Ask Me Anything: Defining High-Res Audio - Page 2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #31 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:07 PM
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We know from this Sony document https://content.abt.com/documents/61...ACS_manual.pdf [page 6, Note number 1] that Sony defines consumer microphones that record up to 40 kHz, albeit at a , *gulp*, hugely reduced output level of -30 dB down, as being "Hi-Res Audio", however to the best of our research studio mics have no such requirements to meet in order to be defined as "Hi-Res". Since the microphones used bear a tremendous influence on the sound we hear in a Hi-Res recording, is there any initiative to set a similar requirement as to what studio mics should be defined as to be deemed "Hi-Res capable"?
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post #32 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:07 PM
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Any hopes for High-Res physical media from Sony?
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post #33 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
Do you think HRA will encourage more information about the recordings, i.e. provenance, from the industry as a whole?
It may, but to be honest, I think that will be very difficult to do and of less value than many people think. If you're doing a straight stereo recording of a symphony orchestra with little to no processing and very modest adjustments the mastering stage, great. But once you get into multi-track recording with a combination of acoustic and electric instruments, some of which use straight digital outputs, as well as all the potential options for signal processing in the recording, mixing and mastering phases, the value of knowing that (and figuring out how to possibly "compensate" for it) is up to question.
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post #34 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by BobOD View Post
While that may true in some situations, a much bigger concern is that the extra effort (and, therefore, costs) to create and sell separate hi-res files has been more difficult to justify given the relatively small size of the audience for hi-res audio files to date. Hopefully, if the music industry is successful in spreading the value of listening to higher-quality audio, that situation will change.


My thought really was, why sell standard res recordings at all? Just record once and produce one quality of tracks... just the hi-res ones!
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post #35 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:14 PM
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I must agree that the way music is recorded has everything to do with whether or not "HiRes" sounds better... I have heard some MP3's that sound good to me. Have you?
Yes, and I referred to that in post 17.

Here's the relevant bits: As I mentioned in my opening monologue, files that have been subjected to any kind of “lossy compression” are not considered to be high-resolution audio (and hopefully my explanation there answered the second part of your question). However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t sound good—in fact, really good, especially on high-quality audio gear. Just to get this out there early on, you don’t “need” to have high-resolution audio files and equipment to hear great quality audio and, conversely, not everything that is labelled (correctly or not) as being high-resolution is always going to sound great.
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post #36 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:16 PM
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My thought really was, why sell standard res recordings at all? Just record once and produce one quality of tracks... just the hi-res ones!
Well because the vast, vast majority of people can only play standard resolution. If we can get to a point where a single file can cover both applications (and I'll get to MQA in just a sec), then that would be fine.
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post #37 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:16 PM
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As a trombone player and guitarist myself, I would generally agree.

(By the way, quick side note. I’m proud to say that I am at least somewhat responsible for getting AVSForum editor Scott Wilkinson into journalism when I hired him as my technical editor at both Music Technology and EM. You’re welcome, Scott…;>)


As a trombone player myself and Scott supporter, I just want to say you're okay in my books.


We really appreciate this AMA!!!
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post #38 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:17 PM
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AVSForum member markrubin asked:
“Please tell us what you think of MQA. Will it ever become mainstream?”
I have not had the opportunity to hear any MQA-encoded music, but based on what I’ve read about it, it looks to be a potentially impressive technology for both digital downloads and music streaming. And for the record, yes, I consider MQA to be a form of hi-res audio.

For those who are not aware, MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) is a technology that was developed by Meridian which essentially provides the ability to deliver all the data of a 96 kHz or even 192 kHz, 24-bit audio file in the same space, or requiring the same bandwidth, as standard CD-resolution music.

The basic idea behind the technology is that the components of a high-res audio file beyond the core part that can be represented in a 44 kHz, 16-bit standard section, is relatively small and can be hidden beneath the noise floor of the “main” file. (There’s a lot more to it than that, but there are plenty of good articles available on the web that explain it in much more detail.) Because of this design, audio components that don’t support MQA will simply ignore these extra bits and play back the file as if it were standard Red Book audio, but components that do support MQA decoding can reconstruct the digital file.

This means a single file can be used to support both standard-resolution and high-resolution audio—a clever idea that can reduce confusion over multiple file formats. Of course, dual-layer SACD (Super Audio CD) discs offered a similar benefit, although it was more of a brute force method where there were two different files stored on the different layers. SACD-capable players played the high-resolution file, while regular CD players played the standard resolution file.

One of the intriguing parts of the MQA standard is that MQA formatted audio can include metadata about some of the original characteristics of the recording equipment—essentially some digital provenance—and then compensated for accordingly on playback to match what the engineers heard in the studio—at least, in theory.
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post #39 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:18 PM
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As a trombone player myself and Scott supporter, I just want to say you're okay in my books.


We really appreciate this AMA!!!
Thanks....
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post #40 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Blacklightning View Post
Any hopes for High-Res physical media from Sony?
I am not aware of any new plans, but obviously, most of the industry movement has been towards streaming. Having said that, there's still a role for physical media...wish I could find more SACD and DVD-A discs myself!
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post #41 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:22 PM
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AVSForum member Worf asked:
“How much stuff is marketed as ‘high res’ mostly for the wank factor?”
Unfortunately, the audiophile industry has a very long history of snake oil-type offerings that didn’t/don’t really offer much improvement over much lower-cost options. From exotic analog audio cables, through IEC power cables and lots of other psycho-acoustic driven improvements, there’s no denying that some tomfoolery has existed.

In the case of hi-res music, there have been documented cases of web sites that offer what they call hi-res audio files that technically meet the definition of being, say, 96 kHz, 24-bit files, but which literally had a bunch of zeros added onto standard 44.1 kHz, 16-bit audio. To add insult to injury, they were sold at a much higher price.

On the equipment side, the whole purpose of the Hi-Res Audio logo program is to ensure that components meet an agreed upon set of requirements. There are certainly some who will quibble over whether or not the details of those requirements are appropriate and what value they actually have, but enough people from enough organizations that I respect have come together to create these standards that I feel confident in supporting them with my own wallet.

Plus, my own personal experience with hi-res audio reinforces these views. While there are and will continue to be debates about audibility, I feel confident that Hi-Res Audio logo’d equipment is going to give me a very high-quality audio experience that’s likely much better than my existing audio equipment which, like many others I’m sure, hasn’t been updated in a while. As I mentioned before, the primary value I see in Hi-res audio is assuring that I’m creating a high-level listening experience for any type of audio file. Am I going to repurchase every piece of music I own in hi-res format? Of course not. But will I seek out a few favorites and make new purchases in hi-res format? Yes.

If those reasons aren’t enough for you, fine. Don’t bother looking for any logos. At the end of the day, no one is forcing anyone to buy anything they don’t want to buy. However, people do make choices amongst audio components because they believe there are differences in quality or just certain aspects that they like about one piece vs. another. Not all audio components in a given category are created equally and people like to find reasons for deciding on one over another. For some, it will boil down to focusing on the details and specs that they feel are most important. For others who don’t have the time or inclination to dig into those kinds of specs, they’re looking for some kind of reassurance that they’re getting something good. Plus, given the incredible complexity of today’s digital audio formats, there is real-world value in simplicity. If you don’t think people will pay for simplicity, there’s a little fruit logo’d company I’d like to introduce you to….
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post #42 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:23 PM
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Is the primary intended usage of HRA files for portable, personal audio? Or will the desktop replace the turntable in the living room?
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post #43 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:23 PM
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I assume HRA will now allow recordings that have been upsampled, as the high res information would be absent? I have seen this from other websites selling high-res music.
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post #44 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:24 PM
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AVSForum member Wilderness asked:
“What can be done, when so many people are listening to music via cheap Bluetooth speakers and headphones, to effectively spread the word about the benefits of high resolution music and the equipment capable of reproducing it so that significantly more people will upgrade their music and gear?”
This is the classic $64,000 question. As you know, the emphasis over the last 10+ years has been on the convenience of listening to music as opposed to its quality. But for all the negatives we can heap onto that trend, you have to acknowledge how great it is to be able to carry enormous music libraries in our pocket, or to listen to our music without the encumbrance of wires, or get access to libraries of music that are significantly larger than we could ever hope to gather on our own.

The good news is, I think many of the major innovations in convenience have now matured and the industry can now move back to providing higher-quality audio with the same level of convenience that could only previously be achieved with lower-quality compressed audio. Improvements in compute performance, component quality, compression techniques and available bandwidth, combined with huge drops in storage costs are making it much easier to download, stream and playback the larger-size files that are necessary for higher-quality audio.

We’re already starting to see certain movements in that direction with things like Tidal, but I expect we’ll see a lot more over time. Even if the technology is available, there’s a lot more to success of a format than specs, however. People have to hear about and understand the potential value that these new higher-quality audio offerings can offer. That’s why marketing programs like Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Music are actually really important to generate wider awareness. While some people like to poke fun at them, those are the same kind of people who apparently want to keep higher-quality audio only available to their secret society. The vast majority of the music listening world needs help in trying to figure out how to improve the quality of their music listening experience. If you’ve read through all pre-AMA thread and current thread posts, you know that something that should be easy and enjoyable has become ridiculously complex. So, efforts to improve on that for avid music listeners are key to help spreading the word.

By the way, on the subject of Bluetooth audio streaming, there are different levels of quality available, though they are not typically user-selectable. In theory, Bluetooth 4.0 streaming supports data rates up to 25 Mbps, which is above the 1.4 Mbps that standard CD-quality audio requires (and which, theoretically could handle some lossly compressed hi-res files). In practical usage, however, data rates for Bluetooth are often in the hundreds of kbps range, which is below what’s required for high-quality audio. Having said that, most audio streamed via Bluetooth uses the SBC codec, which can only handle compressed audio. However, a codec called AptX supports higher-quality, though not hi-res, audio.
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post #45 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:27 PM
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Would LP recorded with HRA capable recorder be considered HRA?
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post #46 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by azyme View Post
Is the primary intended usage of HRA files for portable, personal audio? Or will the desktop replace the turntable in the living room?
No, it's definitely for all types of applications (but note that it doesn't require a PC to enjoy it). In fact, in many portable applications if you're outside, it can be much more challenging to hear a lot about the noise floor.
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post #47 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:31 PM
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I assume HRA will now allow recordings that have been upsampled, as the high res information would be absent? I have seen this from other websites selling high-res music.
No, the HRA definition states that the original material needs to be higher than CD quality.
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post #48 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:32 PM
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And what about the numbers HI-RES 5.6 mhz and 11.2 MHz.

As manufacturers are throwing numbers at us. In search of a new receiver.

What's the benefit?

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post #49 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:36 PM
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Well, we've come to the end of this AMA; thanks to everyone who submitted a question!

Now, it's time to reveal the winners of our two prize packages, each of which includes a Sony NWZ-A17/SLV portable high-res audio player and MDR-1A/B high-res-capable headphones.

And the winners are (drum roll please…):

tomtb16 and Frank Derks

Congratulations! We will contact you about shipping details.

And thanks again for participating in this AMA!

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post #50 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:37 PM
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So no answer to my question... 😯

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post #51 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by wackid View Post
And what about the numbers HI-RES 5.6 mhz and 11.2 MHz.

As manufacturers are throwing numbers at us. In search of a new receiver.

What's the benefit?
Those numbers are for DSD-encoded files and they provide higher-level sampling rates, translating to higher frequency range. The trick is to see if there are any audio files that you want to play that require those specs.
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post #52 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:38 PM
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Thanks everyone for joining; it was a great discussion. For those few remaining questions that I didn't answer, I will make my best effort to get them before the long holiday weekend.
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post #53 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:42 PM
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Bob any chance you will be on Home Theater Geeks soon???
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post #54 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:47 PM
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Really good thread and good info. Thanks Bob. Any chance this thread or a similar one can be there in AVS as an on-going thread for Hi-Res audio?

______________
Thanks, Jay
Spoiler!
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post #55 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by BobOD View Post
On the equipment side, the whole purpose of the Hi-Res Audio logo program is to ensure that components meet an agreed upon set of requirements. There are certainly some who will quibble over whether or not the details of those requirements are appropriate and what value they actually have, but enough people from enough organizations that I respect have come together to create these standards that I feel confident in supporting them with my own wallet.….
It's good to know people interested in buying the Hi-Res Audio standard, marked by the logo sticker as a stamp of approval, are no longer burdened by having to buy large, expensive speakers to maintain the high quality standard the Hi-Res audio logo denotes:
http://www.sony.com/electronics/wire...eakers/srs-hg1


Does this mean Sony TV sets defined as HRA are soon to follow? Or must I still buy an add-on speaker such as this $169 product to hear my TV in what's defined as Hi-Res Audio?

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post #56 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
It's good to know people interested in buying Hi-Res Audio products, marked by the logo sticker to ensure sound quality, are not burdened into having to buy large, bulky products anymore:
http://www.sony.com/electronics/wire...eakers/srs-hg1

Does this mean Sony HRA TV sets are coming soon? Or must I still buy an add-on speaker such as this $169 product to hear my TV in what's defined as Hi-Res Audio?
Sony's 2015 X930 and X940 TV's sport the HRA logo and are capable of playing back various HRA formats from USB (and possibly networked sources?) to the TV's rather large (for TV's) front-facing speakers and a wireless sub.

http://www.sony.com/electronics/tele...c-x930c-series

There is no mention in the specs on Sony's website about HRA support in the newer 2016 X930, X940, or Z-series TV's. It's worth pointing out that they eliminated the front-facing speakers for the 2016 models in favor of a sleeker design. They've gone back to rear-firing speakers that are decent for TV speakers, but not as well-reviewed as the front facing speakers on the 2015 models.

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post #57 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BobOD View Post
That’s why marketing programs like Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Music are actually really important to generate wider awareness. While some people like to poke fun at them, those are the same kind of people who apparently want to keep higher-quality audio only available to their secret society.
I wonder what the specific motivation is of this, um, "secret society", the one that wants to "keep higher-quality audio only available to [themselves]"? Wouldn't wider knowledge and public acceptance of it help improve the prevalence of its creation, distribution, and help keep the prices down by keeping the market open, competitive, and free?
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In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

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post #58 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
I wonder what the specific motivation is of this, um, "secret society", the one that wants to "keep higher-quality audio only available to [themselves]"? Wouldn't wider knowledge and public acceptance of it help improve the prevalence of its creation, distribution, and help keep the prices down by keeping the market open, competitive, and free?
Why, don't you know? Only Illuminaty and top 1% of richest people in the world can enjoy the high resolution audio.
To answer your second question, think about concept of an inchworm, his front end standing at HRA and his back end standing on some poor lossy 64kbps audio track. The front of an inchworm can move somewhat upfront in high res audio area, but if its back doesn't move forward from globally common crappy low resolution formats, the overall progress will be useless. But eliminate everything below 192kbps 16/44 everywhere in the world and you have achieved a global improvement in sound...and more interest for ultramegahigh 1536/32 audio nonsense if anyone cares. I don't. Realistic audio can only be accomplished in holodecks.

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post #59 of 123 Old 09-01-2016, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by oog500 View Post
Would LP recorded with HRA capable recorder be considered HRA?
Well it certainly would seem strange for SONY to market the turntable/cartridge package PS-HX500 as HRA if what you are asking about were not at least theoretically possible:



As for Bob's stipulation that anything HRA must be "better than CD quality", and this makes you wonder what that would mean about LPs in general, then this quality level graph, brought to us from the inventors of MQA technology, Meridian, should put your mind at rest:


I originally learned of this from here:
http://archimago.blogspot.com/2015/0...s-formats.html
[scroll down to the quality vs convenience graph to see how they think LP stacks up against CD in terms of quality from the original, but now revamped web page here]:
https://web.archive.org/web/20150206...schanging.com/
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post #60 of 123 Old 09-02-2016, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
As for Bob's stipulation that anything HRA must be "better than CD quality", and this makes you wonder what that would mean about LPs in general, then this quality level graph, brought to us from the inventors of MQA technology, Meridian, should put your mind at rest:
I think when he says "better than CD quality", he is referring to the bit quality for digital files ONLY. Also the above chart means nothing if they do not state the data or tests involved in making the chart. Plus they have no labels for the Y axis.

CHART IS USELESS. Think about it you can download a CD file so downloads can be as good as CD's on this list, plus the files used to make the CD "before it is downscaled for CD use" can also be "downloaded". On the Convenience side I know a lot more people that have SACD players and discs, I know if one person with Reel to Reel. Download is a lot more convenient than CD's.

CHART IS USELESS
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