Will MP3 Replace CDs

Awhile ago I posted a message about what kind of mini CD player was the best. Now it seems I go back to the store and they only have 1 kind. The MP3 players have replaced them all. The only mini CD player also records from MP3s.

Seeing as they don’t skip and have no moving parts; does anyone believe they will replace CDs?

For mainstream music, I dont think so. Record companys will spaz out a lil to much cause its real easy to copy mp3s and as such they would in theroy make less $$…which sadly is what they are all about, at least thats the way I see it. I think within the next year they will find a balence of the 2.

MP3 is based on a lossy compression algorithm, so the sound quality is not nearly as good as a properly sampled, uncompressed CD. The RIAA will never support it as a viable format, however, for the rasons listed above.

Hybrid CD/MP3 players are already out, but considering how many regular CD players there are now I doubt it will happen anytime soon if ever. MP3 aint so hot, the new VQF format is smaller and gives better quality. Considering the DMCA is now law, expect a DIVX like CD player to be the future.

Here is a vaguely recalled table, probably wrong in exactitude but accurate in spirit (wink):

LP record: 22,000 kbps

CD: 14,000 kbps

Mini-CD: 8,000 kbps

Mp3: 6,000-8,000 kbps

Audio cassette: 7,000 kbps

Where the information content of the LP and cassette are estimated because they are analog and the “kbps” is added simply to make myself look authoritative and important. I’m sure someone knows where to find the information that will blow my ass out of the water on this one.

I do know this, however. The lower-density digital formats, and to some extent CDs, “cheat” by using the theory that loud notes and tones will obscure softer tones of the same or similar nature, therefore that information does not need to be included. This works great with bands like say, oh… Metallica, who uses four instruments with heavy distortion, with two of them (guitars) often playing the same notes at the same time. The distortion remains, but duplicative sounds are omitted, and thus Metallica still sounds great in MP3 format. Toss in something complex, like a symphony, and something important is gonna get lost.

Does it matter? Well, I have some friends who have argued to me that record players “sound better” because they are actually introducing their own noise through the preamp, which gives LPs that “warm” tone. The quality of the speakers, of course, is the most important factor: that, after all, is what you’re gonna hear, no matter what has been going on beforehand.

So my opinion is this: if everyone in the world owned a Bang & Olufsen and a five thousand dollar set of speakers, MP3s would be laughed off; if, on the other hand, everyone kept the $20 speakers that came with their Microcenter computers, had sets of Technics in their lowered Honda Accords along with twin Bazookas, and bought one-piece Panasonic stereos with the cheapest Cerwins on the market, then we can look forward to hearing Metallica on MP3 for a long, long time.

:confused: Must be living under a rock.

True, but you seem to be forgetting the fact that VQF takes up more memory to play than MP3 and it takes an eternity to burn even one song into the VQF format.

While SofaKing’s numbers may have come from… well… between the cushions (snort) his basic idea is essentially right. Both MP3s and Minidiscs have a lot of compression which is most notable on the very low and high frequencies which get chopped off somewhat to fit so much data into such little space.

Now, for a little explanation from a recording engineer:

LPs are actually in some ways SUPERIOR in quality to CDs in the sense that the sound you are hearing from an LP is the most accurate reproduction of the original sound (this is a whole analog vs. digital thing and I will explain if asked). The problem is, of course, that LPs get dusty and scratched, so the quality deteriorates very very quickly. CD players have error correction equipment which will compensate for some dust and some scratching, so your CD will sound really good much longer. However, if you have a very clean LP and a very good stereo system (including a weighted diamond needle), the quality can be amazing.

Cassettes are also analog devices. Unlike LPs which literally cut the shape of the sound into the vinyl, they use magnetism to encode the “image” of the sound. The problem in quality arises due to the size of the tape. Cassettes are 1/8 of an inch in width which is not very much space to encode something as complex as the sound of a symphony orchestra with the plus/minus magnetic coding. What you often end up with is a level of magnetic noise on the tape (the hiss most cassettes give you) which is sometimes compensated for, but rarely fully eliminated.

Minidiscs are a weird hybrid of analog and digital which is a bit difficult to explain. They were invented to replace the cassette, not the CD. They are superior in quality to the cassettes (they generally have little noise for one thing) but as far as CD quality, they don’t even come close. MP3s sound to me like the all-digital equivalent of the Minidisc for the reasons stated at the beginning.

To all you audio mavens out there-Philips announced the “DCC” format in the fall of 1996, with some fanfare. This was a digitally-encoded cassette, and offered the advantage odf low noise, and non-skipping (if jarred). Anyway, listen to the story:
I saw the add for this in August, 1996, and went to a local electronics store to check it out-the clerk told me that the systems would be for sale in about a month.
Well, in December, I was told that Philips had abandoned the format!
I guess they (Philips) lost close to $1 billion on this stillborn audio format.
My question:
I DON’T want to get burned - what WILL BE the audio format of the future?

MP3s will have an significant impact on how people listen to music when the following things occur:
[li]Portability Improvements - Players have to be cheap and widely available. They also have to be as functional if not more so than regular music delivery systems in terms of ease of use, ease of changing recordings, duration between recharges for totally portable devices, among other things.[/li][li]Accessibility - Right now, it takes over half an hour just to download a single song for the average person (dial-up connections are till most prevailant). While the introduction of DSL and Cable Modems in many areas is a start, until a majority of people have access to some seriously fast connections, it will be tough to gain a serious footing against conventional music delivery systems.[/li][li]Sound Improvements - I’m sorry, but an MP3, while sounding good, does not equate perfectly a CD, and I have decent speakers at home and work on my computers. It has that compressed sound to it, and I listen to music which is not particularly sensitive to these matters.[/li][li]The approval, endorsement and control of the record companies - You are seeing the beginning of the legal struggle to keep the record companies and artists in control of their music, and as the above advancements happen, this will be necessary before MP3s are useful in replacing CDs and tapes.[/li][/ul]
All that said, while I have MP3s, I still use my turntable… :smiley:

Yer pal,

One month, one week, three days, 14 hours, 47 minutes and 34 seconds.
1624 cigarettes not smoked, saving $203.08.
Life saved: 5 days, 15 hours, 20 minutes.

Let me put this in language everyone can understand…

MP3 = $300 mp3 player… plus the equipment and the time to download them.
CD’s… $30 CD player…plus an $18 CD…

also…you can loan out the CD.
Case closed.

This is comparing apples to oranges. The CD is a medium for storing bits; MP3 is a way of representing sound as bits.

The way of representing sound as bits that most CD players use — stereo 16-bit 44 100-sample-per-second PCM — which I’ll call CD-DA for convenience here, even though that can also refer to the CDs that have that format of audio on them — requires many more bits to encode one second of sound. Specifically, it needs 2 * 16 * 44100 = 1 411 200 bits per second.

MP3 allows you to pick your bit rate; I’ve heard of encoding MP3 as low as 96 000 bits per second, but more typical is 128 000 bits per second (with 256 000 bits per second for extra quality). There are even MP3 encoders that do variable-bit-rate coding so that parts of the sound that have more detail encode into more bits.

MP3 lets you record more sound in less bits. That’s all it does.

You can record MP3s on a CD. A CD holds about 5 734 400 000 bits; if those bits are a CD-DA recording, they represent about 4060 seconds, or about 68 minutes. If, on the other hand, they are 128kbps MP3 recordings, they represent about 44800 seconds, or about 12 hours.

There are MP3 players that can read CDs with MP3s on them.

But the ability to record more sound in fewer bits means that it becomes reasonable to try to record sound in solid-state memory like flash RAM. Flash is much, much more expensive per bit than CDs are. At http://www.pricewatch.com/, I see sixteen-megabyte flash cards at $30 to $100; that’s 134 217 728 bits of solid-state, no-moving-part memory. If you stick 128kbps MP3s in that, that will hold 1048 seconds of sound, but if you stick CD-DA in it, it will hold a minute and a half.

So the lower bit rate enables the use of higher cost-per-bit media like flash RAM to hold reasonable amounts of music. But it also enables the use of low-cost-per-bit media like CDs to hold unbelievable amounts of music — or just sound in general.

Think of things like IBM’s microdrive: http://slashdot.org/articles/99/02/02/102255.shtml and http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,18938,00.html. 340 megabytes — half the size of a CD — and one inch square. And dual-photon optical storage.

The bottom line is this: sooner or later, most recorded audio will be compressed with something like MP3 or Ogg’s Vorbis (see http://www.xiph.org/ogg/vorbis/index.html — it has the advantage of being free, unlike MP3.) Right now, decompressing these formats takes some fairly pricey electronics (a hundred dollars or so), but that is changing rapidly. But the jury is still out on the storage medium.

There’s the possibility that the music industry might be able to clamp down on our rights to free speech to the point where we have no choice. But, barring that, lossy compression formats like Vorbis (and MP3) are going to win over CD-DA.

This offers the possibility, actually, of recording sounds more accurately, and we’ll finally be able to donate all our LPs to museums. :slight_smile:

Why? Well, we can record at higher sample rates (88,200 samples per second, for instance), but if we have to distribute our music in CD-DA, there’s no point. But if we have other formats — capable of handling the better-sampled music and even reducing it to a more manageable size — we have an incentive to do better recording.

I was unaware that taking something that does not belong to you was a tenet of the free speach provisions this country has for us.

If you wish to continue this conversation, I suggest you start a thread in Great debates, but what you’re saying it totally wrong.

Yer pal,

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Life saved: 5 days, 15 hours, 45 minutes.

Remember, Satan works for the commercial music industry.

Don’t piss the dark lord off. :wink:

OK, I’ll take the bait. In what ways are LPs superior to CDs? The only one I can think of is that they fly better.

The only two reasons I can think of are easily dismissed. They are:

  1. Two to the sixteenth does not equal infinity. This is what an analog audiophile told me in the 1980s. The 16-bit limitation for CDs means that you have a 96 dB noise floor. However, the noise floor on an LP is much higher. And noise floor is what your ear might hear.

  2. An LP has a bandwidth of over 20 kHz, where a CD is limited by the anti-alias filter to under 20 kHz. But few humans can hear above 15 anyway. And you can’t sense the frequencies above what you can directly hear, no matter what the Infinity advertisements say. What about the phase distortions of the frequencies below the cutoff? Your ear is not at all sensitive to phase at high frequencies. No matter what the Linear Phase advertisements say.

So if you like LPs because of the higher noise, making them sound less harsh, then maybe the answer is just to put a noise generator inline with your CD player. Someone could probably even design one to generate pops to really simulate the LP experience.

So what’s your take on why LPs can be superior?


Satan – Bravo

MP3s are as much a free speech issue as shoplifting. No one is stopping you from listening to the music; they just don’t want you stealing it.

It comes down to what a lot of people call the “warmth” of analog vs. the “coldness” of digital.

Here’s how digital audio works. In order to understand this, you need a visual aid which I can’t draw for you (well, I won’t upload a lot of graphics for you anyway) but I will explain and you can draw it yourself.

Us a pencil (this is important) to draw a wave to represent a sound (this usually looks like a U with an upside-down U attached to the top of the right side of the first U and a line through the horizontal centre. Never mind why, it’s not important as long as your wave is a single continuous line).

That wave which represents your sound is what is captured on an LP.

Then we have digital. Every millimeter or so, draw a small line across your sound wave. Each line represents what is captured on a CD.

What does that mean exactly?

CDs and other digital audio mediums (such as Digital Audio Tape) use what is called sampling. What that means is that instead of capturing a record of the full sound wave (which is simply not something a computer is able to do), the digital device takes records pieces of the wave, a certain number of pieces of the wave per second. CDs, for instance, take a piece out of that wave 44,100 times per second. But… of course, the wave keeps going when the CD is not capturing this sound.

Now, take your wave picture and erase all the parts of the wave between the little lines you drew. See those gaps? That’s what the CD is NOT picking up and the record is.

Sure, these gaps are too quick for us to notice that they are there when we just listen to a CD, but when you listen to a CD of a recording and a clean LP of a recording on a comparable stereo system, you will notice that the LP sounds more real.

Now… you might be asking how the record picks up the sound wave constantly.

The way the basic record works is that the sound enters the input device (usually a microphone, but just the broadcast horn in the old days) and this device ends up at a cutting needle. Your sound, since all sound is really is a disturbance in air pressure, pushes against the needle which causes it to vibrate. This vibration of the needle is cut into the record.

The way to visualize this is with a new drawing of a wave. Imagine that your arm is the sound and your pencil is the needle. Your hand never leaves the pencil while it is drawing, so the picture of the wave is complete.

Does this all make sense? I hope so. I’m writing this after a full day of work, so please feel free to ask if you have any other questions.

One thing that often seems forgotten in MP3 questions: assuming that a large proportion of MP3 usage is from internet downloads, remember that not every country in the world has high-speed (or even unmetered) internet access. The UK might have reasonable internet links (well, around an average 56k) but also has metered access, and as long as that’s the case, large MP3 downloads will not catch on.

Arden, that was a pretty decent explanation of the differences between phonographs and CDs, but your example’s flawed.

You gave the idea that because the CD skips part of the waveform when it samples, it doesn’t get the whole thing. While the difference might be analog-digital, it’s not discrete-time vs. analog. It has been proven that when you sample at one frequency, you will get all information (signals, wave, whatever) that is one-half the sampling frequency perfectly. I’m sure you’re aware of this (it’s usually referred to as the Shannon Sampling Theorem. If anyone’s interested, there’s a rough outline of a proof here : http://ptolemy.eecs.berkeley.edu/~eal/eecs20/week13/nyquistShannon.html . It isn’t easy to explain.

CDs currently are sampling, as you indicated, at 44.1 kHz, twice the frequency anyone can hear (which might be almost 20kHz if you don’t go to rock concerts). Now Nyquist added a bit more, showing that if you have signals at a higher frequency in there, it’ll add distortion (referred to in this case as aliasing) when you sample and that comes out sounding bad. So there is one problem that must be avoided, namely, filter out anything above 22.05 kHz so you don’t get that stuff. Trouble is, the best filters aren’t going to cut you off at exactly 22.05 kHz so you’re getting a bit of nastiness there at the high end. CurtC alluded to this in his (2), and I’m with him, this really isn’t causing the difference; plus, higher sampling rates will take care of that.

So what is the difference? I can’t say I know for sure, but I have a feeling it’s just plain noise or something to do with the fact that the CD has digital levels of volume (to put it simply), while analog recordings are only limited by noise. Still, this problem can be practically overcome by making your digital increments small enough that there’s no noticeable difference.

All in all, my guess is just plain noise. This is not intended to be a criticism of anyone’s preference for either medium, just trying to clarify a point. I’m not an expert on audio systems, but I do know the difference between discrete-time, analog, and digital signals.

panama jack

“We do things with our mind, even in our everyday life, for which we are not responsible.” -Einstein

An excellent point, panamajack.

I was trying to keep my explanation as simple as possible and look how long it became. Your addition to it helps immensely.

Another issue in Analog vs. Digital is simple range of volume. Digital 0 is the loudest you can get with a CD before getting instant, absolute distortion. You can get much louder in Analog with a slow increase in distortion which is often not noticable.

Of course, there are lots of other factors too.