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In the Forum: Didital Things
In the Thread: About digital files and definition of “masters”.
Post Subject: About digital files and definition of “masters”.Posted by Romy the Cat on: 4/9/2008

A few days ago I was expressing my dissatisfaction with the BS-mania that industry spread about the digital masters.

 Romy the Cat wrote:
I generally feel that the fairy-tale about the “digital masters” that industry tells to us, the consumers, annoys me. Recently the hysteria about the “masters” made industry very much loose sense of any trustfulness and lucidness… I am not prosing that HRx will be bad, they might be fine - I just do not like they stress the “RR masters” story as any more or less understanding person listening the assurances of the “digital masters” has his BS-meter maxed out.

There are a lot of gullible people who bite BS about the “digital masters”. Not that the “digital masters” are bad thing, in fact they might be very good thing, but audio people shell clearly undusted what we deal with as in many cased we deal only with industry deception or with industry comfortably-numb ignorance.

Forget about all demonology you heard that apply to analog tape masters. The quality of analog copies of master tapes degrades by according to very different rules. Why it is so is behind the scope of this thread and I am not going there. In digital world there is an original file that was created by analog-to-digital converter – that is something that I call the “Raw File”. Sure in pro-audio word people records sometimes on 24 or 48 channels have 48 Raw File, mix them up, master it and so on. It makes the definition of Original Raw File confided, beside everything else. What is however VERY critical in this subject to understand is that the ONLY original Raw File (in the way how it went out of AD converter) is worthy to be considered as … worthy. Let see what we (the consumers) get out of that Raw File.

Any editing (or as they call it “mastering”) of the Raw Files done nowadays in digital domain. Any activation of DSP post-processing, changing volume of the file, even for .001dB, severely ruins the file’s quality. I am not even mention the compressors, expanders and zillion of other toys. Here is the key – any resaving of the Raw Files is very bad. Interesting that most of the pro editing software when you click button “Save” begin to re-render the file with DSP engine – means terminally damage the file.

Changing of sampling rates and bit-resolution of files is also very devastating. Even if you do time 2 down/up sampling from 88K to 44K for instance then you lose a LOT in that file what you save it. The Reference Recoding claim that they release their “masters” at 88kHz and 172kHz Great, however what format were the Raw Files? If they were in 172kHz then the 88kHz is downsampled copy and vise versa. They people who claim that they sell the RR copies of the analog master tapes claim that RR recorded in analog. If so then RR’s 172kHz and 88kHz are just digitalization of the master tapes. There is nothing wrong with it but it but it is not the Original Raw Files.

Format conversion. Here is another subject. The Morons love to screams about the SACD’s copies of the master tapes but they burn their SACD files from the PCM duplicates of the master tapes. With all bogusness of SACD that fact that they use, in many instances PCM as source, make me to laugh. Furthermore, since people become more and more familiar with the foolishness of SACD-sham, there is more and more movement among the designers with senses do not process the SACD at all. They just internally convert SACD into high resolution PCM and D/A regular PCM signal. As I said, any conversion is a subject of compromising of the Original Raw Files.

Then, the consumer packaging. This is very big subject where over 50% of Original Raw Files quality goes to toilet. No one will sell to you the Raw Files but they package it into CD or DVD-A or the SACD or what’ve it is. The problem is that what you begin to renders your Raw File into the media disk you kill it all. Record a Raw 16/44 file and you will see that it is HUGLY better compare to when what you put the very same recording into CD format. The same goes with DVD-A. Any recordings in 24/94 are very much better if you do not render it into DVD-A disk.

Anyhow, the faintest thing of all is that what I spoke with a number of full-time recording engineers and the told me that they do not even recognize the Original Raw Files as a concept – they just do not keep the Raw Files as they feel that coping then do not harm. It is true - coping is not resaving and it is has practically no damage but there is a thing….

I love to look at older photographs. Not the photographs but the daguerreotypes.  With the daguerreotypes the event is memorized on silver coating and then processed by different vapors and the image itself is not the duplicate of event but the direct reflection of the happenings in front of camera. All daguerreotypes are original and not of them possible to duplicate with daguerreotype process.  The daguerreotypes had own “catching quality” that does not exist in photography…. I think leaving aside all technical justifications I can presume that a Raw File is a direct daguerreotypes or the burn of the sonic event that was in real time created by A/D converter. That is THE ONLY Master that I recognize, everything else is secondary.  Listed Live concert braincase or watch live video - it has that feeling of “momentness” in it. The Raw Master Files or Tapes have it as well. The duplicated might be better or worth but they loose of that “something”. Unfortunately in case of digital “resaved” copies they lose a LOT.

Rgs, Romy the caT

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