Grateful Dead

Spring 1990 (The Other One) Box

sku: GRA9900113

Digital Download

Less Than 500 Units Left.

What's Inside:
144-page paperback book with essays by Nicholas G. Meriwether and Blair Jackson
A portfolio with three art prints by Jessica Dessner
Replica ticket stubs and backstage passes for all eight shows
8 complete shows on 23 discs
      3/14/90 Capital Centre, Landover, MD
      3/18/90 Civic Center, Hartford, CT
      3/21/90 Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario
      3/25/90 Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY
      3/28/90 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
      3/29/90 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (featuring Branford Marsalis)
      4/1/90 The Omni, Atlanta, GA
      4/3/90 The Omni, Atlanta, GA
Recorded by long-time Grateful Dead audio engineer John Cutler
Mixed from the master 24-track analog tapes by Jeffrey Norman at Bob Weir's TRI Studios
Mastered to HDCD specs by David Glasser
Original Art by Jessica Dessner
Individually Numbered, Limited Edition of 9,000

Announcing Spring 1990 (The Other One)

"If every concert tells a tale, then every tour writes an epic. Spring 1990 felt that way: an epic with more than its share of genius and drama, brilliance and tension. And that is why the rest of the music of that tour deserves this release, why the rest of those stories need to be heard." - Nicholas G. Meriwether

Some consider Spring 1990 the last great Grateful Dead tour. That it may be. In spite of outside difficulties and downsides, nothing could deter the Grateful Dead from crafting lightness from darkness. They were overwhelmingly triumphant in doing what they came to do, what they did best — forging powerful explorations in music. Yes, it was the music that would propel their legacy further, young fans joining the ranks with veteran Dead Heads, Jerry wondering "where do they keep coming from?" — a sentiment that still rings true today, a sentiment that offers up another opportunity for an exceptional release from a tour that serves as transcendental chapter in the Grateful Dead masterpiece.

With Spring 1990 (The Other One), you'll have the chance to explore another eight complete shows from this chapter, the band elevating their game to deliver inspired performances of concert staples (“Tennessee Jed” and “Sugar Magnolia”), exceptional covers (Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and the band’s last performance of the Beatles’ “Revolution”) and rare gems (the first “Loose Lucy” in 16 years) as well as many songs from Built To Last, which had been released the previous fall and would become the Dead’s final studio album. Also among the eight is one of the most sought-after shows in the Dead canon: the March, 29, 1990 show at Nassau Coliseum, where Grammy®-winning saxophonist Branford Marsalis sat in with the group. The entire second set is one continuous highlight, especially the breathtaking version of “Dark Star.”

For those of you who are keeping track, this release also marks a significant milestone as now, across the two Spring 1990 boxed sets, Dozin At The Knick, and Terrapin Limited, the entire spring tour of 1990 has been officially released, making it only the second Grateful Dead tour, after Europe 1972, to have that honor.

Now shipping, you'll want to order your copy soon as these beautiful boxes are going, going, gone...

Listening Party: 3/29/90, Nassau Coliseum With Branford Marsalis, Set 2

Enjoy the 2nd set of 3/29/90!

Listening Party, Part 2

Enjoy a track from each show!

Listening Party, Part 1

Enjoy a track from each show!

Seaside Chat: David Lemieux On The Branford Show

Unveiling Spring 1990 (TOO)

Talkin' Spring 1990 Too With Bob Weir, Jeffrey Norman And Branford Marsalis

David Lemieux on What’s Inside Spring 1990 (The Other One)

Product Details

Show #1
Capital Center, Landover, MD (3/14/90)

Disc 1
4. MAMA TRIED> [2:31]
5. BIG RIVER [5:21]
6. LOOSE LUCY [6:56]
8. ROW JIMMY [10:17]
9. LET IT GROW [11:54]

Disc 2
1. CRAZY FINGERS> [8:12]
3. UNCLE JOHN'S BAND> [8:05]
4. JAM> [7:12]
5. DRUMS> [7:38]
6. SPACE> [6:34]
7. DEAR MR. FANTASY> [5:53]
8. I NEED A MIRACLE> [4:07]
9. BLACK PETER> [7:53]

Show #2
Civic Center, Hartford, CT (3/18/90)

Disc 1
3. STAGGER LEE [5:29]
4. ME AND MY UNCLE> [3:08]
9. RAMBLE ON ROSE [8:02]

Disc 2
1. IKO IKO [8:08]
3. HE'S GONE> [8:56]
4. TRUCKIN'> [8:54]
5. SPOONFUL> [7:19]
6. DRUMS [6:52]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [11:23]
2. THE WHEEL> [5:49]
4. MORNING DEW [11:32]
5. U.S. BLUES [5:31]

Show #3
Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (3/21/90)

Disc 1
3. FAR FROM ME [5:05]
5. LOOSE LUCY [7:27]

Disc 2
1. HEY POCKY WAY [7:10]
2. CRAZY FINGERS> [07:38]
5. HE'S GONE> [12:42]
6. DRUMS> [9:37]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [7:39]
2. I NEED A MIRACLE> [4:16]
3. WHARF RAT> [8:41]

Show #4
Knickerbocker Arena, Albany NY (3/25/90)

Disc 1
2. TOUCH OF GREY [6:42]
5. JACK-A-ROE [4:36]
7. BIRD SONG [13:08]
8. LET IT GROW [11:36]

Disc 2
1. EYES OF THE WORLD> [13:26]
3. CRAZY FINGERS> [7:21]
4. TRUCKIN'> [7:43]
5. SPOONFUL> [5:37]
6. DRUMS [9:59]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [8:58]
4. BLACK PETER> [9:09]

Show #5 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (3/28/90)

Disc 1
3. EASY TO LOVE YOU [5:48]
4. HIGH TIME [6:14]
6. LOOSE LUCY [6:11]
7. CASSIDY> [6:06]
8. DEAL [8:18]

Disc 2
1. FOOLISH HEART> [10:21]
2. LOOKS LIKE RAIN> [8:09]
4. THE WEIGHT [5:46]
5. HEY POCKY WAY> [x:xx]
6. DRUMS [11:17]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [9:22]
2. THE OTHER ONE> [6:52]
3. WHARF RAT> [10:35]
4. GOOD LOVIN' [7:52]
5. REVOLUTION [4:55]

Show #6
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (3/29/90)

Disc 1
1. JACK STRAW> [6:15]
2. BERTHA [6:59]
3. WE CAN RUN [6:04]
4. RAMBLE ON ROSE [8:08]
6. BIRD SONG> [13:05]

Disc 2
1. EYES OF THE WORLD> [16:33]
3. DARK STAR> [18:19]
4. DRUMS [10:22]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [7:53]
2. DARK STAR> [2:46]
3. THE WHEEL> [4:23]

Show #7
The Omni, Atlanta, GA (4/1/90)

Disc 1
1. TOUCH OF GREY [6:41]
2. WALKIN' BLUES [6:27]
4. CANDYMAN [7:20]
5. ME AND MY UNCLE> [3:05]
6. BIG RIVER [5:28]
7. ALTHEA [8:09]
9. TO LAY ME DOWN> [9:24]

Disc 2
2. I KNOW YOU RIDER [4:51]
3. SHIP OF FOOLS> [7:50]
5. DRUMS [7:30]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [11:48]
2. DEAR MR. FANTASY> [5:42]
3. HEY JUDE> [2:37]
4. TRUCKIN'> [7:00]
5. STELLA BLUE> [10:21]

Show #8
The Omni, Atlanta, GA (4/3/90)

Disc 1
2. HELL IN A BUCKET> [6:17]
3. SUGAREE [11:24]
4. WE CAN RUN [6:55]
6. ROW JIMMY [10:11]
7. PICASSO MOON [7:14]
8. TENNESSEE JED> [7:39]

Disc 2
3. CRAZY FINGERS> [8:06]
5. DRUMS [8:17]

Disc 3
1. SPACE> [6:56]
5. NOT FADE AWAY [7:27]


comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
nitecat's picture
Joined: Nov 1 2010
Less than 500

I'm listening to a few of these gems for the last week, 3/14, 3/21, 4/1, WOW these have awesome sound. And the band is ON every night, almost, on this tour. I can't believe this isn't sold out. Jeez, this is some of the hottest later dead around! Thanks to those who made these great recordings, and mixes. I am truly grateful!


rdrewr's picture
Joined: Jun 2 2015

Such good $$ spent here. Mix clear and in my face (yep, very loud, haha) Blessed that one left for me. rrot.. your right. Peace to all. Jerry, happy Bday my friend, miss you tons :((

rrot's picture
Joined: Oct 3 2009

Piggybacking on @rdrewr's comment, this box set will in the end prove to be money far, far better spent than getting the Fare Thee Well set. The sound quality/mix is magnificent. And as much as I enjoyed watching & listening to the Chicago shows they do not in any way have the repeat listening value that this does.

Also, I love me some Trey Anastasio -- I do -- but Jerry is here and he plays pretty damn well on these dates, with a band that is tight with him and vice-versa. It's really no comparison.

dedhed76's picture
Joined: Dec 22 2008
Absolutely superb

I've been a loyal fan since '76. Had tons of tapes, now CDs, bought all the Dicks, Daves, and box releases. This box, in my opinion, has the finest quality live Dead recordings I have ever heard. You really feel like you're on stage with them. Well done guys!

Joined: Aug 6 2013

Have fun on tour! Good choice,enjoy!

rdrewr's picture
Joined: Jun 2 2015
Spring Box "Too"

Just received my box... its awesome. Used my cancelled FTW monies..looks like some cold rain and snow will start here soon ..peace

Joined: Jun 27 2011
Spring '90

A reply to the poster from 4/30.

Besides being a very poorly written post and wandering to the point where I don't know exactly what they were trying to say other than they don't like GD after 1979.. I simply disagree.

I love '67 - 74 too, but if you don't like later day sound, no one is holding a gun to your head to get this, please have some manners and show some respect.

There's plenty of energy in the shows in this box. I am half-way through a second listen of this whole tour and added in Formerly the Warlocks and Nightfall of Diamonds for good measure. The song selections, recordings, performances and mix are peak, later year GD. I especially like the song selections and performances contained in this box.

I am happy to disagree with the rant two posts prior to this and dig the mix on Spring '90 TOO. My experience is more in line with One-Man's.


One Man's picture
Joined: May 17 2011

Ya know, I'm not the biggest 80s or 90s fan either. But I gotta say the 3/21/90 show kinda blows me away. There is a ton of energy here and little MIDI. I saw 30 or so shows in the 80s and none of them were as good as this one. Maybe it's an acquired taste. Give it a few spins and see if you don't warm up to it.

Joined: Apr 17 2015
Quality sound ?

I am not sure if i get this,people are saying that the recordings are not that great for one reason or another but what it comes down to is these shows will put you to sleep. The overall energy is almost invisible 7 minute Halfstep,8 minute playin's, 17 minutes for a Help On The Way>Slipknot>Franklins Tower TOTAL. A 8 or 9 minute China-Cat>Rider has no time to even find a groove or a 19 minute Scarlet-fire it's over before it starts. How is this for an idea lets forget the '90's forever plus there was a million tapers if you want that MIDI bullshit. Why not jump to some shows worth listening to like march of '73,fall of '73 with horns,6/22,6/23,6/27/74,10/15,11/1,11/6/77 or 4/12,5/7/78 or 2/17/79,1/5/79 i could keep going but one thing is for damn sure NO MORE'90's please. Am i the only person that despise's that freaking midi-sound?

bulwa's picture
Joined: Apr 28 2015
Yeah that would be nice

Yeah that would be nice

Joined: Nov 28 2012
Individual shows...

I really wish these downloads were available piecemeal, show by show. I would definitely pick up each show individually over time, but dropping $200 all at once can be difficult for some people. Love that the FLACs are in HD though...

Joined: Oct 2 2014
Winter is coming???

Was listening to the Nassau 3/28/90 show earlier and when thinking about the cover artwork-- the wolf, raven and gold crown piece-- couldn't help but think Jessica Dessner had Game of Thrones on her mind. Or... maybe I just do!

Joined: Apr 6 2015
That was very funny. I just

That was very funny. I just don't have that kind of it. Says a lot in a few short words.

Joined: Feb 19 2011
First Box

Johndrano, You can now get the first box set as a lossless download. You don't get the book and other bits and pieces and you will have to burn your own cds if you want to listen on a cd player but the cost of the ALAC version from is way cheaper than $900! Here's the link

Joined: Sep 10 2014
so glad I took the plunge

I finally talked myself into picking this up the other day. Came today, I am just starting disc 2 of 3-14 and I am already so glad I picked this up. The sound is incredible and the band was killing it. The box is on another level. I am now thinking I wished I had bought the first box when I had the chance. I won't pay $900 and up for it, i guess i will just keep my eyes peeled for a deal.

Thanks for the push fellow heads.

Joined: Aug 7 2008
seamless transitions?

I'm afraid I don't have time to read 34 pages' worth of comments right about now, so I'm hoping that someone can answer this for me (with apologies if it has already been asked and answered somewhere in this thread): are the Hi-Def files seamless, or are there fade-outs (and fade-ins) between drums and space like there would be on the Apple files? I instinctively want to believe that they would be seamless, as they can't be burned to discs but I would appreciate it if someone could confirm this for me.

Thanks in advance!

Joined: Nov 6 2013
Winterland 77 availability

I doubt that's coming back. It's been sold out for many months. It sold out around the time Winterland 73 sold out and that one is probably not coming back either.

Joined: Jan 22 2014
Box Set Availability

Since there isn't a page for this particular box set anymore, anyone around here have an idea when "Winterland June 1977" box set will be back in the store? Thanks!!

Joined: Jan 24 2011
I Needed That

That was funny. I just don't have that kind of wit. Says a lot in a few short words.

dantian's picture
Joined: Aug 6 2013
Don't get hi-def

Wait a few years and super hi-def will be out. So what if you can't hear the difference, your dogs can, and aren't they worth it?

Joined: Jun 27 2011
Hi Def

..all the thanks belongs to wjonjd. He deserves an honorary doctorate in digital musicology. I have been very curious about all this and from day 1 have not used compression (mp3's) in my digital library, its 100% non-compressed. I got a real education in all this by reading this thread over the last several months.

On a related note, I am very high on this recording and overall quality of this box. Like many others that have posted on this thread, I also wish the original Spring '90 was mastered from the multi-tracks.. it sounds good but this box sounds great.

oh well.. I am happy they put the extra time and expense into mastering the second half of this tour. ..might as well take the time to do things right, its always worth it, and in this case the music certainly deserves a little added respect.

I think I might just pop in 4/1 tonight while I get some work done.

Joined: Jun 17 2013
Thank you

After extensive review I have decided to keep my box set since it was a present from my Mom. I have been researching HD music for the past few months, and have come to the conclusion that this cds have been dithered properly, and they sound just as good as the 192khz files.

I also did a blind test with 3.29.1990 between the 192khz and the 44khz, and my wife, who has impeccable hearing, couldn't tell which was which. That being said, I also went ahead and bought the first box in 24/88.2 khz, and while the difference is there, its quite insignificant. Its really a shame they mixed the first box set with 2 tracks.

@Seth - thank you for the offer - contact me via email at and i'll see if we can work something out.

@JimInMD - thank you for taking the time to answer my comment. You're awesome!

@wjonjd - thank you for your expansive explanation. I am conducting blind tests with various LZ 2014 remasters and PF's Division Bell remasters to see if people can tell the difference between the 16 and 24 bit versions. Most people can't - so the question comes up again, why are we going for the hi-res files if our ears really can't tell the difference.

Check this out:

and finally,

@brianhahne - thanks for selling me the view from the vault 1 on ebay - I have to say, those summer tours don't have the same energy as the spring shows. I think I was spoiled by these box sets. I would love to hear the bonus tracks from view from the vault 2, but Ameoba is selling it for $150. That is crazy, but I would love to hear Brent's final dark star.

Seth Hollander's picture
Joined: Aug 27 2009
Hey SFrank

JimInMD is right that you can Ebay the box for primo bucks if you wait a bit.
Buuuuuuuutttttttttt, if you want to raise cash to buy the HD files and you live in the Bay Area, I have an immediate offer for you. I can't spend $240 on a box set. I have a wife and child to support here in SF on my $65K/yr income. But I can offer to give you $150 for just the CD sets and the book. You can keep 3/29 since I bought the stand alone release, and you can keep the box, the prints, the repro ticks/passes.
If you want to meet up some weekend day and do this, the quickest way to contact me is through this thread as I rarely log in/see my mailbox.
Just an offer.

Joined: Jun 27 2011

Hi Sfrank,

wjonjd put a lot of info out on the difference between high def and what is on the CD's further down in this thread..

If you still would prefer the Hi Def files, once this box sells out (and I am sure it will eventually).. you will be able to get your money back for your box by reselling it on EBay or Amazon, then you can get the downloads, they will still be available then.

..on a related note, am I the only one that thinks they totally fibbed when they said this box was down to 1,500 copies a few months back?

I cant believe this still exists. I guess since they are selling the digital files and with Dave's Picks renewals going on (plus some Dicks Picks are being re-released right now also, I think).. there is more for sale now than usual.. but I thought this would have sold out before Christmas.

Joined: Jun 17 2013
Annoyed dead fan!

So, I was one of the suckers who bought the actual box, and now I see that they've released all the shows for both sets in 24bit, and the box set I got has compression. I think, people who have bought the box set should not have to pay twice to get the HD versions. Thoughts?

Joined: Dec 12 2012
quantum computing as it relates to digital music

I can't say I fully understand quantum computing but was wondering if anyone had any foresight into how digital music might be affected by qubits and their superpositions. We're used to 1's and 0's but quantum computing has the ability to have 1 or both states held in the same qubit.

Any comments?

hbob1995's picture
Joined: Jun 26 2007
Buy this!

Hard to believe that there are still some of these available. The sound quality is outstanding. I could not pick which of the two '90 boxes has the better shows. To me, they are both equal and represent the band at one of its creative peaks. The boys were sure hot on this tour. If you continue to pass this one up you will only be kicking yourself down the road, guaranteed.

Rock on

floridabobaloo's picture
Joined: Apr 30 2014
Favorites from this set

I'm going with the 3/14 and 4/3 shows. Of course the Branford show is awesome as well. But the 4/3 show is a whopper. Ironically I bought this box after saying I wouldn't and only bought 3/29 at first on its own. Then went back and bought the box. While it's not my all time fav, it's damn good.

Joined: Feb 13 2013
April Fool's Day Show

Listened to the 04/01 Omni show for the first time today and it really blew my mind. Always love those "Victim Or The Crime" triptychs with a ballad and a rock song following. The Stella Blue made me cry. Not for too long, though - the Sugar Magnolia is pure fun. And I love Brent's simple but effective piano phrases on "Baby Blue". This box set definitely deserves the Grammy nomination. It's pure joy. So better get it while there are still some left...

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Great Shows

Yeah, I think ALL the shows on this tour were great. Besides the obviously special 3/29 show, the 3/14 and 4/1 shows are standouts. Just fantastic.

Joined: Feb 6 2013
Happy listening

Just want to say that I am very happy with this box set.
Initially, I decided I wasn't going to buy this because I have the first box and this is a big price tag, thought the better shows were in that one, etc. I ordered this after reading all the raving comments on here. Since I caved and bought it, I saved the box as a Christmas present. I opened it a bit early so that I could listen during traveling.
I’ve only listened to the first three shows so far, but Wow. It is such good sound quality. I especially like the way that Brent’s organ sounds.
I had never really listened to 3/18 or 3/21 before and they are both really good shows. I’m starting to believe the hype that these are all good shows. I really like 3/18/90. Pretty much the whole show rocks. Looking forward to hearing 4/1 and 4/3 in this sound quality.
Really nice!

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Two great links

Two great links:

One is a great article on expectation bias, but it also has some good technical information and a couple of really cool links as well. I added a second link that has some interesting stuff about listening tests and other digital audio trivia.

The other is a link I've posted before, but it covers ground so critical to the digital audio topic, and does it so well, that I'm reposting that link:

Joined: Jan 24 2011
a good link about DAC's and digital audio

Hi rrot (and anyone else interested),

I didn't find the original link I first saw, but, I found something better. It's a link to two videos. I needed to use firefox to run them because my version of Internet Explorer wouldn't run them. they're about 30 minutes and 23 minutes and they're REALLY REALLY informative and well done.

Start with the SECOND video. The second video is MUCH more relevant to the discussion here, but vid1 does have some interesting stuff.

Clears up a lot of myths and is very easy to understand - he actually shows you what he is talking about with actual equipment.

You can also download it and watch it in a media player.

rrot's picture
Joined: Oct 3 2009
If you turn up that link

I would love to hear about it. Read all your other posts and the associated links with great interest. I might have even learned some things!

One thing that you have pointed out that no one can deny is that hi-fi audio is a field rife with misinformation in the service of salesmanship. You've been doing yeoman's work in cutting through the BS. It's appreciated!

Joined: Jan 24 2011

Hey rrot,

I was looking for a link I've seen in the past but can't find it yet.

It is my understanding that modern DAC's are virtually perfect. That wasn't always the case.

There is also the problem that even with near-perfect modern DAC's, PC's are something of a hostile environment due to noise/interference, which is one reason external DAC's are frequently sought out.

But, the internal logic/functioning of the modern DAC chips, it is my understanding, is virtually perfect at recreating the original analog sound wave, which the Nyquist theorem stated before they existed that they should be able to do. Mathematically, you can re-create the original perfectly. I guess the problem is getting the hardware/software to do it. It is my understanding that modern dac's do this basically flawlessly.

rrot's picture
Joined: Oct 3 2009
I am drinking up

Drinking up all this info on digital audio, that is! Thanks, wjonjd!

I am wondering about one thing:

"the DAC can mathematically recreate the EXACT analog sound wave"

From time to time, in discussions of upgrading home audio reproduction equipment, I will see the suggestion that a "better" DAC is essential.

Is there anything to this?

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Dynamic Compression on the CDs

Hi Fourwinds,

I looked at my original post to you and it was uncalled for, inaccurate, condescending, and not my best moment.

I have emailed DL letting him know what I found when I analyzed the CD and HD files, and asked him to ask Jeffrey Norman or other engineers if my conclusion is accurate, and why they feel they must do this.

I'll report back if I hear anything back.

fourwindsblow's picture
Joined: Oct 13 2008
Thanks wjonjd

The fact that dynamic compression was used on the cd's is why they sound like they do.

Joined: Jun 5 2007

Order #'s sent to you.

I will also call Customer Service this afternoon and see if they have an update.

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007

you too. So sorry.

Joined: May 15 2011
I also had a disc problem

Disc number two from the Omni Show (4/1/1990) will not play in my car. The car radio says "disc error" when I called Deadnet they told me they would not be able to replace the disc because it was over 30 days old. Can you help me? Who did you talk to when you called customer service? I am not very happy about this. Thanks!!

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007

send me your order # and the details and I'll see what the Dr. can do.

Joined: May 15 2011
Spring 1990 TOO Defective Disc-DeadNet will not replace

I must say I am very impressed with the sound quality and strong performances of all of these shows. I have been listening off and on for the past couple of months. However when I got to disc two of the first Omni Show (April 1, 1990) I discovered the disc was defected and would not play. When I called DeadNet they told me there was nothing they could do for me because the purchase was over 30 days old. Well they did tell me to repurchase the box set and return it with the defective disc. I do not want to go through all of that. I payed close to $250.00 for this and Deadnet is not willing to replace a broken disc. Any advice?

Joined: Jan 24 2011

Hi JMT2010 - I posted a few links that go into a lot of detail about the technical aspects of digital audio - you can find them below.

You're close, but not quite there in what you described.

for instance, at the very end, you refer "the human ear does not pick up ..... it just hears a continuum". The issue here is that it doesn't have to pick or not pick up the individual samples. The digital to analog converter (DAC) takes the stored digital information and converts it back to an analog wave. The Nyquist theorm, on which the very idea of digital audio is based, states that as long as the frequency of sampling is as least twice as high as the highest frequency of sound being reproduced, then the ORIGINAL analog sound wave, of any complexity, can be reproduced EXACTLY. That's why the "stair step" concept that hi res websites like to display is a deception. When you look at a graph of a waveform stored digitally, yes if you zoom way in you can see "stair step" looking (jagged) edges to the waveform. It's a deception, because the DAC recreates from this the original sound wave EXACTLY - as long as the frequencies are below half the sampling rate.

Another thing that was not quite right was your interpretation of bit-depth. It's even simpler than your first sentence. What is actually contained in each "sample" is one amplitude measurement, just a number between 0 and 65,536 for 16-bit and between 0 and 16,777,216 for 24-bit, representing the amplitude of the wave at that moment. Forget about the noise floor for a moment. The ONLY thing stored in each sample is a number representing an instantaneous measurement of the amplitude of the sound wave at that moment. Quantization error is the difference between the ACTUAL amplitude of the sound wave at that point, and the measured amplitude using a discrete number of only 65,536 or 16,777,216 possible values. Dithering is the process which mathematically converts those errors to white noise, and noise shaping actually moves that noise to largely inaudible ranges of the sound frequency spectrum.

Ultimately, it is the level of noise in a digital file that determines the "noise floor" of the file. This is the exact equivalent of the signal to noise ratio (SNR) of an analog recording (LP or analog tape). Keep in mind that the SNR of even a 16-bit recording is many times better than the SNR of LP OR analog tape. Most people don't understand that, either. So, taking your Pink Floyd "Time" example, a 16-bit recording can capture the quietest elements of the clocks ticking. Of course, THAT is a recording that was NOT originally recorded digitally - it was originally recorded to analog tape. So the SNR can NEVER be better than on the original analog tape - there is a minimum noise level already inherent in the recording to begin with. Modern recordings are recorded to 24/192 digital files, and then if converted to CD (or 16-bit downloads) they are converted to 16-bit using noise-shaped dithering. Done properly, the resulting 16-bit files have a slightly lower signal to noise ratio, however it is already below the level of human perception. The noise floor of your listening environment is ALWAYS (unless you're in outer space or something) higher than the noise floor of a properly dithered 16-bit recording. Noise you don't usually notice, the hum of the refrigerator, your breathing and heartbeat, the water heater, etc. - even the quietest of most rooms still has a noise floor that is above the noise floor of a 16-bit recording let alone a 24-bit one. This is nit-picking a bit, isn't it????

The other thing you referenced is HOW does a stream of amplitude measurements capture actual music. Take out a piece of paper. Let's say you're sampling at 10 times per second instead of 44,100 times per second. So, 1/10th of a second you capture an amplitude measurement (the height of a sound wave). On the piece of paper draw a dot at that height. It might be easier if you draw a rectangle with that height (just of like the rectangles under a curve in pictures of integration from a calculus textbook). When you connect the dots, you can see the sound wave shape. The more dots, the more exact the representation of the wave. This is where the Nyquist theorem comes in. Higher frequency sounds are going up and down across the x-axis in narrower bands than lower frequency sounds which take more time (stretch out farther along the x-axis) before coming back across the x-axis). The theorem states that as long as the sampling is rate is at least twice the highest frequency, the DAC can mathematically recreate the EXACT analog sound wave. So, 44,100 samples per second is enough to EXACTLY recreate any frequencies below 22,050Hz. This is above the range of hearing for human adults.

So, some people who don't understand the technical aspects will pay more for a 24/192 file than a 24/96 file. Keep in mind what the actual difference is. A 24/192 file is taking 192,000 samples per second, and a 24/96 file is taking 96,000 samples per second. The Nyquist theorem states that the 192k/s file can PERFECTLY reproduce any frequencies below 96kHz. The Nyquist theorem states that the 96k/s file can reproduce any frequencies below 48kHz. Um, most adults can't even hear much beyond 16-18khz let alone 20khz. The ONLY difference between the fidelity of the 24/96 and 24/192 is that the 24/192 can encode frequencies from 48kHz to 96kHz and the 24/96 can't. Those frequencies are all and entirely WAY WAY WAY beyond the human hearing apparatus. But, go through some of these threads and watch some people saying things like, "are we paying for 24/96 or are we actually getting the full 24/192?" The question is nonsensical. NO ONE can hear ANYTHING in the 48-96khz range AT ALL. Not only that - none of the microphones used to record the music capture anything in those frequencies at all AND on the off-chance they did, they're filtered out for technical reasons. Just WHAT do people think they're missing in the 96 vs the 192 file? It shows that they just don't understand what they're spending their $$$ on. They are assuming that 192 has to be better than 96, and/or that if its more expensive (and larger) it must be better. Anyone who understands sound at all knows that a audio with or without frequencies between 48khz and 96khz is going to be identical unless you're a hummingbird or something. It's like thinking that a picture that has light going up to the x-ray range encoded in it is going to look better than a picture that only includes light in the spectrum our eyes actually have the hardware to respond to. And then, they will actually post about how much more depth there is to the music, how much more full and somehow realistic the experience is. It's clearly entirely in the realm of psychological expectations.

Actually, properly dithered, a 16/44.1 digital file made from the EXACT SAME SOURCE as the 24/192 digital file is INDISTINGUISHABLE from each other by the human ear. ALL scientific studies done in controlled environments confirm this. You will NEVER convince some people of this, however. The idea that more bits and more samples must be better seems to make to much sense to most people, and marketing has done it's job.

Lastly, as you can see in one of my last posts, I compared the 16-bit CD files to the hi res files that are being offered for Wake Up To Find Out. I compared them using Audio Inspector. That comparison confirmed that these two digital files are NOT from the same source. This has nothing to do with the inherent ability of a 16/44.1 file to be as perfect to human ears as a 24/192 file. What is being done is common in the practice of making CD's. They compressed the dynamic range (the range of softest to loudest sounds) so that they could then increase the amplitude across the entire range, making the CD louder at any given volume setting than it would have been. This was either not done to the 24/192 file, or not to the same extent, because the 24/192 file is not as loud, the amplitude of the sound waves at any given point is lower than on the 16/44.1 file. This was done INTENTIONALLY (I'd rather they didn't). It is probably done because people "expect" their CD's be play at a certain volume - they think something is wrong if they put another CD on, and it's way louder without turning the volume up - they ask, "why is this one so damn low!". So, they're dealing with consumer expectations. It has nothing to do with 16/44.1 versus 24/96 or 24/192.

Joined: Jan 23 2011
Confused about the meaning of bit depth and sampling

From what I have read, the higher the bit depth, say 16 bit vs. 24 bit, the more decibels of signal is possible above a noise threshold. I get that. It is a metric of quietest sounds to loudest possible to be reproduced in fidelity perhaps. An analogy for that might be Pink Floyd's song 'Time' where you hear the clocks ticking very quietly in the beginning and then have the loudness of the alarms going off the next moment after. The loudness change is dramatic. OK, I am having a difficult time drawing analogies to the music we listen to on CD versus say cassettes or vinyl. The waveform for analog music is continuous if displayed on a graph. Music in the forms of ones and zeroes getting converted to analog is what escapes me. How doe the reproduction of the sound of a guitar and drums get unscrambled from the digital ones and zeroes? I get that the sampling rate captures 44,100 pieces of information per a second (44.1kHz rate) of a music passage, but what is the information stored in that 1/44,100th of second? Playback is at 44.1 kHz per a second I assume ( on a CD's WAV file format). The human ear doe not pick up the 1/44,100ths of a second "quantized" sound pulses. It just hears a continuum.

Joined: Jun 5 2007
Word of advice....

If anyone is a big collector like me and bought a few box sets/poster combinations.. do yourself a favor. Open the poster container and make sure what you ordered is in there.

There's 1 poster left available to buy onlne... you can't add more than 1 to the cart.
I decided to open mine tonight.
Suffice to say, the 4" and 3" containers I have, which should have multiple posters, only had 1 each.
Nervous, scared and terrified doesn't begin to describe the butterflies in the stomach or stomach acid reflux in my throat...
since they've been sitting in my closet unopened and uninspected since July.

Word to the wise... check to make sure you got what you ordered.

Called customer service. Suffice to say, this has to go higher for any hope of resolution. Not how I wanted to start Christmas... check what you ordered... at least I checked now and not 5 years from now. But still...
my faith is w/ Dr. Rhino or someone, to help.

Joined: Jan 24 2011
Audio inspector

Audio inspector is the name of the software I was using. It makes some quick general assessments of the file and then starts to deeply analyze from the beginning. It takes a couple of minutes just to get through 15 seconds of a track, which is all I let it do as I didn't have much time. So keep in mind that I think those numbers are for the first 15 seconds. However, I coukd see and zoom into the entire file.

It was immediately clear that the HD file was significantly narrower from top to bottom, indicating no gain (I don't know the technical terms for most of this, so I'm assuming yours is correct) or else much less gain had been applied to that file. Since everything I read indicates that the primary purpose for applying dynamic compression is to make room for gain, I believe that little or no dynamic range compression was used on the HD file (at least compared to the 16-bit file). The CD file on the other hand appears to use almost all the available amplitude range from top to bottom. Keep in mind that the -10db and -15dn peak numbers (and the other numbers as well) I referred to may be for just the first 15 seconds.

One Man's picture
Joined: May 17 2011

Right, "make-up gain" is a post-compression volume increase that presumably brings the peak up to 0 dB (or wherever the engineer chooses). It's really odd that they chose -15 dB and -10 dB for the HD and CD files, respectively. That headroom (relatively huge) serves no purpose.

So, how did you know the CD files were more dynamically compressed than the HD files?

rrot's picture
Joined: Oct 3 2009
I expect they have to cater to consumer expectations.

That's where my bet is too. Sadly.

"Why do I have to turn *this* CD up louder than my other discs?" is a question that often (not always) can be answered "because it was better engineered."

Joined: Jan 24 2011
One Man - Peaks

Not really, no. When dynamic range compression is applied, not only do they reduce the difference between the loudest and softest amplitudes, they also then have room to increase the amplitude over the entire range, so that at a given volume setting on your volume knob the volume of the music is louder than it would have been - the loudest sound is louder, the softest sound is louder, and the average sound is louder, than it would have been compared to the same signals prior to dynamic compression and raising the amplitude. This is why dynamic range compression is important in the "loudness wars" in commercial releases for radio. They compress the range, and then have room to make the whole range louder without going over peak and clipping. When you look at the visual representation of the sound from the HD file compared to the 16-bit file, the HD file is "smaller" from top to bottom - it is not as loud, but if you were to analyze it, you would find that the DIFFERENCE between the highest peaks and smallest peaks are, relative to each other, greater. So, while the -10db peak of the CD is louder than the -15db peak of the HD file, it is the CD that has had dynamic range compression applied so that they can then raise the amplitude of the entire signal by some percentage, making the peak volume of the CD louder than the peak volume of the HD file (and the average, and the softest sound as well). When the dynamic range compression is applied the DIFFERENCES between the amplitudes of loud and soft are made smaller - the percentage change is not the same across the spectrum of amplitudes, as the "average" amplitude will not have a change applied (that's a simplification, not exact, and also I'm not sure if it would be the mean or the median or some other midway point that remains unchanged). When they subsequently make the entire signal louder, the amplitude increase is percentage-wise the same across the board. THAT transformation DOES raise the average amplitude. Does that make sense?

Obviously, none of this is inherent to either 16-bit or HD 24-bit. It could be applied to either. For some reason they apply it to the 16-bit file, probably because a lot of people don't like it when a CD seems like the volume is too low compared to other CD's they have. In other words, I expect they have to cater to consumer expectations.