What isn’t in the November C&I, 2

More stuff you won’t find in the forthcoming Cites & Insights 5:12:

  • An expanded commentary on possible futures and win:win vs. zero-sum scenarios.
  • 4,000 words that were in the edited essays, but brought the whole issue to 27 pages with 20,500+ words. The first-round cut (which deleted the blather in the previous post, and a bunch of other stuff) brought that down to 18,000 words and 24 pages. Another round of cuts, mostly commentary, brought that down to 16,500 words and 22 pages. That issue will be coming soon. (How soon? Within the next hour.) A really good editor could doubtless bring that down to 20, 18, or 16 pages–but at some point it would cease to be my commentary.
  • This other piece of blather, sacrificed during round two. So, of 4,000 excess words, I’ve tossed fewer than 1,000 your way via these two posts. The other 3,000 are where they probably should be: In that great bit-bucket in the sky.

Better than the Original?

This has come up before: The possibility that a CD-R can sound better than the CD from which it was recorded—and the ancillary situation in which an audio reviewer who considers LPs vastly superior to CDs in sound quality uses CD-Rs to demonstrate the differences between turntables and cartridges (as recorded to CD-R).

Part of me wants to say “hogwash” when I hear the first claim, putting it in the same category as improving CD sound by painting a green stripe around the edge, freezing the CD, or demagnetizing it—pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo that works just as long as the person listening believes it works.

But in the case of CD-R vs. CD, it’s not entirely clear that it’s nonsense—at least not if you believe that jitter and error correction can have subliminally audible side effects. Once a CD has been ripped to a hard disk, assuming the ripping works properly (and you’re ripping to a .WAV or .AIF file or to a lossless compression format), there should be no errors and jitter should no longer be a factor. While playback jitter from a CD-R made from that file may still be a factor, the one-off CD-R should have no errors (unlike pressed CDs, which are likely to have some small and fully correctable error rate).

Will I swear that any of my CD-Rs (re-expanded from 320K MP3 compression) sound better than the CDs they came from? No, but I also have very modest sound equipment and somewhat damaged hearing. Do I think a few of the cuts are cleaner and less edgy than the originals? Yes—but that may actually be the effects of lossy compression. Do all claims that CD-R copies can sound better than the originals fall into the snake oil realm? I no longer believe they do. But when it comes to holding a little box over the CD for a minute to permanently improve the sound—there I’m back on the side of the skeptics.

One Response to “What isn’t in the November C&I, 2”

  1. George Needham Says:

    Walt,

    I think you may have been right to excise this column, but I’m sorry the folks who only read Cites and Insights (and not Walt at Random) are going to miss your piece on Will Manley. Keep up the great work!

    George


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