A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

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A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by Space Cadet on 12/12/2017, 6:56 pm

Hi Folks,

While I stay pretty much in the background, I am always watching over the place and looking for ways to meet the needs of the group and the hobby. I've noticed a definite interest in collecting in FLAC format and considered adding a sub-forum for collecting in that format. But having been through the various frustrations of determining what is an HQ audio file in the past, I've been a bit hesitant. And not being an audio expert, I'm not even sure that I can ask the right questions. So, here goes...

1) Is there enough interest, to justify a dedicated area to shows in FLAC format?
2) Should there be a set of standards, as to the quality of the shows shared there?
3) Is anyone doing initial encodes in FLAC, or are all of the available FLAC files just conversions from MP3?
4) Is it actually detrimental to the hobby in the long term, to attempt this at this time?
5) What aspects have I overlooked?
6) Will Space Cadet's latest harebrained idea give Nightkey a minor coronary, due to trying to correct the many errors, which are sure to appear? (I've been trying to avoid that for most of the last decade.)

Let's not forget. If you're truly involved in this hobby, you're attempting to preserve these shows for future generations. There's a biggest bestest newest hot diggity format, about every 8 to 10 years. And every conversion, tends to lose quality on some level.

Feel free to debate, ridicule or ignore this post.

Space
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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by mstevens90 on 12/12/2017, 9:30 pm

My flac files are from CD and and not mp3 files

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by kdmarket on 12/12/2017, 11:45 pm

greybelt wanted to add a thank you button so he could track who is interested in his shows. I think it's a good idea any help
thank you
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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by kschriever on 12/16/2017, 10:30 am

1) Is there enough interest, to justify a dedicated area to shows in FLAC format?
2) Should there be a set of standards, as to the quality of the shows shared there?
3) Is anyone doing initial encodes in FLAC, or are all of the available FLAC files just conversions from MP3?
4) Is it actually detrimental to the hobby in the long term, to attempt this at this time?
5) What aspects have I overlooked?
6) Will Space Cadet's latest harebrained idea give Nightkey a minor coronary, due to trying to correct the many errors, which are sure to appear? (I've been trying to avoid that for most of the last decade.)

Space[/quote]

Space,
Seems like you deserve an fuller attempt at answers here... so while not really qualified to do a well-informed and thorough job, I'd offer this:

FLAC is by definition a "lossless" format... thus my understanding would be that the full detail of whatever audio content is fed IN to the FLAC conversion effort will also be present on the finished product. As with MP3 and any other digital format we've used, the rule would be "garbage in, garbage out".

Pretty much the only material I can think of that would qualify for conversion to FLAC would be either audio recorded straight from a transcription disc, CD audio/ WAV file formats which incorporate full intact audio, or perhaps tape media that is known to contain first generation audio. Just as only naifs and liars would convert a 32kb MP3 to a 256kb MP3 and expect anything better than the original, same is true here. And we can police/prevent misuse of the format in exactly the same ways as we could with "upcoding" MP3s... we CAN'T. We can just try to be well-enough informed not to be part of the problem.

It's certainly not detrimental to anything to have more FLAC files made available. In the best cases, we'll have access to meaningfully enriched sound quality. For most folks, internet speeds have gotten faster in recent years and the cost of storing these larger file formats has dropped, so it's financially not as unreasonable a collecting option as it was a few years ago. There's no reason to "segregate" or treat this material any differently for Cobalt purposes than we did MP3s, especially as we're no longer facilitating file storage on the site.

And finally, it would be nice if we could just allow the use of lossless file formats to proceed as a gradual, evolutionary step. Celebrating it as some sort of magic elixir (or fearing it as a new and maybe dangerous species) has little value here... particularly where OTR material is concerned. It's definitely a desirable "next state" that a lot of us will want to take increasing advantage of where warranted... having our files in "best possible" quality is always a good thing. But that said, I know I am ALWAYS going to have a massive component of my collection that I'm not able to improve past the 32kb stuff I have, and that's going to have to be OK too. Much of what we listen to here only improves marginally for most ears much past 128/192/256 kb quality anyway.

Coda: in your role as moderator, please feel free to vilify any guy who responds to a posting of an MP3 file here with "do you have that file or series in FLAC?". When someone offers you a roast beef sandwich for nothing, you don't ask if you could possibly have an inch-thick ribeye smothered in mushrooms instead. You say "thank you for the sandwich".

Hope this helps....
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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by Space Cadet on 12/18/2017, 6:33 pm

kschriever, I'm sorry for the delayed response. It's been a hectic last few days in my "real" world.

We're pretty much in agreement on the subject. I'm not really eager to clutter the board with separate areas for different file formats. But I do want the board to remain relevant to the group's members. That was my major reason for asking. Personally, I have yet to be convinced that the term lossless isn't more of a marketing ploy than a reality. But I hope to find that it's truly lossless. Having been a low level techno-geek for most of the past 40 or so years, I've seem many promises which failed the test of time or were quickly supplanted by the next biggest bestest promise of futuristic nirvana.

As for unreasonable requests from other members... If you know the history of how this board came to be, in it's current form, then you know that I've gone to great lengths to keep this little OTR family together. Some of us have been together for well over a decade. And I'm very protective of our little family. I don't believe in publicly shaming people, for what was probably a "newbie" mistake. But I don't expect our members to be used or abused. So...

This is an open invitation to every member of The Cobalt Club:

If you feel that you are being abused by another member, feel free to send me or Quickdraw Ghemrats a PM, directing us to the infraction. We'll be more than happy to correct their ways "off board". And if that fails to correct the error of their ways, they will probably find that their key to the Private Entrance no longer works.

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by ghemrats on 12/18/2017, 7:34 pm

Dear Mr. Cadet,
I feel I must in the most strenuous terms object to the microaggressive behavior your last missive employed. As the Right Brigadier Admiral Annie Lennox proclaimed, "Some of them want to use you, some of them want to be abused, some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused by you."

So your directive suggesting we should contact you if abuse is discerned, I find abusive. I demand the immediate creation of a Safe Zone where we can be promised a futuristic nirvana wherein we will never hear Kurt Cobain warble.

I remain, yours very truly,
Right Reverend Dr. Mr. Ghemrats J. DeBosco Degamma (Mrs.)

Mad

(Things were getting so serious here. . . .)

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by Space Cadet on 12/18/2017, 11:56 pm

ghemrats wrote:Dear Mr. Cadet,
I feel I must in the most strenuous terms object to the microaggressive behavior your last missive employed.  As the Right Brigadier Admiral Annie Lennox proclaimed, "Some of them want to use you, some of them want to be abused, some of them want to abuse you, some of them want to be abused by you."

So your directive suggesting we should contact you if abuse is discerned, I find abusive.  I demand the immediate creation of a Safe Zone where we can be promised a futuristic nirvana wherein we will never hear Kurt Cobain warble.

I remain, yours very truly,
Right Reverend Dr. Mr. Ghemrats J. DeBosco Degamma (Mrs.)

Mad

(Things were getting so serious here. . . .)

SAFE SPACES??? I remember a time, we were more likely to be found plunderin' the Waste Spaces... Speakin' of which... I think it's high time I dragged the Star Rover out of the hanger, we dig Mars outta whichever dive he's hauntin' and hoist up the Jolly Roger. I'm thinkin' maybe we need a quick jaunt to Barsoom and rescue a few damsels in in distress. Or maybe distress a few damsels. We'll spend the whole week tossin' back copious flaggons of Romulan Ale and blastin' baddies. All to the theme song of The World Adventurers Club.

Luckily, we can use the space warp in the basement to access the old weapons cave. But we'll have to exercise a bit of caution inside the weapons cave. The Thing on the Fourble Board is still loose in there some place.

Space
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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by kschriever on 12/19/2017, 9:59 am

Oh, gracious. Did I say "vilify"? I meant "verify", as in very politely inquiring "I am so sorry, but did you REALLY mean to post that particular request?". From now on I plan to reduce the risk of miscommunication/misunderstanding by keep my missives to 140 characters or less... don't see how you could do much damage in so little space, right?
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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by ghemrats on 12/19/2017, 2:51 pm

No worries, Space. I have a special. . . relationship with the Fourble Border. Or is it boarder? Let's pull Niles out of retirement and get blasting.
Jeff

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by Space Cadet on 12/19/2017, 6:16 pm

kschriever wrote:Oh, gracious.  Did I say "vilify"?  I meant "verify", as in very politely inquiring "I am so sorry, but did you REALLY mean to post that particular request?".  From now on I plan to reduce the risk of miscommunication/misunderstanding by keep my missives to 140 characters or less... don't see how you could do much damage in so little space, right?

Nah... I wouldn't worry about it. I've been known to be misunderstood usin' just 14 letters and three words.
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by Space Cadet on 12/19/2017, 6:17 pm

ghemrats wrote:No worries, Space.  I have a special. . . relationship with the Fourble Border.  Or is it boarder?  Let's pull Niles out of retirement and get blasting.
Jeff

I'd love to hear from Niles. Just to know that he's alright.

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by daveinoldvic on 2/27/2018, 3:02 pm

I'm not sure about a separate space and vigorously object to "up conversion", I take anything that I get from CD (1st Gen) and analogue material to flac. Since nothing is lost in flac, it is a safe and economical format for good quality OTR and other material. I've been using the flac format in this way for years now.

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by eadjones on 3/1/2018, 11:24 pm

The OTR Researchers have started using FLAC as their purchasing group's distro format, just as an FYI. Some of the recent items have been from 16" disks.

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by Egg_Crisis on 7/21/2018, 9:51 pm

Firstly, Hello!  I followed a link from OTRPlus, and I see some of the same names here that are also over there!

Space Cadet wrote:1) Is there enough interest, to justify a dedicated area to shows in FLAC format?
2) Should there be a set of standards, as to the quality of the shows shared there?
3) Is anyone doing initial encodes in FLAC, or are all of the available FLAC files just conversions from MP3?
4) Is it actually detrimental to the hobby in the long term, to attempt this at this time?
5) What aspects have I overlooked?
6) Will Space Cadet's latest harebrained idea give Nightkey a minor coronary, due to trying to correct the many errors, which are sure to appear? (I've been trying to avoid that for most of the last decade.)

1. Yes, please yes!  For years I've been posting here there and everywhere about the need for higher quality, but a lot of it seems to fall on deaf ears.

2. Standards?  Well, if it's an old file and it's only available in horrible quality then it still should be shared as someone will still want it, however it's good to warn in advance as some people might not want it.  Then later if someone has an upgrade they can post it.  But for anyone making a new transfer (from reel or cassette or disc etc) then I think it'd be good not to use 32kbps any more!  We have fast internet now!  (Not that I'd presume that anyone here would be still encoding at 32kbps, but I know some people still do because I've seen some files recently that were labelled as "remastered" and were 32kbps, which is laughable).

3. I've been using flac since 2006, mainly for live music, although for the last few years I've been using it for some of the radio shows I transfer from cassette or reel.  In the live music world you'll find some flac that's been encoded from mp3, but there's an easy way to detect these.

4. Detrimental?  Heck no!  Someone should have done it years ago.  What is very detrimental is all the horrible 32kbps files that still circulate.

Those files of course were a result of slow internet speeds, small amounts of server space, and expensive server space.  But they don't sound bad solely because they're 32kbps, but also because too many people were heavyhanded with the dehiss.  When you try and remove too much hiss you get that swishy sound which at it's most extreme sounds like someone shaking a bagfull of broken glass.  Personally I'd rather hear hiss.  It's usually possible to reach a happy medium by just removing some of the hiss but not trying to remove too much.  Oh and many of those old files are at 22Khz and sometimes 11Khz, and that lowers the quality.  There's never any need to encode at lower than 44.1Khz.

But those 32kbps files are very damaging to OTR's legacy.  In the future I fear that some shows will only exist in that form.  At the moment some people still have access to reel to reel or cassette copies or discs and they have the ability to provide an upgrade to the poor quality files, but as time passes the likelihood of that happening will decrease.

I've seen people put forward the argument that because old radio shows only use a limited frequency range they only require to be encoded to an mp3 of limited frequency range.  That's flawed thinking, because at a low bitrate every click and crackle sounds so much worse.

For anyone worried about people encoding mp3 to flac, it's quite easy to see if that has happened.  If anyone's used an audio editor they'll know what a waveform looks like... as well as a "waveform view" some audio editors also have something called "spectral view".  Using this you can see the telltale cutoff point that you get when it's been encoded from mp3, and it's even possible to say with some degree of accuracy what bitrate that mp3 was.  (By the way many of the 64kbps mp3's you'll find are just re-encodes of the 32kbps files.)


Last edited by Egg_Crisis on 7/21/2018, 10:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

Post by Egg_Crisis on 7/21/2018, 10:00 pm

Oh, I did go on a bit there!

eadjones wrote:The OTR Researchers have started using FLAC as their purchasing group's distro format, just as an FYI.  Some of the recent items have been from 16" disks.

That's good to know. I'd urge them to include some sort of indication of quality for their "certification". For example I downloaded a set of Rocky Fortune but I can't listen to them because the audio quality is terrible. I know it's not their fault and they're only passing on files that have been around (in that particular case) for approx 20 years, but it makes a mockery out of the whole certification thing when the files are so far from being a perfect set of files.

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Re: A Few Questions Concerning OTR and New Audio Formats

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