From: "Jan Wagner"
Subject: Re: Music - Do numbers matter?
Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 16:03:58 +0200
Organization: Helsinki Television
NNTP-Posting-Date: 2 Jan 2003 14:31:29 GMT
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2720.3000
"James Llort" wrote in message
> I'm after a new sound system for my studio. I have very sensitive ears
> so sound quality is of the upmost importance. I mostly enjoy classical
> mustic, and I can hear the nasty 'stepping' on CD players as the
> wonderful sound is horribly broken up into chunks with the digital
It seems you're running the CD at terribly loud output level to hear the
> I'm guessing this is because my old system uses a duel "1 bit"
A 1 bit DAC. A well designed 1 bit DAC player (which in reality averages
single bits over a sequence of 16 bit length) may have less distortion than
a 16-bit or multiple-bit DAC player.
www.google.com => http://www.howstuffworks.com/question620.htm
> This brings me to my first question: How many bits can a human
> ear detect?
That depends completely on the loudness difference between two "steps", and
the frequency. If it's below the threshold of hearing (at the frequency in
question), then, well, you really can't hear it. ;o)
Though, you're partly right, on soundcards a 8bit vs 16bit sample playback
is noticeable as lower "noise" with 16bit (noise = quantization noise
stemming from the ADC conversion).
> I would have thought an 8 bit sound card from my old 286
> would offer better sound quality, but it is rather nasty I'm afraid.
That's because the sample frequency with those old cards was t.ex. 8kHz mono
so reproduction went barely up to 4kHz and sounds were almost telephone line
> My 32 bit sound card isn't much chop either - I want a sound card to
> hook up to my new system to listen to my MP3's.
In the end, bits don't matter much. Old 16bit 44.1kHz sound cards, compared
to new 16bit 44.1kHz ones, make a world of a difference in sound quality.
Think about background noise and distortion.
> I have looked but been
> unable to locate 128 bit soundcards - I guess companies like Creative
> only care out the 'leaded ear majority'. Does anyone know of an
> excellant sound card without digital stepping? I'd prefer an optical
> output of some sort to prevent phasing errors.
> Now, to the meat of my question: What is the best sound system money
> can buy(for under 5 grand)? I need your advice. This is for a small
> room, roughly 15 by 15 feet. My problem is that I am 'super-size' and
> find it very difficult to leave my house. No flames please, it's
> genetic. But I degress...
Sound system, or just a sound card?
For a sound card, for example "MidiMan Audiophile" (www.midiman.com) is
pretty darn good.
128 bit soundcards don't exist. Typical studio quality DACs use 24 bit per
channel, and sample at up to ~100kHz. Rather than looking at bits, look at
"num. of bits * sampling frequency", distortion, signal/noise ratio SNR, and
frequency response of the sound card.
About a complete system: i can't really help there, but at least the Sony
CMT-M100MD mini-tower i have (CD, minidisc, tape, line-in, optical in,
stereo / 2-channel, headphone, extra PC link kit == USB<->optical soundcard
box) comes with small but stunningly well sounding speakers and performs
otherwise well too. But it is "only" stereo, and can't be considered golden
ear hifi equipment... ;-) But for an inexpensive home system it is rather
good, at least IMHO.
> Thanks to the internet, I have collected much technical information
> from a varity of sound systems. Do all these numbers mean anything to
> the ear, or is it all meaningless. Would I be better off with 40 WRMS
> or 500WPMPO (whatever that means).
WPMPO is when the salesperson adds two zeroes to the actual Watts the puny
mains transformer dangling behind the speakers can supply. A 500 Watt PMPO
speaker is probably powered by a 5 Watt wall-wart, so at best you can get a
continuous 5 Wrms (RMS, root mean square, related "effective" or "average"
Watts) into sound...
> I have been looking at quality
> brands like Sony , Phillips and AudioPro. My problem is that because
> of my weight I cannot listen to the systems in question - I'll have to
> buy based only on audiophile magizine reviews and numbers. Which one
> should I trust more? The "golden ears" who have listened to the music,
> or the numbers?
Not the numbers, they don't tell whether the system sounds pleasing or
not... Low distortion, high linearity, very flat frequency response, output
power, don't imply that it will actually sound good - read reviews with an
eye on cost and how good it sounds. T.ex. cheap and scratchy vinyl sounds
good, despite its big shortcomings in "reproduction quality"... :-)