Reference Tracks

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Stabb, Jan 3, 2004.

  1. Stabb

    Stabb Active Member

    Hi All,
    I wanted to get good ref tracks so I:

    Extracted the aiffs from production CDs using Toast.

    Then used an audio editor to separate the L and R tracks into 2 mono.

    Then loaded the files into my digital recorder (MX-2424) via file transfer (not real time).

    Then played back on 2 adjacent channels for stereo (MX is connected to my 02r via TDIF).

    My question is:
    Do you guys think that I'm playing back what the mastering engineer created with no degradations?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I very much appreciate the existence of this site, BIG Thank You to all responsible.

    [ January 03, 2004, 02:29 PM: Message edited by: Stabb ]
  2. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    This question can probably be answered better in the mastering forum, so I've moved it there.

  3. Stabb

    Stabb Active Member

    My humble apology and thanks.
  4. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

  5. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

  6. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

  7. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

  8. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    No apologies necessary buddy.


  9. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member


    Someone wanna clean that mess up for me?

  10. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Member

    Yes and no (how is that for a great answer? :D ).

    From the way you describe it you should have a perfect representation of what the mastering engineer released as the final audio CD version.

    It is entirely possible, however that the mastering engineer worked with 24-bit formats, higher sample rates or even in the analog domain altogether in which case there might be a small but nevertheless existing difference between what the mastering engineer worked with while doing his/her magic and what finally ends up on CD.

    Still, the mastering engineer will of course check the final CD to make sure it is as close as possible to what can be achieved.

    Not sure if this answers your question ...

  11. Stabb

    Stabb Active Member

    Hi MB,
    Thanks for the post.
    I was going to say I guess the answer is in the nuts and bolts of the file conversion applications that I used.

    But "upon further review", I thought about the variables in what happens after the mastering process and before I get my mitts on the CD.
    For example - CD makers being businesses, won't be using the most expensive media they can find, right?

    Anyway I just wanted to know if I was missing something in my thought process.

  12. Ammitsboel

    Ammitsboel Member

    Why don't just play the CD on a system exactly the same as the ME that did the master, then you have what he did.

    If you what to test on different reference systems or just your own then just play the CD and listen.
    You will move more away from what the ME did if you make all those convertions and play it at a second device with another digital out and so on... you will then hear more of your gear that interacts with the original signal. ;)

    Best Regards.
  13. Stabb

    Stabb Active Member

    Hi Henrik,
    Playing the CD in my player was the start of this.

    My player's output was connected to channel inputs of my 02r.
    The inputs have what, 20bit ADC's?
    Maybe it was my player, maybe it was the cables, maybe it was the 02r's inputs,
    but the CD player going into input channels did not sound good.

    So I wanted to get master recordings that haven't left the digital domain played from my recorder.

    Besides my CD players tray won't open no more!
    Thanks for your input.

    ps - Would it be safe to assume that most mastering engineers use digital connections for their playback?
    (Is that a can of worms?)

    [ January 04, 2004, 02:23 AM: Message edited by: Stabb ]
  14. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Yes, it depends on your file conversion. I have noticed a difference in extracting a cd as apposed to dumping it in digitally. Mostly the difference is in detail and imaging. some cd roms are very bad. Most cd players will have a digital out and you can try it both ways to see if there is a difference.
  15. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Member

    If a CD-ROM/RW or whatever extracts a file from audio CD and stores it onto a hard disk you have a perfect copy of the 44.1kHz 16-bit audio file. It is my understanding that not a single bit should be flipped or corrupted as there is extensive error correction and check sum testing involved. These are the same CD reader units that read programs of data disks and software simply doesn't run if even a single byte is corrupted.

    Using the digital output of a CD player could lead to different results as some players will use interpolation should they encounter corrupt bytes. This could definitely lead to quality degradation.

    In conclusion, I can believe that a "digitally recorded" file is different from a "digitally extracted" one, although they should in theory be exactly the same. From my understanding I would always assume that the "digitally extracted" one is a perfect copy and thus the one for me to use.

    Now sending the file through A/D and D/A converters is obviously an entirely different story - these copies can be really messed up. I would not use those as references.

    Hope this helps,

  16. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I disagree, an extracted file goes through a conversion process. there are two different kinds of error correction, one for data and one for audio. most computer roms are cheap too. you can try it and see for yourself. I thought it would be better myself to extract it until someone, a client, called me up thinking he was hearing a difference. I then did a full day of a/b ing and found that extracted files did not sound as good as digitally dumped files. I found that most mastering engineers I know found the same thing. All I can say is do it both ways and take a listen and decide for yourself. it is most noticable in the upper freqs. they will sound a bit blury and not as detailed.
  17. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Member

    Hmmm, I will trust your experience as I only have the theory to work with not any practical tests :)

  18. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    I had 3 refs, one was the original file, the other was the same thing burned to cd and then extracted, and the 3rd was the same cd dumped in digitally. Then I set all 3 up and pumped them out of the same D/A and bouned between them. I was a little shocked myself and thought something had to be wrong. i spent all day comparing. maybe someone knows exactly what happens to a file extracted and the effects of the different error corrections that are going on.
  19. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Member

    Did you by any chance run a "byte by byte" file comparison to get an idea how bad it actually was in numbers? I could potentially offer help with doing a test like that if need be.

  20. MisterBlue

    MisterBlue Member

    I will also ask a colleague of mine who happens to be the resident CD guru (he actually has been awarded a fair number of patents related to IDE and ATAPI CD-ROMs).


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