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Is High-Res Music a Bad Idea?


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Everyone here should read this article, and take from it what you will.

 

I downloaded the sample .wav tracks, and could hear faint clicks and high-frequency noise suggestive of the IM distortion the author describes.

 

24/192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed

 

 

Some me months ago, I got off the 24/192 bandwagon. What got me off was the realization that a badly, poorly or indifferently produced album will not be made better by 24/192 processing. I have ECM and Harmonia Mundi CDs that sound no worse than their hi res equivalents. Here's the next stunner, I have 256 Kbps itunes downloads that sound no different to the same music in 24/192 format. As you can see from my signature, my system is fairly good. It's not just me, discerning guests who have listened say that, to them, there is no detectable difference. To me, the major differences in quality come from the musicians, the recording studio and the care taken in reproducing the consumer end product. I do have to say that, no matter the production values, down below 256 Kbps, I can certainly tell the difference in output quality.

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Everyone here should read this article, and take from it what you will.

 

I downloaded the sample .wav tracks, and could hear faint clicks and high-frequency noise suggestive of the IM distortion the author describes.

 

24/192 Music Downloads are Very Silly Indeed

 

That article has been around for sometime afaik.

 

Someone should write an article that calls out the lack of provenance info about the "hi-res" products.

Let every eye ear negotiate for itself and trust no agent. (Shakespeare)

The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas)

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It's already an old article. There are plenty of other "experts" who disagree and can explain why. Each one of us is free to pick whatever expert we want to believe.

 

A far as I'm concerned, it's irrelevant:

 

Some of my hi-res PCM and DSD files sound amazing. Better than their vinyl and CD equivalents. Is it the fact that it's high res, or just the mastering? I don't care!

 

I'm certainly not hearing distortion when playing back these files. Just really good sound.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I don't think high-res is a bad idea, it's just that few recordings are made with the care needed to take advantage of it. A well made recording sounds wonderful in high-res, a poorly made one doesn't. It is getting to the point that I will only buy high-res from certain labels, most others are OK in Redbook.

Auralic Aries G2, Ayre QX-5 Twenty, Ayre KX-5 Twenty, Ayre VX-5 Twenty, Revel Ultima Studio2, Iconoclast speaker cables & interconnects, RealTraps acoustic treatments, Sonore opticalModule (X2)

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I don't think high-res is a bad idea, it's just that few recordings are made with the care needed to take advantage of it. A well made recording sounds wonderful in high-res, a poorly made one doesn't. It is getting to the point that I will only buy high-res from certain labels, most others are OK in Redbook.

 

Indeed.

 

It's all down to the performance and recording quality. I also avoid the ludicrous claims of upsampling, and will only purchase DSD or PCM files in their native format.

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I've obtained high-res and Redbook versions of a handful of my favorite albums, making sure that they were using the same masters (i.e., trying not to compare a new remastered version against one using an older master). In listening carefully and trying my best to hear any differences between them, I have generally been unable to do so. The few instances where I thought I might be able to pick out which was the high-res version, the differences between it and the Redbook version were far too small to justify the added expense associated with the high-res version.

 

I guess for me it comes down to two main questions:

1. Can I reliably identify the difference between high-res and Redbook?

2. If so, is the difference great enough to justify the added cost of high-res?

 

At least so far, the answers to both questions have been "no." That means that high-res appears to be a bad idea for me.

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Indeed.

 

It's all down to the performance and recording quality.

 

Don't know about "all," but it sure helps.

 

I also avoid the ludicrous claims of upsampling....

 

?

 

Have a look at some actual graphs: SRC Comparisons These show differences among sample rate conversion applications (generally for the pro community, though there are some consumer apps there) meant to run on computers. See how varied they are? If you're familiar with this stuff, you can see all sorts of distortions in some of them, while the performance of others is excellent. And those are full fledged applications. For RedBook fed to a typical DAC, we're talking about sample rate conversion and filtering done by a little firmware program that can fit on a commodity chip. So the differences you see at that web site, and the differences between those applications and the little bit of firmware in your DAC, may result in differences in sound. I wouldn't call that a "ludicrous claim," unless I'm misunderstanding you, which is certainly possible.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Don't know about "all," but it sure helps.

 

 

 

?

 

Have a look at some actual graphs: SRC Comparisons These show differences among sample rate conversion applications (generally for the pro community, though there are some consumer apps there) meant to run on computers. See how varied they are? If you're familiar with this stuff, you can see all sorts of distortions in some of them, while the performance of others is excellent. And those are full fledged applications. For RedBook fed to a typical DAC, we're talking about sample rate conversion and filtering done by a little firmware program that can fit on a commodity chip. So the differences you see at that web site, and the differences between those applications and the little bit of firmware in your DAC, may result in differences in sound. I wouldn't call that a "ludicrous claim," unless I'm misunderstanding you, which is certainly possible.

True but all of the SRC comparisons in that link are down sampling. 96 khz to 44.1 khz.

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Computer Audiophile mobile app

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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True but all of the SRC comparisons in that link are down sampling. 96 khz to 44.1 khz.

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Computer Audiophile mobile app

 

That's right, and I would think the decimation and filtering shown there is likely, generally speaking, more difficult than the interpolation and filtering used in upsampling.

 

But it does show that performance can vary widely within this category (sample rate converters), without even including what most folks who "don't use upsampling" are listening to, sample rate conversion performed by firmware on a chip with considerably limited resources compared to the software shown at the link.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Indeed.

 

It's all down to the performance and recording quality. I also avoid the ludicrous claims of upsampling, ...

 

...

 

 

 

?

 

Have a look at some actual ...

 

By that, I was referring to the ludicrous claims of posters in the HQ Player thread claiming they can hear significant differences between RBCD format files and the same file resampled to DSD via HQP. Maybe they can, but does an objective, peer-reviewed study exist proving that DSD SQ quality is superior to the original RBCD file? I think not.

 

That's just one example, but there's more. I'm not wasting my listing them here, however.

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By that, I was referring to the ludicrous claims of posters in the HQ Player thread claiming they can hear significant differences between RBCD format files and the same file resampled to DSD via HQP. Maybe they can, but does an objective, peer-reviewed study exist proving that DSD SQ quality is superior to the original RBCD file? I think not.

 

That's just one example, but there's more. I'm not wasting my listing them here, however.

 

Just wanted to point out a detail in your first paragraph - since your DAC is internally "resampling to DSD" (or similar low-bit-depth, high-sample-rate format), the comparison is actually between a RBCD file resampled via a computer chip and firmware, versus a RBCD file resampled via external software.

 

I'm not aware of any peer-reviewed study indicating (I think for the sort of thing we're talking about, that's a better word than "proving") SQ quality from external software resampling is superior to that from an internal DAC chip. On the other hand, I'm not aware of any facts that would make this an impossibility so as to merit the term "ludicrous." As already noted, the quality of these conversions (mainly the quality of the filtering that necessarily accompanies them) varies substantially as seen on a 'scope, so it doesn't seem to me we can definitively rule out audibility.

 

Thus "unproved," at least so far as I'm aware, would be a fair term, but I think "ludicrous" probably overstates the case against.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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By that, I was referring to the ludicrous claims of posters in the HQ Player thread claiming they can hear significant differences between RBCD format files and the same file resampled to DSD via HQP. Maybe they can, but does an objective, peer-reviewed study exist proving that DSD SQ quality is superior to the original RBCD file? I think not.

 

That's just one example, but there's more. I'm not wasting my listing them here, however.

 

That's because you don't understand what's being done with HQP. HQP uses a superior upsampling software and superior (proprietary) modulators and filters. It also gives you multiple choices of each.

You can experiment and find out which combination sounds best to you on your system.

 

You think this doesn't sound better - but you are coming from a position of ignorance. It's not just about DSD - upsampling and filtering to PCM often also sounds superior with HQP.

 

Upsampling and using different filters does indeed sound different - no one actually disputes that.

 

That's the whole point of filtering and designing different filters. And pretty much every DAC designer chooses the upsampling and filtering that his/her DAC uses internally - whether you are aware of it or not. So you are doing the same thing when you listen. Except you are letting someone else choose the type of upsampling and filtering for you, instead of choosing it yourself.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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That's because you don't understand what's being done with HQP. HQP uses a superior upsampling software and superior (proprietary) modulators and filters. It also gives you multiple choices of each.

You can experiment and find out which combination sounds best to you on your system.

 

You think this doesn't sound better - but you are coming from a position of ignorance. It's not just about DSD - upsampling and filtering to PCM often also sounds superior with HQP.

 

Upsampling and using different filters does indeed sound different - no one actually disputes that.

 

That's the whole point of filtering and designing different filters. And pretty much every DAC designer chooses the upsampling and filtering that his/her DAC uses internally - whether you are aware of it or not. So you are doing the same thing when you listen. Except you are letting someone else choose the type of upsampling and filtering for you, instead of choosing it yourself.

I deffo understand why someone with a large RBCD collection would want to go to all that trouble to upsample the PCM files from that collection. Thankfully, I'm not one of them.

 

Rather, I started my collection in 2009 with SA-CD exclusively, so I don't have your concerns of all that rubbish. Rather, my concerns are with ripping my 50+ SA-CD to multichannel DSD files. I have very few RBCD titles that I would want to to upsample. Using native DSD and PCM files, I'm listening to what the recording engineer went to all the trouble to produce.

 

Using a food analogy, I will always purchase natural, organic, non GMO over the frightening alternative.

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I deffo understand why someone with a large RBCD collection would want to go to all that trouble to upsample the PCM files from that collection. Thankfully, I'm not one of them.

 

Rather, I started my collection in 2009 with SA-CD exclusively, so I don't have your concerns of all that rubbish. Rather, my concerns are with ripping my 50+ SA-CD to multichannel DSD files. I have very few RBCD titles that I would want to to upsample. Using native DSD and PCM files, I'm listening to what the recording engineer went to all the trouble to produce.

 

Using a food analogy, I will always purchase natural, organic, non GMO over the frightening alternative.

 

Whatever you like is fine. No argument.

 

Your food analogy is a false one, since your DAC is doing the same thing to your "organic" music files that the rest of us are doing with HQP - except that your DAC doesn't do it as well. You certainly aren't hearing unaltered files as they were produced.

If you don't or refuse to understand that, it's not a problem - just don't make negative comments about others who understand the issues better than you.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I

Using a food analogy, I will always purchase natural, organic, non GMO over the frightening alternative.

 

This is your reciever

 

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GMO

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... and your point is????

 

that with your setup you are doing anything but listening to

natural, organic, non GMO over the frightening alternative.

 

in other words your equipment is taking your files and doing all sorts of non "natural", non "organic" and GMO type stuff to your files. You are fooling yourself if you think your are listening to some pure version of "what the recording engineer went to all the trouble to produce".

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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that with your setup you are doing anything but listening to

 

in other words your equipment is taking your files and doing all sorts of non "natural", non "organic" and GMO type stuff to your files. You are fooling yourself if you think your are listening to some pure version of "what the recording engineer went to all the trouble to produce".

 

Amazing!

 

In keeping with the thread subject, my posts were referring exclusively to the signal sources as derived from:

and ...

 

These source files are still organic and non-GMO, regardless of what you think. Your source files are anything but.

 

I mentioned nothing of my kit, which is irrelevant in this thread.

 

You need to improve your reading comprehension skills.

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Amazing!

 

In keeping with the thread subject, my posts were referring exclusively to the signal sources as derived from:

and ...

 

These source files are still organic and non-GMO, regardless of what you think. Your source files are anything but.

 

I mentioned nothing of my kit, which is irrelevant in this thread.

 

You need to improve your reading comprehension skills.

 

Pure source files are irrelevant if your equipment alters them, which is what yours does.

What's amazing is you can't seem to understand that.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Guys - I think we have a misunderstanding and miscommunication here. In addition, there is probably something to be learned.

 

Can Iain restate his original opinion, so we can discuss it further (without insults or attacks etc ...)? I have a feeling we aren't all talking about the same thing, even though it appears like we are.

 

 

For example, does Iain think upsampling is ludicrous no matter what or are there circumstances where Iain thinks it's alid> Are we talking about offline upsampled files purchased as 192 but were really recorded at 44.1? Let's reset the discussion and we can likely make some progress.

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I downloaded the sample .wav tracks, and could hear faint clicks and high-frequency noise suggestive of the IM distortion the author describes.

 

So there need proper filtering/optimization ;-)

 

For keeping high-resolution advantages for DAC playback and eliminating noises and distortions from 20 kHz and above.

 

In my opinion, real reason of appearing and advantages of high resolution was lost under ultrasound playback discussion.

AuI ConverteR 48x44 - HD audio converter/optimizer for DAC of high resolution files

ISO, DSF, DFF (1-bit/D64/128/256/512/1024), wav, flac, aiff, alac,  safe CD ripper to PCM/DSF,

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Hi Guys - I think we have a misunderstanding and miscommunication here. In addition, there is probably something to be learned.

 

Can Iain restate his original opinion, so we can discuss it further (without insults or attacks etc ...)? I have a feeling we aren't all talking about the same thing, even though it appears like we are.

 

 

For example, does Iain think upsampling is ludicrous no matter what or are there circumstances where Iain thinks it's alid> Are we talking about offline upsampled files purchased as 192 but were really recorded at 44.1? Let's reset the discussion and we can likely make some progress.

 

There's nothing special of either PCM or DSD. It's simply the production and mastering quality used to fill either format that will make either file format type special.

 

Decimation of DSD to PCM is a benign conversion, but not so the other way round.

 

My comment of ludicrous was direted to only one function of HQ Player. That function converts PCM to DSD. This function extracts a rather severe penalty in the form or quantisation noise when PCM is dithered down to 1-bit DSD. Here's a visual representation of the process;

Craigman Digital - PCM vs DSD

 

I'm unsure why HQP lot want to do this; perhaps they think the process endows the PCM file with mystical qualities? This is why a little knowledge is dangerous. Boys and their toys indeed!

 

Regardless, this conversion is best left to professionals in a production environment. The only time it's normally used in a production environment is to convert PCM masters to DSD for compliance to scarlett book SA-CD specifications, prior to disk production.

 

Best to leave PCM as PCM and DSD as DSD. BTW, there are tools in the pipeline that will allow for file manipulation in a native DSD environment. No conversion to PCM needed.

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Hi Iain,

 

Best to leave PCM as PCM and DSD as DSD.

 

Absolutelly. Except optimal playback mode of certain DAC. Or case playback DSD on PCM player or DAC and contrary.

 

BTW, there are tools in the pipeline that will allow for file manipulation in a native DSD environment.

 

For me, as DSP developer, unclear what is:

 

1. "native DSD environment" meant?

 

2. manipulations?

 

May be anywhere publications or patents where described how it is possible?

 

No conversion to PCM needed.

 

What is PCM here? 352 kHz/24 bit only?

 

 

 

Binary logic may not process 1-bit values as 1-bit values. So what is "native DSD environment"?

AuI ConverteR 48x44 - HD audio converter/optimizer for DAC of high resolution files

ISO, DSF, DFF (1-bit/D64/128/256/512/1024), wav, flac, aiff, alac,  safe CD ripper to PCM/DSF,

Seamless Album Conversion, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, DSF metadata editor, Mac & Windows
Offline conversion save energy and nature

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