Originally Posted by BIslander
Or not. There are strong arguments that people cannot tell Redbook from higher sampling rates regardless of the source. But, if you go in with the assumption that Redbook is inadequate, then you'll conclude that a higher sampling rate is better.
If you want better sound, I suggest getting better speakers and investing in room improvements rather than rebuying music where the only change is a higher sampling rate. And that approach will improve all of your audio.
How's this for evidence to challenge the assumption that formats beyond 44.1/16 Redbook audio are a waste of money?
Several weeks ago, I was experimenting with the free twenty-five minute 96/24 sampler from HDtracks (five complete tracks in different styles, from classical to jazz).
First I learned how to put those 96/24 tracks onto a standard video DVD (yes, stereo 96/24 is part of the DVD-V spec - the "Stereo PCM" option on concert DVDs is nothing to sneeze at) using a piece of free open-source software, Lplex (for Windows and Linux) I downloaded at SourceForge.net. It's dead simple, by the way: just drag a WAV or FLAC file (or a folder of them) onto Lplex's icon and it creates an ISO that you can put on a DVD with your favorite disk-burning program (I use Nero).
Playing two duplicate disks in synch showed me that my Denon 2910 "universal" DVD player has a warmer, more layered sound than my Panasonic BD50 Blu-ray player. Both players are connected by analog RCA cables from Blue Jeans Cables through a passive push-button switch box (no electronics) to the multichannel input of my pre-HDMI Yamaha RX-V457 5.1 AVR, which is driving a set of Paradigm speakers: Studio 40s in front, Studio 20s on the sides, with a CC for FC and a PDR-10 sub. The tone controls in the RX-V457 are left at flat. The sub gets bass steered to it from the surround speakers, which don't go down as low as the speakers up front. For stereo sources, I have the surround channels sent copies of the front channels - no ambience derivation, just straight copies like a car stereo.
Then I went to the next level, since HDtracks also has material in formats that aren't
in the DVD-V spec (88.2/24 and 192/24) but which can be put onto a DVD Audio disk and played by the Denon 2910, which can also handle SACD and HDCD. (I keep the Denon's output filter set to its highest frequency - everything up to 100kHz.)
So I learned how to use another free program from SourceForge: DVD Audio Tools (also for Windows and Linux), which should be useful not only for downloads from HDtracks but also from AIX.
Once I had learned how to make DVD-A disks, I bought single-track downloads at 96/24 and 192/24 of the title track of Louise Rogers' Black Coffee
. A duet between a single voice and an acoustic guitar, recorded in stereo with subtle room acoustics, it's good for evaluating sound quality. It's also great music well performed.
I made a DVD-A that consisted of multiple alternating copies of that song at the two sampling rates, and played it with the lights out.
The 96/24 version sounded like an excellent recording. The 192/24 sounded like a live feed. The difference was clearest in the sound of the guitar, the sound of the voice, and the sound of the room acoustics. (I guess that means in everything!)
I repeated the test several days later for a friend of mine who had exactly the same reaction.
If nothing can sound better than 44.1/16 Redbook audio, we shouldn't have been able to hear any difference between the two versions.
To flip around the suggestion to upgrade my system to hear better sound, maybe some people can't hear a difference between 44/16 and anything higher resolution because they
haven't upgraded their systems, which don't have enough high frequency response and dynamic range to show the difference.
I remember that when I put the Yamaha receiver (which I got used - I'm a "budget audiophile") into my system in place of an NAD T752 that had died, I heard high frequency info that I hadn't noticed before.
I'm somewhat unusual in that, at age 62, I still can hear high frequencies that some people younger than me can't hear at all. When I was a child, I could hear the 19khz whine of a TV's "flyback coil" - used to step up the voltage applied across a cathode ray tube to make the scanning beam jump from the back of the tube to the screen - through walls several rooms away as the TV warmed up. (Fortunately, I don't hear that any more.)
In any case, there are finer details in audio sources than are dreamt of in the philosophy behind Redbook audio, my dear BIslander. (My apologies to Shakespeare - and Nyquist.)
PS I haven't yet experimented with comparing 96 and 192 transfers of old analog masters to determine if it's worth paying extra for 192, but if you hook up your computer to play through your stereo and compare the free 30-second demos of the tracks of Bill Evans' well-loved classic album Waltz for Debby
at HDtracks with the original LP, you may find what I did: the LP sounds "tinny" by comparison. This may be due to the custom electronics with which the playback tape deck used to master the new versions was retrofitted, but it shows that it can
be worth re-buying music you already own.
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."-Inigo Montoya