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The truth about high-resolution audio compared with std. CD 44k?

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  • The truth about high-resolution audio compared with std. CD 44k?

    This thread is concerned with audio delivery formats and ripping.

  • #2
    First and foremost: recording quality is what matters

    This is somewhat of a complex subject because, as I see (hear) it, there are several factors that appear to affect SQ, whether the recording is 44.1/16 or higher. All of my music is sourced from a computer (Mac Mini). It is either ripped in AIFF format from CDs (44.1/16) or downloaded from Linn Records of HD Tracks ("hi-rez").

    1. In my limited experience, I have found that the quality of the recording is first and foremost. I have 44.1/16 rips that sound stunning, and others that sound lacking to downright poor. Some of this, IMO, depends on the type of music. For example, recordings such as acoustic guitar, vocals, and the like, sound magical because they take advantage of the mid-range capabilities of my Super HL5s. That being said, I have rock rips that also sound terrific and I owe that mainly to the recordings.

    2. I have an HD Tracks download (rock) at 96/24. IMO, the quality is poor and muddy. Many of my CD rock rips sound vastly superior at 44.1/16.

    3. I have a studio master 192/24 download from Linn (classical violin / orchestra), which sounds amazing.

    4. Whether there is any noticeable SQ difference between FLAC, AIFF, Lossless and WAV is dubious. I have read comments that claim a difference. My take is that there is little if any audible difference. As long as the rip is bit accurate and MP3 or like is avoided, I believe no one really hears a difference.

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    • #3
      Nice lights and logos can make a difference to our brain (but A.S. knows that!)

      I think seeing a "96/24" or "DSD" icon light-up on your disc player/DAC can give a nice reassuring hi-rez feeling that can make the music "seem" better. Whether it IS audibly better or not, I don't know.

      I "seem" to enjoy SACDs on my new dCS player more than any other previous SACD player I've owned and usually more so than the CD versions.

      Alan showed a while back how filtered recordings of a solo violin sounded no different with several kHz cut-off the top of the frequency range. However, I continue to buy SACDs whenever I can, in preference to CDs because it justs feels like a more relaxed, freer sound with better musical flow and detail. Maybe the SACD logo has an effect on my brain's pleasure centres and my brain has ended-up associating the logo with feeling good (marketing?), leading to me preference the "sound" of SACD?

      Whether it's real or imagined, I definitely like SACD more than CD!

      Comment


      • #4
        Testing audio formats?

        If you haven't already, (just for fun) you might try "testing" one with the other on yourself and others and see if anyone can tell the difference. Again, I would not be surprised if certain CDs sound as good or even better than certain SACDs due to the nature of the music and/or the quality of the recording.

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        • #5
          Format preference

          Originally posted by QChicago View Post
          If you haven't already, (just for fun) you might try "testing" one with the other on yourself and others and see if anyone can tell the difference. Again, I would not be surprised if certain CDs sound as good or even better than certain SACDs due to the nature of the music and/or the quality of the recording.
          I have done quite a few times. Audio civilians always prefer the SACD layer, 100% of the time. And they had never heard of SACD or DSD until I told them and had no technical knowledge of electronics/loudspeakers.

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          • #6
            Customers prefer cheaper player!

            I've done the CD v SACD comparison several times for customers, using very expensive machines like Esoteric and Ayre but with different results. On each occasion, with all types of music, the customers have preferred the ( less expensive ) CD player !!!

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            • #7
              My challenge... is CD standard resolution good enough?

              ...that I can convert any hi-res material down to 16/44 and, under blind conditions, you will not be able to tell them apart with any kind of statistically valid consistency.

              Any takers?

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              • #8
                Well I can't tell the difference!

                Not me.

                Take it down further to 256 kb/s AAC or OGG or WMA or even MP3 and it would still be extremely difficult to tell.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The downgrade challenge

                  Originally posted by Pluto View Post
                  ...that I can convert any hi-res material down to 16/44 and, under blind conditions, you will not be able to tell them apart with any kind of statistically valid consistency.

                  Any takers?
                  OK, I'm up for this. Although I have my preconceptions. It would be nice if we could paste the links into your post on this thread. But that would mean all examples would have to be MP3 format. I'm not sure if the MP3 bitrate or sampling rate is fixed here on HUG for the embedded player, but I suppose 48k 320kB (or more?) may conceivably play. Thus far, all MP3s have been at 44k. Worth a try?
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Comparisons of what?

                    Aren't there two issues here?

                    1. That once above CD quality of 16/44.1 it would be difficult to hear any difference at higher definition (say 24/96). To test that either WAW files of losslessly compressed files (say ALAC or FLAC) would have to made available. As soon as you recode to a lossy format like MP3 you would be testing something else:

                    2. That once above a certain compression bitrate (say 256 kb/s) no difference could be heard between the parent file and its digitally compressed child.

                    Test 2. has been done. See

                    http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...hlight=labarum

                    or

                    http://www.audiosmile.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25890

                    Test 1. could be tried using sample files available here

                    http://www.gimell.com/catalogue.aspx...=Studio+Master

                    It is possible to hear free samples of these recordings at 16/44.1 and higher.

                    {Moderator's comment: Yes. But we have no other way of presenting side by side clips here on the HUG *unless* we use the inbuilt Mp3 player.

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                    • #11
                      Invitation?

                      [QUOTE=Pluto;15062 Any takers?[/QUOTE]

                      Perhaps someone would like to invite this (lady?) ...

                      http://audioiconoclast.blogspot.com/

                      the best hobbies should be left to men ;-0

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                      • #12
                        The lores-hires Challenge - how I think it has to work

                        I suspect that any attempt to play anything via the HUG board software will render any test invalid; it has to be files that you download and play yourself. We can work out the logistics of this after we know how many takers we are dealing with.

                        One or more of you will need to provide me with some files that you believe to be a top example of the state of the hi-res art. I would suggest no higher than 24/96 as otherwise the data volume becomes huge and quite a lot of kit only functions up to 96kHz. I will convert those files to 16/44 using methods that I will not fully disclose for the time being. I will then (probably) place the converted data within a hi-res wrapper at the same sample rate as the original* and send it either to individuals or for distribution via this board, however we agree to handle the logistics.

                        There has to be a degree of honesty for this test to be of use because it is always possible to examine the files forensically to determine which is which - at the simplest level, the hi-res stuff will contain programme-related information > 22kHz which a file at a sampling rate of 44.1kHz cannot. The challenge is, can you tell the hi-res material from 16/44 by listening alone.

                        * The point of the wrapper is to ensure that we are testing only audible differences between the files, not your equipment's ability to play one format better than another.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Lo res at 48k?

                          If the HiRes files are 24/96 wouldn't it be more appropriate to make the LoRes files 16/48 rather than 16/44.1? The downsampling is a simpler computational process, and we exclude other possible degradations to the LowRes files.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Sound format test

                            As the author of the test linked to by Brian (Labarum) I find this an interesting proposition and would like to participate. However I agree with his comment that presenting the samples as MP3 will invalidate the test as you've immediately introduced another very significant variable.

                            There are some other precautions that need to be taken. The 16/44 data needs to be presented as a 24/96 file so that are visually the same. You also need to consider that the true 24/96 file is likely to have considerable content above 20kHz. Anyone with a file editor can load them up and take a peek. So a great idea so long as there is some basic blind test housekeeping.

                            I'd say make files available for download by the listener.

                            Rob.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Reducing to the lowest common denominator

                              Originally posted by Labarum View Post
                              If the HiRes files are 24/96 wouldn't it be more appropriate to make the LoRes files 16/48 rather than 16/44.1?
                              The whole point of the exercise is that we reduce the hi-res to the lowest common denominator; 16/44.

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