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Thread: Hi Res music / DAPs/ DAC's and Headphones

  1. #1
    Master
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    Hi Res music / DAPs/ DAC's and Headphones

    Hi anyone else running a DAP / DAC /Headphone set up ?
    I've got a Fiio M9, Fiio Q5s and currently using either RHA T20i or Tin T3s
    I haven't actually dabbled with any Hi Res downloads yet - are they worth it ?
    Most of my listening is either Spotify or CD's that I ripped to my pc.

    maseman

  2. #2
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    I'm not an enthusiast headphone listener but I do have experience with TIDAL masters as I have both this and Spotify. There is a noticeable difference between master streaming and regular through my hifi and I imagine an even bigger one with a serious DAC/headphone combo. TIDAL were offering five months for £5 as a trial recently so may be worth checking out.

  3. #3
    Master tiny73's Avatar
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    I’ve got an AK jr with Cosmic Ears CIEMs and the difference between FLAC and MP4 is quite noticeable. I can’t claim to understand all the bit rates etc but I can hear a significantly higher level of detail and nuance in the FLAC files.

  4. #4
    I’m using a Fiio Q1 DAC with Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 ohms on my iOS devices. I dabbled with Amazon HD just at the end of the year there, and I could notice a small difference in treble clarity versus Amazon standard and Apple Music on some tracks, but not enough for the extra subscription costs per month. If you have a better setup you may see the benefits I guess.

  5. #5
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    Another Tidal subscriber here, I enjoy it and tell myself I can hear the difference. Even if I can't, placebo is a real thing and I enjoy listening to it more if I think it is higher quality! I have a Dragonfly Cobalt DAC which is very handy and renders MQA, paired with Grado 325e headphones. No room for a real hifi setup so I make do with a Naim Muso, still very good when positioned correctly.

  6. #6
    I use a Fiio M11 with a pair of Sony XBA Z5s in balance mode. Only recently upgraded to this after an older crappier source/cable set up and it was a revelation. I have a decent collection of CDs I've ripped properly to FLAC and I am now in audiophile heaven!

    Having said all that, I am still with Spotify - because I am so used to how I discover music with it and I listen a lot to podcasts. Also the quality bump is lost when out and about. Playing Spotify on my M11, it is very noticeable to me the difference with my FLAC collection. What I am likely to do is stick with Spotify and actually buy the music I like on CD or FLAC. Careful curation. That ensures I support the artist.

  7. #7
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    Has anyone used any of Dragonfly products?


    https://www.audioquest.com/dacs/dragonfly/dragonfly-red

  8. #8
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    I’m using an Auralic streamer wirelessly into a Benchmark dac/amp via Tidal then to Focal Stellia headphones. Thinking of adding a valved headamp from the analogue output of the dac as tubes add a little something.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanm_3 View Post
    Has anyone used any of Dragonfly products?


    https://www.audioquest.com/dacs/dragonfly/dragonfly-red
    Yes I had a Dragonfly Cobalt for a while. Good quality dac/amp for casual listening and work well with phones or pads.

  10. #10
    Master tiny73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanm_3 View Post
    Has anyone used any of Dragonfly products?


    https://www.audioquest.com/dacs/dragonfly/dragonfly-red
    I’ve got a dragonfly black that works well with iPad/iPhone and usb connection kit. Upgrades the output from both pretty well.

  11. #11
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    I stream TIDAL Flac to a Cambridge CXN streamer which in turn connects to an Arcam rDac. Used with both AKG K702 headphones and B&W speakers the sound is noticeably better then the Spotify Premium account I had before. Well worth the £20pcm IMO.

    I’ve since added a tube amp (not mega-bucks) into the mix and this has bought out even more detail and separation.
    Last edited by gavsw20; 28th January 2020 at 20:20.

  12. #12
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    Audivana on an iMac --> Schiit Modi --> Schiit Magni --> Oppo PM3s

    The DAC & amp are budget friendly, and it's a set up I enjoy very much, although I don't really notice a difference listening to regular lossless files vs. hi res. For me, the biggest improvement comes from the set up as opposed to the files themselves. In fact, I'd say the mastering of a recording often makes a more noticeable difference than whether it's hi res or not.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by alanm_3 View Post
    Has anyone used any of Dragonfly products?


    https://www.audioquest.com/dacs/dragonfly/dragonfly-red
    I have a red with Beyer DT880 32ohm used with tidal either with my mac or iPhone.(and sure se215 when out of home)
    I was going to go with the cobalt but the difference was very small and almost a case of being different than better, felt the red was better value as I purchased not knowing how much use I was going to get out of them. I didn’t like the black, the red definitely is the better value.

    Had them a couple of weeks and I’m really impressed with DAC and headphones. Tried more expensive phones but glad I went with the 880’s. Very comfortable to wear for hours at a time and a flat response and not ’peaky’ so they sound isn’t fatiguing. Was going to get then770 closed model but didn’t want a V shaped response. Tried the meze wood ones but the bass was a bit flabby/slow.
    Also tried some Stax electrostatic, sound great but they will have to wait...

    Tidal at hi-fi is way better than 320kbs and gets my foot tapping while Spotify and Apple Music were a bit dead. Can’t say the masters are a massive leap in quality a good recording influences things more than going above 16/44..

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazyp View Post
    I use a Fiio M11 with a pair of Sony XBA Z5s in balance mode. Only recently upgraded to this after an older crappier source/cable set up and it was a revelation. I have a decent collection of CDs I've ripped properly to FLAC and I am now in audiophile heaven!

    Having said all that, I am still with Spotify - because I am so used to how I discover music with it and I listen a lot to podcasts. Also the quality bump is lost when out and about. Playing Spotify on my M11, it is very noticeable to me the difference with my FLAC collection. What I am likely to do is stick with Spotify and actually buy the music I like on CD or FLAC. Careful curation. That ensures I support the artist.

    How do you rip CD's to FLAC ?
    Any recommended software ?

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by maseman View Post
    How do you rip CD's to FLAC ?
    Any recommended software ?
    For Mac, I used "XLD". As far as I am aware, the best for ripping CD to FLAC and I've had zero issues with it.

    https://sourceforge.net/projects/xld/
    and
    https://tmkk.undo.jp/xld/index_e.html

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by maseman View Post
    How do you rip CD's to FLAC ?
    Any recommended software ?
    I use DBpoweramp you have to buy the app is you want the album artwork.
    Quality is excellent.

  17. #17
    Craftsman trott3r's Avatar
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    exact audio copier or eac for windows CD ripping.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazyp View Post
    For Mac, I used "XLD". As far as I am aware, the best for ripping CD to FLAC and I've had zero issues with it.
    Same here. Works very well. I use a program (or app, as the kids call them) called Kid3 for the track names and artwork etc.

  19. #19
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    A bit late to this thread but none the less, here's my thoughts...

    The simple answer, is yes, hi-res is worth it.

    I like hi-res and have been a fan for some 4 or so years. I do not have what I consider an expensive hi-fi, albeit I acknowledge that's relative. I do consider by portable music set-up expensive (again relative) which consists of a Sony ZX300 Walkman, Shure se846 and a Fiio silver braided balanced cable to connect the Walkman and earphones.

    I have purposely resisted streaming services until such a time an option became available that bettered or at least equalled CD quality.

    For years I have ripped my CD collection to a network drive and Walkman using Media Monkey and MP3tag to help label files. This had served well and I continued to purchase CDs. Music was enjoyed both on my hi-fi and Walkman.

    Qobuz became the answer I was searching for with regards ditching CDs. At first they were a download store, offering a huge library of albums in hi-res. I never thought it appropriate to download a poor MP3 album for the same price as a CD. But I'm happy to pay to download files in better/ equivalent quality.

    About 2 years ago, Qobuz starting offering hi-res streaming and for a while this and Tidal were the only options. The likes of Apple, Spotify and Amazon were cheap and user friendly but offered poor quality. To this day if you want to stream hi-res options are few, Qobuz, Tidal and Amazon HD are your 3. Amazon is by far the cheapest, but I don't like their interface, Tidal sounds good (as good as Qobuz, but different) but it's owned by people like Jay-Z and they constantly force rap in your face, fine if that's the only my music you like.

    For me Qobuz is superb! The sound quality is excellent. Streaming in hi-res over wi-fi or 4g works well on my phone (and then sent to my Walkman) and the Bluesound streaming kit I have indoors. Qobuz actively promote music of all genres which is great if you enjoy switching between genres. They have excellent editorials and I genuinely get the impression it's a service and business run by music enthusiasts for enthusiasts.

    Lastly, the only thing which tops Qobuz hi-res steaming is a hi-res download. I buy these from Qobuz, and would believe the source is the same, but there is always some sort of compression happening in a steam, so I tell myself.

    As with all things hi-fi much will depend on your gear. If you think your set-up warrants the best source material possible, I'd happily recommend hi-res.

  20. #20
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    Agreed.Qobuz is the biz. but you need a decent streamer to maximise potential. ( + dac and headphones if appropriate)

  21. #21
    Qobuz is pricey - a bit of a problem. Nice interview with Qobuz which I read the other day https://www.whathifi.com/features/qo...tures-and-more

  22. #22
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    As a slight aside, has anyone over had custom ear mouldings made for their in-ear buds? I’m considering them for my Shure 535s and wondered if they make a discernible difference?

  23. #23
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    I tried Qobuz for a good while and for some reason found that the quality was not as good as Tidal? Different sources/mastering maybe? Shame though.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by alanm_3 View Post
    As a slight aside, has anyone over had custom ear mouldings made for their in-ear buds? I’m considering them for my Shure 535s and wondered if they make a discernible difference?
    I mean, the whole central issue is - do you get a good fit/seal with the Shure's? One thing worth trying is Sugru - https://sugru.com/ it's like a putty that moulds and firms which can help you get that fit.

    I reckon if you go custom, you have to go the whole nine yards and get custom IEMs. I usually get decent fit with IEMs so not bothered.

  25. #25
    Master
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    I use a Sony NW-A100TPS, which is the 40th Anniversary walkman. Great little player - takes a micro-SD card up to 2TB for local play, and has Android OS for streaming of Tidal HiRes. Sounds great wired or wireless with my Master & Dynamic MW60 headphones, and also AirPod Pro's.

  26. #26
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    I have a decent hi-if and hi-res definitely sounds better.
    What I mean is that it actually sounds more real and my ears don’t tire after listening for an extended period.

    If you purchase downloads as a hi-res flac then it’s generally 24bit/96khz .

    Tidal do a hi-res streaming which also sounds good.

    Vinyl LPs can be converted to HiRes successfully as they have a large bandwith without any compression but there is the surface noise problem.

    I find the difference on portable players or small headphones is not discernible though.




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  27. #27
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    Just started a free trial of Amazon Music HD. I am very impressed. The impressive bit really is the cost, only £12.99/mo if you are on Prime, or £14.99/mo if not. To my ears no discernible drop in sound quality, in fact I think I actually prefer it to Tidal. Plus they don't appear to be using MQA for the Hi-res stuff.

  28. #28
    So-called "hi-res music files" for domestic consumers are a marketing construct. Studio masters use higher sample rates and bit depth, but the reason why they do that has nothing to do with sound quality.

    CD quality (16/44.1) is as good as humans can hear, and "hi-res" files may actually sound worse, as well as being more expensive and needing more storage capacity.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazyp View Post
    I mean, the whole central issue is - do you get a good fit/seal with the Shure's? One thing worth trying is Sugru - https://sugru.com/ it's like a putty that moulds and firms which can help you get that fit.

    I reckon if you go custom, you have to go the whole nine yards and get custom IEMs. I usually get decent fit with IEMs so not bothered.
    Gonna give that stuff a wee try, I have problems getting in ear to fit comfy( small ear canal apparantly) and since there is a stockist in town it’s worth a shot. Ta.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holsterman View Post
    So-called "hi-res music files" for domestic consumers are a marketing construct. Studio masters use higher sample rates and bit depth, but the reason why they do that has nothing to do with sound quality.

    CD quality (16/44.1) is as good as humans can hear, and "hi-res" files may actually sound worse, as well as being more expensive and needing more storage capacity.
    Tru dat.

  31. #31
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    Hi Res music / DAPs/ DAC's and Headphones

    I've got a lot of Flac copies of music built up over the years, Tidal for me is annoying to use its AI is poor discovery function etc

    In terms of kit I've narrowed it down to the following got different day 2 day activities

    Shure 846 W/ custom ear moulds (Connected to Fiio BTR5 when using the iPhone )
    Beyerdynamic Xelento (wireless)
    Grado GS1000e
    HifiMan Susvara

    Fiio M11pro
    Fiio M6
    iBasso DX220

    Home set up is different for listening to music has B&W speakers in the main room, Q Acoustics in the bedroom.
    Last edited by optix; 5th February 2020 at 18:42.

  32. #32
    I quite like Tidal and new music, i certainly haven’t had Rap music thrust upon me (not sure where on the web i read that criticism) the artists/track radio and MyMix playlists seem well tailored and i have broadened my listening horizons since subscribing.

  33. #33
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    great thread lads. i have an audiolab mdac, and senn hd800 headphones. and i'll be honest i cant find that much of a discernable difference between 16 and 24 bit.

    and the biggest problem is finding the time to sit down and give it my full attention. there is too many variables involved, you can have all the sampling in the world with a huge bitrate, but then the wife switches on the dishwasher. so whats the point!

    ive a portable kit with senn IE8 IEM but theres absolutely no point chasing the sound when travelling, with being on a bus or a plane youll always hear a background hum. i think the moral of the story is just get a decent set up and enjoy what you have. most basic setups are decent enough these days anyway.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by emo72 View Post
    great thread lads. i have an audiolab mdac, and senn hd800 headphones. and i'll be honest i cant find that much of a discernable difference between 16 and 24 bit.

    and the biggest problem is finding the time to sit down and give it my full attention. there is too many variables involved, you can have all the sampling in the world with a huge bitrate, but then the wife switches on the dishwasher. so whats the point!

    ive a portable kit with senn IE8 IEM but theres absolutely no point chasing the sound when travelling, with being on a bus or a plane youll always hear a background hum. i think the moral of the story is just get a decent set up and enjoy what you have. most basic setups are decent enough these days anyway.
    I agree with 16 vs 24. I'm not sure I can tell tbh. But the step up from 320 MP3 is massive, and most should focus on that boost. But even then as you correctly identify, commuting/outside doesn't really matter with all the hum and drum. You need a quiet-ish place to listen.

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by emo72 View Post
    great thread lads. i have an audiolab mdac, and senn hd800 headphones. and i'll be honest i cant find that much of a discernable difference between 16 and 24 bit.
    That's because there's no audible difference at all. Bit-depth gives dynamic range. 16-bit exceeds the dynamic range requirements of any and all music by quite some distance. It is beyond the ability of any amplifiers and loudspeakers. 10 bits is enough for a recording with 60 dB dynamic range.

    It's marketing. Most of the general public and many audiophiles (I belong to both groups) simply do not understand how digital music works.

    Similarly, a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz means that all frequencies up to 22 kHz are captured perfectly without any loss whatsoever. Increasing the sampling rate above 44.1 just means that you can record ultrasonic noise on top of the music, and this is actually a disadvantage when it comes to playback.

    This is why these numbers (16/44) were selected for CD in the first place. Recording and mastering studios use higher bit-depth and sampling rates for technical reasons, and not for sound quality purposes.

    Linn and other "studio master quality" recordings are a deeply cynical con.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquis...mpling_theorem

  36. #36
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    Hi Res music / DAPs/ DAC's and Headphones

    Following on from the above comments, I would like to retract my previous praise for Amazon HD. Some files sound nice but others sound like all life is sucked out, likely due to poor mastering or up scaling I guess.

    If I am totally honest I can’t hear anything “better” above CD quality. In fact from the streaming services I find that Apple Music sounds the best most consistently, despite that just being 256kbps AAC files. Maybe they demand better quality masters? Who knows. The best sounding to me is a good ripped flac file or direct from the CD.

    Set up currently is a Naim Muso for listening in the living room (wish I had the space for stereo set up but the Mu-so is pretty great for what it is). Chord mojo and Beyerdynamic Amiron Homes.

    Small plug for the Grado cans I have on sales corner also!


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  37. #37
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    yeah i guess we have it so good either way. thousands of 16 bit cd quality recordings that can fit on a microsd card and all you need is a good dap player and good headphones and you are sorted. also thanks to the likes of fiio these machines can be had for peanuts. great times we live in lads.

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by watchstudent View Post

    If I am totally honest I can’t hear anything “better” above CD quality.
    That's because it is impossible for humans to hear anything above 20 kHz (in reality, probably only around 17 kHz if you are over 25). Anyone claiming to be able to hear a difference in "hi-res" music files is either deluded, or the ultrasonic noise present in the "hi-res" file they are playing is causing problems in their amplifier.

    IOW, it's only possible for "hi-res" files to sound as good as or worse than CD, all other things being equal (such as the mastering).

    Small mammals such as bats might benefit from higher sampling rates ;-)

    P.S. I use ATC 150 SLAT monitors with the Anniversary amp packs, and top-end sources - Naim CDS2/modified (by Whest) Naim NAC 52.
    Last edited by Holsterman; 6th February 2020 at 15:49.

  39. #39
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    i find a nice bottle of pale ale really improves the quality of the sound.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by watchstudent View Post
    In fact from the streaming services I find that Apple Music sounds the best most consistently, despite that just being 256kbps AAC files. Maybe they demand better quality masters?
    "Mastered for iTunes" is more than marketing hype. "Mastered for iTunes" means just that; mastered expressly for distribution on iTunes. This is important because when iTunes first arrived on the scene, the accepted practice was to take the same master created for CD and use that for iTunes. That approach is fine in many cases, but, many masters created between 2000 and 2010 are considered excessively "hot" (i.e. high gain). It has been proven that excessively hot masters create a lot of problems for lossy encoders such as Mp3, or the iTunes AAC format.

    That issue of excessively hot masters - combined with the increased popularity of high resolution audio - created a unique opportunity, and Apple responded by creating a set of mastering practices that encourage the use of more conservative mastering levels. They then created a new process designed to accept high resolution masters for publication in iTunes.

    By purchasing a "Mastered for iTunes" release, you are buying a product that has been mastered and quality-tested for publication in iTunes. If you could compare a regular iTunes (from CD master) release and an MFiT release, listening on a high fidelity, full range sound system, you would notice improved clarity of transients and dynamics of the music with this new iTunes mastering format. The intent with MFiT, is if you had access to a 24-bit uncompressed master and compared it to the MFiT version, they should sound virtually identical to the majority of listeners.

    The "Mastered for iTunes" initiative is both a technical improvement and a change in practice for mixing and mastering engineers, because it is helping to usher the industry away from super-loud mixes and masters. Anyone listening on a high-quality playback system, in an environment that allows them to hear all of the details of the music, will be potentially rewarded with a wider dynamic range (a.k.a. the difference between the very loudest and the very quietest parts of the music), a slightly lower noise floor, and less distortion (which translates into more sonic detail in the music).

    If you are a music lover who regularly listens to your music on a high quality playback system, "Mastered for iTunes" is the next best thing to listening to the original 24-bit master, or other lossless file formats such as FLAC (both of which require larger file sizes). I believe that this iTunes mastering format is offering the best compromise between file size, and sound quality available today.

  41. #41
    Master Skyman's Avatar
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    Vinyl. Why bother with anything else?

  42. #42
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    A fairly recent and interesting article from Alphaville on the topic of hi-res music.

    Selling new versions of the same thing is a great business. Particularly when the newest iteration brings a giant leap in quality at a low marginal cost. Apple have been the masters of this art: convincing consumers to shell out $700+ for a new iPhone every two years. Until recently, anyway.

    But until the turn of the millennium one industry stood above all others at repeating this trick: the music industry and its hardware-providing brethren.

    The list of formats once available to consumers was almost endless: cassettes, four tracks, eight tracks, 7 inch, 10 inch, 12 inch, compact discs, MiniDisc and SACDs — to name but a few. For a long time, the business of recorded music constantly found new ways to sell you the same thing over and over. Helpfully, to play these new formats required an expensive line-up of speakers, amps and players. It was a pretty good arrangement for everyone, bar the consumer.

    The MP3 changed this. Partly. Now you need only one piece of hardware -- a phone. And with it, a set of headphones, and perhaps a home speaker set-up which could be as basic as a laptop, or, if you really love music, a bluetooth speaker system. This generally, is the accepted state of play. Consumers, by and large, seem pretty content with the world’s music being available at a few clicks, on a few devices, at a relatively low cost.

    So when Billboard published an article last week about the surging major label interest in “higher resolution music” our ears pricked up. But not for the right reasons.

    Here’s a para from the article:

    The Washington, D.C.-based trade organisation [the RIAA] compiled research that shows more than 33,500 albums (or 400,000 tracks) of studio-quality formats are currently accessible to listeners. That’s a 29 per cent increase over a year ago, due largely to major labels releasing 1,000 studio-quality albums per month. Studio quality is defined as both hi-res audio (48khz/20-bit or higher) and the studio production format of 44.1 kHz/24-bit audio).
    According to the chief technology officer of famed fan-suers the Recording Industry of America (RIAA), labels are ready “to meet fans’ growing demand for the highest quality sound”.

    If you’re confused about what the quality numbers above mean relative to different digital formats, here’s a useful guide courtesy of What HiFi:



    So everything above CD quality, at 16-bit, is considered "high resolution".

    The problem is -- unlike high-resolution television -- no one actually cares about audio fidelity.

    The MP3 coding format was developed by Karlheinz Brandenburg of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in the early 90s. It was the culmination of an agonising research process which aimed to reduce complex audio into its simplest informational form, without compromising fidelity. It succeeded. By 1997 you could squash a CD-quality song into a few megabytes. Next came Napster. And the rest is history.

    (For those who are interested, Alphaville recommends Stephen Witt’s excellent How Music Got Free on the birth, and Rabelesian aftermath, of the lowly file format.)

    The MP3′s rise to dominance is usually attributed to its wantonness. It went where it pleased, uninhibited by format or physical space. But there’s another reason it worked. There was no compromise on quality: consumers could not distinguish between a CD version of Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin’, or the MP3 off Limewire.

    Many audiophiles will argue this is out of ignorance. “The person on the street propelled Crazy Frog to No. 1”, they might say, “what do they know about audio quality?” Granted it's a fair point, until you read the academic literature.

    There have been numerous studies into whether listeners, of varying skill levels, can distinguish between MP3s and higher quality formats. Perhaps the most famous is this study by Pras, Zimmerman, Levitin and Guastavino of McGill University, which was presented to the Audio Engineering Society convention in 2009. It found that, at an MP3 bitrate of about 256 kb/s (versus 1,411 kb/s for a CD), even trained sound engineers could barely distinguish between the two file formats across genres. (For context, Spotify's premium tier MP3s stream at 256kb/s.)

    Musicians didn’t have a clue:



    A similar study by Böhne, Gröger, Hammerschmidt, Helm, Hoga, Kraus, Rösch, and Sussek of Hamburg University in 2011 also found that “each participant easily recognises the MP3 played to them in 48 kbit/s, but nearly no one can tell the difference between a WAV-file [high-quality] and a 128 kbit/s MP3-file.”

    Readers will note these studies, and others, compare CDs and various qualities of MP3, but high-resolution music has a higher quality than CD formats (despite the format having no clear definition).

    So a 2014 study by Williamson, South and Müllensiefen of Sheffield and Goldsmith Universities proves informative, as it tried to ascertain whether listeners could distinguish between 320 kb/s MP3 formats, CD quality and studio master quality. (The trio used Moon River as one of their song choices. As an aside, here's a great version of this number by an Alphaville favourite.)

    First, the study's findings for the age-old CD/ MP3 debate [with our emphasis]:

    For many years the accepted wisdom with regards to digitally recorded music has been that very few people can tell the difference between the standard commercially available sound resolution levels, namely CD and MP3. The results from Study 1 support this assertion: ratings of sound quality across CD and MP3 resolutions did not differ. This finding is also in line with previous literature on the subject (Yoshikawa et al., 1995; Pras et al., 2009; Pras & Guostavino, 2010).
    However, when comparing studio masters and MP3s, the results were different:

    Participants in the present study consistently rated Studio Master music as higher in subjective sound quality compared to MP3, both in terms of 30s excerpts in a continuous song (Study 1) and across complete songs (Study 2).
    “Aha, gotcha Alphaville!” We hear audiophiles, and the music industry, cry “there is a difference!".

    Sure. But that's when listening to music in a “sound attenuating booth” where “inner and outer chambers included a 102mm thick acoustic modular panel, separated by an air gap of 100mm” on loudspeakers that retail at £990, with an amplifier that costs £1,750.

    No one, bar sound engineers and audiophiles with aggressive amounts of disposable income, listens to music this way.

    We know this intuitively from walking down the street, and seeing a variety of, at best, mid-range headphones on our fellow travellers. But a survey from 2015 by David Watkins of Strategy Analytics underlines this point. It found that among Americans, computer speakers were the preferred listening device, followed closely by headphones attached to a portable device:



    This charts with most recent data, such as IFPI's 2018 Music Consumer Insight Report, which found that 52 per cent of on-demand music listening is via video streaming. A further 86 per cent of consumers still listen to music on the radio. A medium famed, and romanticised, exactly for its lack of audio fidelity.

    Then there's where people listen to music. Not in solitary confinement, but out on the streets, on public transport, in the car and in their bedrooms. External sounds, even with whizzy noise-cancelling headphones, have a habit of interfering with music. And that's OK. No one minds.

    So, perhaps for the 0.01 per cent of the 0.01 per cent who want to spend $300,000 on speakers there's some point to high resolution audio, but otherwise, there isn't. It's a product no one asked for, with no distinguishing features for the everyday consumer.

    Which brings us round to why labels are plunging headfirst into the format. Well, here's a hint, via Billboard again:

    Data further shows the distribution of hi-res albums to be rather top-heavy: 77 per cent of the RIAA's highest gold- and platinum-certified records, 79 per cent of one major streaming service's top 100 all-time streamed tracks, 78 per cent of Soundscan's top 100 albums of last year, and 68 per cent of one major streaming service's top weekly tracks.

    So it's the biggest tracks which are getting the high resolution treatment. Just as they do when it comes to deluxe editions, or anniversary box sets. Dare we suggest that, as with the MiniDisc, the high resolution trend is all about the upsell.

    What's strange is that TIDAL, the forgotten streaming service, is already charging $19.99 for access to its high resolution service and has barely made a splash. But with Amazon making noises about launching a high resolution rival, according to Music Business Worldwide, it seems the big tech platforms are also keen to get on board with marketing this futile money spinner.

    It wouldn't matter much if there weren't costs involved, but as Izzy pointed out recently, data leaves an indelible carbon footprint. And uploading millions of high resolution tracks to the cloud will inevitably leave a larger mark on the environment than the current offering of indistinguishable MP3s. It's like bitcoin mining, except for those who want to signal the rarefied nature of their music taste.

    But perhaps consumers will bite. After all, we know that price changes the way people experience wine. So why not music?

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Skyman View Post
    Vinyl. Why bother with anything else?
    Because not everything is available on vinyl.

    BTW I'm sure you're aware that vinyl has significant technical shortcomings compared with CD? What is your vinyl set-up?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compar...ital_recording

  44. #44
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holsterman View Post
    That's because it is impossible for humans to hear anything above 20 kHz (in reality, probably only around 17 kHz if you are over 25). Anyone claiming to be able to hear a difference in "hi-res" music files is either deluded, or the ultrasonic noise present in the "hi-res" file they are playing is causing problems in their amplifier.

    IOW, it's only possible for "hi-res" files to sound as good as or worse than CD, all other things being equal (such as the mastering).

    Small mammals such as bats might benefit from higher sampling rates ;-)

    P.S. I use ATC 150 SLAT monitors with the Anniversary amp packs, and top-end sources - Naim CDS2/modified (by Whest) Naim NAC 52.

    Its not about frequency response, 44.1Khz is the sample rate so effectively chopping up the wave and then reassembling it.

    The more samples taken mean the more accurate the reproduced wave will be.

    This example is for a sine wave but for a complex musical wave there will be lost detail.



  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by redkite View Post
    Its not about frequency response, 44.1Khz is the sample rate so effectively chopping up the wave and then reassembling it.

    The more samples taken mean the more accurate the reproduced wave will be.

    This example is for a sine wave but for a complex musical wave there will be lost detail.


    This "stair-step" type of graph is totally incorrect. This is not how sampling works.

    Please watch this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIQ9IXSUzuM

  46. #46
    Craftsman
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holsterman View Post
    This "stair-step" type of graph is totally incorrect. This is not how sampling works.

    Please watch this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIQ9IXSUzuM
    That is an Interesting watch. Especially the way he describes it, and with him being an audio codec designer who specialises in compressed or lossless formats.


    I am actually a Musician, and when i listen to recordings, the Hi-Res just sounds more realistic.

    I think of it like this, as i say i find a difference with hi-res files. (NDS,252,300,N802)

    "The simplest way to comprehend the importance of bit depth and sample rates is to imagine a digital audio file as an analog audio signal, represented as frequency (sample rate) and volume (bit depth). The sample rate measures how many times the original analog audio signal is being described—the number of “samples” taken per second of audio. Higher sample rates allow for more detail to be captured in the recording process, particularly in the higher frequencies, Dr. Glick says, where it’s most apparent to human ears. Bit depth measures how many different volumes can be described—the higher the bit depth, the more precise the description can be, kind of like how a 0.0-10.0 scale for rating albums is more precise than a 0-5 star rating system. The end result is a more accurate representation of what actually happened in the recording studio."

    I guess the bottom line is, if you cant hear a difference that you prefer, then dont use them.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by redkite View Post

    Higher sample rates allow for more detail to be captured in the recording process, particularly in the higher frequencies, Dr. Glick says, where it’s most apparent to human ears. Bit depth measures how many different volumes can be described—the higher the bit depth, the more precise the description can be, kind of like how a 0.0-10.0 scale for rating albums is more precise than a 0-5 star rating system. The end result is a more accurate representation of what actually happened in the recording studio."
    It is an extremely common misconception that higher sampling rates allow for more detail to be captured in a bandwidth-limited signal such as audio. It is simply not true, but it's easy to understand why people make this mistake. As long as the sampling rate is at least double the maximum frequency present (or "allowed") by the upper limit of the frequency in the signal (for audio this is 20 kHz - therefore a sampling rate of at least 40 kHz is needed) then the waveform is captured PERFECTLY, with absolutely no loss of detail. Higher sampling rates mean that the bandwidth-limitation is less, i.e. frequencies higher than 20 kHz can be captured (perfectly).

    So a 96 kHz sampling rate allows the capture of all "audio" signals up to 48 kHz. But we know that humans only hear up to 20 kHz at best, so what is captured above 20 kHz is known as ultrasonic noise.

    You need to read (and understand) this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquis...mpling_theorem

    This video might help, if the first one didn't:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWjdWCePgvA

    or this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nxsmQZkFnI

    Dr Glick (who is he or she?) is also materially incorrect to say that the higher frequencies are "most apparent to human ears". Our hearing is in fact most sensitive in the midrange.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal-loudness_contour

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