Today has been a long day, with a telecon that started at 430am and just ended. Being on a telecon means that I can’t play my iPod in the background. Speaking about iPods (how’s that for a leadin), there have been a few interesting articles of late regarding digital music. The first, which I listened to as a podcast last Friday, was a segment from Science Friday on LPs vs CDs vs MP3s. This is well worth listening to: it talks about the relative sound qualities of each, and even illustrates what you lose going to MP3. I’ll admit that I’ve never noticed that much audio degradation in MP3s. As for LPs vs. CDs, I generally prefer CDs simply because they have less background noise, but I’ll take either. I do record from LPs to MP3s, and do clean up the audio, so I’m not a 100% purist. Speaking of cleaning up audio, another interesting article I’ve run across (from Ars Technica) has to do with how sound engineers are slightly tweaking masters so that they encode with less audible loss. In the SciFri podcast, it was said that they didn’t do that, but it does make sense. Just as sound engineers in the LP days tweaked the dynamic response to best fit the vinyl (including reducing bass so the needle didn’t jump out of the groove, or compressing the range to fit more music), I’m sure they are tweaking to get MP3s to sound better (given that is now the dominant sales form). What I don’t know is whether they are generating different masters to compress for Amazon to be sold as MP3s vs. a master for Apple to be sold as an M4A (AAC).
What about you? Can you hear the difference between formats? What formats of music do you prefer? Do you record in order to convert formats?
Music: Trio (Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt): I’ve Had Enough