HD Tracks - Is it worth downloading higher resolution tracks? - AVS Forum
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I have downloaded a few albums from HD Tracks and so far have been happy with the results. What I have always done is to download in the standard FLAC format, then convert to WAV and create a CD for my collection. I then will use that CD to load to iTunes in whatever compressed formats I choose...usually MP3 VBR somewhere between 192-226 kbps.

My questions are...Is it worth paying extra for the 96/24 or even 176/24 flac downloads if I'm just converting to WAV? Can these higher flac resolutions be converted to SACD with some program I'm not aware of? I do have a Marantz SACD/DVD-A player with multichannel setup. I generally do not listen to music directly from my computer.

Thanks!
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:11 AM
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If you're converting the downloads to a CD-audio format, you're losing the high-definition quality you paid for. CD audio is 44.1/16 while the flac files are 96/24 and higher.

To convert the files to an SACD format, you would need a decent converter to go from a multibit format such as 96/24 and 192/24 to a DSD format used for an SACD. You would also need to provide proper track timing, titling, etc. to get it to be recognized as an SACD by your Marantz player. Not all stand-alone SACD players can handle SACD-r.

If you want to retain the high quality sound you paid for, you could get a cheap media player, such as the WDTV, and use that to play your flac files from a USB drive.
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Old 03-31-2013, 01:39 PM
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You can burn them in a DVD-Audio format. Your universal player can play directly those files.
Free utility: http://dvd-audio.sourceforge.net/

Actually, you can burn them even on DVD-Video format as PCM 24 bit and 96kHz SR. You would have to add some static pictures during authoring process.
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Old 03-31-2013, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

You can burn them in a DVD-Audio format. Your universal player can play directly those files.
Free utility: http://dvd-audio.sourceforge.net/

Actually, you can burn them even on DVD-Video format as PCM 24 bit and 96kHz SR. You would have to add some static pictures during authoring process.

Yes. That's what I do. I download the 24/96 FLAC files and burn them onto DVD-R in DVD-A format (I use a free program called Burn on Mac OS X) - piece of cake. They all sound wonderful. That's what we pay all those $$$ for after all - so that they sound much better than an average CD.
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Old 03-31-2013, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoNic67 View Post

You can burn them in a DVD-Audio format. Your universal player can play directly those files.
Free utility: http://dvd-audio.sourceforge.net/

Actually, you can burn them even on DVD-Video format as PCM 24 bit and 96kHz SR. You would have to add some static pictures during authoring process.

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Originally Posted by warp2600 View Post

Yes. That's what I do. I download the 24/96 FLAC files and burn them onto DVD-R in DVD-A format (I use a free program called Burn on Mac OS X) - piece of cake. They all sound wonderful. That's what we pay all those $$$ after all - so that they sound much better than an average CD.

Wow, I didn't know these programs existed. Never paid much attention to converting to DVD-A since I play everything from my htpc or media player.

Thanks.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minidiscbob View Post

I have downloaded a few albums from HD Tracks and so far have been happy with the results. What I have always done is to download in the standard FLAC format, then convert to WAV and create a CD for my collection. I then will use that CD to load to iTunes in whatever compressed formats I choose...usually MP3 VBR somewhere between 192-226 kbps.

My questions are...Is it worth paying extra for the 96/24 or even 176/24 flac downloads if I'm just converting to WAV? Can these higher flac resolutions be converted to SACD with some program I'm not aware of? I do have a Marantz SACD/DVD-A player with multichannel setup. I generally do not listen to music directly from my computer.

Thanks!

I don't bother with HD tracks for the most part. I like the HD disc formats for the multichannel mixes, and I consider the HD stereo versions on those discs a nice bonus, but I don't think its worth paying a premium just for the stereo version. HDTracks in particular also has a spotty track record with certain albums being upsampled from the CD master and sold as "HD" versions. That's the fault of the shady record labels, not HDTracks, but that's been an issue with both downloads and with some SACD/DVD-A disc releases.

YMMV, but I have a hell of a time telling a 96/24 track apart from the same track downsampled to 44.1/16, if at all. There's also good evidence that our ears are unable to detect any difference:
http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
I don't endorse everything in that article, but the overall case is pretty compelling IMO. Since my iDevices and appletv top out at 48/16 anyway, I find that having everything in itunes in CD-quality ALAC format is far more convenient than maintaining multiple versions of the same tracks. For me, that outweighs the very tiny improvement I can hear (or think I can hear) with the higher res stereo formats.

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Old 04-01-2013, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I really appreciate all of your input. I didn't realize that I could actually download these and convert to DVD-A. Does this program mentioned above also convert to 5.1?

I may give it a go. I spent a lot of hard earned cash back in 2004 to get myself set up for multichannel DVD-A and SACD. Then my interest waned just like the formats did. If I can actually make my own DVD-A recordings, that would be great! I also see where Audio Fidelity is now offering hi rez downloads.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minidiscbob View Post

I really appreciate all of your input. I didn't realize that I could actually download these and convert to DVD-A. Does this program mentioned above also convert to 5.1?

I may give it a go. I spent a lot of hard earned cash back in 2004 to get myself set up for multichannel DVD-A and SACD. Then my interest waned just like the formats did. If I can actually make my own DVD-A recordings, that would be great! I also see where Audio Fidelity is now offering hi rez downloads.

The easiest way to get 5.1 sound from 2.0 source material would be to use the DSP settings on your avr or pre/pro.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
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So the resulting DVD-A that I would get from this program would be 2.0?
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minidiscbob View Post

So the resulting DVD-A that I would get from this program would be 2.0?

Yes because the original is 2.0. In order to remix it to 5.1, you would need some pretty sophisticated software and hardware to do it. With commercially released DVD-A discs, there can be 5.1 and 2.0 versions of the same track.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Yes, I knew that. My Hotel California and Say You Will discs have both.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:23 PM
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I'd advise you to try your hand at creating a DVD-A disc to make sure your player can handle them. Then, you could try out some of the DSP settings on your pre/pro or receiver.
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Old 10-04-2013, 05:10 AM
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I'd say that unless you have a compressed or overly loud CD mastering, then no it really isn't worth it. At least I haven't heard a huge jump in quality. I would be a lot more tempted to buy these downloads if they offered them in surround sound.

But to me, $15-30 for a minor jump in quality that I usually can't notice, it's not worth it. I'll go with a CD instead.
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:05 PM
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Not real sure what this author is trying to say in that article, yes distortion tends to increase rapidly at the lowest and highest frequencies, but 192khz is number of samples per second not the audio frequency?

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Old 04-01-2014, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JD NC View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by minidiscbob View Post

I have downloaded a few albums from HD Tracks and so far have been happy with the results. What I have always done is to download in the standard FLAC format, then convert to WAV and create a CD for my collection. I then will use that CD to load to iTunes in whatever compressed formats I choose...usually MP3 VBR somewhere between 192-226 kbps.

My questions are...Is it worth paying extra for the 96/24 or even 176/24 flac downloads if I'm just converting to WAV? Can these higher flac resolutions be converted to SACD with some program I'm not aware of? I do have a Marantz SACD/DVD-A player with multichannel setup. I generally do not listen to music directly from my computer.

Thanks!

I don't bother with HD tracks for the most part. I like the HD disc formats for the multichannel mixes, and I consider the HD stereo versions on those discs a nice bonus, but I don't think its worth paying a premium just for the stereo version. HDTracks in particular also has a spotty track record with certain albums being upsampled from the CD master and sold as "HD" versions. That's the fault of the shady record labels, not HDTracks, but that's been an issue with both downloads and with some SACD/DVD-A disc releases.

YMMV, but I have a hell of a time telling a 96/24 track apart from the same track downsampled to 44.1/16, if at all. There's also good evidence that our ears are unable to detect any difference:
http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
I don't endorse everything in that article, but the overall case is pretty compelling IMO. Since my iDevices and appletv top out at 48/16 anyway, I find that having everything in itunes in CD-quality ALAC format is far more convenient than maintaining multiple versions of the same tracks. For me, that outweighs the very tiny improvement I can hear (or think I can hear) with the higher res stereo formats.

I would say that the overall case is pretty compelling as well:

http://www.bostonaudiosociety.org/explanation.htm

http://www.bostonaudiosociety.org/bas_speaker/abx_testing2.htm

The upshot is, when a digital conversion is added to the signal path to convert it to the CD format and back to analog, it isn't audible in normal circumstances. In other words, the CD format is fine for 2 channel sound.

Now, a particular high resolution release might sound better as it might be from a different mastering, just as one CD release of a piece of music might sound better than a different CD release that was mastered differently. But that is not an issue of the format, but of what is put on the format.

God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all.
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Old 04-02-2014, 08:05 PM
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I would rather just buy the CD which sounds good enough IMO.
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by hogger129 View Post

I would rather just buy the CD which sounds good enough IMO.

But the mastering of releases, even between CDs, can be different and some sound better than others. It's a raffle really without first listening or doing some research.

Try looking up the title on the Dynamic Range (DR) loudness war database as this will help guide you to a better version, be it a CD or hi res version.

Example: Beck - Sea Change: http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=Beck&album=Sea+Change
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by HomerJau View Post

But the mastering of releases, even between CDs, can be different and some sound better than others. It's a raffle really without first listening or doing some research.

Try looking up the title on the Dynamic Range (DR) loudness war database as this will help guide you to a better version, be it a CD or hi res version.

Example: Beck - Sea Change: http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/list?artist=Beck&album=Sea+Change

DR Database isn't always an accurate measure of sound quality. For example, Daft Punk Random Access Memories doesn't have a great score, but the album sounds great.
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Old 04-04-2014, 07:14 AM
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It does not make sense anymore to use physical media. Find good network media player and use it together with your computer. They can output either spdif for stereo or HDMI for multichannel. Keep file itself in Flac format.
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Old 04-04-2014, 07:27 AM
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Lets see, pay more for a download than a physical cd? Pay more for more bits when it doesn't make a difference? Or buy a cd and copy it to your computer? I go for the latter so physical media is not obsolete for me.
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