Salsa sound quality comparison

Discussion in 'Salsa Music' started by matty, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. matty

    matty Shine Officer

    i was doing a sound quality comparison today (as result of a wider discussion with a friend online)
    and since all my test subjects were Salsa records, i decided to post my results here aswell for you guys.

    the aim of the game was really to distinguish the difference in sound quality between different DJ equipment, but for this i needed to find music that i own in every medium, which very quickly drew my attention to a bunch of other factors. these are the tests i did.

    I got a friend to do a blind test with me. He would turn up and down channels on the mixer and Id have to guess which one was playing.

    La Maxima - Singapore vibes
    (vinyl 2014 vs official CD 2014 vs oficial 320kbps Mp3 2014)
    I did feel that the CD and the Vinyl sounded a little fuller when we knew we were listening to them, but the difference , if there really is any, was so small that on a blind test I was only able to guess it right about 50% of the time which then caused doubt in my mind.

    Result: a draw

    Raphy Leavitt - la primera vez
    (Original Vinyl pressing 1986 vs Home made WAV Rip)
    i was able to tell 100% of the time which was which, the vinyl sounded better. I need to look at my methods for doing vinyl rips.

    Result: Vinyl wins

    Ruben Blades - Pedro Navaja
    (original vinyl pressing 1978 on the album 'Siembra' vs Fania 'anthology' release re-mixed from original master tapes 2012, Vs official download 320kbps mp3 from a previous digital remaster on a Fania Willie Colon compilation, vs an Mp4 video I made from the same Mp3 for VJ purposes)
    The Anthology CD re-mixed from the original master tapes was by far the best sounding here.
    The vinyl was the worst sounding (maybe partly because its worn out)
    the MP3 somewhere in the middle.
    I guessed the medium 100% right each time on a blind test.
    and I could not tell the difference between the Mp3 and the video though.

    Result: Anthology CD wins

    Bobby Valentin - Me diste el agua
    (original vinyl pressing 1985 vs CD audio from an oficial compilation CD - 'Bronco records' year unknown vs m4a 256kbps from itunes)
    the vinyl was the best sounding
    the CD and m4a both sounded inferior to the vinyl, but were very similar to eachother.
    in 100% of cases i was able to identify the vinyl, but i was mixing up the other two.

    Result: Vinyl wins

    Tommy Olivencia - Plante bandera
    (original vinyl pressing 1978 vs oficial CD release 2011 vs M4a 256kbps from itunes)
    This was a wierd one, neither my friend nor myself were able to say which sounded best here. and I could not differenciate between them on a blind test. partly because my ears were tired at this point.
    but when you put your head behind the speaker, for some strange reason the vinyl definitely seemed to have a much fuller sounding bass.

    Result: Vinyl wins by a margin

    disclaimer: my ears are not the best anymore due to Djing out in a loud environment every week, and to add to it this was done in a kitchen with some traffic noise outside and people coming through occasionally to make coffee so, not 100% scientific. perhaps in a recording studio, or with some good headphones i may have noticed other things.
    I would also add that this is all done with the Eqs at zero, i think with a bit of tweeking of the Eqs might even reveal a larger disparity between the sound quality of different media on occasion.

    There was actually no discernible difference between the equipment per-se, no matter how cheap or expensive it was. But closer inspection may be needed to be absolutely sure about that.

    The equipment i used was

    1 x Technics 1210
    Denon DN-HC4500 CD Decks
    Denon MC4000 controller
    Numark NS7 controller
    Numark Mixtrack platinum controller

    all going through a RCFArt312A speaker & Denon DNX500 mixer

    my conclusion so far can only be that the quality of your speakers, and the quality of your music source makes a bigger difference than which music player you are using and, to add to that, the closer it is to the original master tapes seems to have more impact on the sound quality than how it is digitally compressed (within reason)
    It may be for that simple reason that the vinyl was often the best sounding example from this selection im not sure if there is some inherent property in vinyl that would make it better otherwise.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2017
    Smejmoon and Dissonant Harmony like this.
  2. Hanginon

    Hanginon Changui

    This is why I'm also interested in the Fania recent Re-Releases thread - sound quality! As an example, it does not surprise me that the re-mixed version of Rueben Blades' Pedro Navaja on CD sounded best - it may have been done by Bob Katz, perhaps as far back as 2006. I can't post the URL links to some really interesting stuff on this (until I've done 10 posts), but if you search "Bob Katz Fania" it should show up.
    matty likes this.
  3. matty

    matty Shine Officer

    Yea ! hearing them side by side has definitely given me a new interest in the anthology series
    Actually on the Fania website it says they are remastered from the 1/4 tapes, I thought it was mastered from 1/2 inch tapes or larger.I wonder if it was done from an 8 track mixdown or a just a stereo mixdown. If anyone knows more details id be intrested to hear about it. wierdly nothing is written about it on the actual CD.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
    Hanginon likes this.
  4. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    Not strange at all. MP3 has a tendency to "cut edge", literally: It's most usually the low frequencies and the high ones that get removed in the compression,
    so focusing on the low frequencies is one way to tell...

    -Low frequencies waves attenuate less than higher ones, so by being behind the speakers, you "help" the lower frequencies "stand above" the rest,
    so what you did was virtually "looking" at where the difference lies...With a "magnifying glass".
    matty likes this.
  5. Hanginon

    Hanginon Changui

    Vinyl to WAV rips - you did not list what phono cartridge you're using. I'm assuming you used the phono preamps in the DNX500.
    Both make a huge difference.
  6. Hanginon

    Hanginon Changui

    My brain wasn't working correctly my last post. Yes, the cartridge and preamp are important, but if the one's your using to listen with are the same ones you record with, that's obviously not the problem. So, how do you RIP vinyl to WAV's?
  7. matty

    matty Shine Officer

    It was a while back, so i cannot remember precisely what i used for this Vinyl rip. (how useful eh? :rofl:)
    I think i used a sure M97 XE stylus, which is considered an 'audiophile' stylus, that broke on me shortly after, and i had to switch back to the bog standard stylus which could do with replacing again to be honest.
    It was then connected to the DNX 500 mixer.
    The interface i used to bring in the audio to the computer may well have been a weak link in the chain. It was a Behringer U control UCA222. Its only 16 bit, so yeah, a better inferface might be the place to look.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2017
  8. Hanginon

    Hanginon Changui

    Those little Behringers are actually pretty good. I don't think that's it. Software?
  9. matty

    matty Shine Officer

    I used Cubase SE

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