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HD Tracks quality? Please share your experience about this download service

post #1 of 99
Thread Starter 
Bought a few tracks and couple of albums from HD Tracks. I am playing these through the Oppo BDP-95 from a USB flash drive. While they sound very good, some tracks (For example the song Hello, Lionel Richie, 192Khz/24bit) have some audio breaks/skips. Is it because of the USB drive? I will try the eSATA option too at a later time, but for now I am wondering if it is just a quality issue of the tracks. I still seem to prefer my SACDs. Makes me wonder how much attention they pay to rip quality.
Thanks,
post #2 of 99
If you experience skips it is either bad file or broken storage/player device. Try to listen them on computer, if it still skips, then contact HD Tracks with complaint.
post #3 of 99
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ap1 View Post

If you experience skips it is either bad file or broken storage/player device. Try to listen them on computer, if it still skips, then contact HD Tracks with complaint.

I thought it was repeatable, but tried now again and could not reproduce the problem. I wonder if the BDP-95 at times struggles to sustain the 192/24 stream. USB bandwidth issue? Does the player buffer while played from USB. It appears not to be a HD tracks issue.
post #4 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcomp124 View Post

I thought it was repeatable, but tried now again and could not reproduce the problem. I wonder if the BDP-95 at times struggles to sustain the 192/24 stream. USB bandwidth issue? Does the player buffer while played from USB. It appears not to be a HD tracks issue.

How long is your SPDIF cable? I also suggest to use Oppo in network player mode with network connection to your computer. That would be better than SPDIF, as player controls network stream. You might need DLNA software running on computer for it to work. If network connection use physical cable - WiFi is too slow for high-res audio.
post #5 of 99
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ap1 View Post

How long is your SPDIF cable? I also suggest to use Oppo in network player mode with network connection to your computer. That would be better than SPDIF, as player controls network stream. You might need DLNA software running on computer for it to work. If network connection use physical cable - WiFi is too slow for high-res audio.

I am not using SPDIF. The dedicated 2-ch analog stereo outputs go to a passive pre. I play the HD tracks off a USB stick on the front panel of the Oppo.
post #6 of 99
I've had no trouble with HD tracks. Great service. I'd also prefer the sacd, but have bought a few titles from hd tracks that were out of print scads for 1/4 the cost of people hawking them on eBay or amazon.
post #7 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcomp124 View Post

Bought a few tracks and couple of albums from HD Tracks. I am playing these through the Oppo BDP-95 from a USB flash drive. While they sound very good, some tracks (For example the song Hello, Lionel Richie, 192Khz/24bit) have some audio breaks/skips. Is it because of the USB drive? I will try the eSATA option too at a later time, but for now I am wondering if it is just a quality issue of the tracks. I still seem to prefer my SACDs. Makes me wonder how much attention they pay to rip quality.
Thanks,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcomp124 View Post

I am not using SPDIF. The dedicated 2-ch analog stereo outputs go to a passive pre. I play the HD tracks off a USB stick on the front panel of the Oppo.

1. Try copying the hi-rez stereo .flac files from the USB memory stick to an external USB HDD. Leave everything else the same.

1a. If that works without the "audio breaks/skips" then problem may be the memory stick.

2. If that doesn't solve the problem, then try disconnecting your connection to web and/or wifi and/or PC. Leave everything else the same.

2a. If that works without the "audio breaks/skips" then problem may be that the OPPO 95 is paying too much attention to those connections.

3. If that doesn't solve the problem, then go into the OPPO 95's setup and see if there's some setting there that will help lessen any extra processing that's going on.

4. Call up OPPO support. They seem to have a well deserved reputation for supporting their customers.
post #8 of 99
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OtherSongs View Post

1. Try copying the hi-rez stereo .flac files from the USB memory stick to an external USB HDD. Leave everything else the same.

1a. If that works without the "audio breaks/skips" then problem may be the memory stick.

2. If that doesn't solve the problem, then try disconnecting your connection to web and/or wifi and/or PC. Leave everything else the same.

2a. If that works without the "audio breaks/skips" then problem may be that the OPPO 95 is paying too much attention to those connections.

3. If that doesn't solve the problem, then go into the OPPO 95's setup and see if there's some setting there that will help lessen any extra processing that's going on.

4. Call up OPPO support. They seem to have a well deserved reputation for supporting their customers.

Thanks a lot for these suggestions. The problem appears to have gone away. I will go through your debug steps if it reappears. Thanks again
post #9 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcomp124 View Post

Thanks a lot for these suggestions. The problem appears to have gone away. I will go through your debug steps if it reappears. Thanks again

Thanks for the thanks.

Odds are these problems never really "go away"

So it's just a matter of time before it shows up again. When that happens call up OPPO support, as to me their great support is very high on the list for spending the money to buy an OPPO 95 player.
post #10 of 99
Don't waste your money on HD tracks, really. Read this:
http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

Waste of money...
post #11 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by djkest View Post

Don't waste your money on HD tracks, really. Read this:
http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

Waste of money...

Thanks for the ref. I've glanced at the top of the writeup in the recent past, but never read through it.

There's also a set of test sound files halfway down the writeup.

My external DAC (Benchmark DAC1 HDR) should handle even the hi-rez at 24bit/96kHz and 24bit/192kHz. I just need to be sure that my PC player outputs them as is over my digital RCA coax PC output (S/PDIF). Output from the external DAC is standard stereo (L/R) RCA analog IC cables.

FWIW my own interest is whether 24/96 (both stereo and 5.1) sound files might have some merit over 16/44.1
post #12 of 99
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by djkest View Post

Don't waste your money on HD tracks, really. Read this:
http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

Waste of money...

Thanks for the reference. I skimmed over it and feel I have to read it again more carefully when time permits. The argument made here with the illustration does not appear to strenghten the argument. They use 30KHz and 33KHz in a "theoritical" amplifier to show that there is a rather uniform distribution of intermodulation across the spectrum. If this affects 192Khz samples, wouldn't it also affect 44.1Khz? What they need to show is real measurements or a more coherent theoretical explanation comparing intermodulation distortion distribution and their magnitude for 192Khz vs 44.1Khz. Again, maybe I am missing the point since I have not read this carefully yet. I am not defending 192 and honestly I have not tried to compare it to 48 or 44.1Khz. Just skeptical when explanations are not sound.
post #13 of 99
The beauty of HD Tracks is for a few dollars anyone can purchase one or two songs of which they are familiar and make a direct comparison.

Now the only issue is your playback.

To do HDTracks justice you need to invest in adequate playback. If you are on this forum, I suspect you have adequate playback.

I use an Audigy Creative sound card with an SPDIF out passthough to my Denon 4310CI receiver. My sound card plays back at 96 khz, meaning all 192/176 khz HD Tracks tunes are downsampled to this rate.

After listening to Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones as an example, and directly comparing it to the DSD remaster CD of the same album being played by my Denon DVD 3910 connected via Denon-Link, I can definitively say there is an improvement in SQ. Both sound great.

I have the highest regard for HDTracks Hires recordings I have heard. Included are CCR's Chronicles and even the George Thorogood albums sound incredible.

I am fortunate to have a sound card that can pass through a digital signal and a superior D/A converter in my receiver. I believe the SQ of HD Tracks depends on the setup. If set up properly the SQ is incredible.

It is unfair to rate the SQ of any medium without maximizing the SQ of it and its comparison. I have found that having a superior D/A converter is essential. i don't even have what many would consider a premium sound card and the direct comparison is superior.

The SPDIF passthrough is superior to my prior setup with and HRT USB based D/A converter, although I have an older model that does not handle 96 khz signals and downsamples everything to 48 khz.

Bottom line, buy one track from an album you are familiar with and listen for yourself.

I love HD Tracks.
post #14 of 99
My only issue with HD tracks is where they are getting their source material. It's been discussed a lot lately. It's not very difficult to take a 16/44.1 bit source and up convert it to a 24/96 bit file.
post #15 of 99
I love Hd Tracks via usb stick on my Oppo 95, try a restart and another usb stick! I found I prefer the sound of one over the other. Also can anyone recommend and Audiophile grade usb stick ? ( I'm serious)
post #16 of 99
There is no way a different USB stick can affect the sound unless the sound files have been corrupted either on the thumb drive or in the transfer to whatever device is reading them. However, it's very easy for you and your listening environment to change slightly between listening sessions.

You might want to consider getting a ruggedized thumb drive, though, to make it less likely to get damaged in the wash, for example. A web search will find many vendors.
post #17 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Venomous View Post

My only issue with HD tracks is where they are getting their source material. It's been discussed a lot lately. It's not very difficult to take a 16/44.1 bit source and up convert it to a 24/96 bit file.

I've heard of that.. I try to limit my purchases to those things that are hard to find sacd or dvd-a. At least that way I figure it once was a real hi-rez file. I'm mostly suspicious in the rock/pop category. As far as classical goes, that stuff is the real thing. Linn Records is another good one for hi-rez classical recordings.
post #18 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiofan1 View Post

i love hd tracks via usb stick on my oppo 95, try a restart and another usb stick! I found i prefer the sound of one over the other. Also can anyone recommend and audiophile grade usb stick:d ? ( i'm serious)

+1
post #19 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by aggieheels View Post

The beauty of HD Tracks is for a few dollars anyone can purchase one or two songs of which they are familiar and make a direct comparison.

Now the only issue is your playback.

To do HDTracks justice you need to invest in adequate playback. If you are on this forum, I suspect you have adequate playback.

I use an Audigy Creative sound card with an SPDIF out passthough to my Denon 4310CI receiver. My sound card plays back at 96 khz, meaning all 192/176 khz HD Tracks tunes are downsampled to this rate.

After listening to Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones as an example, and directly comparing it to the DSD remaster CD of the same album being played by my Denon DVD 3910 connected via Denon-Link, I can definitively say there is an improvement in SQ. Both sound great.

I have the highest regard for HDTracks Hires recordings I have heard. Included are CCR's Chronicles and even the George Thorogood albums sound incredible.

I am fortunate to have a sound card that can pass through a digital signal and a superior D/A converter in my receiver. I believe the SQ of HD Tracks depends on the setup. If set up properly the SQ is incredible.

It is unfair to rate the SQ of any medium without maximizing the SQ of it and its comparison. I have found that having a superior D/A converter is essential. i don't even have what many would consider a premium sound card and the direct comparison is superior.

The SPDIF passthrough is superior to my prior setup with and HRT USB based D/A converter, although I have an older model that does not handle 96 khz signals and downsamples everything to 48 khz.

Bottom line, buy one track from an album you are familiar with and listen for yourself.

I love HD Tracks.

+1

There is a difference between the SACD track its' 24 bit / 96 kHz track, a plethora of variables at play here I am sure. My 95 cranks both of them out, I take 'em in, and life is good!
post #20 of 99
Are these multichannel tracks? The Oppo 93/95 has an eSata input and eSata has the bandwidth for multichannel high resolution. My Bryston BDP-1 is limited to stereo and I seem to recall reading somewhere that usb doesn't have the bandwidth for multichannel high resolution files.
post #21 of 99
HD Tracks is simply two track. Playback of digital multitrack files is quite complex. One issue I have with AIX downloads. Playback of multitrack downloads is a lot of work.
post #22 of 99
Here is the issue with that site HD-Tracks

There has been a great deal of interest and activity with regards to what is and what isn’t “High-Definition” or “high-resolution” audio.

There has been a considerable amount of dissatisfaction and confusion from reviewers, music customers and hardware/software companies due to the mislabeling and or misleading marketing of standard definition tracks as “HD” tracks. It seems the time is right for a site dedicated to identifying High Definition audio tracks wherever they are found, verifying that they are in fact HD and certifying them as such.

HD selection must be recorded, mixed and mastered at 24-bits/96 kHz PCM otherwise it is just a CD frown.gif

Here is the truth http://www.realhd-audio.com/thankyou.html
post #23 of 99
I've always been a little suspect about HDtracks. I've not used their service yet, mostly because everything they're offering that I'd want, I already have in my collection. If i ever get into classical music, I may change my tune!

The reality is, if you think their tracks sound better, then it's better. All the comments, reviews, and subjective observations in the world won't change the path from your ears to your brain! smile.gif
post #24 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by thrak76 View Post

The reality is, if you think their tracks sound better, then it's better. All the comments, reviews, and subjective observations in the world won't change the path from your ears to your brain! smile.gif

That's not reality, it is solipsism. It's like saying that if I think the car is red, its red, no matter what illusions or perceptual problems of mine make me think it is red when it is actually blue.

People with certain kinds of color blindness perceive red as being the same as other colors. Does that make them so?
post #25 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by wse View Post

HD selection must be recorded, mixed and mastered at 24-bits/96 kHz PCM otherwise it is just a CD frown.gif
Here is the truth http://www.realhd-audio.com/thankyou.html

I'm not sure what they are trying to imply. That's bit like saying unless a movie is shot with a RED Epic 5K digital camera, it can't be "HD". But we know this is false as many of the best-looking Blu-ray discs are converted from analog 35mm film stock (1959 Ben-Hur was shot on 70mm film and is arguably one of the best looking Blu-ray discs around). All music (like video) is recorded from an analog world. Analog recordings are perfectly capable of sourcing "HD" versions as long as the original elements contain enough information - if that's what they're trying to say, then I agree. "Digital recordings" are simply analog recordings from analog tools converted on-the-fly to digital (ADC). No magic or mystery there.

A blind man can still "see" with his other senses and a deaf man can still feel some noises. The brain is a powerful adapter.

That being said, I've only purchased a couple albums from HDTracks, but I've been impressed so far. I try to be as objective as possible, but intentions are just as prone to error as equipment. What I can tell you is that the FLAC (88/24) version of Beck's "Sea Change" is noticeably better than my CD or Amazon MP3 (256K) versions. Most notable, the strings and keyboard tones aren't as muddy. Also, Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" (96/24) offers similar low-to-mid range improvements over the Amazon MP3, but I don't have the CD to compare.

I can play 96/24 FLAC file directly to my AVR over the network or 24/192 over HDMI or from my Audigy4Pro's 24/192 DAC directly to the AVR. I can't distinguish between those three methods even when using an assortment of 192/24 samples from other places. This leads me to believe that the jump from 96 to 192 is either unnecessary... or my ears and equipment aren't good enough. biggrin.gif

Is it worth $20-25 when the CD is $15 or less? IMO, that's the most subjective question.
post #26 of 99
Paul McCartney's 'Band on the Run' was a disappointment. Others have expressed the same. I have bought one other download from them is robert plant and alison krauss - raising sand. Again it sounds 'good'. Not crazy high res. good. I unsample all of my redbook to 24/96 with Sox. It sounds as good as these downloads. Not impressed.
post #27 of 99
If you have a well done and well mastered recording it will sound good in 16/44.1 or 24/192. If you take a poorly recorded and mastered track that is 24/192 there is still plenty of opportunity for it to sound like crap. I get 24 bit XXX Khz stuff whenever I can because I have the hard drive space for it. It's not so much that I feel it's better.
post #28 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by nathanddrews View Post

But we know this is false as many of the best-looking Blu-ray discs are converted from analog 35mm film stock (1959 Ben-Hur was shot on 70mm film and is arguably one of the best looking Blu-ray discs around). All music (like video) is recorded from an analog world. Analog recordings are perfectly capable of sourcing "HD" versions as long as the original elements contain enough information - if that's what they're trying to say, then I agree. "Digital recordings" are simply analog recordings from analog tools converted on-the-fly to digital (ADC). No magic or mystery there.

Ok try well recorded 5.1 SACDs and feel the difference compared to HD tracks here are a few good ones

Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon: http://sa-cd.net/showtitle/771

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here: http://sa-cd.net/showtitle/7523

Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms: http://sa-cd.net/showtitle/3052

Or Classical

- Mozart: Serenades - Scottish Chamber Orchestra: http://sa-cd.net/showtitle/4493

- Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4 & 5 - Pizarro, Mackerras: http://sa-cd.net/showtitle/5876

Even better well recorded music on Blu Ray:

- http://www.2l.no/epost/news2010may.html
- http://www.shopsfsymphony.org/shop/product.php?productid=1856&cat=100&page=1
- http://www.aixrecords.com/blu_ray.html

I can not listen to stereo any more, I love 5.2 music, especially with my ensemble of 800 Diamonds and 802Ds smile.gif
post #29 of 99
Have not had any problems downloading or playing back any file from HDTracks. As for all the commentary about recordings that just sound 'meh', well, they probably sounded meh before but our previous playback chain may not have noticed. In my youth I thought many albums were superb but I was all agog at the music itself and not the sound quality. Many rock recordings back in the day were simply atrocious but we are sentimentally attached to the memories of the time and hope to recapture a bit of former glory. The pieces from HDTracks I have been grabbing are of music that was recorded and mastered superbly (think Steely Dan) or is simply not available anymore unless one wants to spend mucho dinero on elusive LP's and what's left of the thinning herd of SACD's. Gave up LP's. 'Nuff said on that.

As for the mastering, I have noted here, and on other forums, that a good recording, well mastered, can sound just great on a 16/44.1 CD. Many little things have to happen in the chain for that to happen.

I've often wondered about the early days of the LP. Analog tape with hiss, mastering and cutting of the lacquer, pressing the LP's, ceramic cartridges, heavy tonearms, dubious record changers, tubed preamp/amps and mostly crap speakers. How would anyone know if it sounded good? That fact that it sounded at all was the thing. Like the dancing bear, it is not that the bear dances so well but that he dances at all!

Returning to HDTracks:

Jazz at the Pawnshop - worth it, no brainer - beautifully recorded, some of the tracks are brilliant, funny, mediocre, but so what? a moment in time
Diana Krall - Quiet Nights, Look of Love, Christmas Songs - Jazz people really care about their recordings. period. also it appears that they are minimally miked, and done with no over dubbing. Live in the studio
Donald Fagen - Kamakiriad - Clean, pristine
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours - Have the DVD-Audio as well - there are differences but they are subtle and are more a matter of taste. like wine. pinot or zin?
Eagles - Hotel California - See above

These are just examples. I really don't obsess over this stuff since it is the music that matters to me. If I don't feel like moving to it, or crying or grinning or singing along, the rest is unimportant!
post #30 of 99
I also wanted to buy a track from HDTracks and they told me they only offer full album purchase, which is a joke
I wanted to try certain tracks from albums that I was familiar with

has anyone bought a single song from there lately?
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