I think that a lot depends on the individual, the equipment used and
We have two professional sound engineering people as regular group
contributors (possibly more), so in one sense, I would defer to their
experience and expertise.
I've done some work in the digital video and audio transmission world,
so have some appreciation of the technologies used.
One of the objectives of any form of digital audio or video recording
or transmission is to squeeze as much as possible into the bandwidth
or storage available while producing quality that is fit for the
purpose. In order to achieve this, some fairly sophisticated
compression techniques are used. This is not to be confused with
the compression that AM pop radio stations use(d) so that the listener
could hear the dross that they turn out even in a noisy environment or
The type of compression used in digital audio systems takes into
account the behaviour of the listener's ear and brain and uses a
psycho-acoustic model. Simply put, this means that information that
the ear is not likely to perceive is thrown away and not transmitted.
Of itself, this can save a lot of data transmission.
Here are some papers explaining the techniques.
Given enough bandwidth, the results can sound fine. The problem is
that the broadcasters, for most of the channels are using lower data
rates than are required to produce good audio quality with some types
of content. Therein is the rub.
If you like to listen to classical music and to some types of jazz and
have a keen ear, you will notice the effects of the compression at the
low bit rates often being used, but perhaps not on a small portable
set. For other content such as speech, the effects are less noticable
or if they are noticable, less objectionable.
In a way it's a shame. DAB, in principle, should be able to offer
good quality results and ultimately I suspect will do. However, like
DVB-T (digital terrestrial TV), it is hampered by limitations of the
current allocated radio spectrum. Even with today's limitations,
there are still the benefits of freedom of interference as long as the
signal is good (although one can argue that that can be achieved with
However, the motivation for the broadcasters is to pack as much as
they can into the available spectrum, first and foremost. For
example, a satellite transponder will deliver one analogue TV channel
but 6-8 digital channels. The problem is that the content does not in
To email, substitute .nospam with .gl
Not that it's directly relevant to you since you are without a Devil's
Window, but digital video uses similar concepts to remove information
that the eye doesn't notice.
Funnily enough, there are hi-fi buffs who will pay good money for
valve driven equipment (new designs) because they feel that it sounds
better. The same goes for good quality vinyl records.
Notwithstanding the pops and background noise, they are said by some
to sound less clinical than CDs.
Well. Thats right, they are. Full of dirt cracks pops, subtle
distortions and intermodulation products. People like to listen not to
the original reciording, but the sound of their imperfect kit.
I did a blind test with some amp designs once. The HiFi buff selected
the design with the highest crossover distortion becuase to his ears it
sounded like (and figures bore this out) his favorite Revox amplifier.
Notwithstanding the fact that the class A design alongside it was
infinitely less 'edgy'; He missed the edginess.
HiFi buffs CAN tell the difference, they just don't necessarily know
what is in fact a cleaner and more accurate sound. Or indeed prefer such.
I played some old cassettes the other day. I had forgotten just how
wonderful it was when I was able to chuck analogue media. The absence
of hiss etc makes any possible encoding deficiencies irrelevant. Even
CDs made from analogue masters have me going "why is this so noisy?"
I like loads of HF as well, so could never live with Dolby.
I've seen and hear bubbling mud in Iceland and no, the DAB reception's
nothing like that. Perhaps they haven't heard the real thing.
I have the increasing hearing problem of the 'more mature' person. That
means that I can't always hear some speech, it sometimes sounds muffled.
Since I listen to Radio 4 almost exclusively (we don't have a telly) I need
to be able to hear speech well to have the full benefit. VHF is better than
Long Wave but the quality of some voices still causes me problems.
The DAB receiver - a personal 'sports' one which I can slip under my
pillow - fits the bill perfectly. It has half a dozen tone qualities, I
admit to hardly being able to differentiate between them but a son says the
difference is astonishing.What I do know is that I've been able to hear very
well since I got it - on Christmas Day so it's not been a fair trial.
I have heard music on the receiver as well but possibly not the sort of
music the FM hi-fi buffs prefer. I certainly can't bear the heavy bass
noise. If I'd wanted perfect music reception, even for my beloved Bach,
Britten and Beethoven, I'd have bought a Bose before now. It seems to me
that some purists are very quick to damn the new and know all about the
technology. Their opinions are meaningless to me. The best musical
experiences are live anyway and they're never perfect.
That can be for a variety of reasons, including the individual who is
speaking, how they sit relative to microphone, the type of microphone
used, the accoustics of the room, etc.; and that's before it goes
through the transmission system.
There is a deterioration in high frequency hearing with age, but if
you can hear voices in the room OK and the radio sounds muffled, it
A lady after my own heart. I even listen to it on the internet (or
sometimes the World Service) when I'm travelling. VHF should
certainly be better than long wave. The frequency range of the
latter is not very good at all, then with compression to overcome the
background noise, it does sound very odd.
You may find that because it is a small set, its low frequency
response is probably not as great as a larger system. This will
probably help you a bit because it will tend to take out some of the
low end stuff that may be making speech sound muffled sometimes.
I know what you mean but would probably add Sibelius, Brahms and
Vaughan--Williams to your list.
True. At the end of the day, if it does the job that people want
then they will buy it.
Also true, but I have to say that I shall long remember attending
concert of Sibelius and other Nordic composers at the Finlandia Hall
in Helsinki a few years back. The atmosphere and the performance of
Symphony No 2. by Jukka-Pekka Saraste and the Finnish Radio Symphony
Orchestra was quite amazing.
That's interesting - do Bose receivers really work. The folded horn
design is good, but they seem to be too small for the job of first class
After years of going after hifi, I've now given it up, as ISTM the higher
the fi the more I heard deficiencies rather than music. Even in digital
it's very often possible to hear the digits shuffling, and you CAN'T not
Andy's points about psychacoustics are well made; it is interesting to
consider how much pleasure you can get from a manky medium wave tranny in
an old banger rattling along the road.
An awful lot of your perception is memory cued by the sounds emitted, and
you can and do for example add an octave of bass that the receiver simply
I find in my old age I get a lot more pleasure from grotty little
receivers than when I had big hifis (I only recently gave away my Radford
Auditoriums, the were a bit de trop for my Technics music centre - with
dolby B to liven up the telly!)
Mmm. Its often other things like the compression and Dolby shit put on
the original recordings. Dolby is probably the worst invention ever in
teh history of Hi Fi.
Indeed. Most records cut on the 50's and '60's had massive amounts of
bass and upper mid boost, to make them sound acceptable on a 5" paper
coned loudspeaker in a cardboard box, attached to a receiver that could
barely manage 5khz bandwidth.
Frankly te best I have heard has been eithjer in studios with enormous
monitors, or indeed teh tiome I was working with a loudspeaker company,
and we managed to crack teh ceiling playing heavy reggae through a few
kilowatts of 15" bass units and a selection of JBL chiense copey mid
range horns and tweeters. Its about the only rig I have ever heard that
could actually produce substantial energy in the 40-80hz region.
Best commercially available speakers IMHO are the Spendors. But its a
few grand a pair these days I believe.
Folded horn and transmissin line speakers don't cut the mustard on bass
guitars, but are OK for organ type bass. The pgase shift muddies up teh
thumping attack on a bass guitar.
Best is a pair of floppy 15" units with ultra compliant surrounds, ultra
stiff cones and very long voice coils stuck on a 1" thick baffle mounted
in an old fireplace stuffed with rockwool, using the chimney as a
baffle....For mid range nothing beats metal horns with serious
compression drivers, tho they get big, and metal bullet tweeters (horns
again). That was essentially the best high volume rig I ever heard.
Domestic sound will always be a compromise bass wise, unless you live
in a huge house in the middle of nowhere. I own a pair of JBL clone
15" scoop bins which rock, but are in no way suitable for domestic
When used in anger, a female member of the audience seated near the
front complained that "it was like sitting on a vibrator". The person
she complained to replied "We charge extra for that."
I have a set of drawings for a 2 x 15" TCB enclosure. One of these
Yes, it is. (I think it has to do with coding/decoding the digital
I understand the lag on the time pips is *really* annoying to some
people. (It doesn't bother me, as I don't use the pips any more for
setting clocks: the best invention in years was the invention of
clocks that set themselves automatically...)
I got hubby one of those clocks a few years ago and we think it's great.
Only once has it been in error. One night the alarm went at 5 instead of 7,
and the clock was displaying 7. It was one of those gut wrenching feelings
of being woken early and then confusion as to why it was dark etc.
Lots of replies have explained this in terms of digital processing delays.
A similar problem exists with synchronisation between radio and TV. In the
past, with analog simulcasts <sp?> you could watch programmes such as the
Last Night of the Proms on TV and listen to the sound in higher quality on
Can't do that any more - because sound and vision are not synchronised when
transmitted by two different digital media.
There's progress for you! <g>
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