Comment of the Moment: Releasing "Time Fades Away" on CD - Does It Really Matter Anymore?
"It's like stashing Mona Lisa in the basement."
Petition Signature Signer #6628 by Gareth D.
The Comment of the Moment is regarding the viability of vinyl vs CDs on the post Neil Young's "Ditch Quadrilogy" Re-Re-Release Coming by rkennke:
I find this whole discussion about hires audio formats rather religious than anything else. Sure you get tons more information in 192KHz/24bits depth, but IMO it's all useless. It's pretty much proven that humans cannot hear anything beyond 20-22Khz. Most people fail to hear anything around 15Khz already. Try it out yourself. As per the Nyquist theorem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist%E2%80%93Shannon_sampling_theorem), a sampling freq of 44Khz is about perfect. Hence the 44Khz of regular CDs. Remains the discussion about dynamic depth of 16 bits. This could be debated, but I haven't heard of a single double-blind study yet that conclusively proves it makes a difference to anybody.Thanks rkennke for the comment. Provocative.
I believe the notion of CD quality being inferior stems from badly mastered CDs. Back in the 80s and into the 90s, equipment for CD mastering and engineering experience hasn't been as good as it is now. We really got lots of badly mastered CDs, and Neil Young's catalogue is no exception, sadly. And we still do, nowadays CDs are often mastered too loud. But it's not a failure of the format, it's a failure of proper mastering. Some records are just superb (e.g. the remastered 1st 4 from Neil Young), especially in recent years, there are many excellent CD quality records out there.
As for vinyl records. I love them. But I do not love them for their superior sound quality. I love them for the improved artwork. I love them for the ritualistic putting record on the turntable, then placing the needle on the record, later, turning the record around, heck even the slightly romantic crackling of dust. Sound quality? Well... for one, the dynamic range is fairly limited on a record. The groove can give you just so much. Especially in the lower ranges, the range is so limited that records are mastered with lower frequencies turned down, and the playback equipment required to amplify it back up (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization). The 'sampling frequency' is fairly limited too: vinyl consists of crystals, and you just don't get infinite many crystals (e.g. samples) within a groove. Then there's the issue that 'outer grooves' have a better quality then 'inner grooves', that's because the stylus has a higher effective speed over the vinyl at the outer edge than it has at the middle (kindof like higher sampling frequency). That's one of the reasons why often you find quieter songs at the end of one LP side. A well mastered LP will leave a lot of empty space in the middle for that reason. There are some terrible LPs (take NYs Freedom) that squeeze 30minutes+ on each side. Modern well mastered LPs only take up 12-20 minutes per side. And real hi-fidelity pressings even come in 45rpm (as some of Radiohead's records do, for example). LPs are really not that great, sound-quality wise.
I hope that Neil makes up his mind and re-releases TFA, TTN and Zuma (On The Beach is fine as it is) on CD. It's still the most common format, even though declining, and no, neither MP3 nor PONO is for me. LP with CD quality download seems ok. (Will the re-releases come with such download option?) In the meantime, find the pulled TFA HDCD master from the 90s out there.. it's great (better than any LP rip).
So. Does releasing Neil Young's "Time Fades Away" on CD... does it really matter anymore? Or can we just retire the petition and be done with and move along?