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Beatles remastered USB vs CD
2Bdecided
post Jan 8 2010, 13:08
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The Beatles released their "remastered" catalogue on a USB drive in 24-bit 44.1kHz FLAC.

Lots of fans claim the 24-bit versions sound amazingly better than the 16-bit CDs, e.g. see the Amazon reviews...

http://www.amazon.com/Beatles-USB/dp/B002VH7P4O

...but we all know how reliable such subjective impressions are!


However, it made me wonder if, just maybe, they didn't apply peak limiting to the 24-bit versions, hence giving them greater dynamic range than the CDs I think this is unlikely - your typical Amazon purchaser (who can't even play a FLAC file without jumping through hoops!) would probably think a quieter version without peak limiting sounded worse. But still - does anyone have one of these - or even a 30 second snippet of one of the tracks - that they could share?

It would be interesting to compare with the 2009 remastered CDs.

(I'm not sure it would make me buy it - why not put both the stereo and mono versions onto the USB memory stick?)

Cheers,
David.
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spoon
post Jan 8 2010, 13:14
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I have such, which track would you like a 30 second clip from?

One of the discs had no ID Tags, and all albums had [24 bit remastered] in the name (which I am sure the majority of people would get rid of)


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2Bdecided
post Jan 8 2010, 15:52
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Brilliant.

How about the first 30 seconds of the very first song - I saw her standing there?

Many thanks.

Cheers,
David.
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caligae
post Jan 8 2010, 16:20
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I just recently read that these are 24-bit files. When I first read about the USB version, I assumed it was identical to the CD version. But I'm disappointed that the USB version is much more expansive than the CD stereo box.

I'm also interested in a comparison and hope that I won't hear any difference. But maybe some of the hidden messages will be clearer in the 24-bit versions smile.gif
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cliveb
post Jan 8 2010, 17:36
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jan 8 2010, 12:08) *
The Beatles released their "remastered" catalogue on a USB drive in 24-bit 44.1kHz FLAC.
[snip]
It would be interesting to compare with the 2009 remastered CDs.

A chap called Phil Leigh did such a comparison using Audio Diff Maker (see post #5 in original thread on the Slim Devices forum).

He found that the differences are at very low levels (requiring 50dB of boost to become audible), and only at low and high frequencies.

My take on this is that the differences he found are simply due to the noise-shaped dither added to the 16 bit versions when preparing the CD releases.
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2Bdecided
post Jan 8 2010, 17:47
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Thanks cliveb. (There's some rubbish talked in that thread too, isn't there?)

So, nothing useful to be gained. sad.gif I'd still like to take a look though - to see how small the difference is.

Cheers,
David.

P.S. I find it amusing and depressing that there's all this talk of how much better it does sound at 24-bits, and could sound at a higher sample rate - as if 44.1kHz 16-bits was the limiting factor on these recordings! For goodness sake - have none of these people listened to The Beatles Love CD? Do none of them understand how many "bits" of difference peak limiting makes? Just shows that Apple can take the same masters, release them at 88.2kHz, and charge some people all over again. Which probably means we won't see versions drawing on the original 4-track tapes in my life time (and I'm only in my thirties!) because they can make extra money with far less effort by selling 24bit and 88.2kHz versions.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Jan 8 2010, 17:54
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cliveb
post Jan 8 2010, 18:32
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jan 8 2010, 16:47) *
Thanks cliveb. (There's some rubbish talked in that thread too, isn't there?)

It's the "Audiophile" section of the forum - what do you expect? :-)

Actually the Audiophile part of the Slim Devices forum is unusual: an approximate 50:50 mix of down to earth types and loonies. Amazingly it rarely descends into full-on flame wars. Sometimes Sean Adams (the Squeezebox designer) pops in with some very insightful objective comments. I rather like the place.
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andy o
post Jan 9 2010, 01:55
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Are the stereo mixes really that bad, or are you guys only hopeless romantics? biggrin.gif

I want this.

This post has been edited by andy o: Jan 9 2010, 01:55
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ntm
post Jan 9 2010, 06:35
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I am interested in 24 bit, but only if it has mono too. I was pretty disappointed with the stereo mixes and would definitely like to se a remix, otherwise I'm sticking to mono for just about everything, with some exceptions. If there's a 24/96 or something similar, especially with remixed stereo, I'll buy it all over again.
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danroche
post Jan 10 2010, 05:43
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I have the USB box set and have borrowed the Stereo Box set for comparison purposes. So far, ACTIVELY SEEKING DIFFERENCES, I can find none. Never mind ABX testing, I can't convince myself they're different when I'm peeking.

Given I didn't really expect much here, but I WAS kind of hoping that we'd be getting the non peak-limited versions on the USB. It looks from other posts that these are most certainly cut from the same cloth as what came out back in September.

That said, I DO prefer the Stereo mixes over the Mono box, which I also purchased. While I understand they didn't put ANY additional dynamic range compression on the mono remasters, I don't think that's the case when they cut the original masters. The early LPs seem to have more "pop" in stereo than in mono.
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ntm
post Jan 11 2010, 20:14
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Well that's disappointing that there's no audible difference, but it makes me feel better about purchasing the CDs. It's not that hard to rip, and I think it's ridiculous for them to charge the same amount (or more) for files as they do the physical media. The mono box is so beautifully packaged, it ALMOST makes me feel like I got my money's worth. The stereo CDs less so, but it's still nice to actually get the discs for your money.

I was trying to convince myself to get the 24 bit files, and I'm glad I didn't. The 44.1 kHz is actually what stopped me; I can hardly believe they didn't release it at 88.2 or 96...it would have been SO easy. I'm sure that'll be another release.
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shakey_snake
post Jan 12 2010, 01:19
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QUOTE (ntm @ Jan 11 2010, 14:14) *
I was trying to convince myself to get the 24 bit files, and I'm glad I didn't. The 44.1 kHz is actually what stopped me; I can hardly believe they didn't release it at 88.2 or 96...it would have been SO easy. I'm sure that'll be another release.
dry.gif

I'm sure your cat misses the ultrasonics. laugh.gif


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danroche
post Jan 12 2010, 02:04
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I really hope there are no further releases of the catalog. The very idea of releasing the 24 bit files three months after the stereo box set (and purposefully not announcing it earlier) was clearly intended to get people like me to double-dip. The liner notes of the Mono Box Set ironically make a point of reminding us that the Beatles frowned upon putting singles on albums, being that it would force fans to buy the same songs twice. So much for that principle.
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pdq
post Jan 12 2010, 02:53
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QUOTE (Batman321 @ Jan 11 2010, 19:50) *
My post was deleted... why???

Not a very nice welcome I must say.

Your post was moved to here, apparently because you made a statement about audible quality differences without backing it up. (See Terms of Service #8)
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Batman321
post Jan 12 2010, 03:22
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QUOTE (pdq @ Jan 11 2010, 20:53) *
QUOTE (Batman321 @ Jan 11 2010, 19:50) *
My post was deleted... why???

Not a very nice welcome I must say.

Your post was moved to here, apparently because you made a statement about audible quality differences without backing it up. (See Terms of Service #8)



Uhmm I see...

I said that the USB and the CDs sound the same to my ears... What's wrong with that? or what am I supposed to do to prove that??

Is this some kind of scientific forum where everything must be put in measurable terms?? blink.gif

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andy o
post Jan 12 2010, 04:47
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pretty much, yes. This is about the only place where I can come get info on audio and at the same time keep my sanity.
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kornchild2002
post Jan 12 2010, 06:09
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QUOTE (danroche @ Jan 11 2010, 18:04) *
I really hope there are no further releases of the catalog. The very idea of releasing the 24 bit files three months after the stereo box set (and purposefully not announcing it earlier) was clearly intended to get people like me to double-dip.


I think so too. I ended up buying the stereo remastered CD box set but I am not about to plop down $200 for the digital files on an Apple. I went with the stereo remastered set as it came with more content and was about half the price of the mono box set. That is all I needed; every Beatles album on stereo CD so that I can rip them for playback on my computer and portable device. I still would have went with the stereo CDs if the stereo box set, mono box set, and USB Apple were all released at once. I think $200 is way too much to spend on a USB storage device for digital files. I want something to hold in my hand other than a plastic apple. I want to read through the liners, have a nice big box sitting on my shelf, etc. Having the FLAC files would be very convenient but I don't think it is worth the extra ~$50 for a few hours of my time.

It would be interesting to conduct a few ABX tests to determine if I can actually hear a difference between the 24-bit files and 16-bit files. I doubt I can. I have a 24-bit 44.1KHz FLAC file that I converted to ALAC (24-bit) and ALAC (16-bit). I cannot differentiate between the two ALAC files for the life of me. I cannot even effectively ABX the 24-bit ALAC track and a 16-bit lossy version (at -V 2/-q0.5/192kbps VBR constrained Lame/Nero/iTunes).
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caligae
post Jan 12 2010, 09:26
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I'd also be interested if low-volume parts are ABX-able if you boost the volume, e.g., the squeaking chair at the end of "A Day in the Life".

In other words, if the original tapes provide more than 16 bit of dynamics. Maybe we can discover some new hidden messages in the flac version smile.gif.
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greynol
post Jan 12 2010, 09:59
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QUOTE (Batman321 @ Jan 11 2010, 18:22) *
I said that the USB and the CDs sound the same to my ears...

You said, "sometimes I feel a little more 'air' or spaciousness in songs with quiet moments (in the USB), but then I compare them with the CDs and they are basically the same." So no, you you aren't saying they sound the same to your ears at all. You're saying you can tell the difference and chose to use subjective fluff to describe the difference earning your post its own cozy little space in our recycle bin.


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2Bdecided
post Jan 12 2010, 10:07
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Quite impressive for a first post! wink.gif

Maybe someone should have pointed out the problem in the thread. I was too lazy to - sorry. I assumed it wouldn't take more than five seconds for someone to point to TOS 8.

The bigger problem for me was the statement "I'm sure there are situations where 24-bit files sound much better than their 16-bit versions", and pdg answered this correctly with "The only cases in which the difference is significant is when they were mastered differently. If the 24 bit version is properly converted to 16 bits then the difference is virtually inaudible."


On the 1987 CD, that squeaking chair has so much tape hiss that 14 bits would still be more than enough. I have to admit that I haven't listened to the Pepper 2009 remaster that carefully yet!

Cheers,
David.
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Notat
post Jan 12 2010, 19:05
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jan 12 2010, 02:07) *
pdg answered this correctly with "The only cases in which the difference is significant is when they were mastered differently. If the 24 bit version is properly converted to 16 bits then the difference is virtually inaudible."

So where's the TOS#8 police on this one? What does "virtually inaudible" mean? I'm pretty confident that you'd hear a difference between 16 and 24 bit playback if I recorded or mastered at -60 dBFS.

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pdq
post Jan 12 2010, 19:24
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Looking back over ten years or so of following HA, and r3mix before that, I only recall one instance where one person could reliably differentiate 16 bits from 24 bits, on specific material.

Of course, anyone can make up any bizarre situation to prove a point.
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Ron Jones
post Jan 12 2010, 19:31
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QUOTE (shakey_snake @ Jan 11 2010, 17:19) *
QUOTE (ntm @ Jan 11 2010, 14:14) *
I was trying to convince myself to get the 24 bit files, and I'm glad I didn't. The 44.1 kHz is actually what stopped me; I can hardly believe they didn't release it at 88.2 or 96...it would have been SO easy. I'm sure that'll be another release.

I'm sure your cat misses the ultrasonics. laugh.gif

Hey, I just think he wants to get his money's worth. We're payin' by the bit here, after all wink.gif
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danroche
post Jan 13 2010, 03:50
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Okay, I just made the mistake of looking over at the Amazon reviews for the USB box set. Apparently according to everyone there you can totally and easily tell the difference between 24 and 16 bit. Either I have absolutely terrible hearing or there's a lot of justification going on. It's a shame as I think this will convince a lot of people to plunk down $220 they could be spending on lots of other worthier things. Ah well.
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2Bdecided
post Jan 13 2010, 13:23
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Agreed about the comments on Amazon.

I've compared the two properly now (sent to me via PM - thank you!). I've attached spectral plots to show one moment from I Saw Her Standing There. I chose a comparatively quiet bit (i.e. between drum beats, rather than on the beat!) so that the contribution of 16-bit noise shaped dither above 20kHz would be visible. You have to look carefully though!

In essence, the two are the same, except for the 16-bit dither, and a 0.2dB level difference (24-bit is louder - neither hits digital full scale). I "corrected" this difference by attenuating the 24-bit version by 0.2dB before subtracting one file from the other.

Strange thing is, they're not actually identical. Even when the gain of the 24-bit file it changed to match that of the 16-bit file, it doesn't match throughout. There's another ~0.01dB gain discrepancy creeps in at certain moments - not enough to be audible in itself, but it stops the two files from nulling out completely during those moments. For one moment only (after the quieter "1, 2, 3, 4" - at the exact moment the track really starts) the gain difference is greater - about -50dB down.

Otherwise the difference is -64dB down, and consists of the noise shaped dither only.


It looks to me like they ran the peak limiting separately for the 24-bit and 16-bit versions - using near-identical settings, but getting a non-bit-identical output.

So sadly there's no greater dynamic range in these 24-bit versions - in fact there's nothing of use that isn't already there in the 16-bit version.


If you try to ABX (good luck! wink.gif ), be aware that a 0.2dB level difference might just be audible under some circumstances - certainly far more audible than any other difference between 16-bit and 24-bit.

Cheers,
David.

This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Jan 13 2010, 13:25
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