A U D I O... P A P E R

This is a snap shot taken from a discussion in our audio forums

Author Subject: Needle or DAC, resolution and the signal's intent
Bob Posted At 03:53:17 01/13/2001
The more I understand about the process of reading the pits and lands on laminated plastic discs, the more I feel ripped off by the consumer electronics industry and the Recording industry in general.

I can visualize myself as the tip of a needle riding in the groove of a record, like a glass cockpit, in a big comfy chair. I'm moving in all 6 degrees of freedom, each axis controlled by a different force. The transfer of energy is direct, inhibited only be friction and gravity (maybe some dust and cat hair too).

I can visualize myself as a group of light particles, pushed out of a lens, directed in a perfectly straight line (let's not get into gravity waves here, I can't afford to start tweaking the space / time continuum in my living room), I bounce off of a laminated plastic disc. My mission is to hit a hole or a plateau, created by a machine, and report back to the lens, the status of my drop zone. It all happened so fast, I hope I can remember what it was like down there.

"Sir, I hit a wall, Sir"
What do you mean? You hit a wall, there are pits, and lands, no walls.

Sir, it was a wall, Sir

I'll have to consult the kernel, get back down there soldier

Kernel, the men are reporting terrain, unlike pits and lands, what should we do?

"I was afraid of this, assemble the engineers, we need a plan."

Sir, the engineers have provided a strict protocol for situations such as this. We'll have to call in the lawyers to determine the nature of the report.

There's no time for that, we have to decide now, what did the last group of lawyers do in a situation like this?

Sir, they're still debating, Sir.

Let's call it a land, but make sure the others know, we expect to see a land, coming soon.

The kernel must now report to the high command, marketing board, and director of energy. The final decision must be placed in a pipeline veiled in copyright protection, encryption, and the whims of a recording engineer. Only time will tell.

I find it difficult to understand why the industry, artists thru listeners, would spend so much time and money trying to reinvent the transfer of music. Currently, we're trying to finalize a new protocol for the transfer of changes in terrain on, a plastic disc, for the playback of music. "state of the art" is the pursuit of higher resolution in the amount of data, describing a sound. Not only is there debate and disagreement over the optimal method of data recording, processing, transfer, and playback, but the ultimate gatekeeper to the output of the system, is a group of people that aren't in the least, interested in the Quality of the product, but who will ultimately profit from it.

I believe, that utilizing current technology, a sensor, moving in all 6 degrees of freedom, at the same rate and direction as the device that cut the groove it rides in, will always be able to convey a more "realistic" reproduction of a "real" sonic event. Digital recording and playback simply involves too many humans, too many "decisions"

I know, that if records were getting the development funds that digital sources were getting, There would be no debate about which is better.

So, I've taken it upon myself to educate everyone I can about what is available, what is possible, and what we can do about it.

Show me the way.

I think I'll take the big comfy chair.

I realize the importance of MP3, a terrible sounding but very convenient medium. I like the small, convenient access of the CD or DVD. But, I would really like to see the recording / playback industry move toward a more consumer based objective, rather than a plan to make sure we all pay for every note we hear, every time we here it, anywhere we hear it, however we hear it.

I'm just dreaming, it is 2 AM.


Just a thought, Is it a good idea to decouple the motion of a spinning disc, with information coded in rings or spirals, from the device that is reading that information? For all of the inputs that affect the motion of the disc, wouldn't you want the same forces affecting the reader in the EXACT same way? Has anyone used that as a consideration in their design? For example, a steel bar holding both the platter bearing and arm pivot, isolated from everything else. Or, a laser pickup directly coupled to the bearing of a spindle AND the changing shape of a CD??

I should go to sleep.
Skeptical Re: Needle or DAC, resolution and the signal's intent (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 11:36:49 01/14/2001

A nice little bit of prose, but ultimately... Irrelevant. Where money is to be made, greed and stupidity will always be the final arbitrator. However, vinyl, even in it's most perfect iteration, is still hopelessly flawed, and can be no better. Digital is as flawed currently, but has not reached it's theoretical peak. Digital technology has come further in the last ten years, than analog has since the Edison cylinder. Give it time.
Bob Re: Needle or DAC, resolution and the signal's intent (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 13:01:13 01/14/2001

The message above is a perfect example of why one should NOT drink and type, I apologize. If I could take it down, I would, but now my secret is out and saved to disk for all eternity.

(worse than that Bob, now it's an article on the site -webmaster)

However, I can't help but disagree with you. First, I have to tell you that I do not own a turntable, or a single record, yet. Second, I don't know the specifications related to the groove in a record, or the various sensor options. I will soon. I design and purchase tools for steel and aluminum fabrications. I have some experience as a tool & die maker. I don't completely understand the process of making the die for a record, but technology has advanced quite a bit since the last time someone looked at it, I'm sure.
Maybe in it's current iteration, the record and record player can do no better, but I would disagree that the medium can advance no further.

Rick Slazenger Re: Needle or DAC, resolution and the signal's intent (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 17:15:21 01/14/2001

I do have a turntable, and I think there is a certain indefinable something to the good old black disc that digital may never capture. I also know that vinyl is pretty much dead. There was a brief resurgence in the mid 90's, but it's over, and I don't see it going any further. The problem is digital, however good or bad it may be, will continue to perform at that level until you get sick of the disc. Vinyl on the other hand, out of the package and cleaned properly, will give you ONE perfect play, and then it goes downhill. Friction induced wear is the downfall of high quality analog playback. And the current issue of Stereo Review's Sound and Vision has an interview with "Mr. Anti-Digital" himself, Neil Young, who is now a proponent of DVD-Audio. If that's not the final death knoll of high end analog, I don't know what is! BTW, Skeptical- I think you meant "...the final ARBITER".
Skeptical Re: Needle or DAC, resolution and the signal's intent (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 17:32:29 01/14/2001

And you can "arBITEr" me! Just kidding. But you make a good point, vinyl IS dead. Deader than Elvis. 99.9% of the music industry (hardware AND software manufacturers) have abandoned vinyl as a format. In fact, with SACD and DVD Audio, it would seem they're making moves to abandon the good old CD as well. However well intentioned your pursuit may be, Bob, unless you convince Sony to get behind vinyl again, it ain't happenin'! You'd be just as successful selling a new and better steam engine to Amtrak instead of the Mag-Lev.
Bob Re: Needle or DAC, resolution and the signal's intent (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 19:03:53 01/14/2001

O contrair monfriar, pardon my french.
I was part of the movement that KILLED Divx
At one time, there was a website called hometheaterforum.com. I have no idea what happened to it. It's primary focus was discussion about the emergence of the DVD medium, who made good equipment and who didn't, what sounded good, what didn't, and the format war. In case you missed it, Divx was a pay per view disc that was the brainchild of lawyers and Circuit City. An attempt to rip off the world, like Microsoft taught everyone to do, and companies like Rambus (computer memory) are doing now.

Consumers killed dixv!
Getting back into the research and development of analog playback will be difficult. MP3 will help us, format wars will help us, the key to success is having people like you and me teach others what is good. Not for profit, but for the pure enjoyment of it all. The fact that your watching this thread means you care!
So, I will do my part by getting an affordable rig and showing those I work with. I work with engineers who buy and love their bose speakers and hitachi players and big honkn receivers that put out 5 gigawatts into 5 channels. Surely they can be swayed by a simple demonstration, if they have open minds and don't mind the pain they'll feel when they realize their gear stinks. My coworkers claim to love music too, but not one of them spends more than their commute time listening. They watch movies over and over and over on their DVD players, why no music?

Because IT HURTS! and, no one has shown them an alternative. The last new song, that I really liked was Put your lights on, on Santanas supernatural CD. I heard the MP3 monstrosity and thought the song was worth the price of the disc, the rest is so-so. I hadn't purchased a CD in years except for a few DCC Gold remasters of my high school favorites...Metallica on a gold disc?!?!?
Don't tell me there aren't a few of us out there
The real problem is the music itself.
I can't help but think that the snoop dog / Britainy thing has to come crashing down sooner or later. If we can convince teenagers that they are being ripped off by the recording studios, we can also show them the alternative. We don't have to show the sony execs. They all own McIntosh tube amps and spinning platters on air bearings, it's the process of building fake bands and exploiting teenage angst and lovsickness that needs to change.
As for the current format war, I know so little about each that I wouldn't say one way one or the other which is better. I will say that someone needs to start that website up again so we can get our voice back. Maybe this one can be a start.
I'm hoping this amp I'm building now will replace the tv in my living room. If I can win my wife over, millions of teenage girls shouldn't be too hard. The internet could very well be the salvation of vinyl, but only if all the snobs stop trying to prove to each other how much cooler they are than everyone else and start letting people listen to their stuff. Right now, in the seattle area, I don't know of a single turntable on display, ready to play. Millions of $$$ in gear in a well to do city, and all anyone cares about is DTS
I know better, you know better, so let's get to work. Steve will show us the way

I know I' dreaming....but if the world can love nsync and the back street boys, the world can love vinyl again.

I'm wondering if the tube experienced any development since the intro of the transistor. Is there a tube design, that hasn't been manufactured, that will improve playback further?, more dreaming
Skeptical Re: Needle or DAC, resolution and the signal's intent (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 16:11:00 01/15/2001

DIVX? The only encouraging times for DIVX were during the Christmas season, when the manufacturers underestimated the demand for DVD players. The only reason they sold, is because you couldn't get the regular DVD players in some circumstances. For whatever reason, DIVX failed at the hands of the consumer. But don't forget, so did vinyl. It doesn't really make any difference why they don't want it. They just don't. Right, wrong, or indifferent; that's the way it is.
Steve Re: Needle or DAC, resolution and the signal's intent (Currently 0 replies)
Posted At 21:08:42 01/16/2001

I think that if you first separated high fidelity playback from ďregular playbackĒ you could introduce a CD player that came in a hefty chassis with a mass suggesting it not be moved. That right there would eliminate the skipping problem and digital BS used to correct or mask the skips.

At the same time, high fidelity disks could be glass or high quality resins that donít easily scratch or warp. (Regular disks could be the flimsy crap you have today.) This would eliminate the digital BS incorporated to mask the scratches.

Those two things right there would probably make a very noticeable improvement in the current digital technology. But, with a solid chassis and high quality disk, there is no reason why analog grooves couldnít be manufactured into the disk, perhaps cut by laser, perhaps by micro tip diamonds. Then you could use a combination of lasers to read the analog information from the disk.

(twilight zone) Naturally you would want to take advantage of the prism effects possible from different angles and maybe even phase grate it into itís individual frequencies (colors). In fact wouldnít it be interesting to have it grated into 7 colors, each with an optical to electrical transducer and all 7 wired together. Each color would have itís own perspective on the signal ensuring accuracy.

This entire system I should imagine could be constructed and built without the use of any computers either in the design or playback. The software (ADís) could be marketed in the same packaging as digital CDís are. The playerís would be pure analog as were the mastering machines that cut them. The smaller disk would make it easier to control resonanceís, and laser assemblies could be made similar to the way they are now, eliminating the cartridge and tone arm from the equation as well.

Somewhere along the way, the separation between high fidelity playback and mass consumer playback got partially erased. Did you know that they can arrange individual molecules on a resin disk now? The driving force behind the science Ė getting 10,000 times more information on the same disk. Itís too bad that it couldnít have been getting more resolution of information. Quality seems to be something that ultimately originates with a demand. A horse shoe must last a certain amount of time because the farmerís demanded it.

It wouldnít surprise me to wake up in the future and find that playback systems have come paradoxically full circle to sound exactly like the first Edison drums and the reason being the sequential lowering of expectations with each generation of consumers.


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