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hi res

David Harper

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Forgive me for revisiting a subject which has probably been covered, ad nauseum, before here but has anyone here ever heard any difference between CD quality audio and so called "hi-res"? I have compared them and concluded that either there is no difference or that the recording quality eclipses (by far) any difference which might be attributed to the bit/sample rate. The reason I bring this up is that there is some buzz online about music streaming services (Hulu ,Amazon, etc) offering "premium audio" music (at a price) in "audio quality higher than CD". I think this is bullsh!t. Pure and simple. But I would welcome any other opinions here.
 

Seeker-Smith

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The only thing I can add is. I have free Apple Music which until recently was low fi and yes from low rez to hi rez yes I can hear a difference. Now between the hi rez versions I can't hear a difference.
 

sergeauckland

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Forgive me for revisiting a subject which has probably been covered, ad nauseum, before here but has anyone here ever heard any difference between CD quality audio and so called "hi-res"? I have compared them and concluded that either there is no difference or that the recording quality eclipses (by far) any difference which might be attributed to the bit/sample rate. The reason I bring this up is that there is some buzz online about music streaming services (Hulu ,Amazon, etc) offering "premium audio" music (at a price) in "audio quality higher than CD". I think this is bullsh!t. Pure and simple. But I would welcome any other opinions here.
This, totally and utterly.

S.
 

JJB70

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I think most people without a vested interest in trying to sell hi-res music and equipment or free of delusions of having golden ears would agree. Even the term high-res seems meaningless as it can mean several things and now seems to be used to describe CD quality. I'd go further and say lossy compressed formats are pretty much indistinguishable from CD above the lowest bit rates.

The overwhelmingly dominant factor in audio (other than the obvious one of liking whatever has been recorded) is the quality of the recording. A really great recording with top class editing, mixing, mastering etc will sound great regardless of the carrier medium and audio gear. Conversely, you can add all the bit depth and sampling rates in the world and fancy audio but you can't polish a turd if the recording is rubbish.
 

DVDdoug

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Most of these services were previously using lossy compression (not CD quality). I don't listen to that much streaming but but as far as I know they've been using "high quality" lossy compression so I don't think it's been terrible.

I'm pretty sure Amir mentioned that he can hear the difference between high-res an CD quality (under certain conditions). And he's said, 'Why not high-res?" since every thing is recorded in higher-than CD resolution and the Internet bandwidth is generally available.

IMO - If you have to listen carefully to hear the difference it's not worth worrying about. Even if you can hear a difference in an A/B or ABX test, it's not important if you can't hear a difference if you listen to "A" on Monday and "B" on Tuesday and you can't tell which one you're listening to.

... I've always been a picky-critical listener and in the vinyl days the clicks & pops bothered me more than they bothered most people. But I don't have "golden ears" and I don't want to train my hearing to better-hear defects. I just want to enjoy good music and good sound.

High quality MP3 is "good enough" for me. I ripped all of my CDs to MP3 (mostly V0 which is the "best" VBR setting) for listening an iPod classic in my car. Every time I've thought I was hearing a compression artifact, it's turned-out that the CD had the same "defect". Of course, I have heard low-quality low-bitrate MP3s.
 

czt

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No one can hear any difference other than dither noise (or the noise floor) A/B-ing short, quiet/fading sections in quality headphones. Everything else is BS. I don't waste my storage capacity to polluted ultrasound and humanly unbearable dynamic range. Do a null test and "hear" the difference.
 

SIY

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NB: Amazon vs Amazon HD is different. The HD version is CD quality or better. The non-HD is a questionable sounding lossy compressed data version.

What's confusing is that HD in this context means "no lossy compression" rather than "higher bitrate and bit depth than CD." The former is significant, the latter is dubious at best.
 

jcarys

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It's not total BS, but the amount of music that is really better than CD quality is very limited. If the music is recorded at 96k/24bit or higher, and then maintained throughout the production chain, then you can have a true hi-res recording. In reality, it's more likely going to be classical or jazz recordings or some "audiophile" specific labels. So you've got limited material, small enhancements to the sound, and whether you can hear the difference as factors. If it's worth it you with all those limitations is only something you can decide.
 

sergeauckland

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No one can hear any difference other than dither noise (or the noise floor) A/B-ing short, quiet/fading sections in quality headphones. Everything else is BS. I don't waste my storage capacity to polluted ultrasound and humanly unbearable dynamic range. Do a null test and "hear" the difference.
I would even argue that even dither noise and noise floor is inaudible on even half decent recordings, even on headphones, unless one artificially turns up the volume to hear the silence. It's all BS

S
 

Wes

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It is most certainly not all BS. However, you will have to expend some effort to winnow improved (or just different) SQ from the BS.

1. A meta-analysis by Reiss found marginal differences between SACD and CD.

2. When buying "HiRes" you must first ensure that the res. really is higher than Redbook CD. There are numerous instances where they are not.

3. A HiRes release may have had more care taken in the recording, mastering, or transfer from old analog tapes. MFSL often sounds a bit different from a regular CD for example (tho sometimes grunge removal ruins rock & roll). Also, the later Grateful Dead vault releases sound a lot better than older ones, no doubt due to the technology used to adjust for tape speed fluctuations.

Note that item #3 is not based on higher bitrate or depth.

It would be interesting to collect a sample of young musicians (say at Berkeley) and run some very careful tests. OTOH, the differences, if found, will likely be minor so who cares. Concentrate on #3.
 

Headchef

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compression and streaming carry their own set of flaws that degrade audio, with high quality kit it’s very easy for CD to output far better quality audio than the mainstream streamers, what ever they claim the source file was. if you want to use a purely data source you’re best off with WAV from Bandcamp or similar as that’s whats come straight from the desk.
 

acbarn

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This is from Mark Waldrep’s blog, about his HD-Audio Challenge:

“Here’s the question: Would average music listeners be able to pick out a hi-res audio track over a Red Book standard CD version of the same master recordings using their own playback systems? Paul MacGowan of PS Audio said, “Oh God yeah” in one of his videos. My research survey, conducted over these last 8 months, arrives at a different conclusion. Hi-Res Audio or HD-Audio provides no perceptible fidelity improvement over a standard-resolution CD or file. CD-spec and hi-res audio versions sound identical to vast majority of listeners through systems of all kinds. I’ll present the track by track breakdown over the next few articles, but the responses present a picture that is undeniable. In fact, over 25% of the listeners that submitted their results indicated “No Choice” when asked to pick the hi-res track. People were honest and acknowledged that they could not tell the two different versions apart. And those that made a selection admitted that it “was virtually impossible” to detect any differences or “they were essentially guessing” which was which.”

https://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=6993
 

Headchef

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This is from Mark Waldrep’s blog, about his HD-Audio Challenge:

“Here’s the question: Would average music listeners be able to pick out a hi-res audio track over a Red Book standard CD version of the same master recordings using their own playback systems? Paul MacGowan of PS Audio said, “Oh God yeah” in one of his videos. My research survey, conducted over these last 8 months, arrives at a different conclusion. Hi-Res Audio or HD-Audio provides no perceptible fidelity improvement over a standard-resolution CD or file. CD-spec and hi-res audio versions sound identical to vast majority of listeners through systems of all kinds. I’ll present the track by track breakdown over the next few articles, but the responses present a picture that is undeniable. In fact, over 25% of the listeners that submitted their results indicated “No Choice” when asked to pick the hi-res track. People were honest and acknowledged that they could not tell the two different versions apart. And those that made a selection admitted that it “was virtually impossible” to detect any differences or “they were essentially guessing” which was which.”

https://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=6993

I genuinely don’t understand posts like this, 25% of people asked didn’t care, the “vast majority of listeners through systems of all kinds”. I can see the place for “research“ like this in Hello or Grazia Magazine but not on a forum that’s dedicated to Audio and critical assessment of high fidelity reproduction.

the majority of the population couldn’t give a toss if music came out of a bean can. Fact. In fact that’s the only conclusion that appears to come to.
 

jsrtheta

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It is most certainly not all BS. However, you will have to expend some effort to winnow improved (or just different) SQ from the BS.

1. A meta-analysis by Reiss found marginal differences between SACD and CD.

2. When buying "HiRes" you must first ensure that the res. really is higher than Redbook CD. There are numerous instances where they are not.

3. A HiRes release may have had more care taken in the recording, mastering, or transfer from old analog tapes. MFSL often sounds a bit different from a regular CD for example (tho sometimes grunge removal ruins rock & roll). Also, the later Grateful Dead vault releases sound a lot better than older ones, no doubt due to the technology used to adjust for tape speed fluctuations.

Note that item #3 is not based on higher bitrate or depth.

It would be interesting to collect a sample of young musicians (say at Berkeley) and run some very careful tests. OTOH, the differences, if found, will likely be minor so who cares. Concentrate on #3.

Berkeley where?
 
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