CD quality vs. high res

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Re: CD quality vs. high res

Postby (Tube_Fan) » Sun Oct 27, 2019 8:48 pm

Audiophiles & the Masses Deserve the Best Quality
Whether or not someone can hear the differences between 16/44 files and 24/192 files, audio hobbyists and music lovers still have the right to purchase the highest-quality audio files.

Robert Archer · April 11, 2012

It’s like shooting fish in a barrel I suppose. In many cases it’s understandable why the audio production industry dismisses so-called audiophiles’ listening methods as unproven and their equipment choices as expensive hyperbole, and why the general public mocks their behavior as dorky fanaticism.

It is unfair, however, that they have been criticized for their desire for something that we all should want: The best sounding recordings.

A recently published article on a think tank type of website asserts that high-resolution audio files offer no discernible improvement in performance, and that audiophiles aren’t capable of hearing any difference between CD quality (16-bit/44kHz) files and 24-bit/192kHz files.

The author of this essay “Monty” on the website Xiph.org attempts through the use of a number of scientific papers to build a case that there are no such thing as “golden ears.” Then he systematically breaks down 44kHz sampling rates versus higher sampling rates, as well as 16-bit word length files versus 24-bit word lengths.

His conclusion as I alluded to earlier is that consumers, which include audiophiles, don’t need high-resolution files and that the best way to improve the listening experience is to buy better headphones and to use lossless audio formats. Taking it a step further, he adds buying high-resolution files doesn’t solve anything because there was never a problem with CD quality audio file levels, and those who promote high-resolution files are “scamming” people.

There are a number of flaws with “Monty’s” assertion that people don’t need high-resolution files, beyond the fact that if people want to buy them they should be allowed to. For instance, his point that they are large files is irrelevant because hard-drive space is cheap today. Storing these files is no longer an issue with external drives well below $100, NAS drives priced incrementally higher at approximately $125 for 1TB and cloud computing with nominal subscription fees.

My biggest gripe with this paper is that he makes no attempt to interview anyone from the Audio Engineering Society (AES) or any professional engineers or musicians. Every piece of data he offers to support his point is scientific theory that really has no basis in the real world—they are nothing but whitepapers.

The one test he does use from the Boston Audio Society (BAS), which tested trained and untrained listeners, found that just over 49 percent of those who participated said they could not find a difference between high-resolution music played from DVD-Audio and SACDs, and CDs. The problem with this test is that if he can conclude that participants were simply guessing, I can state that the 49.8 percent who could identify the differences in music were the trained listeners and that this listening test doesn’t prove a thing. I’ve always stated that audiophiles need to take ear training classes to validate their hobby and the BAS’ test does nothing to disprove my stance.

I could be wrong though, maybe “Monty” the New Englander did contact an expert like fellow New Englander Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering or perhaps he spoke to some music professors at the Berklee School of Music, New England Conservatory (NEC) or the University of Massachusetts Lowell and didn’t get the answers he wanted.

The way I think of it is kind of like the world of exotic cars. If a consumer has enough money to afford a Corvette, Ferrari or Lamborghini, all the power to them; I hope they enjoy their purchase. Most likely these owners will never drive on Germany’s Autobahn never mind fly down Interstate 95 at a 150 mph in these vehicles, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to buy them. Maybe a few of these car owners take driving courses to have a little back road fun with them ... but even if they buy them to pick up girls, who cares, it’s their money.

Following the same rationale, there’s no harm with consumers buying these high-resolution audio files. Consumers don’t have to have the listening skills of Alan Parsons, Bob Ludwig or Steve Vai. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best possible quality available, even if they can’t totally comprehend the full benefit of the technology, might not have the highest-quality gear to play back the files, or if the advantages are just theoretical.


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Re: CD quality vs. high res

Postby (iiipopes) » Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:11 am

As a young man, I could hear the 19 kHz pilot tone on the unfiltered studio feed in the FM station I worked in for a little spending money in high school. I could see, well, far, far away. Now, at 57, I still have most of my hearing, but my glasses are thick, and I can no longer discern some of the highest frequencies; they simply fade away on a frequency sweep.

Oh, how I wish I had the higher resolution available to me thirty, forty years ago, when I could appreciate it then; but then I did not have the cash flow to afford it.

To follow up on the analogy of a supercar posted above: I used to own a 1967 Jaguar E-type convertible, and yes, I have top-ended it at the red line with the American 3.54 differential gears at 135 mph. I would have done the advertised 150 if I had the European 3.07 differential. Now, my knees and hips do not like clutches and shifting, and the dexterity is not there to keep the carburetors tuned and some other routine maintenance, and I can tell the reflexes have slowed where I should not drive that fast in any event. So now I have a 2003 Jaguar XK8 convertible that is more comfortable, has automatic transmission, and I am on a first-name basis with a wonderful lady mechanic who worked at Ford when these were new cars and Ford owned Jaguar, and you could take it to a Ford dealership for maintenance, so I get import quality service at domestic shop rates.

Yes, all musicians deserve the best quality audio, both for listening and for performing; it is all about what you have the physical ability to appreciate and the money to realize it.
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Re: CD quality vs. high res

Postby (Tube_Fan) » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:32 pm

When I was in my 20's I could hear 20 kHz using a signal generator and piezo tweater. A couple years ago the highest I could hear was 17.2 kHz and a little later it was 16.5 kHz. More recently I found that the highest I could hear was 13.5 kHz. FM radio is limited to 15 kHz so that might be enough. Years ago I compared 44.1 vs. 48 kHz with a DAT machine and could hear the difference. I could also hear a big difference between CD's, SACD's and 24/96 DVD's. I haven't tried comparing things recently.


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