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High Resolution Audio: Does It Matter?

Blumlein 88

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and, from another reputable corner, Dan Lavry...back in *2004*





I lost count long ago how many times I've linked hi rez cheerleaders to this paper (and others of his where he fleshes his argument out). Lavry has a stake in this -- he makes highly respected ADCs. And yet the dominant engineer-side voice re: hi rez has long been the increasingly quackery-friendly Bob Stuart of Meridian.
I think you'll find Dan Lavry was cued into these ideas from @j_j just up thread. I think j_j's reasoning beyond frequency response of ears or music is theoretically steep filters with less than 4 khz for a transition zone can cause the filtering to spread energy over more time than the filters in human ears causing it to be potentially audible. So 48 khz with very good filters might be enough to avoid that. If we had response to 25 khz, and a 5 khz transition band for nyquist of 30 khz (60 khz sample rate) we should be golden on all that.

Hopefully j_j will correct any misconceptions I've had about that.
 

Krunok

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There is no simple answer or any indication that it makes an obvious, slam dunk difference. Different test studies with different methodologies have reached different conclusions or levels of significance. Some listeners in some studies heard a difference fairly consistently, some did not. Some test studies got overall higher levels of discrimination among all trials, some did not. Was it the differing methodology of the test studies, perhaps?
My opinion is this: unless audio science is able to deliver simple, well defined answers to a fundamental questions, like the one I asked, there will always be a space for "subjectivists" stating that not only the difference betwen RBCD and 24/192 can be heard, but also the difference between network players, power supply cables, interconnect cables and onlyGodknowswhatelse can be heard.

Now, either you, very experienced and theorethically sound gentleman, get your schiit together and prove, based on scientifically sound methods, what makes the difference and what not, or you make ground for "subjectivists" to claim whatever they want, as you were not able to prove otherwise.
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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Reiss's choice of data to crucially include or exclude in his meta-analysis is hardly flawless either. And one of the major so-called flaws of M-M is merely a laughably transparent case of goalpost-shifting on the part of hi-rez advocates.

As for the central question 'does it sound different': if it takes a meta-analysis to suggest a difference at all, *you* , the random listener, probably can't hear it.
Well, yes, but at least Reiss cites the studies eliminated and his reasons why. You are free to research those studies yourself and do your own “unbiased” analysis publically in response. Whether you agree with Reiss’ approach and conclusions or not, his paper is valuable in summarizing the available research.

M-M is dead and totally discredited. Brad Meyer himself eventually declared after many critiques that his study had not been a proper scientific study. But, the study itself lives on as “proof”, still frequently cited but without Meyer’s devastating follow up.

Yes, I think I concluded essentially the same thing: the random listener probably can’t hear it because the difference is likely too small. But, that does not prove the non-existence of the difference, particularly for listeners trained or experienced in listening for it.
 

Blumlein 88

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My opinion is this: unless audio science is able to deliver simple, well defined answers to a fundamental questions, like the one I asked, there will always be a space for "subjectivists" stating that not only the difference betwen RBCD and 24/192 can be heard, but also the difference between network players, power supply cables, interconnect cables and onlyGodknowswhatelse can be heard.

Now, either you, very experienced and theorethically sound gentleman, get your schiit together and prove, based on scientifically sound methods, what makes the difference and what not, or you make ground for "subjectivists" to claim whatever they want, as you were not able to prove otherwise.
Well there is enough to say there is no point in going beyond 96 khz. That would be considered hirez.
 

Krunok

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Well there is enough to say there is no point in going beyond 96 khz. That would be considered hirez.
Ok, that sounds simple and thus practical. So, is there a general expert consensus that at least some part of the population (for example young trained persons) can hear the difference between 44.1/16 and 96/24?
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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My opinion is this: unless audio science is able to deliver simple, well defined answers to a fundamental questions, like the one I asked, there will always be a space for "subjectivists" stating that not only the difference betwen RBCD and 24/192 can be heard, but also the difference between network players, power supply cables, interconnect cables and onlyGodknowswhatelse can be heard.

Now, either you, very experienced and theorethically sound gentleman, get your schiit together and prove, based on scientifically sound methods, what makes the difference and what not, or you make ground for "subjectivists" to claim whatever they want, as you were not able to prove otherwise.
You appear to demand simple exactitude from audio science that other fields of science cannot and have not provided. And, science does not ever sweep away and vanquish subjectivists or believers in myth. Many here in the USA still absolutely do not believe in evolution, climate change, vaccinations, etc., etc.

So, not suggesting the existence of something for which there is some scientific evidence because it will only encourage the subjectivists is a rather weak argument, if I may say so. They will be there no matter what science says.
 

Krunok

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You appear to demand simple exactitude from audio science that other fields of science cannot and have not provided. And, science does not ever sweep away and vanquish subjectivists or believers in myth. Many here in the USA still absolutely do not believe in evolution, climate change, vaccinations, etc., etc.

So, not suggesting the existence of something for which there is some scientific evidence because it will only encourage the subjectivists is a rather weak argument, if I may say so. They will be there no matter what science says.
Yes, I do demand simple exactitude from any science, so as well from audio science as well, because IMHO that IS the very purpose of science. I don't care how many people in USA, or in any other part of the word, believe that Earth is flat, that vaccinations cause authism and all the other nonsense I cannot now possibly think of. But I do believe, if we are going to think about selves as a people that believe in sceince then we should be able to articulate our knowledge/findings in a consice way, for example like this:

- Earth is not flat, it is round
- vaccines are very effective against deseas and they in no way cause authism
- people cannot hear the difference between 96/24 and higher res files, only bats can

If we cannot do that, let's not call ourselves scientists, nor even science followers.
 

Blumlein 88

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Ok, that sounds simple and thus practical. So, is there a general expert consensus that at least some part of the population (for example young trained persons) can hear the difference between 44.1/16 and 96/24?
No I don't think there is a consensus.

It is possible, it is unlikely and depends upon how you want to draw the line.

My personal best guess (and I am no expert) is with some artificial test signals a difference could be heard.

With music I don't think so. It may be possible for some very small number of people I wouldn't rule out it being possible. None of those people are middle aged or older audiophiles in my opinion. And I don't know of any good evidence to the contrary.

So it is one of those situations where 96 khz is enough theoretically to be totally and completely transparent with no sound of its own perceptible by any humans. 44.1 might meet that same criteria for 99% of the listening public on music. But being on the edge various poor designs can interfere with that. 48 khz might get you there for 99.9% of the listening public. And the difference in any who can hear it would be very small. It isn't like it would be nearly unlistenable at 44.1 khz to anyone. The difference is so small almost any other aspect of playback would have a larger effect.
 

Blumlein 88

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I think the Meridian tests prior to the release of MQA are a good example.

Using extraordinary listen rooms which were very quiet. With extraordinary gear including speakers well behaved to 40 khz. Using highly trained listeners trained in the very thing they were testing for (filtering effects) over hundreds of trials. The results were just over 56% of the time the filtering at 44 khz was chosen correctly vs recordings done at 192 khz. This was just barely over the 95% confidence level for that many trials. And this was using an unusually sharp filter with less than a 500 hz transition band. People were trained to hear it using filters with a 125 hz transition band.

With all of these things tilted in favor of making a difference audible it appears a real difference was heard. The difference however is 56% correct choices vs 50% if you had flipped a coin for each choice. I would consider such a difference trivially small. It seems extremely likely using a transition band of 2050 hz for the filter would have rendered it undetectable under these conditions.
 

DonH56

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Yes, I do demand simple exactitude from any science, so as well from audio science as well, because IMHO that IS the very purpose of science.
<elided>
If we cannot do that, let's not call ourselves scientists, nor even science followers.
Science is mostly theories and hypotheses, some proven, some not, and with as much measurement and empirical data as possible to back it up. To me science's purpose is more in the discovery and the journey than the exact answer; the answer can change depending upon so many variables including new ones discovered through further investigation.

Then there is quantum physics, the impact of the observer, and that damned cat... :)

Guess that's why I am a hairy-knuckled low-brow engineer instead of a real scientist...
 
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Fitzcaraldo215

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Yes, I do demand simple exactitude from any science, so as well from audio science as well, because IMHO that IS the very purpose of science. I don't care how many people in USA, or in any other part of the word, believe that Earth is flat, that vaccinations cause authism and all the other nonsense I cannot now possibly think of. But I do believe, if we are going to think about selves as a people that believe in sceince then we should be able to articulate our knowledge/findings in a consice way, for example like this:

- Earth is not flat, it is round
- vaccines are very effective against deseas and they in no way cause authism
- people cannot hear the difference between 96/24 and higher res files, only bats can

If we cannot do that, let's not call ourselves scientists, nor even science followers.
Ok, demand away all you wish. I don’t think science will comply with your wish. Nor will subjectivists agree with even the elementary, dumbed-down science you advocate.

If only every understanding of every concept in the universe, no matter how complex, could be boiled down to one sentence. All those heavy science textbooks I used to lug around in college could have just been a few pages. Why didn’t those science morons think of that?
 

krabapple

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Well, yes, but at least Reiss cites the studies eliminated and his reasons why. You are free to research those studies yourself and do your own “unbiased” analysis publically in response. Whether you agree with Reiss’ approach and conclusions or not, his paper is valuable in summarizing the available research.

M-M is dead and totally discredited. Brad Meyer himself eventually declared after many critiques that his study had not been a proper scientific study. But, the study itself lives on as “proof”, still frequently cited but without Meyer’s devastating follow up.

Yes, I think I concluded essentially the same thing: the random listener probably can’t hear it because the difference is likely too small. But, that does not prove the non-existence of the difference, particularly for listeners trained or experienced in listening for it.
I've not seen E. Brad Meyer's devastating follow up, can you point me to it? In any case, M-M tested the then-current reports, totally anecdotal, very often seen in publications and online, that the difference between *any* 'hi rez' release (*regardless of whether it was sourced from analog *) and its CD counterpart was 1) obvious and 2) due to Hi rez (with the SACD or DVDA pretty much invariably sounding better). Their results provided no support for those claims. Given how much against the audiophile grain such data go, it's obviously important for hi rez advocates, including those who think that their 'training' and 'experience' privileges their hearing of it (it's funny how many of you there are), to insist that MM has no evidentiary worth. But their insistence that MM fails on the grounds that MM didn't use exclusively DSD or hi-rez PCM-sourced discs, is contemptibly post-hoc. The pre-MM claim in the biz (including the hi-end press) was *NEVER* that 'you can only really hear the obvious benefits of hi rez if you have a purely hi rez signal chain'. Nor was it 'you need to be a SPECIALLY TRAINED LISTENER to hear the superiority of hi rez".

Face it: in the normal course of listening, whatever difference you, yes, even you, think you hear isn't likely due to 'hi rez', but to simple mastering difference. And in the abnormal course of listening, i.e., if you're in fact actually comparing a hi rez release to a properly downconverted copy, you're probably not hearing a real difference at all. Gee, now, who already offered up results like that.....?
 
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Krunok

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Ok, demand away all you wish. I don’t think science will comply with your wish. Nor will subjectivists agree with even the elementary, dumbed-down science you advocate.

If only every understanding of every concept in the universe, no matter how complex, could be boiled down to one sentence. All those heavy science textbooks I used to lug around in college could have just been a few pages. Why didn’t those science morons think of that?
Oh , trust me, I'm not trying to overrsimplfy things here, but If the audio science is not able to draw a line with max bitrate that even the best hearing individuals can hear than maybe it is not deserved to be called science but guesswork. I have seen studies which draw the line of minimum time to run 100m race, so if the same cannot be done with the bitrate than maybe it speakes much about the audio scientist as well.
 

Krunok

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Science is mostly theories and hypotheses, some proven, some not, and with as much measurement and empirical data as possible to back it up. To me science's purpose is more in the discovery and the journey than the exact answer; the answer can change depending upon so many variables including new ones discovered through further investigation.

The there is quantum physics, the impact of the observer, and that damned cat... :)

Guess that's why I am a hairy-knuckled low-brow engineer instead of a real scientist...
Science should be a base for engineering a new, better products. If it doesn't serve that pupose it is pretty much useless.
 

krabapple

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My opinion is this: unless audio science is able to deliver simple, well defined answers to a fundamental questions, like the one I asked,
Who says science commonly trucks in 'simple, well-defined' answers? I can guarantee you that in my own field [biology], there are exceptions to almost every 'simple-well defined' rule. At the same time, we don't throw our hands up and say, well, since reality is so complex, everything's equally possible.

there will always be a space for "subjectivists" stating that not only the difference betwen RBCD and 24/192 can be heard, but also the difference between network players, power supply cables, interconnect cables and onlyGodknowswhatelse can be heard.
Well, yes, it's called a 'god in the gaps' argument. There are always gaps. What's curious is the eagerness of some people to *fill them* with faith in the 'merely unknown'.


Now, either you, very experienced and theorethically sound gentleman, get your schiit together and prove, based on scientifically sound methods, what makes the difference and what not, or you make ground for "subjectivists" to claim whatever they want, as you were not able to prove otherwise.
Your logic is seriously flawed. (see above)
 
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DonH56

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As an engineer I've learned the scientific base (basis) for many things is a little shaky... Not useless, but often a starting point, not the end-all-be-all.
 

Krunok

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So it is one of those situations where 96 khz is enough theoretically to be totally and completely transparent with no sound of its own perceptible by any humans. 44.1 might meet that same criteria for 99% of the listening public on music. But being on the edge various poor designs can interfere with that. 48 khz might get you there for 99.9% of the listening public. And the difference in any who can hear it would be very small. It isn't like it would be nearly unlistenable at 44.1 khz to anyone. The difference is so small almost any other aspect of playback would have a larger effect.
This sounds very reasonable to me, but there should be a wide consensus on this if there is a message to be send to consumers and audiphiles to start pressing manufacturers to stop fooling people around with HiRes, DSD and all other useless stuff and instead start manufacturing reasonably priced stuff that will meet these specs.
 
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