .
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AlieN View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AlieN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2013 at 8:36pm

Well I've had the Bitzie on loan from Jon for a few days now and I thought I should check-in. I'm no expert like many on here, so don't expect detailed technicalities, but I'll try and describe my impressions. For reference, my music tastes include things like Rush, AC/DC, Foo Fighters as well as some other less rocky stuff.

The Bitzie arrived at work where I quite often listen to music just to drown out the rest of the office. The source files were reasonably high bitrate MP3s with a cheap pair of Sennheiser HD200 headphones. Certainly not a high quality setup, but the Bitzie was calling me and I wanted to try it out as soon as possible.

I was immediately impressed with how bright and detailed the music sounded. While listening to the Bitzie, I found that I was listening to and enjoying the music much more than I should have been (rather than actually working). It was very engaging. When I switched back to the PCs own headphone out, it felt very muddy by comparison.
 
At home, my "normal" setup is a FiiO E7/E9 combination. The FiiO has been fine, but it has left me feeling that there is more to be got from the music. Sources are accurate FLAC rips of CDs and my headphones are AKG 701s.
 
I started at home with a few specific tests I had been dreaming up while waiting for the Bitzie to arrive. First off was AC/DC's album "For those about to Rock". When listening to the title track through speakers, the opening guitar comes from a very specific place, just right of centre. I'd never really found this to be accurately represented on headphones before - the position would either be spread out, or it would appear almost separately in each ear. The Bitzie nailed it. On other tracks I found some subtle bass that I'd never heard before. But the glorious realisation while listening to that album was the accuracy of the guitar sound. Gibson guitars / pickups overdriven into Marshall tube amps give a delicious sound and listening through the Bitzie had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end.
 
Next up was a couple of Rush tracks. I've been a long time Rush fan and have seen them more times than I care to recall. I rate Neil Peart (Rush's drummer) as one of the best. I started off with YYZ from the Moving Pictures album, which is a very "drummy" track. Closing my eyes through this track, I pictured the drum kit with each and every drum in a different position. Shifting my focus, the bass and guitar were very clearly defined, never stepping on each other's toes. Hope (from Snakes and Arrows) is a short acoustic guitar instrumental. If I closed my eyes, I could have been sitting in front of the guitarist.
 
My final observations were listening to Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me. Little specific to say about that album but there was a lot more detail than I was used to (for example brushes on drums which were much more “forward” than I’d previously noticed). Very pleasurable though.

I’ve got little time left with the Bitzie loan (thanks again Jon), but it has greatly impressed me with the degree to which my music has become more enjoyable. An order will be forthcoming very soon.


Edited by AlieN - 25 Mar 2013 at 8:37pm
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Ash View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2013 at 10:25pm
Originally posted by Humboldt Humboldt wrote:

Originally posted by Nuance_Ember Nuance_Ember wrote:


The thing with vinyl is that it always has the POTENTIAL to surpass CD, because the closest thing possible to natural sound is analogue reproduction. So vinyl is able to be higher fidelity than the CD but it might not be, depending on how well the playback medium is made and how well the work is mastered.

I contend this simply is not true. At least not from a technical point of view. Digital has the potential to capture and reproduce the most correct tone compared to an original. Then, how a person subjectively cognizing music is something else. And jitter in digital is a kind of distortion which maybe could be said to be more troublesome and bad sounding for the human ear than the (much higher level of) distortion in vinyl.

As a matter of fact. Normally - when I compare CD:s with Vinyl - I find I prefer the sound from CD. But I agree, many CD:s are the victims of poor mastering.


Overall, considering all strengths and weaknesses, I like CD more than vinyl but I still don't understand how anyone can say that digital is superior to analogue... Confused Mathematically, analogue is a 'continuous' measure (no sampling) whilst digital is a 'discrete' measure (sampling). Digital can only ever be indistinguishable from analogue (when the precision of wave reconstruction has enough resolution), not superior. That's just irrational. If it is deemed to be superior then some kind of desirable colouration/modification must have been introduced through digital processing... Natural sound is analogue so the most precise imitation of this is an unaltered analogue waveform.

It would be like saying that 320kbps mp3 can be absolutely identical to a 'lossless' WAV, when information in the mp3 has been discarded. They may only seem to be identical if your transducer and its system cannot resolve beyond the limits of the mp3. But this still doesn't change the fact that the mp3 has a less precise waveform than the WAV.

Well made vinyl systems are designed to minimise/overcome the typical restrictions associated with the vinyl medium so I still believe that it has the potential to be better than CD. By "better", I'm not talking about the frequency range, I'm referring to the dynamic energy that it offers. I still believe that the volume resolution with vinyl is higher because I think that vinyl has more dynamic energy than CD. But I have not heard either medium at optimum conditions for myself so I cannot verify any claim that I make. CD is flawed and vinyl is flawed but which medium has the greatest number of flaws that can be overcome?? I don't understand the science enough to give a solid answer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Graham Slee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2013 at 8:05am
It is quite amazing that vinyl is actually capable of sounding as good as it does.

From an engineering standpoint and if discovered today it would seem like a joke, but it was invented by Edison in 1877 - that's 136 years ago!

I did an article here: http://www.gspaudio.co.uk/all-about-the-phono-preamp.htm and if you click the RIAA Equalisation tab you may get at what I'm trying to say.

Then if you take a look at the great article by Kevin Gray (which I'm always harping on about) and also look around that site at the mastering process, I think you'll also find it almost Heath Robinson and wonder just how it can sound so good today.

Like most things, it could have been improved even further but something came along to prevent it. Some call it progress and some call it 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'.

The dynamic range of vinyl works like this: being analogue the noise floor is not 'opaque' - it's 'translucent' and depending on your 'polaroids' (the vinyl front end including phono stage) sounds can be heard below it - where in digital there is nothing below it. Then beyond the normal 5cm/sec velocity (which produces the voltage output from the cartridge) it can go as high as 25cm/sec, or in decibel terms, plus 14dB.

Using IEC A weighted noise measurement it has a basic 75dB dynamic range onto which you can add the plus 14dB making it nearly 90dB, and then the sound below the noise floor which could take it near 100dB.

OK, that's not the 120dB 24 bit can boast, but there is the other difference that at the 'surface' of the output it can vary by fractions of a decibel whereas with digital the step is a full 6dB. That's 'normalised' by successive sampling that tricks the ear into believing the step isn't there, but it's a trick whereas vinyl isn't.

The challenge for me is to make digital sound as good. That challenge was presented to me by various members here (in a kindly way) and I'm hoping my first digital offering is doing that.

The results in so far regarding the Bitzie seem to be saying that I may be getting there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2013 at 10:42am
Originally posted by Graham Slee Graham Slee wrote:

at the 'surface' of the output it can vary by fractions of a decibel whereas with digital the step is a full 6dB.


THIS is what I'm trying to describe when I say "volume resolution" with vinyl and CD. The steps between the levels with CD are significantly larger than they are with vinyl. It is this difference, I think, that results in less dynamic energy from the CD (IMO). However, this is only vinyl v.s CD (the future of digital will hopefully see it equate analogue playback) and maybe my computer DAC (far from great, I know) gave an unfair comparison when I compared CD to vinyl a few years ago.

If digital can be developed to eventually have the same amplitude resolution/precision that vinyl has, I personally predict that the deficiency of digital will disappear and vinyl will no longer be capable of more! Big smile
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AlieN View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AlieN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2013 at 11:57am
Digital could undoubtedly handle the extra information, the question (or so it seems to me) is whether there will ever be sufficient commercial interest in creating the technology to support such things, when the vast majority seem to be happy to listen to low bit-rate MP3s through low quality hardware.
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