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post #1 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 05:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Digital Music Files: 16/44.1, 24/88, 24/96, 24/192

I now have lots of CDs (16-bit 44.1kHz) ripped, in WAV format, onto the hard drive of my Windows 7 computer. I finally got around to connecting, via 50-ft. Toslink optical cable, my computer's optical output to the corresponding Toslink optical input on my Marantz SR 6003 receiver. (I am using the DACs in the Marantz receiver; I also own high-quality 2.1 speaker/subwoofer combo and an Oppo-83-SE CD/Blu-ray player.) The sound from the computer is very good, every bit as good as the CDs themselves

Now that that's all set up, I have begun to visit websites that sell music downloads 16-bit/44, 24-bit/88 and 96, and 24-bit/192 all are FLAC. Some music (by no means all) is available in all three formats. The higher resolution digital files not only cost much more, but are MUCH larger in size.

I assume that 24-bit recordings sound superior to 16-bit Red Book (though obviously the quality of the recording is the most important factor). But can anyone hear any superiority of 24-bit/192kHz over 24-bit/96kHz?

If this subject has been covered before (how could it not!), references to earlier threads also would be helpful.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 05:58 PM
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I assume that 24-bit recordings sound superior to 16-bit Red Book

You assume wrong. There's published evidence that listeners cannot tell the difference between Redbook and higher resolutions. That goes for both bit depth and sampling rate.

The only reason these would sound different is if they were mastered differently. If all they're doing is selling different digital resolutions of the same recording, don't pay extra for the higher resolution.

(Also, be aware that it's possible that some of the higher resolution files are merely upsampled from lower-resolution files. In which case there isn't even any theoretical advantage to them.)

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post #3 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 06:34 PM
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there's published evidence that listeners CAN tell the difference between redbook and higher resolutions. that goes for both bit depth and sampling rate...
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post #4 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

You assume wrong. There's published evidence that listeners cannot tell the difference between Redbook and higher resolutions. That goes for both bit depth and sampling rate.

The only reason these would sound different is if they were mastered differently. If all they're doing is selling different digital resolutions of the same recording, don't pay extra for the higher resolution.

(Also, be aware that it's possible that some of the higher resolution files are merely upsampled from lower-resolution files. In which case there isn't even any theoretical advantage to them.)


Well, for what it's worth, writers for the Absolute Sound, Stereophile and Computer Audiophile state the opposite opinion, and would disagree with you strongly, . . . with respect, of course, to native 24-bit/96/192 recordings. The reason I seek other opinions is that the systems typically listened to by writers for those three publications seem to be in the $50,000 and higher range, whereas mine is more in the $4000 range --- quite a difference in expectations.

As to the upsampled recordings, most seem to agree that such is overkill, perhaps better described as a waste. Interestingly, some great old recordings, such as Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman from the early 1950s, are now available as 24-bit/192kHz digital files. I have no doubt that these are "cleaned-up" reproductions from the original tapes, but given the limitations of recordings of that era, I, too, would question the claimed high-resolution format.

I suspect that the answer to all of this lies in my purchasing the three variations (16/44, 24/96 and 24/192) of a few recordings and hearing them on my system.

By the way, some websites mention Digital Rights Management "DRM". I can only guess what that's all about, but if I purchase and download to my main computer, I am I still a legitimate user if I copy such files to my laptop for listening via headphones when I am away from home?

Thanks to those who care to respond civilly.
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post #5 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

Thanks to those who care to respond civilly.

I think mcnarus was being civil. It's just that this subject always comes up and gets beaten half to death, and when the thread eventually dies after what seems like endless counter-arguments, it pops up again.
Just do a search and I'm sure you'll find the same things being said over and over again.

Also remember what the "S" in this "AVS" forum stands for and you'll understand that most readers here choose to believe the results of unbiased exhaustive studies.

You can read the first and last paragraph of this short article, it sums things up pretty good.http://theaudiocritic.com/plog/index...eId=4&blogId=1
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post #6 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by lefthandluke View Post

there's published evidence that listeners CAN tell the difference between redbook and higher resolutions. that goes for both bit depth and sampling rate...

Please cite those published evidences. Better be reputable Journals or don't even bother. Absolute something just doesn't count for much.

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Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

Well, for what it's worth, writers for the Absolute Sound, Stereophile and Computer Audiophile state the opposite opinion, and would disagree with you strongly, . .

Well, of course they are allowed to disagree, happens all the time, but they just don't have the credible evidence to support their opposition.

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Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

The reason I seek other opinions is that the systems typically listened to by writers for those three publications seem to be in the $50,000 and higher range, whereas mine is more in the $4000 range --- quite a difference in expectations.

Not to worry, price doesn't determine how good a system they are only that they are expensive.
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I suspect that the answer to all of this lies in my purchasing the three variations (16/44, 24/96 and 24/192) of a few recordings and hearing them on my system.

Unfortunately it is not that simple. To come up with some meaningful results, one has to do credible, bias controlled listening tests, not easy.
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post #7 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
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The article in question stated:

"Now, Meyer and Moran are careful to point out that the new hi-rez formats generally sound better than standard CDs, but not because the processing technology is superior. The hi-rez discs are aimed at a more sophisticated market, and therefore the recording sessions and production techniques tend to be more sophisticated, more puristic, in terms of microphoning, compression, editing, etc."

Which in itself raises an interesting point. Just think of all the albums/CDs purchased over the years where the artistry was, as expected, great; however, the sound quality - when heard on a very good audio system - was fair to awful.

If the mere fact of being mastered at 24/96 suggested, by probabilities, that the recording engineers expected purchase by audiophiles who really cared about such matters, would that not warrant the extra amount paid, in terms of both money and file size? Call it the the diminimis-clunker theory.
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post #8 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

The article in question stated:

"Now, Meyer and Moran are careful to point out that the new hi-rez formats generally sound better than standard CDs, but not because the processing technology is superior. The hi-rez discs are aimed at a more sophisticated market, and therefore the recording sessions and production techniques tend to be more sophisticated, more puristic, in terms of microphoning, compression, editing, etc."

Which in itself raises an interesting point. Just think of all the albums/CDs purchased over the years where the artistry was, as expected, great; however, the sound quality - when heard on a very good audio system - was fair to awful.

If the mere fact of being mastered at 24/96 suggested, by probabilities, that the recording engineers expected purchase by audiophiles who really cared about such matters, would that not warrant the extra amount paid, in terms of both money and file size? Call it the the diminimis-clunker theory.

Well, you would be paying more for the better mastering not the hi res bits and depths. which is fine. Too bad one has to pay more what should be there in the first place for less.
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post #9 of 217 Old 04-20-2012, 11:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

If the mere fact of being mastered at 24/96 suggested, by probabilities, that the recording engineers expected purchase by audiophiles who really cared about such matters, would that not warrant the extra amount paid, in terms of both money and file size?

With the cost of memory being so low, the ADCs used in studios being 2496 or higher, most music (I would hazard to guess almost all in pro studios) is recorded at 2496, mixed at 2496 and mastered at 2496. It can then easily be downconverted to 1644 for CD sales or to other formats. You can't increase resolution later if it is recorded or mastered in a lower rez format initially.
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post #10 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

...would that not warrant the extra amount paid, in terms of both money and file size?...

If the music was recorded and mastered with more care, then yes, it's worth paying more money to get it. However, your original question asked whether it was worth paying extra for the higher bit/sampling version. Science says no, so you can save some money by just purchasing the 16/44.1 version of the well made recording because humans are unable to discern any difference between it and the higher bit versions. (Note: Test equipment can, but humans can't)

I urge you not to make the mistake of being talked into buying both higher and lower quality versions so you can compare the differences between them at your leisure, because these comparisons almost always happen in an uncontrolled manner. The problem with that is if you already know which version you're listening to and combine that with the inherent biases we all have, you'll end up making an unfair choice.

However, if you were to listen and switch between versions through an "ABX" comparator, where you don't actually know which version is being played (but your computer does), then you'll find that multiple attempts to pick one version apart from the other eventually results in just a 50/50 success ratio, just like as if one were guessing or flipping a coin to make their choices.

This is what is expected to happen if the two versions sound the same to us, which could only happen if they truely came from the same source and were played back at the same level through equally capable players. No other discrepancies are allowed that could otherwise allow one to detect a difference between the two versions. (Like the two songs not being in sync, etc)

You are most welcome to try this out for yourself as long as you agree to be rigorous in your attempts to eliminate all sources of external bias, but if all this effort sounds very arduous, well, you're absolutely right. Even the scientists who do it all the time find it difficult and time consuming. However, they've found that it's the only way to TRULY determine whether there is an audible difference between similar sounding sources.

True scientists will accept that if even just ONE person can tell a difference between two sources in a blind test, then it IS a true difference and must be accepted. Objectivists are just as eager to find a better sounding source/medium as the subjectivists are. (It's not like we secretly know that higher bit rates actually sound better but just want to talk the subjectivists out of buying them because we're mean.) We just want to be sure that we're not fooling ourselves into thinking one source is better if we can't actually hear a difference when all other means of identifying the source are removed. That's all.
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post #11 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 02:45 AM
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Originally Posted by lefthandluke View Post

there's published evidence that listeners CAN tell the difference between redbook and higher resolutions. that goes for both bit depth and sampling rate...

AFAIK this alleged evidence takes the form of conference papers which lack peer review. The actual work lacks credibility and the potential for broad application.

The actual proper (Blind, level-matched, and time-synched) testing of the alleged benefits of so-called high resolution media is pretty easy to do for yourself. Lots of people have attempted it and the forums that are frequented by serious enthusiasts are littered with failures to find any audible benefits. Ditto for the serious pros.
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post #12 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 02:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

You assume wrong. There's published evidence that listeners cannot tell the difference between Redbook and higher resolutions. That goes for both bit depth and sampling rate.

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Originally Posted by CharlesJ View Post

Please cite those published evidences. Better be reputable Journals or don't even bother. Absolute something just doesn't count for much..



hmmm...interesting that the same wasn't asked of mcnarus...
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post #13 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

The article in question stated:

"Now, Meyer and Moran are careful to point out that the new hi-rez formats generally sound better than standard CDs, but not because the processing technology is superior. The hi-rez discs are aimed at a more sophisticated market, and therefore the recording sessions and production techniques tend to be more sophisticated, more puristic, in terms of microphoning, compression, editing, etc."

Which in itself raises an interesting point. Just think of all the albums/CDs purchased over the years where the artistry was, as expected, great; however, the sound quality - when heard on a very good audio system - was fair to awful.

The problem wasn't the CD format, the problem was in the other steps of the recording playback chain. In the same time frame there were plenty of great-sounding recordings.

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If the mere fact of being mastered at 24/96 suggested, by probabilities, that the recording engineers expected purchase by audiophiles who really cared about such matters, would that not warrant the extra amount paid, in terms of both money and file size? Call it the the diminimis-clunker theory.

Problem is that mastering is just one of the final steps of a long production chain that is often seriously flawed in the earlier steps. Great mastering can't overcome badly done tracking or mixing, for example.

Most of the really bad sounding recordings from the early days of the CD were due to problems with lost or mislaid or simply carelessly treated grand masters. In some cases LP cutting masters were being used for producing the CD. Lost masters can't be fixed by great mastering, either.

One example where bad masters can be fixed retroactively is this process for removing flutter and wow from legacy recordings.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=7489316
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post #14 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 03:01 AM
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Originally Posted by lefthandluke View Post

hmmm...interesting that the same wasn't asked of mcnarus...

One reason is that some of us have read the same studies he has and simply know. Also some of us have done our own experiments.

One of the problems with many of the extant studies based on commercial recordings is that is has been found retroactively that a very high proportion (about half) of all commercial so-called high resolution releases had far lower resolution and bandwidth steps in their production chain. Once resolution and bandwidth are lost, they can't be replaced in most cases.

The affected the studies in that a very high proportion of the alleged high resolution recordings that they innocently used, weren't actually high resolution.


It is interesting to note that these failings of recordings that were sold as being high resolution and extended bandwidth but weren't, is that the problem is being reliably detected by technical means (measurements).

There are no known instances of reviewers detecting these problems by listening when the so-called high resolution recordings were initially released.

In some sense the reviewers and audiophiles who ooohed and ahhhed over these recordings when re-released in falsely-labelled high resolution guise were the jury in a very large double blind test. This may be the best evidence yet relating to the futility of so-called upgrades to high resolution media or equipment.
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post #15 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

Digital Music Files: 16/44.1, 24/88, 24/96, 24/192

If this subject has been covered before (how could it not!), references to earlier threads also would be helpful.

In the AVS "Audio theory, Setup and Chat" forum, see this "24/192 Music Downloads and why they make no sense" thread at: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1398397

It's 603 posts long, but most of it can be skimmed or skipped. FWIW I personally got the most from the posting done by amirm

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post #16 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 09:11 AM
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Well, for what it's worth, writers for the Absolute Sound, Stereophile and Computer Audiophile state the opposite opinion, and would disagree with you strongly, . . . with respect, of course, to native 24-bit/96/192 recordings. The reason I seek other opinions is that the systems typically listened to by writers for those three publications seem to be in the $50,000 and higher range, whereas mine is more in the $4000 range --- quite a difference in expectations.

Why a difference in expectations? The only things that higher resolution buys you are greater dynamic range (bitrate) and higher frequency extension (sampling rate). But Redbook gets you all you can realistically use in both cases. All the opinions in the world cannot change the basic facts here.

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If the mere fact of being mastered at 24/96 suggested, by probabilities, that the recording engineers expected purchase by audiophiles who really cared about such matters, would that not warrant the extra amount paid, in terms of both money and file size?

The recording engineer has nothing to do with the final resolution. At best, what's happening here is that companies are taking an existing analog master and digitizing it at various resolutions. The Meyer/Moran article demonstrates the pointlessness of that.

More likely, however, they're really taking a digital master, and resampling it—upsampling it in some cases, which doesn't even offer any theoretical benefit.

The one thing they are almost certainly not doing is remastering the recording three different times for three different resolutions. Digitizing is cheap. Mastering is expensive. They couldn't afford it at the prices they're charging for these recordings.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #17 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 09:19 AM
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Points have already been made by both sides, so I'll just address this:

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Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

writers for the Absolute Sound, Stereophile and Computer Audiophile state the opposite opinion

The key difference is the hi-fi magazine writers are expressing opinions, based on personal anecdotes and sighted listening. Versus Meyer and Moran who ran hundreds of blind tests, tabulated the results, then published the facts of those test results. The only valid criticism of Meyer and Moran's study I'm aware of is that some of the music they played turned out to not be high-res, but rather regular CD-quality recordings put onto SACD disks. But enough of the recordings in their test were truly high-res to support their conclusion.

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post #18 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by haverbach View Post

Well, for what it's worth, writers for the Absolute Sound, Stereophile and Computer Audiophile state the opposite opinion, and would disagree with you strongly, . . . with respect, of course, to native 24-bit/96/192 recordings.

Like you say, for what it is worth. These guy's track record for being able to separate BS from reproducible evidence is typically pretty poor.

Quote:


The reason I seek other opinions is that the systems typically listened to by writers for those three publications seem to be in the $50,000 and higher range, whereas mine is more in the $4000 range --- quite a difference in expectations.

Having listened to and in some cases been under the covers of super-priced audio gear, I see no reason to be intimidated by it or the people who flog it.


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As to the upsampled recordings, most seem to agree that such is overkill, perhaps better described as a waste. Interestingly, some great old recordings, such as Louis Armstrong and Woody Herman from the early 1950s, are now available as 24-bit/192kHz digital files. I have no doubt that these are "cleaned-up" reproductions from the original tapes, but given the limitations of recordings of that era, I, too, would question the claimed high-resolution format.

Many were apparently sold on the idea that just because a source is analog it has "infinite resolution".


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I suspect that the answer to all of this lies in my purchasing the three variations (16/44, 24/96 and 24/192) of a few recordings and hearing them on my system.

The problem is the possibility that each variation was mastered differently. Thus, audible differences can be ascribed to the three different mastering jobs. If they didn't sound different, then the respective engineers didn't do their jobs. They would no sound different if presented in standard CD format.

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By the way, some websites mention Digital Rights Management "DRM". I can only guess what that's all about, but if I purchase and download to my main computer, I am I still a legitimate user if I copy such files to my laptop for listening via headphones when I am away from home?

Depends on the license that you agreed to when you made your purchase.
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The only valid criticism of Meyer and Moran's study I'm aware of is that some of the music they played turned out to not be high-res, but rather regular CD-quality recordings put onto SACD disks. But enough of the recordings in their test were truly high-res to support their conclusion.

And that's not really a valid criticism until the critics conduct their own tests, with recordings that are definitely hi-res, and come up with a different result. They've had a few years at least to do that. I think there's a reason they're all talk and no action.

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post #20 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

The only valid criticism of Meyer and Moran's study I'm aware of is that some of the music they played turned out to not be high-res, but rather regular CD-quality recordings put onto SACD disks. But enough of the recordings in their test were truly high-res to support their conclusion.

AFAIK this was not known until the past year or so, and was not known to Meyer and Moran in 2007.
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post #21 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by lefthandluke View Post

hmmm...interesting that the same wasn't asked of mcnarus...

Why? I happen to know what supports his opinion. Yours, on the other hand, I do not. What is interesting is that you have not posted the citations, no matter who else I didn't ask for one.
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post #22 of 217 Old 04-21-2012, 06:31 PM
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I have a different take on the debate. If you buy a $5 box of wine and feel it tastes better than all the $50 bottles that your friends who define themselves as wine experts recommend, then buy the wine in a box and don't feel compelled to spend money if you can't appreciate the difference.

If you like the sound of the 24 bit recordings and think they sound better that should be good enough for you. If you can't hear a difference, that's okay too. You will save money. You can buy the same album used on Amazon for $0.99 plus shipping.

There will never be a consensus on this issue.

I like 24 bit files better in general. I feel I can hear a difference, but I have been told in this forum to not trust my judgement.
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post #23 of 217 Old 04-22-2012, 03:32 AM
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I have a different take on the debate. If you buy a $5 box of wine and feel it tastes better than all the $50 bottles that your friends who define themselves as wine experts recommend, then buy the wine in a box and don't feel compelled to spend money if you can't appreciate the difference.

If you like the sound of the 24 bit recordings and think they sound better that should be good enough for you. If you can't hear a difference, that's okay too. You will save money. You can buy the same album used on Amazon for $0.99 plus shipping.

This is an easy argument to debunk. Blind testing shows that at the very least different wines taste different. Blind testing strains to find differences due to so-called high resolution recordings, and generally doesn't.

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There will never be a consensus on this issue.

The consensus asserted itself, and the DVD-A and SACD failed in the mainstream marketplace.

There's always some tiny but often noisy minority who don't believe in common sense and science. Web downloads are a great way to deliver products to such a niche.

Look at homeopathic medicine - a tiny niche market for it exists. It will probably always exist. Medications with less than one molecule of active ingredient per dose make no sense except as placebos. If you want placebo audio, such a deal we have for you! ;-)

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I like 24 bit files better in general. I feel I can hear a difference, but I have been told in this forum to not trust my judgement.

Actually, what you were told is that there is no audible difference to base your judgements on. I really wish it were not so, but science can be harsh that way.

Like I said, if you want placebo audio, such a deal audio's high end has for you. You've got all sorts of weird gizmos and turgid tomes of anti-science to guide you. Enjoy! ;-)
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post #24 of 217 Old 04-22-2012, 05:18 AM
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hmmm...interesting that the same wasn't asked of mcnarus...

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One reason is that some of us have read the same studies he has and simply know. Also some of us have done our own experiments.
.

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Why? I happen to know what supports his opinion.



absolutely no help to those who haven't or don't...
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post #25 of 217 Old 04-22-2012, 05:40 AM
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absolutely no help to those who haven't or don't...

Post #5 is sufficient help to find about it. It's apparent that you're not interested in such help.
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post #26 of 217 Old 04-22-2012, 05:53 AM
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Post #5 is sufficient help to find about it. It's apparent that you're not interested in such help.



you're missing the point robert...
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post #27 of 217 Old 04-22-2012, 06:33 AM
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I'm curious. Wouldn't these higher bitrate audio files actually accentuate a poor implementation of dynamic compression? If so, that's sufficient reason to avoid.

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post #28 of 217 Old 04-22-2012, 06:41 AM
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Wouldn't these higher bitrate audio files actually accentuate a poor implementation of dynamic compression?

Nope. Dynamic compression sounds exactly as bad in hi-res as it does in Redbook.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #29 of 217 Old 04-22-2012, 06:55 AM
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you're missing the point robert...

The point is that even the OP knew what published evidence I was referring to. Whereas you just make s**t up:
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there's published evidence that listeners CAN tell the difference between redbook and higher resolutions. that goes for both bit depth and sampling rate...


If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #30 of 217 Old 04-22-2012, 07:38 AM
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The point is that even the OP knew what published evidence I was referring to. Whereas you just make s**t up:


let's not be coy here...you know what my point is


you can't have it both ways...play by the same rules
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