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anodizingstatic

The Absolute BEST LZ Audio Quality, Digital - Tutorial

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Led%20Zeppelin%20-%20Led%20Zeppelin%20II

Ever though your LZ mp3's were best quality? Think again. ***This is NOT for everyone, only those who have the TIME, LP collections, and $$$. This is pretty complicated stuff only intended for audiophiles. If you said yes to the first question, this isn't for you. Just a kindly heads up***

Today I will show you the utmost of proper methods to obtain the absolute BEST, no-catch Led Zeppelin audio quality. Disclaimer: You will need some LP's (or a friend with some) in order to do this for the songs you want. If you aren't concerned with digital copies, plug your speaker/headphones into your record player. Inarguably, the best bitrate is of vinyl. CDs are not analogue, and thus a digital approximation and usually max out at 320 kbps. Vinyl? Can get in the 3000's. No joke.

There is nothing like the sound of lossless audio. It's incredible. The format we will convert to is FLAC, (Free Lossless Audio Codec), which is compressed uncompressed, but being lossless, loses no quality. Complicated, but trust me. If you want to save a few days, find a professional nearby. Costly, but time-saving.

1. First step is to check your record player. Needs to have a USB function to connect to a computer. Something like this will do: http://bit.ly/19Vp2GF . Or, http://www.ionaudio.com/products/details/iLP within the $100 range.

2. Read these articles thoroughly. I'm not going to explain it all here as it would take pages. Again, this requires TIME. http://bit.ly/1fUv0bw AND / OR http://bit.ly/1bwKgHc .These two are what I used a few months ago for my collection.

3. Programs. I use Winamp for all of my collections, as it supports FLAC. http://www.winamp.com/ . You'll need to install this plugin after dragging/dropping your newly converted audio into the program. http://www.winamp.com/plugin/flac-plugin-with-library-support/143614

And that is it. I truly wish I could just send you all my collections so you only have to do step 3, but that constitutes some major piracy. If you have ANY questions, feel free to ask away.

I will assure you though that are willing, the process is worth it. ;-)

Edited by anodizingstatic

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Inarguably, the best bitrate is of vinyl. CDs are not analogue, and thus a digital approximation and usually max out at 320 kbps. Vinyl? Can get in the 3000's. No joke.

Dude...... vinyl doesn't have a 'bitrate' - it's analogue!! If you want to think of the 'encoding' quality of analogue as a comparison to PCM (which is terribly confusing - like counting apples and then asking how many oranges you've got in terms of apples) then it has a 'bitrate' of either zero, or infinity.

The actual bitrate of a CD is a fixed 1411 kbps (assuming it's redbook encoded at 44.1kHz and 16 bit in stereo). Unlike some mp3 formats, the bitrate on a cd is non-variable.

I accept that people (including me) love the sound of vinyl and want to capture that sound in a way that's portable and not going to wear their vinyl out (and I agree that the sound is lush), but as soon as you digitize it, you're straight back to 1411kbs (unless you've recorded at 48kHz/24bit - 2304kbps - or higher).

Also, in the process of digitizing your record you've added a 3rd noise layer to the recording (1st from the original master tape, 2nd from the contact noise of the stylus on the vinyl & any detritus that falls onto the platter, and 3rd from the amplification needed from stylus to line level - and that's without going into cheap A/D convertors and the crap they can put in!) and that's surely defeating the object of capturing an 'accurate' or 'best quality' recording?

When you buy a Led Zep (or any) CD, you have a direct encoding from the original master tape.

When you buy a Led Zep album on vinyl, you have a direct encoding from the master tape - but EQ'd & compressed to sound as good as it can on vinyl, taking into account that cutting grooves into plastic imposes some very big limitations on the original master recording, not least by decreasing the dynamic range (The dynamic range for cd is 150dB, for vinyl 80-100dB depending how far away you are from the centre of the record), and adding harmonic distortion and noise.

The only way to hear the music in it's purest form would be to go to Atlantic records and demand that they play you the master tapes in a well appointed mastering suite.

I'm not knocking vinyl in any way - I love it - but you have to appreciate that when you say the best way to hear Led Zep is on vinyl, you aren't actually listening to an accurate representation of the recordings - you're hearing, and loving, the sound that vinyl has imposed on the recordings due to its limitations.

I personally listen mostly to the George Marino masters, because I know that Jimmy was present to hear them during the mastering process and he thought that they were the best representation of Zep's music at the time, and also because they were my first opportunity to listen Zep without the cracks & pops of my old overplayed vinyl & I was able to hear so much more detail for the first time that it was like hearing a new band.

Sorry for the long rant - the upshot of this is, if you want to digitize your vinyl in the most accurate way then at the very least record at a minimum of 48kHz/24bit because if you do it at 44.1kHz/16bit you really are defeating the object of the excercise.

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Easier solutions for anodizingstatic/others:

1. Buy current CDs;

2. Buy the "Mastered for iTunes" lossy tracks -- honestly, the best digital versions I've heard;

3. Wait for the remasters;

4. Go to your local flea-market and pick up the original vinyl issues for pennies.

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When you buy a Led Zep (or any) CD, you have a direct encoding from the original master tape.

True and not so true. More often than a direct transfer you have EQ and processing added to them to improve the sound. I'm excited for the new reissues though, because technology is worlds better than it was in 1992 - even reel to reel tape tech has been improved.

I like listening to vinyl and I also enjoy the convenience of digital formats. In the end transferring vinyl to digital takes a lot of work, and if your records aren't exceptionally clean - or - if your record player isn't set up properly it really isn't worth it. I'm not advocating against it, but obviously your results will be heavily influenced by the quality of the pressing you have and your equipment.

4. Go to your local flea-market and pick up the original vinyl issues for pennies.

Uh, the next time you are out please pick up some original issues for me :P More realistically you should expect to pay $5 to $10 for an semi-early to late pressing in good condition. Sellers like to gouge for Led Zeppelin.

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Uh, the next time you are out please pick up some original issues for me :P More realistically you should expect to pay $5 to $10 for an semi-early to late pressing in good condition. Sellers like to gouge for Led Zeppelin.

Right, I might have worded that a bit incorrectly. :P What I meant was: A vintage (70s-80s) vinyl pressing, as opposed to the Classic Records reissues and the inevitable audiophile $25-$50 reissues when the remasters come out. :P

I think $5 sounds about right (we paid that for III and IV, unsure about the date on them) but that's pennies in comparison to what you're paying for new vinyl -- that $25-$50 price-range isn't a joke!

Edited by Melcórë

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I knew what you meant :P

New vinyl is quite expensive and some of the new stuff suffers from defects/poor manufacturing. Having said that, I will be buying the vinyl versions of the remasters. :D

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New vinyl is quite expensive and some of the new stuff suffers from defects/poor manufacturing. Having said that, I will be buying the vinyl versions of the remasters. :D

Depending on the reviews of people I trust -- including yourself! -- I'll probably do the same.

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True and not so true. More often than a direct transfer you have EQ and processing added to them to improve the sound. I'm excited for the new reissues though, because technology is worlds better than it was in 1992 - even reel to reel tape tech has been improved.

Agreed. When I said 'master tape' I was referring to a 'mastered' recording. I didn't think going into the esoterica of the mastering process was worth the effort, considering the OP was talking about analogue bitrate and is advocating using a $100 turntable to obtain 'absolutely the best audio quality'. God knows what the cartridge, pre-amp, convertors & drive motor will be like on a device of that price. Kinda makes the whole process totally pointless.

Which is basically what you've said.

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Dude...... vinyl doesn't have a 'bitrate' - it's analogue!! If you want to think of the 'encoding' quality of analogue as a comparison to PCM (which is terribly confusing - like counting apples and then asking how many oranges you've got in terms of apples) then it has a 'bitrate' of either zero, or infinity.

The actual bitrate of a CD is a fixed 1411 kbps (assuming it's redbook encoded at 44.1kHz and 16 bit in stereo). Unlike some mp3 formats, the bitrate on a cd is non-variable.

I'm not knocking vinyl in any way - I love it - but you have to appreciate that when you say the best way to hear Led Zep is on vinyl, you aren't actually listening to an accurate representation of the recordings - you're hearing, and loving, the sound that vinyl has imposed on the recordings due to its limitations.

Sorry for the long rant - the upshot of this is, if you want to digitize your vinyl in the most accurate way then at the very least record at a minimum of 48kHz/24bit because if you do it at 44.1kHz/16bit you really are defeating the object of the excercise.

1. I'm talking the post-conversion bitrate of vinyl in FLAC codec. You're right, vinyl itself has no bitrate O.o

2. Really? I thought CD's are instantly converted into mp3, which is usually maxed out @ 320 kbps. Learned something new today :-) .Either way, talking kilobits, vinyl still has a bit more dynamic range than a CD, arguably.

3. Should have specified a bit more. When I say "best possible quality" , I mean consumer - attainable. I ( a NY-er) am close to Atlantic's headquarters, but still, I don't have the guts to just walk in and ask for 10 years of uncompressed & thee original LZ recordings, for free. No one does.

4. My vinyl rips - Coda, for instance, was ripped @ 24bit, 96kHz far above 48kHz, roughly in the 3000's in terms of kilobits / second. I'm not going to waste my time to find out I only did 16bit. Sure, someone might be able to find a better bitrate, but from my experience, that's pretty damn good for vinyl.

-And of course, if someone did this and listened on $10 earbuds.........I'll leave that to be pondered.

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1. I'm talking the post-conversion bitrate of vinyl in FLAC codec. You're right, vinyl itself has no bitrate O.o

Sorry - that's not how your original post read.

2. Really? I thought CD's are instantly converted into mp3, which is usually maxed out @ 320 kbps. Learned something new today :-) .Either way, talking kilobits, vinyl still has a bit more dynamic range than a CD, arguably.

If you want to rip a CD losslessly (what a cool word) you need to change your encoding preferences to 'encode as WAV' or 'encode as AIFF' - this'll stop any MP3 conversion going on, so you can then FLAC the file.

Kilobits, or the bitrate, is in the time domain (i.e. samples per second) - that's the kHz bit; dynamic range is in the loudness domain - that's covered by 16bit, 24bit etc. There is no argument that CD wins on dynamic range hands down. The best dynamic range ever achieved on vinyl was around 110-120dB (that's the difference between noise floor and loudest possible signal), CD is 150dB.

3. Should have specified a bit more. When I say "best possible quality" , I mean consumer - attainable. I ( a NY-er) am close to Atlantic's headquarters, but still, I don't have the guts to just walk in and ask for 10 years of uncompressed & thee original LZ recordings, for free. No one does.

The best consumer attainable quality is generally from a CD, and more rarely from artists who have recorded their work in a high resolution and allow you to download it as a FLAC at that resolution (for example the 96Khz/24bit format, which is the highest resolution in general use in the industry).

You may be making very high resolution copies of your vinyl records, but in the analogue domain the quality of the source signal is only as good as the worst piece of equipment in your signal chain. Using a cheap USB turntable means you have got all manner of nasty things interfering with the conversion of the grooves in your record into an electrical signal. If you turntable has a cheap stylus, your frequency response will not be as flat as it could be. If it has a cheap pre-amplifier this may be colouring the signal from the stylus, and adding unwanted noise. If it doesn't have a properly synchronised motor you will get 'wow' which is caused by variations in the speed of rotation of the turntable. If it has cheap A/D convertors they will also be adding noise to the signal.

A good way to understand what I'm getting at is to compare your process to copying a video. Imagine the master tapes are a first generation copy a of VHS film. The master tapes are copied (with a little enhancement to allow for the degradation of the analogue copy process) to another VHS tape and sold to the consumer - this is analogous to the vinyl record you buy. You now want to copy this VHS tape to HD video using a domestic video player - you've already got 3 generations of noise and degradation in there. What you end up with is a HighDef video of a degraded VHS film. At no point do you end up with a hi-def version of the original film.

The point I'm making is that unless you're using the best equipment and virgin, unplayed super-clean vinyl, all you're doing is spending a lot of time and effort making a high resolution copy of the noise, distortion and dust that you have introduced into the audio!

I can understand your process for records that haven't been and are never likely to be released on CD, or for artists that have had poorly done CD masters (like the first run of Zep CD's), but when you consider the care and effort Pagey put into the first run of remasters to make them sound as good as they could in the 90's, I fail to see the point in adding extra noise when he's done his utmost to remove it.

And finally - I assume that you do, but how many people nowadays have the equipment and listening conditions to actually be able to hear and appreciate the difference between vinyl and CD. I certainly appreciate high-end audio, but most people seem listen to music on their phone speaker now!! :(

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Before assumptions are made, I'd like to say a bit about myself: I'm a Led Zeppelin purist. I prefer vinyl based on the numerous tests and comparisons I've done to CD's. No math or data analysis involved, simply listening. And, vinyl simply sounded "better" to my ears, despite the noise. That's where I'm coming from.

Speaking of noise, my rips do have a slight amount, but that isn't something that particularly bothers me as it doesn't interfere with the sound quality. That's the nature of vinyl (I like ironically). All your nifty comparisons are indeed true; I tend not to worry though. Everything is pristine; ultra-sharp and clear. Sorry, but I simply don't get that from my CD's...no, they are not the early issues. All of my vinyl is the remasters , not new , not original pressing.

However, on paper, digital audio is superior as you have made ultra clear. In fact, I am actually considering running a few more tests, as you have convinced me analogue is not "the best". If you can elaborate on digitizing a CD into FLAC more, I'd be more than willing to try. I believe my rips are the absolute best in terms of vinyl out there at the moment.

Hell, you learn something new every day. I'm actually buying into your persuasion strongly against my thoughts for once, just to give it a go. You know more about this stuff than I do. :-)

And yeah, I guarantee you .0001% of readers will actually try my method, it's a chore.

Thanks for the analysis and help.

PM sent.

Edited by anodizingstatic

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PM received. I'll have a listen & get back to you after I've got rid of this head cold and can hear properly again :(

Just to be clear - I'm not saying digital is better than analogue. They're different beasts. Vinyl certainly still has its place as a playback medium. Listening is very subjective experience, and preference is highly coloured by what your ears are used to and how you go about the listening process - everyone is different.

Speaking of noise, my rips do have a slight amount, but that isn't something that particularly bothers me as it doesn't interfere with the sound quality. That's the nature of vinyl (I like ironically).

Our definitions of 'sound quality' are very different! From my point of view the more extraneous noise there is - noise that isn't on the original master recording - the lower the sound quality is. I agree that that is the nature of vinyl, and it is the very limitations of vinyl as a playback medium that give it its charm and can make its representation of the recording more attractive to many listeners.

...no, they are not the early issues. All of my vinyl is the remasters , not new , not original pressing.

Herein lies the crux of my argument. I could understand your process if you were recording the original vinyl releases. For the remasters, the original master tapes were probably encoded at 48kHz/16bit (it was the early 90's and I stand to be corrected about the bit depth). These digital transfers would have been taken to the mastering suite where the mastering engineer does his magic and produces the mastered recordings, ready to go to the CD plant/vinyl press.........at 44.1kHz/16bit.

It's HIGHLY unlikely that they would have spent the time (and money) mastering for CD & Vinyl separately back then. I suspect that with the new remasters this may not be the case, if they do a vinyl release.

So..... your remastered vinyl has in all likelihood been cut from 44.1kHz/16bit masters which you are then playing back, adding noise to, and re-recording at a higher resolution. Back to the VHS analogy.

From my point of view the remastered CD is the closest generation of the sound to the original intent of the artist as it has the least processes between the master recording and the copy in my hand. Vinyl may sound warmer/nicer etc.... but it is still an extra layer of noise/distortion between what I actually hear and what the artist/producer heard at mixdown, and for me that is the ideal.

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If you want to rip a cd to lossless quality use the best program available 'EAC' Exact Audio Copy. This is the preferred tool for ripping audio to lossless wav files. The next tool you need is Traders Little Helper. With this tool you can convert your wav files to flac or ape. It also has a plethora of other useful tools for sharing your collection.

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If you want to rip a cd to lossless quality use the best program available 'EAC' Exact Audio Copy. This is the preferred tool for ripping audio to lossless wav files. The next tool you need is Traders Little Helper. With this tool you can convert your wav files to flac or ape. It also has a plethora of other useful tools for sharing your collection.

It doesn't matter what program you use.

A digital copy is a digital copy.

Winamp works fine.

Itunes works fine.

Windows Media works fine.

Realplayer works fine.

They all do the same job - making an exact copy of the 1's and 0's.

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It doesn't matter what program you use.

A digital copy is a digital copy.

Winamp works fine.

Itunes works fine.

Windows Media works fine.

Realplayer works fine.

They all do the same job - making an exact copy of the 1's and 0's.

try telling that to the purists

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I would only trust EAC for a bit for bit recreation of a cd. Sure, you might not be able to tell the sonic difference, but Itunes/Windows Media can introduce errors.

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You could buy the cube set! It has the highest quality LZ i've ever heard. Don't wait for the new set, after all this is Jimmy Page we're talking about! :zzz:

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Sure, you might not be able to tell the sonic difference, but Itunes/Windows Media can introduce errors.

Please point me at some genuine evidence of this, or give some explanation as to how or why Itunes/Windows Media introduces these errors.

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"Genuine" evidence I don't have, as in scientific evidence or hard numbers. What I do have is that EAC has successfully ripped damaged cds where Windows Media could not. EAC reads every sector of a cd twice, and if there is a discrepancy it re-reads it a multiple of times until a majority of the reads are identical. If the cd is damaged or if the drive reads cds poorly this would result in more accurate rips.

I tend to only use EAC to rip archival copies of new cds. 99% of my cd collection has been ripped using Windows Media w/the lossless codec.

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Please point me at some genuine evidence of this, or give some explanation as to how or why Itunes/Windows Media introduces these errors.

Woz, see this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir7J0tAAdIQ

I wouldn't call it a great comparison, but there are subtle background noise differences in the two. Not by much.

try telling that to the purists

?

Dude, that's not how you originally posted. There is no "preferred" program, like woz said, the're all the same basic thing...I don't think you understand the vinyl process if only for people who like vinyl and have the collections / equipment. The best method is by far the CD, it's quicker and more efficient. My method, again originally stated in my first post, is NOT for everyone. Vinyl and CD's are both superb quality if you rip them right. Sorry, but you can't claim things you never said.......And as for how we listen to LZ?! It's all different my friend, that's the beauty of musical variety - it gives us options we all can like and not be limited to one particular method insisted ;-)

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And as for how we listen to LZ?! It's all different my friend, that's the beauty of musical variety - it gives us options we all can like and not be limited to one particular method insisted ;-)

Absolutely :D

What I do have is that EAC has successfully ripped damaged cds where Windows Media could not. EAC reads every sector of a cd twice, and if there is a discrepancy it re-reads it a multiple of times until a majority of the reads are identical. If the cd is damaged or if the drive reads cds poorly this would result in more accurate rips.

Sorry to be a pedant, but I do want other people who are not so much in the know to understand this - especially the digital-bashers.….. iTunes/Windows Media do not introduce errors whilst ripping a data stream - but if you are trying to rip a damaged CD they will not make too great of an attempt to read the damaged sections.

The errors are there because of the damage on the CD, not because the program has introduced them.

Thankfully, due to the way PCM audio is encoded (there's quite a bit of duplication in the data) you can get away with quite a bit of damage before it begins to affect the audio when it is decoded.

EAC is a fabulous tool for recovering a dirty/moderately damaged CD because it is so tenacious - I have used it myself. However because of the way it works it's kinda slow, and for most cases (a clean CD with little or no surface damage) I tend to use Windows Media, just 'cos it's quicker.

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Sorry to be a pedant, but I do want other people who are not so much in the know to understand this - especially the digital-bashers.….. iTunes/Windows Media do not introduce errors whilst ripping a data stream - but if you are trying to rip a damaged CD they will not make too great of an attempt to read the damaged sections.

You are correct, I'm not right to say that about WMP/iTunes. Some cd drives do misread and introduce errors though, and EACs double reading "secure rip" helps keep the cd drive from making these errors - other software lacks this feature. This is what I meant but without doing some research I was wrong in the way I said it.

Digital does get bashed quite a bit and other than very lossy mp3s and brickwalled production, it's the best medium as all analog media degrades.

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For the uber-nerdy amongst us, and also for the digital-haters who display their ignorance with the old favourites 'Digital is just an approximation because of all the steps' and 'Digital is crap for high frequencies because of all the aliasing' here is a fabulous informative and educational video:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIQ9IXSUzuM#t=389

Enjoy. And for the luddites, I hope you learn something.

Edited by woz70

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For the uber-nerdy amongst us, and also for the digital-haters who display their ignorance with the old favourites 'Digital is just an approximation because of all the steps' and 'Digital is crap for high frequencies because of all the aliasing' here is a fabulous informative and educational video:

Enjoy. And for the luddites, I hope you learn something.

Haha!

Well...it still is an approximation, if impractically so in bits. But yeah, the stairstep is indeed a fallacy.

Look mate, I prefer analogue not based on science, but simply it's sound. High quality ANYTHING, be it digital or analogue I like. I'd take either any day over mp3 :-)

I'm all for the future technology, I embrace it as well as the past.I guess I'm a "ubiquitous multi chronological technology embracer" if you catch my drift. :-)

Edited by anodizingstatic

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