Originally Posted by jazzrock
Many would envy your inability to hear differences between formats on a well recorded/mastered audio track. I assume you hear no difference between formats either, vinyl LP, CDs, etc.
You would assume wrong in regards vinyl, etc. I have a high quality 2-channel system (Carver ribbons bi-amped with a custom crossover network and sonic holography preamp) and what I'd call an entry-level high-end vinyl rig. But equating that with something like high bit-rate AAC or DTS is not even in the same realm. Vinyl has serious deficiencies compared to CD that are easily detected (let alone all the surface noise, different mastering mixes, etc. that make them inherently different sounding). Even so, a good vinyl rig comes much closer to CD quality than I imagined it would. Lossy compression algorithms only job is to save space without compromising sound quality. At reasonably high bit rates they do a really great job. They do such a great job that as I've previously said, I have YET to see ONE person prove they can detect any significant difference beyond guessing at the higher bit-rates in repeated double blind tests (such as ABX based testing). Claiming you can hear a difference and proving it are two different things.
Am I extra skeptical? I used to follow audiophile magazines, etc. for several years and I've invested quite a bit in my own 2-channel system, but no testing over the years showed differences in many areas that audiophile magazines claimed there were differences where the science sounded extremely suspect.
Frankly, some of the audiophile claims over the years I've seen in Stereophile magazine and others are so RIDICULOUS it's hard to believe. Here's a few of the more ridiculous ones that they claimed worked in all opposition to science, physics and frankly the imagination with ZERO proof to back any of it up (but hey, it sells advertising space, so it's all good right?)
1>Painting the edges of CDs with a green marker pen somehow improves their sound. The data isn't on the edges so what was it supposed to be doing? I remember Stereophile saying they had no idea but they could hear a difference. Push them to a double blind test? Suddenly, where did it go? But hey, what's the harm in painting all your CD edges green and paying $50 for a 50 cent marker? It's called SNAKE OIL.
2>Putting a heavy mat on the spindle motor somehow improves sound. These motors weren't designed for heavy loading in most cases so at best, what's it supposed to be doing? At worst, it was shown to increase errors as it can no longer track as fast.
3>Shakti stones (magical stones you put around your room to make the music sound better). While there are room treatments you can buy that can help improve dampening and what not in your room, a couple of magic stones placed here and there aren't one of them. But darn did they sell a bunch of stones to a lot of people.
4>High-end interconnect cables. Ah, nothing like spending $5000 on a pair of magical interconnect cables that do literally nothing. Talk about throwing money in the garbage. You still see lots of overpriced cables at places like Best Buy that perform no better than a $3 cable.
5>High-end DACs. While there are measurable differences in some of these high-end DACs and they generally are improvements (or they'd be harder to sell without a marketing angle), the real problem is that humans are hard pressed to hear 0.5dB differences in sound levels, let alone 0.05dB differences. The average loudspeaker has variation of around 6dB (+/- 3dB being one of the most common goals) at various parts of the frequency spectrum and room interactions can cause even larger dips and peaks, especially around the bass region. Instead of spending $3000 on a high-end DAC, maybe some people could have put the money into room treatments or room correction systems (or even better speakers) that would get your far more bang for your dollar.
These aren't things pushed to average people. They are pushed to so-called "audiophiles" because that's where the money is. But advertising is always a great thing at all price levels. Words like "organic" or "natural" sell things much better than "synthetic" or "contains preservatives". The same is true in audio products. "Identical to the master audio track" sells better than "uses a lossy compression method" even if they sound the same to human ears. But once people pay for things, they can get very defensive about how they just spent their money. Do you think someone who spent $5000 on interconnect cables wants to hear they just wasted their money? No, I have little doubt many would rather believe in the Easter Bunny than hear that.
But feel free to believe anything you want. I'm simply pointing out an alternative to those that think because something is marketed it's automatically a real improvement. A lot of snake oil has been sold over the years by touting the benefits of questionable products. There's no harm in having a lossless audio track, of course, but expecting an obvious improvement might lead to disappointment.