Originally Posted by nvidio
While it is true the fact just about every piece of audio gear you buy at any price level plays such, it should also be carefully noted that 24/192 alone does not warrant better sound. A well recorded, well mixed and well mastered Redbook CD or 16/44.1 digital download or 16/44.1 online streaming service version can still result in higher audio fidelity than a poorly recorded and or poorly mixed and or poorly mastered 24/192 DVD-Audio or Blu-ray or digital download, for example. In fact, even a used vinyl record transferred to 16/44.1 can sound truer to how the original analog studio master tape sounded more than half a century ago than a 24/192 reissue of the same album. (Even, if this 24/192 reissue was created from the exact same tape as the vinyl without doing any remixing or remastering or anything like that, simply because analog studio tape degrades over time whereas good quality properly stored and well cared for vinyl records can generally withstand the tooth of time much better in comparison).
That is all true but not the point I was making. The point was that one you remove the CD as the transport to get music, the *requirement* to convert to 44.1/16 goes out the window. There is no fidelity justification whatsoever for conversion of a higher bit-depth/higher sample rate to 44.1/16 when we are talking about digital downloads. At best such a conversion is transparent. At worst, it is not. In no case does it result in an improvement. But if one thinks it can improve the sound, you can always get the high resolution stereo master, and truncate it yourself. The reverse is not possible (getting back to the high resolution master from 44.1/16).
The only valid argument against this would be lack of ability to playback said content. And my other point was that this is not an issue. The capability to play high resolution has been in our audio equipment for a long time.
Now, what the talent does to create their art is not something we can argue or control. Someone can record AM radio and distribute it at 24/192 Khz. It is their prerogative to do that and it is ours to stay away from it when the fidelity takes away from the experience we seek. Same is true of the fidelity is there but the content itself is not to our liking. 24/192 Khz spec did not contribute to any of this.
Usually IMO, the biggest audible differences between different versions of a recorded album are due to applied different mastering.
Which is another reason to support high resolution music distribution. CDs are targeted to mass market and as such, if you are talking about popular music, you are almost assured that loudness compression is applied to it. If on the other hand you opt for the high-resolution version, that channel does not come with the *requirement* of loudness compression. Content can surely arrive that way due to lack of attention, QC, cost, etc. But it doesn't have the edict that by definition screws up CDs and MP3/AACs.
In that sense, this is the #1
reason to support high resolution audio. Let's establish a solid market for stereo masters prior to CD re-mastering. It is our only hope for elimination of loudness compression.
However, just because a certain DAC is capable of running at 24/192, does not necessarily also mean this DAC can be used in any way that is possible to achieve good audio performance. The vast majority of DACs supporting 24/192 operating at 24/192 perform worse audibly than the best DACs supporting up to only 24/96 operating at 24/96.
That is true. Here is a real life example of my ancient, completely obsolete Mark Levinson DAC which is limited to 24/96 KHz, compared to a couple of AVRs and a higher-end processor with the latest and greatest DAC (circa 2013):
As we see, my ML DAC wipes the floor with all of these. And we are not talking about some small tiny difference. No. The peaks around the main signal in the center in the AVR is some 50 decibels higher than the Mark Levinson! Not 0.1. Not 1. Not 10. But 50!
It is the difference between good engineering, and packaging an AVR to sell to people who don't know any better and just buy on the basis of spec lists.
To this day, the ML 360S is my reference system for critical listening. Have not felt the need, other than lack of higher sampling rate, to buy anything else. I think the ML is now 15 years old. I had to repair one channel when a capacitor started to leak. But that has been it. It is a work-horse quality product that delivers for years and years.
All of this said, again this was not my point. The point is that if we care about best mastering and fidelity, we have to get on the wagon of high-resolution audio. It is the most transparent channel for transmission of audio and by getting the bits prior to CD re-mastering, has the best shot at reducing the probability of getting loudness compressed content. It does not cure any other ills with music creation and industry but it does accomplish these two things.