I have two CDs with two different masters of the same song. One is older, has significantly more dynamic range intact, but also clearly used an older AtoD encoder and the highs roll off pretty sharply at 20 kHz. The second is newer, is brickwalled, but also clearly used a newer AtoD encoder and the highs extend a little farther, rolling off about 21 kHz.
I understand that this slightest of increase in frequency response will be completely lost over the air or on a web stream.
However, I run all my rips through Stereo Tool's Declipper and Natural Dynamics before saving the final file for use on-air. Additionally, I have been given the impression more modern AtoD and DtoA encoders and decoders sound "better" than the first generation.
My question is, would the restored dynamics and the more modern master be a better final file than the original dynamics and the older master?
I realize I'm likely splitting hairs... but like many of us, I'm pretty obsessive about sound.
P.S. - Although I can certainly see differences between the original dynamics file and the artificially restored dynamics file, I have a hard time hearing one or the other as "better," even if perhaps they sound slightly "different." It's hard to hear which one is more "natural" or "accurate" and thus my asking which is more important: modern mastering or no clipping in the first place.