Are high resolution speakers worth it if I plan to get all my music from iTunes? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 48 Old 11-20-2012, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't want to buy CDs since they will eventually take up too much room. As I'm renting a bedroom, and sharing with other roommates, I don't have the luxury of having a lot of stuff.

So will high resolution speakers make iTunes' 256 AAC files sound bad?
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post #2 of 48 Old 11-20-2012, 05:48 PM
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what do YOU consider high resolution? Sounds like you're on a budget so one man's high resolution can be another man's entry level. Did you have a certain speaker in mind?

If your files are lossless they probably sound pretty good.

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post #3 of 48 Old 11-20-2012, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
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The music I listen to are on iTunes and on CDs. iTunes don't have any lossless files.
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post #4 of 48 Old 11-20-2012, 06:21 PM
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Speakers don't have a resolution. They are analog.

Yes. The resolution of CDs is sufficient to continue to allow improved speakers to create improved results. The same is true for most levels of apple's compression.
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post #5 of 48 Old 11-21-2012, 07:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

I don't want to buy CDs since they will eventually take up too much room. As I'm renting a bedroom, and sharing with other roommates, I don't have the luxury of having a lot of stuff.
So will high resolution speakers make iTunes' 256 AAC files sound bad?

If the iTune music is a decent recording, then no, high resolution (accurate) speakers will not make the music sound bad. They will make them sound good. cool.gif

Keep in the mind the law of diminishing returns - up to a certain point you may not notice much difference in sound quality. biggrin.gif
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post #6 of 48 Old 11-21-2012, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay. I had always believed that since the iTunes music are lossy, a more expensive (high resolution) speaker will make the compression known since it will bring out any flaws from a song.
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post #7 of 48 Old 11-21-2012, 07:11 PM
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In my opinion, better speakers can make ANY source sound better. When you hear someone say "they were good enough that I could start to pick out the flaws in my XXX," that's a good thing. It just means that they've finally reached the point where the speakers are no longer the weakest link. You'll never hear them say "I wanted to go back to crappier speakers so that I couldn't make out the flaws in the recording."

CDs and iTunes files can sound seriously fantastic. Some will even argue better that SACD and the like.

I'm not into "thumbs upping" or "liking". Don't take it personally. Just assume that I found your post helpful. Unless it wasn't.
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post #8 of 48 Old 11-21-2012, 07:23 PM
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You can rip your CDs using ALAC in iTunes. ALAC quality is somewhat comparable to FLAC I suppose. Better speakers will definitely improve SQ but also reveal flaws in recordings.

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post #9 of 48 Old 11-21-2012, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

I don't want to buy CDs since they will eventually take up too much room. As I'm renting a bedroom, and sharing with other roommates, I don't have the luxury of having a lot of stuff.
So will high resolution speakers make iTunes' 256 AAC files sound bad?

since iTunes sounds bad from the start,biggrin.gif good speakers will only make that more apparent. as others has suggested rip your cds with a loss-less format and stuff the cd's under the bed. I dont know what high resolution speakers though. I find that since HD came out that term has been beaten to death. Now if you have a make and model of such speakers...
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post #10 of 48 Old 11-21-2012, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco_Americanus View Post

since iTunes sounds bad from the start,biggrin.gif good speakers will only make that more apparent

I don't know what to make of that other than to write "No."

I have a pair of expensive ($44,000) speakers driven by pricey ($5,000) amps, a costly ($2,000) preamp, and a good quality ($500) universal player. It's also got an iStream DAC ($200 maybe) that hooks up to an iPod, iPad, or iPhone to grab the digital stream and convert it. Anything at 256 kBs or higher sounds great, really great, and Apple Lossless often sounds even better than CD, SACD, or DVD-A. Downloads from iTunes and eMusic sound very good. (Of course, iTunes started out as a 128 kBs service, and that was just too low.)

If you rip CDs, SACDs, and DVD-As in ALAC in iTunes, they'll sound as good as the original discs.

In double-blind tests, participants cannot tell with reliable certainty the difference between a well-recorded CD, SACD, MP3, FLAC, ALAC, PCM or other digital source (in stereo), regardless of the attachment of an HD moniker.

They can reliably pick out LPs and magnetic tape, because they really do sound different. (Let me just say, they sound much worse to me; others love their lower fidelity and pleasing distortion.)

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post #11 of 48 Old 11-21-2012, 11:07 PM
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i play mp3 and loss less on my system and can tell the difference, mp3 is just garbage, flac i like and some other formats but not from an ipod or mp3 player. We all have our preferences and granted i may be biased away from itunes due to there DCM I would be skeptical of AAC being on the same level as SACD or CD they just seem to miss it in the dynamic range. I have never been able to get mp3 to sound right on my system and as i upgraded over the years it became more apparent. Other media is fine. There is no such thing as a well recorded MP3. other formats are different
the orginal question was about better speakers making "iTunes" sound bad? how could it unless the media is in question.
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post #12 of 48 Old 11-23-2012, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco_Americanus View Post

the orginal question was about better speakers making "iTunes" sound bad? how could it unless the media is in question.

Yes, that is the original question, and your assumptive follow up question, "how could it unless the media is in question," is illogical. There's such a leap in logic there that it's hard but not impossible to fill in the gaping hole one must jump to get there.

1. The question mentions one medium, AAC 256 kBs, not an aggregate media.
2. The questioner inquired about speaker quality, not codec quality.
3. The questioner asked if "high definition speakers" would make the medium sound bad, not the other way around.
4. The questioner did not give us any info on what high definition speakers mean to him.
5. Other posters asked for some clarification on this.
6. The questioner added "more expensive (high resolution) speaker" as an example of high definition speakers.
7. You roundly knocked iTunes content ("since iTunes sounds bad from the start") without a single supporting fact.
7. I gave an example of a much more expensive, high resolution speaker that played well-recorded and encoded iTunes AAC 256 kBs files flawlessly and on a par with redbook CDs, SACDs, and even DVD-As.
8. I mentioned double-blind tests in which listeners could not distinguish between well-recorded samples of several digital media.
9. You responded that you can tell the difference, admit you're biased agains iTunes and its (nonexistent) DCM (sic.--DRM), that you're skeptical of AAC being on a level of SACD or CD but appear not to have made any comparison yourself, that all MP3s are "garbage" and on your system "never sound right, " and that there is "no such thing as a well recorded MP3." You do not specify what bit rates you might have heard or what the original sources were.

That's a big hole to fill.

http://www.lincomatic.com/mp3/mp3quality.html

http://mixonline.com/recording/mixing/audio_emperors_new_sampling/ (wait 10 seconds for the ad to finish)

You can research much more.

BTW, AAC, MP3, FLAC, and other files are not recorded per se, so you should really be talking about a well-recorded piece of music that is encoded into a lossy or lossless format. In that sense, your statement that there's no such thing as a well-recorded MP3 is oddly true, but not in the way you wrote it. Even when we use MP3 software to grab a song, we're grabbing something that was recorded originally in another format. There might be some small studio or somebody with a computer and a mic who records direct to MP3, but nothing of commercial consequence is done that way.

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post #13 of 48 Old 11-24-2012, 12:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I have read the last several responses and I am now more confident in going iTunes only. The greatest appeal of iTunes is the fact I can have 50 albums downloaded, with no DRM, and can save physical space instead of buying 50 CDs. The more music that's accumulated in the latter will result in less and less storage space available for me.

And seeing as how I'll be renting for the next 5 years--likely longer, I don't want to have too many physical things.

As for my definition of high resolution... anything costing $1000 and higher, brand new MSRP. Focal 807s, Paradigms, Viennas, etc all fall under this criteria and definition.
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post #14 of 48 Old 11-24-2012, 03:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

I have read the last several responses and I am now more confident in going iTunes only. The greatest appeal of iTunes is the fact I can have 50 albums downloaded, with no DRM, and can save physical space instead of buying 50 CDs. The more music that's accumulated in the latter will result in less and less storage space available for me.
And seeing as how I'll be renting for the next 5 years--likely longer, I don't want to have too many physical things.
As for my definition of high resolution... anything costing $1000 and higher, brand new MSRP. Focal 807s, Paradigms, Viennas, etc all fall under this criteria and definition.

Keep in mind two things :

1) every way of recording either analog or digital is not 'lossless' unless the artist is standing in your room. People who claim that any lossless compression has to be better than one that was transmitted without a lossless compression forgets that the recording itself is also nothing more than a 'try' to get the artist(s) as best as possible to a analog or digital track with limited bandwidth.

2) as a result of point one, removing the medium (say cd as a carrier) and moving to a more flexible medium (download) allows you to not only to save space but to be more flexible in what you download. There is no 'fixed' quality in the medium (like cd) you can download any quality you want as long as it fits the digital concept.

The result is that you can have worse mp3 collection 'downloaded' to your home, because many people (sorry) stole bad rips during the napster age. But the result is also that you can download good digital recordings in quality that a cd or in the future sacd/dvd-a can't touch.

So in the end its not if you move from physical to virtual, music is/was never physical thing to begin with it was just a way to transport the a experience from place a to b and relive it. More and more people will find that having their music in a 'formless' format in the cloud (either in their home or not) will give them more enjoyment in the way they use it and in quality than the physical way.

This excludes people who feel that the media itself adds something that they prefer, for example with large black discs with grooves in it more power too them i won't judge anyone who prefers transport systems that have added a 'quality' to the recording.

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post #15 of 48 Old 11-24-2012, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
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What I don't understand is how compressed (not FLAC or ALAC) files can sound "just as good" or even "better", like a couple of you have stated or implied. That is impossible, since it is missing some information from said lossless file. And yes, I know CD/FLAC/ALAC are compressed to begin with, but I don't want an even more compressed file that doesn't sound as good as it's CD/FLAC/ALAC counterpart.

Apple should seriously upgrade their music once more, maybe not lossless, as these file sizes vary too much. I'd be very happy if they upped it to 320 from 256.
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post #16 of 48 Old 11-24-2012, 10:31 PM
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Good speakers will help improve the SQ combined with a good DAC.

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post #17 of 48 Old 11-24-2012, 10:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

What I don't understand is how compressed (not FLAC or ALAC) files can sound "just as good" or even "better", like a couple of you have stated or implied. That is impossible, since it is missing some information from said lossless file. And yes, I know CD/FLAC/ALAC are compressed to begin with, but I don't want an even more compressed file that doesn't sound as good as it's CD/FLAC/ALAC counterpart.
They can sound just as good if the lost data is simply not discernible by the human ear-brain combo.

They could sound better the way an over-driven tube amp sounds better: by distorting the sound in a way the listener approves of.
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post #18 of 48 Old 11-24-2012, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

What I don't understand is how compressed (not FLAC or ALAC) files can sound "just as good" or even "better", like a couple of you have stated or implied. That is impossible, since it is missing some information from said lossless file. And yes, I know CD/FLAC/ALAC are compressed to begin with, but I don't want an even more compressed file that doesn't sound as good as it's CD/FLAC/ALAC counterpart.

Apple should seriously upgrade their music once more, maybe not lossless, as these file sizes vary too much. I'd be very happy if they upped it to 320 from 256.

Last I checked most Apple offerings were still in 128, not 256. When did that universally change to 256? I admit haven't tried lately due to that reason, Amazon had 256 as a standard when Appul didn't....

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post #19 of 48 Old 11-24-2012, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

Last I checked most Apple offerings were still in 128, not 256. When did that universally change to 256? I admit haven't tried lately due to that reason, Amazon had 256 as a standard when Appul didn't....

Apple's default has been 256 for a while. There are still some tracks that are 128 for a while longer (mostly due to contractual reasons from what I've heard).

If you bought something 4 years ago at 128 it's still 128 in your library, which is governed largely by what is on your computer. There is a way to update your collection though - set up iTunes to have your "purchased" music collection backed up onto iCloud. When your sure that is done, delete your purchased music off of your computer, then re-download all your purchased music back to your computer. The new downloaded music will be 256, with the exceptions noted earlier. (I stumbled across this by accident once when my hard drive crashed. I now do it once a year and each time fewer tracks are 128.)

As far as your "imported" tracks - iTunes is somewhat tied to your computer's audio hardware/processing. It can natively import and playback up to 320 / 96000 Hz, but, you have to set your system's Audio/Midi hardware settings to support that. Otherwise iTunes will down sample your audio before playback, and sometime even on import. If you have any pro-level audio-processing-hardware (such as M-Audio or ProTools) attached to your computer then iTunes will import/playback any sampling-rates/formats that hardware supports.
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post #20 of 48 Old 11-25-2012, 03:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

What I don't understand is how compressed (not FLAC or ALAC) files can sound "just as good" or even "better", like a couple of you have stated or implied. That is impossible, since it is missing some information from said lossless file. And yes, I know CD/FLAC/ALAC are compressed to begin with, but I don't want an even more compressed file that doesn't sound as good as it's CD/FLAC/ALAC counterpart.
Apple should seriously upgrade their music once more, maybe not lossless, as these file sizes vary too much. I'd be very happy if they upped it to 320 from 256.

The simple mistake you are making is the assume that the 'lossless' file say itunes starts with is the same as what is considered 'perfect' here say a cd. So yes there is loss but how much and what you start from matters. Also keep in mind the analog or digital master is also a reduced version (so compressed) from the start signal. lets take a extreme example.

1) a 'ok' recorded at 44.1/16 bits thats badly mixed and way to hot (clipping) cd.

2) a 256kb aac file (itunes) made of a 96/24 good mix done with care to preserve the dynamic range

The _only_ valid question now is what will sound better, so yes the lossy encoding of the number 2 will have loss compared to the 96/24 master but changes are high it will beat the crap out of number 1.

3) 256kb is not the end all of digital downloads its now considered the bare minimum and has been for years. There are many other methods of downloading music in higher bitrates/sample rates made from better masters.

Keep in mind engineers came up with compression concepts for audio and video not to make something sound worse but to make it sound better given the available bandwidth/size or other limiting factor of the medium. A compressed version within the same context (lossless or not) will always sound better than the uncompressed version that uses the same bandwidth why else do it?

Now on the Apple should upgrade, yes they should personally i think they have wanted to move to 48khz/24 for a while now but the record companies have been blocking this since they don't want to give apple even more power. Apple saving their asses bit its a mixed blessing. But the genie is out of the bottle streaming (formless) audio is here to stay.

Daniel.

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post #21 of 48 Old 11-25-2012, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BestInTheWorld View Post

What I don't understand is how compressed (not FLAC or ALAC) files can sound "just as good" or even "better", like a couple of you have stated or implied. That is impossible, since it is missing some information from said lossless file. And yes, I know CD/FLAC/ALAC are compressed to begin with, but I don't want an even more compressed file that doesn't sound as good as it's CD/FLAC/ALAC counterpart.

Apple should seriously upgrade their music once more, maybe not lossless, as these file sizes vary too much. I'd be very happy if they upped it to 320 from 256.

because a bunch of guys in white coats doing "science" have studied psychoacoustics... smile.gif

you'd be mightily surprised how much you can "throw away" with the majority of music and still be transparent to the original source...

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post #22 of 48 Old 11-25-2012, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

because a bunch of guys in white coats doing "science" have studied psychoacoustics... smile.gif
you'd be mightily surprised how much you can "throw away" with the majority of music and still be transparent to the original source...

Lets keep reminding him and others that even with this throwing away it depends on what you start with it seems all people assume any online format starts with the cd or some other 'lowend' format smile.gif.

What is even more amazing is not these people in white coats but our brain who can fill in large parts of content missing a good starting point into the topic :

http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/

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post #23 of 48 Old 11-25-2012, 05:45 AM
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^^^

yup... gigo... smile.gif the "most important" part of any recording is the mixing/mastering... after that, format is basically not relevant... i have boatloads of sacds, but they weren't purchased because of the format...

the brain is a wonderful thing... smile.gif and most don't realize (or simply deny) how much of an impact it has on what we "hear"...

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post #24 of 48 Old 11-25-2012, 11:02 AM
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Let's not forget how important the eyes are to listening as well. For a typical enthusiast and probably more so for a self-prolaimed audiophile, what we see influences what we hear.

Put speaker A and speaker B in front of someone, and if he or she has a brand preference or even an appearance preference, they will tend to hear the one that more closely resembles their preference as better. Switch out audio cables, or power cords, or pres, or amps, and the listener will hear differences based on brand, perceived quality, driver complement, etc. Play the same track off a CD, then an SACD, then an uncompressed digital file off an MP3 player or digital streamer, and most folks who see the SACD go in the player automatically will think it sounds better.

Put all of this stuff into a blind listening test, and suddenly people--from rookies to experts--are hard pressed to accurately make any distinctions. The eyes often overrule what the ears hear. I've been guilty of this many times and had to learn this lesson more than once.

I once demonstrated with a simple A/B switch how much better a track off an SACD was than the same track in AAC 256, but I lost track of which one I had playing at some point, and continued to make comments about how much better one was than the other. That is I continued to do tis until someone who noticed my error kindly pointed out that we were listening to the AAC track. eek.gif Ooops!

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post #25 of 48 Old 11-25-2012, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post

Last I checked most Apple offerings were still in 128, not 256. When did that universally change to 256? I admit haven't tried lately due to that reason, Amazon had 256 as a standard when Appul didn't....

Apple's default has been 256 for a while. There are still some tracks that are 128 for a while longer (mostly due to contractual reasons from what I've heard).

If you bought something 4 years ago at 128 it's still 128 in your library, which is governed largely by what is on your computer. There is a way to update your collection though - set up iTunes to have your "purchased" music collection backed up onto iCloud. When your sure that is done, delete your purchased music off of your computer, then re-download all your purchased music back to your computer. The new downloaded music will be 256, with the exceptions noted earlier. (I stumbled across this by accident once when my hard drive crashed. I now do it once a year and each time fewer tracks are 128.)

As far as your "imported" tracks - iTunes is somewhat tied to your computer's audio hardware/processing. It can natively import and playback up to 320 / 96000 Hz, but, you have to set your system's Audio/Midi hardware settings to support that. Otherwise iTunes will down sample your audio before playback, and sometime even on import. If you have any pro-level audio-processing-hardware (such as M-Audio or ProTools) attached to your computer then iTunes will import/playback any sampling-rates/formats that hardware supports.

Thanks for the update. I think the last time I used Apple they had just introduced an option for 256 and, IIRC, were charging more for it, too but choices were very limited (like almost everything I looked at buying at the time). I just looked, seems they're still charging more. I'll try that redownload thing with what I do own from Apple. I already have my cd rips set to 320 for some time now (cd being source of most of the music on my computer)

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post #26 of 48 Old 11-25-2012, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by danielo View Post

... Now on the Apple should upgrade, yes they should personally i think they have wanted to move to 48khz/24 for a while now but the record companies have been blocking this since they don't want to give apple even more power. Apple saving their asses bit its a mixed blessing. But the genie is out of the bottle streaming (formless) audio is here to stay.
Daniel.

Rumors are when Apple does upgrade next they want to jump to 96khz/24. With both blu-ray and (most) digital cinema at 96khz they may be viewing that as the next standard. Of course these days "standard" doesn't have the shelf life it used too ; )
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post #27 of 48 Old 11-25-2012, 03:48 PM
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I don't want to buy CDs since they will eventually take up too much room. As I'm renting a bedroom, and sharing with other roommates, I don't have the luxury of having a lot of stuff.
So will high resolution speakers make iTunes' 256 AAC files sound bad?

Are you wanting to listen to your music directly on your computer via iTunes? If so, pick up these AudioEngine A5s and USB DAC and call it a day. You will be impressed.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Audioengine+-+5%2B+Premium+Powered+Speaker+System+(2-Piece)+-+Black/3919037.p;jsessionid=CFD503A60FD3CB258865C5A02785278D.bbolsp-app02-34?id=1218443573633&skuId=3919037&st=Audio%20Engine&cp=1&lp=1

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Audioengine+-+24-Bit+Digital-to-Analog+Converter/4879384.p?id=1218570953557&skuId=4879384&st=Audio%20Engine&cp=1&lp=3

COMING SOONFinding the Ark of the Covenant by Brian Roberts, in the iBook Store on iTunes, a new investigation into the Hebrew’s Most Sacred Relic!
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post #28 of 48 Old 11-26-2012, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post

Rumors are when Apple does upgrade next they want to jump to 96khz/24. With both blu-ray and (most) digital cinema at 96khz they may be viewing that as the next standard. Of course these days "standard" doesn't have the shelf life it used too ; )

Well then we have to wonder why they seem to move to locking all their devices to 48khz these days, Most (appletv2/3, ipad, iPhone) are done that way now so thats why we guess they will move to 48khz/24bits next but again this is just me guessing.

Daniel.

for men to evolve we have to upgrade
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post #29 of 48 Old 11-26-2012, 04:24 PM
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Lossy MP3 is just plain garbage... even at higher bitrates. It saps the "life" out of the recording. iTunes helped damage music quality for a generation... the music industry was pre-compressing the dynamic range, bloating the bass and treble, etc. from the get-go since it was going to be delivered in a severely compressed container anyway. This poor engineering was showing up on many CD's and even some high resolution media like DVD-Audio and SA-CD.

There are some sites that are starting to have lossless, high resolution music files available for download. However, it depends on the type of music you like to listen to.

A good speaker will reveal the flaws in a bad recording and the qualities of a great one.

Listen up, studios! Just say "NO" to DNR and EE!!
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post #30 of 48 Old 11-26-2012, 04:31 PM
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^^^

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- chris

 

my build thread - updated 8-20-12 - new seating installed and projector isolation solution

 


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