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using a reference CD

best advice for using a reference CD to acclimate my ears to monitors, room acoustics etc(ie, my favourite donnie osmond record or whatever)?. How do i trust the sound source? do i bounce down to a wav or mp3 and import the file into my daw? or will running my CD player as an input be accurate enough. this might be a dumb question but i've always wondered.

you can all laugh at me if you want but someone please advise. thanks!



Boswell Thu, 04/05/2007 - 02:08
If you don't have any SACDs of reference material, you have to make do with the 16-bit 44.1KHz of a standard CD.

Use the best CD replay chain that you have. If you have better D-A converters in your audio interface than in the CD player, you have several choices, all equivalent in sound:
(1) play the CD on the computer CD drive taking the S/PDIF stream into the DAW.
(2) as (1) but using an external CD player, taking the S/PDIF stream from the CD player into the DAW
(3) rip the tracks from the CD into the DAW software and play from there

You can save the files as .wav with no loss of quality.
DON'T convert to MP3!

If you have a top-end CD player, the D-A converters in that may be just as good as those in your audio interface. In which case, use a straight analog connection from the CD player to the monitor amps or powered monitor inputs, depending on your type of monitors.

BobRogers Mon, 07/16/2007 - 16:25
Link555 wrote: Keep in mind a CD will mostly likely have been mastered. Its sometime hard to compare mixes to a mastered track.
That's a good point. I like to use material from the 60's and 70's when the compression wars were just gearing up. Of course, that's the stuff that I grew up with as well, but it his point still applies. Try to pick recordings that have a lot of dynamic range.

Also buy an spl meter and pay attention to the volumes that you are using. The Rat Shak meter that I use isn't exactly a precision instrument, but it gives me a good ball park figure for my listening level. My guess is that a ball park figure is the best you can do in practice. I'd be surprised if there isn't a complex psychoacoustic relationship between spl, frequency response, perceived volume, perceived sound quality. At any rate, while I don't pretend to fully understand it in any scientific way, I try to keep in mind that different spls have a profound effect on the way we perceive sound and I try to control that as much as possible,