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High Resolution Audio: Does It Matter?

andreasmaaan

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It is hard to grasp such loose assertions, is why.
The very concrete problem I posed in post #83 was completely ignored, so I was getting desperate.

Namely:

@amirm, in your article here you note that: "The paper authors hypothesize that it is the filtering “ringing” in the time domain that may have caused these artifacts. Ringing is an unavoidable manifestation of digital filtering. The sharper the filter has to be, the longer its “tails” (ringing) in time domain. The ear is not a spectrum analyzer but rather "hears" the samples as they arrive. In theory the ringing can be audible and potentially is what was heard."

In the other thread - if I understand @SIY and @DonH56 correctly - it was stated that digital FIR filters are capable of brickwall low pass filtering with flat amplitude and phase response below the cutoff point (the only price being increased latency).

@SIY says that it is therefore possible to confine the ringing to the "transition range", i.e. the range between the cutoff point and the nyquist frequency. In the case of an optimally implemented 44.1Khz LPF, this would mean it is possible to contain the ringing to the range between 20Khz and 22,050Hz.

Assuming this is correct, one would have to conclude one of three things:
  • the participants in the study had useful hearing above 20Khz;
  • the LPF applied to the "low-res" files in the study contained amplitude or phase error below 20Khz (was a sub-optimal filter??);
  • OR something else was going on which was not addressed.
Anyone care to speculate on this?
 

Wombat

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What about medium resolution?

I agree with mark the only Hires stuff has to be sourced as full higher resolution digital from now. It might still include plenty of analog effects boxes as those can be of widebandwidth and low noise themselves.

So what is medium res? Suppose you owned the old LP's. Very colored by the whole process to make an LP. The master tapes or re-masterings (if they don't muck it up which usually they do) are definitely of potentially better resolution and fidelity than the LP was. So you do a digital transfer and tasteful remastering you can have more resolution than ever was the case with LP, yet still not the resolution possible with modern digital recording. That is an increase in resolution, and fidelity and worth having even if not full hires.
I think for all resolutions it means that you can't do better than the source recorded material for content.

By the bye, his MQA comments in that blog are worth a look.
 
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svart-hvitt

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On hi-res and perfection:

Many of the applauded measurements on ASR deal with artefects that are (probably) below (most) people’s hearing limits.

So I don’t understand the opposition to hi-res.

Both measurements of gear and hi-res remind us that there is something called an ideal, attempt at perfection.

And we also know from science, research, testing and praxis that we should always allow for a margin of error; which means it makes sense to strive for recordings, audio products that go a bit (error margin) above a normal person’s hearing.

If hi-res recordings in addition would make artists and engineers even more careful - as if they were trying to reach for a higher ideal - hi-res makes even more sense.

In other words: I don’t understand the applause for gear that measures beyond human hearing while at the same time ridiculing hi-res. Where’s the consistency? Double standards are not twice as good.

From a distribution point of view: In a couple of years 5G is to be rolled out in forward nations. So the distribution bottle neck is not there anymore (FWIW, I have no problems streaming hi-res today, both by mobile and fixed).
 

sergeauckland

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On hi-res and perfection:

Many of the applauded measurements on ASR deal with artefects that are (probably) below (most) people’s hearing limits.

So I don’t understand the opposition to hi-res.

Both measurements of gear and hi-res remind us that there is something called an ideal, attempt at perfection.

And we also know from science, research, testing and praxis that we should always allow for a margin of error; which means it makes sense to strive for recordings, audio products that go a bit (error margin) above a normal person’s hearing.

If hi-res recordings in addition would make artists and engineers even more careful - as if they were trying to reach for a higher ideal - hi-res makes even more sense.

In other words: I don’t understand the applause for gear that measures beyond human hearing while at the same time ridiculing hi-res. Where’s the consistency? Double standards are not twice as good.

From a distribution point of view: In a couple of years 5G is to be rolled out in forward nations. So the distribution bottle neck is not there anymore (FWIW, I have no problems streaming hi-res today, both by mobile and fixed).
No inconsistency from my side, I think. Both are unnecessary. The difference is that these days it's hard to get equipment that doesn't measure well beyond human hearing capabilities, whereas most HiRes recordings use the extra capability to capture mostly ambient noise or in microphone amplifiers and not anything musically relevant. It's extra performance for the sake of it, (because we can) with no real benefit.
Using the highest resolution makes sense at the time of recording, as the recording will need editing and further manipulation, which is why recordings are done at 32 bit or more, and digital mixers usually work internally at higher bit depths still.

S
 

svart-hvitt

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No inconsistency from my side, I think. Both are unnecessary. The difference is that these days it's hard to get equipment that doesn't measure well beyond human hearing capabilities, whereas most HiRes recordings use the extra capability to capture mostly ambient noise or in microphone amplifiers and not anything musically relevant. It's extra performance for the sake of it, (because we can) with no real benefit.
Using the highest resolution makes sense at the time of recording, as the recording will need editing and further manipulation, which is why recordings are done at 32 bit or more, and digital mixers usually work internally at higher bit depths still.

S
You are categoric in your opposition to hi-res.

We always had the Stuart, Lavry etc. position that the optimal sampling rate is a bit above 44 kHz (ca. 60 kHz).

In the meantime we have had the Reiss meta study (2016) which says hi-res may or may not be worthwhile.

Then you jump over the aesthetic point on perfection, that may or may not push the artist and production crew a bit more towards their limits.

I cannot see why one should or could categorically write off hi-res (i.e. above 1644) as a format and concept.

The original Philips commercial for CD said «perfect sound forever». My point is that the Philips commercial can be contested and is not something we should accept as truth. If I can choose between a commercial and science including logical arguments I will always find science and logic more fascinating than a blanket statement of a decades old commercial.

 

Fitzcaraldo215

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I wish we’d sort out the RBCD ( to fully utilise it’s potential ) before worrying about hirez BUT unless there’s argument against having files in their native resolution ( assuming that’s highrez) what’s there to really talk about?

We are not constrained by the CD anymore and with storage and streaming rates no barrier why even consider the question.
What isn't already pretty much already sorted out about CD? What potential is still underutilized after all this time? It's pretty good right now. But, if you are still waiting for "perfect sound forever", it is a fully mature technology that just likely won't get much better, except by maybe a tiny smudge at a time. So, if you want more of whatever, sonically, you have to start searching new avenues. And, even they might not deliver any sort of colossal advantage, just a bigger one than you are likely to get from the glacial, continued technical evolution of CD. You know me, though. The biggest, most worthwhile advance in absolute sound quality in a generation is already here as discrete Mch, overcoming the CD's limitations there. Hirez audio became an inseparable part of that some time ago, for the better, IMHO.

Yes, agreed, as all physical media decline, it will help start to open other possibilities via Internet distribution. Although, if the popular music people want is still only in RDCD format, then it will continue to prevail. Most popular music and best sound don't necessarily coincide. Actually, they seldom do even since the days of 45 RPM single donuts. But, I don't think popular music producers care too much about higher fidelity, unless they can find a way to market it. They don't want to revamp all their recording equipment, production work flow, etc. unless they can find a easy way to profit from it. And, let's not forget that attempts to offer popular music on SACD have largely flopped and been abandoned, except for remastered reissues from the older catalog, which are not true hirez.

Outside popular music, things are rather different, as I have found. Quite a number of small classical labels have been primarily dedicated to improved sound quality, recording natively in hirez and Mch in spite of their tiny niche status for nearly two decades. At first, I was not planning to go whole hog into hirez Mch. I could still play CDs, after all. But, as I got into it, I quickly realized that there was enough great music there to satisfy me. It was a tiny fraction of the CD world, but the sound quality and artistic quality were more than worth it. As a result, I have not bought a CD or RBCD download in over a decade. Also, there is not just SACD. BD-Videos of live concerts, operas, ballets often have remarkable sound quality even at 48k/24. BD-Audio is relatively tiny, but also worthwhile and compatible with all the above. But, streaming and downloads are the future, hopefully improving our choices.
 

Thomas savage

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What isn't already pretty much already sorted out about CD? What potential is still underutilized after all this time? It's pretty good right now. But, if you are still waiting for "perfect sound forever", it is a fully mature technology that just likely won't get much better, except by maybe a tiny smudge at a time. So, if you want more of whatever, sonically, you have to start searching new avenues. And, even they might not deliver any sort of colossal advantage, just a bigger one than you are likely to get from the glacial, continued technical evolution of CD. You know me, though. The biggest, most worthwhile advance in absolute sound quality in a generation is already here as discrete Mch, overcoming the CD's limitations there. Hirez audio became an inseparable part of that some time ago, for the better, IMHO.

Yes, agreed, as all physical media decline, it will help start to open other possibilities via Internet distribution. Although, if the popular music people want is still only in RDCD format, then it will continue to prevail. Most popular music and best sound don't necessarily coincide. Actually, they seldom do even since the days of 45 RPM single donuts. But, I don't think popular music producers care too much about higher fidelity, unless they can find a way to market it. They don't want to revamp all their recording equipment, production work flow, etc. unless they can find a easy way to profit from it. And, let's not forget that attempts to offer popular music on SACD have largely flopped and been abandoned, except for remastered reissues from the older catalog, which are not true hirez.

Outside popular music, things are rather different, as I have found. Quite a number of small classical labels have been primarily dedicated to improved sound quality, recording natively in hirez and Mch in spite of their tiny niche status for nearly two decades. At first, I was not planning to go whole hog into hirez Mch. I could still play CDs, after all. But, as I got into it, I quickly realized that there was enough great music there to satisfy me. It was a tiny fraction of the CD world, but the sound quality and artistic quality were more than worth it. As a result, I have not bought a CD or RBCD download in over a decade. Also, there is not just SACD. BD-Videos of live concerts, operas, ballets often have remarkable sound quality even at 48k/24. BD-Audio is relatively tiny, but also worthwhile and compatible with all the above. But, streaming and downloads are the future, hopefully improving our choices.
Oh, ok...,

https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...tracks-unprocessed-off-of-cd.3636/#post-87038

This is one example but there’s tons of example of the full technical benefits of RBCD not being utilised .
 

sergeauckland

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You are categoric in your opposition to hi-res.

We always had the Stuart, Lavry etc. position that the optimal sampling rate is a bit above 44 kHz (ca. 60 kHz).

In the meantime we have had the Reiss meta study (2016) which says hi-res may or may not be worthwhile.

Then you jump over the aesthetic point on perfection, that may or may not push the artist and production crew a bit more towards their limits.

I cannot see why one should or could categorically write off hi-res (i.e. above 1644) as a format and concept.

The original Philips commercial for CD said «perfect sound forever». My point is that the Philips commercial can be contested and is not something we should accept as truth. If I can choose between a commercial and science including logical arguments I will always find science and logic more fascinating than a blanket statement of a decades old commercial.

I am opposed to anything unnecessary. In my view, HiRes is unnecessary, as it doesn't provide any audible benefit for the vast majority over RBCD. Hell, for many people, it doesn't even provide any benefit over MP3, but I'll skip over that one.

If one or two audiophiles think they can hear a benefit, then so what? What actually are they hearing? A wider frequency response, no, not when the microphones used drop off above 18kHz, although a few recordings are now being done with wider bandwidth microphones. Lower noise? No, because the noise mostly comes from the microphone amplifiers and ambient noise. Even those newer wider bandwidth microphones have higher self-noise than the older mics. Lower distortion? No, because RBCD is already so much lower in distortion than is audible, so what exactly is the benefit of HiRes?

S.
 

andreasmaaan

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I am opposed to anything unnecessary. In my view, HiRes is unnecessary, as it doesn't provide any audible benefit for the vast majority over RBCD. Hell, for many people, it doesn't even provide any benefit over MP3, but I'll skip over that one.

If one or two audiophiles think they can hear a benefit, then so what? What actually are they hearing? A wider frequency response, no, not when the microphones used drop off above 18kHz, although a few recordings are now being done with wider bandwidth microphones. Lower noise? No, because the noise mostly comes from the microphone amplifiers and ambient noise. Even those newer wider bandwidth microphones have higher self-noise than the older mics. Lower distortion? No, because RBCD is already so much lower in distortion than is audible, so what exactly is the benefit of HiRes?

S.
The prime candidate based on the discussion thus far seems to be phase linearity (and especially the absence of pre-ringing) throughout the audible range... notwithstanding that nobody actually seems to be able to give a clear answer as to whether or not this is actually impossible with RBCD in the first place.
 

sergeauckland

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I'm old enough to have been through a fair few audio changes, from AM radio to FM to FM stereo. From mono LP to stereo LP to CD via cassette (with a side road of Quadraphonics) In each case, there was a clear quality difference, and (Quadraphonics aside) improvement, obvious even to the Great Unwashed. It didn't need blind listening tests and statistical analysis to detect whether there was an improvement. With Hires, we're still arguing whether there actually is an improvement or not, and if there is one, then it's pretty subtle, and what is it? That to me goes firmly into the 'Who Cares' category, the audio equivalent of Angels dancing on pinheads.

If HiRes wants to capture the mass-market, which is the only thing major record companies care about, it's going to have to find something rather more obvious than subtle discussions about phase linearity or pre-ringing which means absolutely nothing to the music-buying general public. That's why I think the whole HiRes business is a nonsense, of interest only to a few geeks.

S.
 

svart-hvitt

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I'm old enough to have been through a fair few audio changes, from AM radio to FM to FM stereo. From mono LP to stereo LP to CD via cassette (with a side road of Quadraphonics) In each case, there was a clear quality difference, and (Quadraphonics aside) improvement, obvious even to the Great Unwashed. It didn't need blind listening tests and statistical analysis to detect whether there was an improvement. With Hires, we're still arguing whether there actually is an improvement or not, and if there is one, then it's pretty subtle, and what is it? That to me goes firmly into the 'Who Cares' category, the audio equivalent of Angels dancing on pinheads.

If HiRes wants to capture the mass-market, which is the only thing major record companies care about, it's going to have to find something rather more obvious than subtle discussions about phase linearity or pre-ringing which means absolutely nothing to the music-buying general public. That's why I think the whole HiRes business is a nonsense, of interest only to a few geeks.

S.
Even Apple write:

«An ideal master will have 24-bit 96kHz resolution. These files contain more detail from which our encoders can create more accurate encodes».

And look at this quote on what is today’s industry standard:

«Even so, many experts feel that using higher resolution PCM files during production provides better-quality audio and a superior listening experience in the end product. For this reason, 96/24 resolution is quickly becoming a standard format in the industry, and it’s also common to see higher resolution files, such as 192/24».

If your playback chain has DSP in it, would you rather have the hi-res master or a downsized 1644 file to feed the DSP?

Link to Apple note on file format: https://www.apple.com/itunes/mastered-for-itunes/docs/mastered_for_itunes.pdf
 

andreasmaaan

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Even Apple write:

«An ideal master will have 24-bit 96kHz resolution. These files contain more detail from which our encoders can create more accurate encodes».

And look at this quote on what is today’s industry standard:

«Even so, many experts feel that using higher resolution PCM files during production provides better-quality audio and a superior listening experience in the end product. For this reason, 96/24 resolution is quickly becoming a standard format in the industry, and it’s also common to see higher resolution files, such as 192/24».

If your playback chain has DSP in it, would you rather have the hi-res master or a downsized 1644 file to feed the DSP?

Link to Apple note on file format: https://www.apple.com/itunes/mastered-for-itunes/docs/mastered_for_itunes.pdf
If there is no audible loss of fidelity, then I wouldn't mind which...

The question for the geeks here is whether there is an audible loss of fidelity.
 

andreasmaaan

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Well, Apple are pretty straight-forward that 2496 is ideal before processing.
Yes - misunderstanding I think. There is no question that when it comes to recording and processing hi-res is preferable.

The discussion as I understood it was about hi-res as a distribution format.
 

svart-hvitt

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Yes - misunderstanding I think. There is no question that when it comes to recording and processing hi-res is preferable.

The discussion as I understood it was about hi-res as a distribution format.
Yes, and some people want hi-res distributed to them for their own DSP. You see, there is both professional DSP on the production side and domestic DSP on the playback side.
 

Blumlein 88

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The standard in the whole industry is 44/24. It shows no signs of changing. Maybe it will eventually align with video at 48/24.

I might give some credence to the idea 96/24 is a little extra to ensure a blameless process. When people start talking 192 and above is it no longer about anything except selling the idea to the public.
 

andreasmaaan

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The standard in the whole industry is 44/24. It shows no signs of changing. Maybe it will eventually align with video at 48/24.

I might give some credence to the idea 96/24 is a little extra to ensure a blameless process. When people start talking 192 and above is it no longer about anything except selling the idea to the public.
Well said.

But 24/88.2 might be best, for cleaner downsampling to redbook, no?
 

sergeauckland

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Even Apple write:

«An ideal master will have 24-bit 96kHz resolution. These files contain more detail from which our encoders can create more accurate encodes».

And look at this quote on what is today’s industry standard:

«Even so, many experts feel that using higher resolution PCM files during production provides better-quality audio and a superior listening experience in the end product. For this reason, 96/24 resolution is quickly becoming a standard format in the industry, and it’s also common to see higher resolution files, such as 192/24».

If your playback chain has DSP in it, would you rather have the hi-res master or a downsized 1644 file to feed the DSP?

Link to Apple note on file format: https://www.apple.com/itunes/mastered-for-itunes/docs/mastered_for_itunes.pdf
Yes but Apple are a commercial company (and how!) with an agenda to set. Furthermore, they're talking about masters for them to process for distribution. In that I don't disagree. 24/94 makes sense if you're going to process further. What matters to me is the distribution format, not any intermediate steps, and judging by the dire quality of many 44.1/16 releases, we still have a long way to go before we run out of RDCD quality and need (note: not want, but need) more resolution. As long as listening is done on human ears, I still come back to my main point in that nobody has yet shown how RDCD is lacking. Yes, HiRes is technically better, in the same way that an amplifier with 0.001% distortion is better than one with 0.01% distortion, but so what? How is HiRes better in a way that 'normal' people can appreciate?

S.
 
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