HSTracks FLAC VS ALAC

Well, I decided to give Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughn's "In Session" a run from HDTacks.

I already own the album, the CD and DVD combo. I've ripped the CD to my SSD in an ALAC format. It has always sounded okay to me. It does get congested and muddled though.

I was hoping for a cleaner mastering with the HDTracks version. I got the 192/24 download and I'm very happy.

Right off the bat, the mastering is done at a lower volume and appears cleaner. I can right away hear a difference. The instrumental separation is far better and it presents a better soundstage.

I can turn it up and clearly hear the music, where the CD sounded like a muddled mess. the drums, bass, and guitars were clearly separated and had their own place in the soundstage. In the song; "Ask Me No Questions" I can readily hear that the soundstage is FAR more controlled and enjoyable. The diving bass line that is lost on the CD is present and a welcome addition.

"Blues at Sunrise" is one of my all time favorites. It is wonderful on the download. The controlled soundstage really shows its stuff on this track. The dueling guitars shine clear and center. The download shows off Alberts's resonating tone very well, while it also shows off SRV's biting attack.

I have been dipping my toes into downloads and I was VERY hesitant to buy this one. I have read "reviews" that show graphs of it not containing a lot of info beyond CD quality. However, what it does contain is FAR more controlled and better quality.

This download just goes to show, graphs DO NOT show everything in our hobby. I'm borderline angry that I almost skipped this because of BS "reviews" that only show a graph.

I'm slowly going away from physical media at this point. Downloads are just beating physical stuff time and time again...
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Comments

  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,717
    A couple notes:

    First, your title is a bit misleading as this has nothing to do with FLAC vs ALAC. You're comparing a higher resolution version with possibly a different mastering, that's where your sound differences occur. Both formats have the same sound quality and support the same resolutions.

    Second, I agree on using charts to judge music. Charts can provide objective information about whether a track is dynamically compressed or not and those can often be used to judge at least specific elements of what a quality recording should be, but nothing can ever fully replace your ears and how you perceive music.
  • UpstatemaxUpstatemax Posts: 2,495
    Not ment to be misleading, just a comparison between an ALAC rip of the CD and a high rez FLAC download.

    As far as FLAC vs ALAC is concerned, all things equal, I find them to be identical.
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  • recoveryonerecoveryone Posts: 803
    I agree with Sim, in thinking that the CD was produce from a poor master or mastering process more than thinking that the highrez is that much better.
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,479
    I agree with Sim, in thinking that the CD was produce from a poor master or mastering process ....

    That sure wouldn't be the first time that's happened. I have many cd's that just sound god awful.
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  • UpstatemaxUpstatemax Posts: 2,495
    I agree with Sim, in thinking that the CD was produce from a poor master or mastering process more than thinking that the highrez is that much better.

    Never expect being "High Rez" to make it better. Matter of fact, I said this:
    I was hoping for a cleaner mastering with the HDTracks version. I got the 192/24 download and I'm very happy.

    Right off the bat, the mastering is done at a lower volume and appears cleaner. I can right away hear a difference. The instrumental separation is far better and it presents a better soundstage.

    I have a lot of CD's that sound fantastic, and many that sound terrible. I don't expect 192/24 up-sampling to magically fix a crap mastering. I decided to buy this version because I heard that the mastering was different from the CD, plus I'm slowly moving away from physical media...
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  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 13,638
    While I don't have this particular CD, I too have found that the download can be better than the CD when I have bought a download of a CD I owned. For example, Marilyn Manson, The Pale Emperor, FLAC download at 44/24 sounds much better than the ripped to ALAC 44/16 CD. The only reason I used ALAC is because I still use iTunes to RIP CDs even though I do not use my iPod anymore.
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  • recoveryonerecoveryone Posts: 803
    I have heard both media types have less than expected results, the gamble is as customers we have no clue on what process was done or how good until we buy it. which keeps the ongoing debate about which one is better Vinyl/CD/Flac/Mp3/Hi Rez.

    A bad master sounds bad no matter which version you use.
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,479
    Maybe we should start a thread and make it a sticky, for known well mastered recordings, various bands, in various formats. Narrow it down for folks looking to buy music, keep 'em from wasting coin and having to spend boat loads of time sifting threw reviews.
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  • ThortonThorton Posts: 1,298
    tonyb wrote: »
    Maybe we should start a thread and make it a sticky, for known well mastered recordings, various bands, in various formats. Narrow it down for folks looking to buy music, keep 'em from wasting coin and having to spend boat loads of time sifting threw reviews.

    Great idea. I'm usually looking up the reviews of different masterings before I buy older recorded CD's now. It does take time.
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  • machonemachone Posts: 1,264
    Sounds like a good idea to me.
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  • tratlifftratliff Posts: 1,060
    tonyb wrote: »
    Maybe we should start a thread and make it a sticky, for known well mastered recordings, various bands, in various formats. Narrow it down for folks looking to buy music, keep 'em from wasting coin and having to spend boat loads of time sifting threw reviews.

    I would use it. Would be very helpful.
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,479
    Well, one of you dudes would have to start it as I don't buy music online, nor do I dabble in hi-rez.

    Now if you wanted to start a Cannoli thread, I'm your guy. :)
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  • machonemachone Posts: 1,264
    tonyb,

    I posted this link in the music section of this forum but nobody seems interested.
    It does address dynamic range compression and can help in selecting a quality master.
    You can click on the release in question to get song by song details.
    Check it out.
    Comments?

    http://dr.loudness-war.info/
    Mojo Audio Illuminati v3>>Quantum Byte w/LMS>>Rpi/PiCoreplayer>> Starlight 7 USB >> Mojo Audio Mystique v2 SE>>ModWright SWL 9.0 SE Signature>>Hafler DH-500 Amp+ (Musical Concepts Fully Modded)>>
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