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The little bloops at the end of Explorers (at 5:07 and 5:12). Is that supposed to be there? Those are the only odd noises that really bother me. :erm:

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I'd love to be able to reply about this but still haven't had my email for the HD download !!!!:mad:

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The little bloops at the end of Explorers (at 5:07 and 5:12). Is that supposed to be there? Those are the only odd noises that really bother me. :erm:

 

I don't think these sounds are supposed to be there. Big Freeze has similar noises in the verses, but those are less noticeable and panned to the left channel...

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Your comments are all very valid Tanel but possibly the most significant thing is the fact that almost everyone who has commented on this having heard both the CD and the HD files is saying that the latter are the better ones. I daresay some of the people making those comments will have full-on esoteric kit, while some won't, but the bottom line is that if you can hear the difference, you can hear the difference. To be honest if folk are noticing this on "normal" audio kit I'd say that's a very good thing - as it seems to show that even normal electronics and normal ears can tell the difference between a properly recorded source and one that's been made artificially "loud" in a way that destroys a lot of the space, warmth and subtlety.

 

Sure they might not be hearing it under the best possible conditions but don't forget, for example, that the gains from frequency ranges higher than 20kHz quickly become marginal for anyone who isn't a bat. IMHO the good thing about these files isn't so much the high resolution of the files, it's the fact that they haven't been post-produced.

 

Even listening to the HD files on relatively "normal" audio equipment, you will still get a much more open soundstage and greatly increased clarity thanks to the lack of post-compression. As I said yesterday, downconverting the HD files back to 44.1/16 and burning back to CD gives a better outcome than the commercial disc - and the are moments when the differences aren't subtle. Picking just one example, the way the closing riff on Animals jumps clear from the trading floor shouting is pretty startling - even in my car. On the release CD it all turns into a bit of a mush. Hell, a lot of the folk on the Animals thread commenting about the riff not having enough power to it might have had a different opinion if they'd heard the mix that is on the HD files.

 

 

 

Dude, even if you have to play them back downconverted, as above I'd say these are still well worth it.

 

I've now had time to compare the CD, the HD/FLAC ripped to audio CD & the vinyl.

I can not comment on the HD/FLAC played properly through a true HD system (or anything that is close to do it justice).

From best to worst: Vinyl, the HD/FLAC ripped to audio CD & then the CD.

Maybe the vinyl sounds best just because of my system - my turntable maybe better than my CD player.

Comparing the 2 CD versions on the same set-up - the HD/FLAC ripped to audio CD sounds better than the standard CD.

The standard CD has an increase of loudness and does not seem as dynamic. In places it is more punchy, i.e. at the start of Panic Station. When you listen to the strings at the start of The 2nd Law: Unsustainable - it sounds harsh.

I would love to hear the HD/FLAC played on a good system - time to start saving.

Edited by Heartofsaturdaynight

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Hi there,

 

1) I bought "The 2nd Law – HD Digital Album" from the muse.mu store. They are described as "FLAC 24bit 96khz audio files".

 

I wonder what is the practical difference between these and "The 2nd Law – Digital Album Download - Mp3 320kbps audio files"?

 

Is there a significant audio quality difference? In that case, should sub-par quality even be allowed to be sold?

 

I mean, the HD seems great. To me it sounds like it strays a bit back from the loudness war; the drums are clear and loud beats, which sound amazing. But I don't really know if there's a difference.

 

2)

a) Are instrumental versions meant to be bought? I remember OoS instrumental being put on some semi-official Muse site a few years ago. There's nothing about instrumentals on the official muse.mu shop.

 

b) On the Big Freeze instrumental there is a synth playing at the beginning, absent from the regular version. What is up with that?

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Hi there,

 

1) I bought "The 2nd Law – HD Digital Album" from the muse.mu store. They are described as "FLAC 24bit 96khz audio files".

 

I wonder what is the practical difference between these and "The 2nd Law – Digital Album Download - Mp3 320kbps audio files"?

 

 

It's for audionerds. You need special software, speakers and ears to appreciate it.

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If you don't mind me asking, what kind of software, what will that combined with 'special speakers' do to the sound? :p

 

Edit: Sorry for asking, my thread got merged, didn't find this when I searched... :stunned:

Edited by Jetro

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Special software is really just something that can play FLAC (which is actually most media players, just not the most popular ones ironically).

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There is really apparent compression on Animals as the drums and bass kick in. Just sucks the keys part down.

 

It's a pretty amateur mistake to make, as for overall mix I am listening on pretty basic speakers and woofer. So I can't say much for that.

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There is really apparent compression on Animals as the drums and bass kick in. Just sucks the keys part down.

 

It's a pretty amateur mistake to make, as for overall mix I am listening on pretty basic speakers and woofer. So I can't say much for that.

 

I don't think the bass or the kick suck the keys down too much.

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1) I bought "The 2nd Law – HD Digital Album" from the muse.mu store. They are described as "FLAC 24bit 96khz audio files".

 

I wonder what is the practical difference between these and "The 2nd Law – Digital Album Download - Mp3 320kbps audio files"?

 

Is there a significant audio quality difference?

 

You're asking questions there that are partly technical, partly subjective. Questions about quality difference - and the significance of it, are to a large extent, in the ear of the beholder.

 

The practical differences are down to three main things:

 

1. The HD audio files are encoded at 24 bit precision and 96kHz sampling rate. You have to remember that sound waves are very much an "analog" thing. Turning them digital involves measuring (quantising) them, turning that measurement into a digital number and storing them as a file, or as a track of pits on a CD, or wherever. The more precise your digital number (the bit depth) and the more often you do it (the sampling rate), the more accurate your digital representation of the original waveform becomes - and the more accurately it can be turned back into analog at the playback end.

 

96/24 is close to, or maybe even the same as, the data rate of the original studio masters for this album - so with these we are getting the songs as close to studio quality as possible. The higher sampling rate allows very high, ultrasonic, frequencies to be accurately encoded and reproduced. While your ears can't directly hear them, audiophiles will tell you that being able to reproduce them - and allowing them to interact with the lower frequencies - does affect the final sound for the better. Your dog will definitely notice the difference.

 

CD works at 16 bit precision with 44.1kHz sampling - meaning that most modern studio recordings need to be downconverted before creating the CD, therefore losing some of the original quality. While I haven't heard or examined them, I would expect that the mp3's are originated from the CD master, so even before being turned into mp3's they're already losing some of their theoretical quality when compared with the flac files.

 

2. The FLAC encoding system used on the HD files is lossless. This is a system very similar to a .zip file - which reduces file size a bit without actually removing any of the original data. If you want you can extract the .flac file out into a .wav - and it will be an exact bit for bit copy of the original uncompressed source.

 

MP3 by contrast is what's known as a lossy compression system. This means that audio data is actively and selectively removed by the encoder in order to make the file smaller. The encoder will try to remove fine detail that it thinks your ears can't pick up (which is why these techniques are sometimes called "perceptual" coding - it removes data you can't perceive). However, the lower the bitrate, the more information has to be removed, and the more work the decoder has to do at the playback end, and so the more the playback begins to differ from the source, and, ultimately, the more chance there is of your ears hearing something "wrong". mp3 usually removes high frequency data first - because this is the stuff our ears have the most difficulty hearing. It also tends to cause dynamic range compression, and speaking of which...

 

3. There's another type of compression in play here that you're already aware of - with your reference to the "Loudness War". This is audio dynamic range compression and "brickwalling" that is applied by engineers after the album itself has been mixed and produced. In other words someone deliberately tweaks the audio to reduce the difference between the quietest and the loudest sounds in order to make it sound louder or bolder or clearer, or better on the radio, better against the background noise in a car, or whatever.

 

Again not having heard the mp3's (as above, would expect them to come from the CD master and therefore be post-produced), but the HD files, certainly, seem to have been authored before any post-production was applied. Hence, like you say, they "stray a bit back from the loudness war" - and, subjectively, seem to sound all the better for it.

 

Incidentally, if you really want to hear these files in the best possible way, it isn't just "special software". You need playback hardware that works at 96/24 all the way through its digital stages - and then, in an ideal world, analog bits (i.e. amplification, speakers/headphones) that are also pretty good. Many PC audio systems downconvert or reconvert audio internally so even with the right software you might not be getting the absolute last few percent of the experience. Thing is though, it is the very last few percent - which is why the compromise of file size and quality on mp3 kinda does the trick for a lot of people.

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FLAC is the only format that can reduce rotational velocidensity.

 

Technically Monkey's Audio and TTA files as well but nobody uses them these days. And not just reduce but eliminate.

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FLAC is the only format that can reduce rotational velocidensity.

 

Technically Monkey's Audio and TTA files as well but nobody uses them these days. And not just reduce but eliminate.

 

Geeks.

 

<3

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FLAC is the only format that can reduce rotational velocidensity.

 

I was waiting for this in the thread

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Madness - 1.40, there's an odd squeak, it almost sounds like a "bckerk" of a chicken hahah. Can anyone else here that or am i just going mad?(ness)

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Madness - 1.40, there's an odd squeak, it almost sounds like a "bckerk" of a chicken hahah. Can anyone else here that or am i just going mad?(ness)

 

:LOL: I hear it! Might be Matt touching the strings of the guitar?

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Citizen Crazed, thanks for that great answer. Regarding pt. 3, yes, I am aware of brickwalling, and I think The 2nd Law sounds better because of the apparent absence of it :) I heard some mp3 instrumentals and they sounded about the same... I play music on my laptop with a regular soundcard, so somebody will probably be mad. Oh well, money well spent, I say.

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Incidentally, if you really want to hear these files in the best possible way, it isn't just "special software". You need playback hardware that works at 96/24 all the way through its digital stages - and then, in an ideal world, analog bits (i.e. amplification, speakers/headphones) that are also pretty good. Many PC audio systems downconvert or reconvert audio internally so even with the right software you might not be getting the absolute last few percent of the experience. Thing is though, it is the very last few percent - which is why the compromise of file size and quality on mp3 kinda does the trick for a lot of people.

 

I explained this to people but they didn't seem to believe the fact that they can't get every bit of juice out of it so don't waste your breath. Very nicely explained though.

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I was switching back and forth between snippets of the album and HD versions to see if I could tell the difference and realized I really couldn't, and then I listened to the drop in Follow Me and was thinking "wow this is actually clearer!" and then I checked and it was the album version :facepalm::LOL: I guess my headphones/ears just aren't good enough.

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Not your headphones either. Your soundcard isn't capable of playing such high quality either. You need a fast computer with a fairly powerful headphone amp.

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