Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Listening to the Beatles in High Definition

By James Magary

In September of 2009, the Beatles finally released their entire album collection in remastered CD versions. This included an individual release for each album, as well as both a stereo and mono box set. While this is good news for audio purists who have been waiting for updated versions of these classic albums, many audiophiles are no longer satisfied with CDs of any kind, believing the quality to be inferior to other currently available formats. For these purists, and other fans who like their music in digital formats, the Beatles also released the USB Apple device, which has the files in 24-bit FLAC audio, a higher resolution format.

But why is the CD not considered the best format anymore? Well, to answer that you must consider the history of digital recording vs analog recording. Analog recordings are "analogous" to the real thing, as they essentially represent an imprint of the sound onto an analog format, such as magnetic tape, or vinyl records. As an example of an analog, picture using a piece of silly putty, pressed onto a newspaper to pick up the image. This would give you an analog image. It's not perfect, but it is also not composed of pixels, or samples, in any way.

In digital recording, the sound is sampled, meaning at certain intervals a measurement is taken of the sound wave, and this information is recorded as data so that it can be re-created later. The more samples taken, the more accurate the sound once it is reproduced.

When the CD format was introduced, it was determined that a 44.1kHz sampling rate would be the standard, which means that the sound wave is sampled about 44 thousand times each second. Doing this allows the recreation of sound frequencies up to about 22 kHz, which is a very high-pitched sound, exceeding the usual human hearing limit of about 20kHz. It was thought that having this as the top end of the range meant that nothing would be missing from the reproduction, and for most people this is the case, as they are perfectly happy with CD sound quality.

But for audiophiles and analog enthusiasts, there is a feeling that CDs are "cold", and lack the full emotional spectrum of the music. This claim is not without some merit. While the frequencies that the human eardrum can pick up is limited to an upper level of 20kHz, the human nervous system apart from the ears can register frequencies even higher. The theory is that there is an element of music that is "felt", and not "heard", and it is this quality that exists in analog recordings and not in digital.

The industry has not pursued a better quality of analog format, but it is attempting to increase the resolution and reproduction qualities of digital audio, which does begin to address the concern about the lack of warmth in CDs. In the case of the Beatles collection, audiophiles can now get the Beatles USB Apple, which offers 24-bit FLAC files. This format is better than CDs which are only in 16-bit resolution, and will offer a range of digital sound that exceeds that of normal CDs. This format, combined with the fact that the Beatles albums have all been remastered, offers the best possible Beatles listening experience available to date.

To learn more, or to buy the Beatles USB Apple see this site: http://www.squidoo.com/buy-beatles-usb

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_Magary

No comments:

Post a Comment