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DVD sound through an AV amp

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Cheese Police, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. Cheese Police

    Cheese Police
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    You're going to hate me for asking another dumb question, but here goes:

    last night I rented The Recruit on R1 DVD and was totally blown away by the DTS soundtrack. There's a brilliant modern score (don't know who by) with mainly light trance / dance sounds - and I was totally hooked, and thrilled that my speakers were finally getting used correctly (Mordaunt Short 908f / MS902r / MS905c) for music (albeit on a DVD). I then did a dumb thing and played The Strokes (lo-fi production, scratchy and 70's sounding) using the CD player through my receiver (Sony str-db1070 - aaargh!) and was horrified. Why should DVDs sound so much better? Is it - paradoxically - because of the compression used? If I recorded my CDs onto minidiscs and played them back through the Sony would I get the rounder, warmer sound I'm after, whilst I plot my next purchase? Detail is all very well but if you get tired after listening to two tracks, I'd take a warmer sound any day.

    I've tried the 'analogue direct' option on the receiver, but the sound is just as bad, and I obviously can't even turn down the treble!

    Sorry if this is the wrong forum, but it's a hybrid amp/dvd/cd question. To all those who answered my related question a few days ago, cheers - I've taken onboard what you said.
     
  2. nathan_silly

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    Try playing a CD with that has been recorded well. Ones I know of are any of the The Corrs, Dire Straits HDCD remastered, Dido playing my game, Nirvana umplugged in New York.
     
  3. Cheese Police

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    I hear what you're saying Nathan, but I guess I'm greedy and want to hear my favourite bands sounding good rather than merely well-recorded music. Speaking of Nirvana / production, in my opinion you can't beat Butch Vig (also did Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Garbage - his own band). Music produced by him does sound better than a lot of other stuff because of the extra bass he uses, but I feel this masks the real problem, through my set-up. Would DVD-audio come closer to the sound I'm after? I've never heard one but am thinking of buying Neil Young's Harvest.
     
  4. Cheese Police

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    Well - that went down like a fart in a space suit :(
     
  5. Kazuya Mishima

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    Be patient.
     
  6. charlaph

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    Use a proper stereo amp and a seperate processor for surround. Best of both worlds (as long as they're matched well)
     
  7. nathan_silly

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    Try replacing the Sony with a better sounding integrated hifi amp, ie Rotel, Arcam.

    You should be able to tell if the Sony sounds terrible for CD or something else.
     
  8. Cheese Police

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    Thanks Nathan and charlaph,

    New equipment is definitely the solution - I was just wondering why the sound should be so different. I also have a problem in that I live in Switzerland, where for instance the only official Arcam dealer in the country is about 5 hours away by car. This makes demos etc pretty tricky, and obviously you're not going to get a good deal with such a limited choice of retailers. In the past I've been guilty of buying stuff without testing it, based on a few reviews (starting to question the integrity of certain sites / writers). Will make sure this doesn't happen again, and I'll definitely use this forum, which I've found to be extremely interesting. Cheers people, and enjoy your weekend.
     
  9. home_bas

    home_bas
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    Errr... the strokes album sounds terrible (but good tunes!) because that's how it was recorded!!! Lots of bands (unfortunately...) go for a lo-fi sound, although many pay attention to the quality of the recordings. Although there are loads that are just poorly mastered.

    The media it's on makes no difference - if Is This Is was mastered on DVD it would sound exactly the same!

    I find many CD's almost unlistenable on my hi-fi kit as the people doing the recordings just don't seem to care what it sounds like... :(

    My 'reference' CDs include:
    Prodigy - Fat of the Land
    Blur - Modern Life is Rubbish
    Charles Webster - Born on the 24th of July
    Underworld - Second Toughest in the Infants
    Bjork - Post
    Layo and Bushwacka! - Nightworks
    Jamiroquai - A Funk Oddessey
    Spiritualized - Lazer Guided Melodies (AMAZING bassline on one track!)
     
  10. Cheese Police

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    Some excellent albums there - mostly electronica though, which I take to mean either that's what you're into, or that's what sounds best. I must admit that CDs from bands like Orbital or the Freestylers sound better than guitar bands through my receiver - it just can't cope with overdriven instruments. You're right about the Strokes - it is lo-fi, I suppose I mentioned them to illustrate what a masochist I am! Are you saying they'd also sound poorly-recorded on a good stereo system? Other lo-fi bands like Pavement or The Jesus and Mary Chain (would be scared to play Psychocandy through my Sony receiver) sounded as good as dance CDs when I had a rubbish midisystem - does this mean that the better the equipment the less tolerant it is of 'poor' recording, even if done deliberately?

    Last question - since I don't have a DVD-audio player, but merely a Sony DVP s535, what would a DVD-a in DTS sound like through the receiver compared to the CD version of the same album? Maybe I misunderstood your first explanation.
     
  11. home_bas

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    I can't comment on DVD audio as I've never heard it... :(

    But to answer your other question, yes - a poorly recorded/mastered CD will sound awful on a true hi-fi system, think of it as garbage in, garbage out!

    High end kit is designed to be revealing and reproduce the original source as truthfully as possible, whereas low-end midi systems use ridiculous boomy bass and tinny treble pluas awful graphics equalisers to distort sound and appeal to the lowest common demoniator. Plus added flashing lights... :suicide:

    There are good recordings out there, unfortunately there are a lot of duffers too! And it's so upsetting when some of these CD's are your faves... :(

    But it isn't all doom and gloom, get a quality recording and you realise why you paid your money! :clap:
     
  12. Cheese Police

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    lol - what's wrong with flashing lights? My midisystem had this nifty little button called something like 'bass ex.' which I thought was extremely cool and gave a 'phat' sound when playing d&b music. It IS possible to be into music in a big way and listen to it on crappy equipment, but once you start down the path of improving your kit you're amazed with what you used to put up with...

    Would still be curious to hear what other people think about DVD-a.
     
  13. tom_nieto

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    The Jesus And Mary Chain is such a good CD, it's such a shame about the recording though :(

    I've got to that unfortunate stage with my system where I can tell the difference between good recordings, but I can't make my good CDs sound really good. CDs do sound much better through the hi-fi than my compter or some of the mini systems that I've tried. I just wish I had £1500 to spend on a really nice system right now to make my CDs really shine, although I think I'd prefer to spend the money on buying CDs instead, as I've got a competant system for my needs anyway.
     
  14. Cheese Police

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    I actually don't own Psychocandy on CD, bought it on vinyl in something like 1988 / 89 and - embarrassingly - listened to it once and took it back to the shop because I thought I'd been sold a dodgy copy :blush:

    I envy you because I haven't even reached the point where I have a competent system. Also agree about buying music - it's easier to slip CDs past the Budget Approval Committee than hi-fi equipment. Standard quote from my wife: "but we already have a ....fill as appropriate......". There's no telling some people!
     
  15. pwiles1968

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    With a good system and a good source cd you can keep turning the volume up and up and it wont hurt or start sounding nasty, Try Nora Jones no matter how you feel about the music you have to admit it is am impeccable recording. You are right It is a real shame more quality CD's aren’t being produced CD Finalising is the biggest culprit where they maximise/compress the sound and then artificially boost and shift certain key frequencies listen to Stereophonics Just enough education Great album but massively over produced. Avril Lavigne is an amazing example it swings between rough and good this puzzled me until I read the insert and found the different tracks were recorded in two studios and had two producers.
     
  16. blue73

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    Leftfield "Rhythm and Stealth" is a wicked test cd. Get your system right and it will knock you over:suicide:
     
  17. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Surely that can be made to work both ways though ;)
     
  18. Cheese Police

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    I've tried that approach, but for some reason an extra pair of shoes is indispensable...

    Appreciate everyone's input on well-recorded music and will have to check some of it out. ta
     
  19. charlaph

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    Don't be buying music to listen to just on the advice that it's well produced. There have been a lot of albums mentioned in this thread that do show the benfits of good production, but unless you like the music in the first place it's not worth buying it. Get a test disc instead.

    I like a lot of Lo-Fi stuff like Dinosaur Jr, early Buffalo Tom, Guided by Voices and so on. Listening to it on a decent stereo setup does not make it sound worse. Listening to poor quality recordings on a cheap system will sound genuinely nasty because what home_bas was saying is correct, it will distort the sound and is likely to emphasise all the worst aspects.

    Getting a decent stereo will make everything sound closer to what the engineers wanted from the sound, and will bring a large improvement for a lot of Lo-Fi recordings. In a lot of cases the sound on indie labels is down to bands not having the money to rent decent equipment, so it sounds lo-fi because of circumstances. However, it's worth considering that a lot of bands did have access to good studios and still came out with a Lo-Fi sound because that's how they wanted it.

    A lot of people make the mistake of thinking everything that's well recorded will sound rich and warm with good frequency extensions and no distortion. There are a lot of bands who don't make music this way. Their albums are actually well recorded, but the sound doesn't conform to the above stereotype, so people just think it was badly produced. If you want Lo-Fi ideal with modern sounding production then try out Lambchop or Vic Chesnutt, who usually sound awesome on a good setup, but still have some tracks that sound like they were recorded in a bucket in 1990. Because they're meant to sound like that.

    I'm not disagreeing with what people have said so far in this thread (hell, I'm just re-writing home_bas's post), there's a lot of good advice, but if you know what sort of music you like, stick with it. Improving your stereo setup will bring benefits, but don't try and make the Mary Chain sound like Norah Jones just to make it easier to listen to.

    Getting back to topic, I think the seperate stereo amp/processor is a good route to take. With a few notable exceptions, AV amps won't do 'thin' sounding music too many favours.
     
  20. Cheese Police

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    I totally agree that the music itself is the most important thing and that I shouldn't have to compromise. I've ordered a little QED switch box that will allow me to use the same speakers with two amps, one of them an old NAD 3130 I bought off my ex-boss, which will be used for CD analogue. It sounds good to me, although I'm sure eventually I'll want to go down the AV processor / quality stereo amp route. This will (hopefully) be a cheap but effective stop-gap solution. How does this amp compare with similarly priced modern equipment?

    NAD 3130
     
  21. mick23

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    nathan whats the dire straights hdcd remastered cd called please ,is there a dvda-or scad, or dvd /vertion .thank you
     
  22. nathan_silly

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    Sultans of Swing, The very best of Dire Straits. It has HDCD on the back. 16 tracks, serial no 31455 86582. Really good recording.

    It has 5586582 along the spine.
     
  23. Cheese Police

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    OK, I'm back, and I got my DVD-audio version of Neil Young's Harvest yesterday. Here are my thoughts:

    I played the DTS version because I don't have a DVD-a player. As soon as the music started I thought it was a tad boomy, but I let it continue without changing anything and was rewarded for my patience. The surround speakers were heavily employed, with drums and guitars, and the centre had most of the vocals, with some vocal reverb coming out of the fronts, along with most of the bass (and drums). Old Man sounded amazing, and I heard the gorgeous slide guitar as if for the first time. The timbre of the music was so much better than hearing the CD version through my receiver (not surprisingly) - much richer, and certainly bassier.

    I then tried the same tracks in Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 and these were noticeably brighter, with some lisping on the vocals. Will stick to the DTS version until I get a DVD-audio player (maybe). This is certainly a cool album to play to friends and a very interesting way to listen to music - I certainly felt closer to the musicians and you can hear more of the 'organic' aspects of the recording, like Young's fingers sliding up the heavy strings of his acoustic guitar.

    One gripe: why is the selection of DVD-audio albums so heavily biased towards 70's dad-rock? I know you can lump Neil Young in with the other bands of the 70's, but I feel he's a bit more contemporary and relevant than these dinosaur bands like America, The Eagles or Steely Dan. It's not an inspiring list - do they assume you have to be old to be able to afford or be interested in hi-fidelity music and equipment?
     
  24. MartinImber

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    DVD-A is good sounds a lot better than CD even though I have to run through 6m of B & Q cheapo interconnects to connect the computer to the AV system
     
  25. Cheese Police

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    Well I bought an Arcam FMJ A32 in the end - it arrived yesterday. I have to say, I'm totally astonished at the improvement in sound, the treble that I can now enjoy (although still turned down a bit - probably because of my crappy old Marantz CDP and the wooden floor/stone walls combo in my living room), the vastly enhanced detail, and the simple pleasure of listening for long periods of time without getting tired.

    I've read that the higher up the chain you go, the smaller the perceived improvements are, but having gone from a second hand 1985 model NAD to an Arcam FMJ (my first serious upgrade)I am surprised at just how good the sound can be. My speakers (Mordaunt-Short 908) are now finally able to perform, and the next thing to do is buy a better CDP, because that is now the weak link. Some thoughts on how different CDs sounded:

    Kings of Leon 'youth and young manhood' - great sound, but had to turn down the treble a bit and kept it down for everything else. Once this was done everything was much better. This album is well recorded (for its genre), especially compared to the White Stripes (annoying hiss - authenticity at a price).

    Smashing Pumpkins 'Soma - from Siamese dream' - fanbloodytastic, lovely ambient sounds in the pre-rockout bit, and then superb overdrive for the guitar solos etc...

    Elastic breaks - a free CD from mixmag or Musik, which always blew me away, even on my old system. Unbelievable breakbeat sounds, extremely clean (probably not samples?), squelchy 303-type effects and bouncy bass noises. Used this CD to impress my wife, who admitted she could see why I spent all that money and said it made her want to dance!

    Fatboy Slim 'You've Come A Long Way Baby' - not so impressed with this, maybe because the amp's finer grasp of detail was showing up the seams in the various samples he uses. The more electro-type tracks sounded much better than tracks like praise you or the rockerfeller skank.

    Pavement 'Terror Twilight' - this was my favourite of the lot. A superbly recorded indie album! One of my favourite guitar solos of all, on The Hexx (gorgeous blues sound) was perfect, just glided along. The amp's balance was just right, and I see what people mean about the Arcam sound now - it's liquid and smooth, not raw or forceful. I'm definitely in this camp.

    Sorry to have gone on and on, and thanks to everyone who suggested buying a decent integrated amp. I now realise that stereo sound is far more important to me than HC sound, and I can sit back and enjoy my CD collection again.
     

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