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Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

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{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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Hi Def Recordings? Are they worth it?

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  • #16
    BluRay v. std. DVD

    Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
    I said I believe because I cannot be sure if I am really listening to true DSD recordings or not when doing a DBT. ...... When we compare other HiRez formats, I am not sure if we are really listening to the actual bits because ....
    Surely from a marketing perspective, SACD must be tweaked to sound different/better. Who would buy BluRay if the image quality was indistinguishable between BluRay and DVD regardless of the technical arguments advanced by the PR boys.

    Comment


    • #17
      Am I hearing what I am hearing?

      We've identified a tiny, cash-rich sub-sub-sector of the CD market who are susceptible to buzz words like 'high definition', '96k recording', '32 bit' and similar terminology words that they barely understand.

      Of course those remasters were made to sound different to the original. They had to sound different to sell! If you want a sound that is as close to what the artists originally laid down, then IMHO stick with the original CD issue.
      The reference SACD that I mentioned was Emi Fujita: Camomile Best Audio which was reviewed by hifinews UK as a pukka recording. And today I listened to DMP Does DSD which was releases in 1999, the same year the SACD format was released. What a contrast! Anyone who listen to these two SACD would readily identify the Emi Fujita as a DSD recording compared to the DMP.

      The DMP Does DSD sounded comfortable and relaxing while the Emi is a mixed presentation. The voice seemed to be made to sparkle while the instruments sounded perfect without feeling fatigue. They may have recorded the vocal and the instruments separately. The instruments sound genuine.

      Anyway, the point I am trying to make here is did I fell prey to the marketers. Looking at the quotes above that would be a resounding YES!

      But that didn't mean DSD cannot be superior. The best clarity and decay of instruments including the micro details that I have heard were from SACD recordings including Emi Fujita's.

      Originally posted by HUG-1 View Post
      Surely from a marketing perspective, SACD must be tweaked to sound different/better. ..
      Maybe the reissues but those genuine DSD recording sounded neutral. DMP does DSD is one of them.

      ST

      Comment


      • #18
        "Pukka recording"

        Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
        The reference SACD that I mentioned was Emi Fujita: Camomile Best Audio which was reviewed by hifinews UK as a pukka recording. ...
        A "pukka recording"? What sort of gangster talk is that?

        You are probably kidding yourself. Bet you frequency response is not the same. Checked it? What possible explanation can you suggest for the marvellous improvement in sound? Same microphones?

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
          Until someone can show concrete evidence that the SACD which was recorded and mastered in DSD played in true DSD player (Unlike the Universal Oppo, or some Yamaha or Arcam using DSD to PCM conversion technology) and a standard 16 bit 44.1khz played with a true 16bit 44.1khz CD players that is not utilizing 1 bit converter technology, will sound identical under a DBT and until then I would like to believe that SACD or some other HiRez format sound better than the conventional Cd format. At least that was the case with my Marantz player.

          ST
          You're entitled to believe it if you want to. But why should people disbelieve it bear the onus of proof? Shouldn't the onus be on those (like you) who believe there's a big difference? Because if there is such a difference, it should be easy to demonstrate. Also, it's easier to prove the existence of a positive than a negative.

          Also, think of it this way. If I were you, I would prefer not to believe it. Why? Because that way I would have access to a much wider range of recorded music without having to be concerned that any of it is significantly compromised in quality because of the recording format. That way I have greater listening pleasure and more things to listen to. That's why I'm in this hobby. Why are you in it?

          Comment


          • #20
            Flip-Flopping

            Originally posted by HUG-1 View Post
            A "pukka recording"? What sort of gangster talk is that?

            You are probably kidding yourself. Bet you frequency response is not the same. Checked it? What possible explanation can you suggest for the marvellous improvement in sound? Same microphones?
            I am just quoting the English editor of UK’s Hifinews magazine. See October 2009 issue, pg 36 or maybe page 39. Looks like they have now resorted to tough and aggressive language for marketing.

            Bet you frequency response is not the same. Checked it?
            That’s what I intend to do but I do not have a computer or an application that could extract the digital signal of the SACD to make a FR chart. Even if I could what good it will be when the sound card and the sampling are limited by the software and hardware. Nor would it prove anything since human cannot hear anything above 20kHz and there is nothing much musical above the 10kHz frequency. So I am left with just using my ears.

            What I have is a very fine DSD recording made in 1999 which was recorded live with no editing because at that time DSD recorder had no editing tool. The SACD and CD version are level matched and yet the difference is still audible. However, there could be some manipulation by the producer to present the SACD to sound superior. It could be simply be a marketing gimmick. I am leaving that option open but how about another SACD recording which was made to show the difference in the Microphones? They made the best possible recordings of a Steinway piano to show how the different mics and position changes the sound. I believe the CD and SACD versions to be neutral because the purpose of the recording is not about the different formats but about their microphones’ capability. This recording would be a good candidate for a DBT. Anyone here is welcome for a DBT at my place? If I am proven to be wrong I will pay for the drinks.

            Meanwhile, ever wondered why more and more recording engineers choose higher resolution to record and master since it is economically and scientifically proven that 16 bit 44.1kHz should be enough. Surely, the marketing people are aware that 99.99% couldn’t tell the difference between 128 MP2 and CD. So why the extra cost by the money conscious commercial world of recording?

            Interestingly, my own experience contradict some of the DBT tests that I took. I have taken the audibility test and clearly couldn’t tell the difference of less than 3dB. For one reason or another, I could sense a slight shift in the center image at different volume. It is only recently I knew that this is due to channel imbalance due to volume control design that sometimes just cannot output exact loudness in both channels at different loudness level. However, the design spec of the cheapest Alps volume control ( the brand that is used in my preamplifier but mine is the higher model so the difference must be less than 2dB) is less than 2dB between channels and yet I could hear the shift when listening to music. So under controlled test I failed to detect 2 dB but while listening music I could detect them easily. How do you explain that?




            Originally posted by EricW View Post
            You're entitled to believe it if you want to. But why should people disbelieve it bear the onus of proof? Shouldn't the onus be on those (like you) who believe there's a big difference? Because if there is such a difference, it should be easy to demonstrate. Also, it's easier to prove the existence of a positive than a negative.

            Also, think of it this way. If I were you, I would prefer not to believe it. Why? Because that way I would have access to a much wider range of recorded music without having to be concerned that any of it is significantly compromised in quality because of the recording format. That way I have greater listening pleasure and more things to listen to. That's why I'm in this hobby. Why are you in it?


            Yes, I am aware that he who asserts shall prove. But what am I to do that when disbelievers do not even want to participate to give feedback when sample clips posted here in this forum. What we have here is a chasm between believers and non believers of HiRez and both camps could not positively prove or disprove the other. At best I would call it Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam asserted by both camps.

            Lately, you have been saying that you can’t hear any difference between CD players or amplifiers or Hi Def but you have also stated that quite the opposite 6 years ago when you said:-

            Originally posted by EricW View Post
            ....... However, I will say that the mhdt Havana DAC (bought, now that I think of it, on the basis of reading Jeff's review of another mhdt product, the Paradisea +) is really an exceptionally musical piece of gear, for a digital product. To give you an idea, I ran my Mac straight into the USB input on my "second system" amp, the Aura Note (which is a very nice and musical little piece of equipment) and then into the mhdt DAC and the Aux input of the Aura Note, and it was absolutely no contest. The Aura Note, which had sounded fine on its own, was clearly more harsh, edgy and unmusical compared to the mhdt.

            In a bout of what might be audiophile craziness, I then added a Bel Canto USB-Link. It did make a further improvement in definition and clarity, but the basic smooth and easy and musical - yet highly revealing - character of the Havana was unchanged. Maybe it's the non-OS architecture, maybe it's the buffer tube, maybe it's good design overall: but it's head and shoulders above most CD players I've heard. It probably sounds closer to your Rega than you might imagine possible.

            Eric
            And here, after 6 years you have rediscovered the truth:-

            Originally posted by EricW View Post
            ...I haven't heard either the Music Hall or the Audiolab though as has been repeated here ad nauseam Harbeths will work well with any competently designed amp, and the audible differences between amplifiers, while possibly noticeable, will not be hugely significant..
            From “heads and shoulders” to “not hugely significant”. Something must have happened within these 6 years. Which could be:-

            1) Technology has progressed so advance that there is no longer any difference between different equipments; or
            2) Age has caught and the hearing has deteriorated; or
            3) The speaker is broken that you just couldn’t hear any difference.

            Maybe, one day I too will be enlightened too but until then prove me wrong like how I was proven wrong for believing cables made a difference. It may interest you to notice that the research which was intended to disprove the existence of audible difference between SACD and DVD-A in the Listening Comparison Test between DSD and High Resolution PCM (24-bit / 176.4 kHz) convention paper did actually find 4 out 145 people could tell the difference. That’s 2.7% of the samples population could hear the difference!

            Now I hope you can see better why I used the word “believe” instead of just arguing it made a difference. It easier to always say “don’t know” and “no difference” to find an easy way out. Instead of being cynical and telling me to believe what I want to believe I hope you could positively prove that no one could hear the difference. But you are going to tell that he who asserts must prove, right?

            ST

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
              Lately, you have been saying that you can’t hear any difference between CD players or amplifiers or Hi Def...
              Not true. Read my (recent) posts with care and you'll find I say no such thing. I just don't take a position one way or another, because although I believe I could probably hear some difference if I tried hard enough (strained hard enough), I no longer believe those differences are significant in a musical sense. They are at best minor and don't much affect my listening enjoyment. So I don't want to be so adamant as to say there are no differences. Perhaps there are. I just no longer care about minor differences and don't want to waste time and money on them.

              As for my old posts waxing rhapsodic about differences between DACs and such, did I hear a difference then? Sure I did. But did that difference really matter? No, probably not. But, conditioned audiophile that I was, I got all excited that I could hear any difference at all, and attributed earth-shattering significance to something that was probably pretty minor.

              So, I don't accept any of the three explanations you propose. My hearing's fine, my speakers work, and technology hasn't changed all that much. What has changed is my attitude, my mindset. As a consequence, I enjoy music even more, fret a good deal less, and save a considerable amount of money. All good things.

              Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post

              you are going to tell that he who asserts must prove, right?

              ST
              Right.

              Comment


              • #22
                Your turn to disprove the AES papers were wrong.

                Originally posted by EricW View Post
                Not true. Read my (recent) posts with care and you'll find I say no such thing. I just don't take a position one way or another, because although I believe I could probably hear some difference if I tried hard enough (strained hard enough), I no longer believe those differences are significant in a musical sense. They are at best minor and don't much affect my listening enjoyment. So I don't want to be so adamant as to say there are no differences. Perhaps there are. I just no longer care about minor differences and don't want to waste time and money on them.

                As for my old posts waxing rhapsodic about differences between DACs and such, did I hear a difference then? Sure I did. But did that difference really matter? No, probably not. But, conditioned audiophile that I was, I got all excited that I could hear any difference at all, and attributed earth-shattering significance to something that was probably pretty minor.

                So, I don't accept any of the three explanations you propose. My hearing's fine, my speakers work, and technology hasn't changed all that much. What has changed is my attitude, my mindset. As a consequence, I enjoy music even more, fret a good deal less, and save a considerable amount of money. All good things.



                Right.

                My friend, I just referred to you the Audio Engineering Convention paper which actually showed that 4 out 145 could tell the difference. Now it's your turn.

                And I am not telling the difference is phenomenal. It is good that you are enjoying music and to enjoy music you dont even need the finest loudspeakers, amplifier or CD player. As millions would attest to that. For them MP3 from a cheap speakers is more than enough.

                ST

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                  My friend, I just referred to you the Audio Engineering Convention paper which actually showed that 4 out 145 could tell the difference. Now it's your turn.

                  ST
                  Do you mind quoting and providing a pinpoint reference to the part of the paper you're referring to? I've read it, and it seems that we are interpreting it very differently.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Barriers to entry into recording ...

                    Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                    ...Meanwhile, ever wondered why more and more recording engineers choose higher resolution to record and master since it is economically and scientifically proven that 16 bit 44.1kHz should be enough. Surely, the marketing people are aware that 99.99% couldn’t tell the difference between 128 MP2 and CD. So why the extra cost by the money conscious commercial world of recording?...
                    As I recently commented somewhere here, the actual cost of recording at 'higher resolution' compared with 'standard resolution' with modern computer gear is actually zero. I mean, a fancy multi-channel all singing, all dancing 192k computer sound card of impeccable performance (of the performance that would cost $100,000 just ten years ago) can be purchased for about $150 and editing recording software for not much more. So anyone can now set thmselves up as a state of the art music recording/producing engineer for almost no cost. Many do, working solely from their back bedroom, which is the normal way pop music is created these days.

                    Given the financial/skill/legal/commercial barriers to entry into the recording business are now, in effect zero, why wouldn't you want to give yourself a commercial leg-up proclaiming the cutting edge technology you've aquired (for almost free) as this will surely give you a marketing edge? If you've got the technology why not use it?*. But I'd rather have the standard, proven technology and a wide artist base than strange niche music.

                    *One hidden down side. Increasing the bit rate means that the PC will have to move tons of data around (in real time). It will take longer to apply effects (eq etc.). It will take longer and be more risky backing-up. And actually delivering that high-def audio to the consumer in a format that he can actually use will almost certainly mean that it has to be down-sampled before distribution to him. A lot of grief for what?
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Blame it on the chip makers?

                      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                      .....Given the financial/skill/legal/commercial barriers to entry into the recording business are now, in effect zero, why wouldn't you want to give yourself a commercial leg-up proclaiming the cutting edge technology you've aquired (for almost free) as this will surely give you a marketing edge? If you've got the technology why not use it?*...
                      OK. I cant argue with that. Though I dont see the economics reasons for the chip makers to make over engineered spec'ed chips that exceed human hearing threshold.

                      Anyway, I am not discounting the commercial aspect of the use of an over engineered such as the 32bit 356kHz but I am unable to see eye to eye that there could be no whatever audible difference between the Hi Rez. As I have posted earlier, 4 individuals actually exceeded the critical probability threshold with one individual scoring a perfect 20 over 20 with vocal recording. Why vocal which only got limited range far beyond the limits of redbook? What gives?

                      ST

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                        ... to enjoy music you dont even need the finest loudspeakers, amplifier or CD player. As millions would attest to that. For them MP3 from a cheap speakers is more than enough.

                        ST
                        True to a point, but also a reductio ad absurdem argument. I'm not saying nothing matters. I'm saying that differences that are exceedingly subtle and difficult to identify reliably probably don't matter. Not quite the same thing as what you are suggesting.

                        The reason Harbeth speakers make sense to me is that the difference is not subtle - it's easy to hear and significantly improves my enjoyment of recorded music and speech. I don't have to imagine that it's real. To me, that's a different kind of difference.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Relevance to musical enjoyment (outside the lab.)

                          Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                          As I have posted earlier, 4 individuals actually exceeded the critical probability threshold with one individual scoring a perfect 20 over 20 with vocal recording. Why vocal which only got limited range far beyond the limits of redbook? What gives?

                          ST
                          Assuming you're characterizing the results correctly, that means that less than 3% of the population can reliably identify a difference. And even for the 3% that can do so (for the sake of argument, let's assume that's correct), there's still the question of whether the ability to perceive a difference is actually important in terms of enjoyment.

                          The paper at the beginning of this thread posits that with certain types of signals and at certain gain settings, a few listeners might perceive differences relating to the different noise floors of the two media. But that doesn't mean, even for the 2 to 3% who might reliably be able to detect this difference (under certain conditions), that this has any bearing on normal listening enjoyment of a normal music signal at normal levels in a normal listening room. The evidence as I read it suggests that it doesn't.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                            ...ever wondered why more and more recording engineers choose higher resolution to record and master since it is economically and scientifically proven that 16 bit 44.1kHz should be enough
                            The answer to this is fundamental - it is desirable that the recording should be captured and post-produced with standards an order of magnitude better than the final delivery format. This is an increasingly difficult task in a world where people are thinking about delivery at 24/192 and more.

                            However, it is fortunate that there is sufficient dynamic range with 24 bits to satisfy the needs of the production process - but I remain convinced that 16/44 is quite adequate as a home delivery format.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              My challenge to you ....

                              Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                              What I have is a very fine DSD recording made in 1999 which was recorded live with no editing because at that time DSD recorder had no editing tool. The SACD and CD version are level matched and yet the difference is still audible. However, there could be some manipulation by the producer to present the SACD to sound superior. It could be simply be a marketing gimmick. I am leaving that option open but how about another SACD recording which was made to show the difference in the Microphones? They made the best possible recordings of a Steinway piano to show how the different mics and position changes the sound. I believe the CD and SACD versions to be neutral because the purpose of the recording is not about the different formats but about their microphones’ capability. This recording would be a good candidate for a DBT. Anyone here is welcome for a DBT at my place? If I am proven to be wrong I will pay for the drinks.
                              If you can get these two SACDs sent to me I am willing to wager that I can convert them to 16/44 and you will find such conversions indistinguishable from the originals - and that includes the conversion from DSD to a PCM-based format!

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Age related hearing and chip marketing issues

                                Originally posted by EricW View Post
                                Assuming you're characterizing the results correctly, that means that less than 3% of the population can reliably identify a difference. And even for the 3% that can do so (for the sake of argument, let's assume that's correct), there's still the question of whether the ability to perceive a difference is actually important in terms of enjoyment.

                                The paper at the beginning of this thread posits that with certain types of signals and at certain gain settings, a few listeners might perceive differences relating to the different noise floors of the two media. But that doesn't mean, even for the 2 to 3% who might reliably be able to detect this difference (under certain conditions), that this has any bearing on normal listening enjoyment of a normal music signal at normal levels in a normal listening room. The evidence as I read it suggests that it doesn't.
                                On this very point, I'm not sure about the age of the listening panel (and hence, how extended their high frequency hearing was - I assume it was checked before any testing was undertaken: true?) but I suggest that most 'audiophiles' who could be interested in buying 'hi-def' recordings at a price premium are over 35 years old. Probably over 45 years old.

                                We know from audiological text books that human high frequency hearing acuity diminishes with age. At 54, I would not expect to be able to hear above 15 or 16kHz at a maximum - 12kHz would be more typical for my age. I can safely conclude that not one single audiophile of age 40+ can hear 20kHz (at a safe replay level equivalent to, say, 1kHz) - and we'd have to search hard to find one who could hear anything above 16kHz or so. Roll the clock forward to age 60 and few if any can hear above 10kHz*.

                                With this reality of hearing frequency extension and known reduction with age in hearing sensitivity, who exactly is the target market for 'hi-definition' recordings? The essence of marketing is to identify a market sub-set and then to milk it. But if the market is utterly minuscule to start with and diminishing year by year and with a product theoretical advantage that is only detectable by the very young (who are not in fact the target market) or at best 3% (of what? the general population? a carefully selected group of predisposed buyers from the target demography?) surely hi-def audio will fail as a business venture.

                                Regarding your question .....

                                Though I dont see the economics reasons for the chip makers to make over engineered spec'ed chips that exceed human hearing threshold.
                                you display an naivety about how business actually works! My past life was in the chip business, at NEC. First, we (I mean, NEC Tokyo) invested billions in chip making equipment: semiconductor foundries as they were called. To recoup the capital investment our own marketing dept. dreamed-up new ideas for chips which our technicians designed and fabricated. They appeared in the general catalogue. Secondly, as the lines were not running 24/7 there was spare capacity overnight and if you conceived a chip and the sales volume was worthwhile, we'd design it and run it on the overnight shift. Providing you paid for the design (or yourself invested in the design tools, delivering us the mask-code according to our in-house rules) and bought enough chips, we'd gladly make it for you. If you couldn't sell the chips on to your end costomer we didn't care; not our problem: providing that you settled the bill. I was personally responsible for the largest custom-chip user in Europe at the time.

                                Perhaps the closest co-operation was between the chip makers and third party consumer electronics companies (like Sony). The chip makers and these bulk buyers are deeply embedded and working in strict confidence on products which will only come to light in years ahead. As we know from Intel and Apple, he who controls the chips game controls a financial fortune.

                                *I notice ever more evidence from published speaker frequency response curves that hifi speakers are coming to market with cranked-up top ends. Is this a reflection of the designer's age, or the target customer's age (both suffering age related HF loss) or both? What may sound right to a 50+ year old designer may sound extremely brittle to a younger listener. As speaker designers age they must be more and more aware of the consequences of their diminishing HF response.
                                Alan A. Shaw
                                Designer, owner
                                Harbeth Audio UK

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