Audio Compression: Difference Engine: Music to Their Ears


” Though an LP’s dynamic range was typically little more than half that of a CD’s and its signal-to-noise ratio nowhere near as good, audio engineers were required to compress the signal still further, so the loudness peaks in the audio stream did not bump up against the ceiling of vinyl’s dynamic range. More than ever, it seems, audio signals being mastered for CDs are first compressed so they can then be amplified-thereby allowing the music to sound louder for more of the time. The longer answer is that the fidelity of an audio file rests on at least three things, each of which can be tweaked to improve sound quality. As the bandwidth available for downloading audio files from the internet has increased and hard-drives have become larger, files compressed at 320 kilobits per second are becoming common. Compression algorithms such as the Free Lossless Audio Codec from the Xiph. Org Foundation and Windows Media Audio Lossless from Microsoft can scrunch an audio file to about half its original CD size. A future generation-trained to hear a recording’s subtleties burned by a lossless codec onto an audio Blu-ray Disc-will be puzzled by their parents’ preoccupation with sizzling songs rather than an authentic replica of the music the performer actually created. . . . ” (via smmry)

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