Is High-Resolution Audio Irrelevant? - Page 15 - AVS Forum
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post #421 of 640 Old 05-20-2014, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I like your approach here! One question for you: Are you certain that all components in your audio system can reproduce frequencies above 22 kHz? If any one of them can't (say, the speakers or an AVR with Audyssey room correction enabled), there will be no acoustic difference between the two files when you play them on your system. This is an issue I'm trying to deal with in my proposed test, which you can read about here.
Yes, this is critical indeed. However, just remembered something from published papers, how will anyone participating in the test know if their speaker is reproducing audible IMD caused by some ultrasonic signals and is absent from the down sampled music?
This was discovered by some researchers doing the ultrasonic detection tests.


Yes, this is another concern. Then there's determining whether it's IMD (intermodulation distortion) or difference/interference tones generated by the acoustic interaction of ultrasonic partials; this is one possible way in which ultrasonics might contribute to a perceived difference between HR and CD audio. Unfortunately, I don't see any way to screen for that in the test I'm proposing in the first AVS/AIX test. Ideally, we would set up a system that was known not to have audible IMD and have listeners come to it, but that will have to come later.


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post #422 of 640 Old 05-20-2014, 06:18 PM
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This is an extremely interesting article !

My lack of knowledge in the digital world keeps me from entering this level of discussion that so many ... much more intelligent people than me ... can bring to the table. I can say however that in the past 35 years of involvement in this industry I always tried to dig deeper ... more vertically in the inner details of the sound itself ... in trying to reproduce recorded music in a way that is as close as possible to the real thing. So I developped a personal jargon that I call "Harmonic Integrity" ... which is simply the ability to make a ... source device ... capture the audio signals in such a way that the harmonic structure of the signal ( instrument, voice ) is recreated as accurately as possible. We were ... and are ... able to acheive this with our record players ... more specifically the Oracle Delphi MK VI.

I was very curious to see how far we could push the standard CD format todeliver a level of sound which would contain the finess and the delicate emotions ... that could deliver the "Harmonic Integrity" that turns a digital recording into music. We succeeded, we can make a red book CD sound like music and I know when I say this that I do not address the issue of high resolution being relevant or not ... but I can assure you that after you hear what we do with our Oracle Paris CD250 ... you will be definitely scratch your head about everything you have been missing ... for all those years ... ti was always there !

Remember the first time you bought a great record player ... you had to go through your record collection all over again ... are you ready to live the same experiment with a CD player ... ?

I am not doing this to advertize what we do ... although I very well aware that I do it ... but my point is more to make one of our products available so you can push this experimentation about how much you did not hear your CD's yet a little further ...

 

You know where to reach me !

 

Jacques Riendeau

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post #423 of 640 Old 05-20-2014, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post


I like your approach here! One question for you: Are you certain that all components in your audio system can reproduce frequencies above 22 kHz? If any one of them can't (say, the speakers or an AVR with Audyssey room correction enabled), there will be no acoustic difference between the two files when you play them on your system. This is an issue I'm trying to deal with in my proposed test, which you can read about here.

Yeah, I've been following that thread closely and it prompted me to check the capabilities of my components. The answer is no -- I don't have any audio reproduction source that can handle frequencies greater than 20kHz. My Mac Mini can output the right signal (Mark Waldrep even used a Mac Mini as the base of an example high-res audio server), but my headphones are Bose AE. Bose won't release the specs for them, but I've seen absolutely nothing to suggest that their frequency range is greater than 20kHz.

My receiver (Denon DVR-1613) also can handle high-res and I do have Audyssey turned off, but my speakers (M&K 750THX MKII) have a range of only 80Hz to 20kHz so it doesn't matter.

So alas, my own test was a complete failure for me since it could very well be testing my components more than it was testing my hearing.
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post #424 of 640 Old 05-20-2014, 08:11 PM
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My Senns. Phones will do 25K the KRK's 23K some of the speakers maybe 23K ,
The Sony ES AVR will go at least 50K probably more IIRC in direct mode (all the above is providing the lie sheets are accurate. ).

The Crown XTI amp in the studio might go at least 20K, beyond that I don't know.probably the same for the vintage Technics amp .............doesn't matter I can't hear that high or even ~ 20K decently anyway eek.gif

In any event I will look forward to downloading whatever Scott puts up and giving it a listen ,should be interesting .

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post #425 of 640 Old 05-20-2014, 10:42 PM
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My Senns. Phones will do 25K the KRK's 23K some of the speakers maybe 23K ,
The Sony ES AVR will go at least 50K probably more IIRC in direct mode (all the above is providing the lie sheets are accurate. ).

The Crown XTI amp in the studio might go at least 20K, beyond that I don't know.probably the same for the vintage Technics amp .............doesn't matter I can't hear that high or even ~ 20K decently anyway eek.gif

In any event I will look forward to downloading whatever Scott puts up and giving it a listen ,should be interesting .

Can you try those short clips I posted above? The spectrograph shows that there is absolutely a difference between the two clips, but I can't hear that difference -- either because of my equipment or because of my hearing. Since your equipment can handle those frequencies, can you see if you can hear any difference?
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post #426 of 640 Old 05-21-2014, 12:17 AM
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My speakers are spec'd as 34hz to 24khz +/- 3db

My DAC manufacturer reference shows an FR plot with - 0.01 dB at 10 Hz and -0.02 dB at 40 kHz with 96khz feed.

My amplification is spec'd at 20hz to 20khz +0/-0.05db and 0.1hz to 240khz +0/-3db.


My ears don't go anywhere near any of that, though, so I am useless as a "hear some highs" tester.


Here's a plot of pink noise - the straight line is a cable from preamp to PC, the lower is in-room via speakers into a Tascam DR07 MKII digital recorder analog monitor at the listening post out to the PC.



I don't know how the recorder rolls off at high frequencies, but it looks like it might. I just consider the trace above 18k or so to be questionable. The little spikes way up high are noise in the PC.

I'll be back later...


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post #427 of 640 Old 05-21-2014, 05:55 AM
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After careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that high resolution audio is relevant for recording, mixing, and mastering. For playback, it's totally irrelevant. However, when it comes to marketing music to people who will actually pay for it... it's relevant again.

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post #428 of 640 Old 05-21-2014, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

After careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that high resolution audio is relevant for recording, mixing, and mastering. For playback, it's totally irrelevant. However, when it comes to marketing music to people who will actually pay for it... it's relevant again.

Excellent conlusion. I didn't arrive at the same conclusion through careful consideration, however. I did the bias controlled listening tests.
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post #429 of 640 Old 05-21-2014, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post
 

After careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that high resolution audio is relevant for recording, mixing, and mastering. For playback, it's totally irrelevant. However, when it comes to marketing music to people who will actually pay for it... it's relevant again.

 

As I posted above, I mostly agree with this conclusion (though I am still open to doing more testing).  The one caveat I would add is that, so long as the music industry continues to put more effort into creating a better mix/master for hi-res music releases than they do for CD releases, it is still worth at least comparing the hi-res music to the commercially available CD versions before making a music purchase.  If the hi-res version sounds better (due to the better mix/master) then you might as well purchase it.  However, once you own it, you could easily down-sample it to something that will play on your existing equipment without any noticeable loss in quality.  Thus far, I see no reason to replace my iPod Classic w/ a Pono player or upgrade my car stereo system.

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post #430 of 640 Old 05-21-2014, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by granroth View Post

Can you try those short clips I posted above? The spectrograph shows that there is absolutely a difference between the two clips, but I can't hear that difference -- either because of my equipment or because of my hearing. Since your equipment can handle those frequencies, can you see if you can hear any difference?

I will try when I get a chance my best luck would probably be on the Senns phones but I cant hear anything near 20K reliably anymore so I'm not expecting to hear a difference anyway
ofc I wouldn't expect a difference if the the mastering/recording and levels were equal anyway .

TBH post # 127 by Imagic sums up my opinions /conclusions etc. very well . Also HockeyoAJB made some good points in post # 429.
example ; some hi res music releases may indeed be recorded /sourced /mastered better and with less compression than the same release on CD .
In that way it would be relevant if an equivalent could not be found as a 16/44.1 CD ,WAV ,FLAC,or ALAC .

In any event if done properly a high res to 16/44.1 conversion should also work just as well at playback.

Hires Music formats ..............."Why does it sound like a CD ?" ............. can we make it louder "?
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post #431 of 640 Old 05-21-2014, 10:03 PM
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I will try when I get a chance my best luck would probably be on the Senns phones but I cant hear anything near 20K reliably anymore so I'm not expecting to hear a difference anyway
ofc I wouldn't expect a difference if the the mastering/recording and levels were equal anyway .

TBH post # 127 by Imagic sums up my opinions /conclusions etc. very well . Also HockeyoAJB made some good points in post # 429.
example ; some hi res music releases may indeed be recorded /sourced /mastered better and with less compression than the same release on CD .
In that way it would be relevant if an equivalent could not be found as a 16/44.1 CD ,WAV ,FLAC,or ALAC .

In any event if done properly a high res to 16/44.1 conversion should also work just as well at playback.

To bad there aren't any forums (that I know of anyway there probably are if one looked . ) debating LP vs 78 vinyl as a playback medium ofc . there were lot's of different types of 78's and also maybe to a lesser extent LP's not to mention the various EQ standards used , although I have heard 78's that weren't that bad back in the vinyl days.

Hires Music formats ..............."Why does it sound like a CD ?" ............. can we make it louder "?
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post #432 of 640 Old 05-23-2014, 07:23 AM
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Ok so I got celebration day bluray audio by led Zeppelin and personally feel it's good and the guitar stands out on this album but feel the bass could have been mastered a little more prominently giving a more zest to the sound. Some of my flac music has a more pushy bass to it, but I can still pick out each instrument cleanly and is worth a listen.....if you like led zep. wink.gif

Note I don't go for what science says, sound is subjected to the point what I might love, others may hate and vice versa.

Footnote, this album was listened to on dts ma, with dolby heights on.

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post #433 of 640 Old 05-24-2014, 07:55 AM
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 After careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that high resolution audio is relevant for recording, mixing, and mastering. 

 

How is it relevant? Explain.

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post #434 of 640 Old 05-24-2014, 08:10 AM
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Quote:
 After careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that high resolution audio is relevant for recording, mixing, and mastering. 

 

How is it relevant? Explain.

 

The short answer is that high bit depths (24 bit or higher) help avoid quantization errors and aliasing that degrades sound. Processing digital audio at high bit depth avoids degradation that occurs when using digital processing for mixing and mastering. 

 

The need for high sampling rates is far more questionable. I think 48 KHz is plenty. 


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post #435 of 640 Old 05-24-2014, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

The short answer is that high bit depths (24 bit or higher) help avoid quantization errors and aliasing that degrades sound. Processing digital audio at high bit depth avoids degradation that occurs when using digital processing for mixing and mastering. 

The need for high sampling rates is far more questionable. I think 48 KHz is plenty. 
Agreed - To say it in a more mathematical way - using extra precision in order to avoid significant rounding errors during complex calculations. Once you have your results, they may contain significant errors at that higher precision, but then you convert to the lower precision and the errors become too small to matter any more and get "error-ectomied".

If you're not comfortable with the mathematical concept, I'll take a shot at "translating" into audio-like terms. Think "headroom". Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that 44.1khz 16-bit audio is all you need from a playback perspective. I know we don't all agree on this - bear with me - I am not taking a position on this one way or the other. Think 'IF" and remember what "IF" means.

IF 16/44 is sufficiently hi-fi, then it is JUST BARELY so. We will assume that if you have excellent 16/44 material, then you will have a super hi-fi experience. Fine. But if processing is done with this precision and its operations introduce any errors, then they can be audible. In short - there is almost no "error headroom" in 16/44 material. The problem is even worse than it sounds since errors tend to accumulate and expand as more and more operations are performed. So if you do lots of processing (EQ, post-recording FX, mixing, etc.), errors can magnify quickly. If you have no "error headroom" then these errors can become audible very quickly. Hence, it is best to process at higher precision than at lower precision.
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post #436 of 640 Old 05-24-2014, 06:47 PM
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Thank you both gentlemen for your answers.

 

It's a bit a challenge for the consumer to find a quality well-mastered redbook CD.

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post #437 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 05:08 AM
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I think one of the problem regarding digital recordings is the quality (or the lack of quality) of the primary A/D conversion during recording process. IMO that conversion(A/D) is far from being perfect. I dare to say it's quite bad sometimes even with expensive studio gear. I 've noticed noone mention that very important link from the whole chain.

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post #438 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 05:30 AM
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I think one of the problem regarding digital recordings is the quality (or the lack of quality) of the primary A/D conversion during recording process. IMO that conversion(A/D) is far from being perfect. I dare to say it's quite bad sometimes even with expensive studio gear. I 've noticed noone mention that very important link from the whole chain.
What evidence do you actually have that shows that this is the case?
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post #439 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 07:09 AM
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I think one of the problem regarding digital recordings is the quality (or the lack of quality) of the primary A/D conversion during recording process. IMO that conversion(A/D) is far from being perfect. I dare to say it's quite bad sometimes even with expensive studio gear. I 've noticed noone mention that very important link from the whole chain.

 

Maybe that was true in 1985. Today, A/D conversion is essentially perfect, even with inexpensive A/D interfaces available at Best Buy. A/D conversion is not the weak link.


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post #440 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Maybe that was true in 1985. Today, A/D conversion is essentially perfect, even with inexpensive A/D interfaces available at Best Buy. A/D conversion is not the weak link.
Once again, I am going to follow a post from iMagic with one that uses more words to essentially say the same things.

I spend a LOT of time with the guitar community. You have a lot of analog-heads there, whose world basically stopped spinning the day that Jerry Garcia died. I don't blame them for missing him - but we all need to move on at some point.

These guys hate digital for one of three reasons. 1) They tried early digital gear, which was indeed limited, and concluded that all digital will suck for all time and it will never improve; or 2) They just got a new piece of digital gear, put it in their rig plug-and-play style, and did not like the results. Since this was one of their first digital devices and they were already scared of the technology, they concluded that it must be the "digital" property of the device and not one of the other properties that caused the issue. Finally, 3) They are afraid of digital, heard second-third-fourth-hand stories from groups 1 and 2, and now repeat that garbage like it is gospel.

I am the probably the world's expert on this one piece of rather complicated digital guitar gear. It is a long story how I got that way, since I don't work for (and have never worked for) the company that produces it. Over the last 10 years or so, I have helped hundreds upon hundreds of users of this equipment through email and on-line when they have had trouble. Many (perhaps most) start by blaming the AD/DA conversions.

Guess what - in the end, for all of these people, the problem has NEVER EVEN ONCE been the conversion. It has been bad cabling, impedance mismatching, amp loading, poor gain staging (which lowers both s/n ratio AND dynamic range), or any other one of a number of ANALOG problems. In the end, they all get back to the sound they want by testing cables and replacing marginal or bad ones, setting the levels in their signal chain correctly and (sometimes) adding some ANALOG signal-conditioning gear (boosters, buffers, etc.)

The point is, the conversion is just fine. Period. A/D and D/A conversion have been fantastic for 15-20 years now (some would argue longer).
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post #441 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Maybe that was true in 1985. Today, A/D conversion is essentially perfect, even with inexpensive A/D interfaces available at Best Buy. A/D conversion is not the weak link.

Agreed, but it wasn't even true back when the best a 16-bit converter could manage was only 14 or 15 bits:

Early Digital
Ivor Tiefenbrun Fails the Digital Challenge (from 1984)

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post #442 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Maybe that was true in 1985. Today, A/D conversion is essentially perfect, even with inexpensive A/D interfaces available at Best Buy. A/D conversion is not the weak link.

Agreed, but it wasn't even true back when the best a 16-bit converter could manage was only 14 or 15 bits:

Early Digital
Ivor Tiefenbrun Fails the Digital Challenge (from 1984)

--Ethan

I think that some of the complaints about early digital was due to having an increased dynamic range, and from eliminating the "warm" distortion that is added with turntables. I have noticed that when I artificially add dynamic range with an old dynamic range expander, it can be more jarring than when the music is left less dynamic. (And here you can read reviews of a well-recorded CD in which people complain about it having such a wide dynamic range.) For people who need the second of these explained (the "warm" distortion that is added with turntables), take a look at this, particularly parts 4 & 7:

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/technical-articles-and-editorials/technical-articles-and-editorials/a-secrets-technical-article63.html

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/technical-articles-and-editorials/technical-articles-and-editorials/a-secrets-technical-article64.html

The absence of a pleasing distortion can make sound seem harsh to those who are used to the distortion.

Back when CDs were new, I remember going to a hi-fi shop and comparing an LP with a CD, and the CD sounded more "harsh." Aside from questions of whether they were mastered to sound different, it is the wrong thing to be comparing. One should compare with live, with real sounds, as that is what one is trying to achieve, not the sound of a different format. Most people, though, don't seem to listen to much music live, and instead use recordings for their reference for how things should sound. That favors what one is accustomed to hearing, not what sounds more like the real thing. A live orchestra is perfectly capable of making harsh sounds, as well as pleasing ones, and a recording of it should be able to reproduce whatever it is that the orchestra does, and not artificially get rid of any rough sounds.

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post #443 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 01:10 PM
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Once again, I am going to follow a post from iMagic with one that uses more words to essentially say the same things.

I spend a LOT of time with the guitar community. You have a lot of analog-heads there, whose world basically stopped spinning the day that Jerry Garcia died. I don't blame them for missing him - but we all need to move on at some point.

These guys hate digital for one of three reasons. 1) They tried early digital gear, which was indeed limited, and concluded that all digital will suck for all time and it will never improve; or 2) They just got a new piece of digital gear, put it in their rig plug-and-play style, and did not like the results. Since this was one of their first digital devices and they were already scared of the technology, they concluded that it must be the "digital" property of the device and not one of the other properties that caused the issue. Finally, 3) They are afraid of digital, heard second-third-fourth-hand stories from groups 1 and 2, and now repeat that garbage like it is gospel.

I am the probably the world's expert on this one piece of rather complicated digital guitar gear. It is a long story how I got that way, since I don't work for (and have never worked for) the company that produces it. Over the last 10 years or so, I have helped hundreds upon hundreds of users of this equipment through email and on-line when they have had trouble. Many (perhaps most) start by blaming the AD/DA conversions.

Guess what - in the end, for all of these people, the problem has NEVER EVEN ONCE been the conversion. It has been bad cabling, impedance mismatching, amp loading, poor gain staging (which lowers both s/n ratio AND dynamic range), or any other one of a number of ANALOG problems. In the end, they all get back to the sound they want by testing cables and replacing marginal or bad ones, setting the levels in their signal chain correctly and (sometimes) adding some ANALOG signal-conditioning gear (boosters, buffers, etc.)

The point is, the conversion is just fine. Period. A/D and D/A conversion have been fantastic for 15-20 years now (some would argue longer).

I totally agree with this, the digital stuff that's designed to make your sound output sound like a particular amp impressed me for example.

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post #444 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack D Ripper View Post

... I have noticed that when I artificially add dynamic range with an old dynamic range expander, it can be more jarring than when the music is left less dynamic. ...
You mean lifeless? wink.gifbiggrin.gif
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post #445 of 640 Old 05-25-2014, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack D Ripper View Post

I think that some of the complaints about early digital was due to having an increased dynamic range
A funny aspect of that are comments from vinylphiles ooohing and ahhhing over the "better low level detail" on LPs compared to CD. They don't realize that soft sounds were simply boosted in order to deal with the higher noise level.
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post #446 of 640 Old 05-26-2014, 02:24 PM
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The Ibanez Tube Screamer used FET's and op-amps to soft clip the signal. The older ones go for some crazy money these days. I worked on a friends and it was just a bad solder joint. Amazing pedal that gives a great sound.

Klipsch so much it Hz
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post #447 of 640 Old 05-26-2014, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Divergent9999 View Post

 
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 After careful consideration, I've come to the conclusion that high resolution audio is relevant for recording, mixing, and mastering. 

How is it relevant? Explain.

The short answer is that high bit depths (24 bit or higher) help avoid quantization errors and aliasing that degrades sound. 

Half right. Higher bit depths reduce quantization errors but by definition have zero effect on aliasing. Bit depth affects the amplitude domain, while aliasing takes place in the frequency domain. It is easy enough for a 16 bit converter to have far less aliasing than 24 bit converters and this can even happen when the 24 bit converter is designed to please audiophiles who obsess over sharp roll-offs, and the 16 bit converter is designed pragmatically.
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Processing digital audio at high bit depth avoids degradation that occurs when using digital processing for mixing and mastering. 

16 bit processing in general leaves no audible artifacts during normal mixing and mastering.
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The need for high sampling rates is far more questionable. I think 48 KHz is plenty. 

Higher sampling rates can have benefits related to aliasing by moving the reflection point for aliasing to a higher frequency.

However, the best general solution for aliasing lies in an effectively designed low pass filter that severely attenuates any signals above the Nyquist frequency. Implementing this in the digital domain can be inexpensive and highly effective.
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post #448 of 640 Old 05-26-2014, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Maybe that was true in 1985. Today, A/D conversion is essentially perfect, even with inexpensive A/D interfaces available at Best Buy. A/D conversion is not the weak link.

Agreed, but it wasn't even true back when the best a 16-bit converter could manage was only 14 or 15 bits:

Early Digital
Ivor Tiefenbrun Fails the Digital Challenge (from 1984)

I've done some DBTs with music whose resolution was artificially reduced. I found that in almost all cases 13-14 bits was undetectable given that the music was close to being normalized. It would be good if the bit reduction were properly dithered.

It appears that there are a number of freeware Bitcrusher VST plugins that might be used with Audacity to set up some files for personal testing with Foobar2000's ABX option.
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post #449 of 640 Old 05-26-2014, 08:29 PM
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I saw Neil Young on Jimmy Fallon touting his new album that he made directly to vynil. It was AWFUL sounding. I mean, just terrible. Quite possibly the worst sounding thing I've ever heard coming from such a great musician.

If you have the misfortune of heaving heard it, I can assure you, it would come as no surprise that he's losing his proverbial marbles and is not an expert on the topic of fidelity. First he's talking about 24 / 96, then he releases an album so distorted that it sounds like it must have been done that way on purpose, and says "listen to that sound!" I'm like yeah, that was terrible. Thanks dude, I'll buy what you make on CD but don't shovel garbage audio quality one day and claim 24 / 96 is what we need the next day. It just lacks any credibility, and made me lose respect for the guy.

Never meet your heroes. Or even watch them on late night, apparently.
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post #450 of 640 Old 05-27-2014, 01:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Crowley View Post

The Ibanez Tube Screamer used FET's and op-amps to soft clip the signal. The older ones go for some crazy money these days. I worked on a friends and it was just a bad solder joint. Amazing pedal that gives a great sound.
I'm missing the relevance to the thread.
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