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High Resolution Audio: Does It Matter?

M00ndancer

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Good mastering is the end goal regardless of the samplerate/bit depth. For storage at the record company use 24/96 or so that you might be able to use other mastering tools in the future to improve the sound. But I agree with @amirm , to have a business model you might have to have mass market versions present as well.
 

MRC01

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I think the record labels need to offer two levels of fidelity:
1. Loudness compressed or whatever they are doing that for mass market
2. Carefully mastered, full dynamic range music in whatever sample rate/bit depth (but might as well at least pick 24/48 kHz). They should perform blind listening tests to guarantee that this version is superior to #2. Then they should price these at 20% premium over #1.
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Hear! Hear!

If they must process the music to death to make it sound as loud as possible on the radio and streaming, the least they can do is to not apply that processing on formats used by people who care about fidelity, like CD or high-res downloads.

I have some CDs that disprove the notion that high-res makes any audible improvement in sound quality. Other factors: the mics used, setup, etc. make all the difference. Yet, high-res might sound better overall even if the improvement is not due to high res itself. Engineers recording specifically for high-res might take extra care or avoid applying the excessive processing (compression & EQ) that they otherwise would. This reminds me of debates among musicians about what kind of materials affect the tone of an instrument. For example, making a flute headjoint from platinum versus silver. The platinum certainly sounds different, and some would say better. But is that because of the metal? Certainly the company gives the platinum to their best craftsman who spends more time & care on it, being sold for thousands of dollars, than they do on the silver.
 
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nightfishing

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I think the record labels need to offer two levels of fidelity:

1. Loudness compressed or whatever they are doing that for mass market

2. Carefully mastered, full dynamic range music in whatever sample rate/bit depth (but might as well at least pick 24/48 kHz). They should perform blind listening tests to guarantee that this version is superior to #2. Then they should price these at 20% premium over #1.

They/industry is mistakenly picking higher specs as the improved version, not realizing that if it doesn't have better subjective fidelity, it is not a real market/business.

The whole audiophile LP business is another version of #2 by the way. Instead of releasing on vinyl, they should also have a target for digital.
Or they could just end the loudness wars. There were very "good" reasons to start them, but I.m not sure those reasons still exist. (really, I'm not sure lol)

The mass market equipment of the time made the compressed music "pop", but does that really hold true today? With streaming the go to source for most folks, if the compression went away across the board would the masses care (or notice)
 

Blumlein 88

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Hear! Hear!

If they must process the music to death to make it sound as loud as possible on the radio and streaming, the least they can do is to not apply that processing on formats used by people who care about fidelity, like CD or high-res downloads.

I have some CDs that disprove the notion that high-res makes any audible improvement in sound quality. Other factors: the mics used, setup, etc. make all the difference. Yet, high-res might sound better overall even if the improvement is not due to high res itself. Engineers recording specifically for high-res might take extra care or avoid applying the excessive processing (compression & EQ) that they otherwise would. This reminds me of debates among musicians about what kind of materials affect the tone of an instrument. For example, making a flute headjoint from platinum versus silver. The platinum certainly sounds different, and some would say better. But is that because of the metal? Certainly the company gives the platinum to their best craftsman who spends more time & care on it, being sold for thousands of dollars, than they do on the silver.
Not going to happen. Have had this conversation with some people in the business. Louder is better. End of the story.

They'll contend their special skills to slam it, squash it, put the kick in kick ass of it, make it better than if they didn't. It sounds superior this way. They wouldn't want to do less processing (that just means you lack skill to slam it a little harder). Might not be true of everyone, might not be true in several genre's of music. Of all mainstream stuff it seems to be. You have to grab these guys by the throat and choke them nearly to death to get them not to slam everything they touch (basically threaten not to pay them).

Californication originally had a DR of 10 for the album. There is later released hi res audio version in 24 bit which is an average of DR 4. So much better that way. o_O
 

MRC01

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It's ridiculous. I'll bet they could release that in 8-bit without losing any information.
It really turns me off from pop/rock music. I'm not too much of a music snob; some pop/rock has artistic merit, but the sound quality is so bad it's just too annoying and frustrating to listen to. As Prue says on the baking shows, "it's not worth the calories".
 

Daverz

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I don't listen to pop music much these days, but sometimes I'll listen to the Radio Paradise FLAC stream, which sounds pretty damn good to me. Perhaps they are good at choosing good sounding recordings.
 

AndrovichIV

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I was going to do this test but have forgotten. :) Will put it on my todo list when I get a chance.

Someone also asked a related question of whether they actually stream identical copies to CD or have some other master.
One can use Audascious and copy the bits that Tidal sends on transit. Save the file to the hard drive. Compute the checksum of said file and compare to the checksum of the same FLAC
 

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