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  1. #1

    What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Madonna - Like A Vigin.
    Produced by Nile Rogers and recorded at Power Station Records in New York. Nile was persuaded by his recording engineer to use this new “digital” recording method for the album. Recorded using a Sony 24-track digital recorder.


    Christine and the Queens - Chaleur Humaine
    Self-produced at RAK Studios, 123 Studios, and Smokehouse Studios. Equipment unknown.


    Came across this comparison by accident, as I revisited the very high SQ Christine and the Queens debut, and thought let’s check out some older kick-ass pop in comparison. So I played Madonna’s breakthrough album after that.

    I could just not believe my ears how flat Madonna’s 100 million-seller, Nile Rogers-produced pop classic sounded compared to this French self-made album (ok, the latter was re-mixed afterwards for the US market). To boot, the Madonna album was a 24/96 Flac hi-res version, while the other one was a regular 16/44 Tidal stream.


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  2. #2
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    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Not sure you can blame the recording for the differences. The Madonna album is typical of a lot of 80's records - lean and mean. All her albums have the same no bass sound up to Erotica where the sound is excellent.

    The mix and mastering I am guessing have a much to do with the 80's sound as the recording.

    I find many modern recordings these days have gone the other way where they are almost bloated and bass driven at the expense of mid range and upper frequency clarity.
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  3. #3

    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuoppis View Post
    Madonna - Like A Vigin.
    Produced by Nile Rogers and recorded at Power Station Records in New York. Nile was persuaded by his recording engineer to use this new “digital” recording method for the album. Recorded using a Sony 24-track digital recorder.


    Christine and the Queens - Chaleur Humaine
    Self-produced at RAK Studios, 123 Studios, and Smokehouse Studios. Equipment unknown.


    Came across this comparison by accident, as I revisited the very high SQ Christine and the Queens debut, and thought let’s check out some older kick-ass pop in comparison. So I played Madonna’s breakthrough album after that.

    I could just not believe my ears how flat Madonna’s 100 million-seller, Nile Rogers-produced pop classic sounded compared to this French self-made album (ok, the latter was re-mixed afterwards for the US market). To boot, the Madonna album was a 24/96 Flac hi-res version, while the other one was a regular 16/44 Tidal stream.


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    If you listen carefully, you will find many 16/44.1 albums trounce the so called "hi-rez" versions that too many people automatically believe are superior. They listen with their eyes instead of their ears.
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  4. #4
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    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    I think there's a large enough sample for nearly everybody now that streaming has made so many recordings accessible that while higher resolution formats have a higher ceiling the format is just the carrier and everything else being equal just like our hi rez stereos crappy recordings only sound crappier when we put them under the microscope. Either digital has improved greatly or i'm losing my hearing or both.
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  5. #5

    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by XV-1 View Post
    Not sure you can blame the recording for the differences. The Madonna album is typical of a lot of 80's records - lean and mean. All her albums have the same no bass sound up to Erotica where the sound is excellent.

    The mix and mastering I am guessing have a much to do with the 80's sound as the recording.

    I find many modern recordings these days have gone the other way where they are almost bloated and bass driven at the expense of mid range and upper frequency clarity.
    Very true, typical 80’s music production crime. And some of today’s albums are overboard the other way.


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  6. #6

    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    If you listen carefully, you will find many 16/44.1 albums trounce the so called "hi-rez" versions that too many people automatically believe are superior. They listen with their eyes instead of their ears.
    Have to listen to the 16/44 version and see if it any better.


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  7. #7

    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    If you take any CD (16/44) and upsample it, you can get the benefit of using better filters that the brick wall filters used in the past. When you do that with older recordings you may get higher dynamic range (as opposed to the compression used today) and the ability to use better filters.

  8. #8
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    What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Many 16/44 files from the 80’s and 90’s is just upsampled by a Mastering Engineer using questionable quality equipment (I’ve seen it first hand). Unless they go back to the master tapes, and we have seen some of this, then the high res version may just be an upsampled version. Something we can almost all do today at home.

    That being said, today, 99% of the modern recordings are done in 24/96 and the 24/192 version is once against, just an upsampled version of the 24/96 by a mastering engineer.


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  9. #9

    What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by nicoff View Post
    If you take any CD (16/44) and upsample it, you can get the benefit of using better filters that the brick wall filters used in the past. When you do that with older recordings you may get higher dynamic range (as opposed to the compression used today) and the ability to use better filters.
    Maybe what you say is true, but the upsampling is only adding noise - nothing else.

    Technically you cannot make a lower resolution file a higher resolution file, comparable to a file originally created in the higher format. In any digital medium, once the resolution is reduced the information is irretrievably lost.


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  10. #10

    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuoppis View Post
    Maybe what you say is true, but the upsampling is only adding noise - nothing else.

    Technically you cannot make a lower resolution file a higher resolution file, comparable to a file originally created in the higher format. In any digital medium, once the resolution is reduced the information is irretrievably lost.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    You are correct and you also can’t increase dynamic range through upsampling.
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  11. #11
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    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    I still enjoy my old LP's, and CD's and my downloaded copied CD's to a file. I just like the music My toe still taps on an old song vs and a remastered song.
    Chris

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  12. #12

    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuoppis View Post
    Maybe what you say is true, but the upsampling is only adding noise - nothing else.

    Technically you cannot make a lower resolution file a higher resolution file, comparable to a file originally created in the higher format. In any digital medium, once the resolution is reduced the information is irretrievably lost.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Agree that we can not create something that was not there to start with. I am upsampling and converting everything to 512DSD which moves the noise to a higher frequency above 22kz. That is where the better filters are needed to get rid of the noise.

  13. #13

    What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by nicoff View Post
    Agree that we can not create something that was not there to start with. I am upsampling and converting everything to 512DSD which moves the noise to a higher frequency above 22kz. That is where the better filters are needed to get rid of the noise.
    Sure, I’m familiar with that process.

    However, that noise is DSD-format specific and is created in the DSD conversion process as part of the formatting. You can indeed move it to the non-audible spectrum by upsampling DSD into higher bit rate DSD.

    But why on earth would you want to convert a PCM file into DSD, and then upsample? Just keep the file in PCM and you don’t have the noise problem.

    This is a bit similar to the upsampling question in the previous comment: DSD only offers a SQ benefit if the material has been originally recorded in DSD. You cannot get that inherent benefit by converting the file to DSD afterwards, because the higher bit rate information is not there.


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  14. #14

    What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuoppis View Post

    ....

    But why on earth would you want to convert a PCM file into DSD, and then upsample? Just keep the file in PCM and you don’t have the noise problem.

    This is a bit similar to the upsampling question in the previous comment: DSD only offers a SQ benefit if the material has been originally recorded in DSD. You cannot get that inherent benefit by converting the file to DSD afterwards, because the higher bit rate information is not there.
    I have tried it both ways. My DAC has separate paths for PCM files and DSD files. It will convert to analog native files in either format. The only possible explanation that I have for preferring the DSD files is that my DAC may have a better DSD digital-to-analog converter. But I enjoy both of them in their native (albeit upsampled) format.

    With PCM files, I like to start with 44.1 files. I then take them to 352.8 (a whole multiple of 8) instead of 384.

  15. #15
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    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by nicoff View Post
    I have tried it both ways. My DAC has separate paths for PCM files and DSD files. It will convert to analog native files in either format. The only possible explanation that I have for preferring the DSD files is that my DAC may have a better DSD digital-to-analog converter. But I enjoy both of them in their native (albeit upsampled) format.

    With PCM files, I like to start with 44.1 files. I then take them to 352.8 (a whole multiple of 8) instead of 384.
    What I think you are saying is if the original file was 16/44.1 you take it to 352. If the original file was 24/48 you end up with 384. Both are DXD.
    Jim

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  16. #16

    Re: What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

    Quote Originally Posted by still-one View Post
    What I think you are saying is if the original file was 16/44.1 you take it to 352. If the original file was 24/48 you end up with 384. Both are DXD.
    Exactly. Upsampling to whole integers.
    44.1 x 8 = 352.8
    48 x 8 = 384

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What has happened in digital recording quality in 30 years - comparing records from 1984 and 2014

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