50 year old Jazz transfers on CD vs. iTunes ...
ptfigg
Thread Starter
#1
22nd December 2013
Old 22nd December 2013
  #1
Gear nut
 

Thread Starter
50 year old Jazz transfers on CD vs. iTunes ...

I'm really curious to hear responses from a mastering engineer's perspective regarding the the difference between a 50 year old jazz recording that was transferred to CD vs. how it exists on iTunes.

Keep this album in mind:

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane. Verve Music Group. I believe it was originally recorded in 1962.

My situation is this: I have a small to moderate collection of 1950's/60's Jazz albums on vinyl re-issues, SACD's, and standard CD's. In most cases I'm astonished with how well these recordings sound across all sources. Sure, I realize there are many variables including the quality of the transfers as well as the gear used for playback. What you may find surprising is I'm a huge fan of tape, and I really enjoy transferring all my favorite stuff to both reel to reel and cassette using high quality tape and recorders. To me everything sounds better on tape.

Here is my question - using the above album as an example - I'd like to know how much of a difference there is in sound quality comparing the standard CD release tracks (not the SACD or anything similar) to what is available on iTunes at what I presume would be compressed 256 kbps .m4a's. I want this album, and I'm torn between the connivence of immediate accessibility (iTunes) vs. owning my own copies of either the CD or vinyl.

Bottom line - is the "remastered" standard CD going to sound better than downloaded iTunes tracks burned to a CD?

I realize there are many variables, and all issues are subjective. But like I said - I'm curious to hear what some of you guys who master music on a professional level have to say about this.

thx.

-paul.
#2
23rd December 2013
Old 23rd December 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
 

What is the audio source for the iTunes encoding? Did it come straight from an original mastertape, or did someone just rip it off the CD? If the latter, I'd stick with the CD.
Thomas W. Bethe
Verified Member
#3
23rd December 2013
Old 23rd December 2013
  #3
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

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I would stick with the CD if you want the best quality.
#4
23rd December 2013
Old 23rd December 2013
  #4
Gear maniac
 

Buy the CD and the 256k iTunes files (or even just one of the iTunes files). Rip 320k and 256k AAC and .wav from the CD and ABX everything. You'll need to level match if the iTunes files are MFiT but it doesn't say they're MFiT.

Last edited by walter88; 23rd December 2013 at 07:24 PM.. Reason: added or even just one
#5
25th December 2013
Old 25th December 2013
  #5
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Assuming they are from the same master files CD should be better as it is a lossless format. Standard itunes files use lossy compression.

Personally, I'd buy the cd and rip it to my computer as a WAV or Apple Lossless file for convenience or iPod use etc.
#6
25th December 2013
Old 25th December 2013
  #6
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Quote:
Personally, I'd buy the cd and rip it to my computer as a WAV or Apple Lossless file for convenience
Or you could even AAC encode it with iTunes and get the same basic result as what you download, except you won't have the benefit of encoding it from a 24 bit resolution source file.
#7
26th December 2013
Old 26th December 2013
  #7
Gear maniac
 

As everyone else has said, all things being equal (same mastering), the commercial CD will be higher quality than a CD you burn from the iTunes store files. As they've said, buy the CD and rip your own Apple Lossless or 320k AAC from it for other devices. Most iTunes store files are sourced from the mastering 16 bit master. And the iTunes store AAC encode is a quality reduction.

Last edited by walter88; 26th December 2013 at 12:34 AM.. Reason: grammar
#8
26th December 2013
Old 26th December 2013
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Most iTunes store files are sourced from the mastering 16 bit master
Not if it is MFiT selection. They explicitly require a 24-bit source master. So genuine AAC+ MFiT store encodings have the benifit of being produced directly from a 24-bit master.
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#9
3rd January 2014
Old 3rd January 2014
  #9
I'm not sure about how they're done today. But as for the earlier CD reissues like this one you mentioned, the others are correct. All of iTunes' Verve content came off of those CDs (no idea about the MFits). I used to remaster several of the Verve catalog reissues, and we never sent anything different to Apple. We never sent anything to Apple period, AFAIK. Not from Mastering at least. But we were always very meticulous about using original sources whenever possible.

Get the CD and rip it to your computer at whatever lossless format you wish. AAC is a good sounding lossy format, however you're then locked into Apple's world with it. It's hard to find a good converter OUT of AAC if you need it.
#10
3rd January 2014
Old 3rd January 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpad View Post
Or you could even AAC encode it with iTunes and get the same basic result as what you download, except you won't have the benefit of encoding it from a 24 bit resolution source file.
If I read it right he was referring to a cd rip, witch would be 44.1 @ 16 bit.
Thor
Verified Member
#11
3rd January 2014
Old 3rd January 2014
  #11
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Thor's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpad View Post
Not if it is MFiT selection. They explicitly require a 24-bit source master. So genuine AAC+ MFiT store encodings have the benifit of being produced directly from a 24-bit master.
Which doesn't do a thing to counter the fact that AAC is a *lossy* compression technique, regardless of bits one starts with. CD Audio is not.

To the OP - get the CD.

Cheers,
Thor
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#12
4th January 2014
Old 4th January 2014
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Which doesn't do a thing to counter the fact that AAC is a *lossy* compression technique
You didn't miss responding to any other threads? I noticed a lot of hits.
Thor
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#13
4th January 2014
Old 4th January 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpad View Post
You didn't miss responding to any other threads? I noticed a lot of hits.
Been pretty busy for months and months.

Had an opportunity to finally pop in and jumped in with both feet

Cheers,
Thor
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