Subtle changes

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One of our readers commented on my post Ripping it upwith a very insightful observation I found particularly stimulating this morning. "Perception ignores anything that is constant (like neighbors ignoring the roar of Niagara Falls) and focuses on minute changes. We can even hear echoes and noises that are 10dB or more below a broadband noise floor." That from Acuvox, a very bright fellow indeed. What sparks an aha! moment for me is remembering our built in constant noise filters and how those allow us to pick up on the smallest of details while ignoring the biggest of them. Think about the times you've been listening to your system and then, out of the blue, notice the slightest increase in sibilance, or how natural a certain cymbal sounds in the midst of an orchestral crescendo. Put another way, it helps explain how we can miss the elephant and notice the gnat. I can't tell you the number of times something major was wrong and went unnoticed, while I still caught the smallest of details. Which leads me to this thought about the debate we're having of why a copy of a CD seems to sound better than the original. There's one train of thought that suggests the way a stamped CD vs. a writeable CD works causes the laser mechanism in the CD transport to work harder in the former than the latter. The bits coming out of the player are identical in both cases, yet the sound is not. Could it be that it is the machine itself is the culprit? Could it be that when a CD transport/player works harder at acquiring the data from the disc (as in the case of a stamped CD), its output has increased jitter, or power supply issues, that manifest themselves as poor performance results when played back? If this were true, it might explain a lot. When we rip a commercial CD onto a hard drive, any struggle to read the disc (that manifest as poor performance when listened to) are eliminated. Hard drives aren't prone to jitter when you place data on them. Take that jitter-free data, record it onto a writeable CD and then play it back. The playback machine struggles less to read it, causing fewer chances for problems, and what you hear sounds better. Maybe we've been looking for the answers in the wrong place. Wouldn't be the first time.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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