by carl wilson

Everything's Coming Up Tommy (Edison)


In response to my interview on this week's Spark show on CBC radio about music and technology, in which I talk about ringtones, mp3s and the like, John Meyer sent me this link to a relatively new project rating the sound of various media - which concludes that listening to a 16kbs mp3 is the fidelity equivalent of listening to a wax cylinder! How steampunk, kids. (Maybe the Decembrists are on to something with their annoying neo-Edwardianism after all.) Any comments from audiophiles, anachronists and audio-anarchists?

General | Posted by zoilus on Wednesday, March 25 at 5:07 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (5)



The type of data compression in making MP3s removes "extraneous" data from the sound, a process that reduces the dynamic range and other details of audio imaging. That's why. for example, the sense of three-dimensionality diminishes as a recording goes from CD to MP3.

Posted by J.D. Considine on March 28, 2009 10:27 AM



I wasn't aware that data compression, as opposed to intentional audio "compression" (using an analog or digital compressor), was the cause of the reduced dynamic range in contemporary recordings. I have heard that over-compression in the recording chain has become more and more pervasive in pop music in recent decades, to the point where most studio-recorded music today has a relatively narrow dynamic range, and that the general listening public has unwittingly become accustomed to this compressed sound and now expects it.

Posted by marco on March 27, 2009 10:04 AM



What misleads people, I think, is the surface noise issue. Because wax cylinders (like LPs) are noisy and MP3s are not, it's easy to assume that MP3s, even with crap sampling rates, are higher fidelity. But as reissue engineers continue to demonstrate, there's a lot of information in those old analog recordings if you have the patience and skill to retrieve it. Where the Edison cylinders really come up short is in dynamic range, due to the physical limits of the recording process. (With MP3s, dynamic range suffers due to data compression, which varies with format.)

Posted by J.D. Considine on March 26, 2009 9:17 PM



Also, wax cylinders are more romantic and look better displayed on a shelf than 16kbs MP3s. Chicks dig them. And forget fidelity -- there's never been a marimba band version of "12th Street Rag" that sounds this good:

Posted by Jody on March 26, 2009 3:21 PM



Well, the difference is that the wax cylinder sounds pretty crappy from the start and just gets worse with each play vs the mp3 that just keeps sounding crappy forever.

Posted by Colonel Tom on March 26, 2009 11:44 AM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson