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What changed with 'Digital Audio'?

Rega

Ravindra Desai

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
327
Points
93
Location
Kolhapur, Maharashtra. India.
Hello all,

I have been fortunate to see three different eras of audio: Dying phase of Tube, Analog Audio and Digital Audio.
Even though Tube is necessarily analog, I purposely categorized it as it deserves its own place.

The biggest positive of digital audio is that we can actually HEAR SILENCE.
The biggest negative of digital audio is that it killed DIYers. Mission accomplished!!?? Never mind...

The big negative of digital audio is that unlike recordings done in analog days, we cannot take a modern recording, connect it to only an amplifier with a volume control, and nothing else (purist approach), and enjoy what we hear!

Some say digital causes fatigue, analog does not and there are a quite a few other theories for that but we will not go there.
We cannot take a recording done in modern times and hear it the minimalist way as mentioned above and I attribute it to dynamic range!
Digital audio enjoys dynamic range that was simply not possible with analog.
But it is this large dynamic range that, I believe, is the culprit. If at all dynamic range has excited and benefited somone, then it is the recordists and not the listeners.

In analog days, the floor noise restricted how low (in volume) you could go to record sound.
With digital, that limit is not there. This allows the 'recordists' to 'bury' a lot of details almost near the inaudible range.
So the recordists use the freedom of large recording range to PLACE the content in different 'volume' zones.

The poor DIYer, if unaware, will say: I don't hear as much details as I do on my friend's expensive system.
If you try to raise the volume to hear them, then the loud passages will distort your speakers making you feel that your system is under powered.

If somebody suggests compression, then it is dismissed as a 'compromised' way of listening.
It needs to be understood that compression in this context is not the same as compressing media (WAV to MP3) for size reduction.

Dynamic Range Control (DRC) becomes a must have feature today.
When correctly and effectively used, small amplifier power and full-range speakers, even today, can create the magic of the tube era.

I hope you have your views and that you will let us all know those by sharing your thoughts.

Thanks and regards,

Ravindra.
 

tuff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2014
Messages
2,019
Points
113
Location
Thane
Good we are talking about DRC, as very few people discuss it. Although my 'last' analogue system was a Sonodyne Uranus back in 1987, I had never heard of DRC, or specialized A/D converters, or even used Digital out to anything. Since getting a few grey hairs I have seen Audiophiles actually complaining about Dynamic compression applied to the digital releases and still yearning for the "old uncompressed dynamic range". likes of Chesky Records are actually one evidence that there is a big enough market for uncompressed dynamic range for material they issue. personally, I think the audio system (and the room) that has these materials being played on play a huge role how uncompressed music sounds. If the system can deliver the uncompressed dynamic range with faith, it should not sound harsh or fatiguing. and yes I am talking music here not movies.most receivers today come with the ability to turn on DRC or off, but if you look at stereo, it's a different ball game. High end systems require High dynamic range to really shine, and the same material might not be as good sounding on a low/mid end system. just my two cents to keep the conversation going.
 

dr khanwelkar

Active Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2008
Messages
183
Points
28
Location
kolhapur
Nice and stimulating start up Ravindra.
I personally do not like to here Cds ,leave aside MP3. I do get listening fatigue with digital source.I do not know the cause.
I like to listen to Vinyl and cassettes.I find different flavors of music if I play same cassette on different cassette decks keeping rest of my system the same.
Let us see the feed backs.
 

Otpidus

Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2015
Messages
95
Points
18
Location
Bangalore
Excellent thoughts Ravindra. Just wish to add one more aspect to your post. The advent of SMPS. This little thing completely changed the face of power quality in the domestic setting. The amount of RF noise dumped by each SMPS back into the powerline mostly around the range of 50 to 100 KHz gets into the power section of other equipments causing rise of noise floor and subsequent sonic artefacts. High powered SMPS’s inject RF so vigorously that even the empty nearby sockets radiates these low frequency RF, easily detected by any RF meter. Mostly, the problem occurs when any inter-connect or the speaker cable (since its a very effective antenna) starts capturing this radiation then any sub-harmonics of that radiation which falls below 20KHz becomes audible as one or more of the following artefact, “Grain” or “Excessive SSZZ” or “Boomy” bass (typical signal convolution in signal processing theory). Once intefecrence gets into the signal chain it affects the most subtle things first, quality of vocals & imaging. In digital audio the reproduced analouge bandwidth being higher, its much more vulnerable to interference.
 
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