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24/96 downloads: not good enough?

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"I'm very impressed by the new Getz/Gilberto 24/96 release on HDtracks."



Chris Connaker

Founder?Computer Audiophile



Chris am quoting you in this new thread as others pushed me into comparing the stereo Getz/Gilberto and mono Ella/Louis Armstrong 24/96 downloads from HD tracks with my audiophile vinyl editions from a few years back (from Mobile Fidelity and, I believe, Classic Records respectively).


Well I did, and am sorry to say I was not impressed: there is no comparison, the vinyl editions are by far better. There's no contest.


I will continue to download HD files from time to time but this is becoming a bit of a disappointment. The harmonics are all there but image plasticity, soundstage depth and the fine balance between airiness and solidity are all missing, the HDtrack downloads are unsophisticated, in-your-face.


You may say my digital sources are good but not at the same level as my analog ones and that may be true, however I don't believe that's the problem. I just finished reading most of the long but fascinating thread on audio resolution in the general section of this forum, and suspect either HDtracks are not doing a good-enough job or 24/96 downloads are simply not good enough.


If I miss something please correct me!







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of your analog vs digital sources. What is your DAC and/or digital setup? What tt/phono pre are you comparing it to?


Edit: is this still correct?

"I have old Avalon Radian speakers driven by AM Audio 130W fully balanced class A monoblocks, preamp is tubed, Jadis JPS8, also fully balanced. Analog: two turntables with several cartridges, all fully balanced - an EMT930 with FR64S tonearm and a Thorens 124 with Schick and FR66S tonearms, balanced AM Audio phono preamp. Digital: Macmini plus Amarra mini and Weiss DAC2, plus as CD transport a Tascam CD-01U Pro with AES/EBU digital outputs."


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I agree with Chris that the Getz/Gilberto was a fine recording from HDtracks.


I also have the MoFi recording that I like. The soundstage was very good on my Wavelength Crimson/Denominator DAC. Compared favorably with my vinyl rig.


Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

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Lars am happy to read you got different results, asd am indeed (un)happy to stick to my position, vinyl sounds much better in my setup. I may be in a minority here. And to ted_b yes my gear is still the same, the only missing aspect are my ears and sensitivities. :-))

The French have a very nice way to describe sonic results when they use the term "matière", that is really missing with the 24/96 download.


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Just have to smile - the top two threads on the little side bar are...

"24/96 downloads: not good enough?"


Just underneath...

"24-bit/192kHz is pointless?"


Just can't win can you!!






...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Chris I believe it is difficult to rate accuracy .. people consider digital to be generally more accurate. However, what is accuracy? Harmonics, detail, image depth, soundstage, 3D, all of this and more comes to mind when rating results, and all influences our perceptions of accuracy.


I will have a few fellas over in the next few days and we do some more comparisons, will find out if they come to the same conclusion. But I suspect I already know their answers.


The best example that comes to mind was a few months ago, when we compared the latest Hendrix "electric ladyland" CD reissue with the latest analog vinyl reissue. One of the gentlemen has a recording studio and has given up recording in analog many years ago, he swears on digital. He listened to both versions, then at first was silent and eventually said that the vinyl version (an analog remaster from the original analog tapes) sounded 100 times better. 100 times! Ouch, that must have hurt. I know it was only 16/44.1 but still, am pretty sure he will end up saying the same also in this case, comparing vinyl with the 24/96 downloads.


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I honestly couldn't call one better than the other but I know I must have both sources.


Digital simply wipes the floor with vinyl in terms of useability. I love shuffling songs and hearing that track that hasn't popped up for a while and I know I just wouldn't have fished out an LP to find it. Even more fun is setting up a playlist to go on the iphone and directing the apple tv with it, fighting with my wife over who adds the next song. Even better; I can use an iphone after 4 bottles of bordeaux (between us of course) with no chance of trashing a cartridge. Oh, and digital is free vs the $1 per LP that it costs to play vinly (due to stylus wear). + I never listen to classical on vinyl any more because of the noise floor being so high on even the most pristine vinyl.


However, if I need folk or rock and I am in a serious listening mood and don't want to flit from track to track but to hear the evolution of an artist's style during a particular phase of their development, it has to be an LP all the way through. It's just a more immersive experience for me and I doubt it has anything to do with resolution.


(I also like seeing mechanical spinny things that seem alive). Interestingly, my wife (who has a very keen sense of sound quality) can be fooled into experiencing a deeper soundstage from digital - thinking it to be vinyl - if I simultaneously play an LP silently.


It's not about resolution, it's about having more music in your life. For that, you really need both sources I feel and to live close to a concert hall. I think the question as to which is superior will never be answered.


- John.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, on my system there's no arguing that 24 bit is WAY better than 16 bit. Actually, I'm getting really tired with 16-bit sound. Even with very good recordings like Parsifal with Solti on Decca, the lack of air has become very clear as my library of 24-bit recordings slowly grows.


I'm still limited to 48 kHz because of the Sq.box Duet, and I'm anxious to hear whether there's a noticeable difference going up to 88.2/96 Khz. I've tried once with the M2Tech Hiface and couldn't really hear any difference, but that unit didn't work optimally in my system (my EmmLabs DAC sounds much better with optical input).


But my old vinyl rig still holds up very well. I would agree that vinyl has "something", which is not just placebo. I don't have a soft spot for seeing the platter spin and being limited to 20 minutes per side, not to mention inner groove distortion, which is rather bad on most records. At least on my rig :-(


All best,



i5 Macbook Pro running Roon -> Uptone Etherregen -> custom-built Win10 PC serving as endpoint, with separate LPUs for mobo and a filtering digiboard (DIY) -> Audio Note DAC 5ish (a heavily modded 3.1X Bal) -> AN Kit One, heavily modded with silver wiring and Black Gates -> AN E-SPx Alnico on Townshend speaker bars. Vicoustic and GIK treatment.

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