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Does Lossless Make a Real Difference?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
When talking lossless sound, so many people seem to comment more about whether their receiver "lights up" rather than any vast improvements in sound quality. Is it just me or based on these comments does it sound like there might not be a perceptible difference between the older formats and the new "lossless" ones???

For those who think it does: would it be more comparable to SD -> HD (big difference, very noticeable) or 1080p -> 1080i (depends on who you ask).

I trying to decide whther it will be worth a $1000 upgrade when I'm actually pretty happy with the one I have.

Thanks.
post #2 of 38
Lossless audio has greater clarity, greater dynamic rangeIt's as good as it gets really. When I heard lossless audio for the first time, it was like listening to Dolby digital for the first time after years of listening to pro logic

Is it worth the upgrade? Yes, but the real question is should you upgrade? If your receiver has multi channel analog inputs, you can buy a player with a built in decoder and enjoy lossless audio without having to upgrade.

Jeff-
post #3 of 38
It is somewhat subjective but I think audio is very important and the lossless formats are very relevant for me. I have people who come over and say "wow" when listening and others say "heh" but for me, it is a critical component of buying and enjoying a movie. There are a lot more to soundtracks than booms and explosions and a well recorded and encoded disc demonstrates this.
post #4 of 38
Would I pay 1k to upgrade? Not in million years. But if you have a mid range to top line audio setup, and want the absolute best, it might be worth it to you.

Will you notice a big difference? Well, many people don't notice a difference SD and HD. I'd be willing to bet many more people wouldn't notice the difference between lossy and lossless. You just have to ask yourself how much audio is important to you? If it is very important then, go ahead and upgrade. For me, I can't justify it.
post #5 of 38
I think this is an inquiry best answered by experiencing the difference. I am by no means an audiophile, but wow, I was literally speechless when I first heard DolbyTrueHD after upgrading from Dolby Digital.
post #6 of 38
The sound quality of hddvd and bluray even in their lossy codecs are very good, so the lossless tracks may not sound like a night and day difference to most people.

I have an A1 and a Yamaha receiver with 6 channel analog inputs, and a Definitive Technology Procinema80 set. Not high end by any stretch of the imagination, but decent. On my setup, comparing the lossy to lossless tracks, I had a very difficult time telling them apart. They both sounded so good, I can't complain.

I think the setup of your listening environment would have a huge impact as well. If you have a dedicated home theater I would image the difference would be more noticable.

Edit: One way you could get a little preview of lossless audio is to send out uncompressed 2 channel audio through optical out. It could give you an idea of the clarity of uncompressed audio, but would be lacking in the full surround effect. Of course your receiver could do prologic, but still it won't be exactly the same as a 5.1 lossless track.
post #7 of 38
There's no inherent improvement in dynamic range or tangible resolution that can be attributed solely to the nature of lossless compression versus lossy compression. Audio is all about perception, and for many the perception of lossy audio (such as Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD HR) is identical, or very nearly identical, to that of lossless or uncompressed audio. Like most audio debates there's an awful lot of rhetoric and hyperbole about how much 'better' lossless is but in my experience it is small at best if present. As always, the quality of the audio relies more on the quality of the source than the compression system used (for example, I would prefer a lossy 24-bit Dolby Digital Plus recording of a 24-bit soundtrack than a lossless 16-bit TrueHD version of that same 24-bit soundtrack).

I think preferences for lossless are more a matter of peace of mind; knowing that any loss of fidelity, whether detectable or not, can be avoided. I usually take statements that lossless is automatically superior with a grain of salt, having seen first-hand how often those that claim to be able to detect a 'huge' difference fail double-blind tests.
post #8 of 38
on my Ascend 340 C/L/R's and BIC H-100 sub mated with a crappy kenwood receiver, the difference between DolbyDigital and DolbyTrueHD, DTS and DTS-HD MA core is night and day.
post #9 of 38
Quote:
CKELLY33...I trying to decide whther it will be worth a $1000 upgrade when I'm actually pretty happy with the one I have.

I guess my response would be. Buy something good in the range you are willing to pay at the moment, as you mature in you enjoyment of audio quality you might see yourself spending the $1K for a better system without problems. Many times I see guys spending the big bucks on good equipment just to brag, never getting the most from their system and then regretting their purchase. I started down in the rung. From a cheap Panasonic to a Pioneer VSX-811. An Audiophile friend of mine started helping me get the most out of what I had and as I started noticing the differences between his system and mine I started growing in terms of what I liked and knowing when my system had reached it maximum potential.

Now I am moving into a 3808CI. A far better, albeit more expensive Receiver, but I am ready to move into that level and the expense from my point of view is worth it.

Jorge
post #10 of 38
Does lossless matter?

No (to me).

I have an HD-A20 and a Yamaha HTR6090 HDMI receiver that handles PCM at the highest rates. I've A/B'd many many movies with DD+ and TrueHD. I'm yet to notice a difference. Maybe this is because DD+ is just that good. In other words, maybe I'd notice a difference if I were comparing regular DD to TrueHD.

I'm using JBL Venue series speakers...with the dual 8" cores etc. I'd say it's an above average setup, and I haven't heard a difference.
post #11 of 38
no
post #12 of 38
the high bitrate compressed audio tracks sound about the same as uncompressed tracks, as far as I've been able to tell

uncompressed might have the potential to sound better, but in the real world it is hard to hear the difference
post #13 of 38
Lossless is better, but lets be real here. The lowest bitrate DD5.1 is still theater quality great audio and delivers the goods quite nicely.
post #14 of 38
which is more lossy, Dolby Digital or Bose speakers?
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SugarBowl View Post

which is more lossy, Dolby Digital or Bose speakers?

post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNnDENVER View Post

Lossless is better, but lets be real here. The lowest bitrate DD.5 is still theater quality great audio and delivers the goods quite nicely.

I did an ABX test with an A35 comparing AVR and in-player decoding of TrueHD and DD+. As I expected I did not notice a difference as long as the volume was normalized between the two. What I also noticed was that the difference between TrueHD and DD+ was negligible for most of the films I used in the test, and the transcoded DD (640K) was not that far off either. I think that while TrueHD>DD+>DD is true technically, you have to look at the individual soundtracks to really see if there is a difference. How good was the studio master? What compromises where made before encoding (HP/LP filters, bitrate dithering, etc.)? These variables may cause a lossless track to not be all that much better than a DD+ track or even DD.
post #17 of 38
a lot of people make the mistake of comparing trueHD vs. dd+ on warner discs.

dd+ on warner discs is low data rate.... not much better then the dd that is used on bd and good old sd dvd.

imo the sound on transformers and king kong sound great using dd+ at the higher data rates.
post #18 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNnDENVER View Post

Lossless is better, but lets be real here. The lowest bitrate DD.5 is still theater quality great audio and delivers the goods quite nicely.

imo people confuse "lossles" codec vs. actual lossless relative to the master.

imo lossless is not better if you mean using a lossless codec is always better then a lossy codec.

if they use lossless codec but reduce from 7.1 to 5.1 or reduce the bit depth or sample rate or otherwise filter the data before encoding then the encode isn't lossless even if a lossless codec is used. they just threw out the bits before the encode.

lossless codec >= lossy codec only if they don't pre process the data.
post #19 of 38
This is what I am trying to decide when I buy a new receiver for Christmas. I am a Denon fan and am able to get the 2808CI for $887 any day of the week from my friend who works at a local retailer. I am also considering the Onkyo 805 which I can get for $640 from him.

Now I know my A35 can internally decode everything except DTS-MA and those receivers decode the new codecs internally as well and some people say there is a difference when the receiver does it and others think it doesn't matter. I would love to try out Harmon Kardon 347 because it accepts the new codecs through hdmi by making it multi PCM. I have heard great things about HK sound and I want something that would complement my Def Techs ProC800's.
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by oliverjg View Post

imo people confuse "lossles" codec vs. actual lossless relative to the master.

imo lossless is not better if you mean using a lossless codec is better then a lossy codec.

if they use lossless codec but reduce from 7.1 to 5.1 or reduce the bit depth or sample rate or otherwise filter the data before encoding then the encode isn't lossless even if a lossless codec is used. they just threw out the bits before the encode.

lossless codec >= lossy codec only if they don't pre process the data.

Studio masters are 5.1 (some 6.1 but very few) and 48KHz at 24 bits (older material is only 16 bit). I agree that compromises are not good, but we're also not talking about very high resolution material to begin with either.
post #21 of 38
It probably depends on your financial situation.
If you make $50k a year, then I suggest you dont need it.
If your some star athelete who makes 3M a year, then buy 1 for every room in your house and your yatch.
post #22 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hipnotiq View Post

It probably depends on your financial situation.
If you make $50k a year, then I suggest you dont need it.
If your some star athelete who makes 3M a year, then buy 1 for every room in your house and your yatch.

+1

i am sticking with decoding in the players and my current receiver and taking the left over money to buy discs and a nice pj. there will be more receiver choices next year.
post #23 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by oliverjg View Post

imo people confuse "lossles" codec vs. actual lossless relative to the master.

imo lossless is not better if you mean using a lossless codec is always better then a lossy codec.

if they use lossless codec but reduce from 7.1 to 5.1 or reduce the bit depth or sample rate or otherwise filter the data before encoding then the encode isn't lossless even if a lossless codec is used. they just threw out the bits before the encode.

lossless codec >= lossy codec only if they don't pre process the data.

There is a lot more to it. But for me. Dolby TrueHD is fine, and I consider it just as lossless as a 5.1 PCM track.

In my theater? I deal with a ton of different audio and sources. With my current audio processor I can get theater like, lively audio from Laserdiscs that only contain analog mono.

I will always consider DD 5.1 great quality audio, unlike many many on these boards. Of course better is better, I do make some effort to make sure I am getting the best audio I can from any given content.
post #24 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNnDENVER View Post

There is a lot more to it. But for me. Dolby TrueHD is fine, and I consider it just as lossless as a 5.1 PCM track.

In my theater? I deal with a ton of different audio and sources. With my current audio processor I can get theater like, lively audio from Laserdiscs that only contain analog mono.

I will always consider DD 5.1 great quality audio, unlike many many on these boards. Of course better is better, I do make some effort to make sure I am getting the best audio I can from any given content.

makes it hard to tell somebody if something is "worth it" or not to them.

imo having 5.1 analog and decoding in the player is pretty good. i am not getting a new receiver just to get dts ma decoding.
post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeJHooK View Post

I think this is an inquiry best answered by experiencing the difference. I am by no means an audiophile, but wow, I was literally speechless when I first heard DolbyTrueHD after upgrading from Dolby Digital.

+1
post #26 of 38
I dno't bother switching to TrueHD anymore for a couple of reasons:

1) The TrueHD volume is very, I have to crank it up 20 to 30 bB to hear it.
Then if I forget to turn it down it's BOOMING with the next source audio.

2) I can't really tell the difference, esspecially sence I have to turn the volume up and down when trying to compare.
post #27 of 38
Im presently auditioning the optical bitstream vs the HDMI PCM...I so far don't like the inability to do any kind of processing on the PCM like I can with bitstream. I'v got 7.1 in my room and the PCM isn't using it, that I can tell anyway. I think the lossless is hype at this point, I'd rather have my A30 passing bitstream via HDMI and then letting my receiver do some processing on it to my liking. Maybe some firmware in the future will enable the HBRA via HDMI but right now I haven't heard anything special...
post #28 of 38
It largely depends on your equipment. I have a low-fi setup and notice a big difference between cd and dvd-a or sacd, but the difference between full-bit DD or DTS and lossless is more subtle.

I have a Diana Krall album in both DTS and DVD-A. The improvement in the lossless version isn't all that dramatic.

Still a worthwhile upgrade, but you don't have to necessarily drop $1k to get there.
post #29 of 38
I just tried out TrueHD from my A3 to my Onkyo 605 for the first time. I could tell a big difference. The sound was clearer and fuller.

Is it worth 1k. Probably not. Will my wife be able to tell the difference. Probably not.
post #30 of 38
There is a difference and you should take advantage of it if you can afford it. At the same token 1.5 Mbps 24/48 and DD THD 16/24 reveals very little perceptible difference. But low bitrate lossy is another matter and moving up to the higher bitrate lossy like DD+ or core DTS HD MA (DTS at 1.5 Mbps) reveals perceptible differences which can be striking as compared to standard dts/dd.
But if you have an HDMI capable receiver since the Tosh players decode DD+ and TrueHD I don't know if the question is all that relevant. The reality is that you can get a cheapo HDMI receiver and begin enjoying high bitrate lossy and lossless without having to get bogged down in this question.
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