My old music library sounds tired with new gear

I just recently setup my first desktop setup that goes further than the typical PC sound setup. Still nothing that special: PC > Atom DAC > Atom AMP > Edifier BT1700s | Fidelio X2HR
I did this because I moved my other Cambridge Audio 2.1 setup to my dedicated gaming rig and I needed to get some new speakers for the daily driver and well, I want to start using a little more of a “grown-up” setup. I have a significant to me, 30+ Gig mp3 library that I’ve ripped over the years (a lot of years) and I justified my little splurge on new gear by telling myself I could get back into my music and perhaps pick up my musical journey where I left off. So, I setup Foobar loaded up my library and spent some time reliving my past - the thing is the tracks don’t sound as good (quality) as I remember and I swear that I get a better experience listing via Soptify, Amazon HD, Bandcamp, SoundCloud etc.

Is it that I just made junk rips (128 bit MP3) back in the day, or is it that my new playback gear is just that much better?

Is there anything I can do to help my old tunes? I am not sure I even have all the CD media anymore after all these years and a couple kids who have picked through and taken what they wanted etc. plus, all the time it would take to re-rip them at a better quality.

I guess I could just go look for, and selectively purchase again, the titles I like (assuming I can even find them) in HI-Res formats and continue my musical journey, only purchasing Hi quality moving forward? But, is buying music to keep locally even a thing anymore, or is it better to just subscribe to a service?

I can’t be the only boomer who’s experienced this Deja Voodoo (yes, a 38 Special reference). What have others done?

Maybe your old music library was just tired In your head already or it could just be that your so-called junk rips lost the dynamics by being a compressed format and not lossless. If you care about owning your music then going out to used cd stores and finding the music you like and topping them might be the way to go. But if you don’t care about ownership and just want access but don’t mind the fee subscription services are great for that. But you can do a mixture of both. I personally own the music I care about most but buying albums every week just so I can hear a fresh new song every week is expensive especially with my taste in music so I tend to pass on that front

If they are 128k rips that you did, then sadly yes, they are garbage. Even entry level gear today will be revealing to the point of showing you each and every minute imperfection.

CDs are dirt cheap, you can leave a charity 2nd hand store with 20 CDs for $30 dollars. You can also find just about any CD you want online for about $5 dollars.

One shortcut you can do to upgrade your tired 128k files…

Apple Music allows you to let their cloud scan your local library and then holds them in their cloud but as higher resolution 256 ma4 files. The equivalent of 320 mp3. So a substantial upgrade in quality and it’s all automated as long as it can identify the local file you have. You can get the service for a year and then cancel it but you will get the overwhelming majority of your files upgraded for that (I think $25).

It’s still not going to be great for gear higher than where you are now, you’re basically kicking the can up the road, but it will be a substantial upgrade from where you are now without much hassle on your end.

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Don’t some Dac’s upscale source material?..If not then just stream your music from one of the HD music providers, Amazon HD was/is the easiest option for me and I never looked back :+1:

128kbps is actually a bit on the bad side. it’s not even one of those things where audiophiles nit pick the smallest things becasue 128kbps vs 320kbps is a pretty major difference. the 128 vs your streaming might indeed be worse quality. I don’t know if i would say that u have to buy all your music/discs again but a simple way to check the difference is buy one track that you have in 128 (buy the 320 version) and you can hear the difference immediately. from there it depends on how old your music is that you might want to just buy the music again to rip or maybe you could just stick to streaming

Ever heard of the term GIGO? garbage in garbage out. Upscalers move noise and artifacts to a higher (inaudible range) they don’t add detail so it’s not a panacea.

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Agreed with previous posters re: streaming. If you want to rebuild your physical library, though, used CDs can be had on the cheap (eBay, thrift stores, etc.). Quality ripping software can be had for free as well. For example, the music playing app MusicBee has a pretty good ripping to FLAC feature in it.

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Back in the day (long time ago) i noticed i made the same “mistake”.
Had a nice amount of *mp3 files from the way back on hard drives.
Some 320 and tons of 128bit or worse and after first pair of good speakers…
They all became trash. Music sounded so bad and nothing like moods and feelings i had years ago.

Never had a big cd collection but after streaming came along. Left those as well.

Yep, I amassed a library that had a lot of CDs, but also included a lot of Apple’s 128kbps aac files. Those 128s did get upgraded to 256s after awhile, but there is still a noticeable difference between those and lossless.

Thanks to everyone - really great input and several good options to consider. I was pretty sure it was that my sources were sub-par, and that’s been pretty much confirmed so, I will look for a few of my fav’s to download lossless versions, and I will check into re-ripping a few as well and then make some decisions on how to replace those I absolutely need in order to satisfy my nostalgic urges.

Kicking myself for not caring for and keeping my collection everytime i look up a cd on the database and hoffman.

I started my hard drive music collecting around 2009. Ripped my collection as ALAC (same as FLAC) and started buying online. Mostly MP3 320K and AAC 260K (iTunes). As my gear got nicer, I noticed that many songs were not pleasant to listen to. Much of that was just bad recordings. But also, I had some 128K files and they were unlistenable. I re-bought those songs (maybe a few dozen) in 320K/260K format and they were just fine.

I must admit though that I am not an audiophile and definitely don’t have golden ears. I can not tell the difference between lossy or lossless files if both are good recordings.


I can hear a difference between a streaming atmos movie and the bluray. The little hi-res “audiophile” examples i do have, man goosebumps.