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Listening to hi-res files on my home system for the first time


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I know this is old hat to most of you, but I was totally amazed--"gobsmacked" as a couple of my friends say--when I experimented with connecting my MacBook Pro to my home audio system last night and listened to some hi-res files. I was already impressed with the sound of these files using headphones, but this didn't prepare me for the sheer dynamic range and feeling of unlimited headroom, as well as the incredible palpability and depth/spread (height as well as width) that I heard from my speakers. I frankly don't recall having noticed these qualities to such a degree in my system before. Bear in mind that I'm no newbie to hi-res audio, as I've been using a modded Sony 777ES SACD player for years and have listened to hundreds of SACDs, but what I heard last night really took everything to another level. This is what hi-res is all about. (And I think I need to get a new SACD player!)

 

And here's the kicker: this was all coming from a tiny and inexpensive ($99) Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ audio interface connected to my laptop's USB port and a basic Audioquest minijack-to-RCA stereo cable from the NI to my system. I can only imagine how much better a full-fledged DAC would sound (which is definitely in the works!). (I got the NI because someone on this forum had recommended it and I was looking for a decent and inexpensive portable DAC to try out on an upcoming trip--I was just dipping my toes into computer audio and wanted to proceed with baby steps.)

 

BTW, I listened to Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe" (Levine/BSO, 88.2/24), "Britten's Orchestra" (Stern/Kansas City SO, Reference Recordings, 88.2/24), and the Mahler 3rd Symphony (Gilbert/New York Phil, 96/24)--stunning performances and recordings all.

 

Russell

 

MacBook Pro 2020 16” (16MB RAM, macOS Big Sur) > Audirvana Plus  > Pangea Audio USB-AG > Sony TA-ZH1ES > Nordost Heimdall 2 > Audeze LCD-3

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If so I assume you are aware of two things:

1) iTunes requires you to stop, set Audi Midi to correct sample rate, then restart iTunes in order to listen to files that are different sample rates (i.e 24/96 then 24/176)

2) there are players like Pure Music and the more expensive/extensive Amarra that do this automagically for you and still maintain iTunes flexibility and GUI (just in case your using an iPod touch as remote, etc.)......and they sound even better!!

 

Glad you are enjoying HiRez! :)

 

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Thanks, Ted. Yes, I am using iTunes (and Apple Lossless converted from the original FLAC files), and am aware of the need to switch sample rates in Audio MIDI. It's a royal pain. ;-) In fact, I started listening to the Gilbert Mahler 3rd (96/24) right after the Britten recording (88.2/24) and noticed that it didn't sound quite 'right'. I then realized that I had forgotten to do the switch, so I stopped the playback in iTunes, quit the application, went into Audio MIDI, selected '96,000', relaunched iTunes and started the Mahler again. Sounded much better!

 

And thanks for the info on Pure Music and Amarra--I'll have to investigate them...

 

Russell

 

MacBook Pro 2020 16” (16MB RAM, macOS Big Sur) > Audirvana Plus  > Pangea Audio USB-AG > Sony TA-ZH1ES > Nordost Heimdall 2 > Audeze LCD-3

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Chris (I've been taken to our leader) said... "Things are only going to get better for you."

 

I always get a sinking feeling whenever anyone says that...

 

Just remember, at the end of the day the point of HiFi is in the listening to music, not the endless tweaking to get that last 1 or 2% improvement in quality.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...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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Hello Russel,

I haven´t heard Amarra,so I can´t really comment on how it sounds.

 

But with Amarra being a lot more, even ridiculously ,expensive compared to PM ,and judging from those here who have compared the two, it seems there are not really any big differences between the two.

 

What I can say though,is that Pure music is clearly better than iTunes!

Download the Demo and try it out for yourself.

 

Both Britten and Mahler deserve really good sound to be enjoyed in their full "Eargasmic" potentials.

 

iTunes at 24/88. and /96 sure sounds better than any RBCD ever did.

 

 

But with PM you get even closer to mastersound quality.

 

 

 

ps where did you get your Gilbert Mahler 3rd download from?

 

I have his Mahler 9 on a BIS SACD.Musically it is up there with the very best ever.

And soundquality wise it is also quite good,but not quite in the same league as Chailly´from the Concertgebouw which is a pure DSD recording.

 

BIS´s is a 24/41.pcm recording.

 

I also saw Alan Gilbert rehearse and conduct quite often when he was head of The Stockholm Philharmonic.

It would be very nice if the New York Philharmonic started releasing their own HI RES downloads like the BSO.

 

ps 2 Don´t miss Levine´s Brahms Requiem from the BSO it is very good.

 

Happy listening Chrille

 

 

 

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Thanks, Chrille--I will take a look at Pure Music. As for the Gilbert Mahler 3, I got it from HDtracks here:

 

https://www.hdtracks.com/index.php?file=catalogdetail&valbum_code=HD844185042383

 

It was Gilbert's inaugural concert as Music Director, and both he and the orchestra were very obviously inspired by the occasion. I think it's one of the most compelling performances of the 3rd out there. (I also have his 9th on BIS SACD, as well as the Levine/BSO German Requiem download.)

 

I agree--I wish the NYPO would follow the BSO's lead and just produce/distribute their own recordings. (Though there's been nothing substantial from the BSO in quite a while--I hope they haven't abandoned this venture altogether.)

 

Russell

 

MacBook Pro 2020 16” (16MB RAM, macOS Big Sur) > Audirvana Plus  > Pangea Audio USB-AG > Sony TA-ZH1ES > Nordost Heimdall 2 > Audeze LCD-3

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(probably needs a new thread). Your BIS HDracks hirez 4/88.2 stuff was found to be NOT; i.e it was simply upsampled from 24/44.1 and HDTracks pulled it from their catalog. Same with quite a few other faux hirez selections (some Verve, etc). Bruce Brown, Puget Sound, who is their outsourced SACD ripper and overall master transfer engineer, found this out through waveform sleuthing, etc. HDTracks is in the midst of a large re-assessment of their label vendors sourced product and will hopefully put out an alert with refunds once completed. in the meantime, if you are dissatisfied that you bought 24/44.1 thinking it was true 24/88.2 then you can email/contact them and a refund or credit will be offered.

 

Many on my forum have expressed horror that HDTracks is waiting till their customers find this out, but I'm assuming they are simply waiting till they have a full comprehensive list of upsampled selections. I guess you can take either angle.

 

Oh, since you like the sound then maybe the upsample ain't so bad..:) However, the point is that it's not fair that it was presented as native 24/88.2

 

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Thanks for the info, Ted. The BIS Mahler 9th I have is a physical SACD, not a download, so I'm OK in that department (though it's disconcerting to realize that it's only 44.1/24).

 

I've actually been following that thread (on Audio Asylum) very closely. I've only downloaded a handful of hi-res files from HDT so far (from NYP and Reference), and they sound great (and hi-res-like ;-) ) to my ears. It's kind of unnerving, though, to feel like you have to keep checking on HDT to see if the files you previously downloaded are still there (now that we know their practices). I just wish they would "come clean" and fess up to their customers....

 

Russell

 

MacBook Pro 2020 16” (16MB RAM, macOS Big Sur) > Audirvana Plus  > Pangea Audio USB-AG > Sony TA-ZH1ES > Nordost Heimdall 2 > Audeze LCD-3

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Yes, just the 24 part of the equation makes a difference. I recently obtained the 24/44.1 version of the Beatles' remasters, and it definitely sounds better than the 16/44.1 version.

 

I ripped the CD's with dbpoweramp secure bit-perfect rips andlisten to both the 16/44 and 24/44 versions played from the same HD/server to the same DAC and system.

 

24/44 version has noticeably better sound. All sorts of small but noticeable improvements to the sound, overall I'd say the 24/44 sounds more musical/more like the real thing, less "digital".

 

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: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I have met David Chesky on a couple of occasions, and he is one true music lover, who is really an enthusiast trying to bring the best quality music to his customers. In my experience he is a straight shooter and totally honest. Any difficulties experienced with his site are just growing pains, and I am sure he is just as upset about record companies/distributors passing off upsampled files as the real thing as we are.

It may take a little while for HDtracks to set things straight, but my take on David is that he can be trusted to do everything possible to make this situation right.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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and seemed a straight up good guy (like i can tell from one short conversation!). But I think, based on whats going on, that it is only right to give them the benefit of the doubt as they work this out.

 

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