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Why there is no standard label for high resolution audio?


gaiusparx

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I am new to computer high resolution audio, but not aware of a standard way of referring to them. I am not referring to "SACD" or "DVD-Audio" as these are associated to physical media, but high resolution audio downloads commonly in 24/96. For "MP3" you know its lossy music, for "CD" you know its 16bit 44.1khz, these are label that make it easy for consumers to associate with the kind of quality of music. More like branding or marketing. It might be necessary to push computer high resolution audio to be mainstream. Why not for example "HD Audio" for 24/96 audio? HDTracks refers their high resolution store as "96khz/24bit Store", not as friendly as for example "DTS-HD Master Audio Store" or "HD Audio Store". Looking at Tom Petty's Mojo Blu-ray album on amazon.com, it described "This disc contains all 15 tracks from 'Mojo' in high-resolution 48K 24 bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound.". The " DTS-HD Master Audio" is immediate and obvious about quality, but not "48K 24 bit PCM stereo". With a "HD Audio" label, it is easy for consumer to associate with the audio quality they are getting, off course enthusiasts like us know what to expect. Not sure why Tom Petty release the songs in 24/48, as 24/96 looks like the ideal standard for "HD Audio". Is 24/48 a standard Blu-ray audio format? With a "HD Audio" label, it is easier to let consumers know there is better audio quality option than CD.

 

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meaning, of course, high resolution. However, unlike HD tv where 720p is considered the low end, and currently 1080p the high (with 1080i in there too, to some extent...simplifying this analog of course) there is no real definition on differences between 24/48 and 24/192 except of course the math. And yes, some 24/48k stuff is referred top as "hirez" even though it's quite a bit less resolving than, say, 24/192 or SACD's DSD/DXD.

 

BluRay codecs (linear PCM, TrueHD and/or DTS HD Master Audio) are capable of 24/192 2 channel and 8 channels of 24/96...but there is no mandate that they go that high..it's just their max resolution/bit depth.

 

Hell, Rhino's website calls redbook something like "Hidef" cuz they are comparing it to mp3.....but that's foolish. We'd never be able to call standard DVD high def just cuz we are used to watching VHS!!?

 

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Hi gaiusparx - It surely would be nice to have a specific label identifying high resolution music. I think labeling music with a word length of 16 or 24 bit an the sampling frequency 44.1 through 192 would be a great start. It's very specific.

 

The video industry is actually playing tricks on unsuspecting consumers by labeling content as 720p and 1080p. This content is heavily compressed so often using lossy codecs that it may not even resemble the uncompressed version.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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I think there are several things it would be good to standardize when it comes to High-Resolution Audio (HRA) as far as music is concerned.

 

1. A chain of authentication of the transfer.

With vinyl, you can see the pressing details on the record. With HRA you should be able to ascertain how the release "came to be."

 

2. Was it just bumped up from Redbook?

 

3. Did they go back to the analog Mastertapes?

 

4. Has it been pulled from the Studio Master or from intermediates?

 

5. Has the content been bumped across several formats before ending up in the one offered to you?

 

6. Has the content been "X-sampled"? That is - has it gone through non-native resamples before we arrive at the end result.

 

The ideal should be a straight transfer from a Studio Master or a pull from the analog master mix tapes. With the Studio Master format being offered without resample, and with the pull being offered in what one could hope would become the default format, for instance 24/96.

 

Until this is sorted out, and CA could try to take a lead in this respect, users will find high-res to be an intransparent mess. It would probably help if users managed to resist the urge to always go "mostest is bestest" when it comes to resolution, if we are to achieve a wider dissemination of the format.

 

Today, you risk having to play back at least a dozen different formats/resolutions/varieties, all posing as high-res - just because the people offering them can't agree on what should be the standard. And that's a mess, while also offering opportunities for people who are actually just exploiting the urge to switch to high-res.

 

 

 

Don\'t sample, listen!

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Not a problem in this case imho. These standards would be over-simplified and dumbed down.

 

All studios are different, all recording methodologies are different. I'd like 24/192 throughout but good 16/44 is great and 24/44 is wonderful, I would not consider that low res. Where does it end? Do you want to specify the make of mixing desk? Who the engineer was? A minimum quality of mics?

 

This is an area where standards lock-down is inappropriate. What is necessary are playback systems which automatically and correctly adjust to sample rate, bit depth, file format, and so on. The user should have to do absolutely nothing as far as configuration is concerned playing different standards. If that is settled, then for losslessly compressed or uncompressed files, bit depth and sample rate perfectly describe the quality, and this cannot be improved upon by giving those descriptions a brand. To keep out of any pointless debates, even assigning brands to the different formats (in case there are any preferences) is no better than using their current names.

 

False standards such as these will only give an incentive to resample/reformat. And no-one confused by the reasonably simple triad of bit depth/sample rate/format will care as long as their player can play them.

 

ZZ

 

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16 bit 44.1 "redbook" has been a standard for a long time (even though the earliest releases were only 14 bit). The CD format is very specific and limited but it also is a nice reference baseline. Currently anything that is higher resolution in any dimension is called hires, meaning anything in 24 bit at 44.1 and anything at higher sample rates. In practice I don't see any material in 16 bit at higher sample rates (even though very few A to D converters are better than 20 bits accuracy). This suggests that 24 bits might be a baseline for defining hires. I like "hires 2X" and "hires 4x" referring to the sample rate multiplier but that is pretty technical for many. What I get really concerned about is resampled content sampled across the 44.1-48 rates. 2X and 4X conversions up or down can be pretty good with simple artifacts to work out in the process. 44.1 to 96 or vice versa is ugly to do and much harder to get good sound from.

 

I would rather see the content in its original sample rate and bit depth offered either "pure" or with just the original mastering/mixing and done in a way to make use of all the dynamic range these formats can support. As pointed out above different recording processes are used and for now we should embrace the choices and encourage getting more available on any hires format.

 

The file player project I developed was triggered by the difficulty of playing all of the hires formats. I think the most important effort is to get a broader consumer awareness of the benefits of hires content, any variation of hires content.

 

 

Demian Martin

auraliti http://www.auraliti.com

Constellation Audio http://www.constellationaudio.com

NuForce http://www.nuforce.com

Monster Cable http://www.monstercable.com

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