Can Redbook CD Be Saved


This type of thread has been discussed in various OPs elsewhere in one form or another. Some have said that the future belongs to one type of hi rez format or another, or maybe even various types of formats. Well, redbook CD has been around for three decades and many of us "old heads" have made significant investments in our CDPs and redbook CD collections based on 16 bit/44.1 kHz technology.

So I ask those knowledgeable in digital formats whether it is possible that redbook CD technology can be improved to the point that it could be substantially comparable to the various so called "cutting edge" hi rez formats coming down the pike? Maybe the improvements would have to start at the recording studio. Dunno?? But I would appreciate learning whether redbook CD equipment and CDs are headed the way of the 8-track?

Thanks
bifwynne
The 78rpm recording medium lasted from the 1920's to the 1950s. 30 years or so.
That was clearly superceeded by the long play LP
The LP lasted from the early 1950s to the 1980s..
Golly another 30 years.
The Cd quickly supplanted the Lp starting in the 1980s.
The CD has lasted about Golly Again!! 30 years, and now the death of the Cd is pronounced: the 30 years are up time to die.

The problem with that scenario is the LP did not exactly die. And in fact is still being produced.
I think the Cd will be in the same boat. It may not be 'THE" cutting edge technology, but it has a large following, and BILLIONS of CDs out there in the market, and in collections.
I think the "Death of the CD" is a little premature. And true the numbers in sales are definitely down, due to saturation of the market.
Same thing with DVDs, They have saturated the market. So the growth is zero. That does not mean they are going to all be tossed out tomorrow.
I buy used CDs. A LOT of used CDs, and things are great for CD buyers.
I have a decent sounding CD playback setup, (along with LP playback) and am not concerned about what is going to happen to CDs. As long as those Billions of CDs are out there, players are going to be made to play them. And since DVD players, and other devices play CDs, I think the future of CD playback is fine.
Even 78rpm machines are still being made to play old 78s.
For worry-warts, i suggest investing in a server.

The other side is the poor quality of the end product. that is stricktly up to the folks producing the CDs.
HDCD was around, and it did sound better, did it fly. nope.
Go complain to the folks making the crummy CDs to stop making them so poorly.
Other CDs are just fine.
Uhhhh, No.
Maybe you need a better CD Player
squeezebox can now humiliate megapriced red book players playing hi-rez formats. cd can't hold more than 700Mb while hi-rez song can take upto 500Mb.
Hdd-based digital playback is now, red book CD is on the way to our memories.
I think just the simple fact that a CD has a case with pictures and information on it helps their cause quite a bit. I find it handy and also like the physical presence of something I have purchased as a reminder of what I own and to listen to it. Sure you can look thru menus on a screen to find music on a server but it is not the same.

Maybe someday I will feel different but not at this time.
ruin a CD, you lose an album; ruin a hard drive, you lose your library (unless you have backed everything up)

not sure WHAT happens with homeowners insurance in case of a fire where your hard drive and back-up are destroyed ... can you insure the info on your hard drive?? (ie. if you were to have thousands of songs downloaded to a hard drive, can you claim it on your homeowners policy for replacement???)

Jeff
I go to a used LP&CD store at least once a week in my area.If CD is dead?I must be in a George Romero film...its butts to elbow and almost impossible to maneuver. Taking physical possession of a lost treasure is more rewarding to me then downloading.
Shortly, as a revenue raising scheme, the government will offer all CD's material in the 'cloud', paying you $5 for every physical one you turn in and allowing you access to that CD's material. It is called 'control'. How do I know all this, well there is a government program getting started that will buy your light bulbs so they can be replaced with 'green' lights. Rumor is that they will pay $2 each. So why not CD's?
The light bulb 'buy back' fantasy is a real hoot!
Elizabeth-- When I went to college at Michigan, I was able to bring my burned out light bulbs to the Detroit Edison store in Ann Arbor to trade them for new light bulbs, no charge (yes, there was electricity back then). So maybe not as much a fantasy as it seems!
I don't get it (as usual). If you enjoy your CDs played back on your rig, you enjoy them. Newer formats will not make them sound any worse. So what does it matter? It seems that buying new music is always a better investment than replacing music that you already own.

As far as reissues goes, analog tape degrades over time, and reissues of 30+ old material may very well sound worse when released in more modern media, simply because the tapes have degraded so badly. Garbage in, garbage out.
more fodder for all of you in this parallel thread: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?ymisc&1311979002&&&/Are-the-CD-S-days-numbered-
Just rip it with DBpoweramp to a hard disk on a computer and play it back through a decent USB DAC. CD player is not even close. Use Mac with SSD and its even better.

The CD player is dead, but the music is not. It just keeps getting better and better.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I truly believe that Cd's will be saved.... on hard drives.
Plus you have the ability to try several different dac's to fine tune to your liking.
Amen to Elizabeth first response - Well Done.
One word: Meitner.

Ok, more words: his gear makes RBCD sound like hi-res digital.
Taking care to improve the quality of a CD recording and mastering would go a long way towards keeping it alive and well. Wasn't there a kind of HD series of CDs some years back that used the extra, unused portion of that last bit that went some ways to improving the sound of the CD? What happened to that?

As I've stated elsewhere, there are some damn fine CDs out there and they should all be made to the same standards.

Another thing: has there been any attempt to improve the encoding of redbook CDs that could be read by the current lenses? It seems to be a matter of QC on the part of the labels.
There's not much to compare . 8 tracks sounded hideous and only lasted a few years . The CD has been around for nearly 30 years and the hard wear and sound gets better every year , the sound has improved so much the last few years i've dumped my analog rig .
Compact Disc are a digital source recorded at 16 bit 44.1khz. I haven't heard too much argument that anyone spending time with SACD will say that it is better than CD... SACD records 24 bit up to 96khz... This quality can easily be maintained in a file on a computer with much better consistency. To quote nonnoise:
"As I've stated elsewhere, there are some damn fine CDs out there and they should all be made to the same standards"
Hi RES files solve this dilema.
Saved from what? Haven't heard anything reliable that endangers it.

Neal
Want better sound from CD? Get a better CD player.
A treated CD can often sound noticably better than an untreated SACD. In any case, there doesn't seem to be much consistency among Redbook CDs or among SACDs or even higher bit rate CDs. It all depends.
I'm reading the various comments with great interest. I'm not sure if the comment about wanting better CD requires better CDP was directed to me or if was just a general comment. If directed to me, I think my CDP is very good quality. As to the comment that redbook CD "sound has improved so much the last few years i've dumped my analog rig," is not where I hold. IME, in a comparison of recording to recording, my analog set up leaves my CD rig behind in a puff of smoke.

IMHO, I agree with Nonoise's comment that QC may be the key:

"Taking care to improve the quality of a CD recording and mastering would go a long way towards keeping it alive and well. Wasn't there a kind of HD series of CDs some years back that used the extra, unused portion of that last bit that went some ways to improving the sound of the CD? What happened to that?

"As I've stated elsewhere, there are some damn fine CDs out there and they should all be made to the same standards.

"Another thing: has there been any attempt to improve the encoding of redbook CDs that could be read by the current lenses? It seems to be a matter of QC on the part of the labels."

I hope the comments continue. Personally, I've made a significant investment in my CDP and CDs and I would very much like to see the redbook CD format stick around, but with higher level of QC being maintained. One of the reasons I've started this OP is because it anecdotally seems that DACs are taking off and who knows what format (if any) will become the inductry standard in the future.

Thanks all.
"Hi RES files solve this dilema"

Not in your dreams. There is just as many Hi-res tracks out there that are crap as CD tracks. This is no guarantee. I have everything from 44.1- 192kHz and the trtacks at hig-res that are really good are few and far between. Lots more good 44.1 tracks out there.

You just need gear that makes all tracks sound good, even 44.1.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Who agrees with me about the EMM Labs player?

What's curious is half the pro reviews say it makes RBCD sound like SACD and the other half say about the opposite - SACD is miles ahead.

I am firmly in the former camp. I have never heard RBCD so good. I'm talking about the same recordings I have played on many other RB devices. Offhand, Night in Tunesia and Time Out are two. Previously, no RBCD player got these recordings close to their vinyl versions. The Meitner player does.
If your analog rig leaves your CD 's behind in a puff of smoke you definitely have the wrong player . What CD player do you have ?
My experience is 100% the same as Steve's. Not all high res recordings are great... The recording is the recording regardless of the resolution factor, but when you get a great recording in hi res.... The results are outstanding.. I find it rewarding to be able to burn my best cd's onto my hard drive with zero loss in quality. A great recording is still great at 16/44.1 all the way to 24/192... Changing DACs is just like changing players, they all sound different.
Tmsorosk, my CDP is an ARC Ref CD-7. My vinyl rig is a VPI Classic (w/Classic 3 arm upgrade), VPI Zephyr cartridge, custom low capacitance phono cables, and ARC PH-7 phono pre. Let me clarify my comment a little. I do have a few CDs that sound really good, e.g., Jean Yve Thibadeux (sp?) selection of piano cuts (London/Decca). Norah Jones latest CD is pretty good too. The bass shakes the sh*t out of the house. I can only play the CD when no one is home or else I get the sh*t shaken out of me.

I guess my comment goes more to the generic case where one picks up a CD, drops it in the CDP, sits back and relaxes. I just bought a CD at Starbucks. I could remove the tweeters from my speakers, it wouldn't make a difference. Whoever or whatever mixed it just left off sound information north of 500 Hz (exagerating a little). Yes, some vinyl sh*ts too. I picked up an old record, turned out it was mono and it sucked.

My point is that I wish the music industry would standardize the QC recording and mixing quality of CDs. It sounds like many of the comments take the view that redbook CD could be, and many times is, pretty good, if it's recorded and mixed well, with minimal loss of information.

So, in short, I'm not against redbook CD. To the contrary, I'm for it. As I said, I've sunk some serious bucks into my CD rig and would like to keep it around. I just hope the music industry doesn't snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

Cheers
08-03-11: Tmsorosk
If your analog rig leaves your CD 's behind in a puff of smoke you definitely have the wrong player .

Really ???
LOL !
Paul: Next time you're going to be down this way... :-)

Brian
With my EMM XDS1, Redbook sound often just like Hi-Rez.
I never would have believed this possible before the XDS1,
but it's true, with headphones or speakers.

I was an SACD lover before, always complaining about redbook's big inferiority to SACD, but I have a new-found respect for good old redbook with the XDS1.

Nobody was more surprised about this than I was until I heard it with my own ears.

So long live 44.1. Rebook lives.
Rgs92, I'm not familiar with the EMM XDS1. Does it utilize a different type of technology? Any reason it should sound better than the typical CDP? How much does it cost to buy?
Bifwynne, Well you certainly have a good sounding CD player. I think you need to take another look at your system instead of considering another CD player. From your earlier comment it sounds like you are leaning towards bass heavy recordings which usually means your system is on the thin side.
Rrog, thanks for the advice. Actually, it's the other way around. My mains are Paradigm Signature 8 v2 (beryllium)speakers, which many find to be thin in the base. In the case of the CD I bought at Starbucks, it just sucked.
The reason Bifwynne's records sound better, is the same reason mine and everyone else's sound better; they have all the analog information.

You are not converting or sampling, you are listening to the recording.

I do have some stellar SACD's, that on the right player (I no longer have a refernce quality player, since I gave up on discs) sound almost as good as vinyl, but never have I heard CD's stand up to vinyl. The reason we still have a 100 yr old technology.

I now have a Wyred4Sound DAC2 (my 12th DAC in the last few years) that I really do love with digital. But, I think the high res files sound better than any CD's that I have played through it. I am using a Oppo 83 as the transport, but still, the DAC with high res FLAC files, blows the CD's away.
Macdadtexas, I have proven time and again great sound can be achieved from both vinyl and CD, but you have to chose which will be your primary source. You are a classic example of someone who invests over $5,000 in vinyl playback and $1500 in a DAC and then carries on about how much better your records sound. Go figure!
Bifwynne, I have heard some models of Paradigm speakers can sound thin. Have you considered looking into a REL to compliment your main speakers?
Rrog, You don't read very well do you? I said I currently don't own a reference disc player, but I have. And many, many DAC's, including the awesome Berkeley (borrowed, didn't own), PS Audio Perfectwave and Bryston BDA-1 (great DAC) all recently, among others.

I have also owned a wonderful Parts Connexion modified Denon 5910 (the last really good disc player I owned, and a Linn Unidisc, once among others over the years. So you are way off base.

Red disc CD, by definition of the sample rate, is inferior. You can bluster all you want, but it is. If you say differntly you are just talking your book. Vinyl can be a pain in the butt, and there are not enough SACD titles to mess with anymore, but I will keep the ones that I have.

If you love the convenience of digital, the last medium to use for that is 44.1 CD. Hi Rez files and a very good NEW DAC blow them away, and are even more convenient. I will keep collecting vinyl, and use a DAC to play my FLAC files for conveneince sake. But CD's, they are as dead as 8 tracks, they just don't know it yet.
Rrog: "Bifwynne, I have heard some models of Paradigm speakers can sound thin. Have you considered looking into a REL to compliment your main speakers?"

The S8s are not so much thin as much as they start to peter out at around 45-50Hz. In most cases, there's not a lot of info down there, but when there's deep bass info in the source material, e.g., symphony orchestra (tympani, basses) or rock (some Nora Jones, etc), a sub woofer is nice to have.

I bought the Paradigm Signature Servo a couple of years ago. I set the low end cut-off at about 60-80 Hz and adjust the loudness as it suits my ears. I know that the Paradigm Signature line don't get a lot of attention on Audiogon, but the new ones with the beryllium tweeters are actually quite impressive.

Thanks
I have recently gotten an Empirical Audio system using their external optical drive to read cds into the TuneBank and using a Mac Mini. Previously, I had these same cds or most of them on a Mac Powerbook Pro. Both use Pure Music to play through a Weiss Dac202. The Powerbook with cds read into the memory just cannot compete with the new system. There is much more detail and better dynamics and everything is super secure as you have two back up hds with one out of the system.

I don't care that bits are supposed to be bits, these two renditions of my discs from harddrives sound quite different. I have some HD recording, but until they are much more available and of good performances, I have little or no temptation.

I fully expect that down loads will become more and more dominant, but the technology needs to get much better and what is available needs to get more extensive. At present we are where we were early on with cds-limited availability.