Originally Posted by fatuglyguy
I believe the Airport Express is limited to 16/44.1 CD resolution, so any high-res files will be converted to that format when played. Other airplay devices like the Apple TV upsample to 48khz to account for dolby digital tracks being played through it for TV/Movies etc. IMO cd resolution is plenty good.
If it's limited to 16/44, you are best not to make any volume adjustments via the airport express (you really want 24-bit if you are changing volume digitally) but there's no loss from the 44.1 output.
Originally Posted by arnyk
The myth is that the higher the sample rate, but better the sound. Reality is that the law diminishing returns is alive and well in that arena as well.
It's not even diminishing returns at this point - we can't hear over 20kHz so 44.1kHz (which can represent signals up to 22.05kHz perfectly) is more than enough to cover the entire range of human hearing. 16-bit source files are plenty as well, because 96dB of dynamic range is more than enough to damage your hearing, and most music only uses about 1/3 of that dynamic range anyway.
Originally Posted by ambesolman
Amarra sounds nice but is expensive, PM looks pretty good but it sounds like Decibel may be a better (and cheaper) route according to stereophile so I may give it a try. Going to play with some settings on my receiver (Sony 4400ES) and see if I can hear any differences by turning off or trying a different stting for the auto room correction. This is all great advice so please keep it coming!
Edit. Just realized that Decibel, etc are only available for Mac, I have windows. Back where I started.
On Windows, the best player is JRiver Media Center. But if you have your system audio output set to 24/44.1, and your player set the same way, you are pretty much guaranteed bit-perfect output these days.
JRiver and other players make this easier by using WASAPI output, which takes control over the sound card and sets it to 24/44.1 automatically, but it is not necessary
. Even iTunes has sample rate options now.
On OS X, tools like Amarra just handle sample rate switching (my understanding is that there is no equivalent of WASAPI on OS X for the player to easily take over the sound card) and adding transcoding of unsupported formats to iTunes. Amarra is ridiculously overpriced for what it does.
Originally Posted by ambesolman
I wouldn't have an issue with using another player if:
It would stream through AirPlay (most importantly)
I could actually find music I like in high rez files.
I've been to hdtracks hoping to find something to try out but there was absolutely nothing that I listen to.
The airplay has made it to where I can shuffle through my library from anywhere in the house and change songs and volume if I want to. It's just ridiculously convenient. If I can still do all this with another player and still get high rez music I like then please let me know where to find it.
"HD" files are a rip-off, taking advantage of the uninformed consumer.
Here's a "24/96" recording from a limited edition package that was not
Low-pass filtered to 24kHz, so it's clearly a 24/48 file that has been upsampled. Oops. (not that it matters to those of us with human ears)
And a 24/352.8 DXD
master which is 330MB for a four minute track:
This is actually a very good sounding, high fidelity piano recording. But all the music is basically under 15kHz, with a couple of peaks extending to 20kHz. (that are probably below the threshold of hearing) Then, as you extend upwards, you see a gradual increase of noise above 70kHz - you actually want
to filter this out. If this track was a 16/44.1 file (or 24/44.1 if you like) it would sound exactly the same.
What makes a recording sound "high fidelity" is the quality of the mastering, whether the track has compressed dynamics due to the "loudness war" or not.
It may be that companies selling you 24/48 audio and beyond are paying more attention to the mastering of their files, but you don't need anything more than 16/44.